Closet goals for 2019

celia-michon-115006-unsplashFor 2019 I have decided to put up some goals for my closet and shopping. Even though I gave up reading fashion magazines in my late teens, my shopaholic behaviours have stayed. I try to be more mindful of what I consume, but when life gets a bit though I tend to turn to shopping, a habit I am trying hard to break. So this year I am putting up some closet goals for myself.

Using what I have

For the time being I am not fully ready for a capsule or complete minimalism. I tried the 10×10 capsule challenge earlier this fall and I did not really enjoy it that much, however I might try a bigger capsule for a longer time during the year. I am planning on using as many parts of my closet as possible (I started keeping track of what I am wearing about 8 months ago) and the ones that I do not use enough, I will be selling or giving to friends.

Responsible shopping

Regarding shopping, I will be buying maximum 12 things in the year, so corresponding to 1 thing per month of the year. To some this might seem like an insane amount, while to others it’s nothing. For me this is a quite small number and I am trying to minimise my shopping over time, since going cold turkey hasn’t worked too well for me in the past. For these 12 purchases I will not be including underwear/basics, accessories or activewear/sleepwear. However, I will keep those to minimal. No going crazy just because I don’t count them.

Further, I will continue to prioritise quality, longevity, natural materials and that they are second hand or sustainably made when possible. I will do my best to avoid spontaneous shopping and instead plan my needs. I am already working on a shopping list for the coming year, since I need to save up for some of the garments. Another important thing is that I will ONLY buy stuff I love. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no!

Questions for shopping

When shopping I will keep some questions in mind to make sure I make sensible purchases.

Does it fit my closet?

The garments should fit with my closet – I should be able to create at least 3 possible outfit combinations with things I already own. No thinking that “this would look great if I only had that”…

Will I wear it at least 30 times?

Have you heard about #30wears? It is encouraging people to wear their clothes for longer. A big portion of the fashion impact comes from the actual use of the garments and by using what we own for longer we can increase the garments impact.

Is this worth the price?

Will the future CPU (cost per use) be low enough to motivate the purchase? If you want to have a CPU of let’s say 2€ then you would have to wear a 200€ coat at least a 100 times for it to be worth the purchase. For this reason I tend to only invest in more expensive garment that I know I will be using for a longer time, like coats, bags and shoes.

Personal development

My last closet goal for 2019 is that I want to learn more about sewing and making my own clothing. In Sweden you have basic sewing classes for 3-6 years in middle school and even though I have made both my own dresses and knitted mittens and embroidered table cloths, I am not near the level I would want to be!

I come from a crafty family and both my mom and my grandma used to sew, knit and crochet everything when they were young and couldn’t afford to buy new. My hopes with this goal is that I will be able to make most of my own clothes, so that I can be in charge of materials and cut and so I can get more tailored items that will not need to be taken in or hemmed.

Do you have any closet goals for 2019? Or are you just going with the flow?

My biggest challenges with sustainable fashion

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I am still quite new to the concept of sustainable shopping and conscious closets. Only about a year ago I started to learn more about this topic and more recently changing my own habits. Changing ones habits from being slightly shopaholic and always having new clothes to a more slow lifestyle is hard in itself. Trying to cultivate a sustainable closet comes with additional challenges. Since the world is mainly built on fast fashion and unethical business practices, finding sustainable options can be hard, time consuming and, let’s not forget, expensive compared to regular shopping.

Top challenges

So what are really the main challenges I face when trying to switch over to a more sustainable and ethical shopping habit?

Finding clothing I like

I can be quite picky with style and I tend to like a more expensive and elegant style. With sustainable fashion I feel like a lot of things are either boring and generic, as in all is made super minimalistic in black and white or that everyone is wearing the same Everlane pants, or colorful ethnic fabrics that are just not me. Honestly, I don’t really get the Everlane thing, they are a bit to everyday and plain for my taste, even if I do like some styles. Also they do not really have sustainable fabrics or processes which I would prefer. Also, I do not really feel comfortable in colors, especially when combined with crazy prints. So I tend to feel a bit lost in the middle at times. I have managed to find some brands I like, but they are few.

