How to Build a Sustainable Closet in 6 Easy Steps

You've decided you want to be more eco-conscious with your fashion choices and transition away from fast fashion but where do you start? Should you get rid of everything in your closet and start over? What should you do with all the fast fashion garments currently in your closet? 

Creating a sustainable closet may sound overwhelming at first but it's not as intimidating as it may seem and to get you started here are 6 easy tips to building an eco-closet.

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01. CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET
First things first, deciding to make sustainable fashion apart of your mantra doesn't mean you have to throw out everything in your closet and completely start over. Not only would that be extremely expensive but that also wouldn't be sustainable. Even if you have clothes from fast fashion retailers like H&M and Forever21 in your closet, you don't necessarily have to throw them out. A key part of creating an ethical closet is having fewer items you love and wear all the time. Cleaning out your closet is a great (and inexpensive) place to start your eco-fashion journey. Not only will it help you see what you have and potentially what you need to fill the holes in your closet but have you ever noticed that the sometimes the more clothes you have the harder it is to get dressed in the morning and figure out what to wear? *raises hand* 


02. REPAIR
Before you toss a garment out, can it be fixed or repaired? ⁣ Here in Portland, Hidden Opulence Design House is one of our favorites for mending and repairing clothing. Indigo Proof is also a great resource for repairing denim. I love seeing their before's and afters on Instagram.

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03. RECYCLE
I've read a lot of blogs recently where bloggers recommend throwing away unwanted clothing, however, rather than trashing these garments donate your gently used items to secondhand stores or charities. Reselling your items on platforms like Poshmark, Buffalo Exchange and DePop are also great options to earn a little cash. Another option is upcycling. Upcycling is another form of recycling that involves reusing a material that would otherwise be considered waste and making it into something better. Our friend Brett Adam makes amazing repurposed, redesigned and upcycled designs. 

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04. BUY SECONDHAND, FIRST
Before buying anything new always ask yourself:

“do I really need this?”
“will I wear it at least 20-30 times or will it just be another thing in my closet?”


If the answer is yes, hit up your local thrift or second-hand store first. ⁣⁣
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05. SHOP LOCAL & ETHICAL BRANDS
As much as possible try to shop from local designers/retailers and ethical brands. 

Here are a few brands we love: 


06. TAKE CARE OF YOUR CLOTHES
Taking care of the clothes you own (no matter their brand) is the best and most basic thing you can do to build a more ethical closet. The better you take care of your clothes the less they'll need to be replaced allowing you to buy fewer clothes overall, thereby reducing your contribution to the costs of fashion in the long-term. Not to mention you'll save $$

 

TIPS FROM FRIENDS: 

DEFINE YOUR STYLE
"Creating an ethical wardrobe is a process, not something that can happen overnight. The first step towards a more intentional closet is defining your personal style. What cuts, colors and textures are you drawn to? If you aren't sure I recommend going through fashion magazines and making a collage, or saving inspiring images on Instagram or Pinterest and noting when themes emerge. For example, I'm drawn to light earth tones and pastels, non-synthetic materials, such as linen and wool, and I err towards high waisted cuts and boxy tops, which flatter my body type. The importance of this step is that when you streamline your personal style, you can start to pair down how many pieces you need to create multiple looks and it guides future purchases to ensure anything you bring in to your closet will be loved and worn again and again. More outfits with less pieces also means that you can afford to invest in quality items that are "ethical" in the way that is most important to you, whether that means they are handmade, fair trade, sustainable, second-hand or locally-produced. In addition to being gentle on the maker and the planet, these quality investments that are aligned with your personal style ensure that your conscious closet will stand the test of time, beyond multiple wears and seasonal trends." Hannah, @miha_banana
 

LET IT GO
"It’s as easy as letting go!  If you really can’t part, is there something you can change about the piece (shape, embellish, color) to reinvent it for yourself? with that in mind, sometimes just freeing pieces of your wardrobe by selling them or donating them can create room for new treasures to love." Drea, @hiddenopulence 
 

WEAR WHAT YOU HAVE
"Sometimes the most "ethical" thing to do is keep wearing your fast fashion clothes until they've become too tattered to work for you. If you have a small budget (like I do), it's so freeing to have time to save for responsible replacements instead of the weight of a guilt-driven rush to change everything. SO, FRIEND, TAKE A DEEP BREATH. Put on that $10 tank top and get on with your life. When the tank top rips, come back here for some options." Ellie, @sellflessly_styled  


SHOP INTENTIONALLY
Shop slowly and be intentional about what exactly is it you need and save up for it. Purchase items that are multi-functional like block heels or a jumpsuit. This gives you the flexibility to wear it multiple ways without breaking the bank. " Deb, @thebrokeminimalist


KEEP CALM AND MAKE NEW FRIENDS
"I think the best way to start building an ethical closet is to take it slow (no pun intended ). It can be easy to feel like you need to replace everything you have with ethical items, but the most ethical thing you can do is wear what you have. I also think it’s really important to get out there on social media and engage with the ethical fashion community. Everyone is really supportive and are happy to help you navigate your ethical fashion journey." Kellie, @wholeheartedwardrobe 


Do you have any tips for building an ethical closet? Join the conversation and share your tips in the comments below!