If you’ve never thought about building a sustainable wardrobe, consider these crazy statistics:
* We wear an article of clothing an average of 7 times.
* Most women consider a wardrobe item “old” after wearing it just 3 times.
* The average American produces 82 pounds of textile waste annually.
This all adds up to a lot of waste: wasted objects, wasted time, and wasted money.
Wouldn’t it be easier to have a closet full of curated items that you loved – items that all worked together interchangeably to define your style? Mornings would be easier. Your style would be defined. You would feel good about wearing classic, timeless pieces.
You can have a closet full of eco-friendly clothes that you love with Gone to Green’s step-by-step guide to a building a sustainable wardrobe.
Step 1: Build a capsule wardrobe
What is a capsule wardrobe?
The term “capsule wardrobe” was first created in the 1970s by Susie Faux, style guru and owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe.” According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a a “collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.”
The capsule wardrobe became popularized in the mid-1980s when American fashion designer Donna Karan introduced her seven-piece interchangeable workwear collection. Women’s Wear Daily called it “sheer perfection,” and the capsule wardrobe was introduced to American women.
Step 2: Define your style
To build your sustainable, capsule wardrobe, you should first begin by defining your style. Of course, the key to interchangeability is a cohesive style and color pallette. Take stock of what’s currently in your wardrobe, and if you’re like most people, you’ll quickly notice that you tend to navigate to a few key colors, styles and silhouettes. Let these define your style template.
Step 3: Pair down and donate
Hard core capsulists recommend pairing your wardrobe down to 37 pieces. Yes, that does include shoes, handbags and accessories. The key, whether your number is 37 or not, is to keep just the pieces that you can mix and match seamlessly. The style experts over at Stitch Fix recommend twelve essentials as the foundation for every wardrobe:
Make sure to keep your favorite essentials and make a list of items you’ll need to fill in. Keeping your defined style in mind, remove items that don’t fit the template, donating whenever possible.
Step 4: Find a good tailor or teach yourself the art of mending
In order to take proper care of your new pared-down wardrobe, you’ll want to find a good tailor or teach yourself the art of mending. While we’ve been conditioned to “just buy a new one” when our $10 Tshirt has a hole in it, we are changing our mindset with the goal of becoming more sustainable. This also means taking better care of our clothing. Follow the garment’s care instructions, consider washing your clothing in cooler temperatures, and consider line drying. With proper care, your garments will last longer, which means you’ll have less to buy.
Step 5: Quality over quantity
When building a sustainable wardrobe, you’ll want to invest in quality pieces that will stand the test of time. Instead of buying several cheap items, why not buy one quality item that will last a lifetime? You’ll have a closet of items that you’ll love, will look elegant and you’ll feel better wearing. Choose natural, sustainable fabrics and ethical manufacturers. While you’ll be making an up-front investment in higher quality, you’ll save money over time by purchasing less. Less really is more in this case.
Step 6: Timeless vs. Trendy
With a capsule wardrobe, a good rule of thumb is the rule of 30. Ask yourself if you will wear it at least 30 times. This is a great place to start in shopping smarter and being more intentional about your purchases.
Another rule to follow is to think more long term when making wardrobe choices. Fashion designer Eileen Fisher recommends thinking in terms of simplicity. “I think of simple as more timeless. The more simple a piece is, the longer it can last.”
Step 7: Say goodbye to fast fashion
It’s time to say goodbye to fast fashion. The term fast fashion is used to describe
inexpensive clothing items that are designed to be replaced quickly to follow the current trends of the moment. While fast fashion has allowed consumers low cost access to all the latest trends, it has come at a huge cost to the environment including water pollution, toxic chemical use and textile waste – and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Building your sustainable wardrobe means pledging no to be tempted to add these fast pieces to your wardrobe and making purchases for the long term.
Step 8: Shop with a conscience
The final step in creating your sustainable closet includes shopping with a conscience. Choose ethical brands and eco brands (and vintage stores) to do the most good.
We at Gone to Green believe that everyone has the right to have access to full and transparent information about every product that you wish to purchase. Knowledge is power and this power enables you as the consumer to be able to decide if a product is good enough for you and your family.
We will not list any items for sale unless they meet at least two of the following product criteria:
* Made in USA
* Organic material
* Sustainable material
* Low impact dyes
* Cruelty free
* Fair trade
To learn more about Gone to Green, meet our founder, Ellen Benoit, and hear her tell her share her passion for all things green and eco-friendly.