At 25-years-old, I realized that what you put on your body makes as much of an environmental and social impact as what you put inside it. Transitioning to a sustainable wardrobe is a decision that allows you to support ethical brands, while also maintaining your sense of style. So, why don’t more people do it? Often, they simply don’t know where to start. Ethical shopping still isn’t as highly publicized as it should be (though we are helping to change that), so to aid those who would like to make the transition, here are some tips that have been helping me as I take the sustainable route.
One thing I love about decluttering my wardrobe is discovering that the more clothes I get rid of, the more refined my sense of style becomes. Once I stopped filling up my closet and began to actually appraise it, I realized I had more clothes than I needed, and that what I kept equaled what I loved. You gotta get rid of the mess to make room for the best.
The main way I do this is through selling my clothing. Selling clothing is basically a win-win: you get some of your funds back on a past purchase, while also helping to increase the exchange of clothing and cut down on fabric waste. Got same popular brands you’d like to get rid of? ThredUp is your destination. Found yourself with a plethora of vintage garbs? Go by Etsy! There are plenty of websites catering to different styles, and hungry consumers willing to buy fresh threads (at least, fresh to them). And if you don’t want to declutter in bulk, do a “buy-one-give-one” system. Want to buy a new shirt? Sell one before you do. Soon, you’ll get so used to getting rid of wasted clothes, you’ll begin to do it without spending a single dime.
Beware of ‘on trend’ shopping
You know why it took me so long to go ethical? “On trend” shopping. The convenience of buying something cheap and cute that I would adore…for maybe six months. Fast fashion brands make their money on “cute”; the latest and most popular trends that are like sugar cravings for your wardrobe. These cravings can break you down, and keep you going back to these brands for a quick fix.
If you’re beginning to shop ethically on a budget, you have to beware of shopping “on trend.” It’s a bottomless money pit that keeps you in shopping season at least three times a year. Instead, start getting into the mindset that whatever your go-to brand is selling, there will always be an almost identical version of it at an ethical brand. In fact, you can use Good On You as a resource, where you’ll find an extensive fashion directory, as well as articles about everything from shoe brands to leather alternatives.
Better budget = better wardrobe
Let’s get down to it—the “B” word. We all hate it, but we all need it. It’s no secret that slow fashion brands can be pretty expensive, at least compared to their unethical counterparts. But these higher prices are what come with basics like paying workers a living wage and using conflict-free materials. When shopping on a budget, this price point is actually a GOOD thing! Facing the dilemma of spending more money causes you to want less clothing. It makes you conscientious of the ethical brands you love, the items you love, and whether they’re worth the buy.
If you’re down to budget, start by making a list of the finances you take home every month, minus the necessary expenses (food, transportation, rent, etc.), and then calculate how much you’re realistically able to spend on clothes in a month. Instead of shopping once a week, shop once every other week, or better yet, once a month, to stretch your funds. Slow and steady keeps that money in your pocket (or your savings account) and allows you to accumulate it. Accumulation = affordability.
Surprisingly, my fashion budget has been going better than expected! Most of the success is down to the budget, but a nice portion of it is because of my to-buy list. Since the clothes I’m buying are a tad more expensive, it takes a certain amount of proactivity to buckle down and really think about what I want to buy and when. So, I’ve started making lists. To-buy lists are a great way to narrow down your purchases, keep track of how much money you’ll be spending, and space out the charges accordingly. Depending on what’s more important to you, you could decide to buy your desired pair of shoes at the beginning of the month, and that adorable dress at the end. Here’s my current list: