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How to Bring Slow Fashion into Your Wardrobe in 10 Easy Ways

Ten years ago, I didn’t know what fast fashion or slow fashion was. Though I’ve been wearing vintage clothing for decades, and selling it for more than thirteen years, I didn’t know slow fashion was a thing. I had no clue there was even a movement behind the idea: I just knew I liked slow fashion - vintage and handmade items - and over the last decade, shifted my entire mindset (and closet) to become a slow fashion lover for good.

What is slow fashion? Well, it’s the opposite of fast fashion. The last thirty years have given rise to fast fashion: cheaper materials, faster made, quickly sold, trendy designs – and this cycle repeats itself to infinity. Think Zara, Shein, and Forever 21 with the intent of pieces to be worn a few times, tossed, and the wearer (aka the consumer) buys more. Slow fashion is better materials, slower made, slowly sold, with classic designs. Think vintage made, quality made, or hand made with the intent for clothing pieces to last decades… and the wearer keeps these pieces for as long as possible.

Slow fashion was initially a phrase given by Kate Fletcher, a professor of Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion. There was a movement for slow food and slow living, but a slow fashion movement was in dire need of forging. Consumerism was at an all-time high, landfills were brimming with unworn discarded new clothing… something was wrong. While many unsold new clothes are sent overseas, two-thirds of unsold new clothing are sent to landfills.

Until we learn to be satisfied with what we have, to ditch trendy for classic, and to want to take care of the items we wear and truly love, slow fashion will never take root. But, if you’re like many folks who are finally waking up to the reality of our consumeristic culture, there’s an easy way to combat fash fashion: begin a new fashion life with a new way of looking at your closet and the items in it: a life amidst slow fashion.

Here are ten ways to bring slow fashion into your life.

1. Shop secondhand - This is probably the biggest action you can do that will not only help your style and your pocketbook but also the environment. Also, you don’t have to worry you’ll be wearing the same thing as somebody else! So many items can be reused, re-worn, and enjoyed.

2. Wear vintage clothing - If you want to give vintage a try, shop thrift shops and consignment stores. It’s a great way to buy for less and get a feel for what you like. Incorporating vintage into your wardrobe is easy once you know what you want to wear. I sell vintage clothing in my Etsy shop and wear it daily.

3. Wear handmade - Back in the day, everybody sewed. Today, it’s a lost art. Try supporting brands that do handmade or bespoke clothing. You’re supporting true artists with clothing that is no doubt quality-made that will last for decades, not a singular season. 

4. Wear real clothing (i.e. linen, wool, silk, cotton) - Polyester had its day back in the early 70s. But it’s back… and it’s back because it’s cheap to manufacture. Instead, wear real materials and your clothes will not only last a long time (and maintain sustainability)  but your skin will be thankful too. Fake fabrics (and their chemicals on your skin) are not good for your body! 

5. Buy quality new clothing (plan on repairing) - Buy less but buy better. That’s the slow fashion mantra. Clothing will inevitably wear out. Plan on finding a great tailor who can fit your clothes to your body, and make repairs as you go through life enjoying these quality pieces.

6. Shop small/ shop local - Again, find local artisans who make clothing, crafts, shoes, or homemade goods. Shop your neighbors; shop your local social media app marketplace; go to your community events. There’s always a gift fair or farmer’s market filled with people who would love your patronage.

7. Wear a vintage accessory - If you’re not ready to jump into vintage full throttle, that’s okay. Start small. Start with a vintage accessory like a hat, belt, jewelry, or bandana. They’re small but pack a punch. I wrote a blog post about this and these small items can make you stand out in all the right ways.

8. Buy less - so much less - If you want to keep things simple, slow fashion is about buying less. A whole lot less. Don’t need to buy any new clothes right now? Perfect. Because slow fashion is about appreciating what you already have for as long as possible.

9. Buy better - This is a given, being that slow fashion is better- vintage or handmade clothing is made better. No question there. But, you also need to get into the mindset that most of your future clothing (if you want to go slow fashion) will be a few yet amazing pieces. Plan on spending a little more to have years with your favorite pieces rather than just one season. 

10. Buy with a purpose - Remember, slow fashion goes with slow living. You’re buying with a purpose, whether it’s to support a local designer (or vintage seller) or create the minimalist quality wardrobe you dream of. Vintage fashion is recycling and reusing in its highest form. The bonus is that the clothing is almost always much better made than most modern clothing.

Being a part of the slow fashion movement doesn’t mean you can’t be fashionable. I tend to find that those who wear vintage - or pieces that transcend trend - have some of the best wardrobes. 

If you’re like me, I don’t want to look like everyone else. I don’t want to wear a shirt from Target that I will see on every other woman when I’m out. I want to be unique; I want to stand out. Wearing the same thing as your grandma or best friend doesn’t quite live up to the hype of being unique when you see the item everywhere. 

Be you, be unique, and save your closet from the constant influx of trendy clothing. And the best part? Your pocketbook will thank you. You may spend a little more to get a quality item, but that item will last for years. And you will look as good in it now as you will in 15 years from now because it’s a classic piece. 

With slow fashion, less is more. Whether handmade or vintage, slow fashion almost always correlates with quality. After all, don’t we all just want the best? With slow fashion, you can have the best, have the minimalist wardrobe you desire, and look like a million dollars.