Monday, April 23, 2012
The basics of building an eco-friendly wardrobe are pretty simple. I practice these principles myself when buying clothes. In order to build a wardrobe, try the following principles:
1. Buy whatever items you can second hand. This cuts down on the need to have more, cheap and industrialized ‘disposable’ clothing manufactured. It also keeps use of resources to a minimum.
2. Buy clothes that tend to be durable and sturdy. Cotton is the best fabric for most daily uses and it is breathable. Personally, I stick to ‘natural’ fibers, like cotton, silk and linen.
3. Clothing items should preferably mix and match with other items in your wardrobe. Try to avoid items that only go with one thing you own.
4. Take the minimalist approach – figure out how many items you might need of a particular garment and only keep that many on hand.
5. If you must buy new, try to buy from manufacturers that have good labor practices and who use organic materials and energy saving processes. Many of these clothes can be quite expensive, but then paying people what they should be paid for work and taking in the true costs of what it takes to manufacture clothing is expensive. Inexpensive, cheaply made disposable fashion is an illusion that is damaging people and our environment.
6. Stick to tailored items.
7. Begin with neutral colors and build from there.
8. Take stock of your life and decide what clothes you need and why so you can design a functional wardrobe.
9. Learn to layer clothes to maximize their use.
For an example of what I mean by a functional wardrobe, let me talk about my own wardrobe. I work a fairly active job in my industry and mostly I need to wear jeans, khakis, button-up blouses and sturdy shoes. When I am at home, my clothes are similar, but I can change footwear to sandals or boots, depending on weather. I add some cardigans and light jackets, long sleeve tops in the winter and a raincoat and boots. This gets me through most things. I keep a couple of skirts and two dresses, in case I need something dressy to wear. I have a couple of handbags and some scarves, a hat and gloves for Winter. My other items are personal wear, like lingerie, a couple of pairs of pajamas, and then my workout wear (I play sports and jog now, so I do have a couple of sets of these types of clothes). I don’t keep clothes I don’t need or won’t use, or that don’t fit. When something needs mending, I mend it if it can be repaired. If not, I replace it. I try to accessorize to bring more color, with earrings or scarves. I picked tops that had my favorite colors to keep things brighter and to give some pattern.In the Winter, I might wear a long sleeve t-shirt beneath a long sleeve top and layer a jacket over for warmth, that way I don’t have to buy separate seasonal clothes and have less to pay to maintain and care for – I find using these rules liberating in many ways. Besides washing and hanging clothes, and the occasional pressing or mending, my wardrobe is essentially worry-free and has minimal impact on the environment.