Why I Can't Stand Capsule Wardrobes


Capsule wardrobes are EVERYWHERE in the blogosphere and ethical fashion community right now. If you don't know what one is, a capsule wardrobe is a very minimalized collection of clothing you own and love, rather than a closet full of crap you never wear. It works so well for so many people, and I can certainly see the benefits as an ex fast fashion addict and still a complete shopaholic. However, the method simply doesn't work for me. Here's why...


1: The Boredom of Basics

I love a good basic. Whether its a simple black t-shirt or some classic skinny jeans, I certainly couldn't live without them. But wearing these things every day? I would get so unbelievably bored. Many capsule wardrobe activists suggest only 30 items in your closet, or even just 10 items to create 10 outfits, and I just can't imagine being such an outfit repeater. I like exploring fresh new ideas, trying out new trends, showcasing brands I love and generally just expressing myself with fashion. I think that I could not put across my identity as a fashion blogger if I wore the same breton top every day. For me, its a brilliant feeling to make a statement with what I'm wearing, hearing the comments about how fantastic these boots are for example, or people wanting to know where this off-the-shoulder top is from (Its from The Scottish Design Exchange by the way!). Fashion is about having fun and injecting a little joy into a stale and stagnant daily life, and standing out in a sea of dull dressing.


2: The Freedom of Fashion

Since the emancipation of women and the sexual revolution, we are finally free to wear pretty much whatever we want. Gone are the days of covering our ankles, wearing skirts to do sport and never leaving the house without a hat. We are still shamed and sexualised sometimes, told what we're wearing is inappropriate because men will get too aroused (bullshit- control your boner boys, I can show my bra strap if I want), or unflattering to our body shapes, because God Forbid the female body has fat and flesh on it. So I see dressing up exactly how I like and not limiting myself at all as a genuine act of feminism and of course a way of expressing and exploring my identity, which I think is what fashion is all about.


3: The Gok Wan Flashbacks

Obviously not so serious this one, but does anyone remember Gok's Fashion Fix? I would watch it every Saturday morning on T4 and even go to see the live catwalks when Gok came to Birmingham. Whenever I hear the phrase 'capsule wardrobe' I get terrible flashbacks to the dreadful hourglass-figure focused outfits with zero choice or variation, where Gok would just add a chunky black belt to everything, force women to have a huge cleavage and stuff them into unflattering, dull shift dresses and pencil skirts. Where was the fashion I wonder? They should have just called this show Gok Shows Women That They Have Boobs and Buys Them A Couple of Tops. Ok I'll stop ranting now.


This is by no means is an attack on those who create and maintain truly successful capsule wardrobe. Tartan Brunette, Jenny Mustard and Un-Fancy are some minimalist, capsule wardrobe focused bloggers that come to mind whom I really admire. In fact, in a recent post, The Hypocrisy of Ethical Fashion, I outlined why the only true way to shop ethically is to simply buy less stuff. We could all benefit from shopping less often, both for our bank balance and for the environment. What's more, minimalism is an aesthetic that generally lean towards, and there is no better feeling than having a great big clearout of all the clothes you no longer want and passing them on to better homes.

However, for me, fashion is about freedom of expression, and about finding your identity through what you wear, as well as supporting designers and brands that share your values and vision. I hate the term 'passion for fashion' of course, but I am truly passionate about this industry and aim to change it from the inside. But if we all stopped investing in fashion, many millions of jobs would be at stake. So a more sustainable solution, for me anyway, is still to refresh your wardrobe regularly as your taste and mood changes, but in a much more conscious and thoughtful way, thinking 'Do I truly love this' before handing over the money for an item, and 'Is this harmful to people and the environment' when in fast fashion stores, and also disposing of unwanted clothing in an eco-friendly way, not just sending it to landfill. That way, we can keep the fashion cogs turning, but this time for the better.


Top: Olivia Rose (buy here)

Necklace: Stella & Dot (buy here)

Boots: River Island (similar here)

Bag: New Look (similar here)

Jeans: Topshop (similar here)

All photographs by the lovely Kirsty McLachlan.