"... But I don't have enough money to shop sustainably!"

Posted by Grace Brian on

This is one of the phrases I hear most often in the world of slow fashion. One of the most widely accepted truths about the slow fashion movement is that slow = better quality, and better quality = higher price. This is often the case, but not always. In this post I am going to share some ways that you can participate in the slow fashion movement without spending more than you would otherwise - maybe you will even save some money!

1. Shop less

What I think is interesting about the slow fashion movement is that so much of it is encouraging people to buy more of items that are sustainably made instead of focusing on not consuming as much. It may not be as glamorous to stay away from the shopping mall, but the best way that we can shop sustainably is to simply stop shopping so much. 

One of the hardest things to do is learn to appreciate what we already have and stop wanting more. Part of the reason that the fashion industry is so wasteful is because we are consuming more clothing than we need. Our closets today are much larger than they have ever been. In the past people had a few outfits for each occasion and today we have separate rooms (aka walk-in-closets) to store our clothing in. My definition of being wasteful is consuming more than you can use. "Using up" our clothing, to me, means wearing it until you no longer can. This can happen for a few reasons: perhaps it no longer fits you, maybe it is stained or torn, either way, the clothing has reached the end of it's journey with you out of necessity, not out of wastefulness. Today fewer and fewer of us actually "use up" our clothing and the clothing we do "use up" is often rendered useless much faster than we want it to because it was poorly made to begin with. 

Here are some suggestions I have to help you get more life out of your clothing:

-Consider having one garment for each use. For example: one raincoat, one warm everyday coat, one formal coat, one pair of rain boots, one pair of sneakers, one big warm sweater, one cardigan, one set of pjs, so on and so forth. Of course you will need to have more than one of things such as t-shirts, tops, shirts, pants, etc but try to only have as many as you need. 

Reducing what you own will actually help you to feel more fulfilled with your wardrobe. When we are using things efficiently I believe our subconscious is somehow happier. I know that I personally carry around a lot of conscious guilt when I am wasteful, so, it is highly probable that there is a substantial amount of subconscious guilt there too. Additionally, reducing your wardrobe will make it easier to get dressed because it lessens your choices. Lastly, owning less will help you forge deeper relationships with your clothing. I know that sounds silly, but when you rely on your winter coat to keep you warm and then it does it's job well for a couple years, you are less likely to get rid of it because it has served you so well. 

So often we think of objects as lifeless things created to serve us. What if we considered what it really means to bring an object into this world and into our life; it is a sort of responsibility, for this object will be around far longer than you will. Consider it an honor that you get to be part of this object's journey and help it fulfill its purpose so that it can get used up instead of wasted.

Tip: does this mean you have a lot of extra stuff you're now getting rid of? Try selling the nicer items on Poshmark or at your local Plato's Closet. If you can't sell them there, send them to Thredup or take them to Goodwill

Slow fashion mindset: after doing this you may start to really see the value in choosing a quality item and paying a little more to get the one you want.

2. When you do need to buy clothing, try to go secondhand. Depending on where you live Goodwill can be a great choice. I have found many nice items at Goodwill from brands that I wouldn't have been able to afford new. Don't have the patience to sift through all of it? Try the next step up - a lower end consignment store like Plato's Closet or Uptown Cheapskate. Want to take it another step up? Try a higher end consignment store. Want to browse from the comfort of your own home? Goodwill actually has an online store! Still too much? Thredup may be for you. Not wanting to sort through anything at all and know exactly what you're looking for? Try Poshmark. (I can usually count on the over consumption of my peers to get me what I want when it comes to Poshmark. I have often seen something I want in a store and then waited a month or two and found the exact item - like new on Poshmark.)

Probably two thirds of my closet is secondhand. This is one of the best ways to shop because you do not have to worry about which brands you're supporting. If you purchase fast fashion used, you aren't supporting fast fashion, you are supporting whatever charity is supported by the thrift store you are shopping at.

3. Shop for style and function, not fashion. Style is timeless but fashion will change. To quote Karl Lagerfeld: "Trendy is the last stage before tacky". If you really want to be thoughtful about the way you shop, choose basic silhouettes that flatter your body without being too trendy. Choose basic colors that will always be in style and stay away from prints - unless its something that won't go out of style like a stripe or polka-dot. It doesn't matter if you buy something at Target or from a small online shop as long as it is something you need and something you will wear

4. Last but not least, remember that companies are marketing things at you all the time that you don't need. Environmentally sustainable and ethical clothing is trending right now so everyone will be finding ways to put their products in your face. Participating in slow fashion doesn't mean that you need to buy anything, and people who tell you that you do obviously don't understand what environmental sustainability and slow fashion is all about: less. 

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As usual, If you have any questions please comment below or send me an email at grace@lineandtow.com

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