Zero Waste Wardrobe


When most people think of updating their wardrobe for spring, it usually means making new purchases. For me, refreshing my wardrobe means ruthlessly decimating what I already have. I feel so good getting rid of stuff- like a butterfly newly emerged from its chrysalis, ready to spread its wings and fly, unencumbered by excess weight. Probably Kim Kardashian felt the same way after lasering her hairline. Anyway, sometimes all it takes to give an old outfit a fresh look is a little tailoring.

The best closets are perfectly adapted to your life and mood, a snapshot of where you've been and where you want to go, an assemblage of possibilities tempered by pragmatism. In other words, your wardrobe is a filtered selfie, LinkedIn profile, and driver's license photo all in one. People aren't static, so it should change and grow as you do. Like, for the past five years, I did not live a real life, and my wardrobe reflected that, consisting primarily of runway pieces completely inappropriate for walking, eating food, or being around humanity in general. I also had no idea who I was, so my clothes were only an expression of who others wanted me to be. Now, my clothing still connotes both the regrettable choices I've made and my propensity for attention seeking behavior, but it's also well suited for my life right now. I also like to think recent forays into technological fabrics such as tencel symbolize the bright hope I have for the future.




Point is, no wardrobe "plan" should be so rigid it doesn't allow for modifications, however sentimental or impulsive they may be. That being said, I have a few rules established for myself. I only wear full length coats, because I'm not an animal. Only seamed stockings, patent leather heels, and always matching lingerie. I'm over cardigans or layers of any kind, for that matter. A coat looks better over standalone pieces anyway. As far as keeping things minimal, I don't consciously try to limit the number of items in my wardrobe. I have six pairs of shoes, but I wear all of them, so I'm not going to try and pare my collection down to some arbitrary amount. My best advice is to approach clothes shopping the way you approach relationships. For instance, you might find a really cute dress, but if it needs a special bra or major tailoring or a cami underneath to make it wearable, forget it, because that's the sartorial equivalent of a project, and you will never change him. If you're tempted to just settle instead of waiting for something better, don't. Don't lower your standards and get stuck with some sus option, because clothing is a gateway to other poor decision making habits, such as dating a guy who likes his own Instagram photos.



With age, I've come to dread shopping. I have no patience for sifting through thrift store racks and only buy things I find quickly and fall in love with on the spot. I don't look at everything, either- only the colors I like, that are already in my wardrobe or match what I already have (and if a place is not sorted by color, forget it. I can't handle it). Everybody asks for tips on thrifting designer stuff. I always say the same thing: Don't look for labels. Learn to spot good finishing and fabrics. Visit a fabric store, touch everything, read up on warp and weft, train your eye to recognize overcast edges and handstitching. Designer doesn't always mean quality, but looking for quality materials increases the likelihood of finding branded items. Par example, I was in Beacon's Closet for five minutes and a cursory glance yielded a Balenciaga dress, Valentino shirt, Sergio Rossi and Ferragamo heels, Agent Provocateur lingerie and a white cashmere vintage coat. My camel coat? Spotted from a Lyft cab on the way to Laguardia, just hanging in a thrift store window. Some people are gifted musically, artistically, or kinesthetically. My gift is I can smell Prada.


Anyway, here are my clothes. It's my most ethical / sustainable wardrobe yet, 35 pieces, with solar powered or social justice-centered brands breaking up thrift store finds. Everything fits in a carryon, and I still travel more than a week at a time out of just a Longchamp bag. One of my Instagram friends sent me a link about bag-free travel, which is interesting, but difficult for me since I don't like wearing pants. Handwashing clothes in the shower and hanging them to dry is a cherished evening ritual, though. Since I don't wash my hair or do anything with my face anymore, I save the time I would have spent on that to wash clothes as I wear them, with lavender castile soap. Nothing needs to be ironed, everything dries overnight, and most all my clothing is odor absorbing and temperature regulating anyway, so it doesn't need to be washed often. I freeze dry my things in cold climates, and freezer wash clothes whenever I can, too. Since I'm usually working a few different jobs at any given moment and long hours and am never home, doing an actual load of laundry is difficult at the moment (I reserve that for things I absolutely need to do in a washer, like sheets and towels). Having a small, deliberate wardrobe makes maintenance a lot easier.



