7 Tips You Need to Create a Sustainable Wardrobe
When we discover the truth behind the production of conventional fashion, the facts can be overwhelming. One can feel a strong cocktail of emotions from grief to confusion on where to begin with our own actions. While there may be differences in our economic backgrounds there are steps we each of us can take to make our wardrobes sustainable. Below are the you create a more sustainable wardrobe.
Sustainable Style Tip #1: (This one doesn't cost a dime) The first and most important step to creating a sustainable wardrobe is to wear the clothes you already have and make them last. Do not feel horrible about your past purchases. Please do not throw away all your clothes because you feel guilty that not every item (or any item in your closet) is sustainably or ethically made. Also, even if you are able to do so, do not go on a shopping spree of epic proportions to try and save the planet. Use the clothes you already have and make them last.
Sustainable Style Tip #2: Limit current microfiber pollution. Consider buying and using a wash bag designed to capture microfiber or a microfiber attracting wash ball to lessen the amount of microfiber pollution mainly from synthetic materials, that is ending up in our water. To read more about said micro-fiber, read here, and to read more about what you can do to prevent microfiber pollution, read here. These are relatively low-cost ways to make a difference, without adding or subtracting items from your closet.
Sustainable Style Tip #3: Repair/Remake your clothes. Get handy with a needle and thread and get to know a seamstress. Learning to mend small rips and tears or reattach a button is not only handy in a pinch but also extends the life of your clothes. A seamstress (or perhaps you with your sewing machine) can turn a vintage find or a garment that you can no longer wear into a new piece or tailor it to fit just right.
Sustainable Style Tip #4: Care for your shoes. At the end of each season, take your shoes into a shoe repairman be cleaned, resoled, or repaired so they're ready for the next season, (or give them a clean and polish yourself). I've had many a time where I thought a pair of boots or sandals were as good as gone, only to have them repaired and look good as new thanks to my shoe repairman. A Shoe repairman is a good friend to have.
Sustainable Style Tip #5: When in need of new items, shop your closet first. I, somewhat regularly, almost made the mistake of buying a new garment before realizing I had nearly the same item already tucked away. A quick trip to our closet can remind us of the pieces we already have and convince us that we really don't need more. At the beginning of each season you can get to know the trends then head back to your closet to see how you can appeal to those trends (if you'd like to) with what you already have.
Messy closets can make buying new clothes sound way more fun than our old clothes. To enjoy your closet more, consider making your closet more functional and tidy, inspired perhaps by some of your favorite shops, to make selecting your clothes for the day a pleasant experience.
You might consider creating capsule wardrobes each season and packing your other clothes away to make it easier to see and select clothes each day. The items packed away need not be forbidden but tucked away when not in regular use.
Sustainable Style Tip #6 When it's time to shop, consider the Hierarchy of Sustainable Shopping:
1. Local second-hand shops
2. Local sustainable + ethical shops
3. Online renewed retailers
4. Online second-hand shops
5. Online sustainable + ethical shops
Make note your favorite second-hand shops in your city. Some boutique consignments shops are even fabulous enough to have wish lists and will contact you when what you’re looking for comes in.
Supporting local shops (second-hand or sustainable + ethical) gives you the opportunity to connect with and build meaningful relationships with people within your community while finding sustainable clothing (win-win).
For online renewed pieces check out The Renewal Workshop, Patagonia Worn Wear, and Eileen Fisher Renew. They feature pieces that have been renewed (repaired, remade, and/or rewashed) and are ready for a new life. The best part? You can get their high-quality pieces at a lower cost. These renewed options make owning and wearing their made-to-last pieces much more doable.
Poshmark is the online second-hand shop I use the most, though there are many other great options.
Sustainable Style Tip #7 (Last, but certainly not least) When shopping for clothing made with new materials, be aware of the pecking order of sustainable fabrics. It is as follows:
1. 100% organic, natural fibers (cotton, linen, silk, wool, alpaca, hemp)
2. 100% recycled polyester.
3. Blended organic fibers and recycled polyester.
3. 100% natural fibers.
4. 100% polyester.
5. Conventional blended fibers.
Know that not every purchase you make from here onward will be perfect. Each time you go shopping, see what you can do to make a more sustainable choice.
Do you have any repair stories to share? Any sustainable fashion epiphanies? Share them with me in the comments below.