Don’t know what to wear? Try the capsule

“Less is more”, is an old classic in the fashion world. I’m not the big fashionista myself, but there’s a new fashion trend that I’m pretty excited about. You can only have 30-something pieces of clothes in wardrobe per season. Does it sounds like a challenge you would be up for? 

BY MARIA LENTZ-NIELSEN  

Since I’m currently on exchange in Bordeaux, France I have to live out of a suitcase. Leaving Copenhagen, I packed all my stuff in boxes and took only the best things with me. With an Air France limit of 23 kg, I had to make some hard choices. I took 35 pieces of clothes (excluding underwear, pj’s and running pants) with me. I expected to miss more of my things, but it turns out that I’m quite alright with a smaller selection of clothes. I don’t have the same “what to wear?!?!”-crises and I can see all my dressing options when I open my drawer.

Then I fell over this posting on facebook about the capsule wardrobe. It comes from the 70’s when London based Susie Faux, owner of the boutique “Wardrobe”, invented the term. In the 80’s Donna Karan also used the concept and lately it has made a comeback.

Build your capsule 
The capsule wardrobe consists of 33-36 pieces of clothes for each season excluding underwear, sportswear, pyjamas and footwear. Choose some basics that go with everything and some special items to spice it up. Consider the color scheme of your selection, what kinds of functions in your everyday life you need to match (fancy job, low key job, many social events, mostly family time etc.) and of course the season you are entering (temperature, risk of rain etc.).

For me it was a bit difficult because I had to pack for both summer, fall and winter in one suitcase. I brought a bit of everything, but more of the summer collection than of winter. I come from the cold North and I was expecting a warmer climate in South Western France. They make wine here, doesn’t that require a lot of sun?

Panic
The first month or so, I realized that I greatly underestimated the weather in Bordeaux. It turns out, wine needs a lot of rain too. By late September, I was panicking after having used my umbrella practically every day and sleeping with long sleeves and my woolen winter socks. Luckily, my parents came to visit me the last weekend of September and they brought me more sweaters and warmer scarves.

But then, as if the weather gods were playing a prank on me, the weather changed completely and the summer clothes that I sent home with my parents would suddenly have been useful. Anyways, I was happy to extend the summer a bit and I still had some t-shirt and dresses left, so no complaints. But just to say, you might have second thoughts, so don’t pack your clothes for the other seasons too far away.

Why do I have so much stuff?! 
All this thinking about stuff, things – clutter, right? It made me realize that I don’t need all that. But that realization might not have come in a different situation. It was necessary for me to make an exchange suitcase/capsule wardrobe. If it hadn’t been though, I might have hesitated a bit more to get rid of most of my clothes.

It’s not the first time that I’m living abroad and I owe my parents big time for letting me store all my sh*t in their house. At the same time, I also wonder if it was really necessary to have all those boxes. I forgot what’s in half of them anyways. Should I just throw it out, when I come home? Not all of it of course. I have a lot of kitchen supplies for example, that I’ll need one day but have not needed for the past few years when I’ve rented rooms in other people’s homes.

The good materialism
But this leads me to materialism. I wish I didn’t need a lot of things, that I could just have a minimalist apartment that might be tiny but seemed spacious because I wouldn’t have  stuffy stuff everywhere. But then I realized that I also need a lot of things, and if I actually throw them out, I’ll have to re-buy them later either as disposable plastic versions that goes against my green heart or just waste money on a new durable version. And also, there are a lot of my belongings that I wouldn’t want to get rid off. I love my books, my art nouveau mirror, my grandpa’s armchair and many other things. So even though materialism has a bad connotation for me, it might not be so bad if it means to really, really like your stuff.

So what to do now? Give up shopping, never purchase anything new and stick to recycling your wardrobe forever? Well, that might not be much fun. It’s okay to get new things, especially if they are sustainably made.

Let me give you an example of what I do to limit my consumption: When I go shopping (a rare event), I tend to try something on but not buying it right away. Even if I like it and it fits well, I’ll leave it at the store to see if I’m still thinking about it a couple of days later. If I do, I’ll go back to get it. If not, I saved some money and no harm done.

 

If you have tried the capsule wardrobe or have other tips for sustainable fashion and consumption, leave your comments below.

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