My Most-Worn Sustainable Capsule Wardrobe Pieces

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Do you find yourself with a closet overflowing with clothes, only to reach for the same 5 items every week? I’ve been there, too.

Although I don’t have a complete capsule wardrobe yet–with a specific color palette and very limited number of items–I am in the process of building and making my dream wardrobe. 

Creating a Capsule When Your Body is Constantly Changing

I am trying to fill both my wardrobe and home with only items that I love and will use because we have limited space and storage. However, the main challenge that I have been facing is how drastically my body has changed in the last two years since becoming a mom. I went from being relatively proportional in reference to a typical size chart to pregnant to postpartum where literally nothing fit to where I am now. I’m fairly close to my pre-pregnancy size; however, things aren’t quite where they used to be and my clothing doesn’t fit the same. I’m also breastfeeding my son, and although I am incredibly grateful for the ability to nourish and care for him and bond in this way, it has made finding clothes that fit and are flattering quite the challenge. Anyone else have a small band and large cup size? It’s not easy finding clothes with this sizing considered. When I make my clothes, I’m in between about 3 different sizes which makes buying store-bought clothes quite the challenge. Unfortunately, most store bought clothes were not designed to fit people outside of a very limited range in measurements even though most people measure between multiple sizes. I have a lot of thoughts on this and the harm that the fashion industry does to our mental health, but that’s a post for another day!

I am at a time in my life where I recently had a baby and hope to have more, so part of me just wants to wait until this phase of my life is over so that I can buy clothes that will fit for longer than a few months. But, I also don’t want to wait 10 years to feel confident and somewhat put-together, so I am working on building and creating a capsule wardrobe with pieces that will last during various seasons of my life. This means silhouettes that can accommodate for various life-stages, shirts that are breastfeeding friendly, and loose tops or wrap shirts that are flattering with my current measurements. I also am trying to find pieces that can be worn between as many seasons as possible–materials that are breathable for the summer but can be layered for the cooler months. 

So, whether you are in a season of life similar to my own or just want to build a versatile capsule wardrobe, here are my favorite capsule wardrobe pieces that I wear all the time, in almost any season! I have been building this capsule for a few years, and most of these pieces were bought secondhand with a few new and handmade items mixed in.

My Top 10 Capsule Wardrobe Pieces

Marine Hill Studio – Cropped Tanks

I’m literally wearing this as I type. These tanks are handmade from organic cotton jersey by a family in Minnesota. This family started The Kinnd Project, but recently merged it with a new endeavor focused on making simple, organic basics–marine hill studio. I have both a cream and light blue tank and have worn them over and over throughout the summer. I like pairing them with jean shorts and sandals or with athletic shorts when working outside. I can’t wait to layer them with chunky cardigans and high-rise jeans this fall! I sized-up to a medium because of my current measurements and because I like oversized clothing, but I think a small would have fit better in the arms.

HubbaDing Patterns – Handmade Linen Dress

I made this dress with cloud mid-weight European laundered linen from Isee Fabric. I bought the pattern from the pattern maker HubbaDing. Funny name, incredible pattern. Linen is breathable so I have been able to wear this ¾ length-sleeved dress in the summer but plan to wear it through the fall as well. This pattern is not currently available, but the one tagged above is really similar.

Sezane – Gaspard Jumpers

These jumpers were quite the investment, but i wore them at least 4 times a week throughout the fall, winter, and spring. I have one in vintage blue and one in camel. They can be worn in so many different ways and are literally the perfect capsule wardrobe pieces! You can wear the buttons in the front or back, leave them open like a cardigan, or drape the jumper over your shoulders for a layered look. I believe these were the only brand-new items of clothing I bought last year, and they were very much worth the investment. I’m planning on caring for them intentionally and keeping them a lifetime. I’m learning to buy smarter, not more!

