“Think of yourself as a curator, rather than a consumer.” – Christine Koh, speaker, author, co-host of Edit Your Life podcast
What is a conscious closet?
The term ‘conscious closet’ was first properly popularised by Elizabeth Cline, author of multiple books focusing on sustainable fashion such as Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion and, of course, The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good, where the term came from.
Essentially, the phrase describes building and maintaining a wardrobe that is sustainable. It’s a philosophy that asks us to be more aware of the items in our closet, to know where they come from, how they are made, who makes them, and, overall, understand why our clothing choices matter.
Cline, at the start of her ‘The Conscious Closet’ also first urges her readers to roughly define their style as one of the three: the minimalist, the traditionalist, and the style seeker - by doing so, she offers advice as to how to maintain a sustainable closet in various forms, no matter what sort of style you have, describing how there is no one way to be sustainable. She mentions in an interview with Bustle that she wanted to meet people where they were, whether they worked in a big city and went to an office everyday or was a stay-at-home mum, to push how sustainability can be achieved in every sort of circumstance.
“The book is not just a "how to be sustainable" handbook. I think that's part of it, but it's also an educational tool, and it's about how to dress well with the clothes you've got. It's about how to be a more intentional, savvy shopper. I think is one of the most unexpected benefits of being a more conscious fashion consumer is that it really can help you build a better wardrobe. I think virtually everybody I know comes to this process like, “Oh my God. Now I have clothes in my closet that I actually want to wear for the first time ever.”” - Elizabeth Cline from the Bustle interview
With this in mind, the purpose of a conscious closet is not to restrict yourself in any sense but rather be mindful of your actions and explore other ways you can create a wardrobe that is uniquely yours but also does some good for our planet.
Some rules you can follow when you buy clothing
To start, some advice.
None of us are impervious to trends. Fashion is ever evolving with each season that passes, new styles are constantly being debuted, and with that, we as individuals often feel the need to keep up and be in the know of what’s popular now.
And so, it’s inevitable that we buy new clothing now and then. What we urge you to do is ask yourself some key questions before you make your decision to buy:
- Will you wear the piece more than 10 times in your life?
- Is the style something you can see yourself wearing in 5 years time?
Additionally, we also urge that you learn a little bit more about where your pieces come from. By doing so you are able to form more of a connection with your clothing when you know these little details:
- Do you know what materials it’s made from and if it was produced sustainably?
- Can you find out who makes the clothing for the brand you’re buying from?
- Does the brand you are buying from incorporate circular systems in their production like recycling or upcycling?
- Are any by-hand techniques used to make the piece?
- Is the piece made locally?
The pieces you need (or may already have) to create a conscious closet
And finally, a conscious closet is what you make of it but there are always staples that everyone can have. Here are a few we recommend everyone should have.
1.A basic tee - a timeless t-shirt is a versatile basic for any wardrobe. And what’s great about a piece like this is that there’s all sorts of tee styles to choose from to fit your personal style from cropped and oversized to form fitting. It’s a piece that also can be paired with pretty much anything like jeans, skirts, shorts, overalls and more!
Our recommendation: The Dawn t-shirt crafted in herbal-dyed organic cotton knit.
2.A classic shirt - another timeless piece! A shirt can be a great casual go-to or workwear piece depending on styling. It can be easily dressed up or down, providing a fresh look every time you put it on.
Our recommendation: The Winter Garden shirt crafted in handwoven organic cotton.
3.A ‘summer’ look - On hot days, we all need a little extra breathing room with our clothing. Silhouettes that are fuss-free and comfortable are essential when the sun is shining down on us, so a trusty ‘summer’ look that you can always go to will definitely help you enjoy your days more. This is definitely a look that will vary from person to person because of individual style, so we urge you to find out what it would be, whether it’s shorts and a crop top, a loose-fitting dress or a casual romper.
4.A ‘winter’ look - On the opposite end of the spectrum, we all also need a warmer look that’s both breathable and cozy. This can be a long sleeve shirt paired with trousers or even a maxi dress. What you can also do is layer various pieces like jackets and gilets.
Our recommendation: Our Marigold Oasis jacket crafted in handwoven organic cotton is a great piece to layer with long sleeved shirts OR Marigold Memories maxi dress crafted in hand block printed organic cotton.
Check out more of our posts for more green advice and stories.