The ten step wardrobe detox guide for more mindful fashion

Because your wardrobe is an extension of you, after all

If you thought a covetable, hardworking wardrobe with a small environmental footprint and a glowing social halo was only reserved for hardcore ethical fashion warriors, think again. There really is no reason we can’t all have a more conscious closet.

What we consume, whether on the outside or inside, affects the planet and the people who made it so you can align your values with how you live by being political with your pound.

And, when it comes to your choice of clothes – from how you buy, wear, care and dispose of them – your actions matter.

Here are some starter tips from the authors of Dress [with] Sense to kickstart your wardrobe detox and make its contents as ethical as they are stylish.

1. Fashion soul searching

‘The biggest change you need to make is to reflect what fashion means to you. What you wear and how you wear it are big reflections of who you are. Fashion, from high-fashion to high-street, is there for us to all enjoy, whether you’re a scientist, stylist or supermodel. It’s creative, it’s colourful and it can be gorgeously conscious. So fall in love with fashion as a way to reflect on the outside who you are on the inside.’

2. The wardrobe review

‘Now get practical. You need to get a handle on what clothes you already own; you can’t change anything in life unless you re-examine the status quo. Remembering and rationalising your closet allows you to gather your fashion senses and spot any unfashionable clothing traits you’re concealing behind closed closet doors; repeat mistake-buying; impulse shopping; blind spots for great pieces; to piles of stained, ripped or misfits that are screaming to be brought back into fashion action. Your wardrobe review needs time – three hours is a minimum – and willpower. Like detoxing, there are many ways to do it.’

Here’s what we recommend:

Step 1

‘Remove everything you own (no cheating!) from your wardrobe and separate into two simple piles. A ‘yes’ pile for keeping and a ‘no’ pile for everything else that doesn’t work for you in its current form. Be ruthless. Enlist a friend (honest is better than kind) to help judge.’

Step 2

‘Repack your ‘yes’ pile into your wardrobe. Be OCD here. Organise by garment types (all skirts together) and colour code, so you can access and style more easily! Don’t forget, good storage for those seasonal, out of current action pieces is essential to protect them.’

Step 3

‘Revisit your ‘no’ pile. Scrutinise what can be salvaged – through repair, alteration, DIY, cleaning or styling (see a few highlighted options below).’

Step 4

‘Now the fun starts as you get creative with re-inventing your ‘no’ pile. Warning this could take a few months if you are trying lots of new things!’

Step 5

‘Discard – consciously! – and only what you can’t re-invent.’

3. Find a tailor

‘Statistics say you most likely own clothes that don’t fit you, either because you’ve yo-yoed in size or because you don’t fit the handful of cookie-cut-out sizes that off the peg clothes are made in. This is where vanity and sustainability go hand in hand; because the better it fits, the better you look and the more you will wear it. Simple! So every conscious closet needs a tailor, even yours. Take your ill-fitting clothes to the tailor and release them back into action.’

4. Grab your tool box

‘If you treat your clothes like your second skin they will keep giving for years to come. This means regular maintenance. Check your clothes over often so that you catch any unraveling or loose buttons, worn down heels or cracking leather before they get worse.’

5. Love DIY

‘DIY is not just for walls. Resuscitate ill fitting, dated or damaged clothes with DIY – the cheapest way to individualise your closet from the brink of the bin. Start small and take your time. Cheating (aka seeing a tailor) is also perfectly acceptable with DIY; above all have fun!’

6. Get cleaning

‘Face it – we sweat and we spill! But not knowing how to properly clean clothes banishes many to an early grave. If you want a conscious closet, know some cleaning basics mantras; ‘Less is more’, ‘Cool it off’, ‘Dose up correctly’, ‘Detox the detergents’. The beauty in better cleaning is that your clothes will last!’

7. Restyle

‘Yes, styling is part of having a conscious closet! Most of us have more clothes than we know what to do with; and we only wear 20% of our closet for 80% of the time. Step outside of your comfort zone and release your inner stylist. Get inspiration from blogs and magazines. Don’t be limited by original use of a garment; who says a stretch dress can’t be a skirt? Whatever you do – layer, tuck, fold, roll – just have fun!’

8. Get a capsule

‘Take the conscious closet a few steps further and curate a capsule closet, which typically contains 20-30 quality pieces. Less here really is more! Militantly select your core items with complementing hues and silhouettes so that your capsule can multiply into many different outfit combos.’

9. Dispose consciously

‘You will have to pass some clothes on. The cardinal rule here is that none must ever end up in the rubbish bin. Textiles are almost 100% recyclable. Whatever you have, someone will take them – yes even your grotty old tights! So you need to dispose of your absolute ‘no’ pile considerately too. Good quality clothes can be swapped among friends, resold or donated to your local charity shop. For the rest, check out one of the growing number of take-back schemes with fashion brands or head to your local council pages to find a textile recycler.’

10. Keep up the detox

‘Congratulations on flexing your new more conscious fashion self. Now keep it up! Step out in your new, considerate and conscious reflection, knowing that your closet is walking with you all the way.’

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