How to Incorporate Slow Fashion Into Your Professional Wardrobe
Slow fashion is a concept that is meant to counteract the harmful trend of fast fashion. Fast fashion involves the low-cost, rapid production of clothing items, which often involves the use of an underpaid workforce and the creation of excess waste. Slow fashion seeks to counteract this trend by encouraging individuals to educate themselves about where their clothes come from and to choose more durable, eco-friendly materials.
Some people may find the prospect of incorporating slow fashion into their professional wardrobe particularly intimidating since most feel the pressure to stay up-to-date on trends. However, by adjusting how you shop and approach your professional style choices, it may be easier than you would think.
1. Find Reliable Brands
Researching every brand you come across can be overwhelming, and as such, it can be helpful to narrow your focus to a handful of brands. Try to find brands that offer your preferred style of professional wear and provide transparency about their ethical production and distribution practices. By doing so, you can take some of the headaches out of the process by simply buying the majority of your workwear from these trusted brands and retailers.
2. Educate Yourself About Materials
An important part of engaging in slow fashion is to be aware of what materials your clothing is made of. Ideally, you should choose materials that are durable (to avoid premature disposal) and have a low impact on the environment. Silk for clothing items and tungsten carbide for jewelry are just two examples of durable materials that are relatively eco-friendly to manufacture.
It may also be helpful to choose products that use fewer materials overall. You can often determine what materials have been used by checking labels or doing your research.
Another way that you can ensure that clothing is manufactured and distributed ethically is by choosing locally-produced items. It is easier to investigate the materials, production process, and distribution practices associated with clothing items that are being made and sold in your local area.
3. Think About the 30 Wears Test
When choosing a new clothing or accessory item, try to ask yourself whether you expect that you will wear the item at least 30 times. This is a good, simple litmus test to determine whether the piece is relatively sustainable. This can be an especially helpful rule of thumb if you are unable to further investigate the materials and labor practices associated with the piece.
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4. Consider Used Items
Another way to ensure that your clothing items have gotten the fullest life possible is by choosing used items. When it comes to professional wear, however, it’s best to scrutinize the quality of clothing with this method. You don’t want to wear a stained t-shirt from the eighties in a professional setting, after all.
Thankfully, there are plenty of trendy and high-quality items available at local thrift stores, resale clothing apps, and clothing swaps.
5. Consider Rental Items
Renting clothing can be a great option for unique occasions where you don’t think anything you would choose would meet the 30 wears test. This may be particularly common for interviews or special events when you are expected to wear formal or unique clothing. Rental clothing services are fairly common both in-store and online.
6. Clean Your Clothes Carefully
If you want your clothes to last as long as possible, you should be careful about how you clean them. Improper cleaning methods can cause premature wear and tear. You can typically identify proper cleaning methods by checking the tag or considering what materials the clothing is made of. Proper cleaning is also generally helpful for workwear as it presents a more professional image.
7. Find a Tailor
You can also extend the life of your clothing by repairing it when it becomes worn. A tailor can address these repairs in a professional manner that won’t undermine the professional look of your clothing. Meanwhile, a tailor can offer the additional benefit of adjusting and personalizing your clothes in a way that further lends to their professional look. If possible, it may also be helpful to do regular maintenance on your accessories and clothing yourself.
8. Identify Priorities
Before you even begin shopping, it’s helpful to identify what items you will need and use the most. Start by acquiring these items, particularly if you can find durable and sustainably made editions. For example, a simple pair of trousers, comfortable shoes, and a neutral button-up shirt are common staples for professional wear, and such items may be a good place to start incorporating slow fashion in your wardrobe. It may also be helpful to prioritize durability for daily wearables like wedding rings.
9. Choose Neutral, Timeless Items
By choosing items that have a relatively neutral, timeless look, you can avoid the need to change out your wardrobe along with trends. Blazers, button-up shirts, trousers, and pencil skirts are a few examples of professional wear that have stood the test of times in terms of professional fashion. It may also be helpful to lean toward plain, neutral colors, such as black, white, and beige.
10. Investigate Suspicious Companies and Claims
Some companies will make false claims regarding the ethics of their business practices. For false claims related to eco-friendliness, this would be called greenwashing. To avoid falling into this trap, conduct further research into a company even when it markets itself as an ethical clothing provider. Additionally, stay skeptical of any claims that are either unverifiable or too-good-to-be-true.
Furthermore, some companies that employ unethical practices will try and misdirect you by using a false digital shopfront. For example, many companies on online shopping sites like Amazon will list themselves under a different name. You can often identify these by noticing unusual company names, determining the country of origin, and doing further research on the listed company.
In many cases, you will find the same product listed under different company names on the website. You can tell which one is a scam by looking into each store. If a seller only sells one product and doesn’t offer others, it’s more than likely fraudulent.
While no one can be expected to be a perfectly ethical shopper, you can make positive contributions to ethical clothing production through some basic mindfulness when choosing your clothing.