A 17-Piece Sustainable Capsule Wardrobe & Ethical Brands to Shop

woman wearing sustainable clothing and carrying reusable tote bag

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On a sustainable fashion journey? You’re in good (eco-conscious) company. Terms like slow fashion and conscious consumption have flowed from environmental circles into common parlance, along with an uptick in demand for sustainable fashion practices. Sustainable capsule wardrobe, it’s your time to shine. 

The spotlight on sustainable style, complete with “How I Quit Fast Fashion” videos and de-influencing monologues has ushered in a new, more thoughtful mindset around how we curate our clothing. 

This brings us to today’s mission- creating a stylish sustainable capsule wardrobe you’ll wear for years to come

Let’s clean up your closet in more ways than one.


A sustainable capsule wardrobe is a functional collection of clothing pieces (usually 10-40 items) built with ethical and environmental impact in mind. The garments are high quality to reduce the need for frequent shopping and versatile so they can easily be mixed and matched. A capsule wardrobe boasts benefits like reduced decision fatigue, less waste, and easier outfit creation.

While no two sustainable capsule wardrobes will be the same (hooray for individuality), they often share these similarities: 

  • Versatile pieces for easy outfit creation in a range of settings
  • High-quality materials that stand the test of time 
  • Secondhand items from thrift stores, resale sites, or clothing swaps
  • Brands that follow fair labor practices 
  • Brands that use sustainable manufacturing processes 

Note: This post may contain affiliate links meaning I earn a small commission when you shop the links, at no cost to you.


Whether you go for a tiny ten-item wardrobe or a more full-bodied closet, this sustainable guide is here with the essentials. Let’s get into the garments.  


Multi-Purpose Wrap Top: Why not ask for more from your clothing? A multi-functional top makes for loads of different looks without the need for a bulky closet. It’s a versatile style gift that keeps on giving. 

Striped T-Shirt: Build effortless outfits with a sustainable striped tee. This versatile staple, often made from organic cotton, is ideal for casual outfits. It’s also a perfect addition in this French capsule wardrobe

Elegant Blouse: A sophisticated and sustainably made blouse adds refinement to any outfit. Look for blouses made of sustainable fabrics like TENCEL™Lyocell, organic hemp, or recycled cotton.


Button-Down Shirt: Trends come and go. But this timeless wardrobe staple is one you can always rely on. A button-down top is perfect for achieving a polished and put-together look. I love sizing up for a more relaxed look.

Soft Knit Sweater: Be cozy and eco-conscious with a sustainable sweater made from organic cotton or recycled fibers. This closet essential makes for pretty layering on cooler days.



High-Waisted Jeans: Denim creation is not exactly easy on the earth. Case and point- it can take over 1800 gallons of water to produce one pair of non-organic cotton jeans. Fortunately, planet-friendly jean options made with hemp, organic cotton, and clean dyes are strutting onto the sustainable scene. 

Tailored Trousers: Trousers are another fan favorite in sustainable capsule wardrobes. Whether you choose a breezy linen pair or a woven structured option, you’ll have tons of outfit options with this stylish staple.


Flowy Skirt: An elegant and sustainably made skirt in a versatile color is a must. I’m partial to midi skirts since they can transition easily from office to date night to event in a way minis just can’t. But whatever you opt for, be sure it’s ethically made and built to last. 

Flattering Shorts: Chic and comfortable tailored shorts made from eco-friendly materials are perfect for warmer days. Tuck your buttoned shirt in for a polished look or pair them with sneakers and a t-shirt. 



Little Black Dress: 1,2,3. Easy as LBD. A sustainable black dress is arguably the most versatile piece in a closet and one you won’t regret investing in. Look for materials like sustainable viscose, TENCEL™ Lyocell, and deadstock fabric as you dress shop. 

Wrap Dress: It’s difficult to resist the figure-flattering silhouette of a classic wrap dress. A flowy and ethically made frock is the perfect addition to your sustainable capsule wardrobe.

Stylish Jumpsuit: When you want the ease of slipping on a dress but the coverage and reliability of pants, the humble jumpsuit is your ideal article of clothing. Look for a sustainable jumpsuit that marries style with comfort. This way you can dress it up or down, as the occasion calls for. 



Trench Coat: Next up is a timeless and ethically made trench coat. Opt for one in a neutral color so you can slip it over many pieces in your sustainable wardrobe. This transitional piece acts as an oh-so-sophisticated layer. 

Cozy Knit Cardigan: Wrap yourself in something that’s equal parts chic and sustainable.  A knit cardigan made from organic cotton or recycled fibers adds a bit of warmth and a lot of style to a simple outfit.


