A couple of weeks ago, I went to the most wonderful workshop, all about slow, sustainable fashion, with stylist Donna Tweedale. Her workshop was a guide to making more sustainable wardrobe choices, and it was the loveliest chance to think about my own wardrobe. Are there any gaps in my wardrobe, and what is the most sustainable way to fill those wardrobe gaps. I have been working on making my wardrobe more sustainable for a few years now, either by wearing second hand, upcycling or mending old favourites, and when buying new, supporting small, ethical and eco brands using sustainable fabrics and production techniques. But with greenwashing, it can be a bit of a minefield.
I asked Donna to write me a guest blog post, so she can share some of her wisdom with you, as I think you’ll love it just as much as I did.
Thanks to Donna I am going to look at men’s secondhand clothes, not just women. And in fact I have already raided my husband’s wardrobe!
Here are Donna’s 5 steps to curating a more sustainable wardrobe.
Over to you, Donna!
Why Should We Strive for a More Sustainable Wardrobe?
Years of habits, learned behaviours and cavalier attitudes to shopping have led us to a situation that we can’t ignore. A bold statement, perhaps. But the fact is the fashion industry is responsible for a significant impact in where we are in terms of both environmental, climate change and the social and economic impacts on communities.
By considering small, incremental changes in our shopping habits, attitudes to our wardrobes and how they work for us will bring a call for bigger changes to come. I’m hugely passionate about women curating a wardrobe that’s reflective of the woman they are, what inspires them, their lifestyle and how the pieces they own feel. In your hands, against your skin, on your frame. To feel that, not just at surface level, is hugely important.
As a stylist, I want to share with you five practical, easy to implement changes that will enable you to make more sustainable choices with your wardrobe.
1: Learnings for a More Sustainable Wardrobe
When clearing through, editing your wardrobe, slow down the pace. It may be a controversial opinion, but I don’t believe to grab everything and create a huge pile and work through piece by piece is effective. In my opinion, it just brings sensory overload and creates a sense of urgency, that now you’re committed to doing all of it. As opposed to any sparks of joy.
I encourage you to break it down into sections, remove them from your wardrobe, use a rail or an open doorway. This part of the process allows you to see your pieces more objectively, without others in your peripheral vision.
Globally, it’s estimated 92 million tonnes of textile waste is taken to landfill, some is incinerated. That’s the equivalent of 1 bin lorry. A second.
Just sit with that for a minute.
What it is that you’re happy to let go of, or the pieces that are tired, heavily worn. These are where the learnings are. This is where you can stop making shopping decisions that aren’t serving you, and as a result waste less.
What Does a More Sustainable Wardrobe Need?
A hard working wardrobe doesn’t need to be exclusively neutrals. The backbone of your wardrobe should be reflective of the woman you are, what inspires you, what feels good on your frame. For every woman that will look different. But, I’d encourage you at the very minimum to prioritise having 1–2 solid options of these pieces over any other
- Great Fitting Underwear
- Long Sleeve Basic Camisole/Vest
- Maxi Dress
- Boot / Trainer
Take note of their tones, shapes, the fabric composition. The reasons you wear on repeat, or don’t wear at all are most likely within the fabrics. Taking a moment to make a note of these will allow you to understand more about what you really like, and equally what just doesn’t feel right for you.
Notice how pieces behave on your frame, how that makes you feel, too hot, clingy, too loose, irritates your skin. These learnings will help you get clarity on the direction you need your wardrobe to take, which will hugely reduce repeat shopping habits, and mistakes. Thereby reducing waste.
Editing your wardrobe is a hugely powerful process. Taking it section by section allows you the freedom to stop at any point and come back to where you left off. You. Your wardrobe deserves the same level of energy from start to finish.
2: Reactivity Is The Enemy of a Sustainable Wardrobe
Our phones are noisy places to be, with relentless notifications from socials, emails, sponsored ads.
Terminology of what you ‘need, must, swipe now, it’s not that expensive’. It’s sales culture, it’s pressure, it’s influence. It’s the business model of the well oiled huge fast fashion machine.
Reclaim control by taking a moment to really consider what it is that you need — see LEARNINGS, above. That focus of where your investment should lie with your clothes.
I’m not sucking all the fun out of shopping. I hugely advocate covering something beautiful, and having patience. Invest in a piece that is beautifully made by a brand with transparency with their impact, their processes. Also. See PRE-LOVED, below. I guarantee that feeling will outweigh the dopamine hit the H&M haul gave you.
3. Respect Your Clothes — New and Old
Put simply. Care for your clothes.
Take the time to invest in having pieces altered, mended, store them well. To have pieces that have been enjoyed to the point that they need that TLC isn’t a negative. To give your clothes that attention is not a chore. It’s a good thing and should be celebrated as such.
4. Wash Clothes Less Often
You really don’t need to wash your denim as much as you’re likely to. It’s a tough composition of fabric and can take some punishment. Allow it to feel worn and soften.
No one likes that just washed jeans feeling, not really. So why put yourself through it more than is necessary?
When you do wash your pieces, notice the temperature you’re washing them at and the detergent you’re using. Is it effective? Hurrying washing pieces, and not taking notice of the labels, can mis-shape, and shrink your clothes. And that creates unnecessary waste.
5. Shop Pre-Loved Fashion First
This could be a post in itself.
I feel that there have been years of assumptions and misconceptions as to the personal style you need to channel to shop pre-loved. That it’s for women who enjoy a lot of vibrant colour, print, have an eccentric sense of individuality.
Trends, fashion is circular. What you’re seeing in the windows of the high street will have been around before. Particularly classic pieces such as tailoring, coats, blazers, definitely denim.
Again, see LEARNINGS, above. Having the focus of what you need will allow you to use the filters to search for what you need. Particularly if you don’t have a lot of time to invest, or that the thought of shopping vintage feels overwhelming.
There are some beautifully curated pre loved sites online that present pieces clearly, with all measurements and details for you to make an informed choice.
If pre loved clothes feels like a jump for you, ease into it with your accessories, shoes, or jewellery.
If every one bought just one used piece as opposed to new, this year, it would save 449 million lbs of waste, 25 billion gallons of water and 5.7 billion pounds of C02.
I believe so passionately that for women to make considered, informed and sustainable choices with their wardrobes is hugely powerful. Not only in terms of how confident reclaiming that control is for you. But for the impact that will have. Naturally this post is written in general terms, when we work together we can really get into the crux of this, to work together on an individual basis, or to be the first to learn of my next workshop dates, you can reach me here. I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you so much Donna for your guidance, I hope you have found this blog post helpful please share it to spread the word! You can also follow Donna on Instagram here.