Lately, I’ve been trying to cut down on the number of clothes I have in my wardrobe. There’s a lot to be said about fast fashion and the rise of cheap, poor quality clothes as well as the pressure to have a new #ootd every day to keep up with the trends.
Learning to sew has really made me understand the process that goes on behind making clothes- the designing, choosing the fabric and finally the sewing. It’s a tough, laborious journey but I find it so enjoyable and rewarding. When you know how long it takes to create a garment, it starts to feel like robbery to buy a dress for £10 from the shops.
You can’t really ignore the fact that only a small portion of that money will make its way back to the factory worker. And let’s not start on the conditions that they work in.
And it’s not just the human factor we need to worry about, but the environmental factors as well: a huge amount of clothes and textiles will end up in the dumps, with very little getting recycled or sent onto people who may need it. With all of this going on I’ve been struggling to figure out what the ethically ‘right’ thing to do is. Realistically sewing your entire wardrobe probably isn’t going to happen…plus there’s an argument that you’re taking away from the potential income for factory workers if you go down the ‘some work is better than no work’ argument. So what can we do?
Well, we can be more considerate about what we buy and where we buy it from.
I’m not saying we should only buy the most expensive clothes. For one thing, who can afford it? And expensive doesn’t always mean good quality/ethically made. But it’s small things like instead of buying the super cheap polyester coat, go for a staple piece with better quality fabrics- 100% cotton, 100% wool etc. These will be slightly more expensive, see it as an investment- it will last you longer and if you go for a staple piece- you can wear it for years to come. Which brings me onto my main point- let’s be brutally honest with ourselves.
Do we actually need that many clothes?
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has a handful of favorite tops and dresses which get worn again and again, whilst the other 90% of the wardrobe sits there stagnant, hardly seeing the light of day.
So in an effort to try and downsize my wardrobe I’ve started to keep a diary of which clothes I actually wear so I can declutter the rest and buy more carefully. I decided to narrow it down to my work wardrobe for now as just thinking of my entire wardrobe gave me a headache.
But I think it’s a small step in the right direction in what I know will be a long journey.