How to Transition to a Sustainable Wardrobe
Sustainability has been in the spotlight in the last few years; whether because people are embracing it, or because of some other controversy in the vegan or the fashion world – I mean, we all know it’s impossible to make everybody happy, right! For a lot of us trying to embrace it, one theme comes back over and over again when it comes to transitioning to a sustainable wardrobe: overwhelm. So many of my styling clients or sustainability newbies tell me “I want to start shopping sustainably; I want to get into sustainable fashion, but I just don’t know where to start, it’s overwhelming.” And to this, I say “I know”.
Transitioning to a sustainable wardrobe can be an intimidating task, even for the most motivated of us. In my years of practice, I’ve put together a simple process, so you can make the switch seamlessly. Now a word of warning: is it going to be an overnight shift? No, absolutely not. But one thing is sure, once you’ll have done it, you won’t want to go back to fast fashion.
Here is how to transition to a sustainable wardrobe in five steps.
Change your Mindset
Like any other lifestyle change, the first thing that needs to shift is your mindset. Understanding and genuinely embracing the reasons behind sustainable fashion will make you so sure about this choice, that you won’t even consider fast fashion as a viable anymore.
I like to take the example of my becoming a vegetarian, many years ago – and vegan a few years later. People still ask me to this day if I sometimes miss meat. And they struggle to believe that I genuinely don’t. Especially when I tell them that some meats actually taste nice and I thoroughly enjoyed eating them. Can you believe that? A vegan that doesn’t actually get grossed out by meat. But the reason behind this is so simple: My mindset has shifted, I don’t see meat as a viable option anymore. I just don’t eat it. It’s that simple.
The same is true for sustainable fashion. Once you are clear on the reasons behind your choice, you will still be able to look at a piece of fast fashion and appreciate it for what it is. Nevertheless, your new mindset will give you the strength and the resolve you need to stay focus on what you truly believe in: sustainable fashion.
Define your Signature Style
If you’ve ever stood in front of your wardrobe thinking “I have nothing to wear” or “My style is boring”, or even “I have so many clothes, I don’t even know where to start”; then let me tell you right now: you’re not alone, and it’s absolutely normal. Overhauling your wardrobe is an enterprise; and if you want to do it sustainably, it can genuinely intimidate even the most experienced fashionista.
But the truth is, most of the time, the real reason behind these statements is that you don’t have a clear vision of what your signature style is. I’ve written a piece about defining your signature style that you can read here; but the main idea is that without a clear vision, it’s difficult to know how you’re going to build your wardrobe or transition to a sustainable wardrobe. It’s not as difficult as it seems if you follow my proven 10-step process.
Identify your Sustainability Priorities
Sustainability is such a broad field that it’s almost impossible to implement it if you try to tackle it at once. With 17 sustainable goals from the United Nations and countless interpretations of what sustainability is, it’s natural that sustainability means something different to everyone; or at least, we don’t all hold the same priorities.
One of the ways to tackle sustainability step by step is to identify which areas are most important to you and focus on these at the beginning, until they become second-nature, before tackling your next priority. I know, for example, that for me, eating plant-based is a priority, and avoiding polyester-made clothes is non-negotiable.
Start with a Sustainable Capsule Wardrobe
Transitioning to a fully sustainable wardrobe is not only overwhelming, but it can also be costly! One of the ways to get there slowly is by starting with a sustainable capsule wardrobe, to pair with your existing one. Gradually, your sustainable capsule wardrobe will become your main one, while the fast fashion pieces make their way out of your closet.
Embrace the Journey
Last but not least, I know it’s challenging to take it easy when you realise how much change needs to happen, even in your life as a sustainability enthusiast, but honestly, it’s about the journey, not the goal.
There is so much progress to be made, even in the research regarding sustainability, that it’s impossible to define a clear end goal. The most important thing we can do right now is to identify the low-hanging fruits and start there while enjoying the journey – instead of drowning under everything that still needs to be done. Remember: it’s much better to have 7bn people doing it imperfectly that a handful of people doing it perfectly.
In my years as a sustainable stylist, I’ve identified the beginning of sustainable wardrobe building to be the most challenging part of the process. Not the middle, not the end, but truly the beginning. Now you hold the keys to a successful transition to a sustainable wardrobe, I can’t wait to help you with this process. Leave your sustainable wardrobe building questions down below, and I’ll make sure to answer them as soon as I can.