How to Build your Capsule Wardrobe

By Olivia Adam

Today’s unforgiving whirlwind of weekly microtrends makes staying true to your personal style difficult. Building your own classic capsule wardrobe is a sustainable and ethical way to battle the winds of fast fashion.

(Shop sustainably with a capsule wardrobe Photograph: Olivia Adam)

What is a ‘capsule wardrobe’?

It is a minimal and succinct selection of clothes and accessories carefully handpicked to stand the test of time. Essentially, you are looking for quality over quantity. 

You may opt to buy a few seasonal trendy items throughout the year but ideally, your capsule wardrobe should be between twenty and thirty pieces. They should be adaptable items that are interchangeable with some that can be worn all year round.

The history

First used by American publications, the term ‘capsule’ was used as early as the 1940’s.

During the 1970s, the owner of the London boutique ‘Wardrobe’ Susie Faux reintroduced the term.

“Every woman should have two or three beautiful white shirts, a belt, bag, and shoes,”  – Susie Faux

In 1985 Donna Karan marketed the phrase by creating a line titled “7 easy pieces”. Her show included 8 models dressed in bodysuits and tights aimed to highlight stylish simplicity for the everyday woman. 

How is it more sustainable?

The concept encourages a small ‘staple’ wardrobe which will stop the overconsumption of microtrends and fast fashion items. 

It is easier than ever to spend (or not) when brands such as Pretty Little Thing (PLT) offer ‘100% off sales”. A recent viral TikTok shows how one girl bought 1,130 items for just  £15.08 from PLT. Many of the items were free with the most expensive item costing £0.45.

“Fast fashion brands like Fashion Nova, Boohoo, Revolve, Pretty Little Thing and Forever 21 all score less than 10% on the Fashion Transparency Index”- Fashion Transparency Index, 2020

Making a considerate purchase to add to your capsule wardrobe that is not compelled by a ‘100% off sale’ or social media microtrend, will reduce waste, save you money and limit stress when shopping. The digital age makes this difficult, with thousands of online retail shops and influencers pushing weekly trends, we have all been caught up in the storm. But keep in mind that investing in quality, timeless pieces that are not poorly made or bad for the environment will not only benefit you but the planet.

Where to Start?

  • Find existing quality pieces in your wardrobe and then identify what you need. You do not need to start from scratch!
  • When purchasing items, think about adaptable basics that you can style differently throughout the year and that will remain in style for the next few years or even decades.
  • Think about your lifestyle. If you work in an office, this may include smart trousers or shirts. If you are a student, think about casual and comfortable options such as a quality pair of jeans and sweaters.
  • Identify what suits your personal style. Think about the colours that you always reach for and that suit you best. Have a basis of neutrals and a few colourful pieces that can spice up your outfit.
  • Invest in a staple coat, bag and shoes. You can build the rest of your outfit around these items, using them as inspiration.


  • Less stress. Finding pieces that fit you well and are of good quality means that you won’t have to worry about repairing or maintaining poor quality clothing
  • More sustainable. You will not make purchases that you regret 3 months later! This means less waste and overconsumption of fast fashion
  • Less money. Not panic buying or giving into monthly trends means you will save a lot of money which you can use to invest in quality pieces!
(Example Capsule Wardrobe Photograph: Olivia Adam)

One thought on “How to Build your Capsule Wardrobe

  1. Well written Olivia. This blog is exactly what I once addressed in my blog where I wrote this post “Fashion is not for the wealthy but the willing” and also in 2020 I wrote a blog about “Quality over Quantity” and this just brings back memories. Anyways, I like what you said about shopping for quality which will be outfits that will still be in style for years and also help you and the planet.

    I really wouldn’t recommend shopping retail clothes online because the online sales are unpredictable, you might just be gambling with your hard earned money so better visit the store physically

    Nice post once more🔥🔥


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s