Finding the right balance between supporting slow fashion brands and maintaining a minimal wardrobe and keeping spending down

I always start getting itchy feet around this time of year especially when it comes to my wardrobe. I’m fed up with winter layers and want to wear something other than my autumn/winter uniform of jeans and a jumper. My mind turns to my new capsule wardrobe and spring clothes. It also turns to the new spring collections arriving in the shops. And with this, the desire to shop starts to creep in. Whilst I no longer buy from fast fashion brands the new in section of my slow fashion favourites can be just as dangerous.

I need to find a balance between supporting slow fashion brands and maintaining a minimal wardrobe and keeping your spending down. There is no right way or wrong way to do this. For me, this is about tackling mindless consumerism and creating a sustainable wardrobe which is perfect for me. This doesn’t mean never buying fashion again but it also means not buying too much and making the most out of every purchase. There is absolutely no point in buying something if I’m not going to wear it again and again,

I want to create a minimal wardrobe made up of ethical and sustainable pieces. But I need to remember this is a long-term goal and I can’t change my entire wardrobe in a season or even a year. My main problem is when I decide something (such as wanting a sustainable wardrobe) I want to achieve it straight away. But curating my perfect wardrobe will take time and I need to give myself that time.

Reining In My Inner Shopaholic

I make no secret of the fact that I started my capsule wardrobe and slow fashion journey as a way to rein in my out of control spending habits. And when I say out of control I mean out of control. I could easily spend £200+ a month, buying 2/3 things from Zara which would be worn a few times until my next shopping trip or online order and then they would be lost in the back of the wardrobe. Whilst I don’t think I’ll ever go back to that it’s easy to fall back into old habits. Especially when the slow fashion community showcases so many beautifully made garments which are ethical and sustainable. It’s easy to get lost in the stories and want to buy something from every new brand you discover.

Choosing to buy from slow fashion brands can make you think every purchase is guilt-free and a good investment. And while buying from slow fashion brands is always going to be better than buying fast fashion it isn’t always a good investment. When you consider the extra cost of ethical and sustainable fashion it’s so important to choose wisely. No one wants to waste money on something they won’t wear. Our purchases need to be considered and work for our personal style and lifestyle. Just because something looks good on your favourite influencer doesn’t mean you have to add it to your wardrobe.

We can enjoy fashion without feeling the need to purchase it.

Maintaining a Minimal Wardrobe

It is all too easy for the size of your wardrobe to creep up and up. This is something I really want to avoid. I enjoy having a minimal wardrobe. There are so many benefits to having a small wardrobe. The main one being that it makes getting dressed so much easy. And I’m definitely one of those people who need easy decisions in the mornings.

This is an area I struggle with when it comes to wanting to support slow fashion brands. As a blogger part of my job is introducing my readers to new brands and sharing their stories. I’m lucky enough to be sent gifted items from brands (read my thoughts on gifted items) and it can be tough to say no when it is a lovely brand you want to support. I also feel one of the best ways I can support slow fashion brands is to actually put my hands in my pocket and make a purchase from them. This makes that closet creep all too real.

How I’m Finding Balance

I find having a capsule wardrobe really helps rein in my inner shopaholic. I guess I work well with some structure to my wardrobe. Having a rule which says no shopping helps me avoid the shops. However, as I mentioned earlier this time of year is tough. The changing seasons means a new capsule wardrobe which often comes with a couple of purchases. I like to add a couple of new (or new to me) pieces at the start of the season. It helps keep things fresh and allows me to continue to enjoy fashion and the process of picking new pieces for my wardrobe.

However, each purchase needs to be a conscious one, especially as slow fashion comes with a high cost. Creating a wishlist helps me to make conscious purchases. I take my time to create my wishlist thinking about everything I already own and how I want my style to develop. I’ll write down everything I want to add to my wardrobe and then narrow this down and prioritise everything. Here I really consider my wants vs my needs. The item I need will be prioritised above the item I want. This really slows down the purchasing process and helps ensure every purchase is something I truly love and want in my wardrobe. I also adds a little excitement when you finally make that purchase on something you’ve been wanting for a while.

