The Zeitgeist Of Caring: 12 Months, 12 Tips To Up Your Sustainable Fashion Game

Slow fashion, fair fashion, vegan fashion? Twelve things to do in 2019 to make lasting change, become a better version of yourself — and totally look the part. (Ladies and gentlemen, it’s fun and not hard/ expensive at all!)

The Zeitgeist Of Caring

Something happened in 2018. Something that makes the air vibrate with change in 2019.

It’s becoming unacceptable not to care. As an ethical and fair fashion blogger and advocate, I could not be happier about this change of mindset.

Sporting new outfits everyday, touting exotic leather bags or fur is more and more frowned upon. More and more brands try to catch up on the ethics zeitgeist by offering garments made from organic or traditionally and regionally manufactured and finished fabrics.

And as if to confirm that sustainability is a huge trend, stars, starlets, even reality tv stars and models have followed the lead of British actress Emma Watson and the likes in trying to be more of an eco warrior.
Granted, for quite some it may simply be the means to stand out in a crowded market, and these will also pave the way for some greenwashing — but I find myself absolutely cool with that because the public has entered the game as well and trust me, it will not be fooled.

Jungle Folk Summer 2019 CollectionHowever, while the idea of „curating“ a sustainable capsule or creating an ethical wardrobe sounds super alluring to most of us, many give up on it before trying. „Too limiting“, „can’t wear my favourite brands anymore“, „not trendy“ and, of course, „too expensive“ are the most common objections.

And I am the last one to disagree. Yes, there are limitations, yes, your favourite brand may not check off all those ethical criteria, and yes, a fair garment will cost you more. But it’s also worth it if you do it right.

And what I would love to suggest is: why not implement one little change each month of 2019?

It’s better than trying to tackle all at once, it will help build sustainable habits, and you will definitely have made a huge leap forward by the end of year. How cool is that?!

But first, let’s start with three ultra actionable extra tips that will create immediate and lasting sustainable change! Ready?

1. Never buy garments that require dry cleaning.

2. Become an ocean saviour!
By simply getting yourself an unexpensive washing bag that filters microplastic waste from your synthetic garments (like this one).

3. Switch to a „green” laundry detergent.
In Germany, Sodasan, Almawin and Sonett offer really good quality, be if for fine and wool garments or even for functional wear (in la casa BEAUTYCALYPSE, we swear by Sodasan Sport).

And now, without further ado:

12 Months, 12 Tips To Up Your Sustainable Fashion Game

JANUARY. Love it? Get two!

Art print t-shirt, organic cotton, Arctus Clothing
Art & sustainability had a love child: this t-shirt design. Loved it, bought two!

Whenever you find a garment or a shoe that’s good quality and absolutely perfect for you — an extremely well-fitted suit, a comfy and practical pair of shoes, underwear with the perfect fit and quality — get a backup pair or piece. This way it will last you longer, and the calm factor in knowning you have not to worry to replace your favourite piece is immense.

The sustainability trick: You’re learn to invest in garment and manufacturing quality, but this will also leave less budget and less room (literally, in the wardrobe) for impulse buying.

Nath’s example: I have ordered two of this art print organic t-shirt styles from Arctus Clothing (photography by N. Heinisch) because I knew I would love them and wear them all the time, so I wanted them to last me longer.

FEBRUARY. One in, one out.

Before buying a new piece, donate, swap, or sell one.

The sustainability tip: When donating, don’t go the easy route of giving your stuff to a random garments collecting box! Also, never donate dirty or broken items.

Broken items you can’t fix are rubbish, not donation material.

Nath’s example: I went a step further, my rule of thumb is donate or sell three pieces before getting a new one. It has freed up a lot of space, and despite the fact that my wardrobe is already quite reduced in volume, I could still go on with the 3-for-1 rule and not run out of clothes to wear. It’s fascinating. Fascinating, hilarious and horrible at the same time.

MARCH. Mix and match/ impulse shopping cure.

Can't wait for Spring when I get to wear all the stripes.
Can’t wait for Spring when I get to wear all the stripes.

Vet your possessions for matching shapes and colours/ patterns. Ideally, each top, and each bottom should look good with at least (at least!) the half of all your bottoms and tops.

Get creative, and take pictures of the best and maybe unexpected combinations for a quick and easy reference.

Also, have a look at the pieces that fall out of the overall theme and are never worn.

Make a list of things that NEVER have and never will look good on you and keep it on your phone as an impulse buy cure.

The sustainability trick: Takes the guesswork out of your shopping equation and further reduces impulse buys that lead nowhere.

Nath’s example: Crew necks, plain white tees, matte black fabric, flowy/ ruffled „feminine“ numbers, long flared skirts, delicate patterns, soft pastels, distressed fabric, lumberjack shirts are things I can’t pull off and will not waste money buying.

