How Do I Look?

Green fashion. This topic is a big one for me. I even wrote a book about it.
You ready?

My sense of style is not the same as your sense of style.
Crazy about jeans? Be my guest!
You only like to wear dresses? Good for you.
Yoga-wear is your go-to outfit? Enjoy!
You want another sweater? Buy another sweater.

Be your own style-guru and surround yourself with clothes that you love.

Only, that is getting increasingly harder to do.
I’ve got two words for you: fast-fashion.

Without getting into all the ugly weirdness orbiting the fast-fashion industry, I want to focus on the fact that when the main goal is to sell as many outfits as humanly possible in the shortest amount of time, things like quality and craftsmanship go out the window. The decline in quality has been rapid and under the radar.

I get how using words like craftsmanship makes me sound like an old maid, but the absence of it affects our shopping habits in more ways than you can imagine.

For instance, did you know that we now buy four times as many clothes as we did a few decades ago? And did you know we only wear twenty percent of what we buy? That’s just sad. Warmed by the glow of cheap and disposable trends, we forget to check in with our minds and ask two paramount shopping questions:

-Do I like it?
-Does it fit me?

Instead, thoughts like, ‘Animal print? Why not! I can sooo pull it off. Plus, it’s crazy cheap. I would be insane not to buy it. Maybe I should buy it in blue also? Just to be safe?’ take over and rule the show.  

You think I’m making this up? Check out your own wardrobe. How many of your clothes would you have bought again today? How many of them make your heart sing? All of them? Some of them? None of them?

Green fashion.
I’m getting to the part about green fashion now.

How and where we shop affects the health of our planet. We know that. We know that pollution is bad and sustainable energy is good. But did you know just how much the clothing industry pollutes?
Two words: fast-fashion.

On the plus side, an increasing number of brands and designers are experimenting with sustainable fabrics, adopting ethical business models, and creating environmental production lines. Yay!

Yay? Well . . almost.

Before we throw ourselves at the green fashion brands, I would like to go back to the two questions posed a few moments ago:

-Do I like it?
-Does it fit me?

When I went shopping at a wonderful ethical store, I was so blinded by the fact that my new sweater was handmade by reclaimed wool that I forgot to notice that it had an unflattering boxy shape. Wearing it I looked like Mrs. Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. That would be Emily Gilmore, not Lorelai.

On the other hand, one of my all-time favorite t-shirts is from the fast-fashion chain H&M. This crisp white t-shirt reminds me of tailgate parties, cool summer evenings, and fun conversations with my gang. It makes my heart sing.  

So, no. I don’t think the answer is to simply shift where we shop. It’s too simplistic. Naïve. I think a more sustainable solution is to look at how we shop.

Dream with me.

What if we stopped buying clothes that we sort of liked? What if we only bought clothes that we truly loved and made us feel better in our own skin? Not only would that make us look and feel awesome, but half the pollution battle would be won. Easily.
How cool would that be?

Here are some strategic questions to help you make that dream become reality. When out shopping, pause and ask yourself:

-Do I like it?
-Does it fit me?

And . . .

-Would this make my top-ten list?
-When do I see myself wearing it?
-What else could I be spend my money on?
-Do I need it?

Need is a relative term. Let’s not argue about it. It’s up to you. Besides, I’m not here to tell you what you need, I’m only inviting you to stop buying clothes you don’t like.

My own relationship with green fashion is a living organism and it keeps evolving. Here are some things I’ve tried in the past:

  1. I went a year without shopping. It was hard, but also surprisingly rewarding.
  2. Only shop from ethical stores. Ehhh, no! (See boxy sweater story above.)
  3. Only shop at expensive stores. Expensive brands is code for quality, yes? Nooooo. My Ted Baker coat made me feel like a tree-trunk. Return to Sender.
  4. Only shop at thrift stores. Well, yes! Carbon neutral! Wide selection. Money goes to a good cause. Hello! Sign me up!

The last one is actually sticking. If you want to buy fabulous clothes without ruining the planet in the process, look no further. Plus, where else can I find clothes that cater to my need to dress like Lara from Dr Zhivago AND Lara from Billions? Shopping at thrift stores is like a green treasure hunt.

What do you want to do?
What will you make green fashion mean?
Whatever model you land on, remember to only buy clothes that you truly love.
Let me say that again.
Only buy clothes that you truly love.

You’ve got this!

Until next time, Inger

PS: If you want to read about my year of not shopping, you can buy your copy here:
PPS: If you are wondering about the state of your wardrobe, why not do a decluttering session? Grab my free decluttering book here:

Good luck!

Hosted by Inger D. Kenobi, this column is here to answer all your burning questions, big and small, about whatever is on your mind about climate change. Just email, and it might be answered in the next column.

Inger D. Kenobi is a life coach and the author of the book, 'How Do I Look? The Year I Stopped Shopping?'