Zero Waste Wardrobe

   
   
   
  
   
   

If your entire wardrobe doesn't fit in a carry on, what are you even doing? I'm kidding, because numbers don't matter much. Everyone's ideal wardrobe size is different, and we need to step away from one size fits all approaches in favor of individualized ones. A person's wardrobe is one area where the paradox of choice and law of diminishing returns applies, however, so sticking to signature pieces (trench coat, sneakers, camel coat) and simple styles I love (bodysuits or scoop necks with a pair of jeans, tailored dresses) instead of always chasing the newest or latest is actually freeing. It also kept me creative, forcing me to figure out how to combine pieces in new ways (although all I really did was wear skirts over my dresses) and breathe life into old clothing. I learned how to shorten jeans while keeping the original hem, how to take in garments, darn socks, patch items, and knit in my quest for the perfect wardrobe. I think I can still express myself through my clothing because each piece shows that I value practicality and minimalism, but also that I live in the same city as Khloe Kardashian.

A well constructed closet is useless without proper foundations. I sold my Agent Provocateur sets because one day I looked in the mirror and was like, my Pansy sets are way cuter (FYI Agent Provocateur is something you buy for yourself, because men can't handle it). You can wear them with fully recyclable silicone Nippies to make them office appropriate. Most of my clothes are secondhand, but I like Pansy, Dôen, A Wool Story, Re/Done, and Reformation for new items because they're sustainable and ship plastic free. On Etsy, I like Rawson and Shopfuture. Poshmark is typically where I shop for brands like Re/Done and Reformation, but eBay is better for specific items, like my secondhand Dior Oui ring. Violette Leonie is pretty much the only place I ever bought clothes in Paris, apart from the long closed Vintage Bar, where I found my Louis Vuitton coat. Most of my Dior and Louis Vuitton items were from The Real Real, but I don’t recommend them anymore- their stuff is always dirty and they no longer ship plastic free. It's still better than Vestiaire Collective.


While buying secondhand seems like a no brainer, consuming too much of anything is never a good idea, and even donating responsibly sourced items can have far reaching impacts. Americans donate over 4.7 billion lbs of clothing each year, only about 1% of which is suitable for sale in thrift stores. The rest is sold to commercial used clothing dealers and textile recyclers for export. Thrift store clothing has a limited shelf life - about a month before being sent to clearance centers and exported. The influx of used clothing in destination countries impedes local industries and further burdens communities with the problem of disposal. To limit turnover in my wardrobe, I stick to shapes and colors I won't get sick of years from now, only replacing items as my size and lifestyle changes, which is why it took me all year to buy a second pair of jeans. 

  1. Levi's Wedgie high rise, Coyote Desert, 26 
  2. Levi's 646 bell bottoms, indigo wash (orange tab from the 70s), 26 in modern sizing
  3. Levi's Wedgie cuff shorts, size 25 
  4. Equipment cotton shirt (heavily tailored- cropped and taken in, it's still very loose and I might get rid of it idk. How do French girls wear such large shirts?) size XS petite 
  5. L'ecole des Femmes Oui shirt, sz M (similar)
  6. Black H&M tank top sz XS 
  7. Black Re/Done bodysuit sz S (very high cut- if you buy it new, buy from Barneys or the Outnet- they ship plastic free) 
  8. Reformation Lozita bodysuit navy sz SM 
  9. Reformation Piper top sz S
  10. Reformation Axel bodysuit sz S 
  11. Dior black dress sz 36 
  12. Dior navy dress sz 36 
  13. Dior gray dress sz 38, taken in 
  14. Louis Vuitton black wool skirt, 38, taken in 
  15. American Apparel grey henley dress 
  16. White American Apparel tank top 
  17. Salt Dôen Brigitte t-shirt, size S
  18. Tawny Dôen Brigitte t-shirt size S - these are the perfect t-shirts. The fabric will never get little holes and the colors don't fade. They're completely opaque, and hide my back fat  
  19. Louis Vuitton raincoat sz 40 
  20. Camel Dior coat sz S 36 (as you all know, I got this at a thrift store in NYC)
  21. A Wool Story socks, hat, and mittens 
  22. Nuria Couturiere espadrilles (I've had these for years- Sezane makes similar ones) 
  23. Pact Organic socks (purchased new... I hate them. Their branding and packaging are so obnoxious, but they were at Whole Foods so I thought, why not) 
  24. Christian Louboutin Simple pumps sz 37.5, 100 mm
  25. Ferragamo Vara sz 7C, stretched at the store, although now they're a little loose since I'm not walking all the time
  26. Stuart Weitzman boots sz 38 
  27. Nike Wedge Sky Hi's sz 37 
  28. Nike Air Force 1's flyknit sz 37 
  29. Longchamp Pliage- medium shopper in grey. These bags have a lifetime warranty, so if the corners wear out and the bag can no longer be repaired, they will replace it 
  30. American Apparel swimsuit XS 
  31. Gucci sunglasses and Rayban glasses for me to wear while looking at the computer at work 
  32. Dior ring sz 7 
  33. Pansy sets in rose and black (two bras plus enough briefs for the week- and these bras do work for larger than a D cup) 
  34. J Crew vintage cotton pajamas, secondhand. The reviews say they look like scrubs but frankly they're very cute on me 
I plan on buying leggings and a sports bra because I have to face facts and start working out, but I’m in no hurry. For the time being, I can just swim and hike and carry sheets of plywood around (and if you’ve followed me a while now, you know I mountain bike in my grey dress). Every season I wash my coats and sneakers with castile soap and air dry. This year I didn't need to take anything to the cobbler or tailor, but I let some seams out because of my new sedentary American lifestyle.

