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This Essential Wardrobe is 100% Biodegradable

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Photo Source: Colville Weather

This article was co-written by myself and NYFW stylist, Lana Blanc. 

The word “essential” has been the keyword of our quarantine these last couple of months. We feel so grateful for our essential workers who have literally kept our country fed, alive and running. We’ve also been intimately reflecting on who and what is essential to our lives. The people whom we spend hours keeping in touch with and close to our hearts.

Alternatively, it has also been easy to deem what is essential inside of our closets. We’ve been looking to our wardrobe as a means to express ourselves even in times of solitude. A common “expression” for us these days has been soft vintage t-shirts married with the comfort of high-waisted leggings.

It feels like years since we’ve been able to pour a homemade cocktail on a Friday night, blast our Release Radar on Spotify, and start trying on outfits for a night on the town.

While our weekend outings are now limited, we’re finding ourselves striving to be somewhat “presentable” on Zoom calls and going out to eat. Between these two levels of quarantine, it’s not uncommon if you’ve found gaps amongst what you have in your closet, what you need to feel professional, and to also feel comfortable. Bye-bye wired bra. Can that be a forever thing?

Wherever your gaps may lie, we’ve teamed up to outline a sustainable essential wardrobe for your newfound simplified, yet sophisticated, life in shelter.

All of these pieces included are 100% biodegradable. This means that whenever their life ends, they will naturally break down back into nature with minimal harm to the environment. There are a few prominent synthetic fabrics out there that unfortunately pollute the Earth when tossed. Synthetic fabrics are also responsible for micro-plastic pollution in our ocean, greenhouse gas emissions when dumped into our landfills and the release of toxins into our soil and water streams.

In developing an essential wardrobe, it’s imperative to develop heuristics in choosing natural fabrics instead of synthetic fabrics.

They’re of considerably better quality, too.

We’ve created this chart to easily identify materials as biodegradable or pollutants. While we haven’t included all possible materials, these tend to be the most commonly seen while shopping for clothing either online or in-store.

chart with biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials

Prior to our recommendations for an “essential” wardrobe, we’d like to start by saying that this is not a “one-size-fits-all” list.

The first thing that you should think about is, “What does my everyday life look like right now?”

If you’re a stay-at-home-mom, you’re likely abundant in dark colored t-shirts and sneakers. If you’re a single girl in NYC, you probably have multiple pairs of sexy shoes that are also train friendly. We hope you have a chance to wear all of them soon.

Take a moment to think about yourself and this adjusted lifestyle of yours. If you’re planning to spend five days a week in a corporate office, you should have a fair amount of suits, sheath dresses, slacks, collared shirts, and so on. If that’s not the case, we would advise you to take a step back and ask yourself, “Is my wardrobe working for me or am I working for my wardrobe?”

The best way to tell who’s working for whom is by answering the question, “How long does it take me to get dressed?” If your answer is greater than ten minutes then chances are, you’re working for your wardrobe.

With that being said, if there’s an item on our “essentials” list that doesn’t work for you (e.g. denim cutoffs) replace it with something that does (e.g. pencil skirt) based on your lifestyle needs.

We’d also like to call out that the most sustainable item is the one you already own.

What are those pieces that you wear every week? Identify instances where they may overlap or pinpoint gaps within the wardrobe below.

Allow these answers to guide you on where you may want to make a purchase. While we always suggest secondhand clothing as your primary option for purchase, you may not be able to find the best fit that you know you’ll wear over and over again. This, in turn, is the point of the essential aspect of the wardrobe.

Parker White T-Shirt
Levi’s
100% Cotton

Cotton white t shirt from Levi's

Crisp White Button Down
Everlane
100% Cotton

white button up plain t from everlane

Oversized Blazer
Everlane
100% Lyocell

tan blazer made from lyocell

Medium Wash High Waisted Jeans
Reformation
60% Cotton, 40% Lyocell

Jeans from Reformation

Denim Cutoffs
Abercrombie & Fitch
100% Cotton

denim cutoffs from A&F

If you dislike shopping or aren’t great at putting looks together, outsource everything to a professional by hiring stylist! Lana (who co-wrote this with me) is amazing and uber familiar with sustainable fashion. You can follow her on instagram @theblanchouse or check out her website.

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