Finding materials I like

When I happen to stumble onto brands or garments I like, I get disappointed 95% of the time because of material mixes or poly. In my opinion you are not a sustainable brand if you mix in plastic at every chance you get. Sure, there are times when it makes sense, like in socks that would break very quickly without the add in. But in a woolen coat I really do not see the big point in adding synthetics. Synthetics are made from non renewable resources and should not be overused just because it’s cheap. They also make  it impossible to recycle. The fabric recycling techniques available today cannot handle material mixes, only 100% fabrics.

Finding things that are accessible

Taking a normal shopping trip to town or the mall is really not a feasible way of shopping ethically and sustainably. The majority of brick and mortar stores are big brand and fast fashion with bad materials, bad quality and that is way too trend sensitive. So when shopping for sustainable brands you are often dependant on online shopping. I like to shop online, but since smaller brands often do not have the opportunity to offer free shipping and returns it makes it a bit risky to order when you are not sure about sizing.

Finding things that are within budget

Let’s be honest, ethically produced or sustainably made clothing is not cheap. Quality materials are more expensive than polyester and having a fair supply chain where people are being payed fair wages means more expensive end prices. I have a quite high budget and have in the later years mostly shopped in the bridge or affordable luxury category. So it is not as much of a stretch for me to be able to afford sustainable items. However, it is still very expensive especially when looking for high quality materials like cashmere and silk that can be bought for 100€ at H&M. The sustainable ditto is more towards 500€, so the difference is still noticeable.

When it comes to sustainable fashion I have come to terms with the fact that you can’t always tick all boxes. Buying something you really like, with good quality that will last a long time, that is also sustainable and ethical is like finding a four leafed clover, doable but hard. You have to compromise a bit sometimes and go with the best option available. For me, material is one of the criteria I do not like to compromise, for others it might be the ethical production. Whatever are your boxes to be ticked just remember that perfection shouldn’t stand in the way of good.

How you can make your closet more sustainable even if you shop fast fashion

henry-co-573432-unsplashFast fashion and sustainable fashion are somewhat opposites within the fashion industry. However, a lot of people feel they cannot afford buying sustainable fashion or that the style of these brands don’t fit them. So how can you shop sustainable when you shop at fast fashion high street brands?

Well, it all comes down to how much you shop and of what quality. The absolute best thing is to refuse fast fashion all together, with the second best being reduce.

If you love a fast fashion store and you feel you cannot live without it, you don’t have to have to give it up completely. There are ways to minimize your impact that do not include changing your entire closet or only buying ethical brands.

How to have a conscious closet

Buy less

The first thing to do is to refuse and reduce. That means buying less in general and try to avoid things that are just trendy items that will be used once. The goal should be to build a long lasting closet that represents your personal style. If possible, try to see if you can find the item second hand first. There are so many people who wear something for a week and then sell it online or hand it in to a consignment store. So that should always be a first option.

Use what you have

I believe the best way of avoiding unnecessary consumption is to shop your own closet. Most people have a full closet, while still feeling like they have nothing to wear. Take some time to look around to see what you really own, you might find some forgotten favorites that could need some new love. A great way of rediscovering ones closet is to do a challenge, maybe a 10×10 or a capsule closet where you are forced to be more creative with what you already own?

Take care of what you own

By taking care of what you own it will last longer. Make an effort to follow the washing instructions, to not wash or dry more than necessary and to mend things that break instead of discarding. When you take care of what you own, the need for constantly buying new is not as noticeable since you have a full closet of nice looking clothes.

Sell or give away the things you no longer want or use

If you really feel that an item is not for you, then get rid of it. We should not have things that make us feel bad or doesn’t serve a real purpose. When you actually decide to get rid of something, sell it or give away to someone you know would like it. There are issues with donating and recycling clothing so I would try to avoid that if I do not know exactly where the clothes will end up. There are several great ways you can sell clothes online today, everything from eBay to depop, Facebook or the old regular flea market.

