Capsule Wardrobe 14 months later (part 2)

By Jessie

I recently shared an update on my capsule wardrobe and answered a few FAQ’s I’ve received over the past 14 months. I’m excited to share part 2 with you as I write about my heart and motivation behind capsulewardrobing (still loving my new verb!) and minimizing in general. So… what is it about capsule wardrobes that resonates with me? Here are a few thoughts about the
benefits of capsule wardrobes:

Personal benefit: It’s easy to discuss the personal benefits of having less, and almost all of the articles I’ve read on minimalism discuss this aspect of things. As a result I won’t spend too much time on this factor other than to summarize that having a capsule wardrobe has allowed me to have less stress/time-spent on what to wear, reduced spending on clothes, created a more peaceful home with less clutter, resulted in a more visually appealing closet, and ultimately made me feel in control of my belongings rather than feeling like my belongings were in control of me.

Environmental benefit: This one really resonated with me after reading a book called Planted by Leah Kostamo. She and her husband give leadership to the Canadian branch of the Christian environmental organization called A Rocha. Their heart for the Lord combined with their passion to care for the earth really touched me - not something I’ve seen emphasized in the church enough! There’s no question that materialism takes a serious toll on the environment. One concept that struck me while reading the book was that the global poor often bear the brunt of natural disasters (famines, droughts, tsunamis, etc.) that are caused or exasperated by the tension we humans place on the environment. Here is a quote from the A Rocha website:
The environment is an issue of justice. Often it is the
poor who suffer first when the environment is
damaged through deforestation, pollution,
desertification, climate change, or the unsustainable
extraction of raw materials. The Bible shows God to
be passionate about justice, and God’s people are
encouraged to challenge oppression.

I find this quote so compelling. If having less is one way to reduce my geological footprint than I’m all for it! I pray that our culture shifts so that more and more people find creative ways to reduce their consumption.

Global equality: Contrast your wardrobe with that of a slum-dweller in Nairobi. Imagine seeing children, some of whom may not even be fully clothed, next to our overabundant closets. Nigel and I spend time in some of the poorest slums around the world and have the privilege of meeting people who face extreme poverty. I don’t want to have more than I need when some of my global brothers and sisters don’t even have basic necessities. It’s the impossible challenge of loving our neighbours as ourselves. I find a capsule wardrobe gives definition to help me have what I need while at the same time limiting myself from over-indulging. I believe this honours my global brothers and sisters who have much less. I want to have more time, money and energy to give to others rather than pouring these things into trivial, self-centred things that never really satisfy.

Another environmental factor is this: our planet just can’t support everyone having the amount of excess that is, sadly, so normal for us in developed countries. I want to have a wardrobe that is sustainable if everyone around the world had the same number of clothes as me. I don’t want a double standard for what’s okay for me to have versus others around the world.

Ethical benefit: Forced slavery, trafficking and lifethreatening work conditions are very real and, sadly, alive and well in the textile industry. I’m still growing in this area but I find having less helps me to choose more ethically. It’s like picking members for a sports team. There are limited spaces so I get to be more particular about where my clothes come from. At this point half my wardrobe is second-hand - which is more ethical and sustainable for our planet. I’m trying to get better at buying from ethical or second-hand sources more.

I want to mention a tension, as I desire to relate to the poor, of buying ethically as well as low-cost. Some have mentioned the idea of buying ‘investment pieces’ which are expensive items that are ethically made and last a long time. I find the idea interesting but at the same time a luxury that only the wealthy have - most of my neighbours can’t afford to do this. At this point, ethical buying for me is finding affordable second-hand items as much as possible and learning more about which companies produce their products ethically (much to learn here!).

Spiritual benefit: Finally I have felt that having less honours the Lord. I feel like I can better love my neighbour as myself when I limit how much I consume personally so I can have more resources (time, energy and finances) to give to others. I feel like I’m caring for the earth God made and loves when I’m not consuming more than I need. I feel less distracted and controlled by
material things and able to be more present with the Lord and open to his Spirit’s gentle leading that is so contrary to the loud materialistic world we find ourselves in. And finally I feel that I’m able to exhibit self-control in how much I consume which is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Living in a land of plenty, I think we are sometimes blinded to the dangers of greed and having so much. Let’s remember the verse below where Christ warns us to be on guard against all kinds of greed. Having a capsule wardrobe is one way I try to do this.

Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. - Luke 12:15

Having a capsule wardrobe has been one of several attempts to consume less, and the personal, environmental, global and spiritual benefits are hard to miss. I’m thankful for this idea and I hope many join me in an attempt to consume less and give more!

Visiting Mother Teresa’s house last fall. She’s one of my biggest minimalism heroes (and a hero in so many other ways - like caring for the poor!). One example of her simplicity was that she had one pencil and would only get a new one when her old one was used up - inspiring!

Visiting Mother Teresa’s house last fall. She’s one of my biggest minimalism heroes (and a hero in so many other ways - like caring for the poor!). One example of her simplicity was that she had one pencil and would only get a new one when her old one was used up - inspiring!