Want to build an eco-friendly capsule wardrobe? Here’s how.

We’ve all been there, rummaging through piles of clothes and finding nothing to wear. Suddenly our favorite green halter top looks all wonky with our newly bought flared jeans – we thought it would serve y2k realness?! Argh, nothing matches. Time to buy another pair of trousers to match the top, and another top to go with the jeans.

Stop!  Wait, think… Do you really need to be on the never-ending “get a new____ buy that____” carousel?

You don’t need another addition from the latest micro-trend that’s not made to last. What you DO need is a classic, well thought out list of timeless pieces that can be adapted into multiple outfits. Yes, I’m talking about building a capsule wardrobe.

We’ve curated 10 French inspired cornerstones to consider for your capsule closet, all from No Kill’s approved ethical fashion brands. But first, here’s some questions to ask yourself while perusing these always-in-style, good-for-the-planet staples that are the quintessentials of a well-structured, long-lasting wardrobe.

How interchangeable are these pieces?

Combine one item with two or three others, and you’re well on your way to a versatile capsule wardrobe. Combining items creates multiple looks, minimizing races to the boutique. Also, keep in mind from the beginning of your clothing search that one fine item could mix and match with pieces you own, bringing you an opportunity to support those who make higher quality, made to last goods.

Would this fit me well?

Some may be short on time and money so buying more in a moment to guess the right fit once items arrive is a frequent practice. The intention here is to send back poorly fitting pieces. But that just means more clothing cargo traveling back and forth across the world while emitting excess CO2. To avoid this, check available measurements against your own before adding to your cart.

Also, consider the ability of your item to be tailored. We know, it’s like, nobody does that anymore… but we must think differently about the lives of our clothing if we want to help fashion be better. Tailoring is a great long-term solution to preserve the clothes you love. And it’s not only for formal attire, you know? Maybe even think about if you’ve got the skills to tailor a new piece yourself before you buy.

Does this item support my lifestyle?

Minimizing your wardrobe can be challenging, but don’t pressure yourself, okay? If you truly need a new pair of jeans, it’s okay to start looking here. What I like to do is check out my lifestyle day-to-day. What do I need to make getting ready easier?

Really think about what you want and why. That will help you keep a solid idea of what to buy when you shop. Something to add to that is you can search for those pieces from nearest to furthest place. For example, need new work pants for your new position? Do you have any in your closet/ Does your family have an extra pair, or a friend? If no, maybe check the thrift shops if you have time; check everywhere before you order something from overseas.

Remember, some overarching goals of creating a capsule wardrobe in the first place are to slow down our consumption, simplify our lives, minimize cargo travel and prevent clothing waste.

Have I shopped my closet?

It’s time to do a wardrobe clean out. Checking out what you already have before it’s time to add something new is actually really fun! Not only does it slow down your consumption, but it gives you time to be your own fashion show, see things in new light, and visualize any important gaps in your wardrobe. A simple way to start is try on everything with intention to see what you have and what you don’t really like anymore. A key here is to try things on that you don’t like with things that you do. It’ll be just like shopping in the dressing room at the mall. You might find you’ve got more to mix and match than you realized.

Do I keep fast fashion items?

Totally try to do so. Fast fashion is a problem for sure, but you can improve it by slowing it down; keeping the pieces you own does exactly that. If the piece starts falling apart or fitting poorly, try to make it serve another purpose by fixing it up, styling it differently, or cutting it up like I do! If you don’t want anything to do with fast fashion anymore, you might decide to rid of it all together. If so, consider selling it online, swapping or sharing with friends, consigning, or even donating it. It might seem silly to fuss that much over a flimsy Shein blazer, but it’s really not, especially with your goals in mind. Speaking of goals…

Why a capsule wardrobe?

There are many reasons to create a capsule wardrobe. But defining those reasons for yourself, I think, is the most empowering way to keep the process going once it gets tough, and it will get tough. One way to explore your why is to learn about debates in fashion’s space. For example, The Good Trade highlights the debate over what came first: “the desire for fresh looks at an alarming rate or the industry’s top players convincing us that we’re behind trends as soon as we see them being worn.” What do you think?

