Building a Sustainable Wardrobe on a Budget

Helen Jackby:


In the lead-up to Summer, you may feel your wardrobe needs a refresh. We all love that feeling of confidence that comes with a new outfit! As well as this, we all want our clothes to represent not only our personal style but our values. With 2020 opening new and exciting conversations about sustainability, it might be time you thought about how environmentally friendly your wardrobe is. 

There’s been a lot of attention recently surrounding ‘fast fashion’. In a nutshell, fast fashion is the process of mass-producing clothes, in line with short-lived trends, and rushing them into stores. This often results in large amounts of unsold clothes going to landfill and harming the environment. The focus on affordability over quality has also been known to promote both harmful work environments and subpar products. 

sustainable wardrobe
Image Source:

While socially-conscious fashionistas can always buy exclusively from ethical, eco-friendly brands, these often cost more than their mainstream counterparts. Fortunately, you don’t need to break the bank to own a sustainable wardrobe! All it takes is some guidance, plus a little creative ingenuity. We’ll start by sharing some tips for revitalising your wardrobe that doesn’t require a shopping trip.

If your current wardrobe feels outdated, you don’t necessarily need to buy any new clothes. Instead, why not alter or customise your existing clothes to give them a new lease of life? 

Do you have a favourite jacket or pair of trousers that no longer fits like a glove? A professional tailor can work wonders. However, seeing as our focus is on affordability, you’ll want to be sure that alteration costs don’t outweigh how much you would have spent buying something brand new. There’s also nothing stopping you from altering clothes yourself! Once you do a little bit of research, you’d be surprised how much you can accomplish with just a needle and thread. 

Want to transform your clothes into something more daring and adventurous? Add a splash of colour by dying an old t-shirt, hoodie, or blouse. Don’t feel confined to plain colours either. Tie-dye is on-trend for 2020 – with tie-dye denim screaming laid-back festival chic. For something a little edgier, infuse either grunge or punk aesthetic with either bleach or an acid-wash! Of course, there are simpler ways to customise your clothes. For example, make a bold statement with either pins or iron-on patches. These are incredibly simple to apply and are guaranteed to grab attention.

Perhaps you don’t feel confident about getting ‘crafty’. Don’t worry, there are many affordable and sustainable alternatives to the standard fashion retailer. Clothes swaps are a great example. 

Clothes swaps are a fun and friendly way to get new clothes practically for free! These are public events where attendees barter and trade with their unwanted clothes. Alternatively, many people host clothes swaps in their own homes for friends and family. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure – so if something is gathering dust in your wardrobe, why not see if it can find a new and loving home elsewhere, with no money exchanging hands? 

The golden rule for sustainable shopping is ‘buy better, buy less’. This rule is inspired by a quote from no other than fashion legend Vivienne Westwood: “buy less, choose well and make it last.” Essentially it means holding back on buying something unless you’re 100% sure you’re getting your money’s worth. 

We understand the feeling: you’re not sure if you like it or not, but it’s not too expensive plus its on-trend! Who knows, maybe you’ll wear it a few times and fall in love with it? But ask yourself this question: is it worth adding something to your wardrobe if you already know you’re only going to wear it a few times? Ultimately, you’re spending money on wardrobe filler. In the words of Marie Kondo, if that new top, bag or pair of shoes ‘sparks joy’ then, by all means, go ahead. The end result is a minimal, sustainable, and cohesive wardrobe that ensures you feel fabulous no matter what you’re wearing! 

Image Source:

We suggest you start your shopping trip at either your local second-hand clothing store, charity outlet, or vintage store. Not only are you saving money and fighting fast fashion by buying preloved clothes, but you’re also sure to find something that no-one else has. A lot of these stores will offer designer labels, only at a ridiculously affordable price! 

Want some tips for getting the most out of second-hand shopping? The first thing is to take your time when browsing. This increases your chances of finding bargains and hidden treasures amongst the racks and shelves. You should also be sure to try something on before you buy it. This is because if you discover a new garment doesn’t fit, a lot of second-hand stores may not allow you to return it. It’s for this same reason that you should scrutinise clothes for any rips, tears or subtle stains. After all, these clothes have had a previous owner, increasing the likelihood of hidden faults.

There you have it, our guide to building a sustainable wardrobe on a budget. Whether you decide to get hands-on with your old clothes, or simply find some second-hand bargains, we hope that our guide helps you feel good both inside and out. 

Alex Chenery-Howes writes for eBloggers, a luxury online retailer specialising in second-hand designer clothes worn by some of the UK’s biggest influencers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *