The Capsule Wardrobe is the Newest Eco-Friendly Trend

Brittany Blackman
Sep 22, 2022

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Consumer attitudes towards sustainability have changed in the past few decades. What was once a passing consideration to shoppers is now top-of-mind awareness to the vast majority. Deloitte's Sustainability & Consumer Behavior report is very telling.

There has been a substantial increase in people who have adopted a more sustainable lifestyle in the last 12 months. Compared with 2021, consumers have increased their focus on buying just what they need and reducing their meat consumption, among other things. However, when it comes to fashion retail, the shift becomes more pronounced. 

Eco-Friendly Thrifting

More consumers are choosing brands with ethical or environmentally sustainable practices and values or no longer purchasing certain products because they are concerned about the brand's carbon footprint or general ethics. 

This is why thrifting is popular among younger generations, and secondhand shopping is undeniably more eco-conscious.  

According to ThredUp's 2022 Fashion Resale Report, the U.S. Secondhand Market is expected to double by 2026, reaching a staggering $82 billion with a big B. The market saw record growth in 2021 at 32%.

While in-store thrifting at staples like Goodwill is becoming increasingly popular, eCommerce is leading the secondhand market. ThredUp's report says that online resale is the fastest-growing sector of secondhand and is expected to grow nearly 4X by 2026. The report also states that over half of all secondhand sales will occur online. Moreover, 70% of consumers report that it's become easier and more seamless to shop secondhand than just five years ago, thanks to eCommerce.

However, thrift stores see inventory move rapidly due to the boom in thrifting and reselling apps like Depop. Fashionistas are now stressing the importance of the "capsule wardrobe." 

Capsule Wardrobes are In

According to Sustainably Chic, a capsule wardrobe is a limited selection of interchangeable clothing pieces that complement each other. These are often classic pieces that do not go out of style and are primarily composed of neutral colors. A capsule wardrobe allows you to create various outfits with a small selection of clothes. 

In the 1970s, author and designer Susie Faux opened the Wardrobe boutique in London. She stocked and sold minimalist-looking clothing that was versatile, high quality, and that could be easily mixed and matched. It helped women become more confident about their outfits and allowed them to cut through the clutter to choose quality basics. The concept of a capsule wardrobe landed in the USA in 1985, when designer Donna Karan created her Seven Easy Pieces line.

The modern-day capsule wardrobe trend is a rebranded version of these concepts. However, the focus is now on honing your style and making sustainable choices. 

The Basics: Staples to Start a Capsule Wardrobe

Choosing this wardrobe is all about comfort, the correct fit, and versatility. For starters, finding the perfect white t-shirt, a pair of blue jeans that fit just right, and a black blazer that goes with anything is a great way to start the capsule process. Remember, the goal is less consumption of fast fashion trends and more of a focus on versatile personal style. Simple black tank tops, and subtle patterns could be added to complete the early stages of the wardrobe. It's up to the individual what they define as a basic, so long as it is versatile enough.

For more formal outings, tan and black trousers, crisp white button-down shirts, and a pair of white sneakers or black loafers are a few items to have. 

Next, athleisure basics for errands and lounge days are great staples to incorporate into a capsule wardrobe. A strong pair of black leggings, a good sports bra, and a comfy gray hoodie could be a good starting point to expand on. 

The TikTokification of Capsule Wardrobes

Of course, #fashionTikTok has recently brought renewed buzz about building your capsule wardrobe. 

A TikTok video from discussed how her capsule wardrobe made getting dressed more stress-free. Since building her capsule wardrobe, her closet comprises only clothes she loves, and they all go together. They also fit correctly. Clothes sizing is a very contentious subject for women across the board. It's convoluted and different across almost every store.

She and many creators shared the confidence boost that being "put together" makes them feel.

Capsule wardrobes are by no means a new concept, but the widespread renewed interest in eco-friendly practices has bolstered the trend. Starting fresh with already owned pieces and some new high-quality basics is the key to ensuring less overconsumption. Consumers won't have to worry about purchasing recent, flashy fast-fashion trends if they carefully curate a versatile, comfortable, and practical wardrobe. 

Photo by piotr szulawskion Unsplash

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