By Moni Bell
In recent years, there’s been much talk of fast fashion, and more and more shoppers are looking for ways to make their wardrobes more sustainable. If, like many others, you’re on a mission to change the way you shop, or you’re searching for ways to do more for the environment, here are some tips to bear in mind.
From fast fashion to investment pieces
When tempting offers land in your inbox on a daily basis, and it costs virtually nothing to buy a new top, it can be difficult to resist the urge to shop until you drop. The trouble is that getting used to buying cheaper clothing and increasing the number of items you buy can result in ending up with a wardrobe full of stuff you don’t need and you might not even wear. Instead of embracing fast fashion and adding to your basket every day, switch to looking for investment pieces. Focus on quality, rather than quantity and look for items or outfits that you will wear time and time again. From quality cocktail dresses that make you feel a million dollars to the jeans that fit you perfectly and form the staple of your autumn-winter wardrobe, it’s worth holding out for clothes that make you feel confident and pieces you know you’ll want to wear more than once. It’s often better to spend a little more and purchase pieces like coats, trousers, dresses or shoes that will stand the test of time and remain in style, no matter the season.
Creating a capsule wardrobe
Paring down to a capsule wardrobe carries a number of benefits. If you have a selection of carefully-curated pieces, you will have the ability to mix and match items to create different outfits in a matter of minutes. Gone are the days of spending hours deliberating what to wear to the office, to a fancy meal or for after-work drinks. The idea of a capsule wardrobe is to buy versatile basics, which can be worn together to produce an array of different looks. Using accessories, you can vary your look each time. Add statement, seasonal pieces to experiment with new trends, cater to changing conditions and freshen up your outfits. Putting a capsule wardrobe together makes shopping more affordable, it saves time and effort and it also means that you only need to buy a few new pieces each season.
Buying second-hand and renting clothing
Vintage fashion has been popular for decades, but it’s become more fashionable than ever to buy second-hand, retro pieces. Recycling clothing is a brilliant way to cut down on waste and visiting vintage stores, charity shops and swap shops is a great way to find unique pieces, celebrate different trends and eras and switch up your look without buying new clothes. You can donate any clothing you no longer want or organise a swap with friends and neighbours and you can buy or inherit new items from others. Another brilliant option, which is becoming increasingly commonplace, is renting clothes. If you’re on the lookout for a show-stopping outfit for a ball or a wedding, for example, and you don’t want to spend a fortune to wear something once, consider hiring an outfit. You can rent all kinds of items now, from more casual skirts and dresses to occasion wear.
Researching labels and brands
Be honest. When you buy clothes or browse racks or virtual rails, do you ever think about where that item has come from or what kind of brand you’re buying from? Many of us are becoming more conscious about the environmental impact of the fashion industry, and we’re keen to support ethical brands that utilise sustainable materials, employ eco-friendly processes, give back to the community and provide opportunities for workers. Take a little time to read up on the background of different brands, see how they’re making a difference and look at initiatives you could support by buying from specific businesses or labels. It’s also beneficial to look at labels to find out more about materials and manufacturing processes. Look for natural products and projects that facilitate sustainability.
Upcycling is huge news in the world of interior design, but it’s also making a splash in fashion. We often chuck clothes away when we fall out of love with them or they start to show signs of wear and tear. Rather than throwing old tops, jackets you haven’t worn for months or jeans that are too long away, consider embarking upon an upcycling project. Use your creative skills and talents to design new items and customise pieces to make them unique. You can patch up holes, add badges, embroidery or embellishments to jazz up basics or cut off jeans to make skirts, shorts or ankle-grazer trousers. If you’re not a wizard with a sewing machine, or you’re struggling for inspiration, have a look for ideas online and follow step-by-step tutorials.
Taking good care of your clothing
How often do you get home at the end of a long day and chuck a skirt or a blouse over the back of the chair or add to your ‘floordrobe?’ When you’re tired, and all you want to do is get into your PJs and sloth around in front of the TV with a mug of tea, you might not be inclined to hang up or fold your clothes. Looking after the pieces you buy will prolong their lifespan and ensure you’re able to get the most out of every item. Take a couple of minutes to put your clothes away, follow washing and ironing instructions and keep investment pieces in a dry place.
More and more of us are looking for ways to create a more sustainable wardrobe. If you’re keen to protect the planet, alter your shopping habits and support ethical labels and brands, there are several steps you can take. Focus on quality, rather than quantity, invest in pieces you’ll wear multiple times, take the time to read about brands and check clothing labels, recycle items you don’t want and don’t be afraid to flex your creative skills and try upcycling. Take good care of the clothes you buy and try and adapt the way you shop to avoid buying clothes you don’t really need or want.