Spring is here, and it makes you want to chuck the heavy wool, and go right out and...buy something. But before you do, check out our tips for how to transition from frenzied seasonal shopper to smart eco-fashionista.
1. Take Stock, and Weed Out. Are you even sure what you have in your closet anymore, and whether it all fits? This is the first step, really, to building your green wardrobe. You need to get in your closet and give to your favorite charity anything too tight or loose, too stained, or too much of a fashion flop to be saved. Take notes! When you go through this process you'll see what things you really may need to buy (i.e. no more black pants, yes to a versatile travel skirt, etc.). One way to get over packrat mentality is divide stuff into "keep," "undecided/swap," and "throw" piles. Keep the undecideds/swaps through another few seasons—if you never thought about them it means you are ready to throw, though there's always a possibility you look on some of these potential discards with new love when you open the bag months from now.
2. Find and cultivate that rarest of creatures, a seamstress/tailor. When you've de-cluttered the closet chances are you'll find a couple of good quality items that just need a decent repair. This goes for quality shoes, too. Unless you are very handy, it's best not to fool yourself that you will ever do these repairs yourself. Instead, you need to find someone who will make these alterations now and in the future, so you can buy quality items at higher prices and repair them when they need it rather than chucking.
3. Shun fashion magazines, except at the dentist's office. I admit to obsessive fascination with celebrities' fashion faux pas, and devour People when it is presented to me. But it's better to stay far, far away from the regular fashion mags, because they give us unrealistic expectations and make us unhappy with what we have. Being stylish and looking good is so much different from following fashion, and to be stylish you've got to develop your own individual aesthetic and then be able to adapt new trends to suit your own needs. So save yourself some money and clutter, and nix those glossies in the bud.
4. Get a few good books instead to help you start to think about your own true and relatively timeless style. And take a hard look at the types of clothes you wear again and again, not just because they are comfortable and fit right, but also because they express something of your personality. It's said women wear only 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time. When you see what you always wear and what looks good on you that's getting close to your personal style, which will change and evolve but is probably not going to make huge shifts.
5. Find quality net-based clothing sites and peruse regularly. OK! With list in hand, you are ready for the brave new world of quality eco-shopping. If you can swing it, a clothing budget will help you stay on track month-to-month so you know when it's appropriate to splurge on a organic wool sweater or vegan boots. Most of the time, this doesn't mean walking through the large department stores or window shopping the chain stores—in fact, steer clear of impulse purchases for the most part. Instead, seek out the eco-boutiques in your town armed with your perennial list of real needs and wants. Going to eco-boutiques such as Nudie Jeans or Deborah Lindquist, even if you can?t afford them now, is good for trying on things you might eventually find on the web for cheaper! And bookmark your list of quality, eco-conscious sites such as White Apricot to check back often for specials on your list.
6. Use swapping and vintage stores to keep novelty in your wardrobe. Once you have your basic wardrobe of high-quality (hopefully eco) basics, you can add quirky style bits by having clothes swapping parties and going to vintage stores. And last but not least, don't feel guilty for the occasional cheap-clothing buy. You'll find that once you've adapted your wardrobe with well-made pieces in good, organic fabrics, the cheap stuff will start to look, well, cheap. An impulse purchase or the lure of the sale sign will happen less and less, and you?ll save your $$ for stuff you love and stuff that will last.