A few years back, longtime fashion editor Rachael Wang knew it was time for a change. After cutting her teeth as a styling assistant for Vogue's Edward Enninful and later climbing the mastheads of Glamour, Style.com, and Allure, she left to follow her passion—forming a niche creative consultancy that focuses on wardrobe styling through a sustainable lens. It's a path that turned Wang into an expert on responsible fashion choices, so we couldn't help but ask for pointers on making a sustainable style shift.
Whether that's supporting eco-friendly labels or reinventing pieces in your closet, she shares how to give your closet a more planet-friendly, greener refresh.
Shop With Purpose (or Rent!)
Before considering a new piece, take inventory of what you already have. "I think the key is really checking in with myself before I make a purchase to decide if I actually need something new," says Wang, who understands the impulse to embrace seasonal trends. As a general rule, she tries to shop vintage first to prolong the fashion life cycle (more on that below!) or buy artisanally crafted items. "[Another] lower impact way to participate in fashion trends is through rental services like Rent the Runway," which provide a rush of excitement, minus the environmental impact.
Choose the Right Textiles
Investing in quality fashion pieces that last is another step towards becoming more environmentally minded, but what should a label say if you do buy something new? "I look for soil-replenishing textiles like hemp that don't require irrigation or organic textiles that eliminate the impact of pesticides," Wang advises. Her other top picks are: "Recycled textiles like Refibra, fabrics regenerated [from plastic waste] like Econyl, and other low-impact fabrics like Lenzing, Rayon, Tencel, Modal, and Viscose."
Hunt for Vintage & Secondhand Gems
As a seasoned pro, Wang loves scouring Los Angeles, Paris, and London's flea markets but notes not to underestimate local consignment stores, too. "The Salvation Army and Goodwill are good for finding gems when traveling through small towns. I also love Beacon's Closet, Buffalo Exchange, and Crossroads for lightly worn contemporary clothes." Then there's The Real Real, her online mecca for luxury buying and selling, and eBay, which Wang loves for classics and basics.
Mind the Wash Cycle
Fewer laundry loads save not only water but also minimize plastic pollution in our waterways. "Although recycled and regenerated synthetic fabrics can be low-impact textiles, I try to wash them as infrequently as possible as they tend to shed micro-plastics." One solution? Place clothes in Guppyfriend Washing Bag that filters out and catches synthetic fibers each wash cycle.
Reinvent or Donate Old Favorites
With spring cleaning upon us, one creative way to omit waste is by repurposing your clothes. Wang is a fan of DIY-ing pants into shorts, especially cutting trousers into a pair that hits stylishly right below the knee. Then, she'll invest in staples that can be worn multiple ways: "Swimsuits do double duty as a bodysuit when paired with trousers or a skirt, and an oversized men's button-down is one of the most versatile items in my wardrobe." For example, she'll layer a thin turtleneck underneath a button-down or wear one open over a tee. In the warmer months, "button it three-quarters of the way up, step in as a skirt and tie the sleeves like a pareo," she says. And when it's time to truly part with a piece? Consider donating to a non-profit organization like Dress for Success.
Discover Your New Go-To Labels
"There are so many amazing brands to mention," says Wang, who has favorites for nearly every fashion category. "Bode and Ahluwalia are turning secondhand textiles into something very compelling. Stella McCartney does environmentally-friendly vegan leather and faux fur better than anyone, and Brother Vellies makes statement shoes with a big social impact." In today's comfort-driven times, she also loves Eileen Fisher loungewear, Pangaia sweats (one of Gucci's closet staples, too), Patagonia for fair-trade fleece, and Jungmaven for tees or hoodies (as she's seen wearing above!).
Don't Forget the Beauty Top-Shelf
Wang's values inform her beauty routine, too, as she tries to use good-for-the-planet products. "I love St. Rose for fragrance, Rahua and AG Natural for hair, and Earth Tu Face's lip balm." For her skin, she recommends the plant-derived facial oil by Muri Lelu, Superegg's clean Gentle Elements Cleanser, and Primera's Alpine Betty Watery Cream. Dr. Bronner's makes her shower staples list, while Lauren's All-Purpose Salve heals dry winter skin or cuticles after a day on set.
As part of Westman Atelier's clean beauty promise, we're continually striving to reduce our environmental footprint. Here's a snapshot of where we are and where we're headed. Then discover our luxurious brush collection, handcrafted from the finest sustainable birchwood.