Sustainability is a buzzword at the moment. There’s been a few high profile documentaries and celebrities getting on board with it, and of course the spotlight has been on bloggers who in my opinion, rather unfairly got a lot of the blame for fast fashion and it’s popularity. That in itself is another topic for another time, but I think right now we’re all looking at ways to be more sustainable – which is really positive. What I think has been a bit more difficult is knowing how without breaking the bank, and totally overhauling your life. Look, no one really is to blame here, the culture just took off in a way we all never thought it would, and you shouldn’t make yourself feel bad about it. It’s not any one individual’s fault, and also bear that in mind when looking at bloggers. We weren’t all able to overnight just drop everything and change – and you shouldn’t feel this pressure to either. What is great is that you are considering making changes, and any small ones you do, well, if everyone did that, we’d be looking at a big impact. I don’t even consider myself expert on this, I also have purchased lots of fast fashion in the past, and I also don’t think completely cutting it out is the answer either – because it is the companies who are making it in such high quantities, out of our control, and unethically to our planet and the people on it. Nobody out there – especially bloggers! – wants to pollute this Earth. Nobody wants to be unsustainable and there’s always bits we can do to change. With that in mind i’m going to go through a few that i’ve been implementing into my life, to help make positive steps and changes, without 1. bankrupting me and 2. overhauling my entire life.
Rethinking how you wear things you already own.
Hopefully this isn’t too obvious, but sometimes just thinking a little differently about the things you already own can create a look to what you are after. For example and these pictures are a prime example – that leopard print ‘vest’ it appears i’m wearing, is actually a dress. I just tucked the dress into the high waisted trousers and boom, you’d never notice. I’ve done this with slip dresses all the time, slip dresses are a great investment because they can be dressed right up to go out, they can be layered over tees and tops with tights for a daytime look, and they can be tucked into trousers for a double layered style look. They can even have jumpers layered over the top to create a skirt, and go with pretty much anything. If you purchase a piece like this, don’t just see it in your wardrobe as a dress for a fancy night out. No way! Try styling it over your fave band tee for a casual day time look, or try tucking it into your favourite trousers like I have done here. I know those IG videos of everyone getting dressed are really doing the rounds at the moment, but often they might show you something you’d not seen before and how to restyle. Particularly follow some ethical bloggers who even if they are using fast fashion, they show you ways to wear, rewear, and rewear again. It’s something i’m really trying to do more of and to encourage not only rewearing but rewearing in different ways, such as this outfit here.
Giving clothes to your friends, or organising a swap shop.
Once a year I do a big clear out with my friends. They all descend on my house and take my unused and unwanted makeup and clothes – of course I am a blogger so I have a large amount of these things! – but you too can do the same! Why not ask all your pals to gather up a small bag of clothes they don’t wear or want anymore, and set up a swap shop inside someone’s lounge. You can give life to something your friend bought, and style it your way for a new home. When you’re done with the piece yourself, you can then either do another swap shop with different or the same friends, or pass on to a charity shop to resell. I think by keeping clothes in our possession for longer and sharing them is such a nice way to give clothes a new lease of life. It honestly brings me so much happiness to see my unwanted and unworn clothes on my friends out and about, we even make a joke about it – they say they’re wearing a vintage ‘Zoe’ piece! It’s so much fun and I know before being recycled again the clothes are living a new life with their new owner.
Doing more vintage shopping.
I think of course this is dead obvious but in this generation of we want things now and we want them instantly and we want to throw them out a week later – sometimes it needs to be said again. Vintage stores are full of amazing things, and can often be a little goldmine – especially if instagram fashion is a big priority in your life. Perhaps you’ve seen a cool fashion blogger but they’re wearing trousers you don’t have, well, rather than instantly loading up Boohoo for a £10 pair that will break after one wash, why not try finding a similar item in a vintage store? They have jeans, skirts, trousers, suit jackets.. coats.. everything! Often you’ll find the prices are cheap, and you’re contributing to fashion being recycled rather than made new, which is great. Let’s say for example you’ve seen an influencer or a celebrity or something in a pair of checked trousers and you want a pair – more often than not you can find a really similar pair in a vintage shop. It’s something i’m going to really try and keep doing more often going into the future. You don’t need to quit all fast fashion and shop only vintage, but from time to time pop in – I bet you’ll find gems that will last you ages.
Consider buying from smaller, ethical brands.
I know this isn’t always easier and can end up being expensive, but there are some really great home made ethical brands out there who do cool instagram baddie style clothes, without damaging the environment. Some of them even source their materials from old clothes and rework them. Amazing. Also, you’ll find that where they’ve been made here in the UK by hand often, they will last a long time too. I always try to pick things that will last me, and can be restyled again and again. I think the question is that perhaps these brands do cost more, and some of them may do, but some will still keep cost low. They know that you’re not made of money and if they’re using reworked clothes the costs will be kept low for them to begin with. I actually popped into a store called Rokit in London yesterday and they had a whole cool trendy range of reworked clothes from old clothes and the prices were no more than Topshop – and to be honest I loved a lot of the pieces more.
