Do you want to become a sustainable fashion advocate? Maybe you’re considering building your first capsule wardrobe? Yey! I’m proud of you!
But if you feel kind of lost and don’t quite know how to achieve that conscious style, I gotcha.
Read more: How To Know If a Brand Is Sustainable
Look, I want to show you something:
This brilliant buyerarchy of needs by Sarah Lazarovic gives us one of the key elements of sustainable fashion: there’s not a right way to do sustainable fashion.
We have unending options at our fingertips to make more responsible fashion choices, yet we keep trying to convince ourselves that these alternatives are far too expensive or just unattainable.
You don’t have to break the bank to buy new clothes from the trendiest sustainable brands. And building a sustainable closet isn’t either about wearing ratty old 4th generation hand-me-down flannels.
Sustainable fashion is a beautiful thing that comes in all shapes and sizes. There is something for every body, every aesthetic, and every pocket.
If you want to learn more about sustainable fashion you can check out the category Sustainable Fashion 101, where you’ll find all the basics, or you can download my free Sustainable Fashion Beginner’s Guide down here 💌
And now let’s get to the nitty-gritty.
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1. Buy from sustainable brands
You are mainly looking for three things when you buy from sustainable brands:
- Environmental consciousness
- Respect to social issues and ethics
- S l o w n e s s (if that’s a word)
Most sustainable brands are both environmentally friendly and ethical, but each of them is as unique as can be.
Are you looking for organic fibers? Or rather clothing made out of recycled materials? You have it. Maybe a brand based in your local area? Woman or BIPOC-owned? Ask and you shall receive.
And I feel that sustainable brands aren’t the exclusive option for wealthy eco-conscious consumers anymore. Now you can easily find fashion brands for every pocket – you can find examples of susty brands for all budgets in this post.
Of course, no sustainable brand will be as cheap as fast fashion. But that’s not because green fashion is too expensive, but because we’re used to irrationally low prices – like, they’re trying to tell us that paying £ 0.08 for a discounted dress is okay.
Read more: Fast Fashion Facts You Need to Know
So when you buy sustainable, you’re not just investing in a cute pair of jeans or a dreamy sundress, but also in a better world where everyone will work safely and where the planet won’t be trashed for the sake of fashion.
2. DIY – or get it done by someone else (GIDbSE?)
Damn, I love this one.
My mama taught me how to sew and knit when I was just old enough to hold a needle without being a hazard for myself or others. today, crocheting my clothes is still my favorite thing to do after a long day.
Really. There are few things that bring me as much joy as knitting a new sweater for my boy or wearing the top that I made when I was a teenager.
Making things for yourself is always a great idea, mostly if you’re mindful of the fibers and fabrics you use – you have a little material guide here for reference.
If you think you’re not handy enough to give DIY a try, buying from small businesses and makers who can make clothes on request or produce small batches is the next best idea.
You can always find someone, maybe even a skillful friend, to make custom clothes for you. That’s fancy.
3. Buy second hand
If there is a place where you can find epic fashion pieces, it’s in a vintage / second-hand shop, and I don’t accept any other opinion on this.
Is there something better than finding the perfect preloved dress? You get the chance to give it a new life – go pair it with your favorite shoes and the belt you took from your BFFs wardrobe and get creative. How magical is that?
No one will have the same look as you at a party ever again, and that’s priceless.
You can also choose from different styles, price ranges, etc. it’s just a matter of finding your perfect store – I did the diggin’ so that you didn’t have to, so here you have a list of some of the best second-hand shops in the interwebs.
Aah, the essence of the circular economy.
Why don’t you organize a post-spring cleaning clothing swap get-together with your friends?
It’s like a potluck but with clothes instead of casseroles, and instead of leaving with a full tummy, you’ll leave with a new addition to your wardrobe.
If you need inspiration, Fashion Revolution has the guide on how to host a clothes swap.
But things don’t end there. You can also exchange clothes with people you have never met. There are apps and websites that allow you to swap clothes with anyone anywhere – like Swancy App, which is something like a Tinder for clothes.
Do we get to pick favorites? Because out of all forms of sustainable fashion this one has to be mine.
There is nothing that I love more than rummaging around in the treasure chest that guards my mom’s old clothes at the beginning of each season.
I can lose my sense of time and spend hours and hours lost in front of piles of clothes from the 80s, looking for what always becomes my new obsession.
So steal something from your mom’s retro stash, shamelessly ask your friend for that blouse of hers you love for your work brunch, or borrow your bf’s white button-up that perfectly doubles as a shirt dress.
Did you know that you can rent your clothes? Not only gowns and Met Gala-worthy ensembles, but also jeans, jewelry and everyday clothes.
Think about those clothes we only wear once for a special occasion: a fancy dress, those impossibly high high-heels,… We all have that kind of thing in our closet – and kudos if you don’t!
In these situations, renting (or borrowing) is the most sustainable alternative to buying because you won’t be responsible for the emissions that come with the production of new clothes.
You’ll take something that already exists and after you use it, it will go on to make other women happy. Plus, they won’t take any space in your closet and the cost-per-wear of renting is one of those things that make your credit card smile.
7. Shop your closet
Sometimes we just obsess so much about the latest trends that we forget about what we already have.
Maybe use your next wardrobe cleanup as the opportunity to (sustainably) get rid of the things you don’t need anymore and to give a little TLC to those that have lots of potential but you don’t use enough.
Rethink every single piece you own. Mix and match, look for that je ne sais quoi that makes your style yours and see how many killer looks you come up with.
And…did I mention this is free?
Now let’s talk about those clothes that don’t bring us joy anymore…
Knowing what to do with the clothes you don’t want anymore is key to build that dreamy sustainable closet. One can’t just throw half their clothes into the trash to buy new greener ones and still aspire to be all eco-friendly.
There are other options to consider before you decide to throw them away:
- fix them if possible
- repurpose them: turn t-shirts cleaning rags, for example
- donate/swap /sell them
As your last resort, throw them away, but always make sure you’re recycling them correctly so that they don’t spend eternity in a landfill.
Look for information about the textile recycling options in your community and spread the word so that your friends and family know about it too!
Now, go save the world – and make it fashion.