Last post we discussed what it means to have a conscious closet. Today we’re looking at HOW we can work towards achieving that goal, without succumbing to fast fashion, marketing ploys, discontent or spending a lot of (or ANY) money.

How To {Realistically} Have a Conscious Closet

Here are a few ideas to consider:

Take a closet challenge

Back in August, I joined Encircled (a sustainably made fashion brand in Toronto) in a closet challenge. The rules were simple: choose 7 items from your closet that you rarely wear, and within a 7 day period, wear ONLY those items. Whichever ones you did not wear you had to commit to giving up. I made it through quite easily realizing that 3 of the 7 items had worn out their welcome and were just not right for me. The remaining 4 I had a newfound love for and ideas on how to wear them!

The goal of a closet challenge is to learn to be content with what you have.

To find new ways to wear things you’ve maybe forgotten about. To clean out excess and whittle down pieces that just aren’t for you any longer or can only be worn one way based on the rest of what is in your closet. It’s also a great opportunity to give something to someone who may appreciate it more! The goal is NOT to add more pieces to your wardrobe.

I plan to do this at the start of each season to pare down some things that are just taking up unnecessary space and identify which items need a little more attention. Check out (Canadian!) Morgan’s work at The Garment – she’s super inspiring for learning to love what you already have AND has the inside track for all the best sustainable fashion.

PSA – The #fall10x10 style challenge is in full swing and I’ve finally joined in!

Choose 10 items for 10 days and create various different looks from them. It’s a totally easy way to assess your closet and get your feet wet if you’re too afraid to try a full-out capsule wardrobe. The 10×10 wardrobe was started by (another Canadian!) Lee Vosburgh and you can learn more about it on her site Style Bee.

Create a capsule or minimalist wardrobe


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My very neutral fall capsule tones ✨✨ looking to maybe add a bit of warmth to this palette! What do you guys think?

A post shared by Candice Tay (Mok) (@candicemtay) on

I have never successfully done a true capsule wardrobe myself. BUT I am working towards a more minimalist wardrobe. And I do know there are great benefits to creating these types of wardrobes.

Everything in it is classic and will not quickly go off trend; the items should be well-loved, easy to style, and coordinate with multiple outfits. It takes practice but over time you’ll realize it’s easy and fun and no one really cares or notices if you wear the same thing 2,3 or 4 times! (I’m preaching to myself here on this also!)

For great capsule and minimalist wardrobe inspiration, check out these awesome gals (they’re also Canadian!) who are doing it so well!

Candice Tay (Blog and Instagram)

Slow Fashion Mom (Youtube and Instagram)

The Minimalist Wardrobe on Instagram has lots of ideas and links to other capsule wardrobers.

One in, one out rule

Before adding an item to your closet or household, whether it’s sustainably made or not, stop and take stock of what you already have. Will this item be filling a gap? Or will it be adding excess?

Just because something is ethically made doesn’t mean you should buy it!

A good rule to follow is if you’re planning on bringing an item in, think about moving a similar item out. For example, if you have a cupboard full of aging but still functional mugs, and there is a beautiful handmade mug you’ve had your eye on for months, then consider saving towards the purchase. But move out a few of those old mugs first!

Or if you have 3 grey t-shirts which are really quite ill-fitting, and you’d like to purchase an ethically made equivalent, donate or give away the shirts first and see if the need is still there.

Essentially, before you bring an item in, move an item out and see if the need for it still exists.

If you still have a need, then work towards filling it and if you’re able, purchase it sustainably made. But if you’re buying something that is made well just to feel good about the purchase, then that’s a wrong reason.

If the things in your home and closet are meeting your needs, then they’ve done their jobs, whether they were manufactured in a fair trade environment or not. You have no need to feel guilty about it!

Shop Second Hand

There is a lot to be said for shopping second hand. BUT (and there is a big but here!), you do still need to be cautious in your approach to second hand shopping.
It can be very easy to succumb to the same fast-fashion ideals of high turn over and acquiring more than we need, especially at the attractive thrift store prices. This also can feed a problem and cycle of buying and eliminating and actually can lead to issues elsewhere in the world – the fact that our “free” second hand clothing is getting pawned off to other countries at a profit isn’t the only problem. Check out “Donating Isn’t What You Think It Is” here in this post.
Aside from that caution, we should absolutely use second hand shopping opportunities to our advantage! One way that I do this is if I am considering a purchase, I will see if I can first buy it used from somewhere.
  • If I’m unable to find a similar or the same item thrifted, then I’ll determine how much it is actually “needed” (or wanted :D). The more time I allow to pass before making my purchase, the less likely I am to actually buy it. And yes, that’s a good thing!
  • Keep a list of things you’re looking for on your phone and whenever you see something come available, you’ll be better able to make an informed decision about it.
These are just a few suggestions and ways that I’ve been working towards applying a “conscious closet” approach to our lives as a family. I know there are more ideas out there and I’d love to hear from you what you’re doing!