The Capsule Wardrobe: A Friend Of Planet And Purse
By Talia Collective
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You have probably heard of the term ‘a capsule wardrobe’, but do you know what it is? Or how it works? Or how important it can be in reducing the fashion industry’s environmental impact? Daria Andronescu has spent the past ten years answering these questions in her role as the founder of the Wonder Wardrobe, a hugely popular capsule wardrobe creation service, and defines it in general terms as a collection of outfits that share style and purpose and can be applied to a variety of roles including holiday, office or leisure.
Daria’s Wonder Wardrobe Capsule takes this one step further, however, because it takes into consideration complete versatility, personal style, fit, cut, comfort, colour matching and textile quality. This leads to an equally impressive list of environmental and economical benefits which include increased wearability, reduced fashion waste and a way of controlling shopping impulses, making it “the most sustainable version of the classical capsule wardrobe”. In a world where approximately 87% of our textiles end up in landfill and the industry stands as one of the top producers of Co2 emissions, adopting a more sustainable approach to fashion should be top of everyone’s minds.
Where to begin?
Daria’s advice is to start slow. ‘I have yet to meet a woman that started with the perfect capsule’ – a statement she includes herself in, recognising that we are all guilty of having bought clothes we shouldn’t have. However, in the words of Lady MacBeth, “what’s done is done,” and we should look to the future instead of dwelling on past regrets. Here’s looking at you, tasselled cowboy boots.
Start with what you have and slowly adding one or two items per month that increase the wearability of what you already have. This will allow you to save money and make investments in natural, quality materials that you’ll wear for years to come. Daria also states that an important starting point is to find your colour type and embrace it, since colour is an excellent personal branding tool that will add major style points to your capsule. Finding this can be a daunting task, which is why Daria has created her own workshop for easing the process, along with a 40-colour palette to help everyone create harmonious colour-matching outfits.
In fact, establishing one’s personal style and identity is hugely important in aiding future purchases, since it prevents us from being swept up by fleeting trends that pray on our bank balance and self-esteem, leaving us with a pile of unworn clothes yet the persistent feeling of having nothing to wear.
Capsule wardrobes – are they for everyone?
The answer is a yes, although you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise thanks to an ongoing trend that favours minimalist capsules. Daria teaches women to build capsule wardrobes that are highly personalised catering for an array of needs, jobs, and budgets.
Clearing out visual clothing clutter also helps cut out the feeling of decision fatigue, which has us running back to the same outfits again and again. When all items perfectly match each other, there’s no stress when getting dressed.
Decluttering 101: what to keep and what to donate
The items you should keep are, unsurprisingly, those you wear the most, says Daria. You might love that fuchsia blouse but get anxious every time you wear it, meaning it rarely sees the outside world. If that is the case, it’s time to let it go, along with all the other clothes that fall into this category. ‘And by letting it go’, she says, ‘I mean either selling it, donating it, repurposing it or recycling it. Throwing it away is one of the worst things you can do with clothes as they will end up polluting our waters and soil for years to come’.
Daria also calls attention to the dangers of holding onto ‘promise’ clothes, the garments that come with a list of stipulations such as ‘I promise I’ll wear it when it fits’. We tend to keep certain items as a reminder that we need to fulfil unattainable standards invented to sell more clothes, or alternatively those connected to certain memories. Whilst we may no longer wear them, they still evoke a happy feeling that is hard to let go. If you are guilty of this, Daria’s advice is to take a last selfie wearing that item and then let it go to someone that will create new memories in it.
‘I prioritise organic and natural over synthetic for health and sustainability reasons’ says Daria. Synthetic materials are made from petroleum products and require a complex processing procedure, and are also non-biodegradable taking decades or, in some cases, even centuries to biodegrade. For more information, take a look at Talia’s article on Man-Made Fabrics and Their Toxic Foundations or head to Daria’s blog to read her piece on sustainable fabrics.
Whilst not all natural materials can claim to be environmentally friendly (read our article on cellulosic fibres to get an idea of this), there are plenty that are, with many boasting additional benefits including being hypoallergenic, breathable, versatile and recycled. Be sure to do your research into which work best for you before investing in a wardrobe made entirely of one material!
Key items that every capsule wardrobe should have?
Daria is quick to state that this depends entirely on the needs of the individual, since she can’t expect a flight attendant and a kindergarten teacher to have the same items in their capsule wardrobes. It also depends on the climate you live in, as a good merino sweater makes an excellent investment for someone living in chillier climes (such as the UK!) but if you live in the southern hemisphere, that’s probably a useless investment.
Traditionally, quality basics are stated as key items in a capsule wardrobe but, whilst they are useful to some, there is no reason to shy away from making bold colours and dramatic cuts your ‘basic items’ if this is the identity you want to convey.
Why a capsule wardrobe promotes sustainable fashion
Along with easing decision fatigue and reducing expenditure, curating a capsule wardrobe can have hugely beneficial impacts on the environment for a number of reasons. Firstly, a capsule wardrobe doesn’t expire. It isn’t governed by seasonal trends but rather celebrates timeless pieces that embody individual style meaning that the lifespan of garments is greatly extended. The impact of this is huge, with research by WRAP estimating that the average lifetime for a garment in the UK is 2.2 years and that, if this is extended by just nine months, it can reduce the carbon, water and waste impacts of that garment by around 20-30%.
Daria also flags that a key role of capsule wardrobes is cutting out impulse shopping, since they require buyers to think twice before purchasing something to ensure it will fit perfectly with your carefully coordinated collection back home. When every piece is worn regularly, as is a key goal of a successful capsule wardrobe, nothing goes to waste. And when nothing goes to waste, you know that you are doing something right!
Daria Andronescu is the founder of the Wonder Wardrobe. Over the past 11 years, she has been working as an international personal stylist and shopper, creating sustainable capsule wardrobes for clients all over the world. She offers an array of different online courses as well as other useful aids for creating a more sustainable wardrobe. For every course taken, Wonder Wardrobe plants 50 trees through its partner Eden Reforestation Project.