Summer is finally here. The sunny weather means bright looks and breezy dresses, but unfortunately, summer also means quite a bit of fast fashion excesses. Did you know there are entire industries built around copying a dress an Instagram model wore once, with the turnaround between seeing an Instagram post to dress on the shelves being only about a month? That is insane, and obviously extremely unhealthy for the planet and your wallets. So today we’re going to look at 6 summer fashion tips that make for a sustainable wardrobe.
50s print pinup dresses, 70s miniskirts, 90s high-waisted jeans, whatever your favorite era is, retro looks are all the craze these days. The best part about all these old school cool looks is just how sustainable they are. There is a very good reason that reuse is before recycle in the three R’s. Making sure a material is used to its potential is always more important that figuring out how to dispose of it, so shop away at the 2nd hand stores. Just be careful, some fast fashion realtors are taking advantage of the craze for retro clothes and are making fast-fashion knockoffs. Go for the real thing.
Go Cotton (for exercise)
It’s odd to hear a sustainability article advocate for cotton, given how water-wasting and pesticide intense cotton is as a crop. So when we say cotton we are of course referring to organic cotton. But the reason we advocate for (organic) cotton for exercise clothes is that the alternative is usually synthetics. Yoga pants may look stunning, but every time you wash them they shed micro-fibers of plastic that seep into the ocean, soak up toxins, and get eaten by fish. Yuk. If you need specifically yoga pants it’s better to go for upcycled yoga pants and to wash them with a cora ball or guppy bag to reduce the amount of microplastics, but at the end of the day it’s always better to avoid the synthetics altogether. Bring back the cotton exercise shorts!
As huge fans of upcycling of course we are going to recommend this. Have something from your winter/spring wardrobe that’s ripped? Cut off the pant legs and make it your new shorts. Make a plaid shirt into a crop top. Cut the sleeves off of a shirt and make it a new tank top. Doing a slight accent of old, upcycled winter clothing allows you to play with texture in interesting and new ways without overheating.
Speaking of winter, your summer wardrobe is the perfect time to think about winter (and no, we don’t mean buying winter clothes in the summer at a discount). One of the best ways to beat the #30wears challenge of making sure each piece you own you’ll wear at least 30 times is to buy multi-seasonal clothes. That silk camisole you wear under your blouse in the winter can be worn solo in the summer as a tank top. Your big winter boots can make for great statement footwear with your sundress. When looking at your summer clothes options, see what can be combined with winter wear and visa-versa.
Bamboo is one of the coolest textiles out there and needs more attention. Bamboo plants are grasses, not trees, so they have an incredibly fast growth rate making them easily renewable. Bamboo itself is a durable and cooling fabric so bamboo clothing can look and feel luxurious while being environmentally friendly. Just be on the lookout to see how your bamboo is made. Many bamboo clothing is a rayon material, which means that it’s been chemically altered to make into a workable thread. This process can be polluting, defeating the purpose of getting bamboo in the first place, so look for bamboo brands that are open and show how every step of the bamboo clothing process is as least damaging as possible.
Be Extra Careful
Finally, be very careful to take care of your summer clothing. Winter clothing by nature is tough and durable, but summer clothing is thin and therefore liable to breaking down. Be extra careful handling them, reduce washes by wearing them until they are actually needing washing, use spot removal instead of washing the whole garment to get rid of a stain, learn to patch, sew, and darn, and so on. Keep your summer clothing alive and both your wallet and Mother Nature will thank you.