build a sustainable capsule wardrobe

Featured image by Ron Lach/Pexels 

Paulina (( r e ) ˣ founder) didn’t wake up one day and randomly decide to revolutionize the hanger. Hangers are basically an essential — something we all touch at least once a day. As a former fashion designer, she is extremely familiar with the workings (and secret life of) hangers.

So when it comes to fashion, and design, and sustainability, and art (because she’s an artist/former art teacher) we know a thing or two. 

Knowing Paulina is somewhat of a fashion minimalist, I wanted to get her thoughts on the capsule-wardrobe-for-sustainability of it all. These days, Paulina operates from an informal capsule wardrobe. 

Her closet is a mix of vintage and a few newer pieces arranged by color (she tends to lean more blues and greens and less pinks and oranges). Within her color blocks, she knows exactly which pieces get matched with each other.

She’s not a big clothes shopper and buying any type of non-essential clothing is anxiety-inducing (relatable). Between that, being an artist, and the influence of her grandfather who would always say, “No es la ropa si no la percha” which roughly translates to it’s not the clothes themselves but who they’re hung on — she’s a capsule wardrobe girlie at heart. 


So join us as we discuss how to get started with a sustainable capsule wardrobe and feature some insight from content creators! 

demystifying the capsule wardrobe

You’ve come across someone explaining, convincing, or selling a capsule wardrobe on your socials. And let’s be real, most of them look the same: lots of beige, black, white, blond hair, standing clothing racks, and aesthetically pleasing hangers. But none of this encapsulates what a capsule wardrobe is. 

At its core, a capsule wardrobe is designed to help you do less with more. 

Less individual items are able to create more outfits, looks, and vibes because every piece is intentional and multi-functional.

Capsule wardrobe advocates each have their reasons for their devotion to their capsules and it should come as no surprise that ours is for the environment. 

People spotlight: Heensie, a personal stylist talks how to create an emo capsule wardrobe.

Screen grab of Heensie personal stylist on TikTok talking about how to create an emo capsule wardrobe

a capsule wardrobe can help you and the planet

A major cause of our addiction to fast fashion and overconsumption is accessibility and more disposable income. But according to Dr. Dion Terrelonge, a fashion psychologist (whom we featured in our last newsletter!), it’s also psychological.

She says “the feelings of pleasure gained from finding, wearing, and owning a coveted item is stronger” [than knowing fast fashion is detrimental to people and planet].  

When the world feels like it’s crumbling to pieces around you, buying a new outfit or having some credit card debt for buying that outfit seem trivial in comparison. 

And the marketing behind these brands does everything to keep you locked in a state of desire, FOMO, and social competition. 

With this in mind there are a ton of benefits to creating a sustainable capsule wardrobe. And this recent study on the impact of a capsule wardrobe helps us paint a better picture. 

fast fashion stats: 1. the average item of clothing is worn just 10 times before being thrown away. 2. 62% of clothing is made using synthetic fabrics, a direct byproduct of fossil fuels. 3. Less than 1% of clothing material is recycled representing a loss of over $100 billion of materials. 4. The US sends 11.3 million tons of clothes to landfills, incinerators, and other countries to dispose of every year.

less stress

Feelings of stress around clothing decisions in each participant were replaced with positive emotions such as feeling more clarity and pleasure around their fashion routines, organization, and decision making. 

detachment from trends

All candidates stated the pressure to keep up with fashion trends — particularly on social media. After the study, the majority felt more detached and either reported having no interest in trying to keep up with trends or the ability to identify the trend (and the harm they cause) quickly. 

joy in personal style

All participants expressed that personal style was important to them before the study began. But after the study, they reported that the experience of working with a capsule wardrobe enhanced their creativity and joy in finding and honing their own personal style. Many enjoyed the challenge of creating different looks and finding ways to express their style.

conscious consumption

Working with a limited capsule wardrobe also changed the participants’ thoughts around the impact of fashion on the environment. Taking a momentary break helped them realize how much money they spent on clothes and helped them realize sustainable fashion incorporates longevity, quantity, quality, care, and intentionality instead of just material. 

