Taking up a new fitness regime, eating healthily or embracing ‘Veganuary’ are all popular lifestyle re-boots, but something you might not have thought of is giving your wardrobe a detox. Building a healthier, happier wardrobe is easier than you think. Here are a few tips on how to make the very best start to 2018, sartorially speaking. After all, healthy wardrobe, healthy mind...
As with all good detox’s, the process starts with a really good cleanse. Tackle one wardrobe or set of drawers at a time, and literally take every last garment out before going through them and asking yourself:
- When was the last time was that you wore said garment?
- Does it hold any sentimental value at all?
- Does it still fit or suit you?
If you haven’t worn it in the past year and you can’t see yourself wearing it again then it’s probably time to say goodbye. If you still love it and consider it to be a timeless piece you might come back to in years to come, then designate a small space or even a vacuum pack bag for pieces that are too good to throw (we won’t actually throw anything in the rubbish, more on that later). We all have certain clothes that have sentimental value for whatever reason but that we don’t wear - again put these pieces aside and stow away.
Try pieces that you aren’t sure about on. A ‘going out’ top that you spent your entire first pay packet on in the noughties probably doesn’t fit you, or your lifestyle anymore. Be honest with yourself. On the other hand a blazer that was once workwear might now look just the ticket paired with a new pair of slouchy jeans.
Make four piles - things to keep and wear regularly, things to keep but put away, things that need fixing, things that we want to get rid of.
DISPOSE / MEND
Please don’t throw clothes in the rubbish. It is estimated that last spring alone 235 million pieces of clothing ended up in landfill in the UK as people prepared their wardrobes for the summer. And once they are in the landfill, materials such as polyester can take up to 200 years to de-compose. Instead take it to a charity shop or a recycling centre. You could even make some money by selling online via re-sale sites. Providing one tonne of clothing for direct re-use by giving it to a charity shop or selling it online can result in a net greenhouse gas saving of 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. That’s not a bad return.
For other pieces, it might just be a matter of make do and mend. A broken zip or small hole is simple to fix. Take it to your local seamstress or have a go at doing it yourself - you might even enjoy it. Extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduces its environmental impact by 20-30%.
Once you’ve got your wardrobe whittled down it is time to organise so that you can make it work more efficiently for you. For this look no further than advice from the tidying guru, Marie Kondo. Marie has put a spin on William Morris’s age old advice, “Have nothing in your house that is not beautiful or useful” and switched it around to have nothing that does not “spark joy”. She goes on to explain precisely how to organise and tidy your clothing, to the point of how to correctly fold socks.
The idea is to ‘respect’ your clothing by having everything in its place and folding it according to Marie’s method of vertical folding into a little package. This makes everything easier to find and easier to look after, meaning you are more likely to wear it and less likely throw it away. Simple but brilliant advice in the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
FILL IN THE GAPS
Now you can truly see what you have, you will be a far better judge of what you need. Think about how to balance the demands of your work and lifestyle with your desires for fun fashion. Whilst a tulle cocktail dress might get your heart racing, what your wardrobe actually needs is a practical pair of trousers. This is not to take the joy out of shopping. Once you’ve sorted your hard working staples, you can go to town on throwing in the colourful, more seasonal pieces that will make your wardrobe sing.
This might be the fun bit but, it still requires significant thought - after all our choices have an impact that goes beyond simply how we look. Ask yourself three simple questions for every purchase - who, what, where? Transparent fashion brands are able to tell you this information so you can make an informed purchase. Choosing organically grown fabrics helps to protect the environment. Choosing fair trade guarantees a fair deal for farmers and protection for workers. Natural materials are kinder on your skin and less likely to still be found festering in landfill in 100 years time. Shopping more mindfully will help you have both a cleaner wardrobe and a cleaner conscience.
One of the main reasons we end up having to get rid of our clothing is because we haven’t looked after it properly. 70% of the clothing that we throw away has irreversible damage such as shrinkage, colour-fading or staining. Start by always washing according to the advice on the label and at 30 degrees where possible. Dry cleaning is harmful to the environment so consider this when you make your purchases and hand-wash as much as you can. Lastly, as we head tentatively into spring it is time to make use of your washing line. Air-drying clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by a massive 2,400 pounds a year.
So there it is, a few simple changes that can make a big difference to you, the environment and to others. Detoxing never looked so good...
Alicia is the co-founder of the online sustainable fashion store, Gather&See.