Got a special occasion this summer? We share how to find your sustainable special occasion wear

Got a special occasion this summer? We share how to find your sustainable special occasion wear

It is time to celebrate! This time of year is often filled with celebrations from graduations to weddings and everything in between. I often find my calendar booking up toward the end of May with various gatherings and celebrations. I look forward to this time of year to gather, celebrate, and spend time with friends and family. 

With these celebrations, we often need to pull together a look fitting the occasion. If you are like me, this can be a bit tricky. I love to get dressed up for the occasion but often do not have these pieces on hand. It leaves me to find something (which I tend to procrastinate) for the occasion. My first thought was to buy something I may only wear once and then shove in the back of my closet, which does not feel the most sustainable. I knew there had to be a better way. 

 From a sustainability standpoint, keeping products in circulation is a key component to reduce garment waste and production of new items. According to the Good on You blog post ‘Why we should wear clothes until they are worn out,’ clothes can be worn up to 100 times but are often discarded after fewer wears leading to more discarded clothing. 

Why is this an issue? 

Discarded clothing, even some when thrifted, can end up in the landfill and take years to decompose. A recent National Geographic article highlights the mountains of discarded clothing waste in the Chilean desert. This is not the destination for all donated clothing, but a lot of clothes that cannot be resold are shipped to other countries, with lax import laws, and end up in the environment. The amount of time it takes for these clothes to decompose depends on the type of fabric. Synthetic fibers, think polyester, can take up to 200 years to decompose. 

What about special occasion wear? How do we keep something in circulation that we only plan on wearing once? Below are three ways to find your perfect special occasion outfit that keeps products in circulation, thus keeping the product life cycle going. 

Re-wear something you already own:

The most sustainable thing you can do is wear what you already own. If you are like me, you already have a few special occasion outfits shoved in the back of your closet. Are there pieces you can wear to your next occasion? For example, can you re-wear a dress you wore to a previous graduation or family gathering? I have definitely done this and even wore the same wedding guest dress to multiple weddings one summer. 

Rent a special occasion piece:

Several years ago, I had a special occasion that required me to be dressed to the nines. I decided to search out other options and came across renting clothing through Rent the Runway (not sponsored). I loved that the clothes were high quality and could be rented to keep the garments in circulation. Since then, I have definitely looked at renting pieces for specific occasions and highly recommend renting an item you only plan to wear once. If you are concerned about wearing the same thing to each event or staying on trend, renting may be a great option. 

Thrift or swap your new piece: 

Another great option is to thrift or swap your special occasion wear. For example, if you are looking for a graduation dress or prom dress, thrifting or swapping may be a great way to find one at a great value. If you have not done a clothing swap, there are community held events or you can have a casual group of friends share clothes that they may have got for a previous event. Thrifting is another great way to keep clothes in circulation and oftentimes the thrift store also donates proceeds to charity. 

These options have helped me find various special occasion outfits in a more sustainable way. I have found each option to be helpful depending on the occasion and highly recommend checking these options out for your next celebration.

Cheers to the celebration season! 

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