My Conscious Style

February 5, 2020

I started JMC as a fashion blog  eight years ago, but for the past few years I have been buying less and less clothes. I've shopped mainly secondhand and I have invested more into pieces I love to wear again and again. I'm Lizzie McGuire, outfit repeater and proud. Clothing is such an important part of our self expression. Rachel Zoe said, "Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak". While clothing brings us so much joy (and trust me I know the joy) it also causes environmental devastation and social inequality. This is a crisis, folks. Clothing is the fastest growing category of waste in US landfills.

While I've always been extremely passionate about protecting our environment I have been complicit to the fashion industry. I'll be honest I used to shop as a coping mechanism to fight my depression but it just left me with a closet filled of clothes I felt "meh" about. I shopped fast fashion for longer then I'd like to admit. 

Everything changed the summer of '16 when I came home from undergrad and I realized that my suitcase held all the clothes I liked. I had always been a thrifty shopper but like many I prioritized price, trends, and the rush of shopping over investing in my personal style. I read Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (which honestly changed my life) and made a promise to myself that I'd only purchase things that sparked joy. So I started selling my clothes that I didn't wear anymore, and I promised myself I'd start purchasing apparel with intention.

Shortly after this experience my senior year of college was an eye opening time for me. This year was filled with learning about the environmental impacts of apparel and watching documentaries on the horrible working conditions of apparel workers across the world, shopping secondhand to rebuild my closet, and only purchasing things that sparked joy. Flash forward to the present and I am a fierce advocate for secondhand style and slow fashion. I'm proud to say that I buy almost all of my clothes secondhand (Check out this post on this sustainable outfit I wore for graduation) and my closet is the happiest it's ever been.

In my discussions with friends, family, and co-workers I have found that many people feel dejected when it comes to shopping ethically. Most think its challenging, time-consuming, and expensive. I'm here to tell you that it's not. We just need to be mindful when it comes to our closets and shopping!

Here are my five tips on achieving sustainable style:

1. Shop secondhand. Its good for your wallet and the environment. If those two are not enough for you cue a visual I created. This image was inspired by one of my all time favorite IG posts from @frisky_gatos. Here's just a snippet of how secondhand/resale has changed me for the better. These clothes retailed for $4,500 and I paid around $600 for them. A mixture of in store thrift shop finds and eBay/Poshmark. Some of my favorite resale retailers are eBay (Here's a link to my guide to shopping on Ebay)PoshmarkVintedVestiare Collectivethe Real RealThredUp, and Schoola



2. Phase fast fashion out of your wardrobe. Fast fashion brands like H&M, Forever 21, Fashion Nova, Zara, etc. make super trendy clothing that are not necessarily built to last. Plus many of these fast fashion retailers use cheap materials and do not have safe labor conditions for their employees. Keep the pieces from these retailers that still work for you, and use caution as you proceed. H&M has a conscious collection that is surprisingly encouraging. These products include their fiber content, and suppliers/factories used. I encourage you to be mindful when shopping at these retailers.

3. Re-wear what's in your closet and purchase clothes that you are proud to re-wear. The average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing and the life cycle of clothing has reduced. Buy clothing you know that you will re-wear. Consider what you wear to your job, in your free time, and when you go out. Stop buying clothes that will only be worn once! This is huge. Many of you know that I use the Stylebook app to track where I should devote the majority of my clothing budget. If this seems too overwhelming take a picture of what you wear everyday for a month and you'll have a visual of what you actually wear.

4. Donate or sell your clothes when their time with you is finished. Clothing is the fastest growing category of waste in US landfills. Clothes trapped in landfills release a bunch of nasty greenhouse gases. Additionally, synthetic materials may take centuries to decompose.

Donate your gently used clothes to thrift stores, consignment boutiques, in-store garment collection programs (H&M, Madewell, etc.), send a recycling bag to ThredUp, or bring it to a local textile recycling organization. Look for city wide recycling initiatives too! I love volunteering at these events.

Selling your clothes online is a great way to make some extra cash and know your clothing is going to a good home. eBayPoshmarkVintedVestiare Collectivethe Real RealThredUp, and Schoola are some sites I've used and can vouch for. I've made over a thousand dollars reselling clothes on Poshmark!

5. Hold out for great. This is one piece of advice I wish I had when I was younger. Buy the one thing you know you will love to wear over and over again. Its challenging to explain what these pieces might look like for you. For me its a vintage Chanel bag and a wrap dress I used to admire when I was a poor intern. Hold out for clothes that leave you speechless.