I will always look for longsleeve mini dresses, biker jackets, long slim coats, fitted bottoms, statement tights, very edgy „basics”, high collars, Victorian/ Gothic/ Fantasy elements, glossy blacks, bright fun colours and rich, slightly warm neutrals like taupe, teal, bronze, tan, sand and coffee brown.

APRIL. Change of season.

Time to clean and to repair your winter garments and to prep and revisit your summer wardrobe.

If you don’t have the time or the inspiration to do it all at once, make a list and go through it day by day.

If you are not good at sewing, find a seamstress or a tailor nearby.

Basic sewing skills needed to play the game of Repair-Reuse-Recycle!
Basic sewing skills needed to play the game of Repair-Reuse-Recycle!

The sustainability trick: You’ll develop more style and wardrobe „consciousness“ that will make it easier to pick better styles for yourself. You’ll adopt the repair-reuse-recycle mindset very naturally (it’s nothing new, after all).

Nath’s examples: I brought my beloved gothic winter coat to a seamstress to have new lining done. The old, black lining got worn out too quick and looked super awkward, so I asked her to get bright red lining instead to give the old coat a new twist. I also sewed new statement buttons onto a precious, vintage men’s knitted jacket I own to make it look less dated. Loving both results.

MAY. Challenge yourself.

For each week in May, whip up one fun style challenge. Examples:

Skirt week (no jeans, no leggings, no shorts, skirts and dresses only) and what about a kilt week for you, gentlemen? 😉

Colour flash week (for those of you who only wear black or neutrals but have colourful items sitting in the back of the wardrobe)

Capsule week (create outfits for each day of the week with the smallest number of garments possible)

Crazy stylist week (wear things different to your usual style — add asymmetric details, roll up the sleeves of your shirt differently, wear a scarf as a belt, have fun experimenting!)

Take pictures of the outfits you loved best and got the most compliments for. Chances are you can find new favourite items or new go-to combinations.

Arm party! Sustainable jewellery adds finishing touches to any fair fashion outfit.
Arm party! Sustainable jewellery adds finishing touches to any fair fashion outfit.

The sustainability trick: Leaves even less room for getting influenced by others, and further lessens impulse or ad-induced buying. You learn to have fun with your style, and have more confidence choosing what you know you’ll love, not some fashion journalist or streetstyle blogger. This is not to say you can’t get inspiration — inspiration is fine!

Nath’s example: Having noticed that I lost the habit of wearing jewellery on a daily basis, I had resolved to wear a different set of jewels every day for a month this past December. It was amazing to match the styles, the stones, the colours to the outfits, the occasions and sometimes just to my mood!

JUNE. Midyear commitment.

Before it’s time for summer sales, let’s get a little more serious about and committed to ethical and sustainable fashion.

Browse your trusted online resources (ahem!) for brand inspiration. Look specifically for brands certified with GOTS, IVB best, or — if choosing sportswear and outer wear — Bluesign.

Look for local independent fashion designers committed to sustainable sourcing and manufacturing.

Check out fair fashion stops online and get onto mailing lists of brands you love for welcome offers (aka discounts) and relevant information.
Check out fair fashion stops online and get onto mailing lists of brands you love for welcome offers (aka discounts) and relevant information.

Check out different fair fashion brands or specialised multibrand shops online. Now, with five months of „style building“, you are more likely to find items that will match your preferences to a t.

If you think about switching to vegan-friendly fashion, get informed about truly sustainable options. Man-made leather items, shoes, bags often are coated with toxic PVC; and synthetic fabrics are known offenders contributing to the microfibre pollution treatening our oceans. Solid steps towards an ethical and animal-friendly wardrobe is choosing wool from cruelty-free sources, wearing no fur, and choosing non-toxic leather alternatives like cork or pineapple.

The sustainability trick: You will get to know the different brands’ aesthetics and ethics before you buy.

Deciding which brands are more in line with your personal style will save you a lot of time in the future.

Nath’s example: While I would argue that I know all the relevant „players“ of the sustainable fashion industry as a slow fashion blogger and consumer, I enjoy discovering indie designers from Berlin and the world through social media. My most recent finds, for example, are stunningly dark Nuit Clothing from Canada and Stevies House of Wolf from Germany.

JULY. Fair fashion friends.

Find yourself partners in crime. It could be a local vintage shop owner who has great style, a close friend, a coworker who shares your values and interests and team up with them for style advice and ethical shopping discoveries. Ask them questions, and share your own finds.

The sustainability trick: Never underestimate what happens when two likeminded people exchange their views, finds and ideas! Together, you’re more likely to influence more people, to go to fair fashion events in your town, to count each other accountable. And it’s fun!

Nath’s example: I love connecting with both fair fashion bloggers and designers for more insights into the business of fashion and the daily challenges of an ethical urban style.

AUGUST. Capsule fun.