I talked to Paulina about why she’s such a fashion minimalist — environment excluded. She tells me that growing up her mother always looked beautiful, fashionable, trendy, and always shopping. Even to this day, her mom can pull multiple pieces of clothing out of her closet unworn and still with the tags on. Witnessing this level of consumption had a profound effect on Paulina at a young age and still gives her guilt and anxiety around shopping. Fortunately, as an artist she was able to lean into her creative side for a different perspective and learn how to do more with less. 

a step by step guide to building a sustainable capsule wardrobe 

With this in mind, here are some suggestions to give your closet a spring cleaning and head in the direction of a capsule wardrobe.

1. go at your own pace

Remember that changing your habits takes time. There’s no need to throw everything away and start all over (actually, definitely please don’t do that). Take the time to think it out, organize, and plan. While you’re doing that you’re helping to reset your brain and habits ensuring you’ll stick with it. 

Your capsule wardrobe is also going to depend on where you live, your seasons, your habits, and your lifestyle. So take the extra time to think about the staples you’ll need.

People spotlight: Christina is a minimalist-ish former shopaholic sharing some of the mistakes she made when first creating her capsule wardrobe. 

fast fashion stats: 1. the average item of clothing is worn just 10 times before being thrown away. 2. 62% of clothing is made using synthetic fabrics, a direct byproduct of fossil fuels. 3. Less than 1% of clothing material is recycled representing a loss of over $100 billion of materials. 4. The US sends 11.3 million tons of clothes to landfills, incinerators, and other countries to dispose of every year.

2. dive into your style

It’s important to look for inspiration for how you want your style to be, but also take a good look at the pieces you love and wear often. Remember that no two capsule wardrobes are going to look the same. You don’t need to force yourself into a sad beige or black and white aesthetic if you don’t want to. 

Some things to consider at this point are…

  • how do your current clothes make you feel (and why)? 
  • what colors are drawn to? What colors complement you? 
  • what patterns, textures, and fabrics do you feel most confident in? 
  • what silhouettes are the most flattering for your shape? 
  • what type of style do you lean towards? Minimalist, eclectic, boho, etc. 
  • does your lifestyle call for particular pieces
  • what kind of message do you want your clothes to send for you? 
  • what color palette/aesthetic do you want for your wardrobe? Add it to the Pinterest board.

People spotlight: Maddison Lynn uses the 333 method (3 bottoms, 3 tops, 3 shoes) to create I can’t even count how many outfits. 

screengrab of Maddison lynn on TikTok demonstrating the 333 method to create a capsule wardrobe

3. use what you already have

The most sustainable thing you can (always) do, is use what’s already there! 

  • separate what you already have into seasonal capsule wardrobes. Depending on where you live, you might need multiple capsules. As a Chicago girly, most of my summer and winter pieces are not interchangeable. 
  • pull out everything you already use often and determine the pieces that fit into your new palette and capsule wardrobe goals. 
  • anything that doesn’t bring you joy, make you feel confident, doesn’t fit, or no longer works can be responsibly disposed of.
  • finally, once you gone through what you already have, identify the gaps that are missing to complete your capsule wardrobe. 

People spotlight: Angel on TikTok has many videos about creating an alt fashion capsule wardrobe that definitely don’t fall into the ‘boring beige’ category. 

screengrab of Angel on TikTok discussing how to create an alt fashion capsule wardrobe.

4. sourcing your sustainable capsule wardrobe — where to get it

Paulina says one of the most important things you can do is know what’s in your closet. When you know what’s there, it’s easier to look at a new piece and determine how, and if, that piece will work. 

