I get it, I really do. You want to transform your closet. You want to make better choices for the planet through your clothing options. You want to live more simplistically and only own what you love. But dang, shopping sustainably is über expensive. One shirt for $120 when you can get something from Target for $10? But, I’ve got a newsflash for you: shopping sustainably means you’re not only buying a piece of clothing, you’re investing in a company that puts their employees needs first and ensure that everything from the source to your hands is what’s best for the planet, for the people, and for you.
Okay, okay. You still might be thinking, “but honestly, I just can’t afford that” or real honestly, “I just don’t care enough to make the change.” Understood, but what if I told you there were other ways? That you could still have a rockin’ closet without your wallet being emptied? It’s true, and it’s possible. Mostly, it requires reframing your thought process around shopping. It’s about really honing in on your true, authentic style and what you feel best in. It’s about investing when you can and making it work all the other times. It’s about moving a bit closer towards the life you want rather than just jumping in butt-naked and barefoot (though if that’s your style, awesome).
Note: it’s always about progress over perfection. Even if you implement just one change to the way you shop for clothes and add one piece to your closet that’s sustainable every season: You. Are. Making. A. Difference. Believe in the power of your choice because one small change creates a ripple affect for more. I believe in you! Below are the best ways I know to save money shopping sustainably while also curating a closet that works for you and the planet.
Yes, this is an obvious one, but it’s true. The #1 BEST way to reduce our carbon footprint in the fashion world is by reusing. Oh and good news for you, it means you don’t have to give up your favorite brands altogether, just purchase them secondhand. But, you’ll be surprised how many amazing sustainable brands are sold secondhand. It’s really the main way I’ve transformed my closet. I’m honestly not the biggest fan of going to big thrift stores, so I mostly buy secondhand from Poshmark, Ebay, ThredUp, and my favorite secondhand Instagram page @noihsaf.bazaar. Also, I know that Urban Outfitters now has an “Urban Renewal” section in their shop that is all vintage. Urban Renewal‘s guidelines include:
- Urban Renewal pieces made in the USA
- Sustainably up-cycled garments that have been made from sourced remnant materials
- Each piece has been crafted from small-batch fabric rolls and is exactly as pictured
Super cool! There are so many people on Instagram that thrift for a living and are super passionate about it, so I recommend following secondhand related hashtags to get tips on how to find the best pieces and deals. I’ve found two of my dream Christy Dawn dresses from Noihsaf’s page, I am always favoriting Patagonia and Ace & Jig on Posh. To me, hunting for that “perfect piece” is fun because I’m finding these incredible sustainable brands while also learning about consumerism because I either have to save up for a new piece or find it secondhand. It gives me space between my purchases and makes me really think about what I want to include in that precious space of my closet.
The biggest tip I would recommend for thrifting is: PATIENCE. I think the reason we’re all so addicted to fast fashion is because of the adrenaline rush you get from seeing a piece and buying it immediately. There are soo many times I have done this only to get home and realize it’s not really my style, or doesn’t go with anything in my closet. The nice thing about thrifting is that it allows you to take your time, and therefore only buy pieces that really work for you.
Even sustainable brands love a good sale. With Labor Day recently in the U.S., I got endless emails with sales from all different kinds of sustainable and ethical brands I love. Anything from 30% off to free shipping and everything in between. Again, this requires patience because you usually have to plan ahead and purchase in between seasons, but it pays off because you still get to own pieces from great brands that are aligned with your values. Sustainable brands usually focus on timeless pieces, so you can feel confident that even if you’re buying a summer item in winter, it won’t be out of style when the season rolls around. A few brands that popped into my inbox doing great deals recently:
Shop Local (flea markets, boutiques, etc.)
I live in a beachfront community that is very tourist centric, so there are quite a few small businesses and local brands. I love shopping with them because it means everything is handcrafted with the best attention to detail and they know every part of their production process from the beginning to end. When I buy something locally, I know it’s made with love.
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to visit locally-owned shops and hit the neighborhood markets on the weekend because there are usually great finds at a really reasonable price. Shopping sustainably can’t get any better than shopping locally. Oh, and if you’re in the Los Angeles area then definitely check out my sustainable guide for all your sustainable shopping needs.
Get to know your makers, and it’ll naturally transform the way you look at what you own. If you could see how many hours go into making a simple top, or a piece of jewelry, and chat with the person who actually spent the time making them, then I think you can really form that connection and understand the value of what you’re buying. I loveee going to art markets, flea markets, and any kind of market on the weekends that have local makers because I get to speak directly to them and see what the process is like, plus they usually offer really great prices and deals. Buying local also means that you aren’t paying for anything to be shipped, so your carbon footprint on what you’re buying is already greatly reduced.
The most important thing to remember is to always live within your means. Purchase mindfully. The way I look at it is that I’d rather save up for a few months to own pieces I truly love and will wear for years than buy a bunch of cheap items that will show wear and tear, or even fall apart, in a few months requiring me to purchase more.
One way I love to do this is by giving myself a challenge. Challenge yourself to not buy new for 6 months, or for one month if you feel really overwhelmed by it. On Instagram there’s currently a challenge happening called #secondhandseptember where people are committing to not purchasing anything new for the entire month. If you need that extra accountability, it would be great to join in and connect with like-minded people. The idea is to reframe your relationship with shopping, however that might look for you.
Maybe by the end you’ll realize what your true style is, or you’ll find new brands and people you love, or you’ll finally pull out that sweater from the back of the closet you’ve been meaning to wear for years. I truly believe that shopping sustainably can be accessible for everyone, it just requires some finagling and patience on our part to make it happen.
I hope your journey can become a little lighter by following these tips and tricks to crafting a sustainable closet within your budget.