When it comes to building a sustainable wardrobe, you can approach it 1 of 2 ways:
1) A wardrobe that will sustain you for a long time or
2) A wardrobe that’s comprised of sustainably made garments
Both are valuable and commendable. And of course you can combine both approaches!
Regardless of how you translate building a sustainable wardrobe, the end goal is the same: approach shopping with the mentality that clothing is not disposable. Below are a few tips on how to build a sustainable wardrobe that you love and will cherish for a long time.
In order to avoid buying something you don’t wear or end up liking, it’s essential you have a solid sense of what your individual style is. This is something that takes time. In the words of Gianni Versace, “Don't be into trends. Don't make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.”
Go through your closet and assess what you no longer wear. Whether it’s because it no longer fits, is no longer your style, or simply isn’t comfortable – it’s imperative you have an honest conversation with yourself about the likelihood you’ll ever wear that thing again. No matter how much you love it.
Really analyze your favorite pieces in your closet and take some time to think about what makes you love them. Is it the style, the way they fit, the way they make you feel when you wear them. Remember those feelings when you’re looking for your next purchase.
Be Prepared to Enter a Long Term Relationship
Once you’ve analyzed what’s in your closet you might be excited because you now have an opportunity to shop to replace the things you’ve just purged- but this is the point where I tell you to slow your roll. You’re about to make an investment in something that will last you through the ages, so do your research. Is the garment made of sustainable materials? Is the fabric made from environmentally responsible textiles? Fabrics like GOTS certified organic cotton or tencel not only are way more environmentally friendly than polyester, nylon or rayon but they’ll also last a lot longer and won’t be irritating on your skin.
Invest in What Excites You
When it comes time to pull the trigger and purchase that highly coveted garment, make it exciting. While I appreciate the value of ethically crafted basics, the likelihood that that pricey tee will live a long and healthy life is slim to none. (Let’s be real, it’s only a matter of time before it’s stained or gets a snag). As such, I personally have a hard time investing a lot of money into everyday basics - so I buy them used. This allows me to invest more money into things that are a little less basic and a lot more interesting. Like the amazing full length acid wash skirt I recently found that I can’t stop myself from wearing (every day). The idea here is to consider the lifetime of the garment - from creation to end of life. It’s called circular fashion and if you want to learn more you can read about it here.
Score the Trendy Things Used
If there’s an of-the-moment fashion piece that you cannot live without – buy it used. Trust me, it can be found secondhand. Another great option to add a colorful pop or something distinct to your wardrobe is by investing in sustainable jewelry. You might even be surprised to find all the ways that implementing ethically made accessories helps mix up your outfits.
Repeat as necessary. I personally go through my closet at least 4 times a year. It takes time to figure out your individual style and sometimes that thing you thought you’d LOVE ends up being not that awesome. There’s no shame. Over time you will grow to know what works and what doesn’t. A sustainable wardrobe isn’t going to happen over night. So take it slow and shop intentionally.
This was a guest post in collaboration with Cheynne from slowisbetter.org