Written by Sara Weinreb | Illustrated by Elizabeth Stilwell
Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Jobs. Barack Obama.
I bet the first thing you think of when you hear these names is not “they are so unfashionable.” We’ve become accustomed to seeing Mark in his hoodie, Jobs was famous for his jeans and black turtlenecks, Obama has just two varieties of suits. Notable for their significant contributions to society, they have chosen minimal wardrobes—and with good reason. There’s scientific evidence to back up the idea that having a lean closet frees up your creative energy for more important decisions in the day.
As a fashion enthusiast and former shopaholic, I know all too well how easy it is to get trapped in the glam and glitz of always having the newest style. And with fast fashion giants turning out clothes for less than the cost of lunch, it’s more affordable than ever to always have something new. Recently, however, I have chosen to focus on the concept of a "lean" or "capsule" wardrobe, which allows me to reduce decision-making time and focus on more pressing issues. This concept is the backbone to my own ethical fashion company, IMBY, which curates American-made everyday essentials that are building blocks for your own lean closet.
While the capsule wardrobe concept is now a hot trend, the concept is simple and not entirely new: Buy fewer items that last many seasons and remove the challenges of getting dressed in the morning. By reducing your closet to solely items you love, and items that mix and match, you’re creating physical and mental space to allow for creativity in other aspects of your life.
To me, ethical fashion and capsule wardrobes are intertwined. While building your mindful closet, focus on selecting items that were mindfully-made. These elements include being conscious about the impact the creation your clothes have on the people making them, and the environment. But you need not throw everything out and start again! The most mindful first step is to reuse items you already have in your closet (my closet is made up of a lot of “unethical” pieces from many years ago, before I started my own ethical fashion journey).
Ethically-made and second hand clothes should serve as the foundation for your capsule collection. I have four tips for building your own highly-edited wardrobe from that foundation:
- Choose items you love. There are certain garments I wear all the time and, honestly, I could wear them every day! These are the kinds of items you should keep in your closet and wear liberally. When you consider adding a new garment to your wardrobe, make sure it's comfortable and excites you.
- Versatility is key. When you limit your options to 25-40 pieces you will want to make sure that the items you select work well together, giving your flexibility around the outfits you create.
- Curate a seasonless core collection. Make sure at least half your wardrobe sticks with you throughout the year so you're not constantly swapping out new items when the seasons change. Having a capsule wardrobe means consuming less, not replacing your 40 items with new ones each season.
- Think about your cost-per-wear. While ethically-made clothes may be pricier than shopping at a big chain (though not always), there is a higher emphasis on quality. Since you are building a wardrobe you will get a lot of mileage out of, consider how long the item will last, and how frequently you will wear it. It generally evens out to be worth the extra expense for high quality pieces you truly love that will last.
I challenge you to explore what it would look like to plan out your closet and free yourself of the burden of having to find something to wear in the morning. In fact, I find more creativity in limited options. I find beauty in simplicity. What would you do with that extra time? Share your thoughts and capsule wardrobe journey on Instagram with #mindfulcapsule, and let me know how IMBY can support you and your journey!
Use the code NOTEPASSER15 for 15% off any order at IMBY!