Easy ways to update your wardrobe without buying new clothes

Do a quick edit of your wardrobe and pick out any clothes you haven't worn for while or have fallen out of love with. Ask some friends to do the same, get together and swap away. If you're feeling ambitious you could organise a bigger event - here are some excellent tips on how to do it. Just remember the golden rule of clothes swapping: only donate clothes you'd be happy to wear yourself. No-one wants your faded old team-building exercise t-shirt from '99 (you'd be better off turning it into a handy plastic-free bag instead).

This is especially useful if you just need an outfit for a one-off occasion. Raid a friend's wardrobe to see if they've got anything that fits the bill - and maybe offer a raid of your wardrobe in return (and...errr...don't be offended if they decline). Renting clothes is another sustainable alternative to buying new. Take a look at Wear the Walk, Nothing to Wear or Chic by Choice if you’re in the UK and Le Tote or Rent the Runway if you’re in the US.

Charity shops, thrift stores - are you a lover or a hater? They tend to invoke marmite-type feelings in most people. If you're amenable to scouring the rails to find something unique with a bargain price-tag. set aside some time to do it justice. It's easy to get carried away when clothes are cheap, but the aim is not to fill up your wardrobe with stuff you won't wear. Be selective and remember that just because it's a bargain, and buying from charity means you are probably fighting poverty / saving the animals / aiding world peace at the same time as updating your wardrobe, does not mean you should buy it. Do you love it? Does it fit? Does it go with anything else you own? Do you already own 15 other very-similar-looking items? Taking it slow applies to charity shop bargains too, so ask yourself these questions before you buy and maybe take a friend along who can help put the brakes on before you buy. If the thought of spending time in a shop filled with random clothes, 70's chinaware, old curtains and Backstreet Boys CDs fills you with horror, try shopping second-hand online (e-bay and de-pop are good places to start).

The ultimate challenge is not to buy anything at all. It could be the case that you have so many clothes it's easy to forget what you actually own (like me). Or maybe your wardrobe is in such a state that a lot of clothes are lying neglected in piles at the back (also like me). Take some time to sort through it all and tidy things up. This'll not only help you get a handle on what you have, it'll also most likely lead to zen-like feelings every time you open your wardrobe (an excellent way to avoid wardrobe-rage, which is apparently a thing). Give those neglected clothes some attention, repair anything that needs mending and maybe even try your hand at some up-cycling (here's how to do a hem by hand or with an iron, alter a seam and sew on a button). Extending the life of the clothes we already have is the easiest, and most effective way to build a sustainable wardrobe. 

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Claire AstonComment