I think most people want to create a more sustainable wardrobe, but the problem is where do you start. Sustainable and ethical fashion is still very much a niche industry, which can be difficult to find and not to mention when you do find a brand you love it costs twice as much as the high street. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take any action to make your current wardrobe more sustainable and ethical.
7 Steps to a More Sustainable Wardrobe:
1. Declutter Your Wardrobe
The first step in creating a more sustainable wardrobe is to look at what you already have. Start by clearing out your wardrobe to create a more streamlined wardrobe full of clothes you love and want to wear again and again. If you need some tips on decluttering your wardrobe check out my post on clearing out your wardrobe and creating a capsule wardrobe.
Once you have decided what you want to keep, you will probably be left with a pile of clothes to get rid of. Remember you shouldn’t be putting old clothes in the bin, donate to friends/charity or find creative ways to reuse them (t-shirts make great dusters). For more tips read my post on how to get rid of old clothes.
2. Use What You Have
Now you’ve decluttered your wardrobe, you should know exactly what you own (maybe you discovered a few hidden gems). You should now be making a conscious effort to wear your clothes and make the most of what you already have. Try taking that top or dress you only wear for going out and styling them for day time. Experiment with your clothes and find new creative ways to style them. I’m sure you’ll surprise yourself and just how versatile a smaller wardrobe can be. Check out my capsule wardrobe posts for tips on living with a smaller wardrobe.
3. Make Do and Mend
Hands up who has a shirt hidden in their wardrobe with a button or two missing or maybe it’s a pair of trousers which need to be hemmed. You will probably have noticed a few pieces which could do with some TLC during your clear out. Now is the time to get the sewing kit out and replace those buttons and hem those trousers.
If you don’t know how to sew, trying watching a couple of Youtube tutorials or sign up for local sewing lessons. Love Your Clothes has loads of useful tips on their website, they also organise sewing and upcycling events.
4. Look After Your Clothes
Part of being more sustainable is taking care of what you already own, so your not replacing clothes frequently. Learn what washing symbols mean and how to work your washing machine. Don’t stick everything in the same cycle and hope for the best. Always read the washing label and following the guidelines. This will help your clothes to last longer and keep them looking great. For advice on care labels visit the Love Your Clothes website, and for advice on washing wool check out my post on knitwear.
As well as washing your clothes, you should take care when storing your clothes. Spend some time organising your clothes, in a way which works for you and ensures everything has a home. If you don’t have a place for everything it’s too tempting just to shove things in, which is how clothes end up crumpled on the floor (which is never good). Take the time to iron your clothes before putting them away (yes I know its boring but it means you can wear things when you want too) and give your clothes room to breath. You may also want to think about finding ways of preventing moths in your wardrobe.
5. End Your Relationship with Fast Fashion
You’ve decluttered your wardrobe, started to make the most of what you’ve already got, repaired your favourite pieces and are taking good care of them. Now is the time to end your relationship with fast fashion. I know it’s not easy to give up for cheeky little lunchtime visits to H&M or Topshop but if you want a sustainable wardrobe you need to give up the fast fashion. You don’t need a new top for a night out or a weekly Primark haul. How often do you buy things just because there cheap and end up never wearing them? I know I used to, you can read about my journey and my decision to give up fast fashion in my reforming the shopaholic post. I know its hard to stop but once you do, you’ll wonder why you spent so much time shopping for things you didn’t need. Just think about what you will do with all your spare time (and all the money you’ll save).
6. Embrace Slow Fashion
Ending your relationship with fast fashion doesn’t mean never shopping again (even sustainable wardrobes need new things once in a while). You just have to change the way you shop and start to embrace slow fashion. You should be focusing on buying timeless pieces which will last. Ask yourself whether or not you’ll get 30 wears out of an item before purchasing. If not do you really need it? Look for ethical and sustainable brands to buy from or if it has to be from the high street, buy better quality. Yes, good quality items cost more, but you should also be buying less so can invest in quality pieces which will last for years.
7. Don’t Feel Guilty
Lastly, you shouldn’t feel guilty for owning and enjoying clothes. Fashion is part of who we are and is a way for us to express ourselves. If you want to have a wardrobe full of clothes that’s fine, just make sure you actually wear them (if not pass them on to someone who will). I know how documentaries like The True Cost can make you feel guilty about buying clothes, especially low-cost clothes but we all have to wear clothes and everyone has their own budget. As long as you buy clothes to last and don’t throw them away after only a couple of wears, you shouldn’t feel guilty. Yes, we need to put pressure on the industry to make change happen but the fault is in the fashion industry not you as a consumer.
I would love to know what steps you’ve taken to create a more sustainable wardrobe and if you have any tips for me. Leave a comment to let me know.