Women's Style Inspiration  / Trends & Style Advice  / 9 Ways to Embrace Sustainable Style

9 Ways to Embrace Sustainable Style

Here's how to create a more sustainable wardrobe without compromising ethics for aesthetics.

Sustainable clothing on rack
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Sustainability is more than just a fashion industry buzzword—it's a way to protect our forests, water supplies, the rights of marginalized workers, and also the future for generations to come.

So how can you do your part for the planet?

Sustainable clothing is healthier, safer, and longer-lasting—and it doesn't have to compromise ethics for aesthetics. Here are nine ways you can bring more sustainable style to your wardrobe.

sustainable denim jacket

1. Don’t be afraid to splurge

Have you heard of the 30 wears test? If you know you’ll wear something more than 30 times, then don’t be afraid to invest in it. Luxury materials and brand names may cost you more upfront, but they also have a higher resale value. Investing in fewer but more high-quality items will not only increase the cost-per-wear ratio of your wardrobe, it will also help you consign things later.

Choosing quality over quantity has perks for the environment, too. Well-made clothing tends to last longer and is less likely to end up in a landfill, which reduces waste and textile turnover, as well as your carbon footprint.

2. Create a capsule wardrobe

Think of your closet as a highly refined, curated collection of 40 or fewer items that you love and can wear in different combinations all year long.

We’ve already taught you the first step to creating a sustainable capsule wardrobe—shop mindfully. Ask yourself whether you really need each item before heading to the cash register. Keep your investment cash for clothing that is timeless and will still look great 5 or 10 years down the road. Don't forget to consider the sustainability of the brand you are purchasing, and whether their practices are in line with your standards. We've highlighted top sustainable mens brands and our top ethical brands for women.

Sustainable suiting
patterned and print shirts

3. Host a clothing-swap party with friends

Follow a "one-in, one-out" mantra for your wardrobe every time you acquire something new. A good way to pass on unwanted, good-condition items is by hosting a clothing swap with your friends. Exchanging clothing, shoes, and accessories you no longer use for items that are new to you is a great way to expand—or refine—your wardrobe in a sustainable way.

In the process of clearing out your closet, pay attention to what you're putting into the "no" pile, as there could be some valuable lessons on what to steer clear of in the future. These could be fabrics that proved to be too itchy or irritating, impulse buys that went out of fashion too quickly, or styles that were unflattering for your body shape.

4. Buy (or sell) pre-loved apparel and accessories

Another way to give unwanted items a new future is by reselling them or buying from their previous owners. At the Nordstrom resale market See You Tomorrow, you can mail in your used merchandise in exchange for gift cards that can be spent at Nordstrom and Nordstrom Trunk Club. You can also shop their curated selection of pre-loved luxury brands online.

blouses on rack
Eco-friendly fabrics

5. Look for eco-conscious fabrics

Consider investing in natural, sustainable fabrics that are also durable and use less water in production, such as organic cotton, wool, modal, rayon, and silk. Tencel, another eco-friendly textile, is made from responsibly sourced wood.

6. Learn proper care for your clothes

Taking proper care of high-quality garments will pay off by helping them look their best for seasons to come. Not only does proper clothing care extend the longevity of your wardrobe, it also keeps things out of the landfill.

Additionally, you can minimize your laundry impact on the environment by using eco-friendly detergents, choosing colder water temperatures for the wash cycle, and allowing your garments to air-dry.

Caring for sustainable clothing
Tailoring and alterations

7. Alter or tailor clothes you already own

Have those dancing shoes seen better days? Instead of tossing them in the trash, bring them to a cobbler who can resole, re-heel, or re-dye them. If you've torn your favorite pair of pants, or that suit is so worn out it looks like it's beyond salvation, consider going to a tailor for a nip, tuck, and some TLC. Learning to sew on a button or stitch back a seam that's come apart can also go a long way.

8. DIY or upcycle

If you're feeling crafty, upcycling is a great way to update and refresh your wardrobe while reinforcing your personal connection to what you own. Consider taking a pair of scissors to an old pair of jeans to create cut-off summer shorts, hacking the sleeves off a jacket to turn it into a vest, or using scarves to reupholster a couch pillow.

Small changes can also go a long way—sometimes all it takes to bring life to a drab-looking blazer is to sew on a new set of buttons. The trend of visible mending can help you achieve a two-in-one effect, making an artistic statement by not concealing repairs or stitching but actually using them as decorative elements.

upcycle clothing

9. Shop at sustainable retailers

Help support the sustainable fashion movement by shopping at retailers who carry sustainable and socially conscious brands—you'll find plenty of these at Nordstrom and right here at Nordstrom Trunk Club.

Find your new favorite must-haves with personal styling.