If we had the opportunity to make a positive impact on the world by just choosing what to wear, wouldn’t that be amazing? Oh wait - we absolutely do. Our fashion choices can make this world a whole lot better to live in. And it doesn’t mean we’ll have to look like hippies with baggy, hemp-based clothing or like we’re from the 70s with our retro, vintage style - if that’s what you’re thinking. Not that either of those styles deserve to be bashed, but we understand that it’s not for everyone.
Not only does the fashion industry currently make up 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, it’s also incredibly wasteful, throwing away hundreds of thousands of tonnes of clothing away annually as each piece of clothing is only worn 7 times on average before it’s discarded. Enough about the facts though. You’re here because you want to do better and learn how to dress more sustainably.
Some of the top hurdles of buying sustainable fashion include:
- Sustainable fashion is expensive.
- Sustainable fashion restricts my style.
- Buying sustainable fashion is time consuming and inconvenient.
But it doesn't have to be that way! With the following 10 tips, our goal is to help get you over these barriers.
1. Use apps to shop second hand
We won’t tell you to buy less, or to use what you already own, because a) that's trite and b) if we’re being honest here, of course there are going to be times where you feel like you need to purchase a new item. So why not shop second hand and make use of what's already in place on the planet. That’s one of the most sustainable things you can do. You'll still be freshening things up.
You might find luck in vintage stores, thrift/charity shops, and secondhand stores. But another easy way is to use apps like Vinted and Depop, where you can find a wide range of more trendy items. Secondhand apps are also time effective, as you can easily use filters and searches to find what you’re looking for, all from the comfort of your home.
Watch to see how to save 80 pounds on a jacket in just 2 minutes:
@emilybrown225 One of the ways I like to shop on vinted! Do we want to see more of these videos? #thrifting101 #vintedfinds #howtothrift #secondhand #sustainable ♬ Here Comes the Sun - Relaxing Instrumental Music
2. Buy from affordable sustainable brands
Look out for clothing brands that use recycled material, organic fabrics, or fabrics made from renewable resources like bamboo or lyocell. Basically, sustainable clothing should be made from natural or recycled materials.
Still, you might also come across recycled polyester, which is becoming popular. This will leak microplastics when washed, which isn't ideal, but it’s still better than purchasing virgin polyester-based clothing first hand. And you'll save yourself from the eco-guilt if you’re truly trying your best.
Whatever the fabric is though, we know that a lot of sustainable clothing brands can be so pricey that it feels out of touch - more so with a cost of living crisis going on. If you have deep pockets and are willing to plunge in and invest in the name of sustainability and quality clothing, then there's a plethora of options. If not, first-hand shopping can be difficult. Even the “affordable” sustainable brands are nowhere near as cheap as fast fashion, as they’ve set the bar really low. But if this is where you’re at, you’re in luck. Not to toot our own horn, but we’re quite proud of our business model which allows us to be sustainable and affordable at the same time. Plastic-free, all organic. Accessible pricing that's on a par with many fast fashion brands. No catch.
3. Make sure your wardrobe is trans-seasonal
Having a variety of clothing that can be used all year round means you’re more likely to make good use of the clothes you own while not getting bored of them. If you wisely invest into clothing that can be paired in many different ways, you’ll be able to stay creative while dressing more sustainably.
Trans-seasonal clothing can look like timeless, minimalist pieces which are essential in your wardrobe, or more unique items that can be worn throughout multiple seasons and in different ways, like a pair of pants, a bralette, or a blazer. Time to mix & match!
4. Ask yourself questions before buying
Shop mindfully. Not mindlessly.
Take a step back. Ask yourself questions like:
“What can I pair this with, if anything at all?”
“Can I dress this up or down?”
“Where would I wear this?”
“Do I love it or do I just like it?”
“Will I feel confident in this?”
This way, you’re making sure that you’re buying only items that you know you’re going to wear, and not because you’re buying on impulse - often unconsciously due to the sly collections and shop arrangements in fast fashion stores.
5. Mend, mend, mend
Don’t think that just because an item is not wearable, that it can’t be fixed and it must be thrown or donated. Let’s say you've lost weight, or a clothing item ripped or isn’t so much your style anymore. Think about the ways you can mend or amend: you can make the waist smaller, you can fix up a hole, you can cut a pair of jeans into shorts.
Help is on its way here too. Many brands, including global brands like Levis and Patagonia, are adopting circularity and allowing buyers to send back clothes to get fixed. Or even opening-up in-store repair shops. Look into this and see if help is on offer.
6. Swap clothes with your friends
Make a deal between you and your friends that whenever either of you do a closet clean-out, the rest can come see if they like anything. Win-win situation, since you’re taking a load off your friend and you have some new clothes. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Even if it isn’t trash, depending on your friend dynamic you can also share clothes you both still want with each other. Do you ever get a bit tired of some of the clothes you own? Maybe you’ve worn it a bit too much recently, or you simply aren’t feeling it. Giving it temporarily to a friend who likes it can also benefit you as once you get it back, it’s likely you’ll get that ‘excitement’ feeling of a new clothing item.
7. Buy multiway, convertible clothing items
This one’s up and coming. More and more brands are designing clothing that can be worn in 5+ different ways.
@wearetala 5+ bikini’s in 1. Thank us later 🤍 #wearetala #sustainableswimwear #justgirlsthings #summerfit #summerstyle #swimwearhaul #holidayessentials ♬ Massive - Drake
But you don’t even need to buy new things for this. If you own even a scarf, you can use it as a top or in your hair.
8. Invest in unique accessories, sparingly
What can help you dress sustainably while allowing you to express yourself with your style, is sparingly investing in unique accessories. Sometimes, you might want to spark up an outfit that seems simple to you, or maybe you just feel more quirk is in order. But that one little addition can change it up completely. It could be a bold-colored pair of shoes, or a vintage button-up, a piece of jewellery, or even some stand-out make-up.
And we say sparingly, because obviously - sustainability is about reducing your consumption and buying consciously.
Note that this approach can work well when combined with sustainable essentials, where the edge can complement the minimalism.
9. Transform or upcycle “ugly” items
Sometimes, a fashion item seems like it has no hope. But you might be surprised that it could be turned around easily. It can be as simple as pairing it within an outfit well. Or it could just use some cutting or twisting:
@sarahisoverparty making ugly clothes cute part 2!! 🤍#fyp #CleanFreshHype #style #outfitinspo #outfit #thrift #thrifting #ootd ♬ Someone To Spend Time With by Los Retros - _alt.music_
10. Try to shift your mindset
This one might not seem so practical at first glance. But the impact this tip can have could be a game-changer. Ask yourself, are you buying clothes to make yourself feel good? It’s understandable to feel better based on the way you’re dressed but if you’re regularly shopping for new clothes as a form of retail therapy, it’s likely not the most healthy habit. We shouldn't depend on incessant shopping to keep ourselves content.
It's a point that's especially pertinent when it comes to fast fashion. It's an industry that makes shopping addicting and fuels the desire that feeds overconsumption. But what’s greater than reclaiming your own power and deciding for yourself what you want and when?
If you found this article helpful, or if you have any comments, concerns, or some of your own tips, we'd appreciate a comment below! Let's talk about sustainability and make some changes together.