Now what am I doing to attain a more sustainable style in 2020? 
  • I'm buying less. I'm trying the 20 in 2020 challenge. Its going well so far. I actually haven't bought anything thus far and surprisingly feel at peace.
  • I want to get more involved with supporting organizations that support fighting plastic pollution like Greenpeace, Oceanic Society, and The Plastic Pollution Coalition.
  • Buy more organic cotton that is Global Organic Textiles Standards and Organic Content Standards. Even if this is secondhand. 
  • Support sustainable brands. I have been eyeing some Veja sneakers. I am almost  interested in shopping at Eileen Fisher Renew, Stella McCartney (secondhand denim), and Reformation

Well friends, I hope sharing my journey to ethical fashion has convinced and inspired you that your impact with fashion and shopping is powerful. Where we put our dollar counts. You can protect the earth by making more conscious fashion decisions whether it be shopping secondhand, googling a brand's sustainability practices, following conscious fashion bloggers (Hi!), or even washing your clothes less. 

I encourage you to try to do one green thing when it comes to your shopping/fashion habits.  Although these actions seem small they add up! Here's another great post filled with easy tips to green your fashion routine.

What questions do you have for me? What are you doing to attain a conscious closet?

Photo above by Juliana Noelle Jumper

37 comments

  1. I love thrifting too, there are so many great finds. I think twice if I really need it before buying, it saves me a lot of money.

    xx Simone
    Little Glittery Box

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    1. Great tip, Simone! That is one conscious and easy thing to do to save money and our planet.

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  2. Thank you for sharing the article
    Nice items
    https://www.melodyjacob.com/

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  3. Ah yes this is all so true. I too have stepped away from fast fashion and hardly buy it anymore. And like you I am shopping more pre-loved second hand clothing. In fact for this coming FW I bought a skirt and a dress second hand. The dress I cut to make a top of it. I did buy one fast fashion accessory at Zara a hat that was sale. Everything else I shopped my closet.

    Allie of
    www.allienyc.com

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    1. Great to hear you're also stepping away from fast fashion, Allie! That's amazing. Sometimes you need accessories!

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  4. Ah yes this is all so true. I too have stepped away from fast fashion and hardly buy it anymore. And like you I am shopping more pre-loved second hand clothing. In fact for this coming FW I bought a skirt and a dress second hand. The dress I cut to make a top of it. I did buy one fast fashion accessory at Zara a hat that was sale. Everything else I shopped my closet.

    Allie of
    www.allienyc.com

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  5. Great tips. I need to get better at shopping second hand. I donate my clothes to charity once I have finished with them and have arranged my wardrobe so I can see everything, which then makes me less likely to think "I have nothing to wear" and shop :)

    Sarah xo Oomph London88

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    1. That's a great solution, Sarah! Thanks for reading.

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  6. Hey Chanel,

    What a genius way to show the power of thrift. I shop posh, ebay, thred-up, and the real-real. I had never heard of Schoola or Vinted. Cant wait to check them out. Love what you did here. You did a brillant job, here.

    your friend, thexglitterbox
    http://thexglitterbox.com/

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    1. Thanks, Simone! That's great to hear you shop so many resale outlets. You'll have to let me know if you find anything great on Vinted or Schoola. I actually found the Rag & Bone jeans in the image above from Vinted!

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  7. This is good advice! I like the 20 in 2020 challenge although I've spent all my Christmas gift cards already so I'm maybe not going to achieve that, haha! I've been focusing on rewearing more, trying to hit that 30 wears figure with more of my pieces, and gift card spending aside I'm trying to shop secondhand more.

    Hope that your week is going well :)

    Away From Blue

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    1. Haha good for you, Mica! Spend those gift cards! You are an icon when it comes to re-wearing pieces.

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  8. Such a great post! I love the tip about holding out, I always try and hold out because if I jump straight in then I realise that I don't love it as much as I thought I did xx

    Hannah | luxuryblush

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    1. Thanks, Hannah! That is a great solution. The feeling when you don't love something sucks so I try to avoid it haha

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  9. Good for you! The world needs more people like us to educate our readers.

    Jennifer
    Effortlessly Sophisticated

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  10. I'm definitely being more mindful with what I buy these days, and try to think about more sustainable fashion xo

    MakeupMuddle.com

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  11. Thank you for sharing this. I completely agree with you. i also don't buy fast fashion and try invest in pieces that will last much longer and which I wear so many times.

    New Post - http://www.exclusivebeautydiary.com/2020/02/helena-rubinstein-wanted-rouge-005.html

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    1. That's a great change. Thanks for your support!

