Three Fun & Easy Ways to ‘Green’ Your Wardrobe

There is a widespread fear of eco and ethical fashion amongst the style conscious. A fear that green eco-hippies with bad hair are going to march into your wardrobe and steal everything that has the slightest hint of ‘highstreet’ or ‘trend’. A fear that embracing ethical and eco-fashion means a holistic revamp of not only your wardrobe, but your whole lifestyle. This just isn’t true, I promise you.

Last week, I went to an excellent talk on how to be an Ethical Consumer, as part of the Ethical Fashion Symposium held in Oxford, UK. The underlying message from each of the speakers was that the best way to start supporting sustainable fashion is to love and respect each piece you add to your style collection. Simple? I think so. Whether this piece is an organic shirt, a pair of vegan heels or your latest splurge in D&G – love it. As long as your wardrobe is filled with pieces that you’ll love, respect and wear again and again, then that’s a step towards sustainable fashion. Instead of buying into the ‘cheap and ready to go’, or ‘Primark Effect Fashion’ (for the Brits here!) and fuelling a hugely wasteful and environmentally damaging industry, you’ll be re-wearing timeless pieces again and again.

So, how do I start turning my wardrobe green you ask? Here are a few pointers:

  1. Love the pieces you already have. I have a t-shirt which I’ve owned for several years, that I bought during my 15 year old punk-rebel phase. It’s a pink ‘Ramones’ t-shirt and I love it to bits. Everyone will have something in their wardrobe that they love, and will wear again and again, and these are key to beginning to embrace sustainable fashion. Why not identify the pieces in your wardrobe that are your style staples, and make sure that they get the care and attention, like correct washing procedure, that they need to keep them (and you!) looking great for seasons to come.
  2. Upcycle. In case you’ve not heard this term yet – it is a growing buzzword, and will be huge in the coming years, especially as the economic climate worsens before it gets better. Upcycle? Yes, upcycle. Like recycle, but better! The gist behind upcycling is that you take an unwanted item of clothing you already own, and change it to a new piece that you will continue to wear. Not only will it look like you have a new outfit, you will have had total control over the fit, style and design so it really will be perfect for you! For instance, a dress that no longer fits can be tailored into a skirt, or a scarf you’ve grown tired of can be stitched into a cute tote bag for going shopping. If you don’t feel you have the skills to be able to make these transformations yourself, then there are multiple websites with step by step guides, teaching annexes where you can be taught by an experienced seamstress, or if you really can’t handle it, take your ideas to you local tailor and see what designs you can come up with together. 

  1. Have a true sort out of your clothes, shoes, accessories and jewellery. If you find anything you’ve not worn for over 3 months, ask yourself  ’why?’  Was it an impulse buy? Does it no longer fit or is it just not your style any more? If you don’t feel you’d want it even after being upcycled or tailored, then maybe it’s time to part ways with your green leopard print pants… or whatever it is you’ve grown to be so disgusted by. There are multiple things you can do with your old clothes: sell them, donate them, share them with friends, swap them for new ones at a swapping party, or if they’re past the point of someone being able to wear them (stained/ripped), then use them as rags round the house (shirts made excellent dusters!). Here are a few useful links for you:

* http://www.opnuu.com – a members only site where you can register your clothes that you no longer want, but feel others would like. Members can borrow your clothes from you, and you can even borrow cute finds from other users!

* http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/ – donate your old clothes to charity. Oxfam is a popular shop in the UK with many boutique clothing outlets now selling vintage and high quality pieces. Chose a charity you want to support and go give!
* www.ebay.com – no surprises here. ‘One man’s treasure…’ and all that. Your old summer coat may be another woman’s dream jacket, plus you make money out of selling your old pieces.
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http://swishing.com/ – clothes swapping parties! Either go to one organised by this company, or follow their tips on how to organise your own. Great fun!

*Donate items to a fashion college or art school. Students are always looking for pieces to work on, recreate, or design into something new. Equally drama schools may want pieces to use for costumes.

See, it really is easy to take some small, effective steps to greening your wardrobe. No hippies required. 

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