how to make more sustainable fashion choices

How to make more sustainable fashion choices?

When did sustainability become so hip? I don’t know the exact timeline, but if I were to guess – probably when we realised that we are consuming a lot more of the planet than we are giving back.

2024

These days, sustainability is kind of the trendiest word in fashion as well. So is making sustainable fashion choices. Unfortunately, I have to break it to you at the beginning – there is no one simple answer to how to make better fashion choices.

But there are many good beginnings. And the goal isn’t to be perfect. The goal is to find your own little steps that will guide you towards more sustainable fashion choices.

Continue to read to learn from what I can share based on my journey.

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Chapter 1 - the mindset

Before you get to the “shopping” or “making choices” part, think about why you need (which in most cases really is “want”) clothes. Besides, well… that we are not cavemen (and women) anymore and that it’s a norm to cover yourself, there are a couple of reasons.

What is the reason why you need new clothes? A question to ask before stepping into discovering more sustainable fashion choices.

🌸 You just want to feel good. And clothes make up a portion of feeling good. For some people, it is about comfort – wearing good fabrics (cashmere you guyys!) and comfortable fits makes them feel good. For others it is about the emotion that an outfit gives you. That would be me, when colours and patterns perfectly align (or perfectly misalign) in my outfit. It injects a portion of good feelings. It can also be the two combined.

🌸 You want to portray a certain image at a certain situation. The good old saying – fake it til you make it. You can try fight it, but your appearance does influence how you will do at a job interview. Whether we want to admit it or not, it always does.

🌸 You have an event coming up and there is a certain expectation to what people will wear. Maybe you are attending a wedding, a Christmas party, a costume party or a summer festival. These are the usual moments when we need “new” outfits to wear and are considering, where to source these clothes.

Chapter 2 - the choices

If you got so far, you are probably looking for ways to fill some of these needs, but in a more mindful manner than running to Zara or H&M and buying another fast-fashion piece.

If you are used to shopping fast-fashion, the most important obstacle you need to overcome, is to truly believe that there are other options.

But to be honest, it doesn’t only apply to fast-fashion. There are other options to buying any newly produced piece of fashion. Although I do believe that supporting small creative businesses is important. Creativity needs to have an opportunity to flourish. And this can still be part of making more sustainable fashion choices. But how to draw the line? If you buy something completely new – if you know whose happiness you’re contributing to (other than your own), then it might be worth a purchase. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Changing your mindset is literally the biggest challenge in any change in life. But one thing that might help is – unfollowing some of the influencers that heavily promote fast-fashion. Looking for inspiration, creativity and excitement in styling is absolutely understandable, but if you are constantly being fed new items from fast-fashion, it is not going to help you become more mindful with your own fashion habits.

So here’s a list of ideas, how to become more sustainable in your fashion choices.

1# The best thing you can do, that is part of sustainable fashion choices – choose to wear something that you already own.

Another option in the same cathegory is to borrow from friends or family. If you feel like you have nothing to wear, here’s an interesting excersise to try – count all the clothes you have. And believe me, you can never say again that “I have nothing to wear”.

What also sometimes happens, some clothes we keep tucked away for 5-10 years and then they become a hit again. Not only from the trend point of view but you might rediscover these yourself as well. That is… if you’ve managed to keep the clothes for that long. I usually find these pieces to be something that have been fairly special.

2# Shop secondhand and pre-loved fashion.

Now this is a playground that is undiscovered for so many! A playground that we’ve been so wired not to love so much. By the fashion industry, of course. And I am determined to make people love it. There are so many reasons why people are not really into shopping secondhand fashion.

Some of the examples, why you might find shopping secondhand difficult and how to change your mindset about it:

🌸 “Finding clothes from secondhand stores is more difficult and requires more effort.”

This is partially true, when we talk about locations. Unlike big brands with huge budgets, that can afford prime spots in city centres, many secondhand stores are scattered around in cities or located in areas, where rent is lower. Really, it is a matter of taking initiative. And sometimes you might even discover the best speciality coffee shops in the areas where secondhand stores are located!

But if you know the right spots to shop for secondhand, the likelyhood of you and the perfect outfit meeting is quite the same as shopping on highstreet. A lot of the pre-loved is available online as well. This way, the difficulty level is even lower. You can find some of the best online stores in my list here.

🌸 “There are clothes only for cetrain sizes.”

This, I can say hands down, is not true. Women in all sizes have been shopping forever, meaning clothes in different sizes have gone out for a second round.

You just got to give it a chance with an open mind! And don’t give up after you’ve visited one store. Just like in a regular brand store, you might not find what you are looking for in the very first go.

🌸 “Secondhand clothes are dirty, bad quality or doesn’t look ‘new’.”

It is actually often quite the opposite. Many clothes in secondhand stores look just like new. And the ones that don’t, these have often been in a bad quality from the very beginning. So it’s kind of paradox.

3# Buy from brands where you know whose happiness you’re contributing to, other than your own.

Small independent brands, that is. If you choose to buy new production, think about whether you know who made your clothes, where did the fabric come from, is the fabric sustainable, who owns the brand and who in the production chain is happy if you buy the item.

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Chapter 3 - the challenge

Find yourself a challenge and start your journey towards more sustainable fashion choices! If you are ready to start making more sustainable fashion choices, make yourself a realistic plan. Just like with anything in life, it requires at least a bit of mindful dedication.

A couple of ideas for a challenge

🌸 A great sustainable fashion challenge is, try not shopping for anything new for a month.

Or maybe for 3 months. That’s how it started for me. I started with a 1 month #nonewclothes challenge and accidentally am now on my 3rd year of not buying any newly produced clothes. Boy it feels liberating! And I am not cutting corners when it comes to my maximalist colourful taste. But that’s another story for another article.

🌸 One more option for a great longterm plan is – look back to a couple of last years.

What were the moments when you bought clothes because you needed them for some specific reason? For example a Christmas party or your own birthday party. Now that you have the list, choose not to buy new clothes for these occasions in the coming season. Try specifically to find alternative ways, be it borrowing, renting, wearing something that you own of finding the clothes from the secondhand market. If you think about it, some of these clothes are probably those, that you only wear once or a couple of times.

🌸 Another trending challenge is pledging to buy only five fashion things within a year.

While this is also an option, and for many people helps to lower the consumption habits, I don’t personally think that 5 is extremely low. But if you’re a massive fast-fashionista, it is definitey a great pledge to make for a start!

🌸 And if you’re as crazy as I am – give up buying newly produced clothes altogether.

Shop only secondhand, borrow and wear what you own. After a while, you will start seeing some really beautiful benefits to such a lifestyle, Peace of mind being one of them, but also discovering your own style on a deeper level, as trends are not layed out in front of you as heavily as in regular brand stores.

If you are curious about the secondhand-only and sustainable fashion mindset, connect with me on Instagram!