Looking for some ethical wardrobe inspiration for autumn? Right this way.
There’s no mistaking that Autumn is creeping its way in slowly. The nights are drawing in. The hedgerows are covered in blackberries. Leaves are beginning to change colour. And there’s that definite autumnal smell in the air.
With the change in the seasons, I invariably start to think about my autumnal ethical wardrobe, and if there is anything I need to buy to fill any gaps.
By the way, when I talk about my autumnal wardrobe, don’t take this to mean that I do a big switch and put everything from summer into storage. There might be the odd summer piece that I fold up and put at the back of my drawer as not everything I own does work in every season. But by in large my autumn wardrobe is also pretty much my winter, spring, and summer wardrobe, just with more or fewer layers, and different footwear. My autumn wardrobe is therefore much the same as my summer wardrobe, just with the addition of tights (or rather, thicker tights because summer in Scotland often calls for tights), knitwear and boots.
My Autumnal Ethical Wardrobe Inspiration
Nonetheless, I’m not immune to doing a bit of window shopping. Here is my autumnal ethical wardrobe inspiration – click on the links to be taken to the retailers. This post does contain affiliate links.
Gold Chevron Necklace
This handmade beauty is from Birmingham based Oh My Clumsy Heart. I may actually have bought this as a birthday present from me to me. I’ve got a big deal birthday imminently approaching and I felt I deserved something to sweeten the blow. If you can’t treat yourself on your birthday, let alone a big-ish birthday, then when can you? That’s my philosophy anyway!
These Po-Zu brown linen vegan boots* are perfect for stomping through piles of crunchy leaves. And they are about as ethical as they come – Po-Zu have been ranked number one ethical shoe retailer in the Good Shopping Guide. Thumbs up all round.
Inga Rae Dress
I’m a little bit in love with this Thought Clothing dress*. The colours just say autumn, and it begs to be worn with tights and boots and a chunky cardigan, but it could equally work well in summer with bare legs and sandals.
Loose Knit Cardigan
Speaking of chunky cardigans, this cosy hand knitted People Tree number* is currently on super sale – £60, reduced from £150.
Vegan Tote Bag
This beautiful autumnal toned Matt + Nat vegan bag* is way out of my price range but oh so lovely. All of the Matt + Nat bags are so chic, and all are vegan. Not that long ago the words ‘vegan’ and ‘chic’ were complete oxymorons – it’s always great to see vegan bags that are equally as stylish as their leather counterparts.
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.
Your Ethical Wardrobe 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 own ethical wardrobe. Admittedly, I’ve never been a big shopper so my own wardrobe was never particularly large in the first place. However, 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.
The Four Piles System
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.
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, as well as creating a more ethical wardrobe.
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.
Found this post useful? Check out the rest of my posts in this Build An Ethical Wardrobe From Scratch series:
I'm Wendy and welcome to Moral Fibres, a UK based eco blog. I'm a sustainability expert, and my aim is to make sustainability simple, by researching and writing on all things environmental - from product guides to breaking down big ideas - so you don't have to.
As well as the blog I've also written a book on natural cleaning - Fresh Clean Home is out now!
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