Disclaimer: I don’t profess to be the world’s best vintage clothes wearer, or capsule wardrobe owner. I love a quick fire purchase like the best of them (send me in to Zara and I’ll struggle big time not to leave with something) BUT I must say, I am becoming increasingly conscious about my buying habits, and after wearing this outfit last weekend – a 2nd hand (hell, maybe even 3rd/4th hand) dress, with a two year old Mango faux fur coat and three year old ASOS sandals, it got me thinking – how sustainable is my style?
With the rise of Instagram, has come the rise, I feel, of ‘wear it once’ fashion. Over the past year I’ve really noticed the sense of urgency a girl can feel about buying clothes. Checking Instagram on a day when she’s feeling truly satisfied with life, and seeing an image of THE most beautiful garment *cue heart racing moment of madness* ‘I need that, I want that, I must buy that.’ Argh! It’s a crazy situation! One moment, she feels like the luckiest lady in the world, counting all her blessings in life, and the next she is thinking ‘argh why can’t I afford those new boots, handbag, coat etc etc’. Or maybe that’s just me?! I’m not sure, but I don’t think I’m the only girl who can sometimes feel this way?
I definitely don’t want to be contradictory. I don’t pretend to have a capsule wardrobe, far from it! My job as a stylist and personal shopper involves loads of shopping, but I guess there in lies the predicament. How do you keep up to date with fashion, while still being conscious of our environment, and those that have a lot less than us? I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not saying that I will never buy new clothes again (who would I be kidding?) but I am saying that I am increasingly conscious, and want to know that clothes I am buying I am actually going to wear!
I’m conscious that when I shop with a lady, she may not have unlimited amounts of cash to splash on clothes. Conscious that the clothes she is trying on, and buying need to work for her in a number of situations, and conscious that in the real world we all wear our clothes A LOT!! So that is why, I am always talking about the wearability of clothes. When I shop with a lady, I talk a lot about how to rework an item for various different events life throws at her. ‘Wear it like this casually, dress it up like that to make it sassy for a night out, throw it on like this for the school run…’ It’s part of my job to be very aware of current trends, (and I truly love buying in to them from time to time), but I also want my (and your) wardrobe to have longevity, with pieces that can be mixed together and worn time and time again. This is something that is constantly on my radar when I’m personal shopping for ladies, and something I hope shows through my Instagram feed.
I am conscious that through Instagram I want to strike the balance between inspiring ladies of all shapes and sizes to find clothes and shoes they LOVE, without making the argh I need it NOW thing worse! For a while I’ve been feeling bad that I often post the same clothes more than once on my feed. I don’t want to be repetitive, but at the same time, I simply can’t afford to keep up with the churn of buying new clothes weekly. It also makes me feel uncomfortable that clothes/style can be so disposable. So I think I’ve decided that I’m ok with the fact that you’ll always see the same items appear more than once, twice, three times. I WANT you to see that clothes can be reworked and worn in different ways, and that if you buy something I’ve recommended, you know you will get your wear out of it.
So I guess to answer my own question…I think my style HAS to be sustainable. I simply don’t want to keep up with a daily replenishment of new clothes, showing you things I am wearing just once, never to be seen again. I am all about real life. I think it’s a really unrealistic portrayal of life to wear each item of my wardrobe once and never again. One of the things I have always loved most about styling is the infinite possibilities it presents. Change one thing about an outfit and it can change everything about it’s overall look and feel. Through my Instagram feed I try to embrace this enjoyment and show you how I like to wear my clothes differently, and I hope that I continue to do so.
Over the years I’ve developed a mental check list that sometimes helps me to make decisions about what I buy. I’m leaving these here to remind myself, and also to perhaps help you to make decisions about what you buy:
- Ask yourself how many times you’ll wear it in the next 2 weeks? Of course, there are occasions when you are needing a very specific dressy piece for an event which you may not wear again so soon, but when shopping for general clothes, really think through how you will work it with your existing wardrobe. What will you wear it with? How will you style it? Can you throw it on easily? Can it be machine washed (a big one for me if I think about my everyday clothes)! Will you wear it on the school run/out for dinner/to work/on a night out. It needs to work for you.