Repurpose that which is no longer wearable

If you have a dress of which you no longer like the top, maybe you can turn it into a skirt? A pair of jeans can be cropped off for a new trendy fringed crop length or simply turned into a pari of shorts or a skirt. If all else fails, make something completely new out of it. An old bed sheet can be turned into several small handkerchiefs (perfect for cold season!) and an old towel can be turned into reusable face pads. There are several ways of using old fabric for new things.

Have you made the move to shop sustainably? Or do you still have a love affair with H&M?

 

My clothing philosophy

priscilla-du-preez-638156-unsplashThat fast fashion is not the best option for the environment or the workers has been made quite clear for a while now. However, people keep shopping like there is no tomorrow. 80 billion garments are consumed every year, each item is then worn on average 7 times before discarded. Adding to that the fact that it takes about 7000 liters of water for making one single pair of jeans, one can understand that this is an enormously resource requiring industry. So what can you do about it?

My guidelines for clothing

The perfect option would be to never buy anything and when you do to only buy ethical/sustainable and second hand. But honestly, that is not easy, so I have given me some general guidelines for how to keep a long-lasting closet, that might not always be organic or recycled, but puts focus on buying things that will be used, and for a long time. So what do I focus on when shopping?

Good materials

When it comes to the fabrics the clothing are made of, I like to stick to natural materials. These are made of renewable sources, in comparison to non-renewable man made materials such as polyester and acrylic. They are breathable and help you regulate body temperature better and, in general, I think they are more comfortable. If possible I try to choose an organic or certified option, this is especially important for cotton as it is one of the most chemical heavy productions that also require crazy amounts of water.

My favorite materials:

  • Wool – Keeps you warm. Doesn’t need much cleaning. Long lasting and durable.
  • Silk – Soft as no else. Beautiful. Light and breathable.
  • Linnen – Eco-friendly. Looks good even wrinkly. Light and breathable.
  • Lyocell – Soft. Drapes nicely. Eco-friendly.
  • Organic cotton – Soft. Durable. Easily maintained.

High quality

High quality is not only about buying good materials. It is equally about the garment being well constructed. This means that the seems, hems, buttons, the fit and other parts of the actual construction should be well done. High quality items will last longer since they will not unravel in the seems or just break in general. Since I want to build a closet that will last a long time this is essential.

Timeless designs

Sticking to a timeless design and avoiding major trends gives a more long lasting closet. Style never goes out of fashion and good cuts are always stylish. I am not saying that you can never buy anything “trendy”, but having a closet full of trendy means you will be stuck in a hamster wheel of always needing more because you feel off. Finding a style that suits you will work in the long run. However, just because a Chanel suit is timeless doesn’t mean you should buy it, you should still be true to you.

So all in all I try to choose quality over quantity, to rather spend on fewer and more expensive pieces that are on style and will last. What rules do you follow when shopping?

Feeling overwhelmed by trying to live sustainable/ethical/slow?

three plants on a wooden tray

My transition into a more sustainable living has been very organic. Step by step my eyes have been opened to a new field to be changed and improved. However, even with a slow transition I have felt, and still feel, overwhelmed at times. When I see other people who have come further in their journey I can easily feel put down by the fact that I am not doing everything.

Why you are feeling overwhelmed

You are trying to do all at once

When you get into sustainable living it might be somewhat of an epiphany, but it can become too much at one time. Going vegan, zero-waste and stopping fast fashion is not something you simply do overnight, at definitely not all at once. It requires time, knowledge and engagement and you risk losing interest if you go out too hard. Choose one field to go all in, or go with a slow reformation, if you want it to be a lasting change.

You are trying to be perfect

It is impossible to live fully ethical/sustainable/slow or whatever it is you aspire to do. You would have to die, but actually dying is quite bad too, so the only way of being fully sustainable would be to not have been born and that is not possible. So you have to try to do your best, but try not to beat yourself up if you are not perfect. No one is.

