How to build a capsule wardrobe

Cat Brant returns for her second monthly column, this time teaching readers how to build a capsule collection from clothes already in their wardrobes.
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Alyssa Strohmann

How did your month with no new clothes go? Did you find it easy or hard?

Breaking from a cycle of consistent purchasing can be difficult, so it’s ok if you found it tough. If you are reading this then you’ve already made a conscious effort to make a change for the good of the planet, so well done, you are fabulous!

If you do decide to buy this month, I recommend using the ‘buyer-archy’ of needs to guide your decision: Use what you have, borrow, swap, thrift, make, then buy.

READ MORE: How to declutter your wardrobe

Cat Brant from @thecatscurves
@thecatscurves

Should you want to buy new, consider the longevity of the item and how often you’d wear it first. You should be aiming to use every item at least 30 times and then some. Do your research to find out how sustainable and ethical a brand is. I like goodonyou.com, a sustainable fashion comparison site, for this.

Your sustainable style challenge for this month is to build your own capsule collection with garments from your existing wardrobe. This will be a condensed collection of beautiful pieces that fit together with ease. Use your collection for at least 10 days in the month.

This challenge is designed to encourage you to build more outfits with your existing wardrobe, make the garments you have go further and help streamline the time it takes you to get ready (less choice = less time choosing).

To start, you should select one or two focal point garments – your ‘wow’ pieces – then work the rest of your collection around them.

READ MORE: Where to buy sustainable and stylish shoes

How to build a capsule wardrobe
Maude Frederique Lavoie

Let’s choose the following seven items from your wardrobe, including your ‘wow’ pieces:

  • 1 x dress OR an extra bottom or top
  • 2 x bottoms (skirts, trousers or shorts, whatever works best for you)
  • 3 x tops
  • 1 x jacket or cardi

Every day for 10 days you are going to be building looks with just these items and you can use any accessories you own. Experiment and you’ll find you can change your entire look with hats, scarves, belts, boots and jewellery.

I wanted to give you an example, so here are some looks I created with the following items:

  • A floral print midi dress
  • A blue pussybow blouse
  • A navy blouse
  • A black top
  • A white cardigan
  • Jeans
  • Black trousers
Cat Brant from @thecatscurves
@thecatscurves

READ MORE: 6 sustainable fashion brands who make beautiful clothes to order

If you want to have a play with this concept before you go to your wardrobe then try using Shoplook.com to try out different capsule collections. If you’d like some more inspiration check out this Pinterest board with 7 piece collection ideas.

Taking care of your wardrobe is also important to keep it wearable for longer, so here are my top tips for looking after clothes.

  • Check the label!
  • Polyester leaches micro plastics into water, so consider purchasing a guppy bag for washing your polyester garments in.
  • If items are dry clean only, they need a specialist – although I spot clean mine in the sink to avoid the dry cleaner, which as a process is awful for the environment (but we can talk about that another time).
  • Wash on 30. High temperatures degrade fabrics and, believe me, 30 is high enough. I know because I have two children and the stains are plenty in my house, but always come out at 30 (sometimes with the help of a vanish bar).
  • Fabric conditioner works by coating your fabrics with chemicals, which could potentially be wreaking havoc on your washing machine and your skin.
  • An extra spin in the washing machine helps to eliminate some water and drying time.
  • Hang your clothes to dry (it’s sustainable and free!).
  • Dryers are really damaging to the fibres of your clothes as well as being bad for the environment, but if you do want to use yours, clean the filters regularly and don’t overload the machine. These two things will increase the efficiency of the machine and lessen your drying time.

Good luck with your capsule challenge. Let me know how you get on by commenting below or sending me a DM on Instagram @thecatscurves.

I’ll see you back here next month for advice on how to effectively and safely store your beloved pieces, ideas for displaying clothes in your wardrobe and how to organise it to ensure a good rotation of your clothes.

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READ MORE: Best Of Vintage: Our top picks of retro clothes available to buy this week

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