What would it look like if you could ditch the fast fashion, consumerist mindset and build a sustainable wardrobe? This is something I’ve been working toward for a long time now. I don’t think I’ll ever have a 100% handmade wardrobe, and I haven’t completely ditched big box stores or brand name clothing companies. But I’ve definitely found my way to a much more sustainable wardrobe.
Building a sustainable wardrobe
Learn to sew your own clothes
If you’ve been around here for awhile, it’s no surprise that this is my first tip. I love to sew clothes! I’ve gone through seasons of sewing more for myself or my kiddos, and some seasons where I’m not sewing as much. I don’t have a 100% handmade wardrobe, and that’s okay. But I’ve developed the skills that I can make just about anything, which means that my wardrobe can have just what I want!
Bonus: sew your clothing from upcycled fabric! Take old clothing, sheets, etc. from your home or from a thrift store and remake them into something new! You can see some of the items I’ve upcycled here.
Buy clothing and shoes secondhand
I really enjoy thrifting everything from sewing supplies to books, and it’s saved us so much money to buy a lot of our clothing at thrift stores. I buy probably 75% of my boys’ wardrobe from thrift stores these days. I used to make a lot of their clothes, but my boys are HARD on their clothes, and I admittedly just don’t want to put a lot of energy into making their clothes that are just going to get destroyed.
If you don’t have great thrift stores nearby, try shopping secondhand via rummage sales, Facebook Marketplace, or a secondhand selling app like Poshmark.
Host or attend a clothing swap
My friends and I have been doing clothing swaps for years, and I always walk away with some great clothing pieces! We usually do this a couple times a year with a group, but you can easily just swap clothing with a friend who wears a similar size. We all bring the clothing or accessories we no longer want, and we each choose a number. Everyone spends a bit of time trying on clothing and seeing what they would like, and then we go in number order and each person gets to choose something to take home. We keep going until everyone has chosen what they want, and we donate the leftovers.
Make or buy clothing that is versatile
We don’t need to hop on every trend. When we buy or make clothing that can go with the rest of our wardrobe, can be dressed up or dressed down, or isn’t just for a specific occasion, it keeps us from having to always buy more and more clothing. I’m all for buying the special garments and making statement pieces, but if the majority of our wardrobes can be mixed and matched, worn over and over again, it will keep us from wasting money on clothes we don’t even wear.
Carefully choose the pieces you buy new
I still buy new clothing! I don’t knit my own sweaters, and while I can make my own jeans, I’m in a season where I just prefer to buy them new. When I buy new, I’m intentional about the pieces that I buy. I try to buy higher quality pieces, ones that will last a long time. I try to choose items that I will wear consistently. If I just hop online to a shop that sells cheap clothing form overseas, it’s not going to last, I know that the working conditions for laborers are terrible, and I’m probably going to have to buy the same thing again in a couple years.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with buying new clothing! But I think the fast fashion industry has us believing that we need to be constantly updating our wardrobes. By building a more sustainable wardrobe, we can save money, keep clothing out of the landfills, and just be better stewards of our resources.