How can finding your color help you with a sustainable wardrobe?

  • It will be easier to avoid impulse shopping by not buying colors that are not good for you
  • It will help you edit your closet by only keeping those things you love in colors that look great
  • You will have more free time because your colors will mix and match. A sustainable life also means having time to enjoy life.

The history of the fashion industry and color has not always been pretty and it is still complicated. In Victorian times Paris green was created using arsenic. Paris green was a lovely color used in garments, paint and wallpaper. If you haven’t already figured this out, arsenic is toxic. Not only were wearers at risk but the workers and artists who needed to work closely with these materials were poisoned as well. Buzzfeed wrote a short article on Paris Green that you can read here .

That is not to say that there is not still trouble in the fashion industry with color. It is cheaper and easier for fashion companies to farm out production of textiles and dying to large dyehouses and unless you have an industry representative and chemical engineer there watching every step you can’t claim to be sustainable with color (or even no color – because bleaching is involved). To begin to be sustainable, dyes have to be non toxic to workers and the environment. Water used in the dying process should be recycled and it definitely needs to be purified before being discharged into the environment.

Clothing that is produced using environmental and worker friendly dye techniques will cost more. The cost is justified. Most of us (myself included) have enough in our closets to keep us clothed for many more years. As part of my quest to be a sustainable stylist I hope to learn more about companies that walk their talk and produce clothing made with sustainable technique that is designed to last for years.

Eileen Fisher has an eco certified line that is worth a look. This beautiful washable silk top is an example.

Think natural dyes are the answer? Maybe in some cases but the growing, harvesting and processing of plants uses water and arable land as well as mordants that are not scaleable for the current level of  fashion consumption.

If your budget is constrained don’t settle for fast fashion. Make carefully considered choices from consignment or thrift stores that will take items out of the waste chain. If you buy new, think carefully before picking up that $10 top made from polyester. We and the places we buy from should be considering our impact on people and places around the world. The easiest way to do that is reduce what you consume. Knowing your colors is a first step.