I am glad that you are looking for ways of reducing the negative impacts on the Environment. Coming from Vietnam, where the ideas and definition of sustainable fashion are still not popular at the time, I write this blog.
Before we go ahead to the content, I want to tell you two stories of my childhood being a passive sustainable fashionista 😀
My 10-time-fixing sandals:
I grew up on the farm, my parents are very frugal. I remember when I was little, my father often fixed our sandals when we broke them. He heated a small piece of metal in the fire until it turned red hot, and then used it to melt and fuse together two sides of the broken sandal. Sometimes, my sandals had about 10 pieces of joined plastic on my sandals. I really wanted to have a new pair of sandals, so I decided to throw the old sandals away and told my father that I lost them. So he could not fix them for the 11th time.
My iconic three-year high school jacket:
I used to live in northern central Vietnam, where the winters are very cold. In those days, getting into high school was a big achievement. My parents were farmers, they did not have a lot of money. Everything we had, they had to save up for a long time.
Mum decided to buy me a jacket for my high school. She bought the most expensive jacket that she could afford. It was a puffer jacket in light yellow colour because it was expensive so she only got me one for three years. In contrast, my mates in the school and village had 3 – 5 jackets in their three years of senior high school.
I remember that my jacket often got dirty on the sleeves, so I had to hide those marks from my friends. I know that Mum and Dad did not have a lot of money. But I used to wish Mum had bought me a less expensive one so I could have a new jacket every year.
From my upbringing, It is actually a good foundation for me to be careful with what I purchase. Here are things that, in my opinion, & experience, everyone could do to be stylish and fashionable without waste or minimise our waste to the environment.
1. Learn Different ways of styling our wardrobe
I think we all find that in each stage of life, we will purchase clothing differently. I used to wear short dresses & clothes when I was in my 20s. In my early 30s, I bought clothes that showed my body shape. Now in my late 30s, I feel more comfortable with clothes that give me a bit of room, cover my body probably, and are elegant.
I will ask my family and friends if they want to have some of the clothes that I don’t wear often. Someone might like them and take them. In my culture, not many people want to wear second-hand clothes. Or the sizes don’t fit them.
I often ask myself, what should I do with them?
I donate some, but I used to volunteer in the community centres. I know that not every piece is picked. We often had a lot left over and did not know what to do with them.
I started to play with my clothes when I had free time. I put them together and ask myself. Do I feel comfortable with them?
I style my old short dresses with a midi-skirt. I don’t use them as dresses; I now use them as my tops. You can see this in these two videos. My short white dress is a white top dress.
This is my dress with a blazer.
… and now this white dress has turned into a top
2. Buy second-hand clothes
I think everyone now knows that if we keep our clothes longer, then we will minimise our waste in landfills. This option might not be a good idea in some cultures. But, if you don’t buy clothes, maybe it is good to buy second-hand handbags, belts, and other accessories. Or we can buy books, shells, vases etc., not only fashion items.
Living in Australia, Salvos & Lifelines are my favourite second shops. When I need or want something for my wardrobe, I will go to second-hand shops many times before I decide to purchase a brand-new item.
3. Choose high-quality items
When I cannot find things I want in second-hand shops, I will buy new items. My jacket’s story has taught me that I don’t have to buy many pieces to be warm and stylish.
When I buy new fashion items, I will invest in high-quality, well-made clothing that is designed to last. This reduces the need to replace clothing constantly and minimises waste.
This also saves our money, as the item lasts for a long time, we don’t have to spend money on new things all the time. But do you want to be stylish and fashionable?
Why not be creative, and learn from others? I follow quite a few fashion YouTube channels, and I have my own channel where I share my learnings with others. Take some ideas from other people to refresh and upgrade your outfits.
Please follow my channel at: https://www.youtube.com/@stylingblog/. We can learn new things from each other.
4. Take care of your clothes
No matter expensive and high-quality clothes are. They need us to look after them to last longer.
Properly care for your clothing by washing them in cold water, air-drying them, and avoiding harsh chemicals or bleach. This will help them last longer and reduce the need for replacements.
I often wash my gentle clothes by hand. I use laundry bags when I put my clothes in the washing machines. This will reduce the risk of stretching our clothes while they are in the washing machine.
I made a video about 5 ways to be more sustainable in fashion.
5. Look for sustainable and eco-friendly materials
I know sometimes it is not simple like “buy organic cotton material. It will be eco-friendly”. In some ways, it is correct because this organic cotton material is better for the environment and often has a lower carbon footprint. But do you know that growing cotton consumes a lot of water?
Nothing is perfect, but be aware of this factor. You can also choose clothing that is made from bamboo, hemp, and recycled materials. If you are even more careful, you can read about the companies/brands that you buy your clothes from.
We do our best. Nowadays, many companies tie sustainability to their core business. Be mindful of the information that is out there.
6. Buy items that compliment your existing wardrobe.
When you buy more items for your wardrobe, think about what items in your wardrobe can go with this piece. Will you wear it often or just one time?
If you buy an item that can go well with your existing wardrobe, you are likely to wear it more often. It also helps to refresh your wardrobe.
For instance, I added a new scarf to my 10-year-old dress in this video. Don’t you think my dress looks fresh and stylish?
If you own a long silk scarf or a square silk scarf and want to learn more about ways of styling them. Here are two quick articles that you might be interested in:
How about a thick winter scarf article?
I hope you find some tips for yourself, and please leave a comment if you have other ways that others can learn from you.