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Tara Chandra Explains How To Slowly, But Surely Build Your Dream Slow Fashion Wardrobe

Resisting the urge to buy into every new trend that pops up is tough. If you're anything like me, your TikTok FYP is probably flooded with everything from soccer jerseys to coquette bows and ballet flats, jorts, plaid skirts, and more. Additionally, the constant Instagram ad displays for fast-fashion dupes and late-night online shopping sessions make it even harder to withstand temptation.
We are inundated with the pressure to buy stuff — and it's never been easier (and sometimes cheaper) to do so. After all, during this current cost of living crisis, purchasing a $25 knock-off is the little boost of serotonin and illusion of control that gets us through amidst the chaos. But alas, it's a short-term solution to a long-term problem. As Vestiaire Collective's 2023 Impact report states, actions as simple and mindful as buying a used garment can reduce its carbon, waste and water footprint by 73%.
2024 is around the corner, and if you're looking to nip some of those habits in the bud in the new year, you're going to need some solid inspiration. Adopting a slow fashion mindset is all about becoming a more conscious and selective consumer, which doesn't exactly happen overnight. It takes time, planning, and of course, solidifying your very own style.
To get some insight into how to go about building your dream slow fashion wardrobe, we spoke to Tara Chandra — a fashion content creator who's been building her dream wardrobe for 11 years and kicked off her journey through op-shop and market trips.
Here's what she had to say...

Pre-loved items are your bestie

Shopping second-hand is one of the easiest ways to fight the fast fashion cycle. And, of course, landing on a unique, versatile and stylish vintage item is every fashion girlie's dream.
"A second-hand piece I’ve had for the longest is probably a plaid skirt I bought from Rozelle Markets nine years ago for $2! [I still wear] a Chinese halter top I got at Paddy’s Market nine years ago, too, and often style these items together!" Tara told Refinery29 Australia.
For Tara, building her wardrobe of second-hand and thrift pieces in high school was what kicked off her journey, and she still recommends it.
"In person, I shop at op shops, thrift stores, vintage stores, and markets [are great for shopping second-hand]! Vestiaire Collective is a great option for sourcing pre-loved authenticated designer pieces online that are cheaper than retail price. I bought this top from Romance Was Born there [Vestiaire Collective]. It's one of the Australian designers they stock, and it's become one of my favourites," Tara says.

Start exploring your personal style

The concept of personal style can be overwhelming. But it doesn't mean that every outfit you wear has to reinvent the fashion wheel entirely. It's about having a strong sense of what you like and what works for you, so you're less susceptible to falling for every single trending item.
We're all for trying new things and experimenting, but knowing what is likely going to clash with the rest of your pieces will help you avoid overconsumption.
"If you’re focused on having a slow fashion wardrobe, that goes hand in hand with knowing what pieces you’ll definitely wear a lot," says Tara.
Tara describes her style as being "eclectic, moody and fun", noting Jean Paul Gaultier, Ganni, and Somewhere Nowhere as her favourite brands right now. She said that while previously, her style was influenced by social media and what friends were wearing, these days, she prefers to take a more individualistic approach.
"Over the past five or so years, I have moved away from this and worn what I feel like wearing! I think it’s important to have a general idea of your style and what you’re interested in. I love exploring different aesthetics and styles while still making it my ‘own’ with accessories and styling my hair."
Social media doesn't have to be the enemy when it comes to quitting your over-buying habits. Following creators with a unique sense of style, creating mood boards with specific pieces you like, and even finding local sustainable brands can all help lead to a more curated wardrobe.

Shopping with intention is key

Aimlessly walking around a shopping centre after payday can be a dangerous task. If you find your body taking you toward the nearest pop-up sale before your mind has a chance to resist, there are a few ways to avoid mindlessly buying.
"[When I go shopping] I will usually have a specific style or item I’m looking for!" says Tara.
"My intention when shopping is usually to find versatile pieces that can be worn on multiple occasions and work cohesively with numerous other pieces in my wardrobe."
Having specific criteria that an item needs to meet or a 'checklist' to follow before buying a piece of clothing can also be handy, as it'll mean you get longer use out of whatever you buy.
While shopping online, making the most of features like Vestiaire's "Favourites" tab can be helpful in forcing you to think deeply about a purchase before hitting 'buy'. Additionally, its "Make Me An Offer" feature puts you in direct contact with the seller to negotiate the best price possible.
"Earlier this year, I was looking for a black leather designer bag that I could use as an everyday bag. It had to be big enough to fit a 1L drink bottle and all my essentials. Based on these criteria, I found a second-hand Bottega Veneta bag in Japan."
Overall, building a dream slow fashion wardrobe is a marathon, not a sprint — it's all about being more mindful of the purchases we're making, which ultimately benefits our wallets, our sense of identity, and of course, the planet.
Most of all, the process should be fun — because what's better than Pinterest-boarding a bunch of iconic outfits and spending time sourcing the perfect pieces from op shops, vintage markets and online secondhand stores?

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