We're Borrowing This Eco-Friendly Styling Trick from French Women—and Here's Why You Should, Too

eco friendly french styling trick

While we have mixed feelings about some of the advice in Bringing Up Bébé or the practicality of a crepe wedding cake, there is at least one French trend we can truly and fully stand behind: wearing an item of clothing at least 30 times before donating it or buying something new.

Why 30 times? According to stats released earlier this year via Fashion Revolution, French women wear each piece of clothing at least 30 times before considering an upgrade or new purchase (not consecutively, of course!). For comparison, women in the U.K. wear an item of clothing an average of only 14 times, and one in ten women say they retire a piece after they’ve been pictured wearing it on social media three times. And while Americans were not included in the stats, we’re pretty sure we’d be right in line with the Brits, if not worse, in terms of the number of wears. Yikes.

We’re definitely here for the idea of getting more use out of our wardrobes while simultaneously helping the planet (and our wallets too). So, what can we do to start shopping and styling like an eco-friendly French gal? We have at least two tips to ease you out of the fast-fashion mind-set and into this more sustainable (and très chicer) one instead.

First, consider the cost per wear. This is particularly helpful if you’re having trouble justifying the price tag of one or two super-high-quality pieces in place of the five or six cheaply-made but super-trendy styles you’d normally pick up from Zara. If you buy one $60 trench coat and you wear it just six times before tossing it or moving on, then the coat has cost you $10 for each wear. But if you splurge on a longer-lasting trench for, say, $300 and wear it 30 times, you’re still paying $10 for each wear. And a quality jacket is going to stay in good condition long after 30 wears, meaning that cost per wear is likely to drop even lower.

Second, before you buy any new item of clothing, regardless of price, ask yourself: “Will I wear this at least 30 times?” And really, truly, honestly think about where you plan to wear it, how many different ways you can style it with things you already own and whether or not you’ll find it as enticing three months from now or next season when you pull it back out of storage. If your answers feel weak or wishy-washy or are straight up “No, I will likely wear this twice before I want something new.” Well, then you know what to do—step away from the adorable but ephemeral sweater. 

Still fighting the urge to obtain something new? Consider signing up for a clothing rental service, like Nuuly or My List at Bloomingdale’s, so you can get your fix without perpetuating the environmentally hazardous cycle of buying and tossing clothing that’s barely been worn.

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Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...