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How to Build a More Sustainable Wardrobe

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How to Build a More Sustainable Wardrobe

Photo by Becca McHaffie on Unsplash

Sustainability is in everyone’s minds these days. Brands have started incorporating sustainable, eco-friendly practices and policies, while the individual consumer is increasingly geared towards “green” products and ethical and conscious consumption. That’s no easy feat and can sometimes prove daunting. The sustainable alternative may not be easy to come by or may come at a much higher price. This can deter many buyers from choosing more sustainable products. One of the areas where this seems most difficult to achieve is when it comes to buying clothes.

The fashion industry has been steadily growing and improving, and this means that it has brought cute, stylish clothes to more people than ever before. Unfortunately, this comes at a price, and recent studies point out that the fashion industry is one of the world’s largest polluters, with unfavorable impacts ranging from the pollution of water sources such as rivers or streams, to fabric waste and, of course, later in the garment’s life. We should also mention that a large portion of clothing, 85% according to estimates ends up in the junkyard.

It may seem that things look pretty bleak, but it’s not all doom and gloom. There are things everyone can do in order to ensure they live a life that is just a little bit more sustainable. Here are some tips on how to build a more sustainable wardrobe and stay environmentally friendly while also dressing chic.

Don’t forget what you already own

We all own, on average, many more clothes than our grandparents or parents used to. Unfortunately, what this means is that we also end up having a lot of clothes in our wardrobes that we simply don’t wear. What’s worse is that we get the impression we have nothing to wear, so we end up buying even more. A recent study shows that only 6% of people wore everything in their wardrobe at least once, meaning that a huge number of people have pieces in their closet they bought but never wore. This is not only bad for the environment but also for your wallet. The solution is to try and rediscover your wardrobe. Mix and match and create new outfits and looks with pieces you already have. You’ll see that the end result is likely to be a very good one.

Change your attitude towards shopping

When it comes to sustainable shopping, it’s good to keep many alternatives in mind. The first one is to be more mindful of your purchases. Don’t buy based on trends, and don’t purchase something just because you liked the way it looked on someone else. If you are more conscious of your buying habits, you also become more sustainable. Try choosing eco-friendly brands the next time you go shopping. These products are manufactured more ethically and therefore have a smaller carbon footprint. Since athleisure is on everyone’s minds these days, it isn’t only fashion-forward women who try it out. Invest in some pieces of men’s loungewear and pajamas in comfortable, high-quality fabrics, whether for yourself or as a gift. They are sure to last a long time and become wardrobe staples. Another way is to choose vintage shopping, a great way to upgrade your wardrobe with some rare, unique pieces. Or try rental fashion. This can work especially well for clothing you need to wear at special events, such as weddings, which you don’t wear in day-to-day life.

Try a capsule wardrobe

Build a More Sustainable Wardrobe

If you feel like a capsule wardrobe would fit all your needs, go for it. The concept has been popular since the 1970s and dictates that you only need a few essential, necessary pieces (between 25 and 50, ideally) in order to have a complete closet. This type of wardrobe is based on practicality and choosing pieces you don’t only like very much, but which are all different from one another. Owning two or three black jackets just because their sleeves are different or because one came with a belt is against the rules of the capsule wardrobe. Admittedly, this approach to clothing can be difficult to follow. It can feel restrictive and like it drains all the love for fashion out of you. It’s not for everyone, but if you tend to be more of a minimalist and haven’t considered it, try it out.

Look after your clothes

The key to keeping your clothes in tip-top shape longer is to learn the proper techniques to look after them. Each material comes with its own particularities of how to care for it. Remembering them (at least most of the time) is how you ensure that you can make the pieces you love last longer and don’t have to go shopping for new clothes that often. Don’t wash clothing after every wear unless it truly needs it. Extensive, overly-repetitive washing can make clothes fade or lose their shape. When you do wash them, don’t use too hot water, overly-harsh detergents, and remember to always turn clothes on the inside out before tossing them in the wash. Storage is also very important. The ideal conditions for clothes are cool and dark. High humidity can also cause problems, so invest in a dehumidifier if you think this is a problem in your home. Some materials, such as silk, satin or jersey, are prone to wrinkling and should be folded in order to look their best. Knitwear belongs in this category too. Others, such as cotton, should be hung. Pleated items, as well as blazers or coats, also go best with hangers. Keep in mind to insert hangers from the bottom in order to not distort the collar.

Learn to repair

Basically, learn to sew. If something rips, a button becomes lost, or a zipper comes undone, you would be tempted to throw the whole garment away. That would be a mistake. The piece can most likely be repaired in a way that others won’t even notice it. Acquiring this skill also means that you may try your hand at customizing your clothes, learn to hem, add embellishments as well as learn more complicated techniques like embroidery. Who knows, you may become so handy at it that you end up making your own clothing. If you feel like you’re not up to the task or require more extensive repair work, it’s best to look for a specialist. Finding a good tailor can be a life-saver. A professional is also the go-to person if you need to repair a pair of shoes, something that is tricky going on impossible to do at home.

It’s not difficult dressing more sustainably. All you need is to be conscious and well-informed, and the rest will follow naturally.

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