Wearing stylish and sustainable clothing is a great way to not only look good but also feel positive about your impact on the planet. It can be tough to know where to start, though, with vague marketing messages, tons of options, and a lot of companies jumping on the ‘conscious’ bandwagon.
The journey to where I am now took me over three years and a ton of costly mistakes, and I’m still learning every day too. So here are some tips I learned the hard way for wearing conscious style, both with new and used clothing:
- Invest in timeless pieces: When shopping for new or used clothing, look primarily for timeless pieces that you can wear for years to come and that match many things you already own. This is the basis of a capsule wardrobe. Timeless also means high quality, which– spoiler– is not necessarily correlated with price. For instance, I’ve posted openly about well-fitting bootcut Abercrombie and Hollister jeans that have been in my rotation for 10+ years. Look at the quality of the thread, the material, the stitching, the fit, the strength at the seams when you lightly pull it.
- Trend thoughtfully: Trends can be fun, and I hate the blasé natural line earth tone look I see many Eco-Fashion influencers wearing day after day or even worse, the all black-and-white-and-gray-and-beige of the Forever Classic influencers. So if you’re having trouble saying No, think about the piece itself and whether it will still fit with your other clothes. Is the trend true to your personal style? Does it actually flatter you? Is it comfortable? Could the idea of the trend be recreated with something more timeless? Would you wear it on more than one occasion, in more than one setting, with more than one outfit?
- Check the label: When shopping for new clothing especially, pay attention to the materials used. Look for natural and sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, linen, and hemp. Avoid synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon, which are not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to break down.
- Shop secondhand: Thrift, consign, vintage! Buying used clothing is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and you can find amazing clothes that will last forever for the same prices as fast fashion. Check out thrift stores, consignment shops, and online marketplaces to find great deals on gently used clothing! Some of my favorites: The RealReal, Poshmark, Instagram (so many sellers on IG, seriously), and ThredUp. Also, we are adding new pieces right here on the Wearing Conscious Shop all the time.
- Repair and repurpose: Instead of throwing away clothing that’s damaged or no longer fits, consider repairing it or repurposing it into something new. This not only reduces waste but also gives your clothing a new lease on life. I know how to sew (thanks Mom!) and am getting better all the time, but I also take my clothes and shoes to get repaired professionally. I’ve repaired the Frye boots I purchased 10 years ago twice already! Comfortable, great for reducing waste, and a lot less costly than buying new.
Building a conscious wardrobe is a journey, but remember, the most conscious thing you can do is wear what you have. When you do need to buy, you can build a wardrobe that looks great and does good for the planet. Remember, every little bit counts when it comes to making a positive impact on the world around us.