Reduce, reuse, and recycle are the three R’s for successful sustainable wardrobe. It’s all about buying fewer items, choosing versatile clothing that can be worn in a variety of ways, and donating your old stuff to charity shops (they do a great job with sorting and recycling).
I prefer reworking my wardrobe by layering, accessorizing , and dressing things up or down much more than I enjoy buying new items (apart from the fact that I simply don’t have the money or the space). I used to share a little wardrobe with my sister as a teenager, but by combining garments in different ways, I could wear stunningly different outfits every day for two weeks.
I would like to look closer at the principles behind putting together sustainable wardrobe to show you that avoiding fast fashion won’t curb your style.
Buying less clothes means you can spend more on each item. It means it will be more original and you are less likely to bump into someone wearing the same clothes. As you are spending more money per item it will be better quality and so more durable, you’ll be able to wear it for many seasons.
We own so many things that we don’t use, and we often wear more or less the same clothes, which can be counted on the fingers. Reduce also stands for reducing your environmental and social impact by choosing clothes made from organic cotton (ideally GOTS certified to ensure the entire production process is controlled, including work conditions and pay). So buying less is not only good for the environment, but also saves time and money.
Good quality fabrics, and specifically organic cotton, lasts longer. This is because organic fabrics have not been pre-treated with chemicals (aggressive dies, bleaches etc), which break down the fibers. Good quality clothes will last many seasons
You don’t like your clothes anymore or they don’t fit anymore? Instead of throwing them away, give them a second chance. Bring your in-good-working-order items to a thrift store or an association. You may also hold a garage sale or sell them online using apps like Facebook Marketplace, which make selling used stuff a breeze.
If you prefer bartering, you can host swap parties with your pals in which everyone contributes their unwanted clothing. Just because you don’t enjoy a piece of clothing any more doesn’t mean it won’t appeal to one of your pals! You may always mend or have your garments professionally repaired if they have holes or tears.
Reuse also stands for buying second hand clothes in charity shops or buying vintage pieces, this way you are avoiding creating additional demand for clothes production, which creates a lot of CO2.
You can hide your clothes for a while and when you take them out again they will have the attraction of novelty; you will quite literally give them a new cycle in your life
donate unwanted clothes to charity shops, even things which are no longer in good condition. Charity shops are really good at sorting fabrics. They will keep what they can sell, while other items will be graded (some will be sold in Eastern Europe or Africa, while others will be cut up and used to make industrial cleaning rugs or things like rag rugs).
Buy Second Hand Clothes
Reusing is always greener than consuming. That’s why second-hand clothing stores, vintage fairs and the like are a must, if you like the look. Personally, I rarely have the patience to scour the racks of the Renaissance. That’s why I prefer to pay a little more and store in boutiques where a sorting has already been done. Yes, I have a lazy side!
Wash your clothes with respect for the environment
I use a biodegradable detergent for my daily washing. It preserves the quality of my clothes without synthetic products that harm the environment. To save energy, I wash cold most of the time and dry on a drying rack. If you need a professional for the cleaning of your natural and delicate clothes, look for an ecological and biological dry cleaner without perchloroethylene.
Make your voice heard
Discuss the negative environmental effects of the textile industry with your friends, as well as possible solutions and measures you could take. Engage with your favorite brand by providing positive or negative comments on their sustainability efforts. Also, provide your support to organizations who are working to make the fashion industry more sustainable.
Other aspects of sustainable wardrobe
Apart from benefits to yourself it is important to keep in mind who made the clothes. What are these people’s lives like? Are they being paid enough? How old are they?
I have recently came across a documentary The True Cost, which reveals the shocking truth behind fast fashion industry. The human cost is hard to swallow.
Nomads Clothing Review
The spur to write this article was reviewing a dress from Nomads Clothing. I am not a fashion blogger, so I have approached the review from the eco standpoint. Is this a dress, which could hang in a sustainable wardrobe?
The dress/tunic I have selected for the review is part of the organic cotton range (GOTS certified) – not all the clothes produced by Nomads are organic. I am pregnant, so I wanted to choose something I can wear for a part of my pregnancy, but also something I can wear afterwards as well.
The simple and straight cut of the tunic makes it comfortable. And it has long sleeves, which makes it practical for most of the year. Crucially it also has deep pockets (perfect for keeping Little F’s treasures when we go for a walk, emergency tissues or keys). It also has a strong pattern, which means any potential stains – part of life with a toddler – will not be visible.
When I opened the parcel my first impressions were mixed (the dress came in a branded bag, which reduces the weight and size of the parcel; this means saving fuel by packing more in smaller space – less vans on the roads; and that it can go through your letter box if you are not in). The color looked a bit washed out, the contrast of the pattern wasn’t as strong as on the pictures in online store, which was a disappointment. On the plus side the fabric feels nice and soft and does not have the faint chemical smell new clothes tend to have.
I have ordered size 12 (I am normally 10) to accommodate for my pregnant bump and my post pregnancy body. I was quite surprised how generous the sizing is! I am 8 months pregnant and I still have some growing space in this dress. To make it more flattering I do wear it with a skinny belt above the belly, otherwise it looks rather baggy on me.
I was hoping this would be a dress I could easily dress down or up with accessories or colorful tights, but the washed out color means it will remain something comfortable to wear around the house or local walks to the park.
I am very impressed with Nomads Clothing commitment to ethical fashion. All the process of producing their clothes is controlled and factories hold various certifications to ensure workers are treated well and paid fairly. The company also supports traditional artisan crafts through use of embroidery, traditional tie-dye and block printing in their designs. It is also fair trade since the very start of its existence in 1989 (before it become fashionable).
I would like to see the organic range expand and hopefully all the production becoming organic. The company states that there is a lot of interest from customers in organic fabrics and so new designs are being added to the range. I hope this continues!
These are definitely clothes, which could hang in a sustainable wardrobe.