Q & A with The Garment Life

Posted: Oct 12 2016

We chatted with Morgan Hamel, a ethicist, capsule wardrober, and founder of The Garment Life.


 *Morgan is wearing the Discover Trench

1. What exactly is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a core collection of clothing that doesn’t go out of style, such as shirts, pants, skirts, etc. which can then be supplemented with seasonal pieces. The term was coined in the 1970’s and then popularized by Donna Karan, who in 1985, created a line of seven classic pieces of work wear that could be mixed and matched. The modern capsule includes outerwear and shoes, but not undergarments, accessories, loungewear/ or workout clothes.

2. What inspired you to create a capsule wardrobe for yourself and then inspire others to do the same?

When I was on maternity leave with our first daughter, I took a sewing class. In that class, I sewed her a little dress, and in doing so experienced first-hand the effort it takes to create a single garment. The choosing of the pattern, the tracing, the cutting, the sewing, the pinning, the stitching – I couldn’t believe the work involved. And yet I loved it. I loved the ‘slowing down’, and seeing my daughter wear something that I made with my own two hands. At the same time, I recognized that I was spending a lot of time and money shopping. Yet I didn’t love many of my clothes. Nor did I have a true sense of my own style. I learnt about the Capsule Wardrobe concept through the blog Unfancy, and it just felt like a natural fit.

3. How many pieces define a capsule wardrobe?

I think the capsule concept can get too bogged down with rules. Each person needs to come up with a number that feels right for them. That said, the process can feel daunting when you’re just starting out! What I have seen is that it depends mostly on how you spend your days. For example, if you’re a full time mom, you can likely get away with 35-40 items (remember this includes shoes and coatsJ). If you spend your days doing activities that are quite different (e.g. bank teller by day, waitress by night) that number might be closer to 45-50.

4. Where do you get your style and/or inspiration from?

While I love looking at style blogs, I’d have to say that the person who has most significantly influenced my style is my mom.  She has a classic sense of style that hasn’t changed much over the years – think striped shirts and green pants for the weekend, and classic trousers and blazers over a t-shirt for work.

5. What resources do you use to find out what pieces one would need in their capsule collection?

For this, I have found Capsule Wardrobe blogs tremendously helpful. Some of my favourites are Stylebee (a more ‘ lean’ wardrobe than capsule), Truncation Blog, Seasons and Salt, and Unfancy. What has been amazing for me is to experience the community that has come with this capsule wardrobe journey. I have found people (including the women above) to be welcoming, generous, and authentic.

*Morgan is wearing the Keen Dress

6. Have you started to see a shift in companies promoting slow fashion or the ‘less is more’ ideology?

Definitely. What’s interesting is that I see fast fashion companies appealing to the desire they see on the part of their customers to have a connection to the items they own. They market the concept of “essentials” and “the only ----- you’ll ever need.” But the reality is that many of these items aren’t very good quality and don’t stand the test of time. Pair that with the fact that the majority of these companies are not transparent about who makes their clothes, and you’re left with customers that have closets overflowing with “essentials” but without the connection for which they yearn.

That’s where companies like Nicole Bridger and other independent brands come in. They create classic, quality garments whose creation story customers can be proud of. And people are getting onboard. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

You can find more about Morgan at http://www.thegarment.ca


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