Americans waste a staggering amount of money buying clothes. Although average spending on apparel amounts to a small percentage of the household budget, clothes aren't chump change. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that consumers spent an average of $1,846 on apparel in 2015. More to the point, most people wear only about one-fifth of what their wardrobes hold on a regular basis, an executive of California Closets told The Wall Street Journal.
One trendy way to save money and closet space is to build a "capsule" wardrobe with fewer, higher-quality pieces that can be mixed and matched almost endlessly. Although shoppers may spend more on each garment, buying fewer pieces less frequently can result in substantial savings. For example, imagine buying two pairs of high-quality jeans for $150 each that last four years instead of six pairs of $50 jeans that last only two years. The initial outlay is the same, but rebuying the cheaper jeans after two years means spending double the amount.
How do shoppers ensure they're getting quality items? Experts say it often pays to opt for natural fibers like cotton or wool over synthetics such as polyester or viscose, although a small amount of a synthetic such as Lycra can help with stretch in form-fitting items. Otherwise, "quality" is mostly in the details. Seams should be neatly sewn, with a minimum of threads that separate when pulled, and fabric should have a nice weight (avoid see-through anything). Buttons should be stitched securely, and zippers should lie flat.
The following examples of mix-and-match basics form a solid foundation for a capsule wardrobe, and the concept can be adapted for any lifestyle.