When it comes to creating a greener, leaner closet, there's one very simple thing we can do that often gets overlooked: Wear more of what you already own.
Absolutely not. In fact most of us only regularly wear 20% of the clothes in our wardrobes (the official statistic is higher than that, but based on what I've seen in clients wardrobes, most of us often stick to a handful of favourites). Why do we only wear a small amount of our clothes regularly? Often it's because those clothes are suitable for whatever it is that we are doing, that fit, and that we like and enjoy. So, we can assume that the things we don't wear often we either don't like for one reason or another, are perhaps not so suitable or practical, or maybe don't fit, or we are just keeping for some other reason (guilt and sentimentality are common reasons).
We also wear a small amount of clothes a lot of the time because we are creatures of habit, and once we've created a successful outfit, our brains revert to that outfit over creating a new one. And there's nothing wrong with that because it makes choosing what to wear easy, but sometimes our brains get stuck in just a handful of outfits when we could be inventing some new ones.
If we can wear more of what we already own, extending the life of those by just 3 more months we can reduce the waste, water and carbon footprints of those items by as much as 10% (Source: Love Your Clothes). We also will get more value from our investments and give ourselves more options to wear each day. And the more we 'shop' for new outfits from our own wardrobe, the less inclined we'll feel to go and find that creative thrill by shopping elsewhere. In my online course Sustainable Style Studio we start by packing away the things that are out of season, and then we measure what we are wearing and what we are not (there's lots of ways you can do this, such as turn the hangers around the 'wrong' way when you've worn something), so that we can see our 'favourites' and the things that don't often come out to play.
We also sort by colour to make it easier to see what might go with what. Just by noticing what you wear a lot tells you so much about your style and what you love, and if you can identify what that is, then you can work out why you don't wear your other clothes. For example, one of our participants realised she wasn't wearing any of her patterned clothes, favouring texture and plain over print. Someone else realised their much loved items were all in natural fabrics and the things that felt icky (her word!) just stayed in the wardrobe. To test this out in your own wardrobe just start noticing what you wear and what you don't and see if you can figure out why. Once a week, it's then really fun to go through some of the things you haven't worn and play around with it, see if you can love it again and make a new outfit from it you've never tried before.
If you love the outfit you've created, take a selfie and challenge yourself to wear it once that week. Notice how you feel in it, could it become a new favourite? If for whatever reason it's not ringing your bells, then you at least know you can happily say goodbye to it, and send it on it's merry way to find a new home with someone else. And if you love it, then great - you've created something new from what you already have at home, and that's the ultimate in sustainable style!