The meaning of fashion is getting a makeover. We're seeing an increase in sustainable fashion, from a new wave of eco-friendly materials to a rise in secondhand shopping. We're even seeing more buzz around outfit repeating—something that's gone from being taboo to transformative.
Re-wearing what you already own is one of the most sustainable things you can do for the planet—even celebrities like Emma Stone are doing it on the red carpet for everyone to see. And according to Heidi Kaluza, a fair fashion creator and social media consultant, the act of wearing what you already own isn't taboo anymore. If anything, it should be encouraged.
Kaluza posted a TikTok on her account @the_rogue_essentials to show off the dress she wore over and over again to several weddings. Her message is clear: "You don't have to wear a new dress to every wedding you attend."
She says she's worn the same dress to a total of six weddings, but she's actually worn the dress over 20 times since 2016.
"I’ve partied in it, danced the night away in it, cried in it, spilled champagne on it, dirtied the hem after kicking my heels off early on in the night," she says. "I’ve kissed in it, hugged in it, and watched so many people express their love to one another in it."
Kaluza says she's had "so many impactful memories and experiences attached to a piece of clothing that society will tell you to wear once or twice and then deem unwearable." But, she doesn't see it that way at all.
"I encourage you to shift your thought process as well," she says. "Especially if that little voice in the back of your head has said 'but people have seen me in this before.'"
Kaluza officially became an ethical influencer in 2019, and in 2020, she gave up fast fashion altogether. Now, she uses her platform to incite change about outfit repeating and beyond.
"My mission is to inspire action through education to create positive social, economic, and environmental change," she says. "Particularly in the fashion industry."
Here's why outfit repeating is one of the most sustainable fashion tips Kaluza can offer, and why it benefits the planet.
Why Outfit Repeating Is Sustainable
Wearing what you already own limits your consumption habits. And because we live in a consumer-driven society, our habits tend to be wasteful.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over 9 million tons of clothing and footwear were landfilled between 1960 and 2018. Plus, the fast fashion industry itself is wasteful. On a yearly basis, the industry generates about 92 million tons of waste and consumes about 79 trillion liters of water.
That means wearing what you already own can prevent the fast fashion industry from growing at the rate it is now. And it may prevent textiles from ending up in a landfill.
Kaluza says there are several benefits to outfit repeating from a sustainable and ethical perspective, including saving money and decreasing consumption. However, there's another benefit that many often neglect—cultivating a personal style.
"The way we shop should be rooted in functionality," Kaluza says. "It allows us to build a base wardrobe that actually reflects what will make us feel comfortable, and from that foundation personal style is born."
That means outfit repeating isn't just a win for the planet. It's a win for yourself, too.
How To Curate Your Ethical and Sustainable Closet
A capsule wardrobe is essential to your outfit repeating journey. It contains a small selection of pieces you'll need for any occasion—tops, pants, dresses, shoes, and maybe even some accessories. And these items can be mixed and matched to create new looks out of pre-existing pieces!
To get started with ethical fashion, Kaluza offers three tips—starting with taking plenty of photos.
"Take pictures of your favorite outfit combos and save them in a photo album on your phone to reference when you're feeling stuck about what to wear," she says.
Then, curate your social media feeds. To avoid consuming fast fashion, avoid consuming clothing hauls that pollute our feeds.
"Audit your digital circle (and inbox)," Kaluza says. "If you're in a cycle of consumption, the easiest way out is to unfollow the accounts and unsubscribe from the e-mails that make you feel compelled or tempted to buy. Trust me—you aren't missing out."
Lastly, it's nearly impossible to avoid consumption altogether. So Kaluza says if you need to shop, start with shopping secondhand. You never know what hidden gems you'll find in the racks of your local thrift store!