I am one of a growing number of stylists who feel a responsibility to speak out against overconsumption and waste and to encourage intentional and thoughtful purchases. We all have a different impetus for taking up this position, but for me it is based in my values; respect for our planet’s finite resources and the desire to leave a world that my children and their future children can enjoy.
When you start to really investigate the fashion industry, sustainable fashion, eco fashion and green washing it can be overwhelming and confusing. The actual environmental cost and the human cost of child labour and minimal wages is a tangled web that is difficult to unravel. This article from The Guardian is an excellent review of the difficulty in determining the production cost.
Take the first step towards sustainability
However, all is not lost and there is no need to throw up your hands in frustration. The most important thing is to take the first step towards sustainability. If we all take little steps, then we can contribute to a larger cumulative effect. I asked some of my clients and followers what being sustainably stylish meant to them.
‘Buying quality to last longer.’- N
‘Reducing consumption of new clothing and caring for what I already have.’- S
‘Using charity shops, vintage and preloved sites for special and unique pieces.’- K
‘To me it’s twofold. Firstly, using and reusing clothing until it is worn out. Buying preloved items, and looking for preloved before you buy new. Secondly, new items should be produced ethically and sustainably, with the staff that sell the items also getting a fair deal.’-B
‘Knowing my colors and style, utilizing my existing clothes that work for me and making thoughtful, intentional purchases, via Op Shopping! Poshmark has been my friend.’- L
‘Mending rather than throwing away and using clothes until they can't be used any more. Making conscious buying decisions - firstly do I need it (rather than just want), buying pre-loved wherever possible, or if not then buying garments with low environmental & social impact (in terms of material, production inputs, labour, pollution etc). Saying "no" to fast fashion & the values that go along with it.’- CS
‘Sustainably stylish is about buying wisely; clothes that are the right colour and style for me, clothes that will last, are well made from sustainable fabrics and a low environmental impact. It’s not about buying lots of new clothes, it is about buying what works and wearing it a lot, repairing it and taking care of your clothes.’- CB
‘My ideal would be to find and use things that already exist so that I am not fuelling the crazy production of endless garments. If I am buying new I would want to know where things are produced and have only bio-degradable fabric. It is a tall order though!’- SM
Knowing Your Colour and Style is Sustainable
Every single one of these ladies is right! Taking any of these actions is a step towards sustainability, remembering that in the first instance, the most sustainable clothing is the clothing you already own. The absolute best way to ensure that you buy intentionally and purchase only the clothes that will work hard for you and your lifestyle is to know your colours and personal style. Incorporating this knowledge will reduce wasteful shopping habits, eliminate mistakes and give you the tools to understand how to make what you already own work for you, whether through dyeing, refashioning, tailoring or just changing the buttons!
Here are 3 things you can do right now to move towards more sustainable clothing without sacrificing your style.
1. Take a hard look at your wardrobe and start wearing the things you already own.
2. If some of the pieces don’t work for you sell, swap, refashion or recycle them.
3. Aim to wear your garments at least 30 times and consider the Rule of 3 as coined by Ciara, The Style Counsellor, before you buy another item. Consider if you can wear the item 3 ways, 3 times, in the next 3 months.
If you would like support to take the next steps towards sustainability in your wardrobe then email me to sign up to my waiting list for the next round of my 2 Week Wardrobe Workout Group programme.
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