10 tips on how to build a sustainable wardrobe
Sustainability is so central in fashion nowadays. With the various uses of the term, it may be confusing as to how to practice it in our everyday life. So I would like to help you understand this by sharing a few useful tips on how to build a sustainable wardrobe.
1. Less is more.
This one should be easy right? Having less clothes automatically means a more sustainable wardrobe. This is true, but it’s important to remember that behind this concept of owning less clothes there is a very important principle: owning quality clothes that you can wear proudly. So, less is more means, fewer but higher quality. Remember these clothes need to be enjoyed over time, so finding the right quality for your comfort will boost your confidence.
2. Buy intentionally.
This means aim for items that you know you can wear on multiple occasions, that you can dress up or down, items that can be interchangeable and fit different outfits. Let’s say, a white top like the classical white T-shirt or an antique white cotton blouse (for us romantics) offer so many styling possibilities.
3. Buy what you really love.
Identify your style and stay true to yourself. Stick to the types of clothes that fit you best and make you feel comfortable and confident. Trends come and go, so don’t be afraid to settle for whatever suits you best. This way, you will avoid making regretful purchases and fill your wardrobe with clothes you will almost never wear.
4. Focus on quality.
A good quality garment will last forever. Opt for natural fabrics: cotton, silk, linen, wool, ramie, hemp, rayon, viscose, bamboo and so on. Not only are they much more comfortable to wear but also great for the planet. Did you know that every time you wash polyester garments microparticles of plastic run in the water?
5. Don’t buy it just because it’s cheap.
When an item is priced at a lower price, it leads to more impulsive buying. We don’t think too much whether we actually like it or whether we will (ever) wear it. When there isn’t much to lose, we may lose focus more easily. This brings me to the next point.
6. Set standards and stick to them.
Set standards for the clothes you want to put on: their fabric, their age, being handmade or not, being produced ethically, being second-hand or vintage. Once you set these standards, don’t compromise. Fast fashion brands offer imitations of vintage styles or creations of famous fashion designers for a much lower price and obviously, with low quality and highly questionable work ethics. It might be tempting especially if you are in the beginning of this transition, but remind yourself of the shopping standards you set and stick to them.
7. Buy vintage, buy from individual creators, buy responsibly.
Wearing vintage is by far the most sustainable and eco-friendly choice there is in fashion. The clothes are already on the planet, no extra fabric needs to be produced and zero resources are used from the planet to create the garment. Also, fashion has this circular rhythm which means that styles from previous eras come back all the time. So anything you might be looking for right now is already out there in a vintage shop, you just have to look harder for it. You can also buy from individual creators, support these individuals who work so hard to have just a little bit of spotlight in this world full of possibilities. And most importantly: research, research, research. Many brands use greenwashing as part of their “sustainable designs”, so it’s important to do your own research and determine whether their practices stand up to your standards.
8. Be prepared to pay the price.
Buying sustainable, may it be vintage or handmade by ethical creators, comes with a price. Depending on the era of the garment, its rarity, its fabric and condition, vintage items can be pricey. Handmade ethical garments require endless hours of work behind it, expertise and for both vintage sellers and creators, lots of efforts to be seen and reach their public. Most importantly, you are paying for the quality of the item and its uniqueness. Not only will these kinds of garments last longer in your wardrobe, but they will also keep (or increase) in value as time passes.
9. Don’t be afraid to be unique.
Don’t be afraid of imperfections in clothes. It’s what makes them even more unique. We are not perfect, why should our clothes be?
10. Lastly, learn from your mistakes.
Been there, done that. We’ve all bought clothes (and more) that we don’t appreciate after a very short amount of time. Clothes that end up piling and taking space in your closet. Clothes that we avoid looking at because they fill us with guilt or simply because we really dislike them. Instead, I suggest you take them one by one and try to remember what you were thinking when you bought it. We tend to buy impulsively when we are not feeling happy, or in order to follow a certain trend, due to peer pressure and so on. Identify these factors that influence your decisions when it comes to choosing your clothes and try to avoid buying in similar situations.