The Pros and Cons of a Sustainable Wardrobe
So you’re interested in Sustainable Fashion, but it’s expensive. You want to try it, but you don’t know where to start. You read a lot about it, but you don’t trust brands. It might merely be a trend! And it might not even be a trend you want to engage in. Well, believe it or not, I get it! Building a sustainable wardrobe can be so challenging today. Not only because it’s difficult in itself, but because it can be overwhelming to see the pros from the cons.
I’ve made a quick list of the pros and cons of a sustainable wardrobe, just to help you see if you think it’s the right move for you – no spoiler alert here.
The Pros of a Sustainable Wardrobe
Ok, I’m going to start with the most obvious (and probably the easiest) part for me. Let’s see how building a sustainable wardrobe can be beneficial on the daily.
So..! Without getting into all the details of the capsule wardrobe and a specific number of pieces you should use; and without getting all Marie Kondo here, I’m going to say it as it is: a sustainable wardrobe is bound to get you to consume less.
When you buy sustainable, you will take the time to curate the pieces you want, eliminate those that don’t fit your criteria, and ultimately, own less. Simple maths.
So that’s one point for clarity and a clutter-free closet.
Better Quality Clothing
As we just said, you will take much longer to buy, because you will be making educated and intentional buying decisions. But what exactly takes time? Well, you will not be compromising on quality! For the price you’ll be paying, you’ll be making sure that your pieces are of good quality, and can last you for several seasons (or even years!).
Easier to Eliminate Potential Purchases
You know that feeling when you’re on the fence; not sure if you should buy that piece or not? I think we all know it, and it’s quite annoying because we’re never entirely at peace with our decision… Unless..? Yes, unless we know exactly where we are not willing to compromise!
When you are clear on your values, and what you are not willing to let go, it’s so much easier to eliminate (or give a big YES) to potential purchases.
Like that super-cute-perfectly-cut-amazing-colour-just-the-right-length polyester dress? Well, that’s a no! Simple…
Now that’s something I realised with time. When you start caring about one specific area, it tends to extend and influence how to act in different areas – which is a good thing! So what it means is that your newly found habit of curating your wardrobe will help you develop the habit of intentional buying. Depending on the reasons why you care about Sustainable Fashion, you might stop using single-use plastic, you might look more carefully into your cleaning products, you might start making your own skincare, and so on.
No matter what it is for you, you will definitely be more intentional about what and how you buy.
Looking Amazing Guilt-Free
“Ok, but Sustainable Fashion is ugly, and I’ll have a boring style”. Ummm… That’s not true. And I actually make a living out of making people look good guilt-free. But yeah, that’s not the point.
So you want to look good, and that’s ok! Me too actually! And the best thing about a sustainable wardrobe is that you get to do precisely that, without the guilt about horrible manufacturing processes and slaughtered animals.
If that’s not a win-win, I don’t know what is!
Better Understanding of Fabrics and Production Chains
Your sustainable wardrobe journey will naturally lead you to know more about how your clothes are made and where they come from. If you’ve heard of the “Who Made My Clothes?” movement, then you know it’s a problem.
Transparency is something that we are all starting to demand of the fashion industry, as we are more and more aware of all the damage that can be done when we buy certain products.
While looking to buy the right piece, you will gain an understanding of the production process (only the necessary stuff, not the fluff that you don’t need to know to make an informed decision); and you’ll also learn about which fabrics are best for you.
If you haven’t done so yet, you can also download my fabrics guide, where I guide you to understand and make better decisions about the fabrics you buy. Side note: did you know that jeans and denim were two different things? Exactly, me neither until not so long ago. Get your free guide here to make better sustainable choices, starting with the fabrics you wear.
Paying the Fair Price and Repairing Your Broken Clothing-Price Measurer
This can be seen by some as a negative, but let me explain why it’s not. It’s about repairing a broken tool you’ve been using for soooo long!
Let me explain. We have this measurement tool, let’s call it our “fashion-pricing compass”;, and that’s what we use to usually decide if a garment is expensive, cheap, or what have you. One of the elements that help us calibrate our compass is experience. Now you can start to see where the problem lies. We have been fed fast fashion and cheap clothing for sooooo long, that our compass uses this as an example. Our fashion-pricing-compass uses fast fashion, low-quality garments, squalid working conditions, underpaid workers, single-use-then-melt-in-the-wash fabrics, as a standard. I don’t want to be dramatic but… It’s almost funny: what kind of standards are these? There is no way we can compare that kind of fashion pieces with the ones we truly want to buy. And even though we agree on that, we still think a blouse shouldn’t cost more than £15.
