Do you ever think you’re doing really well at something only to find out that you’ve actually been doing it wrong the whole time? Or maybe you’ve been second guessing your abilities when in reality you’re doing really well! Self-awareness is one of the hardest skills to learn, especially when it comes to living sustainably and implementing sustainable choices into our everyday behavior. Maybe you think you’ve eliminated plastic from your routine, but because it’s so ingrained in our society, it can be easy for that one ziplock bag to go unnoticed. The same goes for sustainable fashion. Maybe you thought you were good about keeping the clothes you already have, but in reality you’ve only had most pieces for a year. This misunderstanding of choices is where wardrobe audits come into play. For me, a wardrobe audit is just self-awareness exercise.
Conducting a wardrobe audit is a great way to evaluate these choices that you think you’re making with your clothes. They can uncover so much information about your shopping habits like: how much of my closet is sustainable? How long have I had my clothes? What are some brands that I find myself gravitating towards? By taking all of your clothing out of your closet or dresser and looking at each piece individually and sorting them into different categories can make the realities of your closet more clear. Once you know exactly how you shop, you can either adjust your habits towards improvement, or keep doing you!
Conducting My Own Wardrobe Audit
When I began my own wardrobe audit, I just wanted to figure out whether my clothes were coming from sustainable sources or fast fashion sources. So, I took out all of clothes and sorted them into three categories: fast fashion, second hand/thrifted, and bought sustainably new. To avoid getting too tedious, I went through, like, clothing clothing. No bathing suits, accessories, or intimates. Just tops, bottoms, dresses, and athletic wear. Unfortunately, I know that most, if not all, of my other wardrobe items are from fast fashion brands. But! I’m glad that I know that about myself, and I will now search for sustainable alternatives first when I’m in need.
Results: Fast Fashion, Second Hand/Thrifted, or Sustainably New?
- 66% fast fashion
- 29% second hand/thrifted
- 5% bought sustainably new
I’m not super surprised by this breakdown. My interest in sustainable fashion really only started this year, and it’s better to love the clothes I already own than to ditch them in favor of buying new sustainable clothing. But this begs the question: have I actually owned my fast fashion clothing for a while, or are they relatively new to my closet? To answer this question, I went through all of my fast fashion pieces to see how long I’ve owned them.
Results: How Long Have I Had My Clothes?
- 30% < 1 year
- 45% 1-3 years
- 15% 3-5 years
- 10% 5+ years
The results don’t shock me. Disappointed but not surprised you could say. It makes sense that I haven’t owned most of my clothing for more than 3 years because I wore a uniform in high school. When I went to college, I had to purchase practically an entire new wardrobe, especially for the fall and winter months. And, since I only started college 2 years ago, I’ve owned most of my clothing for only 2 years. It would be interesting to do another wardrobe audit in a few years to see if I keep most of those clothes throughout college and after graduation.
Finally, I thought it would be interesting to pick out my top 10 favorite pieces of all time in my closet, regardless of where they came from. Do my personal preferences gravitate towards fast fashion brands, or do I appreciate my slow fashion finds more?
My Top 10 Faves
Fast Fashion (Left) + Their Sustainable Alternatives (Right)
I thought it would be a good exercise for myself to try and find sustainable alternatives to my favorite fast fashion clothes. I simply pulled up Depop and searched “white babydoll dress” or “striped pants” to see if I could find a good sustainable alternative. And look! I did! I don’t think I spent more than a minute scrolling through the search results before I found an item that I could have bought before I purchased these fast fashion items. While the best thing I can do now is love these pieces for as long as I can, it’s helpful to see that finding a sustainable alternative isn’t difficult.
I actually surprised myself with these results as they’re split down the middle: 5 fast fashion, 5 slow fashion. I’m not 100% sure if the white dress in fast fashion is actually fast fashion because I bought it at a market in France. When I tried to look up the site, 1) it was all in French which I can barely understand, and 2) I couldn’t find any specific information about how/where their clothing is produced. Additionally, I know that my Everlane jeans might not be “sustainable” by everyone’s definition. They are definitely a culprit of greenwashing, but I do think they’re a better alternative to buying jeans at American Eagle or Urban Outfitters.
I hope this inspired you to do your own wardrobe audit! If you find yourself rifling through your clothes like me, reach out on IG (@thecitysmilesblog) and let me know what you find!
Don’t forget to share!