7 Easy Steps To A More Ethical Closet

Maybe you've heard about this thing called slow fashion but aren't sure of how to make the leap. If you're tired of hearing about how your favorite fashion brands use less-than-ethical practices, it might be time to transition your wardrobe (and ultimately, your mindset) to a more conscious and ethical one. 

When I first heard about ethical fashion, I was pretty certain I'd never be able to afford that kind of lifestyle. I mean, there's a reason people love H&M and Forever 21 so much. They're affordable AND stylish. Many people feel like they don't have a choice between buying pieces they can afford and buying pieces that are ethically made. 

I've been there and, believe it or not, after committing to shop ethically as much as possible, I was pleasantly surprised by just how easy it is to build a wardrobe I love without contributing to fast fashion. 

These tips are simple enough that you can start today. Most of them are completely free, requiring simply a switch in mindset. 

Building an ethical wardrobe doesn't have to be budget-breaking and difficult. It's more about switching your mindset from one of mindless consumption to one of thoughtful purchasing to fill gaps in your current wardrobe. Read this piece for a detailed plan to shop more ethically PLUS get a free guide to help you get started!

1. Define Your Style:

One of the biggest mistakes I see people making (and that I made all the time) is buying articles of clothing that they like in the store or even when they try them on, but never really wear in real life, either because they don't have the occasion or because it's not consistent with their lifestyle. 

It takes time to figure out what style is truly you — in fact, you may have a lot of different styles. But taking your lifestyle AND preferences into account will help you be more honest about what kind of pieces you actually should be buying. Use my free guide to defining your style to help you!

2. Detox Your Current Wardrobe:

This step is usually the most intimidating. If you're staring at piles of clothes that you've had for years and have no idea of where to start, don't worry, once you actually start, it gets much easier. Use my guide to help you get started, or read this post about 9 ways to simplify your closet

3. Make A List Of Pieces To Fill The Gaps 

I was pleasantly surprised by just how easy it is to build a wardrobe I love without contributing to fast fashion.

Once you've pared your wardrobe down to only pieces you love and will wear often, make a list of what other essentials you need to fill the gaps. And remember, you don't have to fill the gaps all at once. Building a wardrobe you love will take time. 

Try to think of pieces that you can wear all year long, like a white tee, or a classic black dress. Obviously you'll need some seasonal pieces too, so don't forget to write those down too. 

4. Buy Staple Pieces That You Can Mix And Match

One of the best thing about capsule wardrobes (shameless plug here, you don't have to use a capsule wardrobe to shop ethically and simplify) is that you become a pro at buying pieces that flow together. No more looking into your closet and seeing clothes that don't match or can't be combined into multiple outfits. 

5. Buy Secondhand/Handmade

When you actually go to shop for new pieces, thrifting is one of the most affordable and ethical ways to shop. Regardless of where the piece was made, you're extending the life of an article of clothing instead of letting it sit on a thrift store rack or end up in a landfill. ThredUp is one of my favorite resources for thrifting quality pieces that anyone can afford. 

6. Shop From Ethical Brands

When you can, support the brands who are doing it right. There are so many ethical brands out there that need support from consumers to make lasting change on the clothing industry (and the difference they've already made is amazing). See my guide of affordable and ethical brands for a great jumping off point. 

7. Shop Less + Shop Smarter:

Finally, get in the mindset of evaluating every purchase before you make it. Ask if you really need the item, if it will fill a gap in your closet, and if it will last you. If you can't answer yes to those questions, don't buy it.