By Lou Stokes
Today, most of the clothes that are easily available to us come from the rise of cheaper, faster fashion and the overwhelming choice of garments coming onto the market seemingly at the speed of light.
As consumers, we have become used to buying more and more and filling up our wardrobes with items that, if we are honest with ourselves, we don’t need or barely wear.
We now have 5 times more clothes than our grandparents had.
Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, and fast fashion in particular has turned us into mindless irresponsible consumers. At the click of a button for $20 or even less, you can buy a new item that arrives on your doorstep the following day.
Our planet can not sustain the rate of overproduction and overconsumption. As we face an unprecedented climate crisis we cannot continue making and throwing out clothing at the rate we have done for the last 3 decades.
It’s time to change your perspective on how you use your wardrobe and where you buy your clothes from.
Creating a sustainable wardrobe can feel overwhelming and the thought of not purchasing from your favourite brands can feel daunting, however it isn’t as hard as you think, it is a change in mindset, a transition, work in progress and over time you will thank yourself for this change.
Here I share with you 5 simple steps to help you create your sustainable wardrobe:
Cultivate your Style Story
It's time to hone in on your personal style. When we don’t have clarity on our personal style we often buy from an unconscious space, wasting money on more of the same thing from the same old fast fashion brands and have a negative impact on the planet.
First, I recommend that you ask yourself: How do I want to show up in the world? What style reflects my best self? How do I see myself in one years time?
Have a look around for inspiration and journal to set the intention to come up with three style keywords; For example creative, colourful, bold, minimal, elegant, or classic. I love to use visualisation as it helps me to connect to how I want to show up in the world and what my style looks and feels like.
Once you have your keywords you will shop in a more conscious way and have more clarity around your style.
When we know our own style we can curate wardrobes that are authentic to us, more ethical and better for the environment.
Get creative with your current wardrobe
I hear so often people saying “I have to get rid of my whole wardrobe as I have nothing sustainable.”
Your current wardrobe is actually sustainable, as you are wearing and using the items you own and they are not in a landfill. Once you are clear on your personal style and keywords, go to your wardrobe and get creative. Start wearing items you haven’t worn for a long time, find new ways to wear the items, and experiment.
With each item, ask yourself:
How can I wear this differently?
How can I align this piece with my style keywords?
Did you know that we actually only wear 25% of 80% of our actual wardrobe…
Look for inspiration on Pinterest on how to rework old clothes and create new outfits. If you feel like something really isn’t for you anymore then either sell it or give it away to someone who will wear it and love it.
Start to use, love, and wear all of your wardrobe.
Shop with intention
Shopping with intention and becoming a conscious and more responsible consumer are all important parts of creating a sustainable wardrobe. When you know why you are buying a piece of clothing and how you plan to wear it, you can make more conscious shopping decisions, without throwing your money away on something that will end up in the back of your wardrobe or in a landfill.
Determine what colours work best for you, your lifestyle, and style. Pick more versatile pieces that can be styled in different ways, rather than that one item you know is going to fall out of fashion in no time.
Before purchasing an item, always ask yourself if it is aligned with your style and if you can wear it in at least 3 different ways with what you already have in your wardrobe.
Shop vintage, thrift & preloved
Vintage, thrift, and preloved have a huge role to play in making fashion more sustainable and reducing the global impact that the industry has on our planet. There are so many options available now of vintage and thrift shops, websites, and apps.
It is important to remember that when thrifting or buying preloved or second hand that you are mindful and conscious of what you are buying and that it is aligned with your personal style and you are not getting pulled into more hyperconsumerism.
I like to shop in vintage stores for more statement pieces that are unique and individual. I personally love preloved and resale. You can get a designer bag or items that perhaps you would never buy at full price and also contribute to a positive effect on the planet.
Educate yourself and learn about sustainable brands
It is really important to educate yourself and understand what is going on in the fashion industry and how it affects our planet and its people. Most people don’t know who, where and how their clothes are made and most of us are disconnected from our clothes. We don’t even give it a second thought when we step into Zara and purchase a new item.
I suggest watching documentaries, a great one is The True Cost, read books and listen to podcasts on sustainable fashion. Some good books to start with are Consumed, Loved Clothes Last, and Overdressed.
Hone in on your values. What is important to you? Do you want to support and shop brands that are organic and made local, or have a social impact or environmental impact? What matters to you?
Once you hone in on your values and what is important to you, start to research sustainable brands that feel aligned with you, your style, and your values.
“Realise the political power of your money and spend it with the brands you know are treating their workers and the environment in the best possible way” - Lily Cole
Every buying decision you make has the power to change the world and transform the fashion industry. You MUST be aware of this. There is a huge global shift going on on many levels and sustainability and climate change are at the forefront of conversations. Never underestimate the power of your individual choices, if we all change the way we shop and curate our wardrobes we can have a huge impact on the planet.
If you need some guidance on how you can be more sustainable and become a more conscious consumer feel free to book a coffee chat with me.
Lou Stokes is a Style Consultant, Confidence Coach, Published Author & International Speaker.