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Fashion, Life & Style

How To Build An Ethical Wardrobe From Scratch #2

ethical shopping tips

ethical shopping tips

The second part of my series on how to build an ethical wardrobe is advice on resisting consumerism.  There’s no point setting a goal to only shop ethically if you can’t recognise and remove those fast fashion impulses from your life.

It’s not wrong to want or need things, but what if you want to be more immune to fast fashion consumerism?

Now, I agree, it is difficult to be immune to consumerism.  I’m sure we’ve all been there.  You know, it’s a Friday evening, the kids are in bed, you’ve got a glass of wine, and you get an email from a shop saying they’re having a massive sale.  Before you know it you’ve got a parcel winging it’s way to you.

How do you stop this?  My advice is try to remove all temptation from your life:

Unsubscribe from mailings from fast-fashion shops

It’s no coincidence that emails from fast fashion retailers often arrive around pay day, or at the weekend – so remove the temptation at the source.

Maybe you get emails from fast fashion shops because you bought something once and now you’re on a shop’s mailing list.  Maybe you signed up once to get 10% off your next order and never got round to unsubscribing.  However you ended up on the mailing list, hit that unsubscribe button every time an email comes in!

If unsubscribing to every email sounds like too much work then use a email service to make your life easier.  I’ve used unroll.me, which finds out exactly which newsletters you’re subscribed to and offers an easy one one click unsubscribe option to all the ones you don’t want to be subscribed to.  I can’t sing it’s praises highly enough.

Using unroll.me I’ve unsubscribed from all the fast fashion shops that had me on their mailing lists.  I then created a dedicated folder where I’ve set all the subscriptions from all my favourite small, ethical and independent shops to be filtered into.  I can then look at those emails when I want to, but they’re not in my face as soon as I open my inbox of a morning or evening.

It’s pretty refreshing not to be constantly bombarded with  “shop now” and “50% off today only” emails and removes so much temptation from my life.

The same goes for the catalogues that pop through your letterbox.  I wrote a post what feels like a million years ago on how to stop junk mail that may be of assistance to you.

Stop buying glossy fashion magazines

These magazines are all about trends and just breed consumerism.

Added benefit?  You’ll save £££’s!  Say an average magazine costs £6 and you buy 3 a month.  That’s £216 a year saved straight off.  This isn’t including the potential savings you’ll make on buying clothes just because they looked good on the model in the magazine or because the magazine said an item was in fashion.

And another added bonus: life feels a whole lot better without constantly reading articles telling you to have a bikini body, or all the other negative body image crap that these magazines peddle.  Nobody needs that negativity in their life.

Unfollow fast fashion blogs/instagram accounts

I used to read some fast fashion blogs (or rather, blogs that became fast fashion blogs) and follow a few Instagram accounts that became fast fashion-y.  I realised these blogs and accounts were making me feel bad about my life, and made me want to buy more stuff.  Unfollowing them took away the temptation to buy stuff because I’d seen bloggers wearing the latest trends and made me enjoy blogging a whole lot more.

Instead try replacing these blogs with sustainable fashion blogs.  Some of my favourites include Style WiseTortoise & Lady Grey, Sustainably Chic and Sustainability In Style, and there are heaps more waiting to be discovered.

I’ll be back soon with the next installment – in the mean time I hope this has given you some food for thought!

PS: the first part in this series is here if you missed it.

Fashion, Life & Style

Building An Ethical Wardrobe From Scratch

ethical wardrobe

ethical wardrobe

Let’s talk about clothes today.  Specifically some advice on building an ethical wardrobe from scratch.

I appreciate it can be difficult knowing where to start in making your own wardrobe more ethical.  Making the switch to shopping more ethically can be challenging.  From where to shop, to the potential cost involved, I can see how it can be a difficult part of your life to alter.

In order to help you to build your own ethical wardrobe, I wanted to offer a manageable approach on how to build an ethical wardrobe from scratch.   So, I hereby present the first post in this ethical wardrobe mini series.

If you’re not a shopper, don’t worry – this series is not going to be all to be about shopping.  As much as I am a fan of a pretty dress, or a nice coat, I am not the world’s biggest fan of clothes shopping.  But more than that – I personally think the biggest barrier to shopping ethically is the fast fashion machine.  So as part of this series we’ll talk about how to remove yourself from the clutches of fast fashion.

