How to revamp your wardrobe without buying anything new
If you’ve ever stared into a packed closet and thought, “I’ve got nothing to wear!” you’re not alone. According to research on hundreds of wardrobes from a sustainable fashion brand Patero, we only wear 20 percent of our wardrobes 80 percent of the time. If you’re in a style trot, the answer doesn’t have to be a shopping spree. Instead, many women are turning to sustainable stylists to help them rediscover their personal style with what they already have in their closets.
There are many reasons why we end up with a closet full of “wrong” clothes, from relentless advertising on social media to fast trend cycles that make us keep buying new clothes regardless of whether they fit our style .
“In this information age, it is very difficult to decipher what thoughts are really our own, let alone our style. So it’s more important than ever that women embark on a journey to find what optimizes their body, creativity and soul,” she says Kerry Wildea UK-based sustainable fashion stylist and creator of Embodied Soul Style method.
Sustainable Stylists offer a range of services to help their clients discover the hidden potential of their wardrobe, such as one-on-one sessions, group workshops, online courses, Youtube tutorials, questionnaires and more.
“I’m interested in how you can decouple your personal style from consumption, because we’re so hardwired for it,” she says Alyssa Beltempo, a Canadian sustainable stylist. “Fashion is something that helps both of us as individuals to express ourselves, but it also helps us feel like we belong. Our style is always evolving, but I think it takes a bit of work, introspection, and knowing who you are. So there’s a lot of reflective elements like who do you want to be?”
People often turn to styling at a transitional stage in their lives. They may have had a baby, start or change careers, or be going through a breakup. “They want to feel like themselves,” explains Sam Weir, who runs her sustainable styling company called Lotte V.1 in NYC. “It’s fun to be part of the process as they develop their careers, develop their relationships, and make sure their clothes fit the image they’re working towards.”
To discover or rediscover your personal style, our stylists suggest making a list of words to describe what you are looking for. Don’t just think about the aesthetics, but also the feel you want from your clothes. “It’s really about figuring out who you are, who you want to represent to the world, and then you can get a sense of your personal style,” says Beltempo. “Forget camouflage your midsection – want to make your personality stand out? Your smile? Her legs? Start there,” she says.
On the rare occasion that the stylists want to buy something for their clients, it’s because of that piece’s potential to unlock far more outfit options in their wardrobe.
“I’m not completely against shopping, I’m against overconsumption and a lack of thought when shopping,” says Weir. She sources the pieces for customers, always opting for second-hand clothes, and also shares a care guide with customers. “It’s not just about styling, we need to make sure all of these pieces are taken care of so you can keep wearing them. These are forever pieces and I want them to take care of them.”
In a way, a styling session can feel like therapy. “My services are about inspiring women to better understand their own unique style language, embrace who they are now, heal physical shame, shed what no longer works, let go of old identities and embrace style return that evokes truth and authenticity,” says Wilde. “I think our relationship with clothes runs deeper than we see on the surface, so it can be a cathartic way to grab a journal and start unpacking what’s underneath to find out who you think what you are, and what is relevant to you now, here today.”
Rarely do our sustainable stylists encourage customers to throw away clothes, further polluting the mountains of textile waste already polluting the world. “The only reason I would encourage anyone to get rid of something is for fit. If we can’t understand that for your body, you should remove it from your closet,” says Weir. She recommends giving away or selling your unloved items before donating them to ease the pressure on charities. “There are so many creative ways we can use these clothes before we donate them.”
Hiring a sustainable stylist is an investment that isn’t always available. So if you’re not ready to take the plunge, why not download a closet organizer app like Openwardrobe or Where, which digitizes your clothes and uses an algorithm to formulate outfit ideas. However you do it, taking stock of your style is an ongoing practice that will benefit you at every stage of your life.
“It pays to take the time to rewire our personal style and therefore purchase decisions, as it reduces the consequences of a cluttered closet with unwanted clothes,” says Wilde. “When you learn how to move your wardrobe and make it work better for you, the results can be transformative.”