How to create a sustainable wardrobe that you love

Published on 18 August 2022

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An Australian Fashion Council report has found the average Australian is purchasing 56 new items (or almost 15kg) of clothing per year - 84 per cent of which ends up in landfill.

Along with taking up space in landfill, the fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. The fast fashion industry releases an average 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, which is more than the shipping and aviation industries combined. And fashion, along with its supply chain, is the planet’s third largest polluter (after food and construction).

Shifting the culture from fast fashion to slow fashion

Nina Gbor is an award-winning sustainability advocate, ethical fashion speaker, climate activist, writer and educator.

She is passionate about teaching easy, fun ways of reducing textile waste while helping people discover their personal style. Nina says fashion should be a fun way of expressing who we are, but there are ways we can enjoy fashion without impacting the environment.

“I believe we should have a personal connection with our clothes so they express who we are as individuals. The items in our wardrobe are meant to be loved and kept for many years,” says Nina.

The fashion trendmill

Fast fashion thrives on ‘trend culture’. This is the loop cycle of constantly buying the latest fashion trends (then throwing them away soon after, only to buy the next latest trending items again). Even when it’s not specifically about following fashion trends, we have a modern cultural trend that demands that we keep buying new stuff all the time. This modern cultural trend is also the trendmill and why overconsumption is such a major crisis. The key to getting off the trendmill is to reuse, restyle, rent and upcycle the clothes we currently have in our wardrobe to keep them out of landfill for as long as possible.

According to Nina, we should also build a wardrobe that includes clothes that make us look and feel amazing while staying true to our personal style. If you’re not sure which clothes suit you, Nina has discovered three steps to finding your personal style formula.

Discovering your personal style

To help you find your personal style, Nina coined the Personal Style Formula: 


  • Find your colour palette which includes a range of colours that vibe with your complexion. They should make you look great, healthy, vibrant and make your skin glow.

Body shape

  • Figure out the style of clothes that work for your body shape that you’re happy with. You can draw inspiration from people in your life or in the media with styles that feel right for you. 

Personality, lifestyle & intuition

  • Know thyself particularly in areas of your personality, daily lifestyle and most importantly, your intuition. This is the fundamental principle for finding your personal style.

Nina’s personal style formula can be the starting point to styling your wardrobe sustainably, and in ways that will make you look and feel amazing. It’s about expressing your individuality and living your best life through your style.

When you need something new, stay out of shopping centres and instead, go on a treasure hunt at your local op shops.

Successful op shopping

Choosing to purchase second-hand clothing is a great choice for the planet and you’re likely to find a one-of-a kind item (or a few!) that will enhance your wardrobe.

Here are Nina’s top tips to ensure a successful op shop adventure:

  • Take inventory of the items that you already have and make a list of items that you need that will help complete your wardrobe. This will keep you from buying lots of random items just because it’s affordable or looks attractive. 
  • Follow your personal style formula. When you start op shopping, follow Nina’s personal style formula to help you quickly find the colours, shapes, patterns, styles that work best for you.
  • Keep an open mind and remember that op shopping requires patience and perseverance. But it will all be worth it when you have a unique wardrobe that represents your personal style. Your future self will thank you.
  • Op shop online! If you find it daunting to visit op shops in person, do it online with apps like Depop, Facebook Marketplace, The RealReal, Etsy or other preloved platforms.

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