But first things first, lets start from the beginning.  The foundations of your ethical wardrobe if you will:

Building An Ethical Wardrobe #1

Step One: Decluttering & Taking Stock

The first step in building an ethical wardrobe is to look carefully at your existing wardrobe.  As I’ve said countless times before, and probably will forever more: the most ethical clothes are the clothes you already own.

 Taking stock of your existing wardrobe and removing anything you don’t wear or don’t like is an important first step.  Shopping ethically isn’t necessarily the cheapest, so learning from previous mistakes is imperative to help you get the most for your money and help you to avoid rash impulse purchases.

Does the world need more decluttering advice?  Probably not.  I’ll aim to keep it brief for anyone interested in how I manage my wardrobe.  Admittedly, I’ve never been a big shopper so my own wardrobe was never particularly large in the first place, but a regular declutter (perhaps twice a year) helps me keep on top of things and allows me to re-evaluate my wardrobe to see what is and isn’t working.

I’m a firm advocate of setting aside an afternoon to empty everything out of your drawers and wardrobe on to your bed.  I like the four piles systems myself:

1) clothes you no longer wear, are worn out, no longer fit, no longer suit, or you don’t like.

2)  clothes that need repairing or modifying (and you will actually repair/modify rather than leave them there for 2 years at the back of your cupboard!)

3) clothes that you love and wear on a regular basis.

4)  clothes that you love but wear on a less regular basis – e.g. formal wear, party wear, etc.

You also have my blessing to add a fifth maybe pile to revisit another day.  Some people argue against that additional pile, saying it adds more work at a later date.  I say if you’re worried about rash decision making and that pile makes you less nervous then by all means give it a go.  I have done this in the past, only to a couple of months later cart the whole ‘maybe’ pile to the charity shop.  Needless to say now I just trust my instincts.

If you’re swithering over whether to keep an item or not, then I ask myself “if I was out shopping right now would I buy this item?“.  If I wouldn’t then it goes in pile one.

Whilst decluttering I try to bear in mind seasonality, so for example I would give my summer items of clothing a reprieve until the end of summer.  Anything I hadn’t worn that summer would be out.  Decluttering summer clothes in the middle of winter might otherwise see some useful clothes inadvertently discarded, and vice versa.

Taking Stock

Before you discard pile one, have a good look at what you’re discarding, and why you’re discarding the items.  Was it the fit, or was it the style that didn’t suit?  Perhaps the colour?  Was it something you bought on a whim or because it was on sale?  Perhaps it didn’t go with anything else in your wardrobe?  Was it something you bought because you were feeling low that particular day and needed a retail boost?

Whatever the reasons, keep them in the front of your mind next time you’re clothes shopping.  The aim here with this is not to repeat these mistaken purchasing decisions again.  This will help save you money and save resources too.

Place the third pile (and the second mended pile) back in your wardrobe and keep in mind the reasons that you’re keeping those items.  Are there particular colours that you’re drawn to, or particular cuts or styles?  Make a mental note about precisely what it is about the items that you love so that in future, when you’re adding to your wardrobe, you know exactly what you’re looking for and exactly what suits you.

Now your clothes are back in the wardrobe, carefully analyse the gaps.  What items of clothing do you need to bridge those gaps?  Make a written list of the items you legitimately need.  Be really specific.  So rather than just writing down ‘trousers’, write down the specific style and colour of trousers you need.

I’m not necessarily a proponent of capsule wardrobes or minimalist wardrobes so I’m not going to offer a specific list of clothing you need.  Your own list will be specific to you, your lifestyle, and your existing wardrobe, so think carefully and honestly about what you need.

Bear in mind there’s no need to replace everything you’ve discarded with ethical options like for like.  You only need to purchase the things you really need to make your existing wardrobe work better for you.  Owning fewer clothes is really rather liberating and does make it much easier to get dressed of a morning.

Another pertinent point is that decluttering your wardrobe is not a code word for going on a massive shopping spree.  Building an ethical wardrobe takes time, and it should come together slowly and organically.  There is no rush.

More to come soon!

ethical wardrobe