How I'm building a more sustainable closet
Author: Kimberly, from The Case for Simple Blog
There’s a lot of talk about “sustainable fashion” these days, and it can be overwhelming if you’re just beginning to shift your closet to more ethical or sustainable clothing.
When I set out on my journey to simplify my closet & create a capsule wardrobe three years ago, I wanted it to be 100% sustainable. I obsessed over so many details and each choice I made, until I was burned out and frustrated by all my efforts.
Now I’ve redefined my expectations and aligned them to my lifestyle. To me, sustainable fashion is about creating a thoughtful & intentional closet that has less negative impact on the environment, people, and animals. But it takes patience, persistence, and education. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a sustainable closet!
So how am I building a more sustainable closet?
1. Purchasing Versatile & Timeless Pieces
Each piece that gets purchased for my wardrobe has to undergo a strict vetting process:
Is it made by an ethical brand?
Is it a versatile piece?
Is it made with quality in mind to last for a long time?
Is it classic or timeless style?
Investing in versatile, high quality clothing brands when purchasing new items encourages me be more mindful about my choices, as I expect the financial investment to pay off for many years. Fitting higher quality, ethically made pieces into the budget can be difficult. I’ve created a “capsule wardrobe wishlist” and intentionally spread new purchases out over many months, usually purchasing ‘off-season’ to get better deals on overstock and out of season items. Following ethical brands from my wishlist on Instagram informs me of sales, which helps the budget piece as well.
It was hard to resist impulsive purchases at the beginning, but walking away from fast fashion pieces when tempted at the mall has gotten easier with time. Having a wishlist definitely helps hold me accountable and keep me on track.
2. Choosing Sustainable Textiles
There are several fabrics that I’m choosing not to add to my closet for the impact they have on the environment and those are: polyester, acrylic, and nylon. Before purchasing anything new, I check the label. (No need to get rid of currently-owned clothing made of this material, as that leads to unnecessary waste!)
This is one area I’m still working on, but for the most part I prefer organic cotton or linen anyway and avoiding nylon is A-ok with me!
On a more positive note, let’s talk about which fabrics I’m saying “yes, please” to: linen & organic cotton. Give me all the linen this summer! My “Yes” list is small because my skin feels best in those textiles. Other sustainable fabrics include hemp, tencel, silk, cashmere, recycled material, just to name a few.
3. Thrifting or Upcycling Before Purchasing
Occasionally I’ll donate clothes to Goodwill or sell them back to a boutique consignment shop in my city, and on those days I read through my wishlist first and browse the store for second hand pieces. My favorite find to-date is a handmade, olive green midi dress that’s cozy & stylish at the same time.
Upcycling previously-loved fabric into accessories is a great way to add style & color to your wardrobe, without purchasing new. Take this scarf, for instance-cut from fabric used in a photoshoot by an Instagram friend of mine. You could make produce bags or turn a specific clothing piece into a new one, like an oversized shirt into a skirt.
4. Choosing Progress, Not Perfection
It’s quite ambitious to build a completely ethically sourced and sustainable closet, and I’ll make some mistakes in the process. That’s okay. Accepting that I don’t have to be perfect, but choosing to continue making progress has been a good mindset shift for me.
When I started transforming my closet, I really wanted everything to be ethically purchased & more sustainable right away, and I wanted it to be 100% that way. That led to complete burnout, and it was really discouraging.
Progress is attainable and that’s my new goal. Progress over perfection.
My “sustainable closet” isn’t perfect. But everyday I make choices to build a more sustainable closet and continue to assess my impact on the world. As each new season rolls around, I have a renewed chance to make an impact. This summer, I’ve committed to a summer uniform that’s simple, sustainable, & totally stylish!
Because you’re reading this, I suspect you, too, have an interest in building a more sustainable & ethically-sourced closet. Hopefully this provides some guidance to get started or at least help you consider what you could do today, if you want to make a change.
If you have questions or want to connect, you can find my contact info below. I love chatting all things ethical fashion, so please reach out!
Kimberly, from The Case for Simple Blog, is an educator, home organizer, and human who’s obsessed with her impact on the world. When she’s not teaching little humans how to read or decluttering/organizing homes, she can be found making simple, small changes in her family’s life to improve the impact they make in the world. Kimberly loves curating happy spaces, creating community through grazing boards and backyard drinks, and learning all the things that time affords. You can find her on Instagram or Facebook @thecaseforsimple, as well as thecaseforsimple.com.