The 7 Forms of Sustainable Fashion That Will Transform Your Wardrobe

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Do you want to become a sustainable fashion advocate? Maybe you’re considering building your first capsule wardrobe? Yey! I’m proud of you!

If you have read this post on sustainable fashion, you already know what to look for in the perfect piece of eco-friendly and ethical clothing. But finding your path to a more sustainable closet can be overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start.

Look, I want to show you something:

forms of sustainable fashion buyerarchy of needs

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 sustainable fashion choices. Yet we keep trying to convince ourselves that these alternatives are far too expensive or just unattainable.

*sigh*

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 style 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.

The 7 forms of sustainable fashion

1. Buy from sustainable brands

You are mainly looking for three things when you buy from sustainable brands:

  • Environmental consciousness. Let’s call it eco-friendliness – if that is even a word
  • Respect to social issues (ethics)
  • S l o w n e s s

Most of these brands are both environmentally friendly and ethical, but actually each of them is as unique as can be.

Are you looking for organic fibres? Or rather clothing made out of recycled materials? You have it. Maybe a brand based on your local area? Woman or BIPOC-owned? Ask and you shall receive.

I think that sustainable brands were one the very pricey option for eco-conscious consumers, but now finding sustainable fashion brands that suit every pocket is easier than ever before – you can find a few of my favorite ones in this post on Sustainable fashion brands for every budget.

Something that you need to be aware of is that these brands will never be as cheap as fast fashion, the reason being that fast fashion is impossibly cheap.

But think about what you’re paying for. You won’t just be investing in a cute pair of jeans or a dreamy sundress, but also in a better world where everyone can work safely and the environment won’t be compromised for the sake of fashion.

every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want, quote by anna lappe

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. Still today it’s a hobby of mine.

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.

eco fashion diy

If you think you’re not handy enough to give DIY a try, buying from small businesses and makers is the second best idea.

You can always find someone, maybe even a skillful friend, to make custom clothes for you. That’s luxurious af.

3. Buy second hand

If there is a place where you can find epic fashion pieces, it’s in a vintage / second hand shop. Don’t fight me on this.

Vintage, second hand or thrift shops – whatever we want to call them – are essentially fashion melting pots.

Is there something better than thrifting and finding the perfect preloved dress? You get the chance to give it a new life – go pair it with your favorite shoes and your BFF’s belt and get creative. How magical is that?

You can find a myriad of unique pieces – trust me, no one will have the same look as you at a party ever again.

You can also choose from different styles, price ranges, etc. it’s just a matter of finding your perfect store.

Here you can find the best thrift stores of the interwebs.

4. Swap

Aah, the essence of circular economy.

Why don’t you organize a post-spring cleaning clothing swap get-together with your friends?

Everyone will bring what they don’t want any more and all of you will leave happy and with new lovely additions to your wardrobe. I guarantee you will find some gems – and the time you get to spend together doubles as the perfect moment to catch up with the girls!

If you need inspiration, Fashion Revolution has a fabulous 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 fashion Tinder.

5. Borrow

Do we get to pick favorites? Because out of all forms of sustainable fashion this one has to be mine.

sustainable borrowed fashion

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 of the season.

So steal something from your mom, shamelessly ask your friend for that blouse of hers you love for your work brunch or take your bf’s shirt that you know perfectly doubles as a shirt dress.

6. Rent

I talk about renting clothes more in detail on this post, so definitely have a look!

Think about those clothes we only wear once for a special occasion: a fancy dress, those impossibly high high-heels,… You name it.

We all have that kind of thing in our closet – and kudos if you don’t!

In these situations, borrowing or renting 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 other women to give them joy. Plus, they won’t take any space in your closet and the cost-per-wear of renting is way lower than that of buying if you’re not planning on using the item more than once or twice.

7. Shop your closet

Sometimes we just obsess over how many clothes we have, wanting the latest trends in our closet and buying newest items out. So much so that we forget about what we already have.

Maybe use your next wardrobe cleanup as the opportunity to get rid of the things you know you don’t need anymore and to give more attention to those that you love and don’t use enough.

Rethink every single piece you own. You’ll be surprised about how many additional uses you can find for literally everything. Mix and match and see how many killer looks you’ll find.

Be creative and add some pizzazz to what you own. Mix and match. Find that je ne sais quoi that makes your style yours and apply it to the clothes you love.

And…did I mention it’s free!


Now let’s talk about those clothes that don’t bring us joy anymore…

It is very important to know what to do with your clothes once you don’t want them anymore. Because the way you treat your clothes while using them and the way you dispose of them when they don’t serve you anymore has a huge impact on the environment as well.

There are other options to consider before you decide to throw them away:

  • fix them if possible
  • repurpose them: turn a t-shirt into a cleaning cloth, 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 end up taking space and polluting on a landfill.

Look for information about your options in your community on how to recycle textiles and spread the word to friends and family to make sure they’re doing the right thing as well!

So tell me, out of these 7 forms of sustainable fashion, which is your favorite one?

Now, go save the world – and make it fashion.

forms of sustainable fashion

What do you think?

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