Sustainability and Your Wardrobe

The fashion industry creates a big carbon footprint, but every little bit helps, so give some thought to what you’re buying and from whom; and how you take care of those pieces and wear them once you own them.

Shop brands known for using environmentally friendly practices such as Stella McCartney (no leather or fur, all organic fabrics), Eileen Fisher (natural dyes, recycled garments and her sustainably made pieces can, surprisingly, work with many different personal style aesthetics), Rag & Bone or Madewell (both for denim recycling), Alberta Ferretti (just won an Ethical and Sustainable Award with her upcycled cashmere) and Dôen (natural fabrics, domestic production and just the most dreamy California vibe now with a shop in The Brentwood Country Mart).

Shop vintage and consignment stores. Many feel like boutiques—clean and open and airy. This is a great way to extend the life of a beautiful garment and create one-of-a-kind looks.

Donate pieces from your own closet. You can decide on these at the end of each season. For example, as you put your Summer clothes away in the next few weeks, collect the items you’re ready to release into a bag and keep for next Spring. When you’re ready to put your Winter clothes away at that time, your Summer donation bags will be ready to go. This approach works well for giving to local thrift shops and consignment stores; however, The Vietnam Vets and The Real Real will take any-season pieces at any time of the year.

Rent your wardrobe (or at least some special outfits). Rent the Runway started as party dresses but now you can rent an endless rotation of work-wear and just cool-looking garments. Armarium is my rental choice for show-stopper dresses, jewelry and earrings. Rebecca Taylor has started a rental service for her own line.

Mend your clothes and refurbish your shoes. This is not the most profound statement—but seriously, don’t we all have things that could just use a little love (clothing, handbags, jewelry, shoes) to make them “like new” again?  Take the time to visit the tailor, cobbler or get out your sewing box.

Upcycle clothing that you thought was a lost cause with strategic alterations.  Remove/add sleeves to a dress. Move/replace buttons on a jacket. Sew in undergarments—like a bra—to pieces that are backless or otherwise difficult to wear.

Follow Livia Firth. She’s the founder of EcoAge and The Green Carpet Challenge who asks herself, “Will I wear this at least 30 times?” before she buys anything. I love her Instagram posts where she visits her seamstress and imagines taking old garments and re-making them. Anyone who has visited Olga with me knows how fun this can be!

For further reading, here are three good books for you to consider. Click on each for more details.