Building a Sustainable Wardrobe – How To Match Your Closet With Your Lifestyle

Sustainable fashion starts in your wardrobe

Nikita Oliver Metcalfe

Fashion and clothing holds a place in some of our minds as frivolous and fun, for others it is merely a necessity.

Whatever your view on your wardrobe and how you choose to fill it the driving factor behind what it holds should always be your lifestyle.

Think about it, we all have clothes that are specific to certain activities or occasions in our lives…because sorry to burst that fun fashion bubble but clothes really are in their most simple state a necessity!

That doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyable as well but we could all do with being more aware of when we’re filling our wardrobes with pieces we don’t really need.

Image via Lion in the Wild

sustainable wardrobe

Map Your Lifestyle

In general your lifestyle, and therefore wardrobe needs, can be broken down into four categories. To start with focus on these aspects of your lifestyle but feel free to add more if they’re relevant to you:

  • Family – time spent at home with loved ones.
  • Professional – time spent in a work or volunteer environment.
  • Active – time spent doing outdoor physical activity, exercising or playing sport.
  • Social – time spent out with friends or at special events.

Do a rough plan of what a typical week looks like for you, breaking down each day into morning, afternoon and night. This will help give you a visual of the percentage of time you spend on each of the four key areas listed above.

Now translate these findings into your lifestyle pie chart.

There are many variations of what each of our unique lifestyle pie charts may look like, they will all be slightly different and ever evolving as our circumstances change.

Below are a couple of examples:

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Wardrobe Connections

Now consider if what’s hanging in your wardrobe reflects your lifestyle pie chart or if there might be some unbalanced areas.

It can be helpful to split your wardrobe roughly into the four categories and visualise how the size of each pile works back with each slice of your pie chart. Your lifestyle will directly correlate to your wardrobe needs, and ideally your wardrobe will reflect this, a wardrobe that consists mostly of casuals is no good to you if you work in a corporate environment and vice versa.

But let’s face it, we’re all guilty of buying pieces that don’t necessarily fit into our lifestyle needs…dressy camisoles I’m looking at you!

I’ve never enjoyed wearing strapless bras but I continue to buy tops that require them because they’re just so pretty and I love everything else about them, but when it comes down to it they tend to hang in my wardrobe the majority of the time, unworn. Do you have a vice like this in your wardrobe? Identify it, become aware of it and be sure to keep your lifestyle needs front of mind on your next shopping trip.

Image source Eileen Fisher

Another thing to consider are the pieces that can work extra hard in your wardrobe by crossing over into more than one category.

This isn’t always easy to balance but the better you get at identifying a style or product type that can easily transition between your lifestyle needs, maybe with the addition of an accessory or by pairing it with different pieces, the more efficient your wardrobe will become.

Always weigh up the versatility of a new purchase in terms of your lifestyle as well as how it works back with your existing wardrobe.

And remember, fashion is fun but it also serves a purpose, your wardrobe and lifestyle go hand in hand and it’s all about creating a sustainable wardrobe that works for you and fits into your specific lifestyle needs.

Nikita Oliver Metcalfe

Personal stylist with a focus on ethical and sustainable fashion combined with conscious consumption. Nikita believes in the power of styling to ensure women always feel great in what they wear while building meaningful wardrobes and a greater understanding of the impact of their clothes.