Capsule Wardrobing - You're Probably Doing It Wrong

Praying that my readers learn the definition of capsule wardrobing after consuming this post #BlessUp  

Praying that my readers learn the definition of capsule wardrobing after consuming this post #BlessUp

 

Dearest Internet Friends, listen up: enough with your bloated versions of the “capsule” wardrobe. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the word capsule is trending. Everyone seems to have created their own definition as to what it actually means. So, what does it mean, then?

Credit for coining the term “capsule wardrobe” goes to London boutique owner Susie Faux in the 1970s. +1 for the Brits. However,  it really caught on in 1980s America thanks to former Parsons alumni, designer Donna Karan and her “Seven Easy Pieces” collection. +2 for Parsons the Americans. Which side am I on? At the time, a capsule wardrobe was defined as a compact wardrobe made up of staple pieces in coordinating colours–usually in the realm of 30 items or fewer, including shoes and sometimes even accessories. Faux suggested fewer than a dozen items for an ideal capsule wardrobe. One might update the wardrobe with a couple of new trendy or seasonal items two or three times a year, but that's it. The goal was to have a streamlined wardrobe of high-quality pieces that could be worn often and interchangeably, thereby saving money, closet space, and time. The ultimate challenge for ethical fashionistas, or really anyone who cares about Mother Earth.

Fast forward to the 2010s and the capsule wardrobe appears to have taken on a new meaning. It has sneakily been repackaged as the new vessel for our society’s capitalistic obsession with consumerism. Welcome to America. A country that can sell you things based on not selling anything, yet the end result ends the same - YOU KEEP BUYING! Perhaps this is a harsh proclamation, but it’s true. So many blogs and articles have pushed the capsule wardrobe idea because it’s currently trendy, without actually committing to the actual tenets behind the concept. Capsule wardrobing should not involve purchasing new pieces, but in trimming down what you already have.

One “minimal” style blog, Un-Fancy, offers up these suggestions for curating a capsule wardrobe: “If picking a number doesn’t jive with you, listen to your intuition—it’ll tell you when you have enough.” The blogger, Caroline, used her intuition to choose 37 items for her capsule wardrobe–but rather than those 37 items being worn year-round, they are meant to be seasonal items for a three-month period. After those three months, she “typically end[s] up getting between 4-8 new pieces for each new season.” Caroline calls this wardrobe approach “generous yet minimal.” I’m sure that  people with much larger wardrobes [like myself, if I'm being honest,] would not call this generous, but at the same time I’m not so sure it can be considered minimal either. Especially, when this is contrasted with Susie Faux’s original capsule wardrobe concept of around a dozen items meant to be worn year-round, every year.

Another misguided approach to the capsule wardrobe has been spreading around Pinterest a lot since it was published on Who What Wear last year: “How to Create a 5-Piece French Wardrobe.” Intrigued, I clicked on the pinned article to find out how French women manage to be so stylish with only a five-piece wardrobe! Of course, the title was wildly misleading. The actual wardrobe is a fairly pared-down collection of 33 classic staples. The key, apparently, is to add five new items of trendy clothing every season. (This season, we are advised to purchase items such as a romper, culottes, and flatforms. Those are certainly trendy.) Of course, this is to be done after cleaning out your closet and then purchasing “new basics to fill any gaps” that opened up after getting rid of your old clothes. WTF?

Wait a minute, I thought to myself after reading these blog posts (and many more like them). Why is the capsule wardrobe suddenly all about shopping? The whole point of a capsule wardrobe is for people who are on a budget or dealing with minimal closet space (or even people who simply aren’t interested in spending a lot of time and money on fashion) to be able to stop making multiple purchases every two to three months and still have a serviceable wardrobe.

Dress: Recycled from a friend's roommate [my only long-sleeve LBD] Belt: Re-used from Theory dress I no longer own [my only black belt] Jeans: Rag & Bone [1 of 2 pairs of sandblasted jeans that I alternate in] Booties: Sam & Libby [only pair of black heeled booties]

Dress: Recycled from a friend's roommate [my only long-sleeve LBD]

Belt: Re-used from Theory dress I no longer own [my only black belt]

Jeans: Rag & Bone [1 of 2 pairs of sandblasted jeans that I alternate in]

Booties: Sam & Libby [only pair of black heeled booties]

If you are someone who is intrigued by the capsule wardrobe idea but can’t possibly imagine trimming your entire wardrobe down to fewer than 50 items, then you may find blogs such as Project 333 helpful as a starting point. Please note that not everyone has to have a capsule wardrobe, even I don't! Just because the minimal trend is popular right now doesn’t mean it will work for your lifestyle or tastes, and that’s fine.

Still, you may find that you actually have a good reason to switch to a capsule wardrobe. Perhaps you’re on a tight budget or trying to save money. Perhaps you don’t have enough closet space anymore or your home is becoming cluttered with clothing and shoes you don’t wear. And then, of course, there’s also the environmental and ethical backlash caused by our love affair with fast fashion.

So if you do decide to try out the capsule wardrobe for yourself, great! Just try to be mindful of how you go about it, lest you fall into the trap of using your capsule wardrobe as an excuse to buy more things that you “need” to make your wardrobe “perfect.” I could not be more over this illusion of perfection. Nobody’s wardrobe is perfect, whether it’s minimal and streamlined or chock-full with trends. There will always be another item that you need to make your wardrobe complete; it’s human nature to want something more, something new. That's capitalism working at it's finest. My issue isn’t with the number of items in anyone’s capsule wardrobe, but rather the focus being put on the constant shopping required to update one’s capsule wardrobe every season. What do you think?

