5 Ways to Build a More Sustainable Wardrobe

If you pay attention to fashion trends, you may know there is currently a backlash against the fast fashion movement of the past few years. This trend consists of popular clothing brands churning out multiple collections of cheaply-produced clothing a year to encourage consumers to shop quickly-changing trends and throw out old ones. This resulted in mountains of clothing going into landfills, huge amounts of textile waste in clothing production, abusive labor practices and a business model that was damaging not only to the environment but to people as well.


As a result, there is currently a movement to shop and wear clothes more sustainably. That means looking at how businesses are producing their clothing. Are they sourcing eco-friendly materials? Are they paying livable wages to their workers? Also, buy clothing that is high quality so it lasts for a long time and shop for classic pieces that won’t go out of style quickly so they can be worn over and over.


If all this resonates with you, here are some ways to build a more sustainable wardrobe.

Shop Your Closet

How many times have you looked at your closet full of clothes and thought, “I have nothing to wear!” In truth, you don’t need to buy new clothes. You have a whole rack of clothes. You’ve just worn them the same way for so long you’re bored with them. And you might have items that were impulse buys that you’ve never worn because you didn’t know how to style them once you got them home. The trick to shopping your closet is to look at your clothes with fresh eyes. How can you pair clothes differently than you’ve worn them before? Try new color combinations, have some fun with print mixing, layering or putting on different accessories. You’ll give your abandoned clothes new love and stimulate your creative side with some new styles.

Play with A Color Wheel

One way to repurpose clothes you already have is to play with color pairings. Purchase a color wheel online or at a craft store. Or simply do a Google search and pull one up on the computer. There are a few ways to look at color combinations:

  • Complementary Colors – Opposites on the color wheel. Try pairing pink with green, purple with yellow.
  • Analogous colors –Colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. If you like the color red, try pairing a red item with pink and orange items.
  • Monochromatic Combinations –The same color but in different shades. Try taking everything you own that’s one color, such as blue, and lay it out on the bed. Wear the pieces that collectively make an outfit of one color. And be playful – try putting together different shades, tones and tints such as baby blue, royal blue and navy.

Mend Don’t Toss

Do you automatically toss a piece of clothing out because you lost a button or pulled out a hem or seam? Grab a small sewing kit and make easy fixes to keep that item in rotation in your wardrobe or fix it up to get it in shape for donating. If there is a major tear, take it to an alterations shop and see if a professional sewist can fix it.

Shop Vintage and Thrift

Resale shops offer a bonanza of clothing that deserves a second chance. Vintage stores may open your eyes to new styles of bygone areas that can be pulled into a modern outfit. Thrift stores feature many brand names, trendy and classic styles at deep discounts. You may even be inspired to pair up clothes in new ways. A little creeped out about wearing secondhand clothes? A simple wash or dry clean will make them good as new! This outfit is completely made up of vintage and thrift store items.

Shop Sustainable Brands

The people have spoken and brands are listening. There’s been a demand for clothing brands to be more transparent in how they source materials and their labor practices. You can find out the good guys from the bad guys in fashion by looking at their website and seeing if they have a section that states their commitment to sustainability. Also, try shopping by doing a search for “slow fashion brands”, “sustainable brands” or “ethical fashion brands” and reward the good guys with your business.



Now that you have some ideas for building a more sustainable wardrobe, which one will you try first?


Check out some of my vintage and thrifted outfits on my Stiletto City blog and Instagram page.


Store photo by  Charles Deluvio on  Unsplash 

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

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