Above: Madewell t-shirt, American Apparel ribbed dress, Levi's wedgie jeans and shorts, all thrifted. Thrifted H&M lace up shirt, American Apparel ponte foil tank dress, American Apparel crop top and high waist skirt. Thrifted Longchamp bag. Thrifted Louis Vuitton and  Dior coats. Navy, grey, and black dresses, secondhand Dior. Secondhand Louis Vuitton wool skirt, pants. Thrifted Reformation Piper and Axel tops. Etoile Isabel Marant Tom shirt, and merino turtleneck (all pieces but one are at least 96% natural fibers- I handwash the ones with small synthetic percentages and water indoor plants with the water). Thrifted Stuart Weitzman patent leather ankle boots, Ferragamo shoes, Louboutin Simples, Nike Dunk Sky Hi'sFlyknit Air Force 1's

Paris to Go

45 comments:

  1. This may sound inappropriate. But can I just say: I think I love you. X x

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  2. Yay! She's back. I missed your wit and the platonic ideal that is your wardrobe.

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    1. Awww I missed all of you too, thank you so much

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  3. Seconding Jane's comment re: platonic ideal of a wardrobe. I think that your wardrobe would not be applicable to my life (or most other people's), but really, it's your thoughtful analysis of it and approach to buying/wearing/keeping/culling clothes that is truly admirable. Thanks for another great post.

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    1. Thank you!! Yea I'm starting to realize that the collections of must haves magazines prattle on about are bogus because a person's wardrobe is uniquely suited to their life. Not everyone needs the same things.

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    2. Why wouldn't Ariana's wardrobe work in "most other people's" lives? Almost all of her clothing and 50% of her shoes would work very well in my life. The colors all go together and dark clothing is perfect for travel as it does not show stains and dirt as easily as lighter colored clothing. As someone who works full time and travels for work, most of Ariana's wardrobe would very well for me. Just sayin! :-)

      Rachel P.

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  4. Wonderful post...and like the others here...we love you and glad to see you AND your humor back. I too hate shopping for clothes without colour coordination and I love patent shoes....

    forgot to comment on your other post about someone pointing a gun at you ??? And after those attacks in Paris..you have been through the ringer so to speak? With all that travel you do..I bet you miss your kitty cats??

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    1. I miss them sooo much ! The weapon thing happened in Cleveland but I'm used to it. I think people target Asians. With the traveling I've been fortunate not too have too many incidents. Thank you for asking <3

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  5. "If you're tempted to just settle instead of waiting for something better, don't. " - This is so true! Just sticking to this one rule makes it so much easier to stop shopping and make better choices.

    Also, after finding a pair of 100% vintage levis and wearing them pretty much non-stop, I can't understand why people can't make dressy trousers with natural fibers that are just as durable.

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    1. Yes! Me neither! Also, why did I not start wearing Levi's sooner? They are the best!

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  6. Ladies and gentlemen, she is back !

    The red dress got the axe huh ? I am sorry to see it go.

    Adore the freedom from stuff that you have. I see quite a few new things from your last year's closet. Wanted to ask : do you make wish lists and go about finding your clothes ? Or do you incorporate them as you find them ?

    Do you wear clothing till they wear out ? Or do you sell them away before they get there ?

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    1. I always love hearing from you Archana, you always come up with thought provoking questions. I incorporate things as I find them. I only think, ok, I need a new top, or I need shoes for this occasion, and then I look for colors that I already like or have in my wardrobe. I try to wear clothing until it wears out, but if I don't wear something or don't like something, I sell it.

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    2. Ariana, Can I steal this quote :

      "Everybody asks for tips on thrifting designer stuff. I always say the same thing: Don't look for labels. Learn to spot good finishing and fabrics. Visit a fabric store, touch everything, read up on warp and weft, train your eye to recognize overcast edges and handstitching. Designer doesn't always mean quality, but looking for quality materials increases the likelihood of finding branded items."

      and a photograph of yours to feature on my blog ? Please !?

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  7. Im interested you like matching underwear - I like light tops with dark bottoms, so I have moved away from matching. I do notice you have garter belts - tell me more.

    Patent leather shoes tend to not soften as much as I need - so I now usually skip patent leather.

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    1. The garter belts are for when Swedish Stockings starts making traditional stockings and not the waisted pantyhose lol. My mom always had them and I thought they were elegant. But that's actually a good point about the light tops and dark bottoms... once I stretch the patent leather shoes, they are so comfy. But it's true they have a lot less give and can be so painful to break in...

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    2. I'm a fan of stay up stockings, but they don't need garter belts. I have a corset top which connects with straps, but that's more from seduction than any need ;)

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  8. I wish I were less sensitive to the cold: winter clothes take a lot of space, dry slowly, etc. You're amazing and always a great inspiration! (please don't abandon us anymore :-)
    And would you consider writing a post on your job? it looks really interesting.

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    1. I actually had the same problem with winter clothes, how bulky and slow to dry they were, so I got rid of my heavy woolens because I noticed they didn't keep me any warmer than these lighter layers... camel is a great option that dries quick and stays warm but doesn't add a lot of weight. My Wool Story things dry so quickly to. And thank you soooo much, you are so sweet :) Right now I do sustainability consulting and nanny so I'm not sure if my employers / clients would be happy about me giving details but I am very happy to do what I do, I'm not the type of person to sit in a computer all day so this is perfect!