Isa In Stitches Patterns – Handmade Wrap Top

I made this top using a pattern by Isa In Stitches with an organic cotton rib knit in Maple from Isee Fabric. Similar to the jumpers mentioned above, I can wear this top so many ways through multiple seasons. 

Little Deer Handmade – Linen Romper

This is probably my favorite piece I own. Although Little Deer Handmade has since changed ownership, a kind lady named Anna used to own and operate the entire shop. She was so encouraging to me when I started my shop Elsie James, and I couldn’t believe that she would take time to talk to me and support my small business! This jumper was handmade in Canada, can be worn through nearly every season, and it is breastfeeding-friendly! It isn’t currently available, but there are other incredible linen pieces available on their website now! Little Deer Handmade launches different collections every few months, so stay tuned for some fall/winter pieces! Here is a similar romper from Not Perfect Linen.

Little Deer Handmade – Linen Shirt

This was my second purchase from Little Deer Handmade. I wear this probably twice every single week. It’s the perfect shade of cream and gets softer with each wash! It is also not currently available, but there are similar options available online as tagged above. Anna Allen Clothing offers a pattern very similar to this shirt, so I’m hoping to try and make some more sometime. Here is a similar shirt from Not Perfect Linen.

Lowland Patterns – Wide-Leg Pants

I’ve already made two pairs of these pants. They are high rise and can be made with or without pockets. They feel like pajamas but can be dressed up. I made these ones in an organic rib knit from Isee Fabric. I sell these in my shop and you can buy them here.

Madewell – Mom Jeans

Literally my favorite jeans ever. I bought these secondhand on Poshmark and love how comfortable they are. I hope high-waisted jeans never go out of style, and I’ll still wear them even if they do! Madewell tends to run big, so I recommend reading the size charts carefully and sizing down if you are wanting a more relaxed look. Although they are making great strides for change, Madewell is not solely an ethical or sustainable company. I do love how their jeans fit, so I choose to shop for them secondhand because it is 1. more sustainable and 2. more affordable.

Levi’s – Loose Overalls

I bought these after seeing a friend wear a similar pair, and I absolutely love them! I used to have a pair of overalls but never reached for them because they were too tight in the hips. These overalls are loose and comfortable and are perfect with a tank and bare feet in the summer or a turtleneck and sneakers in the fall. They are also a lot more affordable than a lot of overalls and are available in this wash which was made with a waterless (i.e. more sustainable) process!

Not Perfect Linen BST – Dresses

I bought two of these dresses (the one not pictured is a rust color) secondhand from the Not Perfect Linen Buy Sell Trade group on Facebook. They actually aren’t from NPL, I can’t remember the original maker, and the tags are missing, but I’ve already worn them so many times. They are loose and flowy but still flattering, and I know that they will be perfect for layering through the winter. Originally, these dresses were over $130, but I got the pair of them for about $75 total because I bought secondhand and asked for a bundle deal! Never be afraid to ask for a bundle… most times, sellers want to combine shipping costs and not mess with the hassle of multiple buyers. Here’s a similar dress from Not Perfect Linen.

Elsie James Clothing – Organic Pullover

Ok, so I had to throw my own company into this mix because I really do wear these cozy pullovers all of the time! They are made from the softest, squishiest organic waffle thermal knit. It’s like wearing a blanket or a cloud. I have a few of these–some are more fitted and some are more oversized. I’m planning on having a limited supply of these in several neutral colors when I relaunch my shop–hopefully in October. I sell these in my shop here.

Mia Sofia – Handmade Swedish Clogs

I bought these shoes secondhand on FB Marketplace after searching for some within my budget, and I wear them ALL. THE. TIME. With jeans, with skirts, with dresses. These clogs are so comfortable and are probably my favorite shoes I own! Here’s a similar pair from the same company.

A capsule wardrobe isn’t something that happens overnight, but a good place to start is cutting back on the items you own. I’ll be sharing more about how to plan, budget for, and build a capsule you love over the next few months.

Have you ever considered starting a capsule wardrobe? Let me know why or why not below!

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