Build an eco-wardrobe you love
A closet full of clothing and nothing to wear is such a common problem that it’s become a cliché. What’s far worse, of course, is the sad fact that our society continues to buy and discard clothing at a wildly unsustainable rate. The good news is that we can curate a wardrobe we love and be kinder to the planet by shopping less and preserving our clothes for longer.
Chances are, you know how devastating fast fashion is for our environment and for global human rights. Its alternative is sustainable clothing (or “slow fashion”) that is
Sustainable can mean any combination of these criteria, and the “perfect” sustainable piece may not exist. Think about carefully adding clothing when necessary, re-wearing pieces again and again, and taking care of your things so they last.
What outfits you wore in the past felt perfectly you? What did they have in common? How would you describe them? Preppy? Feminine? Sporty? Understated? Bright and cheerful?
Do you tend to wear the same things in the same way? Mix and match your clothes to create more outfits! For example, try dressing up a simple dress with heels and a clutch, or dress it down with sneakers and a denim jacket. You can even make it appropriate for chillier days by layering a sweater overtop. Look online for inspiration. Wearing your clothes in creative ways means that you need fewer pieces.
Browse on social media and make some Pinterest boards or choose some style icons. Why do you love their style? Don’t forget about you, though, especially if you’re only viewing people who look completely different from you. Thankfully, social media is full of influencers of every height, age, body size, and shape to help inspire you.
Do you love the look of sharp blazers but spend most of the time chasing toddlers? Why fill your closet with pieces you can rarely wear? It might be wiser to invest in a few stylish but comfortable outfits that’ll still help you feel pulled together.
Limiting their wardrobes to a certain number of garments helps guide sustainability efforts for some. Many women, though, find their bodies change during pregnancy and the postpartum period, and may need to have sizes and styles to see them through the changes.
Stylists aren’t just for the rich and famous; the right one can help you hone your personal style and help you find things that are perfect for you.
Set aside some dedicated time for this decluttering task. Put on some music and have fun with it!
Ask friends and family if they would like what you’re no longer using, sell to a consignment store, or post online in a “swap and shop” or “buy nothing group.” Check out organizations that are accepting donations or consider organizing a clothing swap with friends. This will ensure that your things end up in the hands of people who really want them.
Rather than the latest trends, look for some key basics that will make everything else in your wardrobe work. Think great-fitting jeans or comfy everyday sneakers.
When will you buy this piece? How much would you spend (consider the cost per wear). Can you find it second-hand, either online or in-store? Or is this something that you would purchase from a slow fashion brand?
Consider how well-made a piece is. Does the brand have a warranty? Can the piece be repaired? How long (honestly) will it last?
Take clothes, shoes, and bags to a cobbler to replace zippers, re-sole shoes, fix broken heels, and more. Teach yourself how to sew on buttons and do basic mending or consider a professional tailor who can also resize outfits.
Remove pilling with a fabric comb to keep your knits looking like new.
Deal with stains promptly and follow laundry instructions on your clothing’s tags. Hot water can be damaging, as can the dryer. When possible, hang clothes to dry. Wash delicates (bras) in garment bags.
Washing clothing properly often enough—but not too often—can help them last longer. Here’s a general guide.
Put clothes away correctly; for example, fold heavy clothes such as sweaters, which can become stretched out if hung.
We can apply our own sustainable wardrobe techniques to our children’s back-to-school fashion.
Our clothing is only one example of how we can be intentional with our purchases. We can also choose home goods and gifts with care and meaning. Female-founded and Vancouver-based Better Basics (betterbasics.ca) is one such company that specializes in carefully curated, eco-friendly essentials that are good for people and the planet.