4 Tips for a More Sustainable Wardrobe

In decades past, people focused their sustainability efforts on obvious offenders like cars and water consumption. If someone wanted to livein a more sustainable, eco-friendly fashion, they might buy an electric car or switch their bathroom showerhead to a low-flow fixture.

Of course, those are still worthwhile pursuits. But recently, people have come to a more holistic understanding of what it means to live sustainably. It isn’t just the obvious, carbon-emitting elements in our lives that impact social and environmental sustainability; rather, it’s the sum total of all of our habits, practices and consumer preferences.

Sustainable Wardrobe

What better place to start considering your personal commitment to sustainability than in your wardrobe? Collectively, our choice of clothing – and our relationship to fashion in general – can have an appreciable influence on sustainability.
Here are a few tips for putting together a more sustainable wardrobe.

Be Discriminating with Your Materials

Not all materials are created equally. Popular synthetic materials like polyester, acrylic and nylon are particularly bad for the environment; their manufacturing process emits excessive amounts of methane, and they take up to 200 years to degrade in landfills. Even so-called natural products like cotton and rayon are woefully unsustainable; the former requires massive amounts of water for production, and the latter is complicit in deforestation and toxic run-off.

If you’re looking for sustainable clothing, try a wardrobe of comfortable and stylish merino wool clothes made from mulesing-free wool. Not only is merino wool versatile and long-lasting (more on those points in a moment), but it is a renewable, sustainable resource that requires little processing or water.

Buy Quality, Not Quantity

It sounds obvious, but it bears mentioning: go for quality over quantity. One of the worst PR campaigns launched by fast fashion brands involves convincing people that they need new clothing every couple of months (see more about the terrible legacy of micro-season clothing).
Instead, buy quality garments that will last you years. Forget about the small ebbs and flows of fashion – what’s in this month, etc. – and focus on timeless, sophisticated looks with staying power.

Take a Cue from the Capsule Wardrobers: Prioritize Versatility

The capsule wardrobe crowd has it right. When you put together a closet, consider versatility and trans-seasonality. What articles of clothing can you wear year-round in different combinations to create several unique looks?
As mentioned above, merino wool clothing is a versatile choice as it is both insulating and breathable (i.e., it keeps you warm in the winter, and cool in the summer). To ensure versatility, choose neutral-coloured clothing that you can dress up or down.

"Wabi-Sabi" and the Art of Tailoring

Wabi-Sabi is the Japanese philosophical concept of embracing imperfection – of understanding that there is beauty and nobility in the transience of nature. What does that mean for fashion? It means that you shouldn’t throw out a t-shirt just because it has a hole, or toss out a hoodie because it has an oil smudge. Instead, use these imperfections as an opportunity to learn more about tailoring and patching. Or simply live with the imperfection!

By following these four straightforward tips, you can build a wardrobe that’s easier on the environment. Moreover, you can change your outlook on fashion to embrace a more sustainable way of getting dressed.

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About the Author

Stella Cooter

Journalist, traveller and mother, Stella writes about fashion and style, luxury and adventure.

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