​​Classic Sneakers: Want casual comfort? Reach for a pair of timeless and sustainably made sneakers. Many brands are creating conscious styles using recycled materials and closed-loop processes, ensuring that waste is minimized.  Slip-On Loafers: A pair of ethically produced slip-on loafers levels up any outfit. Look for vegan leather or recycled materials. Sustainable Ankle Boots: To top off your sustainable capsule wardrobe, turn to ankle boots made from responsibly sourced materials. I love pairing these with midi skirts in the fall and winter for feminine looks and just a little height boost. 
Need more inspo? This minimalist casual capsule wardrobe makes outfit creation a breeze.


Remember, you don’t have to buy new clothing to build your sustainable wardrobe. But you may have gaps in your closet. If you are in need of well-made clothing that’s anything but fast fashion, shop these sustainable brands. 

Have you pinned down a capsule color palette? Explore 6 ways to choose one so you can mix and match pieces with ease.


able sustainable clothing brand products including leather wallets, handmade jewelry, and dresses

Nashville-based sustainable fashion retailer ABLE empowers women through thoughtfully designed clothing. Known for its handcrafted jewelry, and “the best denim jackets you’ll ever buy”, ABLE is a go-to for well-made accessories. 

Need another reason to shop? The company provides jobs to women, helping them create a better future for themselves and their families.

Sustainable Practices:

  • ABLE focuses on creating sustainable job opportunities for women in the fashion industry.
  • The brand prioritizes fair and ethical manufacturing practices. It is dedicated to transparency and provides visibility into their wages and supply chain.

Good on You Rating: Good

Price: $$

Note: To gauge sustainability, I used the ethical brand rating scale from Good on You.


MATE sustainable capsule wardrobe basics dresses, and shirts

With dreamy color palettes and non-toxic essentials, MATE offers perfect additions to a sustainable capsule wardrobe.

From its clean-from-seed-to-skin approach to its commitment to local production, MATE is on a mission to revolutionize the fashion industry, one stylish and eco-friendly piece at a time.

Sustainable Practices:

  • MATE upholds strict standards, keeping carcinogens and toxins out of their supply chain and ensuring both customers and supply chain “MATEs” stay safe and protected.
  • With deep roots in the LA apparel community, MATE supports local garment workers and reduces transportation emissions by keeping their production within a 17-mile radius of their headquarters.

Good on You Rating: Good

Price: $$


REFORMATION clothing dresses and tops for women

What began as a small vintage clothing store in Los Angeles has blossomed into a highly sought-after sustainable brand. Ref’s effortless silhouettes celebrate the feminine figure and have earned it lots of devoted fans. 

Sustainable Practices:

  • Reformation prioritizes the well-being of garment workers, creating a safe and fair working environment throughout their supply chain.
  • The company uses low-impact materials, rescued deadstock fabrics, and repurposed vintage clothing to minimize waste and environmental impact.

Good on You Rating: Good

Price: $$$

Love Ref? Explore affordable and luxe brands like Reformation here.


homepage of sustainable capsule wardrobe brand tentree

Yes, tentree is a sustainable clothing brand. But it’s also a movement dedicated to regenerating ecosystems and providing planting jobs worldwide.

With an Earth-First approach, all its products are made in fair and safe working conditions. Tree huggers, unite!

Sustainable Practices:

  • For every item purchased, tenTree plants trees to “regenerate ecosystems, capture carbon, and provide planting jobs in communities around the world.”
  • tentree prioritizes sustainable textiles like lyocell, organic cotton, and recycled polyester to minimize wastewater and emissions.

Good on You Rating: Good

Price: $-$$


Girlfriend Collective sustainable outerwear featuring leggings and sports bras

When the common neutral color palettes of sustainable capsule wardrobes just aren’t cutting it, turn heads in bright hues, courtesy of Girlfriend Collective.

This ethical and sustainable activewear brand uses recycled materials to produce leggings, sports bras, active dresses, and more. The result is high-quality activewear that flatters your figure while doing good for the planet.

Sustainable Practices:

  • Girlfriend Collective uses recycled materials including water bottles, fishing nets, and fabric scraps to create athletic clothing. By transforming these materials into soft and durable fabrics, they divert waste from landfills and oceans.
  • The company uses eco-friendly dyes in its fabric dyeing process. They treat and clean wastewater from the dyeing process in a wastewater treatment plant, ensuring that safe water is released back into the environment. 

Good on You Rating: Good

Price: $-$$


Cuyana sustainable fashion retailer homepage featuring leather purses

If you’re looking for quality investment pieces for your sustainable capsule wardrobe, Cuyana is a solid luxe option. The brand’s signature structured leather bags are best sellers for a reason.

