One of the awesome things about knowing how to sew means that I have the capability to change my spending habits when it comes to clothes. We vote with our dollars and my dollars are no longer going to support clothing manufacturers who exploit their workers and pollute our environment.
In recent years I've been a little more focused when it comes to clothing purchases. A couple of years ago I started purging my closet and getting rid of anything that I didn't wear for one year. You probably won't be surprised by how much you have in your closet that you simply don't wear. I've also been more mindful about the clothing that I purchase, although I haven't been super strict and a few items have slipped into my closet that I haven't worn nearly as much as I thought I would.
It's easy to have a knee-jerk reaction to movies like The True Cost and declare "no more mindless shopping!," then come to realize that it's a little harder to execute in real life. Sure, I can make the grand plan of only making my clothes going forward, but that takes time and sometimes you need to fill gaps in your wardrobe a little faster than your free time allows.
Enter The True Cost's "Five Tips for Shopping Smarter." The first tip is so easy to remember and would hands-down put a dent in the damage clothing manufacturers are doing if everyone who is able commits to it: ask yourself if you are going to wear that item at least 30 times. Thirty is a far cry from the average 7 wears that an item usually gets. 7! Contrary to what advertisers want you to believe, you do not need to change out your wardrobe with the four seasons (or even more often). You also don't need to worry about wearing the same outfits week after week. If you love it and it's still in good condition, who cares if you wear it every week?
Looking back, my maternity wardrobe was my most environmentally conscious, not because I made everything, but because I limited it to the bare essentials: 6-7 dresses for work, 2 pairs of leggings, 1 pair of jeans, 2 tshirts, a casual sweater, a bathing suit, and probably one or two other items. That was pretty much all I wore for my entire pregnancy (save for the first month or so when I could still fit into my regular clothes—I got a belly quickly!). I wore those items over and over and over again, mostly because I couldn't justify spending more money on clothes that had a limited cycle of use (also why I couldn't justify making any of my maternity clothes—my limited free time is too precious).
I haven't bought any clothes since I saw The True Cost in December (I know, such a sacrifice to not buy clothes for almost three whole months). I have been devising a plan for when my current items get worn out or I need to add an item to spice up the life of my wardrobe. Then, serendipitously, Sewaholic ran a sale on their patterns and my plan was solidified. I snatched up all of the patterns that I've been coveting and drafted a wardrobe plan that I'll slowly build over time.
I'll steadily chip away at my list so when the time comes for an item to get donated or thrown out, I won't have any gaps to prompt a quick online shopping fix (because let's be honest, I can't remember the last time I went shopping in a store). I've already made a couple of these patterns, but I know that those I haven't made yet will work based on previous sewing missteps. Which is another great benefit to sewing your own clothes: you know what does and doesn't work with your body shape so you can focus your time on clothes that you love and don't mind wearing over and over again!
In case you're wondering, here is my list. The blazers that I have should last me a couple of years until I finally find a blazer pattern that I love. Once my cardigans wear out, I plan to create rub offs of them because they fit me perfectly. Yes, the list is very heavy on Sewaholic patterns. What can I say, this pear-shaped girl loves them!
- Pendrell Blouse (Sewaholic)
- Granville Blouse (Sewaholic)
- Oakridge Blouse (Sewaholic)
- Hollyburn Skirt (Sewaholic)
- Rae Skirt (Sewaholic)
- Miette Skirt (Tilly and the Buttons)
- Harwood Dress (Sewaholic)
- Davie Dress (Sewaholic)
- Nicola Dress (Sewaholic)
- Thurlow Trousers (Sewaholic)
- Robson Trench (Sewaholic)
Even if you're not ready to do an overhaul like me, small changes like shopping secondhand and trading clothes with friends can make a difference. Have you thought about your clothing spending habits and their impact on the world?