Photo credit: David Dabney
As I think about the new year and the next decade, one of the thoughts that weighs heaviest on my mind is the collective impact we have on our planet. It’s driving me to want to become a more mindful consumer. As someone who blogs about personal style and shares their clothing purchases publicly, I can’t in good conscience encourage people to consume more than is absolutely necessary. That’s why I’m trying to set a good example by taking deliberate steps to become more sustainable in my fashion choices. Here are 4 strategies I’m employing to make fewer, but more thoughtful purchases while still maintaining a functional wardrobe that reflects my personal style.
Recommitting to My Capsule Wardrobe
In 2019, I officially started a capsule wardrobe. It helped me understand what I wear and what I don’t, giving me a great reason to streamline my closet. This not only makes it easier to get dressed in the morning, eliminating the number of options to choose from, but it also prevents me from making unnecessary purchases because I wear what I currently own more effectively. It also gave me a good philosophy for adding new options to my wardrobe. Essentially, only buy what you need.
I’d like to spend more time this year defining my personal style and what works for me before making any new purchases. Ideally I’d like to come up with a set list of outfits or looks that work for my life and personal aesthetic that will become the foundation of my wardrobe that I can build upon, add to, and modify as needed.
Making Secondhand Second Nature
In the last few years, I’ve moved away from shopping at thrift stores and other secondhand shops out of convenience. It’s much easier and faster, albeit more expensive, to buy something brand new. Buying new though does not help with the increasing amount of stuff people buy and don’t wear. And I’m looking for something as ubiquitous as a black turtleneck, for example, it’s very likely that someone (probably more than one person) is trying to get rid of one. It’s also very likely that it’s in fantastic condition and still has the tags on. In an effort to make someone else’s trash useful instead of sitting in a landfill, I’d like to start shopping secondhand again.
But secondhand shopping doesn’t just happen. It has to become part of my lifestyle. Chances are I’m not going to find that really specific item I’m looking for the first time I walk into Goodwill. It takes planning and really understanding my style, so I know what I’m looking for. I need to equip myself with a list of the key pieces I would like add to my wardrobe as I try to visit more thrift stores and secondhand shops like Poshmark this year.
Avoiding Fast Fashion
It’s definitely hard to resist the temptation of bargain prices, but nothing is worse than buying something only to have it fall apart months or even weeks later. Or for the item to suddenly feel out of style or dated because the trend has passed. Not to mention the effect this type of clothing production has on our environment and the people making these clothes.
I would instead like to focus on buying classic, timeless pieces that are high quality and will last. It’s definitely more expensive to go this route, but if I’m deliberate about what I buy and rely partially on secondhand stores, it should be doable.
Lastly, I’d really like to make a better effort to shop more local, small businesses. I’d much rather spend my money supporting an entrepreneur in my neighborhood than a big brand. This type of shopping also has the added benefit of reducing the emissions and packaging required to send products long distances. Plus I’ll be buying something unique and memorable in return, something that will hopefully be in my possession for a long time. Buying a few unique locally made pieces will help me add personality to my wardrobe in a fun and meaningful way.
I’m making it my goal to utilize these 4 strategies to become a more mindful consumer over the next year in hopes of inspiring you to do the same. Please follow along as I try to stay fashionable sustainably and let me know what strategies are working for you.