Mindful ways for your wardrobe (and yourself) that you’d want in on.
We have all been there – queueing up for crazy sales, buying that heavily discounted $5 ribbed tank and worshipping fast fashion empires at their feet.
Fashion is truly a cycle; what was trendy back then will return and before you know it, we revert to guilty spending habits all over again. From the ones who have been bestowed with that sustainable eureka, to the ones who are tired of buying garments that don’t last a season, here are 9 ways (advised by 9 lovely local sustainable brands) to start building a more mindful and sustainable wardrobe.
1. Have An Open-Mind
Sustainable fashion looks different to everyone.
A loaded term; it can be overwhelming and confusing for beginners who want to pursue this new lifestyle. However, sustainability exists in many nuances and we should start taking ownership of the many layers of sustainability that identify with us.
To some, sustainable fashion is preferring a more natural and organic fabric that is better for the environment. It could even refer to being mindful of the workers behind the garment. To shop secondhand, and not adopting an impulsive “I need to buy this because it is cheap” mindset is also another sustainable way to navigate through your shopping routines.
As such, try to alter your mindset and find out which definition works best for you. Sustainability is not an overnight phenomenon, so be empathetic towards your ways of change, slowly and surely, until choosing sustainable pieces become second nature to you.
2. Calculate If It’s Worth It
One of the biggest barriers of entry to sustainable fashion is undoubtedly the price tag. Usually, it is more costly than fast-fashion brands, but what we fail to realise is that the price is truly reflective of what goes on in the supply chain.
Imagine buying a $5 shirt and breaking down its craftsmanship process. Chances are, the maker behind your shirt gets less than the price you paid for. In comparison to sustainably made pieces with a heftier price point, the makers behind the garment are technically more ethically paid. However, sustainability should not be pigeonholed into splurging on a basic white t-shirt. In fact, it is a more critical evaluation of how many times you will wear that white t-shirt.
This cost-per-wear formula can direct you to a more decisive and critical shopping mindset, moulding you to become a more sustainable shopper. If that’s too tricky for you, or you’re a tad indecisive, give yourself the ‘30 Wears’ rule. Would you wear that white t-shirt more than 30 times? Would it just be collecting dust in your sea of other white t-shirts? Slow down and be honest with yourself! If your general response revolves around a solid (or not that solid) ‘no’, I’m sure you would know what to do: Put it back on the rack, okay? *pats shoulder*
3. Know Who & Where You Are Donating To
I know it’s a feel-good activity, but donating just for the sake of decluttering and cleaning out your wardrobe is more one-sided than you think! Oftentimes, we are not aware of where our donated clothes go but we do it anyway because it is an easy way out. Be cautious of adopting an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality because it is identical to just dumping it out.
As such, while it is a great effort to donate our unwanted clothes, perhaps we can be a bit more cognisant of who we donate to and what we donate. This includes segmenting pieces according to wearable quality so that it is more meaningful to the receiver.
Additionally, we can be more involved with the organisations we are donating to, such as finding out its cause and the people who are reusing them. With this, we become more aware towards a more sustainable way of life by highly appreciating the people who have given our used clothes a second lease on life.
4. Choose The Brand That Feels Like You
In our Local Sustainable Fashion Edit we talked with 9 brands on the importance of committing to their own identity and brand value. Some brands may have adopted a more minimalist style centering on rawer silhouettes and organic colours; others are a bit more bold and bright.
Even so, being sustainable is also finding a brand that really aligns with your identity. Buying a minimal-looking piece, that is not your style, just for the sake of riding on a minimal-esque fashion bandwagon, is not sustainable because you would not wear it often. Therefore, find a brand that you genuinely like and want to wear. You do not necessarily have to commit to it, because fashion is meant to be fluid, but it’s a good place to anchor! From this, there’s a natural inkling to respect and support the brand you authentically shop at and love.
For a more holistic brand experience, brands that outwardly advocate causes such as women-related issues, #Blacklivesmatter, ethical working standards gives you a clearer looking glass on where your money is going. With that level of transparency, there’s a certain trust and relationship you begin to cultivate with the brand – and this encourages you to shop sustainably while practicing a more conscious and mindful lifestyle.
