In the digital age, it’s easier than ever to shop for clothing, from targeted social media ads to shopping haul videos to apps that allow you to buy trendy pieces in seconds. However, what may be in your cart today may end up in a landfill tomorrow, as trends are changing more rapidly than ever. Fast fashion practices make clothing cheaper but less sustainable, leaving many of us searching for ways to be more conscious while still cultivating our personal style.
According to the House of Common Environmental Audit Committee, “textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combine,” and the fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of carbon emissions, according to UN Environment. That's not to mention the human toll of fast fashion, as 93% of fast fashion brands don’t pay their garment workers a living wage. Needless to say, it's crucial to be mindful about what we buy and who we buy from.
Fortunately, there is a way to enjoy fashion more ethically: Shopping with sustainability in mind. Instead of spending on trends that won’t last past next season, try investing in everyday staples and planning your wardrobe around that. Not sure where to start? Ahead, see 10 sustainable style swaps you can make for a conscious and versatile wardrobe.
Plain White T-shirt
A plain white tee is an essential building block in your wardrobe, as you can build any type of outfit around it. Make it work-ready with a chic blazer and a pair of trousers, dress it up with a midi skirt and jewelry, or go casual with a pair of jeans. A tee that's good for the environment and ready to be loved for years to come is well worth the investment.
A sweater is a perfect layering tool for seasonal transitions. Invest in a quality piece that can last for years with the right maintenance. A neutral color sweater goes with anything, so you can dress it up or down with ease.
It’s always good to have a pair of jeans around when you need them, and the right pair of denim can last for years, even if you’re active in them. Make sure you look into the brand you buy from so you get an ethically created pair that's sure to last.
Little Black Dress
While it’s tempting to buy a whole new wardrobe for any special occasion that comes your way, all you really need is a little black dress and the right accessories. Find a black dress that's versatile enough for any event or trend in the future.
While there are plenty of outerwear items to choose from, a trench coat is a classic choice that never seems to go out of style. Invest in a slow-made style that works for any season or weather condition.
While I would argue that you could never have enough shoes, it’s important to have a pair that's easy to wear with anything in your closet and won’t wear out after a couple of uses.
If you hate changing out all your everyday items every time you switch purses, focus on investing in a sturdy crossbody bag that holds everything you need and can withstand everyday wear and tear. Brands may come and go, but functionality is forever.
Yes, even your loungewear and pajamas can be more sustainable. If you work from home, it’s a good idea to invest in your loungewear, as you're likely to be in it more often. Be cozy knowing that you’re wearing ethically made fashion with these picks.
Along with loungewear, you can also give your underwear a sustainable upgrade to wear something that feels good for both you and the environment. It’s a good idea to invest in period underwear to cut down on waste in other areas as well.
Sustainable swaps aren’t limited to just clothing—you can also find solutions for some of your favorite jewelry. Getting ethically made earrings can elevate your daily outfit.