5 Ways to Build a Sustainable, Ethical, Eco-friendly Closet on a Budget
When one thinks about sustainable fashion, a few brands come to mind. Stella McCartney, Eileen Fisher, Mara Hoffman etc. In other words, big name luxury designers. It's no wonder that sustainable fashion has gained the rep for being exclusive and inaccessible to the average person. However, this thought that sustainable fashion is only for people who can afford to splurge on clothes has become a limiting belief.
Sustainable fashion CAN be expensive, but the thought that you have to go broke to afford sustainably made clothing just isn't true.
1. WEAR WHAT YOU OWN
When the urge for something new hits you, first - shop your closet. I can almost guarantee you'll find something you bought months ago and never wore OR something you haven't worn in months that no important people have seen you in. Believe me, I know that's not really the option a lot of people want to hear. I also know it's easier said than done in the age of social media influencers and fashion bloggers that boast new outfits every 5 minutes. But we're not all fashion bloggers and we can't all buy new boots or a new dress every week. Nor should we have to.
So, first things first - to live a more sustainable life, be happy with what you already have. Work on wearing your clothes more than a couple times (even if you've already taken and posted photos on instagram and facebook). Shopping can be an addiction, so first work on breaking the habit. Once you come to the realization that you don't NEED so many clothes to be stylish and that no one truly cares what you wear, you'll be a lot less stressed, have some extra cash in your pocket, and you'll be free to focus your energy on other things (like creating a blog about sustainable fashion!).
AND since I know my word isn't enough - take it from Marie Kondo and "learn to cherish what you have so you can live comfortably." There, that should do it. *brushes hands together*
2. CREATE A BUDGET
Yes, I brought the B-word into this. But come on, you're out of school (or about to be), kicking butt at your job, and if you want to make it in this city as a real adult, you're gonna have to set limits girl! (Also another item easier said than done.) But the sooner you start trying to set and stick to a budget, the faster you'll get the hang of it and the sooner it will become second nature to you. I recently started placing more focus on budgeting when I met my boyfriend Alex, aka, the most frugal person on the planet. That being said, I still get treated to nice dinners out, beautiful gifts on special occasions and cute things just because. Having a budget does not mean you have to sacrifice your lifestyle. It just means you're paying more attention to what you spend and when.
My budget for clothes is currently set to $150 a month. No, that doesn't mean I spend that much EVERY month, 150 is just my absolute max for any given month. It is how much I can reasonably afford after rent, utilities, food, alcohol & nights out with my girlfriends, travel home for the weekend, netflix, hulu... you get the idea. This number will be different for everyone, but it's worth establishing a clothing budget for yourself if, like me, clothes makes you happy ***and you don't want your happiness to come at the expense of other people or the planet***
If you don't have a clue about how to start setting a budget, then wake up! You should know by now that there's an app for that. I use Mint. I get notifications when I'm approaching my budget cap for a specific category and have a record of my expenses from previous months. This helps me continually improve my budget to fit my lifestyle.
3. DON'T JUST BUY, INVEST
If you're used to buying fast fashion, this will probably take some getting use to. However, reframing your thoughts is important for growth. Think of every purchase as an investment. You are investing in something you love so much, you can wear it over and over again. It should be high quality, versatile, and most importantly, it should be YOU. Your investment pieces should be a reflection of your truest self, not someone else. It shouldn't be something you saw on someone else and bought on a whim, hoping you could replicate some other girl's vibe. Buy things that scream you and your individual style - whatever that may be. Me? I invest in classic pieces. Cashmere sweaters from Naadam, everyday flats from Rothy's, linen dresses from Tradlands that make me feel put together at work.
4. KEEP TRACK OF WHAT YOU NEED AND NOT JUST WHAT YOU WANT
Not only should you make sure you are buying investment pieces, you should also make sure you are buying items you actually NEED NOW. Make a list of things you WANT and things you absolutely need. Think about what items you can reasonably put off buying now and get at a later date and what things you need to make your life go round today. This makes it easier to stick to your budget. It also stops you from making impulse purchases, because more often than not - you'll realize you don't need that thing you really wanted after sleeping on it for a month. You'll save money and have extra to put towards a sustainably made, high quality item.
I truly saved the best for last! If you feel like you want something now but don't get paid for the next week or if you just don't want a $150 dollar charge to appear on your credit card this month, then paying in installments may be the thing for you. ENTER Afterpay! Companies like Afterpay or Quadpay allow you to pay for purchases in 4 interest-free installments, instead of paying the full price for your purchase all at once. However, beware of the late fees. If one of your payments is a week late - you get charged $7.00. An additional 7 is charged the second week. So pretty much a dollar a day.
I only recommend this option for people who are good with keeping up with bills, or have a good system for scheduling payments. AKA, those of you who have the adult-thing slightly more down. Otherwise, you're just digging a deeper whole with this one, if you know what I mean. (Debt ain't pretty guys - and I know a bunch of us still have oodles of student loans to pay off).
Some sustainable brands that offer alternate payment methods are Naadam and Co, Alternative Apparel, Hiptipico( they have gorgeous ethically made bags from Guatemala! Linked here.) and reformation!!
So there you have it! 5 Ways to Afford Sustainable Fashion. Did you notice I didn't once mention "Keep your eyes out for sales." By all means, keep your eyes out for sales, but most importantly, reframe those limiting beliefs that sustainable fashion is inaccessible and out of reach to you. It's not - and if you care enough and want to invest in products/brands that have a positive impact on the world, you can definitely do it.
That's all for now! Don't forget to follow me on instagram @Flauntyourfancy
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