Seven Steps To Building a More Sustainable Wardrobe

Whether you wear your clothing to express your culture, identity or personality, the pieces you wear are works of art on your bodies. That being said, a piece of clothing cannot be beautiful  if the garment worker who sewed it together was not being paid a fair wage, was underage or if the dyes used pollute our waterways.  There are so many aspects of the fast fashion industry that are unsustainable and unethical, which enables them to produce their garments at such a quick rate.  Read more about this here.

Ideally, having a sustainable wardrobe means dressing in a way that has the lowest impact on the planet and a positive impact on those involved at every stage of its supply chain and furthermore ensuring that the clothes can and will continue to be worn over long a period of time.

So try your best to avoid fast fashion – but don’t worry, we are not all perfect and sometimes slip ups do happen.

Here are seven tips to help you have a more sustainable wardrobe:

1. Rewear or Restyle

 

Once you have decided to live a more thoughtful lifestyle, donating your fast fashion clothes should not be the first step. You do not have to stop wearing  or throw out your fast fashion clothes in your closet, to buy from slow, sustainable fashion brands – that practice in itself is unsustainable.

By rewearing and restyling the clothes you already own, you are giving  a chance to the the clothes you already have rather than buying new ones right away.

  • Rewear – Have a look through your closet and maximise the use out of the clothes you already own.  If it is a lovely piece, don’t feel ashamed of appreciating it by rewearing it.  Society does not seem to be kind to those who rewear outfits – let’s change that.
  • Restyle – Try to wear your piece in a way you normally would not – pair it with a skirt instead of pants, temporarily turn your top into a bardot neckline or even wear your dress back to front and turn the zipper into your neckline.

Don’t be scared to experiment and do some DIY.  I recently turned a maxi dress into a short dress with a halter neck.  You can cut some holes for an edgy look or turn them into a pair of shorts.

 

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Using what you already have is best

2. Choose versatile pieces

 

By choosing versatile pieces, you can rewear and restyle a piece of clothing – making the same piece go a long way.  You can dress up or down- without purchasing a lot of pieces of clothing, whilst still exuding a different look and style – making it look like a completely different outfit!

Heard of the 10×10 challenge before?

It challenges you to pick 10 items from your closet, style them into 10 different looks over the course of 10 days.  Each day ‘requires’ a new outfit. It is indeed possible! Check out the 10x10challenge hashtag on Instagram for some inspiration by seeing the many different ways that this can be done.

 

 

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See how Elle Parkin restyles a button up shirt in five different ways here

3. Buy/acquire pre-loved and vintage clothing

 

Yes, pre-loved is a more appealing way of saying ‘second-hand’.

By purchasing or acquiring clothes that have already been made, we keep clothing from ending up in landfills, extending the life of perfectly usable pieces and reducing the amount of new materials needed to make new clothing. Best of all, they are considerably cheaper, even if the item was only used once!

Don’t underestimate second-hand or charity shops, there are so many unique gems or simply gorgeous timeless pieces that can be found in there.

These can be found at a range of places: charity shops, online (Depop, eBay, Vestiaire Collective), vintage stores or from friends and family.

A lot of my outfits come from my mother or friends who accidentally purchased the wrong size.

(Initially, this section ended up with 400 words, so a separate article about this will be coming soon!)

 

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Going though the racks at the thrift store…

4. Determine which values are most important to you

 

Shopping with your values in mind – although this  can be a challenge when there are so many to consider.    Unfortunately you will have to narrow down your check list because no company is perfect.

Figure out which of the following you value most:

  • Vegan?
  • Cruelty-free?
  • Fair trade?
  • Dyed naturally?
  • From a local brand?
  • From a new, small brand?
  • Competitive pricing?
  • High quality?
  • Made to last forever?
  • Made of natural materials?
  • Handmade?
  • Story behind the product?
  • Second-hand?
  • Part of a circular fashion business?
  • Timeless?
  • Transparency along their supply chain?

Unfortunately, this means that you can no longer go to a random store to shop. That being said, once you have figured which values are most important to you,  you can do research to find out which various designers, brands and stores carry clothes which align most with your values and buy from these these.

An article featuring brands who emphasise the values above will be coming soon.

Meanwhile, check out MAMOQ – which allows you to shop a curated collection for the conscious consumer.

 

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Weaving

5. Invest in high quality pieces

 

Have you ever noticed that a lot of clothing from fast fashion brands tend to deteriorate quickly? – Stitches becomes undone, buttons fall off, tears happen.

Here are a few tips to identify high quality clothing:

  • Touch the fabric – how does it feel against your skin? Is it rough and thin or soft and thick?
  • For knit sweaters, stretch a small piece of it and let go. Good quality items should bounce back into place rather than remaining stretched out.  It it stretches out, it will be worn out quickly.
  • Hold it up to the light and see how much light can go through.  Look for pieces with dense fabric -the more fiber there is, the more likely it’s going to last longer
  • Buy jackets with lining
  • Quality garments usually have  ‘darts,’ or folds sewn into a garment for better fit
  • Price can also be a good indication, but don’t be fooled

By choosing high quality pieces , you can be sure that they will pass the test of time and still look impeccable. Typically, high quality pieces are also designed to have a timeless, ensuring that they can last for years – meaning that you do not need to go purchase a new piece over few weeks, months, or years.

 

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Timeless, high quality pieces means not having to buy too many clothes

6. Develop your own personal style

 

For those who have watched Gossip Girl, think of the iconic Blair Waldorf.

She has quite a polished, sophisticated classic look – she wears bright colours, ruffles, skirts, fit and flare dresses, headbands and heels.  In any given episode, any outfit she wears has one or more of the mentioned looks. (See the photo below!)

Have a look through your wardrobe, have you noticed any prevailing trends?Typically, our clothes do reflect our personality and we believe flatters our body type, so think about the following:

  •  Skirts vs Dresses?
  • Jumper vs Blazer?
  • Fitted vs loose?
  • Colours
  • Fabrics
  • Cuts
  • Patterns
  • Length

This list could go on and on, but you understand what I’m getting at.

After having a browse of some online fashion blogs and through your closet, you probably noticed some trends in your clothes and your style ‘likes and dislikes’.  By recognising these, you can help you focus on keeping and curating items that you will use throughout the years to come, rather than purchasing a piece that is ‘stylish’ at the moment, but that no one will be wearing after a few weeks.

(Keeping the occasion and weather in mind as well of course!)

 

Blair Waldorf
Blair –  Photo Credit

 

7. Take care of your clothes

 

Rather than simply throwing your clothes into the laundry and blindly choosing any setting, check the labels – these specify details such as the, temperatures, machine settings the piece of clothing should be washed on, whether it should be hand washed or whether it can withstand the heat of an iron.

Not to mention any DIY you can do – like sewing back and buttons or tears rather than throwing them away.

By doing this, you can ensure that the clothes you cherish so dearly will have a long life.

 

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Laundry symbols to remember

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