Sustainability: it’s the fashion industry’s buzzword of the moment. But with a growing awareness around the damaging impact of fast fashion and our collective ‘buy, buy, buy’ mentality, the move towards an eco-conscious lifestyle is more than just a passing fad. So how can we put a more mindful approach into practice? Buying less and buying better is an obvious alternative, but looking after what we already own is a great place to start too. For Deni Kiro, a personal stylist with a focus on conscious shopping and style, it’s simple as caring for clothes correctly:
“Everything – including clothes – has a life cycle. By looking after our pieces properly, we can continue getting wear out of them for much longer.”
As stylist and ethical fashion advocate Rebekah Roy notes, “the average lifespan of a garment is around two years, so even wearing something for five years can have a significant positive effect on our environment.”
Professional organiser Vicky Silverthorn, who has more than a decade of experience helping people to declutter their homes, agrees. She believes a well-cared for, sustainable wardrobe isn’t just better for the planet but also for our wellbeing:
“Throw-away culture creates an unsettling need for constant change, whereas keeping clothes for longer encourage appreciation and gratitude.”
Giving our clothes the attention they deserve can ensure wardrobe longevity, lead to fewer purchases and help us to nurture a healthier, happier world. If we’re looking to live more sustainably, cultivating a wardrobe that can stand the test of time is a must. We asked our experts to share their top tips on keeping our all-important style staples looking great, year after year.
1. CARING FOR CASHMERE
There’s no denying that fabrics like cashmere are high maintenance. It’s why Kiro recommends being realistic when purchasing it.
“Think about whether you’ll actually have the time and energy to hand wash your cashmere,” she suggests. “Rapid spin cycles can ruin cashmere, so if you do buy cashmere, steer clear of machine washing. Hand wash sparingly to preserve the shape and texture.”
If you’re worried about moths, Silverthorn emphasises taking preventative measures before they become an issue. Add anti-moth liners to drawers and don’t use garment bags with holes (moths can easily get through these). Since cashmere can pill, Kiro and Silverthorn both encourage keeping a de-bobbler to hand; simple, inexpensive and effective, they’re ideal for rejuvenating cashmere. Finally, fold and stack your cashmere pieces rather than rolling them, which can cause creasing, or hanging. This can leave marks and cause shoulders to stretch.
2. PROLONG YOUR BOOT'S LIFESPAN
Leather can fade and scratch easily, so it’s important to keep shoes and accessories out of direct sunlight and away from anything embellished. Dust bags and boxes are a good idea. To maximise longevity, Kiro advises rotating your boots and shoes regularly:
“Having a few good pairs to team with your everyday outfits will result in less wear and tear. This means your footwear collection will last much longer.”
If your bags or boots need additional attention, opt for expert care. Using specialist techniques, skilled professionals can restore your most cherished leather items to their former glory.
3. PRESERVE TAILORING AND SILKS
For blazers, coats and silk dresses, hanging is the way to go. Garment bags will protect delicate fabrics from snagging while shoulder covers will prevent dust layers forming. Kiro also advises steaming over ironing where possible and always choosing the right hangers to help clothes retain their style lines.
4. DON'T FORGET THE REST
More generally, Silverthorn cautions against over-ironing, and Kiro and Roy against over-washing (especially denim). Both can reduce the lifespan of clothes. Stick to dry cleaning if that’s what’s on the label, otherwise Roy suggests “washing clothes inside out and in cold water for longevity.” Avoid using chemical-heavy detergents (go with gentler, eco-friendly options) and try air drying, rather than tumble drying. Roy finds that “it’s easier on fabrics and better for the environment.”
Finally, don’t pack pieces into your wardrobe too tightly – “clothes need room to breathe,” says Kiro. If your space permits, archive anything you want to keep that’s out of season. For Silverthorn, “storage boxes are preferable to vacuum sealed bags which inevitably squish your clothes and leave them rumpled.”
As Kiro says, “achieving a more sustainable wardrobe is a work in progress” and caring for clothes requires commitment. In the long run though, maintaining a curated capsule wardrobe will save you both time and money. By taking a more conscious approach to caring for our clothes, it’s possible to create stylish wardrobes that stand the test of time.