The 5 Most Common Slow Fashion Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

When trying something new, inevitably, there’s always going to be a few bumps in the road. When it comes to switching from fast fashion to slow fashion, it can be especially confusing because there are no set standards or clear guidelines, and it’s a lifestyle change that will look different from individual to individual. Luckily, I managed to identify the mistakes that I made, and the mistakes I see others make when they’re at the beginning of their transition, so that you can be well aware of them as you embark on your slow fashion journey.

Here are a few mistakes you might be making during your switch to ethical, slow fashion, and some suggestions on how to fix them.

1. You want to donate all your clothes.

A natural initial response to learning about the ethical and environmental problems within the fashion industry is to get rid of all your clothes and, I get it, donating your clothes feels good and you think you’ve done a wonderful deed. What most people don’t know about clothing donations, however, is that much of that donated clothes ends up being shipped overseas, often to the very countries that make them, and are sold for a discounted price. This destructs the local textile industry in those countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

How to fix it: Instead of donating to a thrift store, donate to a friend or neighbour. Better yet, ask all your friends to go through their closets and collect everything they don’t want, and then hold a clothing swap. You get new-to-you pieces, and so do they. Also consider selling your clothes instead of donating. Yes, it’s requires a bit of extra effort, but hey, you’re getting paid for it! There are often local Facebook groups that act as a buy and sell marketplace. A website such as Kijiji is another option. I’ve even heard of people selling their clothes through Instagram!

2. You’re still following trends.

The 5 Most Common Slow Fashion Mistakes (and how to fix them!) | The Curious Button

If you’re going to adopt slow fashion, you must give up trends. They only lead to you spending more money to look good for a shorter amount of time. By buying more timeless pieces that you know you will still want to wear next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, you save money and develop an iconic personal style.

How to fix it: Weening yourself off the trend addiction can be tough, but by even just reducing the amount of trendy clothes you buy each season to 1-2 versatile pieces is a good place to start. Eventually, you will start to realize that following trends impresses no one, and that deciding what you want to wear for yourself, rather than listening to all the marketing schemes thrown at you, makes you happier and more free to explore fashion creatively.

3. You’re still buying low-quality clothing.

I was going to write “cheap clothing”, but then I quickly stopped myself because low-quality clothing isn’t always necessarily cheap – unfortunately, sometimes it comes in a higher price range than you would think. And when a seam unravels after wearing the piece just 2 times – well, that’s just defeating the point of slow fashion, isn’t it?

How to fix it: Before you buy a piece of clothing, read the label. Is it made of natural materials or synthetics? How easy or difficult will it be to clean? Is the stitching even? These, and many more questions, are the ones you can ask to ensure you’re buying something that will last.

Bonus Slow Fashion Tip: Take care of your clothes!

Even the highest quality clothes can only last so long if you’re not taking care of it. So make sure you’re hanging up or folding your clothes instead of tossing it on the floor. Make sure you’re washing it according to the label’s instructions. If you know you’re going out for some messy food, maybe don’t wear that white top. Treat stains as soon as possible. They’re simple things that often require just an extra 2 seconds of consideration, but make a huge difference in the long run.

4. You’re still shopping at the mall.

The 5 Most Common Slow Fashion Mistakes (and how to fix them!) | The Curious Button

If you’ve decided to stop buying into fast fashion and buy only quality, long-lasting and classic pieces that you will be wearing for years, congrats. That is one of the most important steps you can take! However, while there may be a few exceptions, most stores in the average mall do not yet have ethically made and sustainable clothing on their shelves.

How to fix it: Get cozy with thrift and online shopping. Find thrift stores that have a selection you like and visit them from time to time, or whenever you have a shopping craving you can’t curb. Online shopping might take a bit to get used to, but once you do, you will feel empowered by how conscious your purchases are. You’re not going to be buying it just because it’s the last one in your size and you don’t want to miss out, or because you need to comfort yourself with a new purchase after a rough week. You will start buying things purposefully, because you need them and because you love them. And your (no longer overflowing) closet will thank you.

Related post: The Top 10 Modern, Ethical Clothing Brands

5. You haven’t figured out your personal style yet.

Arguably one of the biggest personal benefits of adopting slow fashion, doing so successfully requires having a detailed, well-rounded understanding of your personal style. This doesn’t mean you have to be a fashion icon – it’s as simple as knowing what you like and what you don’t like when it comes to clothing.

How to fix it: Pay attention to your favourite pieces of clothing and try to pinpoint exactly what it is you love about them. The colour? The cut and shape? The silhouette? The detailing? The way it makes you feel? Once you know what you love, you can make smarter decisions when buying any more clothes down the road.

Have you made any of these mistakes before? Are there any slow fashion mistakes you’ve made and recovered from? Share them in the comments below!

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  • Some wonderfully insightful tips shared! I would say a slow fashion mistake could be buying too much at thrift stores. Buying thrifted clothing is so liberating when one realises you can have so much for less, while not supporting new resource energies spent through new production. But one can still land up with just too much! Having a more minimalist mindset, through capsule wardrobe or just a consciousness of needing less can certainly help with this.

    • Hi Lyn, I’m glad you liked it! I completely agree, I’ve gotten a little carried away at a thrift store myself before! It’s a great way to stay on top of trends and experiment with your style, but definitely shouldn’t just be used as an easy way out without addressing the real issue of constant consumerism. Thanks for your insightful comment!

  • Your article is really worthy of praise. If only more and more people could get to read it…and of course implement some if not all of what you have suggested! Great stuff! Thanks

    • Thanks, Mukesh! I’m glad you liked it. Definitely feel free to share it with anyone who you think would be interested in or could benefit from it! 🙂

  • Since my personal journey into slow fashion includes making my own clothes, I really have to be thoughtful about my pattern and fabric choices and purchases or I’m at the same risk of sewing the wrong things and creating waste just like binge shopping at the mall!

  • Wow what a list.
    I see where you’re going with this, but I don’t believe you have to completely ditch trends and physical stores.
    With trends I always try to look through the noise and follow the trends that I believe will stick in my closet – in order to move with the fashion.
    And I’m sure it can be difficult depending where you live, but supporting stores that sell some ethical alternatives is really important in my book 😉
    But I absolutely agree with no 1 and 3

    • Hi Johanne!
      When it comes to trends, nearly everything has been a trend at one point or another, some for longer and some for shorter periods of time. It ties in very strongly with #5 – knowing your personal style. Maybe a trend will bring to light something new that you love and will continue to incorporate into your outfits long after the trend is gone. I think we may be getting at the same general idea, just from different angles 😉
      As for physical stores, if you’re lucky enough to have ethical alternatives nearby, that’s great! I just find that this is often limited to New York, L.A., San Francisco, London, Vancouver, sometimes Toronto, and other major cities. Hopefully this changes and shopping in person becomes more possible for us soon. However most towns/cities do have some variation of vintage, consignment and secondhand shops!
      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts! It really shows the wide variety of approaches people can take to ethical, sustainable and slow fashion!