How much clothing do you have in your wardrobe? Lots, I bet.
And how much of it do you actually use? Not so much, I guess.
According to an article on Fashion United from 2018, people tend to wear less than 50% of the items in their wardrobes.
Personally, I only use around 30% of my wardrobe on a frequent basis. Partly because I am clinging onto those items that suddenly seemed to have ‘shrunk’, and partly because of my purchases that I ended up wearing only those couple of times.
There is nothing to do about the ‘shrinking’ phenomenon, so I can take those items out of the equation and perhaps introduce them again one day (that’s my hope, at least!). The impulse buys, however, I can do something about.
Imagine the positive impact it would have on the planet if we reached a stage where everyone had just what they needed in their wardrobes and used 100 % of it on a regular basis.
Not to mention the positive impact it would have on our personal finances and perhaps even our style. (hands up; who amongst us hasn’t ended up with something that is totally not our colour, style or shape after seeing it on a hot influencer?!)
The good news is there is a way in which we can tighten up our fashion wardrobes and get more use out of them; meet the slow fashion wardrobe. It requires some long-term planning, but it is SO worth it. Future generations and your credit card will thank you for it!
Below are a some of the steps you can take to reduce your impulse buys and move towards a true slow fashion wardrobe:
What's your style? Caption: a screenshot of part of my initial personal style board on Pinterest.
1. Get to know your style
Do you know what your personal style is?
If not, try creating your own Pinterest style board. Start by pinning everything you like from your favourite fashion brands onto the board. If you haven’t done this before, at the outset it’s likely to be a bit of a mixed bag... but go with it. Once you are happy with your board and have exhausted the product pages of your favourite online stores, start looking for patterns, e.g. do you tend to go for sophisticated, boho, glamourous or something else?
This way you should get a pretty good idea about what your fashion style is and can then begin eliminating those items that don’t fit in with your style board…. and future shopping baskets.
Who is your style muse? Alexa Chung, Emma Watson, your yoga instructor or someone else? Caption: Alexa Chung in Harper's Bazaar.
2. Find yourself a fashion muse
Who do you admire the most for their fashion style?
A great way of reducing your impulse buys is to pick your style muse and, just before you are about to buy something, ask yourself ‘would X wear this?’.
I personally use this method all the time, and Sienna Miller (unbeknown to her) has saved me countless times in the last 10 years from following some meaningless new trend.
You can also let your muse be your guide when selecting items to clear out of your wardrobe as you start to build a slow fashion wardrobe that you truly love.
3. Make a collage of your perfect wardrobe
Next, is to answer the question ‘how many jumpsuits do I need? And what do they look like?
and then answer the same questions for all the other ‘categories’
As an example, in the trouser category, I have settled on five pairs (black skinny jeans, dark blue skinny jeans, blue mum jeans, blue wide leg/flare jeans and smart black trousers). Choose a mix of wardrobe essentials and some funkier pieces to add interest.
It may be easier to make one collage per season (summer/winter) to help you mix and match items.
Find inspiration in this blog post from one of my favourite slow fashion bloggers, Signe.
4. Establish what you have and what you need to buy
Having completed your collage, compare it with your existing wardrobe and put a star next to all the items that you already have.
From there you can plan and prioritise which items you will need to buy to complete your slow fashion wardrobe.
Buying the outstanding items is not something that needs to happen overnight. In truest slow fashion style, take your time to select each item carefully and only buy something when you are sure that you love it.
A timeless leather jacket, either vintage or made from recycled leather like the Nevada jacket from DEADWOOD, is a firm stable in my capsule wardrobe.
5. Go for items that are timeless
The slow fashion philosophy is to choose items that are fairly timeless and can be worn for several seasons/years without looking outdated.
Needless to say that they should also be of good quality and made to last at least 30 wears. Some of these items might be from premium brands, other from lower priced fashion retailers. Quality and longevity are not necessarily linked to the price tag, so check the workmanship before you buy.
6. Be creative with your outfits
Your slow fashion wardrobe will most likely be smaller than your current one, but that doesn’t mean it will be less magical.
Get busy being creative when you put your outfits together – pair up things that you wouldn’t normally do.
For ideas on how to mix and match the items in your wardrobe, try using one of these clever apps to provide suggestions and stimulate your imagination: Cladwell or Finery.
That’s it - you are on your way to a more sustainable wardrobe! And if you wish to have an even lower environmental impact, up the ante and choose items made from eco-friendly fibres. The planet will thank you for it.