How to Curate a Considered Wardrobe (Ad)
In collaboration with Olive Clothing, who kindly gifted me the dress I am wearing in these photos. All words, photos and opinions are my own.
If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know that I favour slow, sustainable clothing brands over the high street. The clothing industry is one of the biggest polluters globally, not to mention the modern slavery involved with making a £5 fast-fashion garment. This is why I like to share my slow fashion tips, helping my readers to start thinking of quality over quantity when it comes to their wardrobes.
But (and this is a big ‘but’) you don’t need to throw everything away and start again to have a sustainable wardrobe. Throwing away perfectly good clothes isn’t the point. The point is to be more considered with your future purchases, making better choices and avoiding frivolous buys. I shared a story on Instagram recently that really seemed to resonate with people, basically pointing out that no-one is perfect. In the photo, I’m wearing a dress from Zara that I purchased last spring, showing that my wardrobe is still peppered with high street finds. Yes, I preach about ethical fashion and I occasionally buy garments from the high street - but I only make these purchases when it is something that I either need or have completely fallen in love with and know I’ll wear for a long time. As I pointed out in a recent blog post, you don’t have to be perfect to make more sustainable choices.
That’s why I’ve entitled this article ‘how to curate a considered wardrobe.’ My attitude to slow style isn’t to try to create a capsule wardrobe or to get rid of all the unethical garments that I own. Rather, it’s to create a wardrobe full of quality pieces that I wear over and over again. There’s too much information out there that is focused on making people feel inferior because they don’t have a closet full of beautiful, ethical garments. My green linen Zara dress that I was wearing in that Instagram story is one of my favourite items of clothing, that I wear all year round. While I’m not going to recommend heading to the high street for a shopping spree, I’m also not going to tell you that you’re a bad person because you fell in love with a £40 dress.
There is a certain thrill associated with shopping which can easily become an addiction. I’ve previously been in the thralls of that thrill, back when I worked in the fashion industry. I was completely up to date with the ASOS ‘New Arrivals’ pages, making frequent purchases every time something caught my eye. I loved nothing better than heading into town after work to browse the shops and top up my wardrobe with something new to wear that weekend. There were no considerations to my purchases, other than price. I was always skint, and would make frequent cheap purchases without even considering saving up for one more expensive item.
Sadly, this is the norm. Shopping is seen as a hobby, despite high profile documentaries exposing the fast fashion industry and an increasing amount of articles talking about how it is contributing to climate change. We’re taught by memes and naff decorative signs that shoes and bags can bring us happiness. The main way that you can start to create a more considered wardrobe is to let go of the notion that shopping is a fun pastime. For the majority of the time, shopping for new clothes should be something that you do out of necessity. If you have a wedding to attend, if your trainers have a hole in them, if you’re travelling someplace hot and need a summer dress. Every now and then, treat yourself to a garment purely because you love it, but don’t make this a regular occurrence. Educate yourself on your favourite brands and make an effort to seek out eco-friendly independent brands - you can find some of my favourites (including Olive Clothing) here.
I don’t believe in a capsule wardrobe. I love clothes, and like to have options for what to wear dependent on my mood. I probably own less than 100 items of clothing, but I’ve never felt the need to count them or whittle them down to a magic number. Yes, I have my favourite garments that I wear over and over again, but I also have items that I love but wear less often. I don’t have anywhere near as many clothes nowadays as I used to (I have steadily given away most of my previous mound of clothing through clothes swaps with friends) but I have something to wear for all occasions. It’s very rare that I look into my wardrobe and think I have nothing to wear.
It’s taken me years, and many purges to get to a point where I’m happy with my wardrobe. I would happily open it to you now and show you what hangs there, confident that each item has been carefully considered. I no longer make impulse purchases, preferring to lull something over before hitting the button to add it to my basket. I think to myself do I need this, do I already have something similar, what would I wear it with, when would I wear it? When brands get in touch with me or when I approach brands to work with, I won’t accept an item that I don’t need or love. I don’t want a wardrobe stuffed full of gifted garments that I would never wear. Rest assured, when I am promoting a clothing brand on my blog or Instagram, it is a brand that I love that has a sustainable ethos. I will wear the garments over and over again, and be incredibly grateful to own them.
When creating a considered wardrobe, something that you should always pay attention to is the care of your clothes. One of the few fashion influencers that I love to follow, Brittany Bathgate frequently talks about this, explaining how you can get the most out of both high street and investment purchases by looking after your clothes correctly. If something doesn’t fit as you want it to, get it tailored rather than leaving it hanging in your wardrobe unworn. Wash your garments on low temperatures, hang them rather than leaving them crumpled on the floor and always read the care instructions. If you’re aiming for the longevity of your garments and quality over quantity, you need to treat them with respect.
If you want you clothes to last longer, invest in quality garments rather than buying numerous versions of the same thing at lower price points. Do your research and don’t buy fast fashion items that will start to look tired and worn after a few washes. Regardless of whether you’re buying from the high street or investing in sustainable independent brands, choose natural fabrics and stay away from man-made fibres. Opt for clothes that allow your skin to breath, rather than garments made from restrictive materials that feel uncomfortable.
Every item in your wardrobe should either fill you with joy or be practical. You don’t need to curate a wardrobe full of boring garments that you can wear for any occasion; there’s no reason why you can’t collect beautiful, special items that you love to wear. Whether that’s sequinned party dresses or breezy linen frocks, these treasured garments are just as important as your go-to blue jeans and white t-shirts. Ultimately, you should curate a wardrobe that works for you, that makes you feel happy and that doesn’t spark feelings of I have nothing to wear.
Click to shop the dress that I'm wearing from Olive Clothing , a British contemporary clothing brand with a focus on sustainability and ethical practices.