Can high street clothes be a part of a sustainable wardrobe?

Can high street clothes be a part of a sustainable wardrobe? After my big Marie Kondo wardrobe clear out in January, when I got rid of 75% of my wardrobe. I was left with 25% of purely good stuff. I owned only things I absolutely adored and would wear over and over again.  Most of it was designer items or at least kind of mid-range and high quality. But there were still a few high street favorites left.

After my big Marie Kondo wardrobe clear out in January, when I got rid of 75% of my wardrobe. I was left with 25% of purely good stuff. I owned only things I absolutely adored and would wear over and over again. 

Most of it was designer items or at least kind of mid-range and high quality. But there were still a few high street favorites left.

When I got high on fast fashion I mainly focused on trend-led items that went out of style almost as soon as I put it on. I was always chasing my next trend fix and knew exactly what was in stock at my favorite high street dealers. Most of the stuff I bought I wore only a couple of times before they felt “done”, “old” and “boring”. And got discarded in the back of my wardrobe or in a box in the basement.

Some stuff broke straight away and others after a couple of washes. A lot went in the bin prematurely because the quality was terrible.

So to be honest, it wasn’t hard at all to get rid of the bulk of it. As soon as I picked something up I knew exactly what pile to put it in just based on the feeling of the fabric in my hands.

However, a couple of items did make the cut and I will tell you why. 

Curating a sustainable timeless wardrobe is about choosing quality over quantity and to give up fast fashion forever.

I haven’t been to a high-street shop since. Gone are the days of impulse shopping or just popping in to have a little look… No more browsing endless websites filled with rows of the same stuff. As addicted as I was to it then, as much it repulses me now.

So shouldn’t I have got rid of all my high street clothes and start fresh? The answer to that question is no. It wouldn’t be very sustainable.

If I have an item from the high street that I actually like and think I will wear in the future, it’s a lot better to keep it than to try to sell it or give it to a charity shop. Because high street brands have pretty poor re-sell value and could end up as landfill or if we are lucky in textile recycling.

So, in the long run, it’s a lot better for the environment that we hold on to it and use it.

This is why you will still see me in high street brands now and then. Most likely I have had the clothes from before I changed my wardrobe and I want to get as much wear out of it as possible. So they are a natural part of my now sustainable wardrobe.

This beige leather dress by Zara is a great example of a high street item I really truly love. I must have bought it more than 5 years ago and even though it wasn’t expensive or high quality it’s holding up really well. I love to layer it with a turtle neck or even a shirt. It’s becoming somewhat of a wardrobe hero, to be honest. 

So even though I’m telling you not to buy high street clothes. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should get rid of high street clothes. 

I have found a few similar dresses below (affiliate links)

Photo – Rosalind Alcazar

3 Comments

  1. Josefina Boston

    So good!! 100% Just like ppl wanting a more sustainable home. Don’t throw out your plastic lunch boxes to get glass ones. Use the plastic ones until they fall apart. THEN get the glass ones.

  2. Actually sorry Josefina, but I need to step in on the plastic lunch boxes.
    Plastic are formed with different substance and additives to make them the way they look. Form, stability etc, over time when they are used and heated in the microwaves they release small compounds and articles. That is why you should never drink water that you forgot in the car a sunny day. The release cancerogenic or other nasty compounds that make you less fertile etc. so highly recommend you to change your lunch boxes to new ones in glass. But regarding clothes, yes wearing it often is a sustainable option. And many of the high Street brands do have products in sustainable materials.

    1. I think you both have great points.

      Use your plastic boxes, but don’t heat your food in them. I always use ceramics or glass for heating. It’s a bit more work, but then you don’t have to throw your plastic Tupperware.

      Or just repurpose the plastic ones to keep non-edible things?

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