Whether you are blessed with the actual arrival of warmer temperatures or just looking forward to the official arrival of spring, many of us are craving a bit of a wardrobe refresh at this time of year. And sure, it would be tempting to dive into a trend-led shopping spree. But, as a sustainable fashion advocate – running ethical fashion etailer Sheer Apparel – I’m all for working with what you’ve got and adding a few, fun pieces that will have longevity. Here is how I approach a mindful wardrobe and how to spring clean your closet – take one weekend, a little effort et voila!
Sorting & Storing
Take the time to refold and reorder garments that may have become scrunched up or ended up in the wrong drawer, and wash or have items laundered as necessary. With sustainability in mind it is worth knowing that, for example, high quality knitwear (and by that I mean 100% wool or cashmere does not need to be washed very often and airing it out will often suffice. If items do need a wash, consider hand-washing or an eco-friendly dry cleaner (for example, this one for the Londoners among you), which are much better for you than a chemical clean. Also note that knitwear does not like to live on a hanger and will last longer when folded. Time to reorganise those drawers or maybe invest in some new storage?
If you’re really keen, check whether shoes need to be cleaned and re-heeled, as it can make the difference of a neglected pair of ankle boots with a worn-off heel becoming firm favourites again. While I keep a couple of jumpers at hand for the odd chilly evening, I usually stow away proper winter gear like big coats and cosy turtlenecks in clothes bags or zip-up storage boxes to give the clothes I’ll be wearing in spring and summer some breathing space.
The Wardrobe Audit
If you’re the thorough kind of woman you’ll enjoy this. I wouldn’t advocate having frequent clearouts – it’s much better to buy more thoughtfully in the first place. But once in a while I like to reassess whether I actually still want to wear everything I own. Take everything out of my wardrobe and cupboards, and sort things into categories before stowing everything away again.
This is particularly helpful in checking whether you make a lot of impulse buys that never see the light of day, because you just don’t feel comfortable in that style or that colour regardless of how compelling it looked in the store. We’ve all done it, and I’m certainly no stranger to buying the wrong cut of jeans for my height, or an awkward colour for my skin tone. But it can save you a lot of money and the planet a lot of resources to become more aware of what type of things you just don’t actually love wearing. And it’s so liberating to not feel compelled to consider every trend competing for your attention just because it’s now a ‘thing’ (Fluted sleeves? Really?).
Time to Pass it on?
Consider whether your unwanted clothing can’t make you a little bit of cash (cheap and cheerful on Shpock or Depop, high end on Vestiaire Collective or everything in between on eBay). I’ve also successfully swapped with friends, for a totally free wardrobe refresh. Otherwise your local charity shop will thank you for a donation, though do be polite and don’t leave them things that really are only good for the bin.
Consider some style advice
This is specifically not about trends. This is about getting to know what suits you and what you want your personal style to express. Stylists can be a bit pricey, but my experience is that they will help you make fewer ill-conceived impulse buys in the future and so ican be a great longer term style investment to treat yourself to in spring (Abigail Rebecca and Stylejetters are two I like). If you’re looking to spend less but still want to make smarter fashion choices, the decade old but no less relevant Trinny and Susannah books are still an eye opener in terms of looking for the clothes that suit you, not the clothes that suit others.
Add a few high quality spring pieces
I love how a new garment made in a beautiful fabric and a flattering colour can put a spring in my step. If you’re considering a little shopping spree, but want to keep it sustainable and ethical, emphasise quality fabrics, such as light wool, organic cotton and tencel. Also go for pieces with structure that will make you feel well-dressed even if paired with something more simple for seasons to come, and choose brands that are transparent about their supply chain.
At Sheer Apparel, this spring I am most excited about our super vibrant yet timeless sweaters, such as in this pretty lemon yellow superfine cotton knit – which will instantly refresh your wardrobe and brighten up every outfit. Pastels are guaranteed to add a feminine edge, with this powder blue knitted jumper or blush pink shirt just a couple of options from H&M’s Conscious Collection.
Think about cool, classic pieces that will work for various occasions – versatile dresses like this beautifully flattering stretch cotton number allow you to switch things up, looking fantastic with statement jewellery or trainers based on the occasion. And you can’t go wrong with simple tops in high quality fabrics – this organic cotton t-shirt and sleeveless vest from Mango’s new Committed Collection are wear-forever classics that will stand the test of time.
Finally, with summer on the way, why not take a moment to think about summer pieces? Combined with knits, jackets and accessories, you can start to wear these RN – making the most of your summer wardrobe! Linen trousers and a relaxed jumpsuit are must-haves, plus you can easily layer pretty slip dresses over tees for now- and go bare-shouldered come sunny days!
Will these pieces make your wardrobe feel fresh and ready for spring? Absolutely. But with their ethical, sustainable credentials they are in it for the long haul too.
Paula Gardner is founder of ethical and sustainable fashion etailer Sheer Apparel, which you can follow on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook too. Sheer Apparel has a pop-up shop running until March 26th at 11 Calvert Avenue, London E2 7JP, more info here.