How To Create A Capsule Wardrobe With Sustainable Basics

How To Create A Capsule Wardrobe With Sustainable Basics

If New Year means new me, new decade means total reboot, right? Across the country, there are bookshelves of handy guides to this personal transformation. But to take on the world, we believe you need to have the sustainable basics right.

Investing in sustainable fashion basics not only saves us money and frustration but helps save the planet. Because rather than impulsive purchasing, we only buy carefully considered essentials that you’ll wear time and time again.  

Below, we have put together six simple ways of building the perfect sustainable wardrobe with all the key pieces needed. This way, you will never face another early morning crisis or pre-party breakdown.  

1. Ask Yourself – Do You Really Need It?

First things first, it’s time to get real with yourself. Do you really need to buy anything new or does what you have in wardrobe suffice? 9 times out 10, you could get by with what you have. And with a splash of creativity can transform existing pieces in your wardrobe to fit the occasion.

If the answer no, then save your hard earned cash for another day. If the answer is yes, read on.

2. Know What Sustainable Basics You Are Looking For

Next we need to create a clear overview of exactly what we need. Indeed, it is tempting to think winter coat and warm boots in January but what about July? By thinking ahead, we avoid a pile of garments at the back of our closet that never loses the price tags.

The bulk approach 

This approach requires the strongest overview. Rather than random small impulse purchases, we plan for at least the next 12 months with only a few top-ups in between. Because basics are relatively immune from fashion trends, using this method is fairly straight forward.

The seasonal approach 

While buying in bulk is easy, shopping sustainable clothing basics seasonally has its benefits. Imagining what we want to wear on our August holiday in Tenerife is challenging with a current temperature of 8 degrees. By allocating a budget for each season rather than a lump sum, we ensure to buy the things we truly need for each season.

Besides the strategic methodology, we should also consider personal taste. The Little Black Dress (LBD) may be a universal wardrobe essential but if we dislike dresses, chances are it will be relegated to the back of the closet. 

manteau Oxford coat from Klow organic sustainable basics
manteau Oxford coat from Klow

3. Do Your Sustainable Basics Research

As with most other things, doing your research properly can make a world of difference. The market is increasingly saturated with a wide variety of pieces at different prices and quality both online and offline. 

Pinterest is an excellent way to create a visual overview of what we desire. The platform allows us to explore garments and to collect them into personalised photo albums. 

Finally, Compare Ethics provides a full catalogue of sustainable basics alongside the classics. 

4. Know Your Budget

Most of us dream of a wardrobe overhaul but few of us possess unlimited resources to do so. By adding a pinch of financial realism, our new garments won’t cost us our peace of mind. 

This part links directly to knowing what sustainable basics need. When we have an overview of what goes on the hangers, we understand how much to allocate to each. 

Beyond financial peace, knowing our budget also indicates where to shop.

Affordable Sustainable Basics Brands

At Compare Ethics, we have verified multiple affordable brands. Ethcs and Goose Studios offer a wide range of sustainable basics such as t-shirts at £16 and hoodies at around £40. People Tree’s activewear range includes leggings at £35 and tops at £25. 

People Tree


Natural Edition


Goose Studios

Standout Pieces That Speak To You

On the other hand, there may be what we could call “sustainable basics priorities” i.e. pieces we consider long-term. A classic sustainable trenchcoat is one such example. In case our lifestyle dictates it, investing in unique timeless pieces for special occasions could be another priority. 

Aiming for multifunctional pieces such as this tunic from Komodo is a strategy for saving on budget. Paired with thick ties and flats, it makes for the perfect Sunday brunch outfit. By adding a pair of high heels, sharp jewellery and a cool clutch, we are dressed for a night out instead.

Buy Second Hand

Finally, it is worth considering second hand. Retold Vintage displays a vast catalogue of sustainable basics, from classic blazers to elegant evening dresses. Elia Vintage offers super feminine key pieces that will add a bit of chic basic to any wardrobe.

5. Think Of Every Occasion

Similarly to the seasonal approach, occasions are key considerations when building our wardrobe of sustainable basics clothing. Weddings, birthdays and office parties can cause a fair bit of wardrobe anxiety. 

When we commit to a sustainable lifestyle, we have already dismissed the fast fashion principle of new occasion, new outfit. Keeping this in mind, we can commence the search for the versatile yet classic pieces that suit any event.  

A long baby pink dress definitely works for your best friend’s wedding ceremony in Cornwall but does it work for the office Christmas party? Choosing less eccentric pieces and focusing on the classics is a way to eliminate nonessentials. 

Furthermore, this ties into the general planning of our new wardrobe based on sustainable basics. Ultimately, thinking of every occasion means to think ahead to ensure we do not experience unforeseen expenditures and last-minute panic attacks. 

One strategy entails reflecting on the past to estimate what events we are likely to attend in the future. If you are super social, do extra careful research on multifunctional dresses. If you are business-oriented, a basic wardrobe based on suits, skirts and heels may be more optimal.

For men, the answer is likely to be more straightforward as suits tend to cover most occasions.

6. Will I Wear My Sustainable Basics At Least 30 Times?

In 2016, founder of Eco-Age Livia Firth set out the #30wears challenge. In essence, Livia encouraged the world of fashion, especially consumers, to reconsider their relationship with the industry. With the trending hashtag, her objective was to instil in us the habit of only buying items we would wear a minimum of 30 times.   

This philosophy is the very foundation of sustainable essentials. In fact, by creating a wardrobe built on sustainable basics, we automatically have long-term intentions for our clothes.

When we discover an item, the first step is to consider its long-term relevance i.e. colour, design etc. Red may be fashionable in spring but will yellow be the it-colour for autumn? 

Secondly, we need to engage in a quality check. Delicate fabrics do look marvellous, but do they last? Sequinned dresses are tempting for New Year’s eve but quickly lose their sparkle once they start dropping in large numbers. 

Thirdly, caring for the items in an appropriate manner is another key aspect of maintaining one’s wardrobe. Carefully reading the washing label and instructions constitute key steps. 

To build a relevant wardrobe is no small task. Colours, designs, occasions, quality and care are just a few challenges to consider before we begin.

However, there are an endless amount of benefits attached to carefully planning our wardrobe.

We avoid impulsive purchases that we instantly regret. We skip the early morning stresses caused by uncooperative clothes. And most importantly, we ensure to build something long-term and sustainable making us the conscious consumers we aim to be.  

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Written by Kimie Frengler