Let’s talk “beginnings”. I know it’s February, and I had wanted to write about self-love and self-care this month. However, to spearhead sustainability on this blog, there is no point in having only a single post about it.
So today we talk about how we can start making our wardrobes sustainable.
The key word here is “start”.
This post is not going to be a comprehensive wardrobe rebuilding guide, but is a primer to a better, more sustainable wardrobe.
After all, sustainable fashion is more expensive than regular fast fashion (for good reason), and we can’t exactly blow all our money in creating a new wardrobe just for sustainability – that wouldn’t be practical, and it would also defeat the entire purpose of sustainability, as I will explain below.
There is actually only one rule to start a sustainable wardrobe.
You read that right. Only ONE. And that is: “Buy less & wear more”.
For this post, we’ll stick to understanding what “buy less” consists of.
So what is “Buy less”, anyway?
Does this image feel familiar?
I think this happens for two reasons:
• We end up buying clothes that grow out of our tastes very quickly
• The fact that we have so many clothes, and hence choices, paralyses our decision making.
The second reason has a lot to do with Economics, and while I’m very tempted to talk about that, let’s stick to the first one.
Why do we end up buying something we stop wearing after a few months? For example, let’s say you buy a new shirt. Here is what usually happens:
I think we’re very used to the idea that our clothes are replaceable because fast fashion makes on-trend pieces available at a low price, and you can just go out and buy something new when you get bored. You end up spending quite a bit of money on clothing if you keep replacing parts of your wardrobe whenever you feel like it doesn’t excite you anymore. You also accumulate so much clothing. You don’t know what to wear anymore because the sheer amount of clothing makes it harder to choose, and you may not “love” anything you own, so you feel disappointed.
Not to mention that spending on fast fashion puts money in an exploitative place – environmental, and social. I spoke about this in my introduction to sustainability post.
Buy Less is a crucial concept. I see people who buy so many new clothes from sustainable brands, in a bid to show their conscious decision making. But making your closet overflow with new clothes makes no sense to me when sustainability is about owning less, and owning high-quality clothing you can wear over and over, and will last a lifetime.
How do you buy less?
Start looking for outfit inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest. Do you see a celebrity experimenting with a unique colour combination? Save the post, and try to remember it next time you’re deciding what to wear. Or maybe a blogger is mixing proportions and making the outfit work for her body type.
And keep reading this blog & check my Instagram! I’m going to be writing and sharing more on building great outfits with existing pieces, because the possibilities are endless.
Inspiration is so easy to find these days, so make use of it!
And don’t be scared to repeat clothes often – even the royals do it!
By repeating, layering, wearing basic pieces but using colour to make the pairing interesting, you can make your outfits stand out, and still remain true to your tastes.
God knows I’ve repeated clothes so many times – but I love finding new, unique ways to wear them, like pairing unexpected colours together, or throwing a print into the mix (use of colours is a recurring theme here).
When I moved to Hyderabad with a new flatmate, she mentioned she was looking for a hot pink cardigan to buy. Turns out, I had it in my wardrobe back home, barely worn because it was an impulse buy.
The next time I went home, I got it for her, to keep.
Borrowing from family, friends, roommates, and cousins is also a great way to try new styles out before committing through a purchase. Plus, it expands your wardrobe without any spend! I know I make full use of my sister’s wardrobe whenever there’s a special occasion coming up. It’s like you got something new.
Swapping clothing is a good way to try new clothes/styles out, and it also extends the lifetime of your clothes. Whenever you swap or borrow something pre-owned, you are ensuring it lasts longer than it normally would – which is a win in terms of sustainability, because you aren’t throwing something away for something new.
Rental, as a concept, has changed so many closets, and is a stroke of genius.
Rushing to a store is our first thought when a friend or family member announces a party or their wedding, because the first thought is, “I have nothing to wear!!!”. But renting an anarkali for a fraction of the price, instead of buying it and letting it take up space in your closet is a better option – besides, you’ll probably only wear it once.
In the US, Rent The Runway has subscription packages that let you borrow and return designer clothing every month, at a fixed price. In India, we have services like FlyRobe which has so many options for weddings, and Indian festival occasions.
Even if you’re not on board with the idea of rental, if you are an Indian woman, and have access to your mother’s & cousins’ closets, I’m pretty sure you can attend 100+ weddings throughout your life and not ever repeat a sari.
This is an incredible hack, to be honest. Older kanjivarams have traditional designs that are so hard to find these days. They should really be heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation.
And if you’re bored of your sari, wear it differently Tia Bhuva is an amazing, unique blogger who wears saris in beautiful ways. I adore her sense of style.
This is a pretty basic tip, but so important. Please read the care instructions on your clothes, and follow them, to ensure the clothes last longer. If your top has sequin embellishments, wash it by hand. Wash similar colours together. Take care of stains immediately. Even if you have someone to wash your clothes, segment them for hand-washing/machine-washing. Buy a mesh bag for your bras so that you can put them in the machine.
In a nutshell, act like your mom towards your clothes – so that they look newer, and feel better for longer.
And there you have it! Starting a sustainable wardrobe was never this easy, and I hope this provided some clarity on a few steps you can take to make your wardrobe, and your choices better for the environment, and the people who make your clothes.
What are your ideas for making your clothes last longer? And what did you think of this post? Let me know in the comments/Instagram/Facebook!
Thanks for reading <3