Well, I believe it’s a benefit for us and our sustainable wardrobe, to know what the real cost of our garments are, and pay for it. I also think we tend to take better care of our belongings when we pay a fair price for them. + Bonus point: our fashion-pricing compass is repaired! How cool is that!
Last Pro of a sustainable wardrobe I’m going to develop here is this: we get more creative! When we have fewer clothes, and we truly curate the pieces that enter our closet, we tend to be much more creative with every single piece. There are a few reasons for that.
The first one is simple. When we pay the fair price, which is slightly more expensive, we want to make the best out of everything we buy. So we think carefully about how this piece is going to integrate and complement the rest of the wardrobe.
Second reason. With fewer pieces, we feel like we might get bored, always wearing the same pieces over and over again; and that’s where the magic happens. We mix-and-match, we find new combinations, we test out new styling techniques, we pair different pieces with different accessories. And we realise how much potential our sustainable wardrobe truly holds! And let’s be honest, when we have throwaway clothes, we always wear them the same way, get bored, and get rid of them eventually… Because we didn’t care that much, as such a cheap price.
The Cons of a Sustainable Wardrobe
Now, let’s talk about the not-so-good aspects of owning a sustainable wardrobe and navigating sustainable fashion. Even though I’m quite biased on the topic, I tried to stay as objective as I could, and I’m proud to say: I found a few things we can talk about here. It’s then a matter of “Id it worth it?”. So let’s dive in.
Harder to Shop in a World Dominated by Fast Fashion
Now this one is obvious. Most of the shops we see and hear about on the daily are fast fashion brands. We’re not going to name-drop here, but we know what we’re talking about. The emphasis is on the low price (to push you to buy), and there are new articles almost every day.
So yes, it requires will-power to ignore all this and not go for the “easy” option. You will need to do a little bit of research to find the brands and stores that you want to buy from.
Not Always Size-Inclusive
Now that’s a big issue in the Sustainable Fashion Industry, in my opinion. And even though some brands are trying to bridge the gap, there is still a lot of work to be done for women who don’t fit the usual five to six sizes we easily find in retail.
I understand that most sustainable brands are still small and are not sure there is demand for their products, but from my clients and from what I’ve heard, there is definitely a demand for a more inclusive range of sizes.
Sustainability is also about equality, access and being fair; so no discrimination should be tolerated; I hope the industry will address the problem as fast as possible. That being said, some brands are already being more inclusive and are offering more options.
Another challenge, even when you think you’ve done your research, is to avoid greenwashing.
What is greenwashing? It’s basically when companies surf on the sustainability trend and put in place a vast campaign about their sustainability efforts, while they don’t actually change their ways and don’t truly work to improve the industry. Their goal is solely to use sustainability as a way to make money, and they will most likely jump off the trend when real commitment is needed from them.
I know… Disgusting… But unfortunately, a lot of fast fashion giants use these techniques to make themselves appear like they’re doing something, while their workers are still working in poor conditions and their garments are still made for single-wear.
This is an issue, and if you genuinely want to support sustainable fashion, it can be a challenge to identify greenwashing at first glance. But with a bit of practice, it will become easier every time.
It Can Be Challenging If You Are Into Trends
Ok so, as you might already know, I don’t really condone following trends, as I think it’s much more efficient to find yourself and create your own signature style. However, if you do like trends and are trying to keep up with them, it can be a bit challenging to combine with sustainable fashion. There are two reasons for that.
First, sustainable brands tend not to create around what has been deemed trendy by the industry. So it will be simply challenging to find.
Second, if you do find sustainable options for the trends, then I can bet that it’ll blow your budget quite fast. As we know, sustainable fashion is a bit more expensive than fast fashion is, so adhering to every trend will start to quickly add up (or should I say subtract from your bank balance).
Finally, the idea of a sustainable wardrobe is to wear your piece and make them last for as long as possible and avoid clutter. Well, I think it’s self-explanatory here. You can’t avoid clutter if you buy into all the trends, and you will not want to make your pieces last if you are always after the next thing.
It Requires a Mindset Shift
I guess much like every significant change, the biggest hurdle is in the mind; and sustainable fashion is no exception here. I remember when I first became a vegetarian and then vegan, the mindset shift was so clear that I never ever missed meat – nope, not even once!
Getting to the conclusion that a sustainable wardrobe is the best option can only come from a personal mindset shift ultimately, and no argument or external factors can change anything if you’re not ready. I believe however that once you’ve shifted, it’s almost impossible to go back, and that’s definitely a huge pro for me!
Are there any pros or cons that I didn’t address here? Let me know in the comment section.