She opened the mirrored wardrobe door and stepped into a new world. Where a tapestry of colourful clothes swung delicately from wooden hangers. Floor-length ballgowns emblazoned with large flowers. Monochromatic coords in oranges, blues, and greens. Wardrobes designed by colour, where rainbows lived and thrived. Two of the cats racing each other around the room, as the autumn sun peeked in. Floods of light illuminating green and hazel eyes, scampering into the folds of her ethical wardrobe.
She could hardly blame them. An Alice in Wonderland set-up. Where prom dresses were swathed with delicately embroidered jackets. Carefully tailored suits shining in primary brights. And who could forget the rainbow shoes for the closet of dreams? Blue cobalt knee-length boots with a mock-croc effect. Red satin court heels with a diamante bow. Some of her clothes had been in her wardrobe for 10+ years, a feat she was proud of. Thrifted, second-hand, and new, she had her own mini shop in her very own home. It was her safe space, where she contemplated life. Breathing in the joy of a wardrobe that enveloped her in happiness. But there was one question? How did she make her colourful clothes last longer?
A sustainable and ethical fashion bible to curate the wardrobe of dreams. To give the colourful clothes the spotlight they had always deserved. Clothes that could be colour-blocked on wooden hangers. Cobalt blues with tangerine oranges. Pillarbox reds with soft dusky pinks. Sea foam green with duck egg blue. No plastic hangers that stretched the clothes out and made them lose their shape. But hangers that cushioned the clothes, that made them shine. Clothes that were loved always, with the 30 wears test. Clothes that could be worn again and again with tender loving care. Not scrunched up into the murky depths of the wardrobe’s lair. She would choose fabrics that lasted longer and wash her clothes less. Separate her colours in the wash, and use stain remover to say bye to stains. She would even give old clothes a new lease of life. A dye bath for faded jeans. Repairing zips, buttons, and frayed seams on clothes that needed some extra love.
With a friend living with A, her partner, and cats, money was being stretched tight. It’s why so many of A’s clothes were second-hand. Not that she minded. Her clothes were just as colourful and fabulous. Her wardrobe was proof of that. She mulled to herself, a steaming cup of spiced cinnamon and clove tea in her hand. Without warning a rainbow appeared in the sky. The calm after the storm. As if the heavy rain of the minutes before had been washed away by love. Now, it was time to put A to the test. Would the planet-friendly fashion changes become part of her regular routine?
Choose Fabrics That Will Last Longer
At a glance Google told A that synthetic microfibre was the longest lasting fabric. After all, its fibres were tightly woven, creating a strong layer of protection. But the colourful clothing deities told her to look a little deeper. It didn’t mean that it was sustainable or planet friendly. In fact, they weren’t biodegradable, and had microplastics that could harm animals, and cause pollution. She couldn’t promote it. Not when plastic suffocated habitats like sinister spells. Haunting the oceans where precious life would dwell. There had to be alternatives. And there was. Linen, and cotton, silk, and wool. The latter two she didn’t use, or wear given that she was cruelty-free. But cotton and linen? It frequented her wardrobe often, bamboo too. Clothes made from recycled fabrics. Thrifted clothes from charity shops, and second-hand marketplaces. Pineapple Leather instead of PU, a promising alternative. Hemp, the natural fabric, hand-picked by the chosen ones above. It just so happened that natural fabrics were biodegradable and recyclable too!
She surveyed her own wardrobe. Admittedly, she did buy from fast fashion brands. But when she could, she would support small businesses, and buy high-quality clothes that lasted. A red and white gingham taffeta dress made from deadstock. A yoga workout set made from breathable bamboo. Vegan hats that she had co-designed. A large straw hat with a gingham fruit picnic blanket.A toppling multi-fruit headdress perched atop an orange turban. Slowly, but surely, she was trying to change the way that she shopped. But what she did do well was support animals. Wearing non-animal materials, and not using animal-based products. She was a cruelty-free fashion shopper, who made conscious choices. Now that she had educated herself on which fabrics would last the longest, she vowed to make a change.
