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How to Sustainably Transition Your Wardrobe from Winter to Summer: A Guide to Eco-Friendly Fashion Choices

26 May 2023

How to Sustainably Transition Your Wardrobe from Winter to Summer: A Guide to Eco-Friendly Fashion Choices

Refresh your seasonal wardrobe sustainably with our essential tips on transitioning from winter to summer styles.

As you welcome in the summer months - hello sunshine our old friend! And say goodbye to the triple-layered jumpers and extra-thick socks of winter, it’s the perfect time to slow down, take stock of your wardrobe and work out the most sustainable way to transition what you wear.

A big misconception about shopping sustainably is that it costs a lot more than buying fast fashion, and we’ve put together this guide to help you make better choices for both the planet and your pennies.

Rather than succumbing to that tempting urge to buy a whole brand new wardrobe, we can approach the transition mindfully and make choices that will make getting dressed not only more fun, but something to feel good about on a sustainable level too.

In our comprehensive guide we’ll provide you with the essential tips to maximise your wardrobe’s potential, embrace the creativity of pre-loved fashion and curate a sustainable summer collection that reflects your values.

Take Inventory of Your Winter Wardrobe

Before heading to the shops with the elusive dream of swimsuits and sunglasses, it’s important to take stock of your winter wardrobe.

Honestly ask yourself which of your coats, jackets, winter boots and cosy jumpers have actually been worn this year. For those that haven’t had a look in, it might be time to find them a new home with someone who will love them.

Keep in mind that some of your winter wardrobe could also be summer appropriate, especially for those cooler August nights. Lightweight knits could be layered over dresses or worn with shorts, chunky winter boots might be perfect for festival season, and you might even discover that your trusty turtleneck makes a great layering piece under a dress.

Consider what to put into storage

As you sort through your winter wear, consider which pieces won’t be suitable for the warmer months. Items like heavy coats, thick jumpers, and woolly accessories can be safely stored away until next winter.

These trusty favourites can be moved somewhere out of sight to make getting dressed a bit easier without fighting through the chunky knitwear to find that slinky summer dress or pair of shorts.

Just make sure you properly clean and pack these into airtight containers or garment bags to protect them from dust, moisture and pesky moths and keep them looking fresh for winters to come.

Rediscover your summer pieces

As you say a brief farewell to your winter garments, you can also welcome back your summer clothes. Dust off those pieces that you’ve not seen in a while, and get acquainted with how they make you feel.

This is the part that for some of us can be a little bit daunting - but it’s important to try things on to make sure they’re still something you want to wear. There’s nothing worse than getting to the day before a big event and realising that trusted piece isn’t so trustworthy after all.

Experiment with different combinations

Now is a great time to mix and match pieces together too. Experiment with layering pieces you wouldn’t normally and you’ll find some brand new outfits to add into your summer rotation without spending a penny.

This process should make it clear what you already have in your wardrobe, and help you identify any gaps for the upcoming season.

Create a thoughtful shopping list

Impulse purchases tend to end up being the ones we never wear, so to only buy what we need and will get a lot of wear out of, is the best sustainable way to shop for summer.

Once your winter essentials are safely stored away, it’s time to identify any essential items that you can add to your summer wardrobe and wear with what you already own. 

Prioritise versatility and longevity when selecting items that can be mixed and matched effortlessly. One or two pieces of swimwear that make you feel great rather than five different swimsuits that don’t actually feel flattering, clothes in cuts that you know you feel your best in, and colours that work with what you usually wear are all great choices.

This allows us to hone in on what we really want and need, and instead of wasting money on things that don’t serve us, we can choose better quality, more durable pieces that will reduce the need for constant replacements - making a more sustainable wardrobe.

While you’re planning your shopping list, keep in mind any activities or special occasions that are coming up. 

Are you able to buy one outfit that will take you from your fanciest friend’s summer garden party to your cousin’s wedding, to an evening in Tuscany? Is there any action-packed activewear you need for adventure holiday plans? 

Investing early in these means less last-minute shopping - aka less stress and less bad eco-choices.

