The Adorned

A beginner’s guide to building a sustainable wardrobe

A new year, another new “sustainable” clothing line from a fast fashion retailer. It’s time to acknowledge that all the supposed sustainable fashion lines coming out are a little overwhelming…and confusing. And now that we know there’s no way around just how unsustainable the fashion industry truly is, no one wants to put a foot wrong.


Which is why we’re here — to guide you through how to build a sustainable wardrobe. Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve telling you to go out and purchase an entirely new capsule wardrobe. We want to help you make your wardrobe more sustainable, without breaking the bank and staying on trend, with the help of the Buyerarchy of Needs by Canadian artist Sarah Lazarovic.


The starting point for any sustainable wardrobe — shopping what you already own. The average UK woman owns 95 items of clothing, and only wears 59% of them regularly. That’s roughly 39 pieces of clothing that rarely see the light of day. And if you calculate how much those outfits cost — let’s play nice and say they were £20 each — that’s £780 spent on clothes gathering dust. You can get to Australia and back with that. Look at what you’ve already got before filling up your online shopping cart and pressing pay.



The next step in getting your wardrobe more green (not literally): borrowing clothes. Not just from your roommate, your sister or your friend, but from a clothing rental company. Like us! We get it — 79% of women say they feel happiest or most confident when wearing new clothes, and women are more likely than men to buy something new to wear for a special occasion. And who doesn’t want to show off in a hot new dress that’s currently on trend? From £39, you can rent the extravagant, fun pieces that will look great on the ’gram, from designers like Lele Sadoughi, De La Vali, Sister Jane, Rixo and more. Try before you buy — except you don’t even have to buy them, and break the bank. No worrying about them gathering dust in the back of your wardrobe — just send it back to us at the end of your rental period.


The third step in building a sustainable wardrobe: swapping. What you may consider to be trash, someone else may consider to be a treasure. Organise a clothing swap at work or with your gals; set up a flat fee for all those joining, and donate the proceeds to charity! Doing good whilst looking good, the best two-for-one deal out there.


And now we get to thrifting. If you’re that desperate to shop, it’s always better to go second hand than to go new. You’re extending the life of clothes already out there, and preventing them from ending up in landfill. And as an estimated £140 million worth of clothing goes to landfill each year… well, you’re doing a small bit of good for the planet. And if the life of clothes are extended by nine months (on average, they have a lifetime of 2.2 years), their environmental impact is reduced by 20-30%. Look at you go, saving the planet one charity shop dress at a time.



And at the tippy top of the “buyerarchy of needs”, is make and buy. If you know how to make your own clothes (and make them well), kudos to you! Please continue to do so, while we stew with envy attempting to sew a button back onto a top whilst pricking our finger with a needle for the hundredth time.


If you do need to buy, invest in good quality pieces that will last. Find something that you truly love with your whole, fashion obsessed heart, and that you can see yourself wearing 30 times (and that will actually last 30 wears). Go for quality, not quantity. If you want to know some sustainable brands to shop from, check out the Good on You app — supported by sustainable fashion kween Emma Watson.


So, ignore the greenwashing from fast fashion brands, and stick to the Buyerarchy. You’ll have yourself a sustainable wardrobe — and some amazing rentals — in no time.

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