People spotlight: Thenickienicole talks fashion and in this video explains how to add colorful basics to your capsule wardrobe to keep it fun, interesting, and you. 

screengrab of Thenickienicole on TikTok discussing how to add colorful basics to a capsule wardrobe

  • ethical and sustainable brands — when looking for new pieces, invest with brands that put people and the planet first. 
  • secondhand and vintage — when you slow down, you give yourself more time and more opportunities to source from secondhand and vintage shops. We already know that pre-loved items are gentler on the planet and keep clothes out of landfills. 
  • longevity — Make things easier on your future self, not harder. Always consider the longevity of new items. Consider things such as:
    • Will you wear this 35X or more? 
    • Is the fabric and stitching going to hold up over time? 
    • Is it easy to wash and maintain? 
  • use & function — Learning how to rethink the function of your clothes is one of the trickiest parts of building a capsule wardrobe. When you’re considering a purchase, you’ll also want to ensure it can be used in a variety of ways. 
    • Does it work with multiple tops/bottoms? 
    • Can it be dressed up and dressed down? 
    • Can it be worn to work and with friends? 
    • Can it be worn to multiple events in different ways? 
  • statement pieces and accessories are your friends — Whether you want to go all in on bold colors and designs — or not — adding in statement pieces and using accessories to your capsule wardrobe are small yet effective ways to change up the vibe and intention of your outfit. 

People spotlight: Kristine Fernandez has wardrobe and style transformation workshops to help you revamp your wardrobe. In this video she takes a leopard print dress and turned it into 4 outfits that cover multiple uses and multiple seasons.

screengrab of Kristine Fernandez on TikTok talking about how to turn a bold leopard print dress into 4 distinct outfits

  • choose your investment pieces — You don’t HAVE to create a sustainable capsule wardrobe only using sustainable brands. If you know H&M clothes fit you and it meets the requirements of your capsule wardrobe, then shop there! The main goal is that it works for you.
    • invest in material → I live in Chicago so I am always on the lookout for cashmere and wool sweaters. I know they’ll last me a long time and if there ever comes a time when I don’t need them I can easily sell/trade/give them away. 
    • invest in an item → Creating a capsule wardrobe means you can save up easier and feel less guilty about investing in the things that bring you joy like purses, shoes, or scarves. 
    • invest by value → Put your money with small and sustainable brands who are doing their best to create pieces that have a lower impact on the environment. 
    • invest locally / in people → Invest in locally owned shops, boutiques, or even small time designers getting started in their careers. Add a custom piece or two to your wardrobe is an excellent way to support entrepreneurs, the planet, and your wardrobe! 

These tips are a little obvious, but when we’re so wrapped up in constant consumption, they’re next to impossible. Shopping with the intent to keep and take care of your items for the long-term is a direct contradiction to overconsumption and fast fashion that seems to run the world.

People spotlight: Ellie is a Vancouver based creative showing us that a capsule wardrobe can be far from boring with pieces in neon, orange, florals and more.

screengrab of Ellie on TikTok showing us how to use bold, colorful pieces to build capsule wardrobe staples

building a capsule wardrobe: brand spotlight

Screenshot from Lora Gene website Aja Barber Collaboration which features 3 images of Aja Barber in different pieces

The most helpful thing you can do to fight the impact of fast fashion is to use the clothes you already have. But, if you need to add to your capsule wardrobe and want to support better brands, these 5 brands are a great place to start. 

  1. Reformation 
    1. sizes: XXS-3XL (0-24 US)
    2. rated ‘Good’ by Good on You
    3. great for: basics, dresses, jeans
  2. Mila.Vert
    1. sizes: XS-XL (4-12 US)
    2. rated ‘Great’ by Good on You
    3. great for: sophisticated pieces, minimalist designs, sweaters, outerwear, organic cotton knits.
  3. Lora Gene (great for plus size capsule wardrobe making)
    1. sizes: XS-3XL (2-24 US)
    2. great for: elevated, comfortable pieces, silk, dresses, trousers
    3. has a capsule wardrobe line in partnership with Aja Barber
  4. People Tree
    1. sizes: 2-14 (US)
    2. great for: casual, fair trade pieces, basics, denim
  5. Whimsy + Row
    1. sizes: XS-XL (2-10 US); extended sizing
    2. rated ‘Good’ by Good on You
    3. great for: curated vintage, contemporary elegant pieces, basics
  6. Toad & Co
    1. sizes: XS-XL (0-18 US)
    2. rated ‘Good’ Good on You
    3. great for: casual, sweaters, natural fabrics, durability

find more sustainable brands

  • The Filtery — if you’re looking to cut back on your toxins, The Filtery tells you how it is and helps you make small but mighty choices. 
  • Good on You — Mentioned in these reviews, Good on You is making shopping easier. They have (clear) standards for what sustainable fashion should look like including people, planet, and animals. They assign a score to each category and an overall score of the brand. 
  • EcoCult — from former journalist Alden Wicker, EcoCult is the place to talk about fashion, planet, and responsibility. From cutting through the greenwash to deep diving into brands, this is a good place to begin your research. 

