Curating a sustainable wardrobe

The cat is out of the proverbial bag. When fashion is fast, disposable and cheap it places an unnecessary burden on our planet's resources, exploits and demeans workers and requires infinitely creative advertising campaigns to lure in, manipulate and lie to consumers. As we become increasingly aware of these facts, we grow more eager to adopt more earth and people friendly habits, like moving away from trends and finding more sustainable options.

Find your style

The key to curating is finding your style, in my opinion it has nothing to do with creating capsules or minimising (although some people find this very helpful, particularly if they have a lot of items), its more about knowing what you want from your clothing so you can carefully consider each piece. Personally I like the effortless comfort of natural fibres that can be taken care of and will last for years, in neutral and muted tones that will pair easily with one another and of course a relaxed, comfortable fit. It hasn't always been this way, for a long time I would find myself struggling to get dressed as I gazed bewildered into my chaotic, trend-hopping and poorly fitting wardrobe. And honestly, it is a relief to now be able to spend that time more productively. After you've decided what you love and what you don't, editing and curating becomes much easier.

Edit your wardrobe

I know you've heard it before, but the most sustainable and ethical items are the ones you already own. Its a good idea to get reacquainted with your previous purchases, what do you find yourself coming back to over and over again? Which pieces never see daylight? Why? Do you have other pieces that are similar to your repeating items but don't seem to get used as much? I found after a gradual edit, that once the never-to-be worn pieces were gone, I could see the potential in what was left behind. I could literally shop my wardrobe - a linen shirt dress that became a transitional jacket, a maxi dress paired beautifully with a fisherman's jumper etc etc. Dig around, and in between the impulse buys you'll find your style is just sitting there waiting to be discovered and reimagined.

Mend your best pieces

Local tailors and seamstresses are only a google away, and they can rescue a damaged garment or alter the fit of your favourite piece year after year - you're supporting a small business and/or artisan while saving money and reducing environmental waste. Look at you go! If you'd prefer to get creative, or are a dab hand with a needle and thread, you can find plenty of online tutorials that will help you fix small tears and dye various fabrics. Also, make time to take care of your clothes by washing and storing them correctly to avoid unintentional damage.

Buy with intention

Similarly to finding your style, you need to narrow down what your budget is and the values you want to prioritise when you're considering what and where to buy. It is easy to say that you should shop ethical brands, but it is not a financially feasible option for many people and in actuality the fashion industry is currently a minefield masked in greenwashing that even if you do have a higher budget it can still be an overwhelming task. Allow your budget and values to guide your choices, this may look like shopping second-hand or focusing on small independent brands, or just decreasing the frequency you use bigger brands and focusing on maintaining those pieces for longer periods of time - sustainable habits need to be sustainable for you personally and financially, there is no one size fits all.

Reframe your mindset

Creating a sustainable wardrobe requires us to permanently change our approach to fashion and advertising. I didn't have a lightbulb moment where I was suddenly super sustainable, it was a gradual shift as I discovered facts about the environmental damage and exploitation of workers in the fashion industry, as well as the realisation that I was making billionaires richer instead of supporting small businesses. If you are struggling with moving away from the big brands and the lure of constantly changing trends, it might be helpful to unsubscribe from fast fashion mailing lists and dedicate some time to researching sustainable brands and resellers that capture your style. Other ways that people 'detox' from fast fashion are through shopping bans, style challenges (like the 10x10), thrifting challenges and setting spending limits. Find what resonates with you, because curating a sustainable wardrobe is a creative and fun process, and before you know it you'll be effortlessly throwing on clothes that you love and feel great about without worrying about hidden costs.

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