Try the reverse hanger trick
Hang all of your clothes in your closet with the hangers reversed. Every time you wear an item, replace it with the hanger facing the correct way. After a few months, assess what you truly wear by noting which hangers are still reversed. Go through the items that haven’t been worn and consider passing them on to someone else.
Create a capsule wardrobe
Minimize your wardrobe to a “capsule” of a few versatile pieces that you love, and that go together well. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no “correct” number of items that constitute a capsule—do what works for you! Some people settle on a preferred colour palette or style. This can be a fun project, with countless wardrobe-planning worksheets online to help inspire you.
Develop a signature personal style
Not sure where to start?
- “Look at the things you gravitate toward,” suggests Candice Batista, Canadian environmental journalist and creator of The Eco Hub (theecohub.ca). “Look at what you have in your wardrobe already and how things will work together.”
- “If you can, consider hiring a stylist,” Batista advises. “I did this years ago and it was some of the best money I’ve ever spent.”
- “Talk to brands!” she adds. “If you see a blazer but aren’t sure, ask them how to style it or how to wear it.”
Commit to #30Wears
Before you purchase something, ask yourself, “Will I wear this at least 30 times?” advises Livia Firth, the founder of Eco Age, to assess whether it’s a smart investment.
“Be an outfit repeater!” Batista agrees. “I’ve worn the same thing on TV many, many times.”
Make a list, research, and go slowly
To avoid impulse purchases, make a wish list of items you want in your wardrobe. If it’s not on your list, don’t buy it.
“Change takes time!” says Batista. “Buy those key staple pieces one by one: a blazer, good winter boots, a good coat. We need these things, so why not invest in them and make an ethical choice?
“Think of buying a mattress or a couch—you research it and find the right one for you. You take your time. It should be the same for clothing: Slow down and change your mentality from ‘oh well, it’s only $5; if I don’t like it, I can donate it’ to ‘this T-shirt has a huge impact. My decision matters.’”
Embrace the imperfect—learn visible mending
Since when did a sweater with a hole in the elbow become trash? It’s time to dust off that sewing kit! Truly, it’s easier than you might think to mend your clothes. Look up “visible mending” or “sashiko” online and teach yourself a few basic skills, such as how to replace a button that has fallen off, add a colourful patch or stitching, or darn your socks. There are countless how-to videos on YouTube to help inspire and instruct, or ideas on Pinterest.
Ask yourself the hard questions
Before you purchase something, ask yourself the following questions:
- What will I wear this with? Does it complement the other pieces in my wardrobe, or will it require other purchases to match it?
- Why do I want this? Will it truly help my wardrobe and work with my lifestyle, or was I just inspired by a friend, a clothing display, or someone online?
- What do I know about this company, its environmental initiatives, and how it treats its workers?
- Will this serve me for years to come?
- Can I mend or repair this if need be? Does the company have a warranty?
To learn more, read “Don’t Fall For Fast Fashion” by Leah Payne in the April 2021 issue of alive magazine.