5. Fall In Love With How Your Clothes Are Made
You know the saying, “love the journey, not only the destination”? Building a sustainable and mindful wardrobe includes putting yourself in the maker’s shoes, and really falling in love with the artistry of the garment.
Sustainable fashion is heavily tied to a higher craftsmanship, and ultimately, a higher regard for traditional and intricate processes. Once we understand and really discover how being sustainable involves a lot with the beauty of our environment, we will appreciate our clothes even more.
Sustainable brands go all out in finding a unique and resourceful way to make their clothes, and they always think out-of-the-box, but never trespass the boundaries of our Mother Earth. This includes interacting and innovating with nature to come up with unique craftwork for more sentimental pieces. Such garments are even incorporated with pineapple fibres and spun laboriously to be converted into yarn. It is with these making processes that are so adaptable and creative, that falling in love with the effort and journey of the garment becomes so natural. It also encourages us to be more critical, in-depth and mindful in finding pieces that are truly unique and special – out from the maker’s bare hands.
6. Start Small
If you’re a bit intimidated by the whole sustainability-is-a-lifestyle mantra, you don’t have to be. You can always start small! You do not need to splurge on expensive one-of-a-kind dresses. Instead, start with one piece that you really like and see yourself wearing often. Learn to value and treasure in that one piece, and slowly it will become special to you.
You do not need to buy that luxurious linen piece or that oatmeal coloured tencel blouse. In fact, you can just reuse the things you have in your closet because that is another way to start internally and start small. Part of being sustainable is to cherish the clothes you already have and to find a new way to use it. Even though you still own that pair of denim jeans you copped from that fast-fashion brand 5 years ago – and you still LOVE and wear it – you can still commit to them even though you are approaching a more sustainable way of life.
In totality, throwing your clothes away just because it seems misaligned to your new mindful wardrobe defeats the purpose of sustainability itself.
7. Embrace The Kintsugi
Building a more sustainable and mindful wardrobe involves kintsugi; the philosophy of embracing the old because of its character and identity.
That’s also thrifting.
People are now more receptive towards thrifted and second-hand clothes. Once linked to an unglamorous activity, the present-day thrifting experience is what enthralls people. Perhaps it’s the competitive nature in us to find clothes that are completely different, or the satisfaction of finding the perfect item after a hard day’s work – either way it’s a fun treasure-hunt!
We are here to bust the myth that thrifting is all things cheap and unwanted. Contrastingly, people thrift to find an item for its story and identity. For instance, finding a vintage graphic t-shirt may hold high value because it is typically linked to a specific moment in history. It is harder now to find clothes that are unique because fast fashion companies copy these patterns and silhouettes to be sold at a wholesale price. However, thrifting is sustainable because you invest in pieces that have an identity and are more emotionally charged. Sometimes, being sustainable is not just minimising your clothes. As mentioned, it is investing in pieces that you know you will keep in the long-term because of the story behind it.
8. Don’t Follow Trends!
Trends do not last forever; succumbing to 2020’s Pantone colour as a colour guide for your 2020 quarantine outfits, is not the most sustainable way to build your wardrobe. This point is self-explanatory. Buy clothes and accessories that are timeless, or invest in statement pieces you know will be part of your wardrobe for a long time. Last year’s trend report may have involved going for baggy, wide-leg denim, but in the next fashion season, you would not know what to predict. Is it really worth keeping up with fashion trends that are so volatile?
General rule of thumb: style can’t be bought, so mindfully invest in what you really want to wear instead.
9. Look After Your Clothes Well
When you own a cashmere sweater, you become more mindful of how to take care of it. You would send it for dry cleaning services because you want it kept in pristine condition. Henceforth, applying this same level of care and detail on your other wardrobe pieces can really extend its life span. Cherishing each piece like it’s part of you and wanting it to last a long time is another way to be build a more sustainable wardrobe.
Of course, we’re human too, there are times where clothes just get torn after a while, but the point here is to really maximise its wear – and the way to do that is to look after it well like it’s your baby!
There you go! One does not need to follow each and every single way to achieve a sustainable wardrobe of their dreams. But this guide hopefully is a good place to start for you, and I’m sure our earth (and your money: think long-term!) would be very proud of the steps you take.