a sustainable capsule wardrobe goes beyond the fabric 

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the ‘sustainability’ of a wardrobe. But let’s be real — just like zero waste, it’s highly inaccessible for most of us, takes hours of research for one garment, and in the end can you ever be truly sure that you’re not being lied to? (not to be too cynical here). 

We’re not going to buy our way out of the climate crises so let’s focus on actionable steps we can take. 

Your body will change over the years, you’ll need to buy a specific piece of clothing for a specific event, you won’t always have access to a sustainable brand. That’s okay

From Paulina: It’s about rethinking our attitudes around shopping and our clothes. Look at everything you have with a new mindset, look at how you shop with a new mindset. It will take effort but we can resist the pull of a TJ Maxx. Think about longevity, think about purpose, invest in a tailor. 

The next time you’re shopping or thinking about adding to your wardrobe, consider the following. 


  • Vintage is good for the planet because no new clothes were produced; it’s an easy way to add variety and statement pieces to your wardrobe; you can support small businesses who travel and source quality items; and if it’s made it this far it’s likely going to keep surviving. But as Project CeCe points out, proceed with caution. Vintage doesn’t mean good quality; beware of imitation vintage; and don’t treat it like fast fashion by using it once and discarding it. 


  • If every person bought one used item instead of one new item in a year it would save the equivalent emissions of taking 500,000 cars off the roads! But shopping for pre-loved clothes often has the effect of making us buy more because of its affordability. Hold your secondhand clothes to the same standards you do for new clothes: quality, longevity, function, use, and quantity. 

share pieces

  • Unofficially I have been sharing clothes with my sister and mom for years but recently I attended an official clothing swap hosted by a local organization. Many attendees expressed how they already do this lowkey with a few friends but were excited to see it happening on a bigger scale. If this sounds interesting to you, check Facebook groups, your local library, meetup, and anywhere else to find similar events — or start your own! 

learn basic repairs + support local tailors

  • Taking your clothes to a tailor is an excellent way to get more use out of your clothes whether it be to fit your changing body, hem a pair of pants, or take out a waistband in your favorite pair of jeans. We recommend learning the mending basics to be able to stitch up a sock, sheet, or legging hole and leave the rest to the professionals. Last year when I finally decided I didn’t need pencil skirts for the office I took them to a tailor and had them all shortened into mini skirts. 

fabric care guides

  • If you’re anything like us you like to throw all your clothes in the washer and go; I don’t even separate by color anymore. But with better fabrics come more responsibilities. As I incorporate more quality materials into my wardrobe such as cashmere, wool, hemp, and even bamboo I’ve learned that following the care instructions helps keep my items in better condition and lengthen their lifespan.

Building a capsule wardrobe isn't just about owning less, it's about owning better. By choosing quality pieces made from recycled materials like our hangers, you're empowering yourself to make conscious choices about what you wear and how it impacts the world around you, joining a community of people saying no to fast fashion. Remember, even small changes can make a big difference, both in your closet and on our planet. 

Two things before you go:

  • If you liked this then you just might like our newsletter! Once a month we send you the latest blog, what’s going on with us, some sustainable good news (usually), and a sustainable rockstar. 
  •  Keep up the sustainability by lining your closet with our recycled plastic hangers made entirely from ocean and ocean bound plastic. 

Final advice from Paulina — it’s not always easy to resist the trends. Don’t deny yourself but rather buy one piece that can work with multiple outfits and outlive the trend. You’ll be glad you hung onto it in the next 10 years when it comes back in style (looking at you flares)...

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