Cuyana’s beautiful and timeless clothing designs are sure to last season after season. 

Sustainable Practices:

  • To reduce waste, Cuyana promotes the repair rather than replace mindset. The brand facilitates repairs for its items. Initiatives like the Lean Closet program and Cuyana Revive give products a second life. 
  • Cuyana pledges to achieve 100% carbon-neutral packaging by 2025. They already use recycled paper for shipping boxes and printed assets. 

Good on You Rating: It’s a Start

Price: $$$$


Whimsy+ROW sustainable capsule wardrobe linen clothing

Who says sustainable style is boring? Whimsy + Row is an eco-conscious lifestyle brand that marries style and sustainability for looks you’ll adore.

Here, you can find effortlessly elegant pieces that give fast fashion the boot.

Sustainable Practices:

  • Whimsy + Row handcrafts their limited-run batches under ethical conditions in Los Angeles. They prioritize local production to ensure fair wages and fair treatment of workers.
  • The company strives to be zero-waste by recycling production scraps and transforming them into accessories like bandanas, bucket hats, and scrunchies. They also launched a resale website, Wear it Again Whimsy, to close the loop and minimize waste.

Good on You Rating: Good

Price: $$$


Faherty ethical clothing brand items for women

Laid-back clothing lovers, find your happy place at Faherty. The brand combines comfort, quality, and a commitment to sustainability in its laid-back clothing.

With a focus on quality and craftsmanship, Faherty is dedicated to making intentional decisions to reduce waste and lessen environmental harm in the fashion industry.

Plus, the collections feature clothing for the whole family. 

Sustainable Practices:

  • Faherty uses preferred materials that have a lower social and environmental impact. The brand prioritizes sustainable alternatives such as GOTS-certified organic cotton, Tencel™ Lyocell, Tencel™ EcoVero, traceable cashmere, linen, and recycled polyester. 
  • The clothing brand extends sustainability efforts beyond product manufacturing. By purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), Faherty offsets the energy usage of its physical retail stores.  

Good on You Rating: It’s a start

Price: $$$.


Everlane ethically made clothing featuring shop tabs for shoes, tops, and shorts

Capsule wardrobe darling Everlane is perhaps one of the most recognizable brands on this list. Here, you’ll find no-frills pieces perfect for building effortlessly cool girl looks.

Everlane’s transparency and responsible partnerships ensure their clothes don’t just look good, but also make consumers feel good. 

Good on You Rating: It’s a start

Sustainable Practices: 

  • Everlane works with production partners to reduce waste, chemicals, and plastics. The retailer has committed to eliminating all virgin plastic from their supply chain.
  • Everlane prioritizes holistic worker well-being programs. The brand works with third-party auditors to ensure fair wages, labor conditions, reasonable working hours, and a safe environment.  

Price: $$

Already a fan? Check out this list of brands like Everlane for more classic, ethically-made staples.


It’s time to bid fast fashion farewell. Follow the steps below to create a sustainable closet you’ll feel proud of: 


Let’s start by determining what clothing items are necessary. We can split this task into two categories: 

  • Your personal style preferences: What pieces make you feel confident and comfortable? Pinpoint the styles, colors, and silhouettes that suit you.
  • Your daily activities: Take into account your lifestyle. How do you spend the majority of your days? This will help you prioritize the types of clothing you need.

If you used The Elegance Edit Wardrobe Planner, you’re a pro at this step. Once you know what looks good on you and what types of clothing you need, it’s time to evaluate your current clothing.


Next up, take inventory of what you already have. This is the time to pull pieces that can be woven into your sustainable capsule wardrobe. It’s helpful to do this one season at a time. 

Here’s what to look for:

  • Versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched
  • Timeless silhouettes 
  • High-quality pieces 
  • Pieces that align with your personal style 

As you are looking at what to keep, you’ll naturally notice items that you should give away. You can donate or resell these garments to extend their lifecycle. 


You pulled items that aligned with your style and needs. What’s next? Split them into categories so you can note clothing gaps. Let’s say you’re building a winter capsule wardrobe. You may have: 

  • Tops
  • Sweaters
  • Bottoms
  • Coats
  • Boots 
  • Accessories (hats, mittens, gloves)

With your neat little sections made, you can now see what areas are in need of reinforcements. For instance, I realized that I was lacking in solid color versatile shirts as I created my winter capsule. 

For a surefire way to identify gaps, start building outfits for your most common activities using the clothing you already own. If you notice any missing pieces that would complete your outfits, add them to a list. That way, you’re ready to step into the next sustainable step- research (not in a boring way, I promise). 

clothes hanging neatly in closet

Take a look at your closet so that you can work with what you already own. 


