Even for eco-minded consumers, falling into the cycle of fast fashion and modern trend-hunting can be dangerously easy. However, buying clothes at the whim of a trend usually means they’ll soon be shoved into that “I’ll-save-it-just-in-case-I-decide-I-like-it-again-someday” zone of your closet. Luckily, shifting gears for a more sustainable approach to fashion can be done by turning your closet into a capsule wardrobe.
A capsule wardrobe contains a few (usually thirty-something) high-quality, basic clothing staples that can be augmented with seasonal items. Minimalist styles tend to be pervasive in capsule wardrobes, but if your style leans more toward fun colors and bold patterns, that’s okay, too! It’s up to you what you have in your capsule wardrobe — as long as the pieces are truly timeless and, most importantly, built to last. Because capsule wardrobes focus on quality over quantity, they were designed not only to remedy decision fatigue and visual clutter, but also to reduce the harmful footprint the fashion industry has on the environment.
Creating a capsule wardrobe can take time, and, honestly, can be a bit overwhelming at first. You’ll need some time to clear your closet of the clothes you never wear. You should also be prepared to invest a bit of cash in new pieces, as they will inevitably be more expensive than what fast fashion has to offer. To make it easy on you, we’ve rounded up a list of sustainable fashion brands that will guide your closet a few more steps towards an eco-friendly facelift. Consider this the foundation for your new wardrobe, and continue to explore and level up from here!
Basic tees are a necessity for any wardrobe, but if you’re looking for a sustainable option, The Classic T-Shirt Company is your one-stop shop. A cool perk: their shirts are pre-shrunk, so you won’t have to worry about accidentally shrinking them in the dryer after washing them. Best of all, the company's organic cotton products are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified and are made in the USA.
Everlane’s biggest claim to fame might be those enticing “choose what you pay” deals, but the San Francisco-based retailer is a treasure trove of minimalist items that make great additions to a capsule wardrobe. Each piece is created in factories that guarantee fair wages, reasonable hours, and safe working environments. What’s more, everything is made from premium materials that are designed to last. For winter staples, check out their timeless cashmere sweaters and coats. In the summer, try on their breezy blouses and chic jumpsuits.
Bhava shoes are handcrafted from sustainable and vegan materials. Classic yet modern, each style is produced in small, limited edition batches, so don’t wait to buy if you’re eyeing a pair!
No wardrobe is complete without clothes for rainy days and lazy weekends. Enter Noctu, the sustainable nightwear company that believes the clothes we sleep in should be just as sustainable as those we wear during the day. Their minimalist pajama sets, nightgowns, and sweatpants created from long-lasting GOTS-certified organic cotton will keep you cozy for years to come.
Fans of athleisure can fill their capsule wardrobe with pieces from Pact, a fashion brand that knows that style and sustainability can coexist. Athletic apparel isn’t the only thing you can stock up with at Pact; the Boulder, Colorado-based company also sells tops, sweatpants, jackets, and sleepwear.
Elegance meets ethical fashion. Cuyana creates modern, stately clothing with a strong belief in conscious consumption. To reduce its carbon footprint, the company manufactures in the same place or in proximity to its material sources, and works with tanners that are Gold Medal-certified by the Leather Working Group.
Eileen Fisher creates apparel with one goal in mind: to inspire simplicity, creativity, and delight through connection and great design. From casual loungewear to blazers to comfy sneakers, Eileen Fisher’s collections are made from eco-friendly materials that fit any occasion.
Cecilia is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. One of her favorite writing topics is sustainability, especially as it applies to beauty + wellness and the future of technology. She is a graduate of the journalism department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is based in Los Angeles, CA.