Buy more staple pieces, and consider investing a little more in them.
Again possibly obvious but I think the reason I always used to get through a lot of fast fashion was because i’d pick the trend pieces, and not the every day staple pieces. Take for example this white cowl neck jumper – I would never have thought to buy that, probably thinking it was boring. In place of that I may have previously bought several similar jumpers when really if I had just bought the plain versatile white one to begin with, I could have restyled it again and again. Also you don’t need to break the bank again doing this, I get a lot of my staple bits from ASOS, and they do last for years. I know ASOS is also currently committed to trying to do more sustainably, so it could become a good place to go for this. The other thing you could do of course if you have budget is to spend a little more on low end (or high end if you’re really spendy) designer pieces that really will last a long time. I’m a big fan of purchasing plain, simple often logo or design tees that I carefully consider to not go out of season trends. I’m a MM6 Maison Margiela girl, their tees are around £120 or £80 ish if you buy them in the sale (I always do) and I pick plain, cool items that i’ll wear for years to come. They are durable, thick and beautiful quality so I know they will last me. If you continually pick the out there trend pieces – unless that’s your style – you’ll find they go out of season a lot quicker, and you won’t reach for them. My Maison Margiela tees are plain white and black with designs on that I know i’ll still be wearing in a few years time – and i know this because some of them are already two years old and I still love them! Low-end designer fashion if you have the budget is a great place to do this, and if you’re interested in learning more about the brands that are my go to for ethical, good quality pieces with a little more budget to spend, i’ll happily shout about them.
Rethink how you view celebrities and influencers, and unfollow any that make you want to continually purchase.
And lastly, perhaps controversially, rethink how you see these things. Remember i’m part of all this so I get it more than anyone. You see a certain influencer or celebrity and they look amazing. You instantly want everything they’re wearing. You click their story and – oh! how convenient! they’ve linked everything for you on a swipe up. You swipe up, see that it’s from an affordable place and before you know it you’ve hit your thumb on the Apple Pay and more items you didn’t really need are on their way to you. I’ve done it more times than i’d care to remember. Not good. To be honest, most of the times i’ve done this i’ve then tried it all on together at home and realised I didn’t look like that person – probably because of FaceTune but mostly down to the fact that we are entirely different people – and didn’t like it anyway! I’ve been really cutting down on the amount of affiliate links I put out in a bid to help you spend less. Look, i’m here to share my things with you and if you wanna know where my trousers are from, i’ll happily share them. But I think it’s that whole ‘omg look buy this now’ mentality that can be a bit draining. I’ve definitely been guilty of it, if you have a slow ad month, affiliates can make you money. I need money to pay my mortgage. But I think just being conscious of how you follow these people – or to be honest with you, unfollow or mute them. There’s a few i’ve had to mute because they either only seem to come to stories to share affiliate links, or have an insanely large output of them each week. That’s fine, but if you want to make an effort to be more sustainable, perhaps not seeing it is good for you – I know it has been for me. Also look for bloggers who rewear their items a lot – and maybe cut down on following the ones who show a brand new outfit every single time. For example this teddy coat i’m wearing is about three years old from Missguided, I love it to bits and those who have followed me for ages will know it’s the exact same one i’ve worn and worn and worn. Same with the boots, and my top, and even my beret. All years old.
And the other side of that is to instead of thinking you want the exact item, to delve into your wardrobe and find something similar. I mean, unless you really really love that exact item. Otherwise, take inspiration from how they style it, perhaps they’re pulling the top up into their bra in a cool way or they’ve tied their belt differently which looks wicked. Implement those small ideas and take inspiration in a different way. I’d love to think that you guys watch my stuff, enjoy it, don’t feel pushed at with a thousand affiliate links and then make your own style with what you have perhaps inspired by the look. I’m sure you’ve got a cool dress you could tuck into your jeans or work trousers even to give them a new lease of life after seeing this post – and I hope you do.
But the main thing really is not to beat yourself up. We’re not going to all be perfect overnight and nor should we feel the expectation to. Making the smallest changes can have a huge impact and you mustn’t let anyone make you feel bad. Not everyone can shop sustainably easily and that’s okay. As a whole just to have the conversation going on the topic is brilliant. Let me know what you think in the comments and if you’ll try any of my tips!
Photography: Charlotte Hole
Location: NOBU Hotel, Shoreditch
Outfit: Top: ASOS, Leopard Print Dress: Nasty Gal*, Coat: Missguided*, Boots: Koi Footwear*, Trousers: Topshop, Necklaces: Nasty Gal*, Sunglasses: Quay Australia, Boots: Public Desire, Beret: Nasty Gal*