- This trend shall pass. Think about it. You can’t honestly buy in to every single trend that hits the UK high street. It’s simply not realistic! You would drive yourself crazy and bankrupt in the process. So just remember this, not every trend is for every lady. Before hitting the BUY button, really try and consider whether this is a trend you want to buy in to. Has it been around long? Can you see it having longevity? Can it work for you even when the ‘trend’ has died down? Do you really love it? If the answer is no to any of these then perhaps you shouldn’t be buying it? I love a trend, but I definitely don’t buy in to all of them.
- It is a great basic? I am all for having really good quality basics in my wardrobe as I just know I will wear them. A great pair of jeans, a leather skirt, a denim jacket, a pair of black ankle boots. ALL what I would call necessary and ALL worth investing in.
- Vintage/Charity Shops: Visit, and visit often. Find a local charity shop you like and just take a peek whenever you get the chance. My local charity shop is on the way to Sainsburys and I pop in when passing (glam gal I am). You never know what you may find! Remember things can be taken in and up – and you can wash before wearing! It’s less wasteful and more individual. You know that no one else will be in the same dress as you at the party, and recycled clothes are obviously a lot more sustainable.
- Do you have something similar in your wardrobe? Sounds such a silly question but believe me the amount of times I think I ‘need’ something, when I actually have something really similar if I take a proper look is stupid. If you’re bored of a lovely navy coat which is in great condition, change up the buttons and spend the money on a grey one. You get the idea…
- Finally…step away from the phone! Sounds so simple right? Just put the phone down, remind yourself of all the clothes you DO have and have some fun pulling out old pieces and changing the way you wear them. I really love going to my clients’ houses, and working through their wardrobes. Throwing new light on existing pieces, and changing up the way they style them. It’s such a great way to take a proper look at what a lady already has, and what she REALLY needs, and something I like to do with my own wardrobe often.
You will see that I recently posted an image of a trend I’m lusting after on my Instagram…bum bags! Will they have longevity? Is it worth buying in to? It’s something I’m asking myself currently so watch this space!
Thank you so much for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and suggestions.
4 thoughts on “How sustainable is your style?”
Love this and I too have just started thinking exactly the same as you! I kept seeing things I “needed” on Instagram so was buying something new every week!
A conversation with my sister (who is a pattern cutter for a oth street brand) and the realisation of how much waste and impact fast fashion has on our planet!
So September I put myself on a shopping ban and decided that I would shop more sustainabley. My new rules is to buy less synthetic fabrics so avoid acrylic and polyester and instead spending a little more on wool, cashmere, cotton (organic if possible). Only buy if I will get me wear out it. And so far so good!
I’ve just been to H&M and picked up the green jumper with embellished bugs on it, it was only £25! But I walked around with it and decided I didn’t need it, I would wear it a couple of times then be bored and it was acrylic mix so I had 3 reasons to not buy it.
I’ve also started buying organic and free range food where I can and supporting local businesses in my town. It’s only one person making a change but perhaps my friends and family who I tell will be more conscious the next time they shop? And one person is better than none right?
I’m not going to avoid Zara and Topshop but I am definitely more thoughtful about purchases now.
(Sorry for essay haha)
Hi Sarah thank you so much for your comment which I’ve only just seen. I’m sorry!! Good for you for making efforts to be more sustainable. It’s definitely something that in this day and age we need to really try harder at. I’ve been trying to buy less and buy locally too. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment xxxx
My mom’s been teaching me sustainable style without knowing the terms “sustainable style”. THANK YOU for reintroducing me to it. This article was definitely helpful because I’m renewing my wardrobe 💕 xoxo
Hi Nate I’ve just seen your comment. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. I agree, my mum also taught me it growing up. I think their generation bought much less but bought better quality for sure xxx
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