A real girl isn’t perfect and a perfect girl isn’t real

So remember that this is your life, it should be enjoyable and you should not feel bad about not being the best all the time, because honestly you probably aren’t.

You feel lost and don’t know where to start or go from here

For any big lifestyle changes it is necessary to know what and why you are doing. So before diving into something big (like spending tons of money on glass jars because you read that plastic is bad or buy out the Everlane warehouse because you heard they are ethical) do your research and form your own opinion on the topic.

What you can do to avoid feeling overwhelmed

Put it in perspective

When you feel overwhelmed by the quest, give yourself a break – you are probably doing something or at least willing to be better, so at least hold on to that! Some sustainable life changes are not possible for some people or in some life situations, but every change for the better is positive.

Simply avoiding to buy a new pair of jeans and a simple cotton t-shirt saves about 20 000 liters of water. Be happy for that and feel motivated instead of feeling put down by how much you do not do.

Go slow, step by step

Like mentioned above, you need to give yourself time to adjust to the changes. Rome wasn’t built overnight and neither was you. The habits you have today have probably been forming over years, so quitting them in one day will likely not be possible if you are looking for a long term change. For a habit to stick it has to be doable, so doable is better than perfect since you might stick to it. One step at a time, don’t move to quick.

Inform yourself, find inspiration

A solution to feeling lost in the world of sustainability is to get informed. Not only will it give you some clarity and guidance, but it will also (hopefully) inspire you. There are so many good sources of information around. On Instagram there are hundreds of other people trying to live a more green life, seek them out, get inspired. Maybe you can even reach out to them? There are also several Facebook groups where discussions about green lifestyles are encourage and where you can seek advice from others on the same journey. Use that source!

You could walk around naked, live in the forest and be self sustaining and you would still have an impact on the earth so just accept that you can only do so much and strive to make the best of it. The world would be a much better place if just everyone tried to be a bit better towards the planet.

The first step towards a more sustainable closet: detoxing your shopping habits

 

Open book on a table
Ready to switch shopping for another hobby? Maybe learn a language?

Having a sustainable closet is not only about the actual clothes and the materials they are made with, it’s equally about the spending habits and behavior surrounding the purchasing of the products. Continuing with the spending habits and buying new clothing each and every week, but doing so ethically, is like running to lose weight while still overeating junk food, slightly better, but won’t make a big of a difference.

So what can you do when you have no clue about what to do to minimize the impact of you shopping or closet habits?

Stop going to stores

Removing yourself from any situation where shopping is on the table is the easiest way of stopping the spending habit. Just like an alcoholic doesn’t go to a bar on his first week sober, the shopaholic shouldn’t go to a store. Avoid all places where you can shop, this means both physical and online stores. So try avoiding the mall, shopping runs with friends and casually surfing net-a-porter or Asos. In addition, unsubscribe from newsletters from brands and online stores that drive you to buy more.

Find a hobby to fill your life with

A lot of people see shopping as a hobby or a fun activity to do with friends and family (or alone). No matter if you see shopping as a social activity or not, if you want a sustainable shopping habit you need to stop seeing it as a hobby. Find something more rewarding and worthwhile to do with your free time. Learn a new skill or language, get creative and paint, sing or take a pottery class, start a sport or just spend more quality time with your loved ones. The lack of shopping will not be as noticeable when you have other activities to fill your schedule with.

Give yourself something to look forward to

If you have a hard time motivating yourself, try giving yourself a reward you can look forward to. Maybe you have been wanting to go on a trip or to buy a really nice, expensive bag. Use that as a way of motivating yourself. Set a goal that after 3 months or 6 months you can buy/do that which you would like, if you manage to avoid shopping mindlessly. By staying away from your unhealthy shopping habit, you will also be able to save some money that can go towards that reward.

Avoid impulse shopping

If you find something you feel like you really need (or even really really want), wait for a few weeks or a few days depending on the price and item. Most of the time it is just a want that passes quite fast. Always let the decision rest for a while to make sure it’s just not a passing feeling or you are shopping to feel better or because you are bored.

