We’re well aware of the importance of sustainability in fashion, but how can we enact ways to become sustainably conscious? Well, wonder no more – here is your handy guide on how you can build a sustainable wardrobe. 

It doesn’t involve spending lots of money on sustainable fashion brands. It’s more focused on appreciating the clothes already owned, becoming more informed and changing your mindset when it comes to shopping and buying.

1. Wear what’s already in your closet

Folded tops, sweaters and jeans
[Image Description: Folded tops, sweaters, and jeans] Via Sarah Brown on Unsplash
The most sustainable and ethical thing we can do is wear what we already own. Sustainability begins with what we already have, not what we can get our hands on. According to Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, author of ‘You Are What You Wear’, we only wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. That’s a whopping 80% of our clothing we don’t even wear!

So instead of shopping or browsing for new clothes, take the time to sift through your wardrobe and create new outfits or different combinations with pieces you don’t regularly wear. You’ll be surprised how you’ve refreshed your style just by shopping your own wardrobe!

2. Download the Good on You app to become an informed shopper

Good on You logo
[Image Description: Good on You logo] Via Good on You
‘Good on You’ is an ethical rating app that allows users to check the credentials of fashion brands. They encourage consumers to make better decisions when it comes to buying clothes. Ratings are based on the brands’ ethics towards people, the planet and animals. To be an informed shopper and to find out how your favorite brands are performing ethically, simply type the brand name in the app. The app also provides news, exclusive offers and gives you the opportunity to discover ethical and sustainable fashion brands.

3. If you buy, buy clothes that you know you’ll wear again and again

A woman wearing white long sleeved top with scarf browsing clothes in a shop
[Image Description: A woman wearing a white long-sleeved top with scarf browsing clothes in a shop] Via Burst on Pexels
There are a huge amount of resources that go into making our clothing. Our clothes are being made by garment workers who are not being paid a living wage. Their condition has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic as brands have refused to pay for clothes already made pre-pandemic, leaving garment workers without wages and pushing them into poverty

There’s also the environmental impact that comes with buying new clothes. Research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that if we doubled the number of times we wore a garment, then Greenhouse Gas Emissions would be 44% lower per garment. 

Why are so many resources being used to make our clothes if we’re not even wearing them? Every time you intend to shop or you see something you like to buy, ask yourself whether you’ll re-wear the item. Re-wearing and appreciating the clothes you already possess can make a huge difference.


4. Check out the #OOOTD (Old Outfit Of The Day) hashtag for inspiration

Photo of Venetia La Manna wearing an old outfit of the day (OOOTD)
[Image Description: Photo of Venetia La Manna wearing an old outfit of the day (OOOTD)] Via Venetia La Manna on Instagram
The #OOOTD hashtag was started a few years ago by broadcaster and sustainable fashion campaigner, Venetia La Manna, to encourage outfit repeating. Influencer culture combined with clever marketing techniques from brands has rapidly affected consumer buying behavior – this has led to our overconsumption of clothing. Buck the consumerism culture and instead learn to be content with what you already have. The #OOOTD can help you with that, you’ll be inspired by others who are loving their clothes and repeating their outfits!

5. Check out the Love Your Clothes website

Love Your Clothes logo
[Image Description: Love Your Clothes logo] via Love Your Clothes
The Love Your Clothes website provides simple care tips on how to keep your clothes looking intact and make them last longer. There’s guidance on how to buy smarter, care and repair your clothes (wash your clothes less!), ways to refresh your style and how to keep unwanted clothes out of the landfill.

6. Invest in quality

Close up shot of a woman wearing a peach dress and black jacket
[Image Description: Close up shot of a woman wearing a peach dress and black jacket] Via The 5TH on Pexels
If you decide to go shopping, check the quality of each item you’re thinking of buy. What fabric is being used? Will the color fade after a few washes? Can the item be repaired if it’s ripped or broken? Will this item last for a long time? Am I going to wear this item again and again? Do I already have something similar to this in my wardrobe? Scrutinize new clothing purchases with these questions so that you purchase for quality and longevity.

7. Work on changing your mindset when it comes to shopping

Smartphone with 'No online shopping today!' text, next to folded clothes
[Image Description: Smartphone with ‘No online shopping today!’ text, next to folded clothes] Via OneSave/Day on Unsplash
Changing your mindset will come with time as it’s become easier than ever to purchase unwanted items through online shopping. We can buy the next on-trend piece without leaving our home – a few clicks on our smartphone and it’s on its way!

Sustainable fashion campaigner Gaia of ssutainably_  posted on Instagram how you can stop yourself from impulse buying. Her tips include avoiding browsing when you’re bored, understanding your emotional triggers, tracking your spending, and more. Take the time to assess your shopping habits and see what little changes you can make which can help you in the long term.

8. If you do want to shop, try secondhand shopping

Clothing shop with a neon sign that says 'Vintage Clothing'
[Image Description: Clothing shop with a neon sign that says ‘Vintage Clothing’] Via Kei Scampa on Pexels
Buying secondhand clothing lets you merge your love of fashion whilst remaining sustainably conscious. 

eBay, Depop, and Vestiaire Collective are dominating the resale market – consumer interest for secondhand clothing is growing and is expected to disrupt the fashion retail industry as we know it. The changing consumer attitudes towards secondhand clothing, driven by millennials and Gen-Zers, will help progress us towards a more sustainable way of living. 

Not sure of where to start when it comes to shopping secondhand? This handy post by ssutainably_  gives you the do’s and don’ts, so you can thrift with ease. Make sure to check out your local charity shops too! 


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  • Rebecca Azad works in the creative and charity sector in project and event management, communications and as a content writer. She runs her own sustainable fashion blog. You'll usually find her in a cosy corner of a coffee shop sipping a latte whilst reading a novel or writing a new article for her blog or publication.