So you’ve identified clothing gaps. It’s time to fill them with pieces from sustainable brands. 

Here’s what to look for in ethical clothing brands: 

  • Sustainable Materials: Fabrics matter. Opt for brands that use organic, recycled, or upcycled fabrics. Other noteworthy fabrics include TENCEL™, recycled polyester, or hemp.
  • Ethical Production: Sustainable clothing goes beyond materials. Explore brands that prioritize fair labor practices and provide safe working conditions for their workers. The more transparent they are, the better. 
  • Circular Economy: Brands that promote a circular economy offer programs like recycling or take-back initiatives for their products. Cuyana and Patagonia are a couple of star players in this regard. 

When researching these brands, keep an eye out for sustainability certifications like Fair Trade, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), or B Corp. These signal that the brand upholds ethical and sustainable practices throughout its supply chain. 


Supporting sustainable brands is just one way to build your closet. But we have more to explore. Enter secondhand shopping. Thrift stores and resale sites offer another avenue to create your dream wardrobe. Here’s what to do: 

  • Explore Thrift Stores: Pop into local thrift stores and consignment shops in your area. Armed with your clothing gap list, scan the racks of one-of-a-kind pieces at affordable prices. 
  • Browse Resale Platforms: Fire up the laptop and visit online resale platforms like Vestiaire, ThredUp, or ASOS Marketplace. These platforms offer a convenient way to browse and purchase second-hand clothing without leaving your house.

By opting for secondhand shopping, you give garments a second life and contribute to reducing textile waste. 

woman thrift shopping for capsule wardrobe


Longevity isn’t just a buzzword on the back of your green juice powder. It’s a key component in a sustainable capsule wardrobe. To reduce the need for clothing replacements, follow these clothing care tips: 

  • Follow Care Instructions: Before mindlessly tossing and washing, read the care labels on your clothing. You’ll get specific washing, drying, and ironing details here. Different fabrics require different care methods. So pay attention if you’d like your clothes to last longer. 
  • Learn to Sew and Mend: Developing basic sewing skills allows you to mend small tears, replace buttons, or make simple alterations yourself. If you’re not down for a Youtube tutorial, you can always take a trip to the tailor instead. 
  • Practice Proper Storage: Store your clothes in a clean, dry, and well-ventilated space to prevent damage. When placing them in your closet, Fold or hang them appropriately to maintain their shape. 


We said sustainable capsule wardrobe, not static. As time passes, revisit your wardrobe and do a check-in. Does it still suit your style? What about your daily activities?  Set aside a little time to:

  • Review current items
  • Remove clothing you no longer wear
  • Swap out seasonal pieces
  • Look for pieces that need to be repaired 
laundry basket filled with ethically made clothing


There’s no right or wrong way to do sustainable fashion, right?! Okay, there kind of is. 

Sustainable Fashion Dos

Repair and mend items in your closet.

Choose versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched.

Prioritize quality over quantity.

Support local and independent sustainable fashion brands.

Embrace secondhand and vintage shopping.

Opt for eco-friendly and natural fabrics.

Donate or recycle clothing you no longer need.

Sustainable Fashion Don’ts

Don’t neglect proper care and maintenance of your clothes.

Don’t focus solely on trends and short-term fashion.

Don’t make impulse purchases.

Don’t support brands with unethical practices or poor transparency.

Don’t fall into the “buy-and-discard” cycle.

Don’t neglect proper care of your clothes.

Don’t contribute to textile waste by throwing away clothing.


Yes, a capsule wardrobe calls for an intentional approach to fashion. There’s lots of overlap between capsules and sustainable fashion from working with what you already own to a focus on mindful consumption.

Picture it this way- building a capsule naturally puts you in a slow-fashion, sustainable mindset. With fewer clothes, you’ll prioritize investing in well-made garments that last rather than impulse buys that will be out of the trend cycle in a snap. 

Yes, it’s perfectly possible to build a sustainable capsule wardrobe on a budget. Affordable sustainable brands like Boody, KOTN, Happy Earth, and Boden are options when you need new items. 

Remember that using what you already own is part of a sustainable approach. So even if the brands in your closet are not GOTS-certified or made from recycled beet pulp, by wearing them you’re extending their lifespan and avoiding clothing waste. 

When building your closet, you can also shop sustainably through second-hand stores like consignment shops and online resale sites. A capsule is meant to be versatile and manageable. Translation- you don’t need lots of clothing to create outfits for a range of occasions. So, yes you can create a  sustainable wardrobe that stays within budget. 

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