Know that feeling when you score a trendy US$59 skirt on sale for US$12.99? A win, right? You’re going to wear it… more than once? Maybe.
Studies by Fashion Revolution discovered that the average British woman wastes £285 (US$375) per year on clothes they will never wear. That’s roughly 22 outfits each, overall worth about £30 billion (more than US$39 billion), never worn. And it’s taking up prime closet real estate!
In addition, the EPA reports that in 2014 Americans threw out 11.95 million tons of clothing, shoes and other textile waste, recycling only 17% of it — which is wild when you consider that almost all textiles can be either recycled or upcycled. That’s a waste stream just begging to be made into something new! NUTS, right?!
What’s in Your Closet?
Now take a mental walk through your wardrobe. Have any tops, dresses, shoes or other items with tags attached? How many wears do you get out of each piece? If you’re feeling pretty wasteful about now, no worries and no guilt trip! We’ve all been there, and there are measures you can take. At the closet-editing agency I founded, called The Full Edit, we help women pare down crammed closets and change habits to keep their look and their wallet tight and right. Scroll down for a few tips to get you started.
Tip 1 – Calculate cost per wear.
Nothing like a little reality check to keep shopping in check. Next time you’re facing a possible fashion purchase, divide the price by the expected number of wears. The US$100 price tag for an uber trendy, fast-fashion dress won’t seem like such a deal once you realize that, after only a couple of wears, it will probably look shabby or go out of style — putting cost at US$50 per wear!
Tip 2 – Buy less. Choose well.
“Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.”
~ Vivienne Westwood
Quality, conscientiously made clothing in enduring styles may cost more, but then you have a better chance at keeping down closet clutter and reducing waste by meeting Livia Firth’s #30wears challenge. To put things in perspective, you could buy that US$100 low-quality, fast-fashion dress you wear it twice or, at the same US$50 per wear, you could buy a #30wears dress for US$1500! Why not find a trend-proof #30wears dress you love for a price in between?
There’s nothing like a little black dress to maximize wears. Here are some chic, ethically made ones:
Indigenous – Cocktail Dress, US$146.
Long-term artisan partnerships, organic cotton. Certified B Corporation and Green America Business.
KREL – Deconstructed Gown, US$450.
Hand loomed in the USA from deadstock yarn. Woman-owned company.
Reformation – Caressa Dress, US$118.
Made in USA of eco-rib tencel, using fair labor, reduced energy use, carbon emissions and waste. Woman founder.
Nicole Bridger – Keen Dress, US$168.
Made in Vancouver, Canada, using double jersey fabric custom made at an eco mill in China. Woman-owned company.
BreeLayne Califa Dress, US$440.
Handmade from deadstock or pre-existing wool fabric in downtown Los Angeles. Low-impact practices like recycled packaging. Tree planted for every purchase in association with the National Forest Foundation. Woman founder.
Tip 3 – Accessorize to keep it fresh.
Reimagine your existing wardrobe with different jewelry, footwear and other accessories. It’s easy to make #30wears happen when you keep a piece of clothing new by switching up key details. To see what a difference styling can make, watch this DailyFlashTV segment (2:12 min).
Here are four looks created with the skirt and top from that show:
Tip 4 – Avoid impulse buys.
Before purchasing a new piece of clothing ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” Author Marie Kondo recommends this question often in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (audio book: 4 hours, 50 minutes). We innately gravitate towards people and friends that have spark, so why not vet purchases in a similar way? You’ll better avoid impulse buys that you just end up carrying around in “the box”. You know the box I’m talking about, especially if you’ve moved in the past couple of years. Based on his Ted Talk on “Less Stuff More Happiness”, Graham Hill would agree that you should think before you swipe. If you’re not head bangin’ hair-band happy, PASS!
Tip 5 – Create a swap-portunity.
Gather a no-go pile of 10 to 30 items in good condition, including accessories. Then get together with a gaggle of girlfriends and treasure hunt through each other’s piles. Fair warning: it can get as competitive as a 38th Street sample sale!
Tip 6 – Get professional help.
Work with a closet organizer that’s eco-conscious and a savvy personal stylist. A good one will help you cut closet clutter, avoid impulse buys, and stay on track with your quality-over-quantity and style goals. Some will also help you sell your unwanted clothes, so you can reduce your own waste, make back a little cash and help shoppers avoid buying new clothes!
Have any questions or comments for Colleen? Any of your own tips to give? Do share! Add your thoughts, recommendations or questions in the Comments section, below.
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