When I made the decision to move towards more sustainable fashion I had to look at my wardrobe and ask myself “how ethical is my closet right now?” Trying to answer this question has allowed me to create an ethical wardrobe audit that I perform on my own closet every 3 to 6 months. The timeline is totally up to you. I wanted to share my step-by-step process so you can perform your own wardrobe audit.
Step One: The Mountain
This is exactly how it sounds, but not exactly what you may be thinking. I took this inspiration from Marie Kondo. If you are all about decluttering then you already know this technique. Essentially, you are removing every single item of clothing you own and making a mountain of clothes. By doing this you truly see how many clothes you have amassed over the years. You will probably even shock yourself. My pile of clothes was so massive when I did this the first time I didn’t even know how I got all of my clothes in the my closet.
Step Two: Sorting Through the Madness
Now that we have our pile we have to start sorting through everything. The goal here is to create three piles: one for sustainable/ethical purchases, one for used purchases, and one for unethical purchases. Just looking at the size of each pile you can clearly see how ethical your closet is. When I first ran through this wardrobe audit my unethical clothing pile was the largest which is to be expected. I used to just purchase clothes not caring where it came from. If it was cute and cheap, it went home with me. I like to walk my clients through this particular sorting process because visual learning is the most effective.
Step Three: Processing the Unethical
Now it’s time to work on each pile one at a time. I personally like to start with the unethical pile because it’s the largest and I want to get the hard part over with, but it does not matter where you start. The idea is not to throw everything in this pile away because it’s been marked as “unethical” but to process the pieces you no longer where and responsibly remove them from your wardrobe.
Always try to closet swap with family and friends first. This is the easiest way to get rid of some of your unwanted clothes, but most importantly you are ensuring your clothes find a new home instead of ending up in a landfill somewhere. If you’re not into giving away your clothes for free, try to make so money on what you can. Try apps and sites like ThredUp, Poshmark, Depop, or Mercari. These are just a few of my favorites, but you can go to any secondhand source that works for you. I’m also a fan of Buffalo Exchange if you’re looking for a physical store to donate to.
Step Four: The Rebuild
Your closet is a blank canvas now that you’ve sorted through everything. A well organized closet will make putting outfits together an easy process. You should see your closet as your own personal boutique and boutiques are merchandised. I recommend hanging your clothes on felt hangers and all the hangers should be the same color. The felt material ensures your clothing does not slip off the hanger unlike plastic hangers.
Start merchandising by sectioning out your closet and keep like items and seasonal items together. This will make it easier to “shop” your closet. I also think it’s important to create a color story in each section. It’s visually appealing to move from lighter shades to darker shades throughout each section. Any items you do not wear regularly, but are not ready to get rid of should be placed in storage bins at the back of your closet.
Overview & Final Thoughts
Performing a wardrobe audit should be a fun process. Yes it’s time consuming, but it’s necessary. Performing these audits periodically can show if you’re shopping with sustainability and ethics in mind. Your unethical pile should no longer be the largest and that is something to celebrate. And as a major bonus you will always have a clean, well organized, and merchandised closet.
So, are you ready to perform your wardrobe audit? If not, I can do all the hard work for you with my Personal Shopping service. Leave a comment! Would love to hear about your experience sorting out your closet.
Mynka is a personal wardrobe stylist sharing some style tips, outfit inspiration, and using this blog as a platform to continue the important discussions surrounding sustainable fashion.