Wash Your Clothes Less
The gods were kind about this. They knew that A had been guilty of over washing. Wondering why clothes were frayed, bobbled, and faded. But it all made sense. From the temperature, to how much you put in the washing machine, all of this had an impact on clothes. Taking her into their wise arms. They weren’t preachy claiming it was the right way to do things. Instead, they encouraged her to find out for herself.And she did. It was like washing your hair. If you did it every day, it would strip away oil, leaving your hair drier and more likely to break. Colourful clothes were the same. If she washed the same pair of jeans repeatedly, the colour would fade, and the ends would fray. A had this happen to her recently. A pair of glorious orange wide-legged linen trousers that had got stained from walking. Where the stain was refusing to come out, and she over-washed to compensate. Now, the trousers were stretched, and the fibre of the fabric was breaking down.
She took this as a life lesson. How many times was she able to wear clothes before washing them? Apart from sports clothes, underwear, and socks, she found 3 times was the lucky number. Unless there were stains, dirt, or it smelled, clothes could last longer than she expected. Coats, outerwear, and jeans were more infrequent. She had a friend who washed his jeans every six months. Though she washed her jeans more frequently than that, she understood why he did that.It wasn’t just about washing clothes less either. Putting the clothes inside out, having a colour group, using a colour catcher, and changing the temperature of the wash all made the world of difference. With these changes, she noticed that her clothing had been given a new lease of life. She was saving money, time, and energy, on a day-to-day basis. She was saving costs on her washing machine, had more time to do other things and was saving money on clothes too. It was a win, win.
Give Swishing A Try
Whenever she thought of swishing, she imagined full 50’s skirts, with a rustling petticoat. Spinning round in a circle, the skirt poofed up around her waist. But it wasn’t that kind of swishing. The key to How to make your wardrobe last longer? Exchanging or swapping clothes, shoes, or accessories with other people. Otherwise known as swishing, Chums said you could ‘refresh your wardrobe without spending a penny’.The added bonus? Getting rid of garments that you no longer wore. A often gave her clothes to charity, and family, but it was never a swap. This was something different. She could arrange a swishing party with loved ones, laying out disused clothes. People ooh-ing and ahh-ing over their coveted favourites. A in just as much thrall. There were apps too, Bandi where circular fashion was made easy. With affordable and sustainable clothing swaps, to find something that would make you smile.
Brands were in on it too. Lucy & Yak, one of her favourites for colourful boilersuits. Who had a ReYak scheme. Where you would return your (washed) item, and they would re-sell or recycle. In return they would give you a voucher to spend online or in store. It was a swap of sorts. Facebook Marketplace another thriving swishing spot. Dresses, trousers, and coords too. Swapped and given a new home.A always had a rule. Anything that had been in her wardrobe and not worn for a year would be swapped, sold, or donated to charity. Though it was rare that clothes went unworn, she always made sure they went to a loving home if they did. But a swishing party? That was a novel idea. She could even do a fundraising clothing swap raising money for charities like MIND, Scruffys Angel’s (a local animal rescue) and Macmillan Cancer Support.
Repurpose And Upcycle Old Clothes
She looked at the pile before her. Affectionately named as a ‘make-do’ and mend pile. Clothes that had seen better days. Rips, tears, buttons missing. Frayed seams and fading colours. But she was never one to throw away clothes. In fact, repurposing clothes was joyful, and gave them a new lease of life. It was one taught by the susty gods themselves. Whose own clothes had been worn and worn again, but still looked brand new. She looked at an old Bridesmaid dress, whose tulle skirt had rips and tears. It wasn’t wearable, but she had an idea to make it come to life again.The lace applique bodice, adorned with pink ruching would be transformed into a beautiful evening top, while the skirt would be shortened, adding a petticoat underneath. She would separate them both to become a coord that could be mixed and matched with other outfits. She was lucky that the tears were at the bottom of the skirt! After learning how to sew, she found old clothes had infinite possibilities. Even clothes that couldn’t be transformed could be recycled and donated to a fabric bank.
