Creating a Sustainable Wardrobe

Jade Augustine

There are ways to create a fashionable wardrobe without breaking the bank — or the environment.
Photo by Burst from Pexels

It seems like fast-fashion empires are taking over the world and our wardrobes. It has become increasingly difficult to find sustainable and affordable alternatives to the styles that we love.

According to this study, people generally don’t even wear over half of the items in their wardrobe.

The goal of a sustainable wardrobe is not to collect as many clothes as possible. It’s about making informed decisions on which items to allow into your wardrobe. It’s easy to end up with a closet filled with fast fashion items that you don’t really end up wearing much. It does take a little bit of effort to make your wardrobe sustainable, filled with pieces that you will actually wear.

So how can we create an eco-friendly and sustainable wardrobe?

The 30 Wears Rule

Many people who are passionate about sustainable clothing swear by the “30 Wears Rule.” This is a quick little test that you can do yourself. When you’re trying to decide whether or not to make a clothing purchase, ask yourself if you will wear it 30 times. If yes, this is a piece that you can add to your wardrobe. If not, it might be best to skip over it for now.

If you need something for an event or occasion, this rule might not necessarily apply. But there are definitely other options that you can consider.

Consider Renting Clothes

Renting clothes may sound odd at first.

When you’re headed to an event where you know you’re never going to wear your dress or suit again after that day, it makes sense to rent rather than investing in something you will rarely, if ever, wear after the event.

You can even rent tuxedos or wedding dresses for a fraction of the price that you would pay to purchase one.

When you rent, you get the feeling of having a brand new piece of clothing. Yet, it’s not something that’s going to take up closet space later on. When you return it back to the place you rented it from, someone else will get to experience the exact same thing.

With many clothing rental services, you do have the option of buying the piece if you truly fall in love with it. But having the opportunity to rent beforehand will undoubtedly reduce the possibility of making impulse purchases.

Clothing Swaps

A fun way to get rid of some old clothes while also getting some new ones is by hosting a clothing swap. Hosting a clothing swap is simple. You go through your wardrobe and find clothes in good condition that don’t fit or that you don’t wear anymore and encourage everyone attending to do the same.

You can organize one with just your friends and family, or you can make it a community event in your area.

Usually, clothes are simply organized by size at a clothing swap, but you can organize them by color, style, etc.

Don’t forget accessories! Shoes, handbags, and jewelry can be included in the fun as well.

If any clothes are left, they can be donated to a local thrift store or sent away for recycling.

Clothing swaps are a lovely way to get together and add some more pieces to your wardrobe without spending money on clothes.


Of course, thrifting would be on here.

Thrift stores are an excellent place to find clothing, but you never really know what you’ll end up finding. You might discover gently worn or even brand new clothing items, or you might find vintage clothing that you can’t find in the stores these days.

There are thrift stores like Goodwill where you can pretty much find anything or nothing depending on the day. There are some stores geared toward higher-end fashion items in current styles in good condition. Then some thrift stores are geared toward those looking for vintage or specialty pieces.

The great thing about thrift stores is that they give clothes a second life instead of being thrown away and left in a landfill. And thrifting is cost-effective. Since you aren’t paying full price for your clothes when you thrift, it saves you money in the long run as well.

Online Thrifting

On online stores such as Depop and Poshmark, you can get plenty of new and used clothing items, shoes, accessories, and more.

You can also check out eBay, ThreadUp, and plenty more.

Online thrifting is a great way to find new clothes or sell clothes in good condition that you no longer wear.

The benefit of online thrifting over shopping at a thrift store is that you can search for particular things. If you’re looking for a specific shirt from a specific brand, you can search for it secondhand, and there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll find it.

Take Good Care of Your Clothes

The most sustainable clothing options are the ones you already own. With this in mind, you have to be conscious of how you’re treating your clothes.

There are a few things that you can do to get the most out of your clothes.

Avoid overwashing them, repair them instead of throwing them away, and recycle them when they reach the end of their lifespan.

Seek Out Sustainable Brands

To keep your closet more sustainable, you can always learn more about a company before purchasing. Choose to buy from companies that pay their workers a living wage and provide healthy, hygienic, and safe working conditions. If the company you are wondering about doesn’t share that information, you can email them. If you get no response or a vague response, it may be that their workers are not treated fairly.

Seek Out Sustainable Fabrics

Materials such as polyester, cotton, rayon, and nylon are notoriously unsustainable and use significant amounts of water and energy.

Now with this in mind, you might be wondering what you can wear if most of these materials are already in your closet as it is.

Fear not. There are plenty of more sustainable choices that you can make when it comes to clothing materials. Sustainable cotton exists, and you will find it labeled as organic cotton or recycled cotton. Recycled polyester does far less damage to the environment as well, and you should feel free to wear it without guilt.

Other more sustainable fabrics include linen, hemp, and Tencel.

No sustainable clothing option is perfect. No clothing is entirely eco-friendly. And unfortunately, the term “sustainable” is not regulated. So you will have to do a bit of your own research to decide whether something you’re looking to buy is right for you.

However, don’t let that discourage you from trying to explore your love of fashion in the most eco-friendly way possible. Even slight changes make a difference. If enough people are making little changes in how they live their lives and how they think about clothes, that can lead to much more significant changes down the line. Be a part of the change.

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Jade Augustine is a writer from Fort Collins, Colorado. She is passionate about cats, dogs, entertainment, vegan food, and traveling.

Fort Collins, CO

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