The turning of the sartorial seasons means that I recently finished switching out the clothes on my meagre IKEA rail, ready for AW18.
At last count this morning, there are 32 pieces on my rail, 4 pairs of jeans tucked neatly underneath and about 11 coats in my sister and I’s shared dressing room. (Basically, my brother moved out two months ago and so we’re making good use of his old room.) It’s safe to say, a capsule wardrobe doesn’t work for me.
A few weeks ago, I also wrote about my current mindset when it comes to shopping for clothes and my new attempts at being more mindful about that whole shebang. If there’s anything that the age of Instagram has taught me, it’s that I personally do not think it’s necessary or viable to be buying new pieces every week. Heck, these days I’m only adding to my wardrobe either a) when I need to be warmer/colder, or b) when I remember that Vero was once a thing.*
Read: Once in a blue bloomin’ moon.
2018 has arguably been all about educating ourselves about sustainable and mindful approaches to living and I’ve been so happy to embrace that. From learning about the sustainable benefits of eating in a certain way to really diving in on the whole recycling thing, it’s been a real eye-opener and one that I’m happy to discuss more openly in the hopes of making an impact, no matter how small.
So let’s talk fashion, because this is easily one of the more achievable ways that you can personally make a difference.
Did you know that as well as creating the ‘omg my wardrobe is so cluttered yet I have nothing to wear’ thing, fast fashion has a hugely negative impact on the environment? Water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals (to achieve unique colour dyes and finishes), textile waste, and even the effects of washing certain fabrics are all key issues in the fast fashion industry. Low-cost, low-quality pieces that you and I wear all the time.
A capsule wardrobe is where you approach clothing in a minimal manner. A selective edit of pieces that can be styled easily with each other to create a seasonal uniform of sorts, if you will. Whilst once upon a time I subscribed to that idea, these days I embrace a one-in-one-out mindset that keeps my wardrobe fun, somewhat on-trend and, above all, manageable. I began to realise a few years ago that owning 50 dresses wasn’t conducive to a happy and fulfilled life. Oh it’s always great to recount the memories attached to each: the Diane von Furstenberg dress (I’ve kept it!) that I was gifted for a collaborative post, a Primark skater dress with a heart cut-out that I bought for £3, that time I panic-bought five dresses for holiday… But it’s also wasteful. At any given time, I’m wearing one outfit after all.
For instance, the dresses can be teamed with tees, the cami tops slipped under a shirt. I LOVE having a small edit to pick from each morning, and if I want to pick up something new, then I must get rid of something, whether that’s by taking it to the charity shop, selling it on Depop or, as a last resort, resigning myself to chuck it entirely.
My approach here is not to continually get rid of pieces with a view to having a smaller edit and it isn’t even to strive for a capsule wardrobe. It’s to maintain a selection of clothes that I do wear a lot, that will last me season upon season, and that reduces my impact on the industry.
In 2015, I curbed my monthly Topshop and ASOS shopping sprees because, honestly, who needs that amount of clothes? Do I need another white slogan tee or can I use my Brandy Melville one again to recreate a look? Should I really invest £60 on a dress made from recycled yarns when Primark makes one for £5? These are the questions that we should be asking ourselves when shopping.
Of course I’m not perfect — who is? — and even now, I have fast fashion pieces in my wardrobe. My hope in writing this post is to encourage more of you to be a little more considered when making changes to your wardrobe. Consumer power is everything and if each of us in the Daisybutter community halved our clothes consumption habit, that’d be almost 60k people making a small impact. I’m not here to tell you where or how to shop, I’d love to encourage you to be a little more mindful and educated about this huge issue in our modern world. Could you hold out for an extra week/month for another payday and invest in something more sustainably made or that will last you for a little longer?
Further reading and viewing:
- To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World? by Lucy Siegle
- Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution by Safia Minney
- Fashion and Sustainability: Design for Change by Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose
- Stacey Dooley Investigates: Fashion’s Dirty Secrets via BBC
- The Price of Fast Fashion via BBC
- The True Cost via Netflix
- Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things via Netflix
Mohair-wool knit leopard print jumper: And Other Stories
Faux leather skirt: Zara
‘Kori’ boots: Alexander Wang
CHANEL Le Boy bag
My Top Tips:
- Download the Good On You app. It’s an Australian app that’s packed with information about how brands are doing in terms of human labour, environment and animal sustainability. You can search your favourite brands, read a little more about them, ‘Favourite’ them to easily check back on their progress, and even find similar brands. It’s been SO eye-opening for me this past week or so.
- If you can’t stay away from the High Street and those affordable brands, that’s fine too. But try and select pieces made from quality fabrics that will last both in the wash and in line with trends or your style.
- Get familiar with reading clothing labels. As a fashion journalism graduate, trained fashion writer and gal who has been shipped to several training sessions, I know a little too much about fabrics. Avoid polyester (when washed, it emits tiny plastic particles that end up in the sea), and choose organic or recycled materials wherever possible.
- Learn to sew! Whether that’s to create your own clothing or so you can easily mend clothes at home, this is much better than instantly writing off yet another pair of jeans or top.
- Throw less away. Get in the habit of keeping pieces for longer and resisting the temptation to stockpile clothes just because you’ve seen influencers haul 20 pieces at a time.
- Buy from charity shops and reclaimed item stores. It’s always good to support your favourite charity and give clothing a second try. If you want to buy designer for less, shopping from sites like Vestiaire Collective and The RealReal is a great way to re-home leather. (I have SO many thoughts on this!)