See how you feel and let yourself run with it. Then ask yourself how your feelings fuel your capsule wardrobe adventure.


Scroll Our Top Picks for a French Inspired Capsule Closet

Plain White Tee

One of the greatest inventions of mankind, the T-shirt. Did you know it wasn’t until the 19th century that people start wearing T-shirts? I can’t possibly imagine working in the summer wearing a long sleeved shirt. My advice to you is to invest in at least two very good T-shirtslike these two from Mate the Label and Ali Golden. I wear tees year round, and you, too, should normalize using your summer ones for winter layering.


Button down

There will be occasions when T-shirts alone won’t suffice – that’s when a crisp white, clean-cut shirt comes in. Go up a size for extra versatility – we’ve seen pretty cool fits with these collared shirts as light jackets worn over a tee or tank, and you may not want to miss the opportunity to do so. This look works on both the long and short sleeved versions, like these ones from Frank and Oak and Outerknown.


blazer

The blazer is another item that never goes out of style, and a secret weapon for totally changing the vibe of an outfit. I’m loving the loose-fit linen look at the moment, like these ones from Reformation and Vincetta. I’ve opted for some matching numbers, but just KNOW how good these oversized jackets would look with jeans, shorts, or a dress (or anything else on this list, tbh).


Jeans

I’ll forever be biased towards wider legged jeans – there, I said it. Not to say you cannot rock skinny jeans, but a high-waist, looser fitting pair of jeans just feels different. It’s comfier, it makes your butt look great, lengthens your legs by a mile, goes with literally everything, and can be dressed up, down, and everything in between. We’ve heard stories of women spending 5+ years finding their perfect pair of denim bottoms, and we can understand that. Maybe these Boyish Carpenters will be the right ones for you, or these straight legs from Patagonia? Wherever you find them, a good pair of jeans makes everything else in your closet work.


little black dress

There’s nothing as quick to throw on and simultaneously good-looking as the Little Black Dress. Everyone has their own Holy Grail LBD – here are some looser fits by Boyish and Known Supply, with cinches in all the right places. These dresses are the ones that you could wear desk-to-dinner, with optionally, but preferably, some chic gold accessories to match.


trench coat

When it comes to outerwear, what’s considered “must-have” can get controversial. But I think a good trench is worth the money, if you’re about that seasonless, classic look. However, since it’s such a well-known piece, chances are you’ll find a lot trench coats on the market are by mass producers like Zara and H&M. Here to help you out bestie. I’m loving this soft trench by Tentrée for a more relaxed look, and this black Reformation number just screams sleek.


breton striped shirt

When the weather turns a little chilly, these long sleeve Breton striped shirts are both cozy and stylish – a must-have for the back to school season and a staple for understated chic. How comfy does this California Cloth Foundry top look?! For a more elegant vibe, Amour Vert has perfected the casual chic.


white sneakers

Because they belong in the holy trinity of T-shirt, jeans, and… Sneakers! And I reckon this genderfluid combo is gonna stay relevant, wearable, and fab for years to come. White and neutral colored sneakers always manage to look appropriate no matter what’s being paired with on top. They are a safe bet for your money, plus they take away the hassle of deciding between different footwear options each time you go out the door. I’m loving the tiny details on these kicks from Farfetch and Toms.


ballet flats

When the sneaker doesn’t quite cut it, the ballet flat steps in for a softer spin on footwear. We’re pretty into ballet-core these days, and these flats are the perfect touch for bringing a bit of French flare to any outfit. So take the leap (sorry, couldn’t resist) and get yourself a pair of these cute slip-ons. Rawganique offers a luxurious slip on pair, and for the real en pointe look, try these lace-ups by Reformation.


silk scarf

And finally, the silk scarf – the ultimate accessory for a chic capsule wardrobe. Scarves are some of the versatile pieces out there. They add a punch of color to any outfit, or they can stand in as clothing items on their own (like this dopamine delectable from Reformation, left). Want to skip the color? Check out the classic neutral palette from Misha Nonoo.

-By Destiny Washington


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