It wasn’t just about fixing and mending clothes either. There were clothes that she had fallen out of love with, that were turned into patchwork cushions. Clothes sitting unworn now tote bags to collect food shopping. Scraps of fabrics repurposed into scrunchies, and headbands. Being resourceful had its perks. It helped her fall in love with old clothes again.It allowed her to save money, instead of spending on new clothes. Above all, it was unique and quirky, personalized to her. There was a gorgeous small business brand called Cherry & Mint who she followed. A colourful maven, who created stunning printed earth-friendly clothes, and often used deadstock. The idea for the scrunchies and tote bags came from her. As two accessories she used often, old clothing became circular, and loved once more.
Buy A Stain Removal Pen
She lost count of the number of times she had stained her clothes while out. Smeared nail polish on a pair of light green jeans. Mud on pastel purple tracksuit bottoms. Ketchup on a purple flouncy blouse. There was no way of making the stains disappear. Or so she thought. That was until she discovered the magic of a stain removal pen. With a combination of surfactants and active oxygen, the cleaning tip of the pen targeted the stain.While it didn’t remove all stains, even the stubborn ones were significantly improved. It came in handy for photoshoots. Just the other weekend, posing up a storm in Brick Lane, orange trousers traipsed in dirt. It didn’t remove them entirely, but it didn’t show up in photos. What’s more, it was gentle on her colourful clothes. No harsh residue or marks left behind.
Even better? The susty Gods were truly smiling down at her. Stain removal that was non-toxic, natural, and environmentally friendly. Non pungent without harmful chemicals. There were stain removers she had used in the past on dirty clothes that had irritated her sensitive skin. But here, she saw no negative effects. Wine, coffee, juice, or sauces. Even ink was no match for the mightiest of stain removers.Colour and fabric friendly, with no bleach in sight, it was a Godsend. Easy and fast, it would change the way she dealt with stains. No more running home after spilling wine down her front. Or wrapping herself up in a coat like a burrito because the clothes were stained. Here was a tool that was cheap, effective and planet friendly. It was a win-win.
Use An Airer Instead Of A Tumble Dryer
The last time she used a tumble dryer, she still lived with her foster mum. That seemed like another lifetime ago, a story back in the countryside. A tumble dryer that was in a joining shed, where they dried clothes in colder months. Admittedly back then, they weren’t as aware of its effects on the environment. In their minds drying clothes on the washing line took too long in colder months. They could have their clothes in a matter of hours dried, and ready to be ironed. Though it was many years since she had last used a tumble dryer, she understood their logic.Truth be told, she hadn’t had access to a tumble dryer since then. She had airers instead. But there was something important that she did remember. There were times where hot tumble dryers would shrink their clothes. Underwear now scaggy. Active Wear stretched out. Least of all how taxing it was on their electric meter.
The truth was letting colourful clothes air dry naturally, proved to be the smartest investment. Sure, it took longer, and in colder months, clothes were damp the next day. But she learned hacks that sped up the process. Putting shirts on hangers to reduce creases. Heavier fabrics like jumpers laid flat to dry. It wasn’t just the way she hung the clothes either. Making sure there was enough space on the drying rack, so the laundry wasn’t squashed.All too often she tried to wash, and dry as many clothes as possible. But in the colder weather, it had a negative impact. By spreading clothes out, or moving items to expose them to more air, it dried them more quickly. When the weather was warmer? She would hang them outside in the communal garden, letting the natural sunshine envelop it in warmth.
Separate Your Colours In The Wash
A giggled to herself absentmindedly. She remembered the dreaded wash a couple of months ago. A whitewash tainted by a singular pink sock. That had somehow got bunched up in fitted sheets. The result? A comically faded pink assemble of what was once white. White shirts turned pink. Bedding, yep you guessed it pink. Everything had become pink.In a way, she didn’t mind. After all, white and black was basic. Pink was life. But bedding and work shirts were off limits. It was the oldest mistake in the book but not one that A did often. She made sure that she was thorough after that. Blacks with dark colours. Oranges with well oranges. Blues with blues. Reds with reds. And whites? Not a single colour near it.
