So, you want to ditch fast fashion and embrace more eco-friendly clothing. But after being used to £5 dresses…
you almost had a heart attack when you found sustainable alternatives that cost over £60 per piece!
That’s understandable. And we get it: if you genuinely haven’t got that sum right now, being able to afford a sustainable wardrobe can be a privilege.
In most cases, however, it’s more about a big mindset shift and knowing where to find ethical clothes that don’t cost the earth (pun intended).
So, guess what? We wrote this article to help you with both!
First of all, think of how much fast fashion has actually been costing you
Fast fashion clothes might be cheaper. But as well as hiding a high cost (psst: they’re terrible for the environment and are usually made by exploited workers), they often result in ongoing expenses. Why?
- Fast fashion encourages you to keep buying new clothes, only wear each garment a handful of times, discard it… and start again (and again)
- On average, people spend £526.50 on clothing every year but keep 60% of it for less than that
So, while each individual price tag might be cheap, ask yourself: how much are you actually spending on fast fashion every month and year?
Embrace this mindset shift first
Were you thinking of replacing your fast fashion hauls with the same number of ethical clothes?
- That’d definitely be A LOT more expensive
- It’d also be terrible for the planet because it doesn’t solve the core problem: overconsumption
So, that shouldn’t be the goal. Instead, we want to encourage you to embrace this mindset shift:
go from “following trends, buying lots of new cheap clothes regularly, and seeing them as disposable” to “investing in fewer, higher-quality, and ethical clothes that were made to last and that match YOUR style—and keeping them for years.”
THAT'S the biggest step towards affording a sustainable wardrobe!
And if you’re not clear on your ideal look because you’re used to following trends dictated by others, start by creating your signature style.
Get creative with what you already own
Of course, we also have tips to help you find new sustainable clothes you can actually afford.
But the most sustainable thing you can do? It’s actually (re)wearing what you already own. Multiple times.
Even if fast fashion brands and influencers have brainwashed you into thinking you can’t be seen with the same outfit more than once.
- Embracing repeat outfits
- Mixing and matching your garments and accessories to create new outfits without spending a single penny
And if, when you start doing that, you realise you have so many fast fashion clothes you don’t actually want to wear?
Declutter and resell some clothes
We get it: it’s hard to feel creative if your closet is full of fast fashion clothes that don’t represent your signature style.
So, to curate and afford a sustainable wardrobe, get rid of what doesn’t belong in there anymore.
- Declutter your wardrobe – Go through each item and ask yourself: does it still fit? Is it comfortable to wear? How many times have I worn it over the past year? Is it really sentimental? Does it fit with my style?
- Donate and sell those excess items – Don’t add to fast fashion’s waste by binning your unwanted garments! In fact, since you’re looking for ways to afford a sustainable wardrobe, why not sell your clothes online on platforms like Depop and Vinted? You’ll get some extra cash to put towards your first ethical garments
Think about your cost per wear (that’s when sustainable fashion becomes cheaper)
‘Cost per wear’ is a metric to calculate the real price and value of your clothes based on how many times you’ve actually worn them (or are planning to).
Sure, fast fashion garments have lower price tags, but in most cases? They have higher costs per wear!
- You buy a fast fashion top on a whim. It costs £15, and because it’s just another trend, you only wear it twice before binning it. Its cost per wear is £7.50 (£15 ÷ 2). And that’s without considering the fact that you’ll then want to buy a new top. And then another one again
- You invest in a sustainable top that was made to last, represents your style, and goes with several of your existing pieces. It costs £70, but because you’ve already worn it 20 times, its cost per wear is now only £3.50 (£70 ÷ 20), less than HALF of its fast fashion equivalent
In the long run, slow and sustainable fashion becomes cheaper than staying trapped in fast fashion’s vicious cycle!
Only buy clothes you need or will wear at least 30 times
Instead, to justify its environmental impact—from material production to CO2 emissions during transportation and its end of life—you should wear each item at least 30.
So, from now on, try the #30WearsChallenge: only buy new garments that you can see yourself wearing that often.
Look for the most affordable sustainable clothing brands (psst! We make this a breeze)
Following these tips will already make it easier to afford a sustainable wardrobe.
We get it, though: some ethical brands are definitely more expensive than others.
So, if budget is still a big concern for you, don’t worry. We’ve got you!
At Project Cece, we brought hundreds of fair trade brands in one place and added filters to narrow down your choices.
One of them? Price.
So, you can easily browse different brands, collections and types of garments while sticking to your budget (and order them by lowest price, too).
We also share sustainable product giveaways in our newsletter and on Instagram: join us there so that you don’t miss them! And you'll find tips and inspiration to help you make even more ethical fashion choices,.
Being able to afford a sustainable wardrobe might require some adjustment and a mindset shift. But once you've embraced that? It’ll become second nature.
Imagine how much happier you’ll be wearing garments that are kind to the planet, were made by garment workers who’re treated with respect, and match YOUR signature style!
Share our story
Ditch cheap fast fashion clothes, choose higher-quality ethical garments, and… save money in the long run! Here’s the difference that cost per wear makes.
Yes, affordable sustainable clothing DOES exist. But you need to know where to look—and change your mindset. Start from our simple guide & best brands.
To understand why sustainable fashion is so expensive, let’s see how it’s different from fast fashion. Spoiler alert: the latter has a terrible hidden cost!