Let us paint a picture — You’re standing in front of your closet, trying to piece together the perfect outfit to go to [Insert location/event here]. You keep picking up pieces, dismissing them, picking up others, but nothing is working, and the frustration is rising. Finally, the dreaded phrase “I literally hate everything” escapes your lips.
Trust us, we’ve been here too, and there’s nothing worse than feeling uninspired and unenthusiastic about your wardrobe. Sometimes it feels like starting from scratch and buying a whole new closet of clothes is the only solution. But instead of blowing your entire budget on new clothes (that you’ll likely become bored of after one season) we’d like to suggest a more wallet-friendly and sustainable option.
While we aren’t taking buying a few new pieces off the table, our tips below will help you sustainably refresh your wardrobe with the planet and your budget in mind.
1. Organize Your Closet
We admit that this one totally sounds like something your mom would say, but she would be right. No one is going to find inspiration in a messy closet where clothes are thrown about, and you have to pick up five black articles of clothing before you find the one you’re actually looking for.
Step one in your sustainable wardrobe update should be taking all your clothes out of your closet and going through piece by piece. We suggest making three piles; keep, donate, and love it, but it’s kind of getting old. The first two piles are self-explanatory, and for those old faithfuls that haven’t quite fallen out of the rotation yet, we have some ideas below.
Get honest with yourself when you’re evaluating each piece of clothing. We’re notorious for always keeping that one shirt in the hopes that one day it will fit us perfectly, even though it hasn’t for the last four years. Always opt for quality pieces over quantity when crafting a closet you’ll love.
And for the pieces you don’t love, sustainably disposing of them is a must. Over 35 million tonnes of textile fabric is sent to landfills every year, where they sit for decades before decomposing. Always donate old pieces for someone else to love, and for more delicate items, check out our blog that breaks down how to dispose of them in the most sustainable fashion.
Once you’ve gone through and established which articles of clothing you’re keeping, we highly recommend sprucing up each piece with a lint roller, steamer, or iron to make them look extra fresh next time you pick them up.
2. Revamp Old Pieces
Now let’s circle back to those pieces you love but have been kicking around for a while. For us, these are usually sweaters. For these pieces, we have some easy DIY tips to help refresh these classic pieces and give them a new lease on life.
One of the easiest ways to refresh these old pieces, which requires minimally crafting skills, is to update them with a patch. With tons of iron-on options, this is a simple and cost-effective way to create something new from something old. We could spend hours scrolling through Etsy looking at all the options. From retro travel patches to baby Yoda, there’s truly something for everyone.
If you’re looking for a less permanent option, pins are also a great way to revive old sweaters and jackets.
For those who are a little more adventurous when it comes to crafting, embroidering your old pieces of clothing is another great way to update them and learn a new skill.
Although it may seem a little daunting to newbies, it only requires a few tools to get started, and it’s amazing how elevated some simple stitching can look. This is one of our favourite examples. It’s literally scribbles, so we promise you can’t mess it up.
If embroidery feels a little advanced for your skills, you can always make some simple alterations with your handy dandy pair of scissors (or have them professionally done). Sweaters can be cropped, and t-shirts can become tank tops with a few mindful snips. The possibilities are endless when it comes to ways you can cut up your clothes, and we highly recommend checking out Youtube for quick tutorials depending on what style you’re looking for. Here’s some inspiration to get the ball rolling.
3. Shop Sustainably
Okay, now the part that you hopefully didn’t scroll ahead to, where we give you permission to add some new pieces to your wardrobe mindfully. After you’ve organized your closet, donated what you don’t want, and made the most of the pieces you have, you may find there are a few gaps in your wardrobe. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll never buy new clothes, but we have some simple guidelines we like to follow when investing in new pieces.
Invest Your Money in Sustainable Brands
Estimates vary, but the fashion industry is responsible for between 4 and 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This isn’t meant to shame you for shopping, but more to remind you that we live in a culture that often doesn’t put the planet and sustainable practices first. The earth is warming at an alarming rate, and where you invest your money matters more than ever.
Shop with brands that consider the environmental impact of their production and work to offset their carbon emissions. At tentree, we’re a certified Climate Neutral company, which means that we’ve achieved net-zero carbon emissions by offsetting our production emissions through planting trees.
Buy Sustainable Pieces That Are Made to Last
We’ve all fallen victim to the fast-fashion trap where we buy a cheap piece of clothing that only lasts one season before exiting the closet. Aim to spend your money on investment pieces that can transition easily between seasons, hold up over time, and are made from sustainable materials that are kind to our planet.
Our men’s and women’s Highline Collection is the perfect example of an Earth-first line that’s made to last. It’s basically the next most sustainable thing after having your nanna knit you a sweater. For these pieces, we used the most planet-friendly materials, including organic cotton, RWS certified wool, recycled wool, and recycled polyester. They’re so soft and each piece you buy plants ten trees.
Here are some of our favourite pieces that you’ll reach for time and time again.
4. Document Your Outfits
Our final piece of advice when it comes to refreshing your wardrobe is to document all your outfits. It may sound silly, but literally create outfits you love and take pictures of them. Spend some time on a rainy weekend, experimenting with different looks and styling, and snap a selfie of the outfits that get you excited. For example, we love getting cozy in our Highline Wool Cable Crew, but it also can also switch up the styling and tie it around your shoulders for a preppier look. Try different combinations, snap the ones you love, then create a folder on your phone that you can reference when you’re feeling uninspired. You’ll be surprised how many combinations you can come up with. The planet and your wallet will thank you when you opt for inspiration over a brand new outfit.
While you’re reorganizing your closet, make sure you check out our blog on transitional dressing, where we share styling tips are how to make your clothes work for you in the warm and chillier months.