I will also set myself a purchase limit for each season. This is to avoid my adding too much to my wardrobe and helps keeps things minimal. I try not to buy more than 5 new pieces each season (for me a season is 6 months rather than 3). This follows the 5 Piece French wardrobe concept which focuses on making a few smart investments each year. I also consider whether or not I’ll wear each item at least 30 times before purchasing it. If I don’t think I’ll get at least 30 wears then I won’t buy it.

Making a Sustainable Purchase

Did you know that two-thirds of a garments environmental impact happens after we get it home? It’s not enough just to buy from sustainable brands you have to take care of your clothes. Before buying make sure you know what’s its made of and how you will take care of it. Make sure you follow the brands care instructions and take care when washing your clothes. Avoid washing clothes too often and if possible avoid the tumble drier. I get that it’s winter right now and the tumble drier is the only option but soon you’ll be able to hang clothes up to dry so make the most of it.

As well as taking care of clothes it’s important to consider what you’ll do with it when you have finished with it. I try to think about this before making a new purchase. Is it something that I could sell on to someone else or donate to charity. What will be its life after I’ve finished with it? I want to avoid anything which might end up in landfill.

The most sustainable wardrobe is the one you already have

Finally one of the easiest ways to handle the desire to shop is to love what you already have. Personally, I love pulling my clothes out of storage at the start of a new season. It feels like a whole new wardrobe and helps you fall in love with your clothes again. Style challenges like the 10×10 are also great ways to play and make the most out of your current wardrobe.

Wow that was a long one, if you’ve made it this far I’d love for you to tell me how you balance supporting slow fashion brands and maintaining a minimal wardrobe.

10 comments on “Slow Fashion Struggles: Finding Balance Between Supporting Slow Fashion Brands and Maintaining A Minimal Wardrobe”

  1. There is definitely something in the Springtime air that makes me want to shop, shop, shop! I’m slowly rebuilding my wardrobe after losing weight/general closet purge, so I can’t quite whittle myself down to 10 purchases a year, but I’d love to get there. For now I’m limiting myself to one purchase per pay-period, which means I have time to carefully consider my next purchase, AND I’m also forcing myself to be really picky about fabric and fit. If it’s not perfect (or can’t be tailored), it goes back.

    • Yes, there is something in the air right now. Congrats on losing weight and purging your closet sounds like you have a very sensible approach to re-building it. One purchase per pay-period is very realistic and gives you time to think about what you’ll buy without you having to go too long without. Let me know how you get on with your plan

  2. Fab post! It’s really good to know that this is something that others worry about too.

    I’ve just done my first 10×10 challenge and found it really illuminating and looking forward to doing another when the weather brightens up a bit! I’m definitely over having to wear all the layers.

  3. I think it’s really important to let a little bit of want/ love into the mix too. I spent a year capsule wardrobing and ended up with lots of quality basics/ essentials which where very sensible but just didn’t light my fire. Turns out that I actually get more wear (and much more joy) out if a red velvet pleated skirt (charity shop impulse purchase) than a classic black cashmere jumper. I guess that’s where really knowing your style is vital. But yes ‘wardrobe creep’ is very real and balance is important.

  4. This is something I think about constantly. I wasn’t a reckless shopper even before I started my capsule wardrobe, but I undeniably LOVE clothes and sometimes that itch to get something new will hit me despite my best efforts. I find that shopping only sustainable clothing helps – it means that when I want to get a new pair of jeans, it’s that much harder and requires that much more thought to find the perfect pair. And I enjoy the challenge, too!

    • Agree focusing on sustainable brands helps as there is often research involved and the slightly higher cost automatically makes everything a considered purchase. I do think it’s OK to love fashion and want new clothes occasionally it is just about ensuring you do it in a conscious way.

  5. I’m trying really hard to move my wardrobe to a minimal wardrobe and reduce how much I spend on clothes. However one of the things I find hardest is shoes. I have a very limited yearly budget and a pair of boots will often take up half of it (~£150). Then they will last only six months at best. Although to be fair, I do a lot of city walking.

    Do you have any advice on how to source boots and shoes that are not only ethical but that are well made and will last?

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