Woman in a sundress in a field

Summer Wardrobe: She/Her

The ultimate summer wardrobe looks fabulous, feels comfortable, and is environmentally friendly. Sound like a tall order? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered (literally).

We’ve pieced together key pieces to create the ultimate capsule wardrobe for summer. If you don’t already have them in your closet, don’t worry – there are plenty of ways you find exactly what you need to be fashionable this summer while keeping it ethical, sustainable, and undeniably cool. 

The fashion problem 

The fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change and other global problems. 

Starting with the way clothing is made (from unsustainable materials, using wasteful practices that exploit workers) to distribution, the entire process leaves a giant, ugly footprint on our planet. 

Each year, the industry creates 1.2bn tonnes of carbon emissions, with 235 million clothing items entering landfills annually.

How to shop sustainably

By changing your approach to fashion, you can express your sense of style while also doing your part to promote a more sustainable industry:

  • Opt for second hand: Whenever possible, buy clothing second hand. Making use of what’s already there means you’re not supporting wasteful practices while also adding unique character to your wardrobe.
  • Shop sustainable brands: When you’re looking for new clothing, make sure to choose brands that adhere to sustainable practices. This means using recycled or natural fabrics, reducing the volume of resources used to produce clothes, and running a fair trade workplace.

Check out our quick tips for slow fashion to learn more about how you can change your approach to shopping.

Women’s summer wardrobe: What you need (and where to get it)

Simplifying your wardrobe can create a sense of freedom – slip on something comfortable and head out to enjoy the day feeling confident that you look great (and that what you’re wearing is great for the planet, too).

The essential sundress

Whether you’re strolling through a new city or sipping a cool drink on a sunny patio, a sundress is a summertime staple that can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion. Opt for a light colour such as white or pale blue, which is guaranteed to be in style next year (and the year after that).

Where to get it:

You’ll see sundresses flapping on all the high street racks this summer, but we encourage you to look a little bit harder and find a brand that adheres to sustainable practices by using recycled or organic materials. Not only will you get a better quality dress, but you’ll avoid supporting the environmental harm that comes along with fast fashion.

Sustainable suggestions: Vildnis, People Tree

Woman in a sundress in a field

Lightweight trousers

From afternoon strolls to lounging in the garden, lightweight trousers are something that can be worn all summer long. Look for fabrics such as cotton or linen, which will feel fresh and airy on even the hottest days, and choose white, tan, or blue stripes for a versatile look. 

Where to get it:

Always a classic but not necessarily something that thrifters are hunting for, it’s easy to find quality trousers in charity shops and second-hand boutiques. If you want to rock more of a statement look, search for a retro cut in a vintage store.

White t-shirt

Great for beach days or a casual dinner out on the town, make sure you have a comfortable, quality white t-shirt in your summer wardrobe. 

Where to get it:

It might be tempting to pick up a cheap white t-shirt from a high street chain, but you’ll likely end up with an item that will lose its shape quickly. Spending just a little bit more money on a design from a sustainable brand will pay off in the end, both in terms of quality and planet-friendly feels.

Sustainable suggestions: Monkee Genes, Everlane  

Denim shorts 

We have a complicated relationship with jean shorts – it can be tricky to find a pair that fits comfortably, looks appropriate, and doesn’t cause cringey teenage flashbacks. Luckily, there are plenty of stylish designs that are both sophisticated and sustainable, so you’re bound to find a cut that suits your figure.

Where to get it:

Finding second hand jeans can be a bit of a lottery, and second-hand jean shorts are even more elusive. However, all you need is a pair that fit you well above the knee, and you can do a bit of DIY cutting and sewing to turn them into perfectly unique shorts! No time for that? Many brands have made an effort to turn the denim game into one that’s kinder to the planet.

Sustainable suggestions: MUD Jeans, Levi’s Water<Less collection

Neutral sandals

Summertime footwear should be comfortable, light, and versatile – which is exactly why you need a pair of neutral-coloured sandals in your wardrobe. Easy to transition from an afternoon of errands to evening-appropriate attire, they can be styled with your jean shorts and summer dress alike.

Where to get it:

If you can find second-hand sandals, we salute you. For the rest of us, it can be tricky to track down a pair that are ethical and sustainable, as well as stylish and comfortable. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible – several brands have made it a priority to fill this gap by delivering vegan shoes that look incredible and are planet-friendly to boot (no pun intended).

Sustainable suggestions: Matt and Nat, Will’s Vegan Store

Sunglasses

From the pool to the patio, sunglasses are key to your summertime wardrobe. As well as protecting your eyes from UV rays, they’ll help to show off your individual sense of style and personality. 

Where to get it:

Retro is trendy this summer, which is great news for you and the planet – look for sunglasses at a charity shop or vintage clothing store. Whether you like a signature cat-eye shape or prefer to keep it subtle with a D-frame design, you’re bound to find something cool and unique.

Casual button-up shirt

A casual shirt can serve many purposes – use it as a beach cover-up, button it up and tuck it into your denim, or throw it casually over a t-shirt to keep you comfortable on a cool summer’s evening. 

Where to get it:

There’s no need to shop new stock – instead, get creative in a charity shop! Oversized blouses and men’s shirts can be transformed into your summertime staple. Look for a versatile pattern or colour, such as plain white or something that features pale stripes, which is sure to pair easily with the rest of your capsule collection.

By deciding to shop sustainably this summer you can build a wardrobe that will last all season long while still channeling your stylish fair – and doing your bit for the environment at the same time.  

For more inspiration, read about some of our favourite celebrities who support the slow fashion movement and explore our adventures thrifting through New York City!

We want to hear from you – share your trusted sustainable brands and charity shop treasures with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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