I recently watched a documentary that has made me think a lot about the ethics of my wardrobe. I know what you’re thinking. Wardrobe ethics? Really? That’s a thing? The unfortunate answer is that yes, it very much is. The True Cost has been getting a lot of hype lately, and is definitely worth both the hype and your time. You can find it on Netflix and iTunes, and I would highly recommend that you check it out when you get a chance. This film takes you into the darker side of the fashion industry, a side we don’t often stop to consider. If a store can market a piece of clothing for $5, there is a reason why, and it has to do with labor conditions where these items are manufactured. I’m not going to go into the details of this- I’ll leave that to the film. What I’m here to do is discuss practical ways to make your own closet more ethical and something you can feel good about. As I’ve processed this information, I’ve come up four different things that I think play into building a more ethical wardrobe.
-shop second hand
Shopping second hand is a great place to start, and proof that ethical doesn’t have to be expensive. Local thrift and charity shops and online marketplaces such as ThredUp and eBay make it easy to find great pieces at low cost, even from brands you already love. Buying used clothing reduces waste, and means that those pieces that were not manufactured ethically originally don’t just get thrown into a landfill. Thrifting and shopping second hand also give you the opportunity to collect unique items that truly reflect who you.
There are a lot of great brands that will actually be open and honest about their manufacturing practices. I’m currently loving Everlane. They are a super cool minimal line, and they actually tell you exactly where their clothes come from. Others companies that I would love to try include People Tree and Reformation.
-love what you have
I think it’s important to value the pieces you already own, and not to feel guilt over them. What matters here is to take steps towards making more conscious purchases in the future, whether that means a 100% break from fast fashion, or simply having a more conscious mindset.
-make it yourself
Sewing some of your own clothing is a great way to ensure that it is made ethically! Sewing isn’t as difficult as it seems, and with online resources today, you can find some great tools to help you pick it up! I highly recommend Colette Patterns for some amazing beginners resources. Their Sewing Handbook is one of my favorite sewing books, and will take you through the basics while allowing you to make several pieces for your wardrobe. Another beauty of sewing is that you can create exactly what you want. If you have a difficult time finding the right length of skirt, sleeve style, or pretty details, sewing is your friend!
I also wanted to share a few ladies whose wardrobes have been seriously inspiring me. Alli Cherry does amazing capsule wardrobe videos on YouTube, and values wardrobe ethics as well. She does a lot of second hand shopping and even created a super cool video about how to shop on eBay recently. Her channel is one of my favorites. Carrie from Carrie Rad on YouTube also has a really fun and unique wardrobe incorporating thrifted pieces with more mainstream sources. Her recent Spring Wardrobe video was so fun to watch! I love the creativity and practicality that is so evident from these two ladies’ wardrobes.
I’m not pretending to have this all figured out. It’s a complicated and multifaceted issue, but I like how the film put it: “In the midst of all the challenges facing us today, for all the problems that feel bigger than us and beyond our control, maybe we could start here, with clothing.”