How to Build An Ethical Capsule Wardrobe

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The issue of sustainability has been neglected for a very long time. Exploitation of workers, poor work conditions, minimum wage that doesn’t equal a real living wage are just some of the issues that are just now coming to the fore. Then we face such issues as chemicals that go into processing fabrics and the subsequent pollution and water waste – it takes around 700 gallons of water to produce a single T-shirt, not to mention the chemicals – non-organic cotton alone uses 22.5% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of all pesticides. Then we arrive to the lack of transparency by companies, as most of them don’t disclose where their fabrics come from, and some don’t even know where their garments are assembled.  Finally, there is the waste – did you know that an average person disposes of 81 pounds of clothing annually, and 73 percent of the world’s clothing ends up on landfills? We have many a fashion company to blame for the state of the fashion and our planet, but we also have to take a part of the responsibility. Yes, the garments we throw out usually end up where they do due to poor quality and lack of staying power. Hence, it’s our job to focus on quality, not quantity, shop responsibly so we throw away less and at least minimize our carbon footprint. Now, a capsule wardrobe comes with another set of perks – with a finite number of clothing items that mesh well together, you are able to create endless combinations that will make you look stunning every time. No more experimenting, no more wasting time on coming up with an outfit. There is nothing else left to do but take you on the ultimate guide towards building your own little pile of prized possessions that will stand the test of time, so let’s do this.

Love me tender, love me sweet

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When you do begin cleaning out your closet, don’t be overly harsh. Look at every item carefully and see if it can be salvaged. There are always ways to fall back in love with your old possessions, especially if you find a way to pair them with something new and add an interesting accessory. So, don’t jump to the dump. As for items that no longer have a place in your life – try to sell them, donate them or give them to friends who’ll love them. Try to minimize the amount that goes in the trash as much as possible. Finally, use the perks offered by some of the companies who offer discounts when you donate old clothes. They will be recycled and you will have done a good deed.

Tell me that you need me

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Now, let’s talk about the specific garments that go into a well-curated capsule wardrobe. As we previously said, it consists of a finite number of things and they include the following: a white shirt, a black dress, sustainable undergarments, a classic trend coat, a faux leather moto jacket, a great pair of jeans as well as a pair of classic black trousers or even better – wide-leg ones. A long cardigan and a nice crew sweater, a summer midi dress, a pair of denim shorts, a blazer, a casual shirt, a high-quality coat, a nice skirt that goes with your style. As for footwear, all you need is a pair of great boots, tennis shoes, and a pair of amazing heels for those more formal special occasions. Scarves, gloves hats – winter necessities, and you’re basically done.

The fabric and the color

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In the name of sustainability, you should always check the labels to see which fabrics the clothes you’re considering are made of. What you’re looking for is organic cotton, organic bamboo, hemp, linen, and organic wool. Aside from being unprocessed, and therefore much more long-lasting, they aren’t only good for the environment but for your health as well. Yes, there are numerous health benefits of organic clothing, and that should definitely be a factor in your purchasing decisions. As for the color, follow the minimalist route and stick with timeless and luxurious colors such as black, gray, camel, navy and white. They not only the safest, but work together as a team so you can have a great outfit day, every day.

Make sure

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Finally, if you want to be truly ethical and support sustainability in all its shapes and forms, use the Behind the Barcode website. It’s a website created by an Australian NGO that helps you discover ethical brands that adhere to the rules of fair treatment of workers and use sustainable fabrics. You can type in the name of a given fashion company and you will get the results in the form of grades. Each grade comes with an explanation as to which of the pillars of sustainability the brand has excelled at, and which ones need more work. You’ll be able to make informed shopping decisions and sleep tightly knowing you’re supporting the right cause.

By Claire Hastings