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  12. Also a proud outfit repeater. I think as fashion bloggers this should be embraced a lot more on the whole, especially when it comes to Instagram too. It's no secret the influence people have when promoting certain pieces and causing hysteria over stuff that is almost always fast-fashion based. It is crazy how much damage the fashion industry is causing the environment. Crazy and scary. I've definitely been more conscious of what I buy, choosing quality over quantity. I get a lot of flack from some people who sadly don't really care about the fast fashion issues. And it is really disheartening. Yes you can buy about 20 t-shirts for the same price as what I paid for one (with a brand committed to reducing their own carbon footprint) but the price of those 20 shirts is far too high for me to sleep at night. I think a bigger part of this problem is the ease of denial plus the memo just isn't getting out there enough to people. It seems like only a few people are privy to this knowledge and it's not getting spread out enough. I love your article, am going to share this.

    Sxx
    daringcoco.com

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    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Sonia. The impact of Instagram fashion and this liketoknowit era is terrifying. I am totally with you quality over quantity will keep your wardrobe timeless. I also stumble into those conversations with people too and they are so disheartening. I'm trying to be less intense (which is hard because I'm so passionate about this) and persuade them to try one thing like washing their clothes less or organizing their closet so they see how much stuff they have and the impact of those 20 shirts. I'm with you though. The cost of those 20 shirts is not worth it for me, ever. I definitely felt the denial memo until I really watched documentaries and realized the hidden cost. Yet for some people that won't do it. I think we just have to approach this conversation constantly and change the narrative that less is indeed more. Thanks again for all the support! We need to get the word out.

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  13. This was a very interesting read. I must say although I do not shop second-hand, I am very selective and (one could say) serious about what and how much I buy. Similarly to yourself, after reading Marie Kondo I have decluttered at least six giant garbage bags (the biggest ones) full of my old clothes. I am grown now, I know exactly what I like/don't like, which helps when it comes to buying new clothes. You are aware of environmental factors as well, Planet doesn't need more trash than it already has, so you might as well be cautious of what and who you support. I'd rather invest in a timeless piece now, something durable, than keep on repurchasing small things over and over again (thus creating even more waste). Great topic xx

    Naya
    www.nayatilly.com

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    1. Thanks for reading, Naya! Being picky is a great habit to have when it comes to shopping. Its amazing to hear the impact Marie Kondo had on you. I love that last sentence so much. Investing in a timeless piece over getting small things is such a simple solution to have a conscious closet and style + save money!

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  14. I adore this post Sonia and you've echoed a lot of my own recent thoughts so this was great to read. I've almost been too scared to buy anything recently out of not really knowing the best way to shop so I'll definitely be taking notes of these great tips! This is such an important topic and I'm so pleased you shared your thoughts.

    Musings & More

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    1. Thanks for reading, Emily! I hear you. Sometimes there is a fear of making a mistake when you shop. Yet we shouldn't let the fear scare us. We can re-sell, donate, give to a friend, challenge ourselves to style items differently, or learn and realize that what we bought doesn't support our style or closet. I also suggest not shopping when you're bored or when you have an event (unless you really need something). I appreciate your kind comments!

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  15. I'm a bit (or a lot tbh) of a hoarder and therefor have way to much clothes, which could be one of the main reasons I stopped shopping for trends of every season. However I love peaking into second hand shops looking for unique pieces that couldn't be found anywhere else and no one else has. I've also switched to up cycling and making of my own clothes from whatever I already have, the only thing I still need to master is letting go of everything I pretty much know I won't wear in any near future :)

    LackaDaisy

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    1. I totally understand wanting to keep things for sentimental reasons. However there's ways to cherish items through photos, pieces of fabric, keepsake boxes, etc. Also seeing other people find love for things you don't love anymore or loved a lot is a truly valuable feeling. Upcycling is great, kudos to you! Mastering the art of letting go is truly an art form. Wishing you lots of luck!

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  16. I've heard of Marie Kondo's method, but never really looked into it. I know she mentions joy as one of the main determining factors for keeping things. That's awesome that it evoked change after reading and these are all such great tips. I, too, have been trying to cut back on spending on clothing, though it can be so hard at times. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience, lovely!

    XO,
    Jalisa
    THE STYLE CONTOUR

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Jalisa! I encourage you to also be mindful our your environmental and social impacts through clothes. We have so much power as consumers through our wallets!

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  17. Marie Kondo had a profound effect on me too. I haven't shopped fast fashion for a few years now and I always donate clothes where I can. I do want to get better with buying second hand this year as I still usually buy new. Love this inspiring post xx

    Violethollow.com

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  18. This is awesome! I'm definitely trying to be more mindful about what I'm buying these days.

    Make Life Marvelous

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  19. just wow tips..Big Thanks you saved my money..)
    keep in touch beautiful

    thanks
    Maisha
    https://glamforgood.blogspot.com/2020/02/eye-catcher-palettes.html

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  20. I'm all for thrift and second hand shopping. We all own too much clothing, but stuck wearing same things we love the most. Great post, thank you for it!
    Lots of love ♥ January Girl

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