Deepening My Commitment to Slow Fashion

Happy Earth Day! I hope you are all doing well and staying safe in these strange times. For me, Earth Day is a time to reflect on the impact I am having on our planet and see if there are ways I could be doing better or taking my journey towards sustainability a step further. So with that in mind, in today’s article I wanted to give you a bit of an update on my capsule wardrobe. I’ll let you know how I’ve been feeling about it lately, and then talk about a bit of a change I’m planning on making and where I’ll be going with it from here.

I want to start off by providing a little background to give you some context before I dive right into things. If you’ve been following me here or on Instagram for a while, you may have seen a few of my seasonal capsule wardrobes or what I now call ‘wardrobe edits’. I’ve been doing them for over two years now, basically ever since I started my journey towards minimalism and simplifying my life.

How my wardrobe has worked since the beginning is this: I first did a massive declutter of my closet and set aside a basic year-round capsule which was full of essential pieces that formed the foundation of my wardrobe. Then each season, I would shop the rest of what was left of my closet and rotate pieces in and out that would work for that season. I also allowed myself to pick up a handful of items to do a small refresh each quarter, bringing in a limited number of new or thrifted items and maybe saying goodbye to a few that I just wasn’t wearing anymore.

This sort of fluid capsule wardrobe process has worked pretty well for me overall. It has really helped me decrease my consumption and increase my mindfulness when it comes to my clothes. Before doing this, I was shopping very regularly and spending a lot of money on clothes that sometimes didn’t even get worn or were worn only a few times before they were left sitting in my closet and just creating clutter. So I’ve really become a lot more conscious about my wardrobe, and when I do shop I shop at more sustainable and ethical brands or try to shop secondhand.

However, since I started this journey, my platform here has also grown, and I’ve even had the opportunity to work with some of really great brands, which I am so grateful for. Part of that is receiving clothing from them to try and share my review with you guys, my audience. Which again, I’m so thankful for and love doing – the way I see it, part of my job on here is introducing you to good, sustainable and ethical brands which can be alternatives to fast fashion companies. But what that means is over the last two years, and the last year especially, I was receiving quite a few gifted items on a regular basis, and my closet became quite large again overall.

Also within the past year, as I have tried to shop more sustainably, I have really developed a love of thrift shopping. In the beginning, I thought this was fine because I’m not contributing to the production of new items or waste or anything like that. At the same time, I have been thrifting more items than I actually need and it became a sort of addiction. If I saw a good deal at the thrift store for something I might wear, I would just buy it because it’s so inexpensive or I was worried that if I still wanted it later and came back, it could be gone. I was impulse thrifting. So this is another factor that has contributed to my wardrobe expanding and kind of going past the boundaries that I initially had set out for myself.

And finally, I’ve also rediscovered my love of sewing over the last year. While this is a great hobby, something I really enjoy, and is often much better than shopping, I have made quite a few pieces that have in turn contributed to the overall swell of my wardrobe size.

To give you an idea of where I’m at now, when I look at my Stylebook app (which is the app I use to organize and track my closet) I have just under 200 items. That’s including most everything like clothing, outerwear, shoes, accessories, and a portion of my loungewear. I have three large drawers in the dresser in our bedroom, a small closet to myself, and also a closet in the hallway where we keep our jackets and shoes.

It’s a big number and to be completely honest, it doesn’t feel very minimalist (to me anyway – everyone’s different.) It makes me feel like an impostor when I’m on my blog and social media talking about minimalism, but can I say that I’m really living those values myself? And more importantly, I honestly do believe that minimalism and living more slowly, simply, and mindfully has so many benefits – I’ve experienced them myself before. But I’m not getting those benefits anymore, and I feel like I’ve been slowly inching back to my old ways. Despite the fact that I have been sticking to doing seasonal wardrobe edits and mainly shopping my closet to create my capsule wardrobes, I feel like I have still been consuming at too high a rate and now my closet just feels overwhelming and cluttered again, so it just feels like I’m back to square one.

It also hasn’t felt really ‘me’ or like I have a very well-defined personal style. If I look at my capsules/wardrobe edits that I’ve created over the past two years, I feel like they are quite disjointed and often times don’t carry a lot of the same clothes at all in them from season to season. So that cohesive, basic foundational wardrobe and personal style got kind of lost amidst all of the fun and excitement of working with brands and trying new things, and I think I sort of lost sight of why I started doing this in the first place.

One good thing that has come out of this, though, is that now I do really feel like I have a strong sense of what my personal style is. I’m a little older now – I just turned 30 last year – and I feel like the past two years of doing these wardrobe edits and really thinking more critically and consciously about my wardrobe has given me a lot of time to reflect on my personal style, try different things, and solidify a mental list of what I love and what makes me feel good versus what doesn’t. So I have a lot more clarity on that, which brings me to my next point:

Which is that right now, I feel like I am ready to take a new step with my wardrobe. This time around my goal is to set up a smaller basic, year-round capsule wardrobe for real that will serve me for all seasons throughout the year, and really commit to it this time, meaning much less shopping and gifted products. It’s Earth Day today, it’s Fashion Revolution week, I’m staying at home in quarantine, and I’m feeling that spring cleaning spirit, so what better time is there to do it than now?

I’m hoping that this will help me reset my consumption levels and quite simply get me back on the right track. I’m not going to go wild and aim to get the total number of items I own down to a magical 37 or anything like that. Because where I live we do get all four seasons with extreme cold in the winter and hot in the summer. But if I could reduce the size of my entire wardrobe to less than a hundred, ideally somewhere between 60-80 items total, I think I would feel a lot better about it than I do now. And from that I will continue to create smaller wardrobe edits from season to season, perhaps just twice a year (S/S and F/W) to rotate in and out seasonally appropriate pieces.