I tend to buy in store because of my strange body type, but not everyone has decent thrift stores in their area. Shopping online isn't necessarily worse for the environment- studies from MIT, Stanford, and Carnegie Mellon indicate online shopping tends to have less environmental impact on its own. Brick and mortar facilities require energy, and driving to shops creates emissions, whereas delivery services have incentives to optimize and streamline routes for efficiency. Packaging accounts for 22% of emissions when buying online, whereas customer transportation accounts for 65% of emissions when buying in store, according to Carnegie Mellon.


This doesn't account for consumer behavior. People often supplement in store shopping with online shopping, and opt for faster shipping times or returns, resulting in increased emissions. So the best thing to do is buy less, plan ahead, and bundle shipments; research purchases to avoid mistake buys, refuse express shipping, and take public transport when shopping at stores whenever possible.
Paris to Go

13 comments:

  1. Thank you for all the inspiration. Most places I read on the blogosphere have a new set of clothes every season parading as a small capsule wardrobe - it's become a pet peeve of mine to see these posts and read about minimalism from them. (http://mygreencloset.com/)'s Erin is also a great role model. You two should totally collaborate !

    My closet saga includes but is not limited to :
    1. I am ready to downsize my shoe collection but am still wallowing in the guilt zone.
    2. Making impulse purchases that I will quickly return.
    3. Wanting to wear more denim but having a closet full of dresses. ( More for practical reasons. Bay Area is chilly at sunrise and sunset. )

    Ariana,
    What are your thoughts on Everlane ?

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    1. Completely unrelated to what you've written here, but I've missed your writing Archana. Hoping you come back soon.

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    2. I agree- I always loved your writing!! It took me a long time (clearly) to start wearing jeans more often than dresses. Dresses are so easy and I gravitate to them more still, but my urge to not stand out forced me to wear jeans- Paris was really a pants city. I haven’t tried a single Everlane piece. I passed the store last week and realized I must be the last blogger to not try it. Because i never found it secondhand, i never got into the brand like I did Reformation. The store looked lovely though, and I’ve never heard anything but good things about the glove shoe.

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  2. Thanks for this post! You have been a big inspiration to me to approach fashion more thoughtfully and sustainably. One idea I struggle with, though, in paring down my wardrobe is color. I love to wear bright colors and patterns, so obviously lots of pieces don't exactly match each other and I also have the more "basic" neutrals to balance out the brights. I feel like most minimalist style bloggers I've seen tend towards more neutral, simple (though not uninteresting!) color palettes, but that's just not my style. Do you have any tips, or suggestions on who to follow to help incorporate a more minimalist ethos while still embracing color and pattern?

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    1. So you can wear all jewel tones and lots of patterns together! Catherine Baba actuzlly jas a shockingly minimal wardrobe considering and she wears leopard like a neutral. I think into mind wears a lot of pastels together too. In my style evolution post I talk about how I used to wear checked shirts with floral prints and only wore bright colors, my ex also had a minimalist wardrobe and only wore brights. Just treat your favorite colors like neutrals- I have a wardrobe color guide in the archives. Like purple and green used to be my neutrals! I stopped wearing brights because nobody wears them in Paris and i felt self conscious. I wonder if a lot of minimalist bloggers felt the same way? Also I feel like in many parts of the world people have much smaller wardrobes overall but only wear brights so it definitely can be done!

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    2. Thanks so much for your reply (I just now saw it)! You brought up some great points, especially about people in many parts of the world having smaller wardrobes while wearing brights- this is very true from my experience studying abroad in Madagascar (although the massive influx of secondhand clothes imported from "Western" countries was/is threatening the minimalist clothing sensibility) and it's definitely a good inspiration. Thanks!

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  3. Hi Ariana! I was wondering, what do you do about pilling on your wool clothing items? The only issue I have with having fewer clothing pieces is that I end up wearing my wool sweaters more often causing them to pill a ridiculous amount.

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    1. Hi! I use a safety razor on them. I haven’t had a wool garment that’s prone to pilling in awhile because I like woven wool more than knots but when I wore knit sweaters the safety razor took the pilling right off!

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  4. Aww man. I love these posts so much! I pore over them whenever I feel like I need to get more and then remember that I have plenty to work with. I'll be trawling the archives if you need me.

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    1. Aww you are the sweetest!!! ❤️❤️❤️

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  5. I hate Pact Organic as well! I got a bunch of their socks (both traditional athletic style and more formal boot/dress socks) and underwear for Christmas. The quality is terrible and everything looks thrashed after a few washes. I switched to Organic Basics and am much happier, plus the ship plastic-free in Europe.

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  6. I enjoy reading your outfit posts so much.
    I'm getting close to my ideal wardrobe that can take me from conference to cocktail hour, to desert camping without access to water, in one carry-on. It's funny how I'm attached to some pieces of clothing to where I worry about wearing them out or losing them...
    I just wanted to add that I agree about the bad quality and tackiness of PACT organic. I got their nude cotton briefs and they are not holding up very well. They're a whole size larger after half a year and the cotton is streaky.
    As much as I think Dov Charney is creepy, I recently bought the cotton briefs from Los Angeles Apparel, and I am impressed. It's a classsic low-rise shape with thick sturdy cotton, and they ship in a recycled brown paper envelope with no plastic sleeves or tags. My hips are 35 in and I got the S - it's a bit tight but I think they'll stretch comfortably over time. I'm curious about their bralettes. I haven't tried or seen Pansy organic sets in person yet, but I imagine they are the organic fem-powered versions of the LA Apparel undies.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this useful information, I will regularly follow your blog

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