If your personal style icon is the all-black, fashion-uniform clad Grace Coddington, the sustainable fashion movement likely feels tailor-made for you. You’re already on board with the holy grail of sustainable shopping: the capsule wardrobe. (A capsule wardrobe contains a few essential and timeless items that can be supplemented with seasonal pieces.) But what are the Iris Arpfel’s of the world to do? If you’re a fashion hoarder, lover of color and clashing patterns, and inspired by Rihanna’s chameleon approach to fashion, do you need to trade in your technicolor wardrobe for black and grey and kiss your style goodbye? Absolutely not. However, if you’re dependent on fast fashion, there are changes you should make to support stopping climate genocide.
Whether you’re an avid clothing collector or a recovering fast fashion addict, here are five tips for shopping sustainably without giving up your maximalist style:
1. Shop like a Fashion Editor
Even for maximalists, reducing your clothing intake is essential to your sustainable shopping plan. We all need to reduce our fashion footprint and that begins with buying less. However, thinking like an editor means you simply shop smarter and get more value from the pieces that you buy. A talented fashion editor has a honed aesthetic and sticks to it. They edit fashion, meaning that saying no matters most.
Fashion editors know how to filter the merry-go-round of ephemeral fashion trends through their style lens to create looks that are authentic, timeless, and unique. They find pleasure in originality and the newness each season brings, but are considered in how they adopt trends, usually incorporating hints of them into a larger, cohesive style vision. Simply put, they avoid fashion victimhood by making a trend work for them, versus the other way around.
Even the most flamboyant style has rhyme and reason to it, so the first thing to determine is: what’s yours? Assess your closet and determine how much of it you actually wear, and how much were impulse buys you could live without. This will provide evidence of your shopping habits, and how much money and garbage you can save. We all make regretful purchases, but the goal is to get so good at self-editing that these become few and far between.
Before you buy an article of clothing ask yourself: Will I wear this 30 times or more? Do I own pieces that will coordinate a look? Do I already own something similar? Is it well made so that it will last a long time? Could I find it second-hand? Would I still want it if it wasn’t on sale?
2. Rotate your wardrobe
Did you know that a garbage truck of textiles is disposed of globally every second? Which begs the question: should we own all the clothing that we want? Thanks to clothing rental companies like Rent the Runway, Armarium, and Gwynnie Bee cluttering your closet and contributing to fashion waste can be minimized. Whether you’re looking for a special occasion piece or to update your work closet, these services allow you to refresh your look without the burden of ownership. It gives clothing more use by keeping it in rotation and out of landfill, and allows you the opportunity to color clash to your heart’s content.
Another way to maximize the lifespan of garments without inhibiting your maximalist style is to embrace the resale market. This broadens your shopping selection beyond seasonal trends that are regurgitated across brands and stores, and can save you money. Many stylists make a habit of refreshing their seasonal wardrobe by investing in quality pieces and consigning them either at their local consignment store or on sites like The Real Real, Tradesy, and Vestiarre. The earnings from consignment can go towards refreshing your closet, and some sites offer site credit so that you can easily update your closet without spending a cent. Of course, you don’t have to buy just to resell. I recommend looking at second-hand clothing options first for all new clothing purchases.
3. Invest in a Tailor
Even the most basic tailoring can make your outfit look polished. An inch off a hem or a half inch slimmed on the waist of a blazer is the difference between off the rack style and perfection. But you needn’t consider a tailor only for basic needs. A tailor you trust will save you money and propel your personal style to a new level. They can breathe new life into your pieces by reimagining dated clothes to suit new tastes (or body shapes). A reliable tailor can also give you the confidence to splurge on special vintage pieces with the knowledge that together, you can construct something new, bold, and one of a kind (every maximalists dream). If you haven’t found your sewing soulmate, companies like Reissued Style specialize in reimagining your tired wardrobe pieces and give you a truly custom-made experience usually reserved for celebrities at a fraction of the cost.
4. Collect Style Inspiration
Have you heard the advice, “Shop your closet?”. It basically means, avoid buying new things by rediscovering pieces you already own. Great advice, but how? If you’re bored of everything you own, it’s unlikely that you’ll open up your closet one day and suddenly discover ten new ways to wear your seven-year-old, pink coat that you’ve worn to death. A little style inspiration can go a long way in helping you to reimagine your closet whilst getting your creative juices flowing. Make yourself a style mood board (a collection of inspiring style images) on Pinterest or Instagram, preferably a mix of street style, runway, and fashion editorial images—look for ways to recreate looks using your existing pieces.
Sometimes this activity results in a trip to the tailor, e-Bay cruising, or discovering the perfect item that will complete five new outfits. (Spoiler, it’s always a white and black turtleneck for layering.)
5. Get Familiar with Stylish Sustainable Brands
The sustainable fashion market has exploded in recent years and there are brands to suit all tastes and most budgets, that includes, extroverted, fashion-savvy ladies. We’ve put together a mood board of our favorite maximalist designers for you to check out.
Words: Laura Jones
Copy Editor: Sonjia Hyon
Cover Photo: Guy Lowndes