I’m still not 100% sure on what this means for me working with brands moving forward. As I said, I love doing it and I think it provides something of value to you guys to hear about good brands and get someone’s opinion on their products before investing in them yourself, because sustainable and ethical fashion can be quite the investment. So we will see how that plays out and I will keep you posted on how I plan to tackle that. Right now my thoughts are that I am just going to have to be very picky about how many items or which items I am accepting as gifts, looking at alternative ways to support and test out brands without taking any new products, or perhaps just swearing off gifting altogether and only showing you what I personally buy and shop for myself, which will be limited.

When it comes to any gifted items that I will be decluttering, of which there will be a few, I’m planning on hosting a sale on Instagram or an app like Poshmark and Depop with all proceeds being donated to a charitable organization, because goodness knows the world needs it right now. So let me know if that’s something you would be interested in and what platform you like the most when it comes to that sort of thing. Also, I would love to know any suggestions for charities that are doing great work in these times that you think would deserve a donation.

Anyway, back to my capsule wardrobe. When it comes to decluttering, I’m not planning on ditching all of my clothes and starting fresh – that is never the right solution! What I’m planning to do is declutter a lot of the things that I’m just not loving or that aren’t getting much wear in my closet. I will be left with a foundational wardrobe of basic staples that will serve me moving forward. And, I’m going to share this entire process with you guys from start to finish! Hopefully this might help you in terms of giving you some ideas and inspiration on how you can minimize your closet and try out a slower, simpler wardrobe of your own.

Obviously this is coming at a time when the world is in a pandemic and we’re all staying home and quarantined, which has been such a strange time, and a difficult time for many people. In my case, I’ve found that it’s really caused me to take a step back and has actually brought me a lot of space to think critically and finally see some things more clearly. I think that’s a big part of what’s spurring me on in making this change. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’ve been staying home and in close proximity with my wardrobe which has really made me notice how cluttered and overwhelming it feels. But staying home for me at least feels like a great opportunity to tackle a project like this, and I couldn’t be more ready or more excited to get started.

To create my year-round capsule wardrobe, I’m going to be following the 6-step process which I outlined in my eBook (which you can learn more about here if you’re interested). I’m going to be filming the process as I go through it and sharing it over on YouTube as well as here on my blog.

I’m planning to create either one video or a small miniseries showing you how I’m 1) planning my wardrobe, 2) the entire decluttering process, and 3) how I’m organizing my new closet. The other three steps are shopping to fill gaps, creating outfits, and maintaining your clothes. I don’t think I will have a lot of shopping to do, and for the gaps I do have I will be taking a lot of time to carefully consider those purchases and budget for quality investment pieces. So that is something I will share as it happens as usual via Instagram, etc.

When it comes to wearing my wardrobe and creating outfits, I’m planning to continue with my regular content which is sharing daily outfits on Instagram and giving you guys plenty of outfit inspiration, and maybe even doing some weekly outfit or seasonal lookbook videos over on YouTube. I would also be happy to do a more in-depth post or video on my process for creating outfits if that’s something you’re interested in.

Finally, how I maintain my wardrobe and care for my clothing is another topic I could cover later on down the road if you’re interested. But mainly what I want to show you at this time is how I’m going to take my closet from A to B, from cluttered to minimal, showing you the before, the after, and everything in between.

I hope this is something that interests you! If it is please make sure to subscribe to my channel so that you’ll see when the videos are posted. I’m planning to have the first video about planning my wardrobe up next week, so keep an eye out for that. And if there are any questions or anything specific you that you would like me to cover, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to make sure I do that for you.

I’m really excited to be taking this step towards deepening my commitment to slow fashion and I actually can’t wait to get in there and start decluttering. So I think I will leave this post here and go get started! As always, thank you for reading. Take care, wash your hands, and stay safe!

With lots of love,

Emily Lightly

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  • The fact that you’re even thinking about sustainability and mindfulness about consumerism is already a big step forward so don’t be hard on yourself. It’s such a bizarre time where we’re seeing retailers offering sales out the ying yang since they know we’re all bored at home, but at the same time, consumers are pursuing minimalism/low buys/thrifting, etc. People are being pulled in opposite directions so it takes serious mental fortitude to commit to a simplified lifestyle. Personally, I’m struggling with this in my own wardrobe overhaul and no matter how many packages arrive at my doorstep, I never feel satisfied; it’s like I’m constantly chasing the “perfect” item that only exists in my head. At the end of the day they’re just clothes, but they still play an important role in our identity and how we feel about ourselves.

    All that said, I would definitely be interested in shopping your declutters, especially when they’re going towards a good cause. I think Depop is better than Poshmark for both sellers and buyers because shipping and fees cost less. People also seem more honest on Depop but that’s just my opinion. I’ll keep an eye out on your channels so please let us know when you’re ready to sell!

    • Thank you so much for your comment! I totally understand that feeling of constantly looking for the perfect item. And I totally agree – clothes are clothes, but they definitely have an impact on how we feel and how we carry ourselves. I will definitely give everyone a heads up before I post anything for sale 🙂

  • There’s something about isolation in my apartment that makes me want to fully declutter my life! Looking forward to reading your e-book when I’m ready to tackle my closet. I find I hang on to things because decluttering feels wasteful. However, I don’t ever buy anything new for myself, so I’ve ended up with a closet full of outdated and ill-fitting clothes. I’m ready to have something really nice for myself! But I want to do it sustainably.

    • I agree, there is definitely something about being quarantined at home that makes me feel like decluttering, too! Maybe it’s that we’re surrounded by all of our stuff all of the time. I think you have some great goals, best of luck with your closet and I hope my book can help you! 🙂