I love clothes, but I hate waste. In the past I felt guilty thinking about the cost of the clothes in my wardrobe that I had hardly ever worn because they were impulse or mistake purchases. Now I'm trying to have a more considered approach to my clothes buying habits, not just for the sake of my bank balance, but also because it is good for the environment.
I'm trying to concentrate on quality over quantity. We’ve all heard the adage, “buy cheap, buy twice” and this goes for clothes too. In a better quality garment the seams are usually wider, the stitching is stronger and items are generally better made. A higher price tag also means you are likely to consider the purchase much more carefully – it’s often the cheap items which encourage the impulse buy that isn’t quite right.
One of the things I try to weigh-up is whether the item is a true investment. How many times will I wear it, and therefore what will be the cost per wear? This isn’t simply the price paid at the till. Other considerations are the costs associated with maintaining the item – does it need altering, does it need dry cleaning, will it stand up to regular washing and ironing or is it likely to bobble and look tired quickly?
Wearing clothes for longer has a positive impact on the planet as well as our bank accounts as we reduce the amount of textiles which make their way to landfill. EcoAge founder and sustainable fashion pioneer, Livia Firth says we should ask ourselves “Will I wear this at least 30 times?” and introduced the hashtag #30wears. If you approach shopping in this way you might be surprised at how often you leave something in the shop.
The more you invest in the purchase of a garment, the more inclined you might be to get it repaired if it needs it, rather than simply throwing it away. Quality items often have a higher resale value if you sell them on and any money you recoup can be offset against the purchase price further bringing down your cost per wear. Don’t just think of the obvious auction sites, but also look for local dress-agencies for both buying and selling.
Another plus of wearing clothes that have stood the test of time is that you are less likely to bump into someone wearing the same as you, as you aren’t wearing the latest season’s stock. You are more likely to be inventive with the outfits you put together and the way you mix and match your clothes.
Knowing my colours and style has really helped me with all of this. I know the details and styles I am looking for when I buy clothes and everything is much more coordinated and goes together which makes shopping and dressing so much simpler and quicker. I understand the amount of clothes I need to fit my lifestyle and can identify gaps in my wardrobe and hunt those down rather than buying just for the sake of it. It has also changed my attitude in that I see the importance of investing in myself.
So although it’s another month until we make our new year’s resolutions, perhaps you will join me ahead of time, and make one of yours to invest in yourself, in your style, and the planet, and reduce waste all round? Hopefully, although you have less, you’ll love and wear it more.