For many of us, fashion is the way we express ourselves. A bright jacket makes us feel bold, a hairpiece of the flapper girl era tells people we know our history, or simply looking nice makes us feel in control.
However, just because we want to be fashionable doesn’t mean we can allow our choices to harm the world around us.
In recent decades fashion has become synonymous with clutter and water waste, which has caused many stylish people to question their buying habits.
Today, we want to help you stay fashionable or even become fashionable while maintaining an eco-friendly lifestyle.
Before we get started, we want to say a big hello to the readers of labelbythree.com. We have recently acquired the website and cannot wait to welcome you into our community.
Avoid Fast Fashion
“Fast Fashion” has become a buzzword in the eco-friendly world, but we cannot deny how fashion has affected the ecosystem. However, simply throwing this phrase around won’t do anyone any good.
Instead, we want to explain exactly what Fast Fashion is and give you practical advice to help you steer clear.
What Is Fast Fashion?
Shopping for clothing used to be an event that happened once or twice a year, as people swapped their clothes to match the seasons.
However, instead of buying a whole new wardrobe, they would simply replace any clothing that no longer fit or had become too worn to fix.
Although the term “Fast Fashion” only appeared in the early 2000s, the change really happened in the 1960s.
During the Second World War, the need for more clothing emerged, as soldiers needed coverings fast. Outfits become standardized and available en masse, to match the world’s needs.
For the everyday people of this era, this didn’t change their view on fashion. This was because many people were still of the mindset of “making do”.
Even if they could afford to buy new clothes, it was considered wasteful. Instead, this generation continued to mend or create their own clothes.
However, the children of this generation grew up to find an easier way to get affordable clothing, without their parents worrying about going without.
By the 1960s, young people were buying clothing cheaply and often. This was the first time a generation was buying clothes on large scales.
Fast Fashion at its core is clothing that has been created cheaply to appease trends.
Because fashion changes constantly, this means new clothing is created constantly to keep up.
Clothing made on this scale means there are too many non-degradable items in our waste, and too much water is used in its creation.
Our world is becoming littered with last month’s outdated trends.
That’s the history lesson over, now to learn how to fix the problem.
Shop In Thrift Stores, Buy Vintage, Or Consider Second Hand
The first method to avoid fast fashion is to avoid shops that sell new clothing. To do this, you simply need to consider three new avenues – thrift stores, vintage stores, and hand-me-downs.
Thrift stores are shops where people drop off their old clothes and items. The store then sells these items on the original owner’s behalf and the money received goes towards a charity.
Shopping in these stores is like going on a treasure hunt.
Sure, most of the items won’t be in your style or part of your aesthetic, but when you find something that suits you the rush is intense!
The prices are low, there is an added layer of adventure, and you never know what you might find.
Vintage Clothing Stores
In vintage clothing stores, specialists find well-kept items from different eras and sell them back to the public.
Because they are well kept, and the specialists know about the design, era, and history of these items, the prices are often more expensive.
However, if you don’t like the idea of hunting for a good outfit and perfect quality brands, then these are the stores you need to visit.
Shopping in an eco-friendly manner doesn’t mean having to avoid the brands you know and love.
Consider Second Hand
Lastly, you could forgo shopping altogether and wear second-hand clothing from your family.
Old bell bottoms that your parents used to wear, grunge-style shoes that were your older sister’s favorites, or your grandfather’s vintage baseball hats that he no longer wears.
This isn’t just the cheapest way to stay eco-friendly and fashionable, but you will also get a story with these once-loved items.
You can bet that no one else you know will own the same vintage collection, and you can carry around a remembered past like a beacon of vintage style.
When Buying New, Use The 30 Wears Rule
If buying second-hand clothes doesn’t sit right with you, don’t worry, you can still become an eco-friendly shopper.
Instead of looking for old clothes, look for new clothes that will last.
The 30 wears rule is simple – make sure the items you buy will last for 30 wears or more. Anything that cannot last this long is considered fast fashion and is a waste of materials.
The best way to ensure your items will last for a long time is to look at their thickness and the quality of the brand. Take Doc Marten shoes, for example, they are a well-known brand that creates high-quality boots.
You know if you buy a pair from this shop they will last for years or even decades.
If the clothes seem flimsy and the stitching is loose, then don’t buy the product. Good quality clothes cost more, but they will last longer, so they are cheaper in the long run.
Remember These Eco-Friendly Materials
If you cannot afford high-quality brands or want to do more than buy less, then you should start focusing on what your clothing is made out of.
Picking natural and sustainable materials means that the fabric can be recycled or allowed to biodegrade when they become unwanted.
It also means that harvesting the fabrics will not be a detriment to the environment, creating a method to continue harvesting and growing the materials needed.
Here is a list of natural and sustainable fabrics:
Keep these fabrics in mind when you shop for new clothing, as you’ll know that the life of these outfits will not end with you.
They can be returned back to the earth to allow the cycle of nature to continue.
Donate Your Unwanted Clothes
If you love to swap your styles, that doesn’t mean you cannot be sustainable in your fashion choices.
You can buy your new clothes from the stores mentioned above, and then donate your unwanted intact clothes to keep the cycle going.
Go from Pin-Up Girl to 80s Chic without any feeling of guilt, by aiming for a minimalist wardrobe.
Keeping your closet reduced will help you remember what you own and allow you to remove clothing you don’t care for anymore.