Try a shopping ban

Quitting cold turkey is one of the most effective ways of ending addiction. Same goes with shopping. If you feel you have a real problem with shopping, you probably have to give it up completely for a while until you can handle it again. Try a shopping ban for 3 months, 6 months or even a year. If that is too much 1 month is better than nothing, but it is about challenging yourself, a shopping ban is not easy for someone who likes shopping. Just make sure you have your rules set out before, what is allowed and what is not.

Don’t do it all at once

Don’t get rid of all you stuff to replace it with sustainable or ethical alternatives. Buying new is never sustainable and this is not a haul for your YouTube, this is a life change, let time do the work. When your white t-shirt is no longer white enough for you to comfortably wear it, repurpose or recycle and then replace with one in organic cotton or Tencel, if you jeans tear, try to see if there is any way you (or anyone else) can fix them and if not, go for a new pair of sustainable or second hand denims. So take it easy and use that which is already in your possession and make the most of it. Realize that you are enough and you don’t need to follow the latest trends to enjoy life and to be liked.

Quitting something that is so addictive and ingrained in our culture is not easy. If you follow the tips it will be slightly easier though. You might actually realize after a while that you do not miss it that much or at least that you are okay without it. Life really is about more than the material stuff, maybe you will notice.

The 10×10 challenge: summary

T-shirts on a rack

As I wrote about 2 weeks ago and as you might have seen on my Instagram I have done the 10×10 challenge. For ten days I have worn a mix of ten garments and shoes with the hopes of saving some time and getting more creative with using what I already own. So now that my ten days have ended and I have had some reflection time I just wanted to share it. Maybe someone is thinking of doing the same, or just interested in a capsule closet. Well, here is a summary of my experience and thoughts.

How did I do?

So in the ten days I did manage to create ten different outfits. A lot of them were quite similar and simple, but that might also be because of the nature of the garments. I had to do laundry in the middle of the ten days because I was clumsy enough to get all my white items dirty. Then after a few days I also noticed a hole in one of the items, not ideal. However, I think I easily could have done a few more days, but not with much enthusiasm. Overall I would say that I did well on the challenge since I did make it through those ten days, even if the outfits were new the new thinking or special.

Outfits
Three of the created outfits during the challenge

What did I think of it?

It did not really save time for me, which I had hoped. It was actually quite time consuming because I had to do a lot of laundry during the week (to keep up with only ten garments), which I normally don’t have to do that often. Doing laundry in my current housing situation takes a lot of time and effort, since we’re ten people sharing two machines, for which one cycle takes around three hours. Combining that with most people working during the day I have had to get up 3-4 hours before work just to be able to catch an empty machine. The time planning outfits I felt was more of a hassle than usually too, as I wanted to try to not outfit repeat or wear the same thing two days in a row.

Additionally, it did not really spark any new creativity, as I had hoped. I think I dressed pretty much like I usually do, no new revolutionary combination came up (I also did chose a rather basic selection so maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise). I rather felt restricted and bored.

Then there is the temperature or weather problem. I feel like a challenge like this is more doable in a milder, more stable climate. These weeks the temperature has ranged between 3-15 degrees Celsius, sometimes almost in one day. Dressing for this kind of weather is quite hard and when you always need several layers it’s hard to do with such few items. A summer capsule might be the easiest to start out with based on this.

Will I do it again?

Maybe, I’m not sure. I felt it took a lot of effort for me this time around. If I were to do it again it would be during a warmer season. Also, next time I think I would exclude the shoes to, not in a way to get to use more of my shoes (it was quite easy sticking to the two pairs), but because I felt a bit too restricted with only 8 clothing items. I’m up for trying a bigger, longer challenge. Maybe a month or so with 20 garments. I feel that would suit my preferences and habits better.

So all in all, the results of the challenge was maybe not what I expected. But one thing I felt afterwards was a love and longing for my full closet and maybe living with less for a while is also a way of appreciating living with sligthly more.