How to Have a Successful Low Buy Year in 2021

In a time where dated fashion myths have been busted by individualistic influencers and style rules have long been forgotten, one fashion myth still remains: building a sustainable wardrobe is costly and requires a style sacrifice.

While curating a sustainable wardrobe takes time, in the long run it’s often a more economical and rewarding choice. Building a sustainable wardrobe is less about buying new “sustainable”-labeled clothing that you may or may not wear, and more about adopting a mindset of creativity and mindfulness so that you get more out of what you already have. It’s easier than you think to align your values of sustainability with your personal style; here are 7 easy ways to build a sustainable wardrobe and maintain conscious consumer habits for years to come.

1 – Shop Your Wardrobe: 

Orsola de Castro, Co-Founder and Global Creative Director of Fashion Revolution famously said; “The most sustainable wardrobe is the one you already have.” Dive into your saved outfits on IG and Pinterest and use them as inspiration to build new outfits using what’s already in your wardrobe. Snap some photos of your new looks and save them on a folder in your phone so you have them handy next time you don’t know what to wear. More time spent creating successful looks is a great way to boost your confidence to creatively style what you already have. If you’re having trouble getting over Instagram outfit envy, head over to my Youtube channel for some tips:

Watch this "Shop Your Closet" Playlist

2 – Plan Your Outfits: 

Much like shopping your wardrobe, taking the time to plan your outfits for the week, month, or simply for special occasions can change the way you see your wardrobe. When you grant yourself the time and mental space to get creative and mix and match existing items in new ways, your wardrobe becomes abundant with new options that you may have never considered before. Snap a picture of your planned looks and refer back to them so as to avoid those mornings of “I have nothing to wear”. If you’re short on time (or creative energy), try downloading the Cladwell app, where looks are put together for you. 

3 – Shop Secondhand First: 

new garments – responsibly made or not – use resources and energy to produce. Shopping thrift, vintage, and consignment is a way to add unique, stunning pieces to your wardrobe at a fraction of the cost of retail value. It’s also an easy way to support a circular economy and reduce your carbon footprint. In a similar vein, rentals are another way to incorporate beautiful pre-loved pieces into your wardrobe without having to commit to a certain style or price tag. Depop, Thredup, Poshmark, Vestiaire Collective and The Real Real are all great resale sites.  

Watch this to master the art of second-hand shopping:

4 – Learn How to Care for Your Clothes:

Extending the life of a garment by just 9 months can reduce its carbon footprint by 20-30%. (source) Properly storing and maintaining your wardrobe means you’ll feel more inclined to wear what you already have (nobody wants to wear the wrinkly blouse that’s squished at the back of the wardrobe), and replace your clothes less often. An added bonus? You’ll be able to successfully sell your clothes when it’s time to move on. Spot cleaning, air drying, and washing clothes are easy ways to make your clothes last longer. 


Watch this for quick tips to make your clothes last longer:

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5 – Do Your Research: 

While there are many eco-friendly brands, greenwashing has also become a popular practice. Because of this, it’s doubly important to do your homework before making a purchase. Look beyond buzzwords and ambiguous pictures of happy garment workers, and actively reach out to brands over IG or email to find out about working conditions and use of environmentally friendly practices. If you’re unsure where to start, Good on You is an app that provides ratings on global brands and offers conscious alternatives. You can also seek out influencers in the sustainability space whose style you love. 


6 – Mindset Shift: 

Rock bottom prices of fast fashion have programmed our brains to ignore the true cost of fashion, which includes equitable pay for garment workers and respecting the planet’s resources. 

Learning how to save up for a quality garment that will last many seasons is a game changer to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Consider setting aside a budget for investment items that defy trends and offer quality that will stand the test of time. Slow fashion and eco brands often carry the same classic basics season after season which means you won’t miss out while saving up. 

Another trick is to calculate the cost per wear of a garment to really understand its value. To do this, take the total cost of the garment and divide it by the number of times you estimate wearing it. More often than not, the cost per wear of a poorly made garment is much higher than a quality item.

7 – Get Confident With Your Personal Style: 

Aside from the boost of self-confidence, understanding and knowing your personal style is the foundation of building a sustainable wardrobe. When you know without fault what you feel best in, short term trends have less power over you and your wallet. A strong sense of personal style is the best possible guide post to only add items to your wardrobe that will be versatile and suit your personal tastes, as well as keep you feeling stylish for years to come. 

Watch this to take a slow and steady approach to finding your style:

This article was featured on Twinkl as part of their Sustainability Week campaign.

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