9 Ways to Build A Sustainable Wardrobe
Have you been exploring more ways to integrate sustainability into your daily life? Do you consciously try to shop better so that the clothes you wear last longer? Data indicates that we have used natural resources 1.7 times faster than the Earth can regenerate it, making sustainability relevant now, more than ever. With small changes to our daily habits, like dressing, we can make better choices — both for ourselves and our planet. With something as simple as knowing how to build a more sustainable wardrobe, we can quite easily make sustainability a part of our everyday life.
When it comes to building a sustainable wardrobe, people often don’t know where to begin; some have notions that it’s expensive to be sustainable, or when it comes to sustainable fashion, not stylish enough. We’re here to help!
What is a sustainable wardrobe?
There are some factors you can consider when putting together a wardrobe that’s sustainable — from a garment’s origins to the end of its life.
Material and quality: By choosing natural materials and high quality garments you will always have a piece that is made to last and one that also feels good against your skin.
Care: The better you care for your clothes, the longer they will last. Wash your garments less and use less water as a way to also reduce your environmental impact.
End of life: What do you do with your clothes when you don’t use them anymore? One way to create a sustainable wardrobe is to keep items in the loop as much as possible. Once you have worn your clothes and feel like you aren’t using them as much, you can always donate them or pass them on to friends or family who will wear them, as long as they are still in good shape!
Get Started With Your Sustainable Wardrobe in 9 Simple Steps
Today, we are trying to make it simpler for you to look at your own personal dressing from a different angle. What is a sustainable wardrobe? And how do you make better and more informed purchasing decisions so that you love your clothes for longer and wear them more? By sharing a few tips, we hope to help you curate your wardrobe, sustainably.
1. One conscious choice at a time
It’s hard to be 100% sustainable, but you can take it one step at a time. Building a sustainable wardrobe takes a while and even a few steps in that direction are encouraging. To be 100% sustainable you need to stop all consumption. And we are not suggesting you do that. We’re saying you can consume less, be more conscious and intentional about your purchases and make sure it’s quality. While at home in lockdown, many of us were clearing out our wardrobe getting rid of clothes that we have never worn. During this exercise, did you notice that your impulse purchases were the first to go? Remember that the items you hold on to are the ones that still look good despite many wears.
2. Give old clothes a new home
Swap, buy vintage, rent a garment. These are some sustainable wardrobe alternatives to buying new clothes. We know it’s difficult in these times, but if you can swap clothes safely with a family member or feel comfortable sharing clothes with close friends then do it. Every new item has a carbon footprint and by using one that is already made, you don’t consume new energy. Your sustainable wardrobe doesn’t have to be all-new! It can just be items that are new to you.
3. Mending instead of throwing away
Repair instead of replacing. When you discover a hole in your favourite dress, try to fix it instead of throwing it away or getting a new one in its place. We sometimes lose our favourite garments to poor care and it’s a pity to throw away clothes that can easily be repaired.
Your sustainable wardrobe can easily use a pair of repurposed jeans that have been turned into shorts for summer. For some fun, sew on a patch to your t-shirt and upcycle it for another season (or two).
4. Read the Care labels
By reading the care labels on your clothes, you can ensure that you wash them and store them in a way that extends their lifecycle so they stay around longer in your wardrobe. We have heard of disasters that happen in the washing machine, with some favourite items that are destroyed forever because of incorrect washing methods. That’s why we provide thorough care details for all our capes and kimonos.
5. Know the materials
If you can right now, turn to the inside of your garment and read the label. Among other things, it will tell you the material composition of what you’re wearing.
A sustainable wardrobe would include clothes that have natural fibers instead of synthetic fibers. Look for natural materials like cotton, hemp, wool and silk. Polyester, nylon and acrylic are the more popular synthetic fibres created from processes that involve a lot of hazardous chemicals.
We can be as conscious about what we put on ourselves as what we put inside ourselves and get to know our clothes better. Even within natural fibres, there is a strong argument that non-organic natural fibres have a significantly higher environmental impact and we will not disagree. For example, it takes 2,700 litres of water to produce 1 cotton t-shirt. You have to choose what works best for you.
6. How important is certification?
Many people associate Fair Trade certifications with sustainability. Here’s what you should know while building your sustainable wardrobe: not all sustainable brands can afford certifications and while they produce keeping fair trade principles in mind, they may not have an actual certificate to show for it.
Read up on the production partners of a brand you like. See if they disclose information about how and where they produce. There are often social costs associated with traditional production such as child labour, health and safety of employees and poor working conditions. So make sure you check on those before you choose to purchase from a brand. If a brand is transparent and shares information, then you’re already a step towards sustainability.
7. Shop small. Shop local.
Your local brands are usually the ones that produce in smaller quantities avoiding overproduction, which ensures that there is less wastage. They also are more likely to produce in their own ateliers and have a shorter supply chain, which means a reduced carbon footprint. And you might find that they are more transparent about where they produce and how they make their products. This is a great example of being sustainable — you don’t always have to look for international brands but you can start with lesser known labels within your own cities when you are building a sustainable wardrobe.
8. The 30 wear rule.
Started by Livia Firth, the founder of EcoAge, the 30 Wear Rule is a guideline to how many times you should wear an item of clothing. Some of you might think, ‘what only 30 wears?!’ but the reality is that some items get worn a lot less. To put it into perspective, a party top is worn 1.7 times before it’s discarded. So the 30 wear test is a good way to ask yourself if you’re really going to use it. An added plus if the item you’re adding to your sustainable wardrobe is versatile and trans-seasonal like our Capes!
9. Invest in trans-seasonal pieces
Ensure you have wardrobe staples that work for you all through the year -- from summer through winter. These trans-seasonal pieces means that you don’t need to keep investing in new clothes every time the seasons change. Jeans, dresses and shirts are considered all-season clothes and can be layered and accessorised to suit the season that you are dressing for.
Create your sustainable capsule wardrobe
We hope that with these simple steps, you feel more confident about curating your own sustainable wardrobe. Reading labels, having a small sewing kit, washing only when needed and shopping with brands you connect with will make the road to sustainability less daunting! Remember, a mix of old and new garments, and versatile ones that you know you’ll wear more than 30 times will get you off to a good start. Explore our 15-in-one Capes that are not just sustainable but also stylish.