What to Look For

When it’s time to hit the shops for the summer staples you now know you need, try to remember your sustainability principles whenever you can.

If you’re easily swept up with trends, consider if you will wear something for years to come, or just this summer specifically. If something is a trend item, but you really want it, picking it up pre-loved will be a better sustainable choice than getting it new.

Pre-loved is also a great sustainable choice if budgets are tight, because you can save some cash and find good quality pieces for a fraction of the price. Shop our summer staples, browse your local charity shop or get online to search for the gems that you will be excited to wear each summer.

Prioritise quality and durability

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again - high quality garments are the more sustainable choice in the long-run than their cheaper counterparts.

Well constructed pieces in durable materials will withstand multiple seasons and retain their shape and appearance, making them better value for money than cheap, low-quality things that will wear and tear more easily.

Choose sustainable fabrics for your summer clothes

So it’s important to stay on the lookout for well-made garments that are designed to endure. Getting acquainted with garment care labels is the sustainable shopper’s top tip. 

You’re on the look-out breathable fabrics like organic cotton, linen and TENCEL™, which are breathable and natural. 

They are also sustainable fabrics which have lower environmental impact. Organic cotton is grown without harmful pesticides, linen is made from flax plants (they require less water and pesticides than conventional crops) and TENCEL™ is made from sustainably harvested wood pulp.

Embrace pre-loved fashion this summer

These fabrics can often end up being pricier than fast-fashion options, so if you want to save money, embracing pre-loved for your summer styles could be the way to go.

From charity shops to online marketplaces to clothes swaps, there’s all sorts of places you can find eco-friendly treasures.

And by choosing to give an item of clothing a second life instead of buying new, you’re contributing to reducing waste and embracing a circular fashion economy (yay, go you!)

Shop consciously

When you’re shopping, research the brands you like to make sure they align with your sustainability values.

Look out for Fair Trade certifications, GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) or Oeko-Tex, which ensure the production is ethical and eco-friendly materials are being used.

Every time you support brands like these, you contribute to the demand for sustainable fashion and are making a direct impact on encouraging change in the industry.

Organise your wardrobe for summer

Good organisation is the secret to a stress-free summer wardrobe, and is one of the best gifts we can give to ourselves.

An efficient organisation system means getting dressed gets easier, and you’re able to fully appreciate the clothes you own.

A well-organised wardrobe not only makes it easier to make conscious decision-making, but also makes your mornings more simple and enjoyable.

Categorise Your Items

Start by separating your summer clothes into categories like tops, bottoms, dresses and accessories, so that it’s easy to access what you need.

If you’re someone who has lots of clothes, you can take this a step further and arrange the clothes within each category by colour or style, so it’s even easier to find what you want.

This is going to help you find pieces in your wardrobe more quickly and it could even inspire new outfit pairings.

Disposing of your winter clothing sustainability

When saying goodbye to the winter clothes you no longer need, it’s important to find the best way to dispose of them as sustainably as possible. 

According to Nutmeg, the average British woman has £300 of unworn clothing at the back of her wardrobe, and that’s not even including the things we’ve worn and loved in the past that still have a lot of life left in them.

Depending on how much wear is left in something, you might want to donate it or send it to a takeback scheme, or gifting to a friend or family member who will love it.

With clothes that are past their wearable best, and beyond the skills of even the most magical repair team, it’s time to drop them off at a local recycling centre, who will find the best way to transform them into something new.

We accept clothes in all conditions in our takeback scheme, and even offer vouchers for your favourite stores in return. 

Transitioning your wardrobe from winter to summer is a really exciting opportunity to embrace sustainability and make conscious fashion choices.

By taking inventory, rediscovering old favourites, shopping with clarity and sustainability in mind, and making conscious choices, you can curate a planet-friendly and stylish summer wardrobe that makes you look and feel fab.

Why not check out our summer favourites to discover the newest pre-loved piece for your own wardrobe, or learn how to build a capsule wardrobe to make getting dressed even more sustainable and simple.

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