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Making More with Less: A Guide to Must Have Wardrobe Staples

Nowadays you can’t open a magazine without being told what to wear. Fashion trends are changing like the wind and social media is making sure we’re aware of these: TikTok teens being the leading trendsetters currently.

These changing trends mean it’s almost impossible to keep on top of what’s considered ‘fashionable’, and the easiest way to do this is through fast fashion consumption. While this may be practical, it isn’t the most ethical, and in today’s climate most people are trying to move away from overconsumption.

This leads us to: the capsule wardrobe. The staple pieces everyone needs to create timeless, fashion-forward looks without breaking the bank every season. Ensuring you have some, if not all, of these items is more cost effective in the long run as you end up getting more bang for your buck and is far more sustainable to invest in some good quality pieces that will last, rather than a £3 SHIEN top that will end up in Oxfam come the end of the year.

To name a few...

Over the years countless designers, magazines and even influencers themselves have named their ‘wardrobe staples’, which largely tend to consist of the same usual suspects: a basic white tee, the perfect pair of jeans, an iconic LBD. All of these go without saying, and are considered essential for good reason, but a capsule wardrobe can consist of more than monochrome formalwear.

In keeping with the classic wardrobe staples, you really can’t go wrong with a tailored black pant. These are ideal for office and formal wear when paired with a fitted blazer and can easily be carried through to 5oclock drinks with a pair of pumps. Paired with a t-shirt and trainers and they create an effortlessly chic casual look.

One item of clothing has remained at the forefront of fashion and culture through the decades since the 1950s – the leather jacket. This is also a highly featured staple due to its inarguably timeless position in fashion, and it can also be highly customisable. Whatever style takes your fancy – studded, bedazzled, cropped or (my personal favourite) trench – there is a leather jacket for you! And since this article is so timeless, they can be found in abundance in vintage and second-hand stores, meaning if buying leather isn’t your thing you can still nab one without contributing to the leather industry.

An absolute must for the cooler seasons is some trusty knitwear. In Vogue’s definitive list of wardrobe staples, they recommend something neutral and classic, whereas I’d argue that this is the place to bring some spice to your wardrobe. A deep, rich jewel tone would be perfect for those winter months and would add a much-needed pop of colour to your monochromatic wardrobe. Alternatively, everyone loves an ugly jumper, and ugly-chic knitwear will never go out of style, because it’s never really in style! This is a sure-fire way to keep your style fun and fresh while still encompassing that sustainable mindset.

And for when the sun does decide to make an appearance, look no further than a flowy sundress. This doesn’t just have to be for summer picnics in the park (although it’s also a no brainer), as with the right layering and accessories it can be as versatile as the black trousers. Worn over a t-shirt with some comfortable trainers and a light cardigan makes for a perfect springtime walk, or with some chunky boots and the leather jacket of your choosing it can make for a grungy night-time look fit for any dingy pub or dive bar.

Why waste?

Due to the rise in these rapidly changing trends as a result of social media influence, fast fashion is still prevalent and causing an increase in clothing waste as people struggle to keep up with the trends. This is by no means a sustainable approach to fashion and is adding to the crisis of mass wastage worldwide.

According to a study done by the BBC in 2020 an estimated 92 million tonnes of textile waste is created yearly – by 2030 this figure is expected to rise to 134 million tonnes yearly. This is a result of the rapid changing trends in fashion, and while people are seemingly more interested in sustainability and the move away from fast fashion, these figures would suggest otherwise.

Mass produced clothing often produced a high volume of textile offcuts that are sent to waste without an attempt to upcycle the materials, as many sustainable and independent brands are doing. As these are so affordable due to their low labour costs, people are consuming these articles in high volumes to keep up with the trends, and then discarding them as part of ‘throw-away culture’ or donating them when the trend passes. Even with clothes donation, it is estimated that 80% of clothes still go to landfill due to them not selling or not being suitable to sell.

While it’s not the perfect solution to this ever-growing crisis, and a lot more needs to be done to help the move away from consumerism and towards sustainability, having some really versatile wardrobe staples can help cut down your materialist waste, save yourself some money, and, most importantly, build some really great outfits.


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