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  9. So does that mean your red Dior dress is worn out to pieces or do wanna sell it? I'm tiny, if you quote the measurements and it fits, I'd be interested to buy it :)

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  10. I am so happy you're posting again! Your humorous zero-waste wisdom has been sorely missed. :)

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  11. I also remember you were selling your other violet coat because you couldn't cycle in it. How do you do that in full length coat?

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    1. The full length coat is sooo much easier because it's a wrap coat and free around the hips, there's more freedom to move. The short coat was very constricting because of the way it was seamed... I'm sorry I sold the red dress, I just wasn't wearing it! And then I saw the girl I sold it to put it on eBay for a big profit lol

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  12. Gah, I've missed you. LOL

    It's so satisfying seeing that you can fit all of your clothes into a carry-on.

    I totally relate to when you said, "I don't look at everything, either- only the colors I like, that are already in my wardrobe or match what I already have." I was recently in Buffalo Exchange and found a navy merino wool sweater. My friend slapped it out of my hand because I was, at the time=, wearing a navy merino wool sweater. I'm actually wearing the same sweater now. LOL. I think that once you know what you like, shopping becomes more and more exhausting.

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    1. Exactly! When you can make shopping as quick and efficient as possible it's a joy, but sorting through garbage you don't like is such a chore. Love the story about the sweater :)

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  13. How do you find caring for outerwear pieces? Do you dry clean, machine wash, etc...?
    I found with machine washing gentle, I did this to a Chanel jacket, (I saw a video from The Laundress doing this) there is a difference in how the body and lining (silk) wash and dry. So the lining would start to droop and bunch up.

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    1. Very interested to know this too. It's to the point where I just don't wash them. My coats seem fine now, and I don't want to dry clean them if I don't have to.

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    2. I have machine washed previous coats! I guess I didn't do it enough for the lining to droop (I've machine washed all of my dresses too, wool fabric with silk lining) but now I handwash and smooth the lining out before hanging to dry so this has not happened yet. In the past I had garments where the lining became too small for the garment though so I should be careful.

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  14. I absolutely agree on "Don't look for labels. Learn to spot good finishing and fabrics". And I find that thrift stores have a LOT of high quality clothes because low quality stuff don't last to get to the thrift store. Even popular brands used to have a lot better quality back in the days and if you find Levi's jeans, NIKE sport wear or Columbia shirt from the 90s, it is a better quality than you can buy now. I think brands don't matter if you have high quality piece of cloth, it will look "expensive" anyway because of all the stitches and fabric. I bought a dress at a thrift store and the label was cut out, so I don't know the brand but the dress is of such high quality. People keep asking me what the brand of this dress is thinking it's super expensive...

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    1. Yes I agree about the quality in thrift store clothes- I find a lot of pure wool and Pendleton and so many Levi's but very few, say, Bongo jeans lol. Finds like your dress make the perceived hassle of thrifting worthwhile.

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    1. Hi I would love that! I was supposed to come back to give a speech and on my way to an earthen building job but because of getting divorced I couldn't leave the country for that long... I am going to try and reschedule those engagements soon though. I have no idea where to eat vegan in Singapore and I looove the city, thank you so much!

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  16. Hi Ariana! I was waiting for an updated wardrobe post! Love your wit and your wisdom.

    Alina

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  17. Love your updated wardrobe. I hope to streamline mine soon with some better quality and thrifted pieces. Wish I could have bought your beige Prada shirtdress!

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    1. Thank you! Ahhh I should sell things I thrift on here lol

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  18. It is very good to have you back. Sometimes the changes life brings are not what we expect but that does not mean they are not opportunities to examine where we are and where we want to be. ((Hugs))

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  19. I would love to read a post on your clothes washing ritual - I've washed sports bras in the shower but never "nicer" stuff. Do you use a bucket, or just let the shower run? Do you clean the whole thing or just focus on armpits/crotch/stains?

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  20. I love your writing and I'm always so excited when I see that you've posted something new!

    Your point about not buying clothes that "need[] a special bra or major tailoring or a cami underneath to make it wearable" is so true, in my experience. Nonetheless, I've had a hard time putting that lesson into practice over the years... Even now that I'm much more careful and am consciously trying to buy much less, I still have a hard time with it! In particular, every time I mention that I piece I bought would be better with tailoring that's just wishful thinking, given how much it costs in NYC. I do it with the best of intentions, as I could, when working at the large law firm, afford to get a tailor to work on beloved pieces, but well, it hasn't happened yet.

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