Stories from AGENdA

Building a More Sustainable Wardrobe

Building a More Sustainable Wardrobe

Ah! Fall is here and isn't it great to feel the cool breeze and see turning leaves?

We often shop when the season changes. So this is perfect timing to start building a more sustainable wardrobe that you've been thinking about for a while. I am doing this slowly - one at a time. I enjoy adding or replacing a classic piece in my closet as the new season comes.

To share a few things about building a more sustainable wardrobe, I've reflected on my own journey and how excited(even accomplished!) or frustrated I felt along the way. It is not very easy as you would most likely face your shopping habits and redirect it. So I want to applaud you starting this journey by just reading this. There are two big parts. One is utilizing what you already have. The other is shopping more consciously.

It is true that what you already own is the most sustainable. Such a boring concept? Actually this is where your creativity comes in! Try putting together different outfits with the pieces you already have. Try wearing things in a different way. For example, layer the shirt over the lightweight turtleneck. This is such a chic and simple layering that can go with any bottoms! Or try tucking the sweater in. Chunky sweaters? Half tuck it. Or put a belt over. Cuff the jeans. Uncuff the jeans. Layer the dress over the jeans. Use a scarf as a belt. It not only saves you $ but exercises your mind and brings you joy. 

While you are shopping in your own closet, you would notice the items that you do not wear anymore. I have some, you have some, everyone has some. So why don’t we swap them with friends or sell them? If you are not doing this already, it is probably because you haven’t had a chance to take a good look at them. Just take some time to examine them closely. Will you wear it with creative styling? Then exercise the idea. Does it need repair? Find out how much it would cost to repair and consider the value. Is it something that one of your friends may enjoy? Gift it or swap it with something else. Can you make something out of it? Like a pet toy, cleaning cloths, doll dress. Is it something you can sell online? Great, extra $ always welcomed. If all the answers are no, donate or recycle them. Otherwise, let’s get more value out of these sleeping beauties.

For the actual shopping part, taking time helps. Try not to make an impulse purchase. I know. I used to be the person who shops on a whim. Though it is fun, and sometimes you just find one-of-the-kind pieces and have to get it while you can, impulse shopping, in general, does have side effects. If you shop without much planning or consideration, you may find yourself purchasing pieces that may be trendy but with less desirable quality. Less quality means you would wear for a shorter period of time, discard easier, and create more waste, then buy more – not something you truly want.

If you think long and hard about whether and how this piece can work with your existing wardrobe, you would know the true value. Start shopping with identifying an item that can enhance your wardrobe greatly. 

Let’s say you have lots of casual sweaters, jeans, knit tees but do not have a white shirt or black blazer. That is the kind of item that you would wear in many ways. 

So look for the items that are versatile and truly useful for you. Once you know what you need, you can research different styles, fabrications, brands, etc. Check out a brand's sustainability efforts and research about the fabrication. Exercise your purchasing power by buying something from a brand that aligns with the cause and value you care about. Imagine yourself wearing it with some of your favorite items. Picture it in your everyday life.

That is the mental exercise I go through before purchasing a new piece of clothing. Am I wearing this to work? Can I wear this in a more casual or formal setting? How will this look with my favorite pair of jeans? Does it go with my ankle boots? Then I know whether and how much I would enjoy and treasure this purchase.