 

Being Sexy Is Being Ethical SS17

At long last, spring has arrived here in New York! What does this mean? A fresh new wardrobe for an entirely new season. This being said, I advocate if you are going to shop, please do so ethically. It is incredibly easy to shop ethically and remain on par with trends. Are trends even a thing anymore? 

Check out this palette I put together. My favorite colors for this S/S 2017, a mix of bright grapefruit/lime with darker,  natural hues.

Check out this palette I put together. My favorite colors for this S/S 2017, a mix of bright grapefruit/lime with darker,  natural hues.

Nomad Short by Bonobos

Nomad Short by Bonobos

The LA Henley by Bonobos

The LA Henley by Bonobos

Have you heard of Bonobos yet? Bonobos is an ethically minded menswear company similar to the stylings of American mega brands like J.Crew or Banana Republic. But with one big difference: an ethically minded sensibility. Like most ethical fashion brands, Bonobos is online only. Additionally, Bonobos manages a blog in which they utilize to tell the stories of the men that wear their clothing. If you're new to the ethical fashion industry, creating a story around a product allows for the consumer to connect with the product more, care for it better, and therefore enabling it to last longer. This extends the entire life of a single clothing garment.

Another totally underrated ethical menswear brand? Onychek. Made entirely in Africa from ethically sourced materials. PS: How fun is this shirt? You know you need it.

To level with you, Bonobos totally rocks menswear, but have yet to launch a womenswear line. Still want to be ethical? Totally possible. Check out the above Parisian LES inspired linen dress. Made entirely by ethical standards in Paris. The perfect look and way to stay cool during the sweltering summer.

Trace Jumpsuit by Reformation

Trace Jumpsuit by Reformation

There's no other way to say it - LINEN IS IN, IN A BIG WAY. Check out this ethical jumpsuit from Reformation, vertical stripes in all the right places. Could you do better? Probably not.

The Suede Heel Boot by Everlane

Booties? Check. The ethical Everlane has these on lockdown. What's the best thing about lightly colored suede Chelsea booties? You can finally wear them in the summer with no fear of rain ruining them. Go on, purchase some and get on with yo bad self!

Sonia's Sustainable AF!

When it comes to sustainable clothing and products I get asked all the time, "But Kelly, where can I shop? How do I know it's ethical?" I have grown so passionate about this issue as it intertwines three of the things I feel most compassionate about: environmentalism, feminism and ethical fashion. My inspiring friend, Sonia, originally from Greece, has created a fabulous line of sustainable jewelry for men and women. The best part? It's completely hand-made and the options are absolutely endless. Just check it out! Delicate GR Wear !!!

Into color? Into purple as much as me? You are in luck! Delicate GR Wear

Into color? Into purple as much as me? You are in luck! Delicate GR Wear

Sonia's line is not only ethically sound, but extremely powerful in bringing awareness to an economic situation in Greece that is in grave disarray. Delicate GR Wear looks to alleviate the current status of Greece, in her own words, 

"My ultimate goal is to teach these techniques to unemployed people in Greece and hopefully offer some jobs in the future or even transform unemployed to self-employed entrepreneurs. I will be able to give jobs to people or refugees that are in need of a way to make a living. Hopefully, this will serve in creating a sustainable business for the people of Greece and give them hope that things will improve. My company is based on ethics, the Ancient Greek "pneuma" and fellowship. We need to first change ourselves before we change our environment and ultimately the world around us. This handmade craftsmanship is something that I do beyond my full-time job as an engineer is because I feel a calling to make a difference in this world. We are all one and each one of us needs to contribute to the change world as we know it." 

After hearing the words of such an empowering woman, how could anyone not want to work with her in making a difference? For my friends and readers Sonia is offering an incredible 20% off for a very limited time! Please contact me for details. BE ENVIRONMENTALLY CHIC + SHOP Delicate GR Wear!

 

 

MY WCW: PROJECTJUST, DO YOU KNOW THE STORY BEHIND YOUR CLOTHES?

If you are satisfied with the status quo, then stop reading this post will be of no interest to you. However, if you want to change the world in a meaningful, positive and actual way by all means read on. Your clothes speak before you do? Maybe not. Being a student at Parsons I have the fantastic ability to be exposed to many wonderful things. Perhaps one my favorites is the amount of seminars/talks I am invited to about the fashion industry and ways that we as consumers can improve it and make it better. Most do not realize that clothing choice and environmental awareness go hand in hand. Where are the clothes you wear coming from? How are they being produced? By whom? For how much? That's why when attending a talk on sustainable fashion I was immediately captivated by listening to Natalie Grillon speak about her company, PROJECTJUST

Natalie created PROJECTJUST with friend Shahd AlShehail after being inspired working at a cotton company in Uganda. The livelihoods of those working with cotton were increasing, but their story was not being shared and Natalie saw enormous opportunity and potential in being able to share them. JUST was created with the mindset that by being an informed consumer, you have the ability to make more thoughtful choices in clothing and therefore directly have an influence in stopping the abuses and exploitation of workers in third world countries. Without being informed, consumers will continue to buy fast fashion aka: Forever 21, H&M, Zara, etc. The prices at these stores are extremely low for a reason, and it's not a good one. Prior to listening to Natalie, I had no idea how abhorrent these fast fashion companies were.

Natalie and Shadh believe that the beauty of clothing does not only come in the form of aesthetics, but also the story behind it's creation. Given that we live in such a visually stimulating culture, it does take effort to think one step past, "Oh this looks awesome on me. I'm getting it." That sort of thinking, though second nature, is not effectively helping yourself or the industry.

Make a difference. UP YOUR GAME. Change the status quo. Choose to be informed. If you're buying clothing, which is probably everyone reading this post, I hope you take away that with companies like PROJECTJUST we can make a difference as consumers and global citizens. You, yes you, have the power!

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