How To Introduce Sustainability Into Your Personal Style | Read Time 6 mins

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I've talked a lot about sustainable fashion recently, as if I'm some kind of expert on the matter - which I'm not. In the past, I've been a slave to the idea of buying something new for every occasion. I've panic bought off fast fashion websites because of the hype around a collab. I've begged friends for their student discount codes so I could bag another bargain pair of shoes. On the flip-side though, my return rate is minimal. I am a serial outfit repeater (and proud). I know my style and I can create a lot with a little. No-one can hold their hands up and say they've maintained a sustainable wardrobe throughout their entire life. Doing so comes through education and personal growth, learning and unlearning habits that shape you as the consumer you want to be in today's fashion landscape. 

With that being said, here are my first thoughts on how you can introduce sustainability into your style... 


* Before we start I think it's right to point out that even though sustainability is something we should all be working towards, it's also still inaccessible to a lot of people. The first step is being aware, and if that's all you can do right now, that's OK. It's something we're all doing at our own pace. * 


Step 1 - Disconnect


Unsubscribe, unfollow, unlearn. If you're still keeping one ear on the ground, you'll be more tempted to buy into the latest fast-fashion deals. Dedicate an hour or so to therapeutically clear out your Instagram, your email subscriptions, or any cheeky tabs or shortcuts you might have pinned on your laptop. Muting the noise allows you space to think, which brings me nicely onto step two...

Step 2 - Clarify your new boundaries 

Now you've got some time to think and reflect, you can begin to build your new consumer ethos. I'd start by making a list of the key areas you want to improve on (remember everyone's goals will be different, depending on individual circumstances). Here's my list so far: 


 - I want to buy from smaller, independent businesses. 

- Through using the Good On You app, I am now only buying items from brands that rate 3 out of 5 and above. 

- I will make more of an effort to shop my wardrobe before looking elsewhere. 

- I want to start looking into renting clothes, especially for occasion-wear. 

- I'd love to make more of my own clothes, or alter clothes I already have.

- I don't mind spending more, as long as I'm consuming less. 


Mirror selfie


Step 3 - Do the calculations & adjust your mindset 


This step is crucial. To become more sustainable, you need to re-adjust your consumer mentality.  


I frequently get asked - "where do I find sustainable clothes that are cheap?" To me, that's like saying "where do I find sustainable clothes that are retailed at fast-fashion prices?". While there will certainly be cheaper sustainable brands out there that offer a more inclusive price range, ultimately you're going to be paying more and consuming less. This is where adjusting your mindset comes in. 


The modern-day shopper has been brainwashed into believing that a garment can and should be inexpensive. Therefore, we expect the same outcome when we make our move to sustainable, slower fashion brands. It's been a shock to me too; the thought of spending over one-hundred pounds on one item doesn't compute with what's left of my dwindling fast-fashion psyche. It also highlights a massive issue that needs to be addressed in slow fashion, which is that it's still so inaccessible to a large proportion of demographics that simply can't afford to buy expensive clothes. But let's break things down a little bit...


Imagine it's payday - you've been sale shopping and managed to bag yourself six items of clothing for £120. That's £20 per item. Impressive, but, that's six extra pieces of clothing you own. If you did that every payday throughout one year, that's 72 new items in 12 months. 


Now imagine you saw a gorgeous dress from an independent boutique, retailing at the same price of £120, that could also potentially be custom fitted to your body for no extra cost. 


For some reason, we've been made to believe that option two is the more extravagant when actually, it's the more eco-friendly option. So if you're thinking "I want to be more sustainable but everywhere's so expensive" try altering your mindset on how much you need, and save that money for something that's going to be more special and unique. 


I'm also going to link this really interesting Instagram post here from @fairfashionproject that goes into more detail about the true cost of fashion. 

 

Step 4 - Research 


This is where I'm up to at the moment. Once you've cut ties, you'll start finding this huge, dress-shaped hole in your existence, where your fave brands used to live. Where the F do I shop now!? This is where you need to dedicate a little bit more time to do some research. I'm currently compiling a long list of alternative places to shop and will be sharing my finds shortly in a new blog post.


Sustainable style graphic


Step 5 - Start with what's in front of you 


Get all your clothes out and lay them on your bed. Or invest in a clothes rack and hang them all up in front of you. Doing this will give you a clear vision to work from, and you'll soon start to see patterns emerging. Ask yourself: 


Are there any reoccurring colours and prints?

 

What cut is most popular? (Example: high-waisted trousers, scoop-necked t-shirts, midi-skirts) 


Is there an abundance of one item, or a noticeable lack of another?

 

What has been given the most air time in your wardrobe, and what has been relegated to the drawers, or the back rails? 


The irony of buying new sustainable clothes is that you can still fall into the trap of purchasing items that you don't need. Nothing will ever be as sustainable as working with what you've already got, so by knowing your wardrobe inside out, you're more likely to put together more outfits than you expected, and feel less of a pull to buy something new. 


Make a list of what you see, and note down the areas you want to improve. For example, I know that I have enough trousers and skirts right now, but I could really do with some new tops. 



I'll be documenting more of my slow fashion journey over on my Instagram page - @emmielois - which is now officially up and running and dedicated to this blog! Give me a follow if you'd like to keep up-to-date. 


Wishing safe and sound energy to all x 


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