I am a Zara girl. Rather: I was a Zara girl.
I studied abroad for a year in a small German city without a single Zara shop – like, how do they dare – and I legit took a train to the next town more times than I’d like to admit just to go shopping.
Well, a couple of years later I learned about fast fashion. First I frowned upon it. Then I quietly judged everyone – including myself – who had ever spent money on it. Now I know I don’t need fast fashion in my life at all.
I wouldn’t say I was a shopaholic. But oh boy, did I get a rush standing on the shoe section during mid-season sales.
When I decided to quit fast fashion for good, I first tried quitting cold turkey. Just like that…3, 2, 1,…and I basically I went from browsing websites and stalking fashion influencers on social media on the daily, to just avoiding anything that had to do with the industry.
And know what? It sucked.
But that’s a brick wall everyone on this journey is going to hit at some point.
The part that I liked the least about quitting fast fashion was knowing (no, thinking) that I wouldn’t be able to have as many new clothes as I wanted. Oh was I wrong.
So probably you’re in that awkward stage where you kind of want to transition into a sustainable closet, but kind of love shopping and you feel you aren’t ready to give that up. Amiright?
That was me for a long time, living in the conscious fashionista limbo. What a terrible place to be.
But if you’re reading this, it means you really are ready to say buh-bye to fast fashion. So here you have these are the tips that helped me – and will surely help you as well.
1. Rethink your closet
I’m sure you’d love to have a wardrobe that really feels like yourself. Imagine: every piece you see makes you happy, is useful, and your style.
So become your closet’s curator.
Now, you’ll have to be critical enough to realize which clothes you want to keep because you can get used out of them, and which ones you’re keeping because you’re attached to them.
It’s not always going to be a nice process, sometimes it’ll be bitter. But I promise in the end it’ll be worth it! Think that you’re just making space for more and better clothes.
2. Focus on the quality of your clothes rather than on how cheap they are
Think about your clothes long term. In the long run, spending a little extra on a piece of clothing will bring you more use and satisfaction than spending less than 10 dollars and being able to use it three times before it falls apart.
This is part of the fast fashion trap: the more we use their clothes, the sooner they get torn apart, and the sooner you have to buy something else form them.
Pro tip: if you can find the perfect second hand store, you might be able to find very high quality pieces without having to splurge on them!
3. Don’t settle for anything that you don’t absolutely love
Many times we buy clothes on a whim, even if we don’t really need them. I like to think of it as some sort of FOMO – or Fear Of Missing Trends, if you will.
My rule of thumb is: never spend money on something you’re not utterly obsessed with. If you buy something that makes you meh, you’ll end up hating it, ignoring it, and replacing it. In other words, you’ll end up spending way more money than necessary in the first place.
4. Learn to appreciate your personal style more than passing trends
If you’re going to get something from this post, let it be this one tip. Fashion trends pass, style stays with you.
So be faithful to your style, to what YOU really like. If that is a padded silk blouse from a vintage store, you go girl.
I remember having this pressure as a teenager to buy stuff from Zara, H&M, and the rest of the gang. Not because I necessary liked their models more than others from non-mainstream stores, but because it was what we, impressionable young minds, are influenced to think.
So wear with pride whatever makes you happy.
5. Realize that quitting fast fashion doesn’t mean you have to quit shopping
I love shopping. That feeling of gratification when you find the perfect fit. Just love it.
And shoes. Oh, shoes.
With my mentality change towards a more sustainable closet, I didn’t have to give up shopping. I just reshaped my shopping habits. And in return, all of this reshaped the relationship I have with my money and everything I own.
I learned to appreciate my shopping time more and be more mindful about it – I don’t have shopping days as often as before, I’m more selective about the stores I go to, and about the kind of industry I support with my money.
You just need to find that healthy balance between doing what you love and doing it mindfully.
6. Be more critical about what you see on social media
Truth bomb: those influencers on YouTube and Instagram doing hauls left and right are not promoting responsible consumer behavior.
How many times have I heard in one of these videos the sentence: “well…I bought this sweater but I’m not sure I’ll ever wear it.”
What even…?? The goal of buying something is, well…you wearing it.
We are normalizing a culture of disposable fashion, and if we ignore the harm it does to our planet, we’ll never get out of this vicious circle.
So next time you see this, think about it more critically. Do you really think that’s a positive behavior? Is it something you want to endorse?
And if the answer is no, go watch a sustainable fashion haul instead. They exist and are veeery entertaining as well.
7. Find sustainable fashion brands that really reflect your style
Don’t tell me that your personal style relates more with a mass produced Forever21 graphic tee saying “My commute is better than yours” (????) (this t-shirt exists, google it) than with a curated piece from a sustainable brand.
There are literally thousands of sustainable (ethical, eco-friendly,…) fashion brands out there waiting for you. Just find your perfect fit.
8. Think about what your perfect capsule wardrobe would look like
Look, probably I will never have a real capsule wardrobe, just because I love having options and I haven’t mastered minimalism yet.
But I’m trying to invest in timeless basics that act as the staples of this hypothetical closet of mine and just let the rest of my clothes and accessories go around it.
So even if you’re not willing to have a 30 piece closet, take some time to evaluate how your perfect closet would look like, and make it happen!