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Conscious Consumption: How To Create Your Dream Wardrobe

One of my new year’s resolutions of 2023 is to be a more responsible consumer. My goal is to reduce my consumption by effectively ‘Marie Kondo-ing’ as I build my wardrobe. Meaning, I am not buying just to scratch an itch in my brain or taking on fixer-uppers from the thrift that I know will just be redonated after hoarding it in my already full closet for a few months. By only purchasing items that are ‘the one,’ I am slowly building up my dream wardrobe full of items that fit me perfectly and are uniquely my style.

Of course, this is easier said than done. After almost 23 years of life I am still hunting for the perfect white tee. Seriously, I don’t know why it’s so damn hard to find the perfect length, fabric, opacity, etc. But you best believe when I find her I’ll be buying 3. Being a responsible consumer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get everything from carbon neutral or otherwise more ‘sustainable’ brands. When possible, yes! It’s amazing to know that you’re contributing rather than detracting from sustainable development goals. However, if that white tee you get from Reformation or Everlane isn’t your dream fit, it is inevitable that you’ll ditch it for the thrift and eventual landfill. So, I encourage you to take the time to try on all the white tees. See how versatile it is with the other pieces you already own and love. How many different ways can you wear it? Loving each item in your closet is the key to never getting bored.

For some, this may seem obvious. Like, duh, why would you buy something you don’t like? But, for years and years I kept buying things that supposedly fit a role in my closet that needed to be filled. White tees that were too cropped, too loose, or plain see-through. They would be donated to younger cousins or friends after taking up critical space in my closet for far too long. Sometimes it’s unrealistic to wait for THE perfect item. I’m convinced my dream white tee hasn’t even been created and manufactured yet. In this case, I urge you to do your best finding an item second hand. After all, there’s no good reason to invest your money in a piece that isn’t what you wanted.

To me, the fit of items is the most important aspect to consider. The foundation of outfit creation in my mind is centered around the silhouettes I am looking to create. If it fits how I want it to, I will wear that item constantly in a variety of ways that keep it exciting. If I like the item on the hanger but not how it looks on me, it will stay pushed to the back of my closet, never seeing the light of day.

Because I am urging you to only purchase items that spark joy in you, I will warn that this may force you to unlearn many patterns that are ingrained in us. For example, blowout sales where items are upwards of 40% off seem like an amazing idea. Afterall, you can revamp your entire wardrobe for a fraction of the original price! But look at the items that are actually on sale. If it wasn't worth paying full price for the item, why? Sales and days like Black Friday are there to put us in a frenzy, throwing our money to get the best deal versus what we actually wanted. Only buy the items you've been looking at for a while, waiting for the sale. In a similar sentiment, I urge you to be wary of buying items that you can't try on, be in online or at a thrift or booth with no dressing room. Unfortunately, my track record for returning items that I order online is spotty at best. And in the other instance you may not be able to return them at all. It’s another contributor to unnecessary clutter in my personal closet. I know many of us have also fallen victim to purchasing items we don’t need when trying to reach the minimum for free shipping. It’s like our brains goes feral and suddenly you need those cheap sunglasses that you know won’t look good or even protect your eyes. Or you're about to spend double what you originally intended because the only other item you would maybe want is far more expensive than the threshold to get you there. If you are temped to buy online, some brands are now offering try-before-you-buy which can be massive for those of us who can't always wait for that refund to be issued in 7-10 business days. And when going to a flea market or thrift store you know won't have dressing rooms, try to put on an outfit that you can easily throw things over without being too lumpy and distracting. You might be embarrassed in the moment but trust me, everyone who didn't will think you are so smart.

I wish I could say there was some universal answer to what the perfect tee or jeans or blazer is. Style is a lot like skincare in that what works for one person may be another’s fashion faux pas. So, I encourage you to pay attention to how you feel when making new purchases. Are you excited to get home and play dress up? Does it make you feel confident and powerful? If not, you might want to leave it and continue the tedious search. In following this principle, you will begin to see your dream wardrobe manifesting before you know it. Do the hard work now so that your clothing will work for you in the long run.

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