When she discovered the joy of colour catchers, that’s when things changed. Saving her colourful clothes from running, and the colour fading. Instead, the clothing was pristine, just like brand new. With brand new clothes, she would even pre-soak them in a bowl over-night, and wash them separately for a few cycles to save the colour. After all, different fabrics and dyes had their own reactions to water and detergent. Deep colours were more likely to bleed dyes onto other clothes. Given how rainbow-bright A’s wardrobe, she was all too familiar with this adversity. By separating colours in the wash, her clothes would last longer, just like her bank account. There was really no cons.
Buy Wooden Hangers To Keep Your Clothes Tidy
Having worked in retail supporting freelance event work for a client, she knew how ardous plastic and wire hangers were. Even cushioned hangers could be a pain with clothes sliding off the hangers to no avail. In her own home, she was slowly replacing all her crappy hangers with wooden ones which were far better.More durable than wire or plastic, it supported her clothes better, while maintaining the shoulder-mirroring shape even over long periods. Gone were the stretching of her precious dresses, trousers, and skirts. Instead, the clothes were given the spotlight that they had always deserved.
A surveyed her rainbow wardrobe with obvious pleasure, selected favourites on glistening hangers. In fact, it made her wardrobe look more luxe and expensive, even when she was on a budget. An eco-friendly switch, it was worth every penny. From different sizes, to shapes, and even types of wood, there really was something for everyone. A had a mixture of wooden hangers, including top hangers without bars, trouser and skirt hangers, top hangers with notches, and even hangers with bars that could be folded and locked. The latter was revolutionary, keeping clothes from sliding, and easier to neatly hang.
Dye Faded Clothes To Make Them Shine
The time had come for her final rule. The one that was unexpected and outside of the box. A hack she had discovered recently. She knew that nothing lasted forever. She was practical in that sense. After all, her colourful clothes faded over time, and would often lose her colour. Especially when she used to over wash her clothes. But when she discovered ‘dye baths’, her fashion experience changed. Like the joy she discovered when upcycling old clothes, dying faded clothes helped them shine. A way to rejuvenate their colour. Or, if she was feeling particularly creative, she would dye them another colour. An orange pair of denim flares dyed two separate colours. Orange on one side made brighter with the help of dye. Fuchsia pink on the other, a daring contrast.
She would add coloured dye to a bucket, watching the colours swirl in water. The liquid changing into a cloudy haze. Granted, she only used that method on block-coloured garments. Anything with prints or texture was a no-go. But many of her outfits were monochromatic. A blue plisse shirt and trousers faded into murky blue. Given a new lease of life with a dash of cobalt blue.A green crop top that had recently been mended, redyed like brand new. A white shirt that had faded into a dull scaggy gray. Turned into brilliant sparkling white once more. The time it took was dependent. 30- 60 minutes to achieve the colour on the box or bottle, with continuous stirring. Lighter shades, 10-20 minutes.
And so, her sustainable colourful journey had come to an end, her eyes heavy with sleep. Drifting into the land of slumber, where burgundy satin ballgowns tangoed with ra-ra skirts. Trousers conspiring noisily with flouncy tops. Coords in a tapestry of fantasies, a nocturnal web. Where shadows weaved in ethereal realms untamed. Dancing with moonbeams in skies made from clothes. A reprieve from the haunting nightmares of the day past, new visions sweet and profound.The anxieties and stresses smoothed away, new ideas forming. A more sustainable world, where her wardrobe lasted longer. A universe where clothes didn’t go to die on a landfill heap. Instead, it would be loved for years to come. Resting gently in the wardrobe of dreams until it was awakened once more. Set free, living, present. Swept into a quasi-magical world of make-believe, where playing pretend was only half of the story.