How to Have a Sustainable Wardrobe

Skirt that was a dress Go Gingham

Here’s how to have a sustainable wardrobe: buy fewer items and wear the ones you have for a longer period of time. That’s the simple answer. Having a sustainable wardrobe is easier for men but more difficult for women.

Repurposed dress Go Gingham

Buying fewer items and keeping them longer is easier for men because their clothing is better made and is meant to last longer. Women’s clothing – while more expensive – isn’t as well made and not meant to last as a long. Women are expected to change styles more often – and don’t get me started on all of the accessorizing that needs to go with the more expensive clothing. Buying quality well made women’s clothing is smart but it is more expensive. What can we do?

Jeans turned into capris Go Gingham

How to Have a Sustainable Wardrobe

While I can’t control what clothing designers and manufacturers have for sale, I can control what I’m willing to buy from them. My solution? I shop-second hand. By finding second-hand or consignment stores that have quality, stylish resale items in my area, I can buy beautiful, well made clothing without it costing a fortune.

What do I look for? Cashmere (which I love) and anything gingham (which I also love). I look for designer names that I know are quality and well made but are expensive. If I’m going shopping with friends or my family, we hit second-hand stores, first, and skip the mall.

If you can mend clothing – whether it’s what you own or you buy an item second-hand that needs mending – you can have really nice clothes for years to come and save a bundle of money. There’s no need to be a super-seamstress to make simple changes or mending to clothes. Sewers know how easy it is to sew on a button or shorten or hem pants. Learn how to do a few basic sewing stitches or mending and then try one of these easy projects:

Dress = top + skirt Go Gingham

  1. How to remake sweat pants :: There’s no fun in buying fancy sweats, is there? OK, not for me. Follow this easy tuturoial and find out how I turned sweat pants into yoga plants.
  2. Up-cycled dress becomes a skirt + top :: This fabric from this dress caught my eye but it was too big. With scissors and elastic and a little sewing, it’s a great top and skirt.
  3. Jeans too short? Make capris :: These were perfectly fine jeans but a little too short. My daughter had bought the jeans herself so was happy to extend the life of them.
  4. Skinny jeans? Yes, please :: More altering of jeans but this time copying a pair of jeans that fit and cutting down the pair that was too wide. A serger sewing machine helps but this project can be done with a regular machine, too.
  5. Need a smaller waistband :: Jeans or pants with a waistband that’s a little too big can easily be taken in with a tuck – or two – and then a stitch. No belt needed.
  6. Worn out t-shirts? No problem :: Use those worn out t-shirts and make mop covers! No need to ever buy a throw-away cloth for mopping floors. Old t-shirts are excellent for this project.
  7. Make a cape :: Who doesn’t love a cape? OK, well not everyone but this cape and little purse came from two prom dresses and were perfect for a winter coat substitute. My daughter loved this cape and now the neighbor girls are enjoying it.
Winter cape with bag from prom dresses Go Gingham
This winter cape with bag is made from two prom dresses. It was perfect for a winter coat alternative.

Having fewer clothing items means there’s less to take care, too. Wearing what’s in the closet or mending is an easy way to save resources and money. It’s sustainable for the environment and the wallet!

What do you like to mend? What’s your best find from a second-hand store?

5 thoughts on “How to Have a Sustainable Wardrobe

  1. I’m ashamed to say I don’t even own a sewing machine! I love these tips but what do I do?
    Needing big time help.


    1. Don’t be feeling ashamed about not owning a sewing machine – save that for a really awful crime like washing a cashmere sweater in the washing machine and then putting it in a hot dryer and shrinking it up to doll size! 😉 Just kidding.
      Sewing machines are easy to come by – ask around and check at garage sales. Next — experiment with it. Find a friend who sews or take a class and learn a few tricks. It’s so (sew) easy!
      Thanks for writing in and good luck ~


    1. I love this attitude, Erin! 🙂 I do love a good cape – or large scarf. It’s like wearing a blanket. Excellent for traveling, too.
      Thanks for writing in ~


  2. I always shop at thrift stores! I am so glad you do, too! And, I do look for high quality items, always! And, I got my husband, niece and nephew hooked on thrift, too! And, as an Advisory Council member of our local Salvation Army, I am thrilled for the support!


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