What’s the impact of your wardrobe? Get clarity with this inventory method


Recently I came across a wardrobe inventory exercise that helps to find out our patterns in consuming fashion. 

Why have I added the word impact to the inventory? What do we impact with our wardrobe? 

If we want it or not, our wardrobe and the choices we make impact our environment and the people who made them. Alone talking about impact is worth a separate blog post, but in summary, some points to consider: 

When we buy new clothes, we also have to think about disposing of them or recycling them later on, when they reach their end of life. 

If the clothes we have in our wardrobe are made of polyester, we need to understand that every wash releases microfibres (=plastics) into the wastewater. 

We impacted the people who made our clothes by having these garments in our wardrobe. Was it a good impact because I have items in my closet from local designers and shops, or is it a harmful impact because we bought most of the garments from a fast-fashion brand? 

Follow the following steps to find out the impact your wardrobe makes: 

  1. Start a spreadsheet with the following columns: 
  • Item name (e.g. Blue cotton t-shirt or black pencil skirt)
  • Label/ Brand 
  • Year Purchased
  • Purchase source (bought new or second hand)
  • Material and where was it made 
  • Regularity of wearing it (rarely, often, frequently) 

2. Fill out the spreadsheet by counting all the items in your wardrobe, clothing (except undies and socks), handbags, shoes and scarves. 

3. Summerise your garments into categories:

Tops 
Pants
Skirts
Dresses
Knitwear
Jackets
Handbags
Shoes
Scarves
etc.

How does this exercise help you? 

This exercise gives you a great awareness of what you already have and your wardrobe’s environmental impact. You can unpack your own experiences in consuming fashion. 

How to analyse the information you have collected?

Now is the time to look into your patterns and check in with the following questions?

  • Can you identify which items you wear the most?
  • How many items per year do you add and remove?
  • What is the most expensive item in your wardrobe?
  • How many second-hand garments do you have? 

My take-out: 

I have completed this exercise with my wardrobe, and it was very insightful. I found it very valuable to see how many new purchases I make each year and how my fashion purchasing habits have changed over time.

In the last two years, I bought more second hand and from local or ethical brands. That pretty much reflects my values and the idea behind my business as a stylist. I have 157 items in my wardrobe (skirts, dresses, pants, tops, knits, jackets, coats, shoes, scarves and belts), and I still think I have heaps of variety and outfit options.

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