Once your new style is added in and your old style is bagged up, either sell the clothes or send them to a thrift store. Either way, don’t throw them in the bin if they are still in good condition.
Give them a new lease on life by allowing someone else to wear them.
Invest In Clothing That Transcends Seasons
Just because the season changes, doesn’t mean you need to buy an outfit for every different weather condition out there.
This type of mentality means that you need to change your wardrobe every couple of months, but in reality, it isn’t necessary.
Instead, if you invest in an item of clothing that can be used in any season, you will cut down your wardrobe space and will have less need to throw away unused clothes.
Take a leather jacket as an example. A good quality leather jacket will keep you warm in the winter and deflect heat in the summer.
When the rainy seasons come, you can spray them with waterproof spray making them usable in these conditions too.
Whether it’s a jacket, pair of shoes or a hat try to pick a couple of items that will work no matter the season. This way you can wear them for longer, and avoid cluttering your wardrobe.
Be Confident In What You Wear
So far we have talked about how to be eco-friendly in the fashion industry, but not how to be fashionable.
In our other articles, you can read about what to wear to a club, or fashion suggestions while in Paris, but on this page, we want to look at fashion from an eco-friendly perspective.
Fashion Guides Change, So Wear What You Want
Instead of following the latest guides to current fashion, wear what makes you feel comfortable.
When you look at models in magazines, you might see them wearing glamorous designs or casual outfits, but what makes the ensemble look good is the model themselves.
They are hired to wear the clothing because they can portray confidence in a picture. If any person put on the outfit it wouldn’t have the same pizazz.
To make your outfit look amazing, you need to feel confident in it.
When people say beauty comes from within, they mean it. If you love your outfit and feel confident strutting your stuff, then everyone will see the amazing collection in the same light.
Essentially, you shouldn’t follow the current trends.
They won’t just force you into Fast Fashion, they will force you into a style that you might not like. Instead, figure out what makes you feel confident, and wear that.
Look After Your Clothes So You Don’t Need To Replace Them
Make sure you look after your favorite clothes. We have all been in that horrible situation when your favorite jeans rip or your beautiful blouse loses its color.
The best way to maintain your clothing is to read their labels, avoid washing them when you can, store them correctly and repair them when damage has been made.
If you can keep your clothes intact, you don’t need to waste money replacing them, and the materials won’t end up in landfills.
Reading The Labels
It might seem obvious to read your clothes’ labels, but many of us throw our outfits into the washing machine without a second thought.
Some items can only be washed by hand or at the dry cleaners, as the washing machine isn’t gentle enough to handle the delicate fabrics.
Paying attention to these details will help you avoid unnecessary damage to your favorite clothes.
Avoid Over Washing
Just as washing your clothes in the wrong setting can damage the fabrics, overwashing can do the same thing.
This is because the chemicals used to clean your clothes can also remove the bright colors or deteriorate the delicate threads.
If your clothes aren’t actually dirty or smelly, hang them outside in the fresh air. This will give them that newly cleaned feeling without overworking them.
This will save you money, save your water usage, and allow your clothes to last for longer.
Storing Your Clothes Correctly
The most important part of your storage system is the temperature and the sunlight.
Your clothes should be protected from dampness by being elevated off the floor and kept in a dry and cool space. Damp can eat away at your clothing causing it to wear.
It should also be shut away from the sunlight, too much sunlight can cause the clothing to lose its coloration.
With those basics covered it’s time to move on to the next stage of protection.
First, your clothes shouldn’t touch each other. Instead, they should be hung on wooden or padded hangers. This stops unnecessary friction.
For the clothes you don’t use often, put them into a garment bag. This will stop them from developing damp from lack of use.
Lastly, your unused bags and shoes should be stuffed with fabric-appropriate stuffing. This will help them keep their optimum shape and avoid disfigurement.
Repair Where You Can
Lastly, you should repair your clothes where you can. If the seam line from your skirt has torn, you can save the garment by sewing it back together or hiring a tailor to do it for you.
People used to sew their clothes as part of their weekly chores, but these skills have been mostly lost by the general population because we can simply buy new replacements.
This idea of buying instead of repairing has aided fast fashion, but you can stop the cycle.
Teach yourself to mend your own clothes to save money and your favorite looks.
Pick Quality, Not Quantity
There is a common thought in the fashion industry that follows the concept of “I love it, I’ll get it in 5 different colors”.
Of course, this isn’t necessary. You might have liked the outfit in green, but in red it doesn’t give you the same energy.
Or perhaps you still like the red colors, but when push comes to shove, you pick up the green one every time.
This idea can be used in many different ways. For example, if you love flare jeans, you don’t need 10 to make your fashion statement – one or two will suffice.
Buying one or two of your favorite items through a good quality brand will allow you to keep them for longer and enjoy them in more detail than having multiple cheaper alternatives.
Again, this idea will save you money, but it will also save your wardrobe space. Clothes won’t start collecting dust because you have the same 10 clothing items but only use 3.
The best way to maintain an eco-friendly wardrobe is to shop for second-hand clothing instead of buying straight from the store.
If you do buy straight from a store, try to pick out clothing made with recyclable or natural fabrics.
And when you no longer need your clothes, give them back to the community by selling them or donating them to charity.
To help your clothes last longer, wash them less, mend them when you can, and store them correctly.
Remember that fashion trends change every day, but the most beautiful outfits are the ones that you feel the most confident in.