Everyone is talking these days about sustainable fashion. We are creating an astonishing amount of consumption and waste and this is having a hugely negative effect on our environment. Landfill, greenhouse gas emissions, cheap labour, chemicals used for dyeing and treating many fabrics are taking their toll, and while some designers like Stella McCartney and the big high-street brands are starting to address the issue, there is still a long way to go.
There are plenty of ways to do your bit without worrying about where you shop or feeling you have to make radical changes. Here are a few suggestions on how to be a more sustainable dresser without much effort at all.
1. How much wear will I get?
When you’re thinking about buying something, ask yourself, is it versatile? How many times will you wear it? Are you investing in a piece that will last? If in doubt, say no. Buy with your existing wardrobe in mind and only commit if you know you’re going to get repeated wear from it.
2. Take clothes to a tailor
Having clothes taking up space that you don’t wear is dead weight in a wardrobe. But we often have little gems that just need a small alteration to make them desirable again. It might be a matter of hemming trousers that previously drowned you, or adding shoulder pads to a jacket with an unflattering shoulder line. A trip to the tailor or local repair shop can breath new life into clothes you’d half-forgotten about.
3. Can I see my hand through it?
Thicker fabric tends to last longer than thinner ones. If you can see your hand through it, put it back.
4. Pass on unwanted clothes
If you have clothes you no longer want or wear, rather than add them to landfill, take them to a second hand designer clothes shop or sell them online. There are a raft of online platforms who cater for this, Rebelle, Vinted, Ebay, Vestiare, Hardly Ever Worn It. You can also take old clothes in any condition from any brand or home textiles to places like H&M, M&S and Levis and they will give you 10-15% off your next purchase. Failing that, donate them to charity or gift them to friends. That way, nothing is wasted.
5. Go for quality rather than quantity.
Yes, there are plenty of cheap high street clothes to tempt you but you’re more likely to make mistakes. That mentality of ‘It’s not quite right but I’ll get it anyway because it’s so cheap’ rarely pays. While it might cost you more buying a high quality item that has a great cut and with fabric that feels good to touch, you’ll get a much greater wear return. And, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint.
6. If you do buy better quality clothes, you’re more likely to treat them better.
This should go for everything in your wardrobe. Take care of what you have and they will need replacing less often. From washing your denim inside out on a cold wash, to hanging your silk shirts and cashmere on the right hangers, making that extra effort is so worth it.
7. Pay attention to comfort
No matter how nice something looks, if it isn’t comfortable, you won’t wear it and it becomes another landfill casualty. It sounds so obvious but it’s one of the main reasons clothes don’t get worn. The same applies to shoes.
8. Use a personal stylist.
This is a great investment on so many fronts. Getting a stylist’s help will not only save you money in the long term, they will take all the angst out of what to wear. No more feeling guilty about those impulse purchases because you won’t need to make them. You’ll be left with a wardrobe full of beautiful, timeless clothes that flatter your shape and colouring. What’s not to like about that!