How to shop and dress more consciously? Lets find out!
Every wonder where your clothes come from? If you’re anything like me circa 2018, you probably don’t put a ton of thought into clothes other than “does it look cute, and is it cheap, can I afford it?” Over the past three years, I’ve learned that asking this question not only allows me to dress more consciously and to reflect my values, but also dress like my most stylish self. Lemme break it down for ya.
From high school to my late twenties, I thought Forever 21, then H&M, and later Zara were the best things that had happened to my style-minded self since Elle Girl magazine launched (RIP). I got super good at finding the most expensive-looking pieces for peanuts, and then styling it up into fab little outfits that looked $$. And I’m most definitely not the only one. Nowadays it’s become a badge of honor to show off how cheap something costs and then bask in the “you mean you got that at H&M?!” glow. You know what I’m talking about.
The thing is, there’s a not-so-pretty story behind all our cheap and trendy clothes, and once I took the time to learn about it, I couldn’t go back to my old ways.
It all started while I was working at Rent the Runway and discovered that Americans throw away tons of clothing per year. In New York City alone, we throw away 200 million pounds of clothing per year–that’s the equivalent of filling the Statue of Liberty with garments 440 times(!!). I was curious about why this happens, and my research led me down a rabbit hole to Remake, a nonprofit on a mission to change the fashion industry’s harmful practices on people and our planet.
There I learned that the majority of our clothing is made by women–many of them who are in their early twenties and trying to make a life for themselves in a big city–under questionable working conditions and for below-living wages. Gulp. As someone who cares about the environment and human rights, you can imagine this didn’t sit well.
But what to do? Actually, a lot! (And this is where the dressing better part comes in.)
Buy less, buy intentionally, and buy better.
For me, this means saying no to fast fashion and big brands because their quality is typically cheap and their manufacturing practices are usually dubious at best, or outright wrong. A happy side effect? You don’t end up looking like everyone and their mother because it challenges you to get more creative with your clothes. I nerded out on rental, secondhand, clothing swaps, and ethical brands, and in the process developed a much more authentic, unique sense of style. One that got people asking about my look and made me realize that doing the right thing was also the key to dressing like your best self.
Like any new habit, ya gotta start with small. That’s where I come in 😉 Over the next several months I’ll guide you through how to shop and dress more consciously.
Your first “assignment” to start to dress more consciously?
Buy less this month (or go cray, and don’t buy anything at all!). It’s super simple in concept, but not gonna lie, it’s hard to do, especially because we’ve all become accustomed to buying whatever we want, whenever we want. So next time you’re hankering for something new, ask yourself:
- Can I wear it multiple times?
- Do I have things that go with it?
- Is it ethically and sustainably made?
- Can I easily care for it?
If you can’t answer yes to all 4, let it go (and know that you’re holding out for something that’s gonna be way more fab for you, the people who make our clothes, and our planet). YESSS!
You got this. Excited to hear how it goes.
Robyn Davies is a conscious fashion advocate and founder of R. Davies Styling. She works with brands and individuals to help them adopt more ethical and sustainable fashion practices. Follow along on Instagram @rdavies.styling.