100% ethical summer wardrobe: tips and tricks!August is the perfect time to figure out whether or not a capsule wardrobe is something you can enjoy.

The sustainability trick: August is the easiest month for a capsule test. It’s warm out there, the laid-back summer holiday atmosphere is in the air, experimenting is so easy. If you enjoy your capsule style, you will learn a few tricks that will apply for your Autumn and Winter capsule as well. And if not, you’ve saved yourself a lot of time.

Nath’s example: Did you see my post where I created 40+ ethical, wearable, colourful outfits out of just 11 items?

SEPTEMBER. Change of season, again.

Again, it’s time to clean-repair-reuse-recycle your summer garments and unpack the warmer pieces.

Now, make a list of needed purchases.

The sustainability trick: You’ll have a keener eye from this year’s challenges, and you’ll know what ethical brands you want to try. Impulse shopping is likely not an issue anymore.

Nath’s example: End of past summer, I discovered that my personal style for colder days had gotten watered down by the stressful circumstances. Despite having my edgy basics at hand for the summer days, the colder days outfits had become some variation of „leggings+sweater“, and I even had lost the habit of wearing my jewellery and once beloved accessoires! Lazy! So for Autumn, I decided I needed a new sweater and a new, edgies pair of pants, and ended up buying two stunning Lanius pieces: an olive sweater with an armor-like pattern, and a pair of bright berry coloured flared culottes. I enjoy wearing these a lot.

OCTOBER. Become a fair fashion star.

Cradle 2 cradle, Bluesign certified Wolford body — a brilliant, limited edition statement piece from 2015 that I still own and love.
Cradle 2 cradle, Bluesign certified Wolford body — a brilliant, limited edition statement piece from 2015 that I still own and love.

In October, you’re likely to already know what you’ll be doing during this year’s festivities. Receptions in your professional or in the private setting, visiting friends and relatives, maybe a New Year concert or party.

Resolve to make a sustainable statement this year!

Now, well in advance, is the perfect time to put together outfits that all have one ethical statement piece. Maybe it’s ethical jewellery, maybe it’s a stunning pair of sustainable boots, or a very colourful fair fashion outfit. Wear those outfits at home and take pictures to feel comfortable and to have that pleasant tingling of joyful anticipation 😉

The sustainability trick: Not only are you going to look amazing, you’ll get to be a walking advertisement for the better, sustainable lifestyle! (You can also share all the progress you’ve made this year, what a great opportunity to make new friends and learn and share!)

Nath’s examples: Here I’ve put together five stylish and edgy sustainable fashion outfits based off just two pairs of shoes and shared five tips on how to build a sustainable wardrobe — all five tips are great to start a discussion!

NOVEMBER. Christmas presents
(you a new opportunity)

Fair fashion gifts: always a good idea!
Fair fashion gifts: always a good idea!

By now, you’re likely to have a few fair fashion favourites: fashion brands, jewellers, accessory designers, you name it. Surely they are offering Christmas editions and showing off gift ideas through their social media. Resolve to finding ethical-only Christmas presents, and if you can’t find perfectly ethical, certified — support traditional and/ or regional artisanal creators.

Sustainability tip: Particularly in the pre-Christmas time greenwashing might raise its ugly head. Go for trusted brands — or choose local artisans who are transparent about their sourcing and processes.

Nath’s examples: From dainty Raw Copenhagen bracelets to chunky Umiwi arm candy, from fair fashion accessories to green beauty, from organic teas and foodie gifts to home décor and home scent, there is so much to pick from.

DECEMBER. Little helpers.

By now it’s likely that you’ve accustomed yourself with sustainable fashion. You know the brands and the certifications, and you have also built healthy style habits. Congratulations!

But with knowledge come the doubts. Things are still not perfect. Now is the time to take stock. Take notes on successes and downers, revisit the pictures you took of your best outfits, and make a few lists that will help you develop both your personal style and the fair fashion savvy in the years to come: your little helpers.

Sustainability tip: You know by now, I’m not a fan of baby steps. But never beat yourself up if a series of efforts on your part don’t yield quite the results you hoped for. Life is not perfect, and yet somehow it is.

Nath’s example: There’s a reason behind the word “Quest” in the description of this very blogzine. We’re evolving. I’m evolving. My journey since starting BEAUTYCALYPSE in 2012 has changed; I have learned more than I thought I ever would. Consumers are more aware, companies are trying harder. We do have an impact, and thanks to your kind messages, I know this corner of the internet, too, has some positive impact — and I appreciate you guys 24/7!

I can’t wait to hear back from you as you embark on this journey and at the end of year!

P.S. More sustainable fashion reads: adopt these seven clever slow fashion habits that save you money and polish your style throughout the year and, specifically for my readers from the Southern Hemisphere — learn how to tweak your ethical summer wardrobe so it is more fun and lasts you longer.


Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)