Recently, I talked to a woman on the phone according to my upcoming working project. Over the conversation she mentioned that she owned way too much shoes that some of them she hasn’t never even wear. The woman told me that she wanted to, but in real life she was wearing a pair of sneakers when she needed to walk during a day from a meeting to another. To put it shortly: she owned shoes that in real life she wasn’t using.
Hands up if you recognize this situation? I mean, most of us this is a reality. We western women own too much clothes, and it is a fact that we only wear approximately 10 per cent of the content of our wardrobe, and most of the stuff is just waiting to be used in one day. This overstock causes a problem, because we have too many choices but in the same time we find nothing to wear. Why did we end up in this situation? According to Clare Press’s book Wardore Crisis – How We Went from Sunday Best to Fast Fashion (2016, 42) it is because of the low prices of clothes and the fact that 40 per cent of our in-store purchases are unplanned.
In these past two years I have followed conversations on sustainable fashion and read books about the subject. So far I have learned that one of the best choice we can do is to lengthen a life cycle of clothes that we already own. So I thought about sharing my tips, how I try to do it.
Organize and be aware what is inside your wardrobe. Do wardrobe analyze and get to know yourself by just looking at what you have. Think about your shopping manners. What colors you prefer to buy? Or what shape of clothes? Do you own way too much pattern clothes that you end up on a situation that you don’t know how to wear them? Or maybe you have notice that you don’t own basic clothes like a black jacket or pair of smart pants? It is interesting to ask yourself these questions and learn more about yourself. We tend to buy same style clothes and by seeing it through your own eyes, you might think: I have enough of this style of clothes.
Recycle clothes that you haven’t wear for a while. Yes, it is a simple sentence and I do keep repeating it, but this is how you organize your wardrobe, make more space on it, and make it more functional and find more wearable clothes. But before doing that, think again, could you wear that old skirt if you modify it a little bit? Maybe shorting the length of it or make it a salsa skirt by adding a new hemline on it will make it work again for you? There are so many possibilities for upcycling your clothes, be creative! If you don’t know how to sew yourself, ask help from your talented friend or go to a professional who will make the skirt suitable for you again.
Ok, you want to make more space on your wardrobe? One killer tip is to separate autumn/winter and spring/summer clothes. This is a best way to make more space on your wardrobe and be aware what you have for the following season. Keep in mind that if the clothes won’t fit in your closet, you own too many. Remember also: Quality over quantity – that is what counts when it comes to the content of closet!
Break the rules. I just told you to separate seasonal clothes from each other, but at times I keep breaking this rule, like you can see in these pictures. One way to lengthen the use of clothes is wear them in a new way on off the season too, like I do with this colorful summer dress. I mix it with dark color jacket and ankle boots and voilà: the style is not that summer-like. Or what do you think? It is a simple rule, but when you mix bright colors with dark ones, you can make a piece of clothing work a little bit longer than you would normally wear it.
Same rule goes to party outfits, which tend to stay in the closet most of the time. Especially now when we are heading to a big party season, you can easily start to mix party clothes with basic ones to spice up your style.
How to do it? For example wear a white t-shirt or turtleneck shirt underneath a black shoulder strap dress. Then add sneakers to the outfit and you are far away from going to a fancy party. Just try!
Take care of your clothes, I mean make a real caring practice like you do a beauty routine on your skin. This is one of the best ways to lengthen a life cycle of clothes. Wash clothes only when needed, often a little dustup is just what clothes need. Invest to a brush for shoes and woolen clothes and look for tips of how to do the caring process rightly on Internet.
My to-do list: I have a suede pair of boots that has some liquid on it (a little accident happened when they were in a suitcase) and some old COS merino wool dress that has a little holes and naps on it that need some taking care. Lets see if I can make them wearable again.
Lets go back to that conversation with that woman who own too many pair of shoes. What did I told her? Well, I gave an advice to start wear some of the shoes more often. How? By adding on pair of high heels in her bag and switching them on before the next meeting. Here in Finland, when most of the year it is impossible to wear high heels, I tend to follow the same rule: I put on pair of high heels in my big bag – just in case. You never know where you end up!
Second hand Marimekko dress
Second hand Zara jacket
Two years old boots from Vagabond