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Restyling Your Wardrobe with Sustainable Fashion Strategies

photography by BRANDON TIGRETT

Laura Madden
Laura Madden—fashion advocate, model, stylist and blogger—shares her top sustainable fashion styling strategies to try.

Can fashion even be sustainable? I’ve been covering sustainable fashion for seven years now, and still I am asked this question. I know most people would assume no, fashion can not be sustainable since the very act of producing clothing requires resources—lots of them.

Fortunately, we have a growing number of passionate fashionistas who actually do care about the environment, including myself, and we’ve learned a thing or two about how you can make fashion more sustainable without abstaining from buying (or wearing) clothes. And don’t worry, we do not believe in sacrificing your personal style to any extent to participate in sustainable fashion either.

Sustainable Fashion: 5 Pieces That Take You from Day to Night

Laura Madden

Whether you are just starting out on your sustainability journey or you’re a seasoned environmentalist, here are sustainable fashion tips that any fashion lover can employ to restyle five wardrobe staples from day to night. There are many ways that we can take part in fashion sustainably, such as choosing certain fabrics, shopping brands that commit to regenerative production, water recycling and upcycling or shopping secondhand

My greatest passion lies in helping people understand that the most sustainable wardrobe is actually the one you already own. Yes—the very garments that are already hanging in your closet- no matter where they came from. The longer you wear the wardrobe that you already possess the better you are doing for the environment

Restyle and rewear is the name of the game here! Think of it this way—the more you can wear any given garment, you are essentially maximizing the resources that have already been used… such as the 700 gallons of water used to make a cotton T shirt or the 1800 gallons of water used to make one pair of denim.

Since I believe that fashion should always be fun too, you can make this a game of challenging your creativity instead of a chore to endure—how many ways can you restyle and reinvent your favorite garments? I’ll give you a hint—the options are endless. It all comes down to styling! Secret weapons—accessories, heels and a pop of color on the lips.

I’ll show you five of my standby staple wardrobe pieces and how you can restyle them from day to night, including a blazer, a pair of black pants, a statement blouse, black slip dress and pencil skirt.

Since I believe that fashion should always be fun too, you can make this a game of challenging your creativity instead of a chore to endure—how many ways can you restyle and reinvent your favorite garments? I’ll give you a hint—the options are endless.

Sustainable Fashion

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BLAZER 

DAY | Blazer, bike shorts and high-top sneakers.

NIGHT | Add chandelier earrings and an oversized belt; swap out a faux leather pant and heels.

 

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BLACK PANTS

DAY | Black pants, white blouse and leopard print heels.

NIGHT | Change to a bodysuit and rhinestone embellished belt and heels with a statement necklace. Bold lip adds extra elevation.

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STATEMENT BLOUSE

DAY | Blouse, denim shorts and slides.

NIGHT | Swap out shorts for a skirt, black heels, oversized tassel earrings and a bold lip.  

 

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SLIP DRESS

DAY | Dress, colorful scarf, gold hoops, fedora and sneakers.

NIGHT | Add a sequin embellished coat on top, swap out earrings, embellished heels and a sequin clutch. Add a bold lip.  

Sustainable Fashion
Sustainable Fashion

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PENCIL SKIRT

DAY | Playful T-shirt, kitten heels and casual earrings.

NIGHT | Swap T-shirt for a metallic tank and belt, statement earrings and high studded boots.

 

I have a few more favorite sustainable fashion tips to get you curating a more sustainable wardrobe effortlessly—and as promised, there is no sacrificing your style whatsoever! 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: SUSTAINABLE FASHION AND RECYCLED FASHION TIPS BY LAURA MADDEN

Curating a conscious closet starts with knowing your style. This might be the most important thing you can do, no matter where you shop or what you buy. When you love what you have and how you look in it, you’re more likely to actually wear what you already have. Loved clothes get worn.

When we love wearing what we have, we are less likely to shop unconsciously and impulsively, which ultimately leads to unnecessary waste. This also slows down the demand on the fashion industry to produce faster, cheaper clothing.

If you still have the need something new urge to shop, one of my favorite ways to shop sustainably is focusing on quality, timeless style and versatility. Invest in pieces that could last a lifetime, that pair with a variety of other pieces in your wardrobe, can be worn a number of different ways and worn for a number of different occasions. 

Focusing on basics may seem a bit boring, but these are wardrobe workhorses that we can wear and rewear many times over. For sustainable fashion, forgo the trendy stuff that won’t stand a chance long-term and instead focus on the classics. I am all about the long-term relationship with my wardrobe. 

Solids and timeless patterns, such as stripes, herringbones, houndstooth and polka dots are easy to restyle and remix. Classic is going to look different for everyone, but for me, I focus on core pieces like a slip dress, blazers, pencil skirts and high quality denim that could be dressed up or dressed down. These are the things I keep coming back to. Now, what are yours? 

Sustainable Fashion

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A timeless garment is something you see yourself wearing for many years to come. Think of prints, silhouettes, colors, that won’t look dated with the changing of the seasons. Anything super trendy would not be considered timeless, and you’ll likely tire of them before even the biggest fashion snob starts to. Buy for the long term. Better for the planet and your bank account too.

Lastly, my very favorite sustainable fashion styling secret that ties this all together is to curate a collection of strong accessories. Accessories can dramatically transform and easily extend the lifespan of the wardrobe you already have, which I’ve shown here. Adding or swapping out your accessories can transform an everyday look to extraordinary and easily take it from day to night. Even something as simple as going from a flat to a heel, or a bare lip to a pop of color, can elevate your daytime look to night on the town mode.

Ultimately, one of the best things we can do for the environment is to wear the clothes that we have for as long as we can. If you find yourself in a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear, why not hire a stylist to become crystal clear on your personal style and what works for you? Then, you know exactly what to buy to look and feel your very best. That’s sustainable shopping.

Laura Madden

I hope you’ll join me, along with ICONIC LIFE Magazine, on our journey to more sustainable fashion and reinventing our relationship to clothes. The future of fashion undoubtedly is a more earth-friendly and responsible one. And no question, it will be just as beautiful and glamorous as it ever was. 

FASHION FACTS

In the US alone, nearly 13 million tons of clothing are thrown into landfills every year.

92 million tons of textiles enter landfill on the planet every year.

Clothing in landfills is extremely damaging to our environment; as it breaks down it releases toxic gasses into the atmosphere, such as methane.

Shopping second hand decreases the demand on the fashion industry to produce faster and cheaper clothing.

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