Hi there! I want to continue with my series on ethical fashion by sharing some tips & tricks that I’ve found helpful when it comes to ethical shopping. It can be a bit overwhelming to commit to this lifestyle change, so I wanted to share some things that have made it easier and more practical for me so far.
Wear What You’ve Got
This tip is probably the easiest and the hardest to do at the same time. It’s easy because the most ethical decision is to wear the clothes you already own, without buying any more! It’s hard because we want to shop for something new. I recommend doing a closet purge (does anyone else get immense joy from cleaning out their closet?) and gaining an understanding of what clothes are working for your current lifestyle. Try to find clothes that are cohesive with one another and begin building your wardrobe with items you already have. You may be surprised by what you find in the back of your closet! It’s also a good idea to take the clothes you no longer want and sell them online or donate them—so they aren’t going to waste!
Keep a List
This is something I’ve found helpful for the past few years. I read an article a few years back in Verily Magazine that discussed the importance of developing a capsule wardrobe with classic pieces that are made to last and it spoke to me! I think it is helpful to take a look at your closet and remove any pieces that are not necessary. Keep items that are both beautiful and practical. Then, make a list of items that your closet is missing. When you are shopping you can look specifically for these items. This really helps minimize impulse buying! Be thoughtful about what your closet is missing, and picture these pieces with the items already in your closet. Will it go with clothes you already have? Can you mix and match it with several other pieces? These are all questions you should ask yourself before buying an investment piece to ensure that you will wear it often and it will be worth the money spent on it as well as the effort it took to make it.
Buying secondhand is not something I’ve always been comfortable with, but for someone who wants to avoid contributing to the fast fashion world, it’s really an excellent (and affordable!) choice. You may be wondering how buying secondhand is ethical, especially when it is buying a clothing item from a store that may not be a particularly ethical brand. Well, the thing is—this garment already exists. It is already manufactured and created. You are not able to prevent this item from being created. By purchasing something that is pre-owned, you are avoiding contributing to the massive manufacturing of more, new items, for which the people behind the clothes are treated unfairly. It also prevents the already worn item from ending up in a landfill, and you are also loosening the grip of advertising by making it difficult for large companies to track your purchases. I love shopping secondhand for items from brands I love like J. Crew & Madewell that aren’t considered ethical brands because of their lack of transparency with how their fabrics are sourced and how their clothes are created.
Mix & Match
This tip goes for everyone, all the time! Mix & match your clothes! I tend to buy clothes that will go with one another so I am able to multiply my outfits while using the same pieces over and over again, in different ways. The best way to begin to mix & match is to develop a cohesive color scheme for your wardrobe. You probably find yourself gravitating toward certain colors naturally, I know I do! I tend to go for neutrals as well as blue tones! This way, when I go about creating different outfits, most of my pieces tend to go together and I’m able to mix & match them. Also, get creative! Sometimes I’ll throw a sweater over a dress and now the dress is able to work as a skirt as well. Little tricks like this can really expand your closet of fewer, carefully chosen items. I actually love this part about fashion, and I think it says more about our style with what we’re able to create using what we’ve got—rather than what we go out and buy.
One thing that has been huge for me is contacting shop owners and stores I like in order to find out more about their business ethics. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by smaller, online boutiques, and I’ve been a little disappointed in some of my favorite stores that aren’t as transparent. With social media at our fingertips, we actually have the power to reach out to business owners and advocate for positive working conditions and business ethics that value human life. This has been a game changer for me and has encouraged me to shop at businesses that prioritize ethically made clothing! I’ve been able to speak directly with shop owners of boutiques here in the US, and a few of them have reassured me that many of their items are made in the US and that they make an effort to work with manufacturers who share their values.
I saved this tip for last because it really should be the last thing you’re doing when it comes to slow, ethical fashion. If you’ve looked into ethical companies, you’ll know that their pieces are understandably a bit more expensive. If there is an item of clothing that you’re willing to invest in, take the time to save up for it if it’s a bit on the pricier side. I promise you, it will be worth it if this is a classic, timeless piece that will last you for years. For items like this, I tend to ask for them for my birthday or Christmas—otherwise I will wait a little while and find a way to work it into the budget. You appreciate things far more when you have to wait a little bit for them anyway!
I hope you enjoyed my tips & tricks on slow fashion and shopping ethically. Please let me know if you found this helpful! I’d also love to know if there are any helpful tips you have, as I’m still new to this world and learning as well! Please share them if you’d like!