Schemed up by Benita and Elizabeth Cline (author of the book, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion and fellow thrift shop mouse), the #glamcapsule is a play on the popular 10×10 challenge during which participants select 10 items of clothing from their closet to mix and match for 10 consecutive days. An overwhelming number of participants in the original challenge favor a neutral, boxy, minimalist aesthetic, which can lead people to believe that ethical fashion requires aesthetic minimalism and a literal muting of silhouette and color diversity.
This isn’t true! Ethical fashion can be as varied as each person in this movement. Yes, there are predominant trends, but you are under no obligation to follow them. By using ethically made, secondhand, vintage, and old standbys, you can create a distinct wardrobe that fits exactly who you are.
As I mentioned on Instagram on Saturday, my style has remained pretty consistent since middle school. I describe my aesthetic as “clean color.” I love bold, saturated colors worn in a graphic rather than fussy way. So I’ve mostly stayed away from boho and feminine fashion, but I still like to make a statement. My style has become more neutral in the last few years simply because it takes less thought to put those looks together. But I was easily able to pull these looks from my closet, and they reminded me that fashion can be fun and that I really do come alive in color. I paired each look with a hat from my collection.
*A note on the first photo: I immediately swapped out the green top for my MATTER blouse on the first day of the challenge. That’s what you’ll see in outfit photos.
My Experience with the #GlamCapsule
I had so much fun playing dress up on the first day that I thought this challenge would be a breeze. “Color is in my wheelhouse! I know how to keep it interesting!” I thought to myself. But in just a few days’ time, I burned out.
At first I felt guilty for abandoning my glam comrades, but truthfully, being forced into a very tiny box – far beyond any everyday capsule wardrobe – was doing a number on my mental health. We had a huge amount of donations come into the shop Wednesday morning and I needed to be in very practical clothing. Paired with a few restless nights, low energy, and general stress, I realized I didn’t want to be LOUD everyday.
And that’s how I learned that I inadvertently choose what to wear based on how sociable I feel like being. Muted colors on quiet, “get down to business” days. Bright ones on exuberant days. Because pattern mixing and bold colors draw a crowd (when I wore my yellow dress with red stripes on Sunday, seemingly everyone at my church commented on it), they must be worn responsibly.
Personal Style & Personhood
I’ve been working a lot on boundaries in my life, but particularly among customers, clients, and volunteers at my day job. I have a tendency to commit to things far beyond common decency and this causes logistical issues at work (case in point: the giant donation I allowed to come into the shop on Wednesday), sucks away my energy and makes me feel bad about myself, and creates a situation in which I am actually disserving the recipients of my care by not allowing them to do their own work. How I dress invites particular ways of socializing, and feeling more like a fixture than an exotic bird in my workplace helps me stay centered.
Getting dressed can feel like a silly thing to dwell on, but it really does play a part in how we are perceived in the world, and how we feel about ourselves. Since I am the youngest person at my job by about 25 years, and since customers and donors often mistake me for a college-aged volunteer, I have worked really hard to develop a wardrobe that reveals my zest for style and color-play without aging me down. At this point in my life, I want my clothing to match my temperament, and that means clothing with a bit more nuance and detail than what I wore in college.
Putting on clothes outside of my 10×10 capsule felt like sinking into my favorite green couch or taking that first sip of afternoon tea. I wouldn’t have been able to experience that without having taken on this challenge, and so I am grateful for the way it, well, challenged me.
Yes, fashion should be fun, ethical fashion even more so (because fun without guilt is the best fun). But that doesn’t mean you have to be anything but what you are.