The quest for the 'perfect' wardrobe
This is the first instalment in what will probably be a few chapters as I go on this journey to create a wardrobe that is stylish, ethical, well fitting and enhances me. Wow that is asking a lot isn't it?! Well I don't think so. Quite frankly I became sick of that "I have nothing to wear" frustration every morning and every time I dressed up. That coupled with becoming a more conscious person - a growing awareness of the people and environmental damage of fast fashion meant it was time for a wardrobe overhaul.
Here is how I started:
For a couple of weeks keep a clothing diary. Write down each day a summary of the weather and what you wore (including which bag you used and accessories you wore) and if you changed. This step is really important to help you understand what your personal style is, how you tend to dress for the weather, what you feel comfortable in, and it will demonstrate how little of your wardrobe you actually wear. Just write notes on a pen and paper or keep them in 'notes' on your phone.
Being an organised person to me this was the 'fun' bit! It has to be done, you cannot ignore what is in there to go on this journey. Take it all out - all of it! Handbags, shoes, belts etc included. Put it all on your bed and piece by piece try them on.
For each item ask:
- Do I love it? (Love not like, it has to be 100% commitment)
- Does it fit me well? (And I mean well, you should love all of the fit and not think 'well if I wear it with a belt it fits nice' - you won't wear it!)
- Do I feel good in it? / Does it enhance the bits I like?
- If it is a top/skirt/trousers does it match other items you own?
- For shoes and accessories the same process, your clothes diary will help here.
By now you probably need a cuppa and bicci so go grab some sustenance to keep you motivated!
Separate out everything that hasn't met this criteria and see what you have left.
- Go through the process again with what you have left.
- But this time reference your clothing diary to see if you actually have worn it recently. Ensure you are being ruthless and honest, if you can't recall having worn it in the last six months even if it fits it should go into the no pile.
- And consider how the pieces work together. If you love something that doesn't go with anything - what do you need to make it work? Will what you need actually suit you and will you wear it? If the answer is no it should go into the no pile!
So now you should have a small pile of 'yes' clothes. Start hanging them up, arrange them in your wardrobe how you see fit - maybe group things that work together. Arrange your accessories in a way that you can see what you have when you get dressed so you don't forget to wear them.
Now it is time to sort through the big pile of no's! Don't be tempted to put no's back into the yes's because you feel guilty about either the size of the pile or someone bought it for you.
The no's need to be categorised:
- Too damaged to donate - can be cut up for household cloths or placed into textile recycling (your local tip should have one).
- Good condition and value could be donated to charity or sold on.
- You know someone who has always loved that item and so you could spread a little joy and give it too them.
- Or you could hang onto the good ones and host a swaps party, you might be able to fill in your wardrobe gaps without spending a penny!
- If you are handy with the sewing machine, maybe ones where you love the fabric could be remade into something new or something for someone else?
Begin to curate your 'perfect wardrobe'. So now you won't have many clothes left and to make your collection work you may need one or two classic pieces like a summer mac, white t-shirt/shirt or black pumps. Use your clothes diary to understand your signature style and do some research to find pieces that would enhance that and work with everything else.
This now gives you the opportunity to buy or make more consciously. This is the part where I am still learning, and as I discover new sellers and purchase new items I will share my thoughts with you. One challenge I have come across is finding sellers in the UK or EU. I really don't want the hassle of buying from the US but this may have to be an option as my conscious wardrobe develops.
I can honestly say since reducing the size of my wardrobe I barely ever have those 'I have nothing to wear moments'!
To start with here are a few places, please share with us your discoveries!
Make your own:
Ready made (UK based):
- People Tree - 'you can trust that your goods were made ethically and sustainably’, their pieces are classic, stylish and sustainable.
- Boden - They state an ethical policy and I think this is a great company for those one or two seasonal items that are good quality and stand the test of time.
- Sezane - they have an ethical policy and they aren't 'fast fashion' instead they have limited runs of small seasonal collections all about style and not trends.
- Celtic and Co - Ethically sourced wool and organic cotton clothing made in Great Britain. Their organic cotton t-shirts are great quality and wear well.
- Beyond Skin - Fab vegan and ethically made shoes and they now have a bridal collection!
- We are Thought - 'We believe in easy-to-wear clothes', a wide and growing collection from natural fabrics.
- We love Frugi - organic and ethical baby and children's clothes.
- Kings of Indigo - ethical jeans, I haven't actually bought from here yet but I intend to the jean styles look great.
- Monkeegenes - Organic cotton, UK jeans company with a wide selection of skinnies.
- Ethical Superstore - full of lots of good finds for a more sustainable home and wardrobe.
- Wolfie and Willow - the best tote bag! I have bought one of these vegetable tanned eco leather bags and its the only everyday bag I will ever need again!
- Bigcup Littlecup blog has a great list of ethical underwear sites.
- Ally-Bee knitwear - This winter I will be treating myself to something!
- Beaumont Organic - A Manchester based company using factories in the EU and natural organic fabrics.
- Ethical collection London - Eco-lux boutique sourcing the finest unique ethical and sustainable products.
- Wild Flora Clothing - Simple shapes in beautiful natural fabrics.