With fashion production estimated to make up 10 per cent of humanity’s carbon emissions and 85 per cent of all textiles going to the dump every year, lovers of fast fashion are being urged to rethink their consumption habits to help reduce our impact on the planet.
According to the World Economic Forum, people bought 60 per cent more garments in 2014 than in 2000, but only kept the clothes for half as long as short-lived fashion trends dictated that our wardrobes be constantly refreshed and rotated.
A 2019 State of Fashion report found that one in three young women in Britain consider clothes “old” after wearing them just once or twice. The same report revealed that one in seven consider it a “fashion faux-pas” to be photographed in the same outfit twice.
With the UK being named the fourth largest producer of textile waste in Europe in 2020 – amounting to more than 206 tonnes a year – buying fewer clothes is imperative to reduce our impact on the environment.
The message to buy fewer clothes, often repeated by sustainability campaigners, is starting to drive home for many shoppers – a trend accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Data published in 2020 found that more than 60 per cent of consumers report spending less on fashion during the pandemic, with approximately half expecting the trend to continue after it passes.
As people focus more on making the most of what they already have, fashion expert and commentator Karine Laudort has five tips on how to style your existing clothes to keep your wardrobe feeling fresh without buying new.
Watch your tone
First things first: Get an idea of what your wardrobe currently looks like. Sorting out your clothes and creating an inventory will allow you to figure out what pieces can be used repeatedly as a base layer for different looks.
Laudort told The Independent: ‘Try to sort out your wardrobe and separate colours from your more neutral tones. Neutral tones are perfect when you are layering various garments in order to look more stylish.”
Neutral tones include shades of black, white, ivory, cream and grey, and are often seen as timeless colours that can be dressed up or dressed down. These items will also age well no matter how quickly we cycle through trends, negating the urge to buy new garments that are similar.
Old meets new
If you must shop, buying pre-loved and vintage clothing is an ethical and sustainable way to minimise your carbon footprint. Laudort recommends giving vintage clothing a modern upgrade with statement footwear you already have in your shoe collection.
“Do not be afraid to mix and match retro or vintage items with statement footwear such as boots, platform shoes and chunky trainers,” said Laudort.
Clash of the colours
Another way to make a statement and refresh your look is to pair your coats and outerwear with contrasting colours.
“Be adventurous and use either bright colours for your coats and jackets as they complete your overall look,” advises Laudort.
“If you don’t own any bright-coloured coats, try to use colour-blocking with your inner clothing to contrast with your outerwear. This method means wearing multiple solid colours that contrast with one another in an outfit.
“The key here is to use two to three main bold and contrasting colours to create a unique style,” she adds.
Accessorise, accessorise, accessories
If bright colours aren’t your thing and you’re more partial to darker tones such as black, navy blue and dark greys, then accessories are “your best friends”, said Laudort.
“You can stack bracelets or rings, wear vintage necklaces, wear rings over gloves, hats or shades if need be,” she said. “Be open to experimenting.”
Seek inspiration online
The internet can be a wonderful place to get inspiration for styling what’s in your wardrobe – which you already know inside out because you completed the first step of sorting out your clothes.
Once you have an idea of what exists in your closet, you can use platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to search for new ways of wearing those garments and prolong their lifecycle.
“Instagram and Pinterest are great places to get looks you could try to recreate with what you already have in your closet, or try to put your own twist on them.
“After all, you will only be wearing clothes you already own and feel comfortable in,” said Laudort.