Ethical Fashion Tips: How To Build an Ethical Wardrobe
If you’ve been around me (or my blog!) for even just a little while, you know that I am a big advocate for ethical fashion and purchasing from, ethical, sustainable and fairtrade brands whenever I can. You can read more about this on my post, Why I Started Buying Fair Trade. I know that most of the ethical fashion brands are more expensive (as they should be since they are paying their workers actual living wages!), so creating a wardrobe that is made up of items that reflect these qualities takes more time and intention. I’ll be sharing more of my favorite ethical brands and places to shop in upcoming posts, but I wanted to start by sharing my 5 tips on how to build an ethical wardrobe:
1. Invest in timeless and classic styles
When choosing ethical fashion brands to add new items to your closet, focus on investing in pieces that have a more timeless and classic silhouette and color scheme vs. buying in-line with the ever-changing trends each season. For jeans, I recommend selecting classic styles and washes (no holes or weird dye patterns). A classic denim jacket, linen and / or silk button downs, cashmere sweaters and silk slip dresses and camis are all pretty classic pieces that can be worn year–to-year.
2. Buy in the Off-Seasons
Since buying from ethical brands tends to be more expensive, think about your wardrobe like you’re playing the long game. Look to purchase new items in the off season when they are more likely to be on sale – summer clothes at the end of the summer season, winter clothes at the end of the winter season, etc. Think about what kinds of pieces you felt were missing that year and look to add them to your closet for the next year.
3. Focus on Versatile Pieces
When looking at buying a new piece of clothing, I always try to think through what I have in my closet already and how I could style that piece with the items I already own. I also try to think of my day-to-day routine for that season of the year (or season of life!) and make sure I’ll be able to wear it in different ways. A good example for this is a cashmere sweater: It can be worn on a cozy day at home with leggings, or dressed up with jeans + boots, or even a silk skirt.
4. Stick with a Color Scheme
Neutrals make up most of my wardrobe (and I kinda love it!) A lot of it has to do with my job because I wear neutral colors (whites, creams, grays, blacks) when I photograph so I don’t create any color casts on my subjects, but it also makes my wardrobe a lot more classic and timeless! Certain colors and patterns tend to rotate in and out of style, so I’m picky about what colors I add in. Try to pick 2-3 main colors in addition to your neutral items and make sure any patterned pieces incorporate those colors. I like to add in a light blue, a navy and an emerald green. Other good color combinations include blush + navy and mustard + emerald green.
5. Create a “No Shop” List
Make a list of ethical fashion brands that you love and will focus on buying from as well as places that you will refrain from buying clothes from. For me, this includes a lot of fast-fashion retailers that do not adhere to ethical practices, particularly regarding how their workers are treated. This has been THE MOST HELPFUL thing for keeping on track with my goal of supporting ethical and fairtrade business through my purchases! It’s also been so helpful for my budget, helps prevent impulse buying, and encourages me to think more intentionally about what I actually need and am adding to my closet.