Do you love the items in your wardrobe? Or do you appear in front of it every morning feeling bored and uninspired by what it contains? Most of us are, or at least have been, stuck in the fast fashion cycle. Constantly buying new and on trend pieces, and then a short time later realising that we don’t actually like them all that much. I don’t think this cycle leaves anyone feeling happy. Sure, we feel happy in that moment we make a new purchase, but when we look at our wardrobes as a whole we often feel discontented. How can we build a wardrobe of pieces that we love? That make us excited to get dressed everyday, and of course do not exploit people or the environment.
I want to start off by saying that this is not a fast process. I don’t know how many times in the past I’ve looked at my wardrobe, felt unhappy with what’s in there and then immediately felt the urge to go out and replace every single item with something new. Luckily, my bank account stopped me from ever doing that. But it’s just as good, because I know full well that in time I would get bored of these items to. Building a wardrobe you love takes years, but it’s worth it in the long run.
Take a look at your wardrobe now and look in detail at every piece. You already know the pieces you love and wear regularly, but what about the other pieces that you don’t wear so much. Are there items sat in there that you haven’t worn for a while? I always recommend trying things on, some items look mediocre on the hanger which discourages you from putting them on. But sometimes once you actually do put it on you realise you really like it.
If you find some pieces that really are not working for you, on or off the hanger. Then it’s time to rid yourself of them. But it is absolutely essential that you do this responsibly. The best way is to sell your old clothes, as not only do you make money, but you’re pretty much guaranteed that that item is going on to someone who is going to give it a second life. There are many options for selling your clothes, I personally use the app Depop, but you can also use eBay, or sell your items at a car boot sale. If an item can’t be sold (or it’s worth so little that it’s not worth your efforts) then you can donate it. I tend to take things to one of my local charity shops. But you should only take pieces which you feel are actually in good enough condition for the charity shop to sell. Do not give them items with big stains or rips, as this only wastes their time and will ultimately result in it going in the bin anyway. Some areas also have bins where you can simply deposit old clothes and they will be reused. So what about if you’re clearing out underwear, or anything else that’s really not going to get a second wear? Well first think about whether you could repurpose it in some way. Here are a few ideas:
- Use them as old cleaning rags.
- Turn them into new clothes or use them as part of a new clothing item.
- Turn them into reusable cotton pads for removing makeup or removing nail polish. (I’m currently using an old swimming costume to remove nail polish!)
- Use them to make some kind of art – you could frame different materials and hang it up on the wall if it matches your décor.
If you google around you will find 100’s of ideas of how to repurpose old clothes!
Okay so you’ve cleared out your wardrobe and got rid of everything responsibly. Now you need to look at what you have got and think a bit about your personal style. What kind of image do you want to portray to the world? This can be an overwhelming thought so what I recommend doing is making a Pinterest board of outfit inspiration. Here is mine.
As you can see I have a pretty causal style so whenever I do go shopping I try and go for pieces that fit this. Sticking with a personal style means that your wardrobe will be cohesive and most if not all of your items will match with each other. Think about certain colours, texture and styles that you like. Once you get an idea for what your style is you are less likely to be swayed by temporary trends. You might even find it beneficial to write down what your personal style is to get a narrower focus. For example I would say:
My personal style is casual and comfortable yet I like to embellish with a few subtle accessories, normally necklaces and earrings. I like to wear mostly neutrals but do enjoying incorporating some colours, particularly khaki, burgundy, and blues. I like to wear jeans, leggings, sweatpants or shorts and occasionally, in the summer, a short flowy dress. I like to keep my clothing tight on the bottom and often looser on top, I prefer a more tomboyish style as opposed to a super feminine look. I like footwear to be comfortable and tend to prefer trainers over other types of footwear, and sandals and flip flops in the summer.
Thinking about your personal style is done with the intention of guiding you. You don’t have to be absolutely committed to it in that you don’t buy anything that goes outside it, but it’s just to keep you on a straight path rather than swerving from trend to trend.
Okay so once you’ve got your personal style sorted, lets think a bit about shopping habits. In the past couple of years I have believed that as long as I’m buying second hand or from ethical companies it really doesn’t matter how much I buy. But I think it’s really important to get out of this mindset that consumption = happiness. Consuming second-hand clothing doesn’t cause damage to people or the environment. But if we are mindlessly consuming not only do we create wardrobes we’re not all that fussed about, but we also contribute to consumption = happiness idea, which is why I believe a lot of us today feel dissatisfied with our lives. As well as being one of the reasons why we have an impending climate crisis. We need to think about every purchase we make. Try doing the ‘30 wears challenge‘ this involves you stopping before buying a piece and thinking ‘will I wear this at least 30 times?’ if the answer is no then you put it back. We need to buy clothes that will last us a long time and that we will be excited to wear for a long time.
The other day I was browsing Instagram and saw that ethical clothing company People Tree had a sale on. They had some pretty good reductions and I was considering buying a green top I saw.
But then I though about it:
- It’s long sleeved and in a couple of weeks I’m going to Australia, I won’t be returning to the UK until July where it will then be summer here, so it will go unworn for some months after I purchase it.
- Patterns aren’t really my thing and I don’t think it would match much else in my wardrobe. (I mean does it really look like anything on my Pinterest personal style board? Nope.)
- I would have never paid full price for it, so I would really only be buying it because it had a discount. Just because things are ethical and eco-friendly or ethical it doesn’t mean we need to buy it. When you are in need of something then absolutely go to these shops, but don’t do it just because you can.
Just because things are ethical and eco-friendly or ethical it doesn’t mean we need to buy it. When you are in need of something then absolutely go to these shops, but don’t do it just because you can.
When you feel like you are lacking something in your wardrobe, think about what that item is and then go and seek it. But I would recommend just thinking about it for a couple of weeks before you go out and actually look for it. Open your options up, look in charity shops, search on depop or browse an ethical brands site. Don’t just go for the first thing that vaguely matches what you want because it’s cheap. The right pieces are worth waiting for. When you think you’ve found the right item ask yourself four things:
- Will I wear this 30 times?
- Do I absolutely love it?
- Will it fulfil the purpose I wanted it for?
- Does it fit my personal style?
If the answer is yes to these four questions, then go ahead and make the purchase.
I am really only at the beginning of building a wardrobe that I love. But I wanted to share this because I think it’s really important that we create a different kind of relationship with consumption. Where we consume only items that we absolutely love and we know will get a lot of wear. It’s both terrible for the environment, the people and our own minds to mindlessly consume the latest trends without even asking the question, do I really, truly, like this?