We’ve put together a handy ‘cheat sheet’ of ideas on how you can ace sustainable style, without having to break the bank or makeover your entire wardrobe.
If you’ve committed to living more sustainably in 2021, you might agree that your wardrobe needs a little help. But throwing everything out and starting over with ethical only brands isn’t exactly practical. Or necessarily affordable. And, when we think about it, it really isn’t that sustainable either.
Working with what you already have while pledging to shop smart going forward means you can still play your part in being kinder to the planet. Here, we’ve put together a handy ‘cheat sheet’ of ideas on how you can ace sustainable style, without having to break the bank or makeover your entire wardrobe.
Understanding your style personality is key. One way to work this out is to take a look through your current wardrobe. Identify the pieces you reach for constantly and consider what they have in common. This should help you figure out your aesthetic, so when you do shop you can focus on purchasing items you know will get lots of wear.
While you’re reviewing your wardrobe, take note of any gaps. You might, for example, find that you have plenty of choice when it comes to special occasion dresses but few options for more casual, everyday wear. Make a list of your wardrobe (and lifestyle) needs and shop accordingly. Not only will this save you money, it’s also a lot more time efficient and will stop you from feeling overwhelmed by all the shiny, new things.
This one is simple. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it. If your reaction to a piece of clothing is lukewarm at best, it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself wanting to wear it over and over again. It’s more sustainable (and sensible) to purchase something you genuinely adore – even if the price point is a little higher.
To get the most out of your wardrobe, aim for styles that can be easily mixed and matched to create a few different looks. As a general rule of thumb, before buying something think about whether or not you could wear it with at least two other pieces in your existing wardrobe. In the long run, the more mileage you can get out of every item you own, the less you’ll find yourself indulging in casual, impulse purchases.
It’s often the case that we spend more on occasion outfits and less on basics like jeans. But by investing in quality staples (think cashmere knits and organic cotton tees) you’ll ensure the clothes you wear on a regular basis last longer and don’t need replacing as frequently. This is also a great tip for when you’re building a capsule wardrobe that’ll keep you going for years to come.
This is where your wardrobe can really come into its own. It may not make sense from a sustainable or financial perspective to splash out on a glitzy sequinned gown you’ll only wear once. With accessories though, you can definitely have a little fun, while still keeping it functional. Curate a collection of bold pieces – an oversized ring, animal print boots and a logo belt are all excellent options – which will automatically add flourish to your daily ensembles.
As easy as it is to throw everything in the machine and wash at 30, sometimes this just isn’t the way to go. It may seem obvious, but always read and follow the instructions on care labels. Yes, it’s tedious and, if you come across the dreaded ‘dry clean only’, a little pricey even. But it’ll help maintain your clothes and guarantee longevity.
Re-evaluating your wardrobe a few times a year will help you gain insight into what is and isn’t working. If you realise there are items you haven’t worn for an entire season, that’s probably a good sign it’s time to move them on to a new home. Clothing banks and charity shops are great for this, as are sites like eBay. For clothes that have seen better days, recycle where you can. Stores are starting to implement their own recycling programmes with some offering vouchers and other incentives when you participate, so it’s worth checking these out.