Creating a wardrobe that reflects your values and doesn’t support the fast fashion industry can seem like a daunting task or a huge expense. But here are 5 easy steps you can take to create a conscious closet without spending a penny.
1. CLEAR CLOSET, CLEAR MIND
A great first step in creating a closet that reflects your values is by purging all the pieces you have collected along the way that no longer serve you. Just like a friend who doesn’t make you feel great, it’s time to cut the cord. That dress you bought for a party but didn’t really like the fit and never wore again? Let it go. The designer jacket you bought on sale even though you NEVER actually wear blazers? Gone. T-shirts from a group or team whose membership once meant something to you but whose threads never get to see the light of day? Time to move on.
If you struggle with letting go of pieces that you might want to wear again grab a copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and return to the scene. She has clear steps in how to determine the things you truly value and those whose time with you has come to an end.
After your purge, seek out a local charity or women’s shelter to donate to, so your unwanted items can get the second life they deserve. And remember – not all clothing donation charities are created equal – so check out watchdog organization Charity Watch to check the legitimacy of your local donation center.
2. TAKE STOCK & TAKE CARE
A great way to make the most of what you currently have in your closet is to organize and care for your keeper items. Purging may have cleared some space, and now setting things up in a way that feels inspiring as you are getting dressed in the morning can change your mindset from, “I have nothing to wear!” to, “Ah … my favorite sweater.”
Get things up off the floor, onto hangers or shelves. Try this Japanese clothes-folding method so you can see EVERY item you have in your drawers at one glance. Arranging your clothes by type or color can create a satisfying and relaxing ambience in your space.
In order to maximize what you have, take the time to wash those clothes that have remained at the bottom of the laundry basket, waiting to be hand-washed or dry cleaned but often get overlooked on laundry day. It’s also time to mend the pieces that need attention in order to get back into your rotation. Sew the hole, replace the button or simply let it go. You be amazed at how make those pieces ready-to-wear will change the feel of your wardrobe.
3. DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE
Start taking note of what things you regularly wear and feel great in. Write it down. Take a photo and keep it in a folder on your phone. Go back and look at it in a weeks’, a months’, a years’ time and recognize what your key colors, styles, and cuts are.
After several rounds of closet purging I realized that I continuously was getting rid of clothing of a similar vein – trendy, printed, colorful, dressy pieces. These loud looks of the moment had caught my eye and it’s also likely it was a cheap price tag that tempted the purchase. But I never really feel like ME in these pieces, even though they attracted me in the shop.
I recognize the pieces that I wear again and again without feeling like I am overdoing them are great-fitting jeans, high-quality basics like a thick-pile T-shirt in neutral colors, a cozy knit sweater and a simple flower-printed dress with loose lines. So, I try to only buy things that really resonate with my personal style – not with that of the mannequin in the window.
Defining your personal style will help to eliminate extraneous purchases and aid in creating a cohesive, conscious closet.
4. GO ON A SHOPPING FAST
Take a moment NOT to buy any new clothes. Choose a period of time that will work realistically for you. A couple weeks or a couple months … define a period to eliminate impulse purchases. What removing the tendency to shop every time you desire something will do for you is to clarify what things will truly add value to your life, and help you recognize what goods just aren’t good enough to get into your closet.
During this time, every time you would normally reach for the credit card, simply write down what it is and where you would buy it from. Now go into your closet and check to see if you REALLY need another sundress or pair of sunglasses. Do you are already own something like it? Skip it. More often than not, after a shopping fast you will look at your wish list and realize you don’t actually desire that item anymore. And when something remains on your list of things you covet that you could actually use and wear often, now you know the difference.
5. DECIDE WHAT YOU VALUE
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
A shopping fast is the best time to decide what things you value and want to support with your dollar. Your purchase power in many ways is your voice in our consumer society. It’s time to get clear about what is important to you, and then put your dollar behind your ideals.
EcoCult put together this list of different ways you can create a conscious closet.
Is the item you are considering buying:
- Made with purely natural materials?
- Made with organic cotton?
- Made with polyester from recycled plastic bottles?
- Made locally?
- Made by artisans in developing countries?
- Fair trade?
- By an emerging designer or small brand?
- Dyed with non-toxic dyes?
- Timeless and made to last?
Which tenants of building a sustainable or socially responsible closet are most important to you? Get real with yourself and recognize what conscious shopping truly means to you.
Now, when you are armed with this cleared-out closet and clarity about what you value, you are ready to go forward making conscious purchases.
Stay tuned for our favorite conscious closet shopping resources later this week!