How I'm Building a Kinder Wardrobe

It’s Fashion Revolution week this week. Because of my job, I think about ethical fashion every day. My wardrobe is still a work in progress, but for the past few years I’ve started to actually align what I wear with my values.

What inspired me to build a more mindful wardrobe:

  1. working at Soul Flower
  2. watching The True Cost movie
  3. learning about ethical fashion, minimalism, zero waste, veganism, and all different aspects of mindful living

As of April 2017, this is my wardrobe:

sidenote: yes, my clothes are mostly black and gray. this is a deliberate style that took me years to figure out. but that's a story for another time.


35% of the items in my wardrobe are secondhand: bought thrifted, got at a swap, or are hand-me-downs from someone. The rest I bought new. I’d like to buy LESS brand new.

I don’t have many items that I’ve owned for a long time. I tend to cycle through clothes because they’re shitty and start to look bad, or because I get bored. I’d like to give my clothes a longer life cycle.

A pretty decent chunk of my wardrobe was made in the USA, and I credit that to all the clothes I own from Soul Flower. The rest of these countries are from brands whose working conditions I know nothing about. Not cool.

Moving forward, here’s how I’ll continue to build a kinder wardrobe:

Buy less

Always first: buy less. It’s hard to go against the cultural norm of buy, buy, buy. You’ve got to continually remind yourself why you don’t want to participate in our consumerist world. But collecting clothes and things doesn’t help our planet and doesn’t make us happier.

Buy secondhand

If I do buy clothes, shoes, or accessories, secondhand will be my first instinct. I’ve had good luck buying used online from eBay, Vinted, Poshmark, and ThredUp. (Here’s a referral link to ThredUp - you get $10, I get $10.) I enjoy the hunt, and although I’m hesistant to admit this: in the past, I’ve spent hundreds of hours searching for a single item… over the course of weeks/months. But all that time and energy has resulted in the best-made purchases in my closet. No joke.

Buy USA made

It’s becoming easier and easier to find USA-made brands these days. And I will continue to seek them out. I like USA made because it seems like those items are higher quality and more mindfully designed and crafted. Plus it supports local economies and people getting paid fair wages.

Buy Fair Trade

Buying Fair Trade is the next best thing to buying USA made, I think. I’m not against purchasing items made in other countries, as long as the workers there are treated like actual humans and not machines. Fair Trade means safe working conditions, third party oversight, and fair wages. Jewelry is incredibly easy to find Fair Trade (or handmade in the USA), so that’s a category where I have zero tolerance for fast fashion.

Love what I own

This can be difficult because it’s so easy to get swept up in wanting what other people have and getting sick of what I have. But I think once you start to buy more mindfully, you are careful about what you bring into your wardrobe. You’re more likely to pick something you LOVE instead of something that’s just on sale. And this makes loving that item easier.

If we want to see fashion become a force for good, we're going to have to change the way we think about what we wear and why we wear it. We need to love our clohtes more. We need to look at them as precious heirlooms and as trusted friends.

How to be a Fashion Revolutionary

Another aspect to loving what I already own is taking care of what I own. Mending rips and tears. Laundering correctly. Washing my bras in a mesh bag and air drying to make them last longer. I’d also love to get an indoor clothesline or drying rack in our apartment to cut down on energy and wear.

To help you in YOUR journey

  • I’m collecting USA-made and ethically-made items and brands I like on my Slow Fashion pinterest board.

  • The Done Good app/Chrome extension alerts you when you’ve found a mindful brand. I’ve discovered a bunch of awesome companies with this.

  • Verena Erin of My Green Closet youtube channel does an inspirational job living and explaining ethical fashion.

  • There are a thousand other ethical fashion resources I could link to here. But I don’t want to overwhelm. If you’re interested, just search for ‘ethical fashion’ and follow your heart.

Here’s to living mindfully!
~LMJ

How I'm Building a Kinder Wardrobe ⇒ Creatively Operating, leiahmjansen.com, @oleiah

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about

Leiah Jansen

artist, graphic designer for soulflower.com. vegan. washington, dc. magic, intuition, creativity, curiosity, intentional living.

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