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8 ways to build a sustainable wardrobe

February 01, 2019

I encourage my clients to shop. In fact a lot of the time I’m shopping for a whole wardrobe in one day and my clients will be 30 items. In the world we are living where clothes are being worn an average of 3 times before being thrown away and an estimated £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill each year, the idea that a person buys 30 items in one day might seem excessive. But let’s put this is perspective. What I do with my clients is help them to buy less and buy better. My client will shop with me and then not have to think about shopping again until the change of season or the following year. Every item in their wardrobe has been thought about – the style, the colour, its purpose and how it fits in with the wardrobe. So even if you have not found an eco brand that meets your budget requirements or your style preference, their are lots of ways you can reduce the amount your buy and build a sustainable wardrobe to not only help the planet and the animals that live on it but to save you money too.

1. Wear what you have

Take Olivia Firth’s 30 wear challenge. Every time you go to buy something, think “will I wear this 30 times?” I like to think about whether I will love it next season (i.e. is just a trend piece or a forever piece?). Hang swing tags over the coat hangers of every item in your wardrobe and mark it every time you wear it. You will quickly see the items you rely on helping you to understand how you like to wear clothes and what you should be investing in. This also helps with editing your wardrobe – what to keep and what to sell/donate/recycle. 

2. Buy less and better. 

Invest some time in yourself and find out what colours and styles work best for you and what you love to wear. Only buy items that you know will work for you and that fit in with your existing wardrobe. Can you wear it three ways? Invest in good quality clothes that not only look better but last longer.

3. Buy sustainable fabrics

Different fabrics have differing amounts of environmental damage in their production process.

SUSTAINABLE FABRICS – linen, silk, hemp, tencel, recycled fabrics, some vegan leather.

FABRICS TO AVOID – Cotton, cashmere, viscose rayon, modal, polyester, nylon, acrylic, leather, animal or faux fur.

4. Regularly review your wardrobe and recycle unwanted items

Editing your wardrobe every season not only helps to hone your style but will stop you buying similar items that you will never wear. Donate, sell or recycle your unwanted items. Most supermarkets have clothing recycle bins so you can drop your clothes off before you shop. If you have a designer piece in good condition that you never wear, consider renting it. A sustainable way to put money in your pocket.

5. Get it fixed 

Getting something altered can make a piece feel like it was made for you. Also think about details, changing buttons for example can really make a piece feel more contemporary.

6. Take care of your clothes.

Use eco cycles on your machine, use eco powder and try to reduce the amount of times you wash your clothes.  Storing your clothes correctly on the right hangers and protecting them from moths will ensure their longevity.

7. Do your research

There are some great brands that have designs and finishes that rival their non-sustainable counterparts. But do you research and decide what your priorities are. You may not be able to find a brand that ticks all your ethical, sustainable and social criteria. For example just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it is ethical or sustainable. There are still problems with transparency in supply chains which means we don’t always get a clear picture of sustainability. The image above is from one of my favourite sustainable brands Eileen Fisher.

8. Shop Vintage

There is nothing like buying a vintage item that is totally unique. And don’t be afraid to get it altered for a personalised fit.

I would love to help you build a sustainable wardrobe you wear and love so get in touch.

Penny is an award winning Personal Stylist and Wardrobe Consultant working in London and the U.K. who can help you develop a strong personal style and functional wardrobe you love.

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