How to Build a Vegan Capsule Wardrobe

When talking about sustainable fashion, certain terms are frequently recurring: think “recycled”, “fair trade” and, increasingly frequently, “vegan”. One such phrase is “capsule wardrobe”. From fashion brands to sustainably minded influencers, eco-fashion tastemakers are embracing the capsule wardrobe – the concept of a wardrobe consisting of a few classic, timeless pieces that are so easy to mix and match that nothing else is needed.

By Sascha Camilli: writer, speaker, activist and vegan fashion expert.

Although it's now closely linked to sustainable fashion and minimalism, the term “capsule wardrobe” was coined decades prior to Marie Kondo and her penchant for tidying – but not quite unlike it. Style consultant Susie Faux (love the vegan-friendly name) who ran the London fashion boutique Wardrobe in the 1970s, came up with the idea of owning fewer, better made pieces that were versatile enough to be matched interchangeably with one another. And voilà, the capsule wardrobe was born.

Through the decades, fashion magazines offered up their own versions of the capsule wardrobe by way of endless lists detailing the “Top 10 Garments Every Woman Must Own” or “Unmissable Pieces to Add To Your Wardrobe”. And for many years, vegans everywhere have been rolling their eyes at these lists. From cashmere sweaters to leather bags, these suggested “must-haves” were anything but vegan-friendly. But times have changed, and today, a vegan capsule wardrobe is easier than ever to obtain.

The “bones” of a functional yet fashionable vegan capsule wardrobe are simple, versatile pieces like the ones below –  once you’ve built a base wardrobe that feels like you, feel free to get playful and add some statement pieces.

The Vegan Leather Jacket

A versatile addition to any capsule wardrobe, the biker jacket is an iconic piece. Paired with jeans or thrown over a dress, it lends edginess to an otherwise casual or polite look. The quality of vegan leather jackets has grown immensely as vegan fashion has gained popularity – this design from Will's Vegan Store is a worthy investment. Shop all vegan jackets.

The Sustainable Jumpsuit

A jumpsuit is rarely included on “must-have” lists – but let's face it, it's one of the most suitable pieces for a capsule wardrobe. Easy to pair with heels or flats, the jumpsuit is an entire outfit in itself, removing the conundrum of having to match up the top and bottom. A sleek style like this one from Komodo can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Shop all sustainable jumpsuits.

The Organic Cotton Jeans

An evergreen fashion staple, jeans are a cornerstone of the capsule wardrobe. Choosing organic cotton means saving on water and resources, as well as avoiding toxic chemicals. A classic straight-leg or boyfriend style like these from Vildnis can be reinvented time and time again for a multitude of outfits – the very essence of minimalist dressing. Shop all sustainable denim.

Wool-Free Knitwear

A cosy yet structured knit can be worn with jeans, a skirt, or layered under a biker jacket, making it the ultimate capsule wardrobe item. This design by Will's comes with the added bonus of being wool-free, meaning that no sheep suffered or died for it. Comfortable and stylish, this recycled cotton style will pair effortlessly with anything in your wardrobe. Shop all vegan knitwear.

The Apple Leather Everyday Tote Bag

A structured, simple daytime bag is one of the most crucial wardrobe essentials. If you are on the hunt for a new bag, look no further than London label Luxtra, which specialises in plant leathers such as apple leather, a material made from food waste from the juice industry. This design will hold all your must-haves and add a touch of polish to your outfits. Shop all vegan tote bags.

The LBVD – Little Black Vegan Dress

A relaxed, loose style that will match easily with boots and sneakers is an autumn wardrobe life-saver. When it's made from eco-conscious Tencel, it's also a friend to the planet – like this day-to-night style from Neu Nomads. Shop all sustainable dresses.

The Organic Cotton Tee

Ah, the appeal of the white t-shirt. Looking as effortlessly perfect with a structured blazer as it does with a pair of distressed jeans, this modest item is actually the hero of the capsule wardrobe. This piece by Vildnis is soft and comfortable – and it’s kind to the environment by using an organic blend of linen and lyocell. Shop all sustainable t-shirts.

The Wear-It-With-Everything Vegan Sneaker

Dresses. Skirts. Jeans. You’ll know when the right sneaker comes along as it will be a perfect match for most outfits in your wardrobe – and likely, this pair from Will's Vegan Store will tick that box. What makes these sneakers even more worth a place in your capsule wardrobe is the fact that they are made from environmentally friendly materials such as organic cereal crops, Tencel and recycled rubber. Shop all vegan sneakers.

The Glamorous Vegan Heel

Okay, it’s time to leave behind the daytime and pass to after-dark territory. Sustainable label Bohema made this sultry heel out of cactus leather, and this stiletto has serious bombshell appeal. Team it with a sparkly dress or a pair of tuxedo trousers for an elevated elegance. Shop all vegan heels.

The Statement Evening Bag

Every wardrobe needs that one party piece: the high-octane accessory that will take your outfit from so-so to spectacular. This piece by Ashoka Paris, in leather made from apples, will make your look stand out for all the right reasons. Shop all vegan evening bags.

The Vegan Silk Patterned Dress

Not just for balmy summer nights (although we do love those), this printed Komodo design comes alive with chunky boots just as well as with delicate sandals. It’s crafted from vegan silk made with cupro, a waste part of the cotton plant. Gentle on the Earth, kind to animals and undeniably stylish: just how we want our capsule wardrobe to be. Shop all sustainable dresses.

By Sascha Camilli

About Sascha

Sascha Camilli is a vegan fashion writer, speaker and activist. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books. For more about Sascha, you can read our interview with her. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Cover image by VILDNIS

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