How To Upgrade Your Wardrobe Sustainably
So I mentioned in a recent post that I’ve been trying to live more consciously and intentionally. As a brand executive for a fashion company, I’ve always been conflicted in my opinions about this side of the industry.
On the one hand, as a consumer who spent much of my student life on a low income, I appreciated having affordable clothes that allowed me to keep up with trends and not feel insecure about what I wore. On the other hand, learning about minimalism and the high costs of over-consumption, I can’t help but want to change the way I consume fashion.
Let’s face it, buying sustainable or eco-friendly clothes still isn’t mainstream! A lot of sustainable (and even regular high street) brands aren’t affordable for people on low incomes. Many high street brands still don’t have a good selection of sustainable options, and even when they do, the clothes are often, well...basic.
This is something that still puts me off buying sustainable items but I’ve figured out a couple of ways to still be eco-friendly in style (and even make a little money)!
1. Buying in bulk + scheduling my shopping sprees
When I was at uni, I can honestly say I probably purchased something new every week. My social life looked a whole lot different from what it is now which meant a lot of night out dresses that I probably wouldn't wear again (especially once the 'gram had seen it). A £10 dress here, a trending new handbag there and post-graduation, all I had were a bunch of disposable party dresses and nothing to wear to a work interview! So to stop my impulse purchasing habit, I started buying in bulk and scheduling my shopping sprees. Every 2-3 months, I make a list of the essentials I've been missing from my wardrobe and set a fixed budget for myself. Regardless of how much I spend, the window in which I'm able to shop is restricted so that I'm forced to be more strategic. If I know I won't be able to shop again for 3 months, my focus will ultimately be on getting things that will last. It also means I won't be swayed by those sneaky marketing emails every time a sale comes up! Now my wardrobe is less filled with one-use outfits and more focused on wardrobe staples.
2. Shop your fast fashion faves secondhand
Outfit from Depop
So I know I'm not the only one who feels like wearing eco-friendly clothing and keeping up with trends doesn't always mix very well. I often find myself struggling to create the looks I want without the ease of being able to go to my usual fast fashion faves. So as a compromise, Depop has become my best friend. As a buyer, you can usually find people selling the same trending pieces secondhand which is perfect as you're extending the life cycle of whatever you buy, and keeping it out of landfill a little longer. You can even sell them on once you're done and get some extra cash. It's basically sisterhood of the travelling OhPolly dress and I'm so here for it!
3. Develop your own style
"Fashions fade, style is eternal" - Yves Saint Laurent
One major thing that has changed the way I consume fashion is developing my own personal style and saying no to the rest. Fashion is great for exploring your identity and experimenting with your look but how many times have you seen something on a mannequin and convinced yourself you'd wear it, only for it to collect dust in the back of your wardrobe? Back at university, I did this far too much and ended up with a bright yellow puffer coat that I still can't get rid of four years later. Since developing a 'uniform' for myself and learning the silhouettes that flatter me in the best way possible, it's become so much easier to avoid spending on trending pieces that lose value with the next season.