What I have found really beneficial from restricting myself to living with a capsule wardrobe is having a parameter to follow. For some people that is a numbers game, so they restrict themselves to a set number of items to make up their wardrobe for the season. Or they might be strict op-shoppers and only buy clothes that are second hand for ethical and sustainability reasons. Or they might simply give themselves a monetary budget to stick to. While as human beings we would ultimately like to not restrict ourselves from endeavours that give us pleasure, sometimes a bit of a boundary line can be helpful.
For me, this boundary line is the type of material that make up my clothes. After years of fast fashion and quick dollars down the drain, feeling alternatively cold but clammy in an elastane tank top or hot but freezing in a acrylic jumper, I decided to go back to wearing natural fibres. This criteria alone immediately reduces the average scope of purchase for anyone, as most clothes available in the high street are cheaply and mass produced using synthetic fibres to keep manufacturing costs down. Synthetics include nylon and polyester. There is argument about others like viscose, rayon, and bemberg. These fibres are semi-synthetic because they start out in production as being natural – usually some type of wood pulp, but due to the intense chemical processes they are subjected to in order to be spun into yarn that is appropriate to manufacture clothes out of, one could argue that they are synthetic as a result.
To make things easier for my purchasing needs, I try to avoid anything that isn’t 100% natural fibre, which includes the aforementioned viscose, rayon etc. Most modern clothes to hand will have percentages of synthetic fibres in them. I will tolerate synthetics as long as their percentage is lower than 10%, and ideally at a maximum of 5%. Being able to say I will not buy anything that is completely synthetic forces me to research and identify brands that meet my personal requirements, which in turn stops trigger happy fingers from pressing “purchase” blindly. Having a personal standard really causes you to consider what you’re buying, whether you truly need it, and ensuring that you are investing in a quality piece that will last you for decades instead of days.
L-R: Country Road wool cardigan, oatmeal, similar here ($$); GAP cotton cardigan, navy (purchased while in Japan)
You also gain a better appreciation for what you buy and how it feels on you – not just fit but whether you actually feel physically comfortable. I remember buying a really lovely cowl neck jumper that was made of acrylic and “mixed fibres” (pre-fibre-knowledge days) in a beautiful autumn red shade. Whenever I wore it though, I was either too hot because of the nature of the acrylic, breaking out in a heat rash, or freezing when the wind blew because the synthetic fibre didn’t have any insulating properties. Regardless of how much I liked the cut and colour, the fact was that I was very uncomfortable whenever I wore that jumper, and surely the point is to enjoy inhabiting the clothes we wear.
Eco Haven cotton knitted tunic, grey (purchased many years ago)
What are you shopping habits, and do you have any criteria when you are purchasing?