How to Curate a Slow Wardrobe

This post is not sponsored but I have previously worked with some of the brands I mention, and some of the items pictured were gifted to me. All gifted items are clearly marked at the end of the blog post.

 

First things first - what do I mean by a ‘slow’ wardrobe?

I’m not a minimalist. I don’t believe that you magically improve your life by giving away your belongings. You don’t have to have a capsule wardrobe to embrace a slow lifestyle. What I DO advocate is a carefully considered wardrobe, full of items that make you feel good, dominated by comfortable garments from sustainable brands. What I call a slow wardrobe.

I link a slow wardrobe with a slow lifestyle. If you want to relax your pace of life and spend more time on the things that you enjoy, organising your wardrobe can help to relieve time and stress in the mornings. Rather than being bombarded with rails of clothes that don’t suit you, are uncomfortable to wear or just don’t go together, I like to look into my wardrobe and effortlessly pick out my daily outfit.

My wardrobe used to be chaotic. Bold prints, ill-fitting clothes, separate garments for work, weekends and nights out. Getting dressed took me forever and I always felt like I had nothing to wear. Fast forward a few years and not only have I refined my own personal style, but I’ve streamlined my wardrobe into a much more manageable place. 

Yes, I still own high street pieces, but it would be foolish & wasteful to throw them away. I have kept the pieces that I love to wear, and any of my old clothes that no longer fit or I didn’t feel comfortable in have been donated to charity or clothes swaps with friends. The majority of my wardrobe is now dedicated to independent, ethical brands like Stalf, Nadinoo, Olive and Off On. I prefer natural fibres that are easy to wear in all seasons. Typically, colours are muted and pattern is limited. Garments go together easily - tops layer with dresses, t-shirts work with trousers and skirts, jumpsuits can be worn on their own or layered up. 

I love clothes, and love seeking out new brands to delight over - but I don’t want shopping or outfit planning to dominate my life. I have more important things to do than linger over getting dressed, and I no longer worry about what other people think of my outfit choices.  

 

Feeling inspired? Here are my top tips for how to slow down your wardrobe. 

Partake in a 10x10 challenge  

I’m planning on documenting my own 10x10 challenge for the first time when spring finally appears, but this is basically an Instagram-focused style challenge whereby you choose just 10 garments to mix and match into different outfits over 10 days. The challenge was started by Lee Vosbergh and had grown in popularity to now exist outside the original times that Lee designated. You can do a 10x10 challenge at any time, picking your own rules, and share it with the online community using #10x10challenge. I’m hoping that the challenge will help me to think differently about the garments that I wear together, getting more wear out of certain pieces and rethinking what I wear in spring. 

 

Shop ethically  

I’m not suggesting that you give away all your high street clothes and start from scratch buying just independent brands - but that you start to think more carefully when making purchases.  Only buy new clothes when you really need them or love them, considering whether they’d fit in with the rest of your wardrobe and how often you’d wear them (thus contributing less to the waste that is produced from the clothing industry). Do a little research into the brands that you are buying from and seek out more ethical brands that use sustainable materials and are upfront about where their garments are made and by whom. Stay clear of huge corporations known for exploiting women, their workers and the tax system. Take a peek at my Ethical Brands Directory for inspiration.

Organise a clothes swap

Every 3-4 months, I get together with my friends for a clothes swap. We bring along all our unwanted clothes (and sometimes other objects) and place them in a big pile in the middle of the room. We then take turns ‘selling’ those garments to the others. I only take away items that I really love (some of my most treasured garments are from previous swaps) and everything left over goes to a local charity shop. It feels really good to see your friends wearing garments that have been stuck in the back of your wardrobe because you’ve got bored of them or they no longer fit.

 

Shop less, buy better

When I talk about shopping ethically with other people, one thing that always comes up is the cost of garments from sustainable, independent brands. Yes, you are going to be spending more money on individual garments. The reason for this is that these brands pay their workers fairly, use organic materials and have small production runs. Their garments are more expensive that those that you find on the high street, but the whole point is that you buy less. You don’t need to buy need clothes every single week. Save up your money and buy one or two high quality pieces rather than armfuls of disposable fashion. If you add up the amount of money that you spend on high street clothes each season, you will be surprised at how much you have spent. I used to go shopping on the high street almost every week, and spent far more money than I do now on a couple of well-considered garments each season.

Head to charity shops

If your budget won’t stretch and you really need to replace an item of clothing, check out your local charity shops and vintage shops before hitting the high street. An alarming amount of clothes are wasted each year - the Guardian recently reported that the average lifespan for an item of clothing in the U.K is just 2.2 years. Help to counteract this waste by supporting charity shops and giving unwanted clothing a new lease of life.


Consider whether you really need something new

We often buy new clothes to cheer ourselves up or to relieve boredom. To reduce waste and slow down both our wardrobes and the way we shop, we need to get away from the idea of ‘retail therapy’. Shopping should not be a hobby. Try making a list at the beginning of each season of any garments that need replacing or any holes you have in your wardrobe. If you feel tempted to make a purchase or go out shopping, refer to this list and only allow yourself to purchase things that you need.

Garments featured in images:

  1. Kings of Indigo culottes - previously gifted - worn with Topshop white t-shirt and Saltwater sandals

  2. & Other Stories green jumper worn with Olive linen dress

  3. Zara dress from a charity shop

  4. Toast dress - previously gifted

  5. Whistles jumper, & Other Stories jeans and garden centre wellies

  6. Nadinoo gingham dress - gifted

  7. Olive linen dress