The Capsule Wardrobe Challenge: 37 Items or Less

You may have heard of the term ‘capsule wardrobe’, essentially meaning a wardrobe containing a few items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion quickly, that you really love. We’d hope we all have something similar in our own closets, but how many clothes do you actually own? 75? 100?

The capsule wardrobe challenge encourages you to never own more than 37.

And it’s actually easier than it sounds.

Creating a capsule wardrobe is a great idea if you’re interested in minimising your wardrobe and embracing slow fashion, since it encourages you to stick to a few staples rather than buying into tons of fad trends. Some guidelines just encourage a minimalist collection of less than 50 pieces of clothes, shoes and outerwear, but to build a wardrobe that you can term a “capsule wardrobe”, the strict limit is 37. (Pyjamas, accessories, fitness clothing and anything for a special occasion doesn’t count).

But why?

The reasons people opt for a capsule wardrobe will generally be either for personal ease, or for the environment.

Looking at it from a personal angle, capsule wardrobes are EASY. Once you’ve got yourself down to 37 pieces, you don’t have to worry about matching colours or styles – you know they all go together. Every item is something you genuinely love, so you will never be stuck rummaging through a stuffed wardrobe with nothing to wear. It also costs less, since you’re not buying as much, or even doing as much laundry.

But more importantly, capsule wardrobes are an excellent way that you as an individual can do something great for our planet. You’re far less likely to throw clothes away after purchasing but never wearing them, and due to the number restriction, you won’t be buying as many clothes to begin with. This means less of consumers’ money going towards the fashion industry, the second most polluting industry in the world, which in the long-run could result in production of clothes slowing altogether.

Here’s how you can do it…

1. Start by clearing your wardrobe out.
To start with, only keep the things you absolutely love. Anything that you’ve not worn for a year or more, doesn’t fit you, or can’t be mended, should be donated to charity or recycled – make sure they aren’t binned. We are throwing away clothes far too often and this can completely counteract the positive impact that the capsule wardrobe is aiming to have. The rest should then go into storage – it seems daunting to throw away such a large quantity at once, and you can’t always predict what you’ll miss, so keep everything hidden out of your wardrobe until you’re certain you don’t need it.

2. Live with what you’ve got for a while.
This is likely to put you at way under 37 items. But getting to grips with how small your wardrobe is will give you an idea of what’s missing, and hence, what you need to purchase. You can then make a note of what you need, rather than going shopping straight away and making assumptions of what to get.

3. Add the items you need.
To get yourself up to a comfortable number of pieces, buy things that fit your body shape. (There’s a fab body shape calculator here – so you can figure out what fits best). Clothes that are a flattering shape will look good regardless of any current fashions, so being able to identify these in stores is a great start. Since you’ll be wearing the same clothes more often, invest in some higher-quality pieces that won’t wear out easily. The extra money you’ll have spare can be put towards purchasing from cruelty-free brands, ensuring your clothes don’t come from companies that mistreat their workers or the planet.

4. Remove and replace, in balance.
Once you’ve got your 37 items, you’re good to go. If you notice at the end of a season that you wore any particular item less than three times, give it to a better home and find something to replace it that you will use more. Swap clothes in and out of storage depending on the time of year – remember, anything that’s not in your wardrobe doesn’t count towards your grand total.

Tip: Try the three-of-each rule – one casual, one dressy, and one in-between for each clothing staple!

Are you ready to commit to the capsule wardrobe challenge?
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