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First of all it should be made quite clear, that I absolutely love clothes. Giving up fast fashion does not mean giving up lovely clothes. Quite the opposite- giving up fast fashion means only lovely clothes.
Buying fast fashion is reassuring, because ‘everyone’ is wearing it and we all want to fit in. What if though, we decided to change sides. Drop cheap & sweatshop and blossom into unique, stylish and ethical?

Winning the battle against fast fashion
To start with, we all need to slow down – It took me several years, to create anything resembling a functioning, everyday wardrobe. A core collection of outfits I was happy with, both in terms of style & ethics. Even if money were no object, it would still take at least, say, a rough timescale of 8-12,months, to simply identify, your own ‘wardrobe classics’ that work with your unique lifestyle.

Making a lifestyle evaluation- real vs imagnary needs
My own lifestyle is mostly about clothes for work. They absolutely, have to be comfortable, to see me through the harshness, of a 9-5 work day, but still fit in with the London etiquette, when  going out for post work drinks or casual dinner. Some slightly smarter looks, for posh restaurants and the like. Sportswear for my regular yoga/ballet class. Loungewear for chilling out at home (with my beloved lady Beatrice), I tend to change straight away after work.

For weekends, I tend to wear the same as for work, but perhaps a little more flamboyant touches,  ie higher heel or a fancier hat. Perhaps a more casual, and warmer, chunky cashmere roll neck for weekends away. I never dress down as in ‘sloppy looks.’  Attractive nightwear for my own feel good factor and LSH’s. Then -a couple of special occasion outfits for weddings and other events.

Shop slowly and be a true fashionista
Nowadays I don’t shop very much, I don’t stalk the sales, and have very high expectations of the quality of my clothes, the humane aspect and environmental impact of my purchases. Even so, not everything I own, meets those criteria 100%. Buying organic cotton underwear is an on going process! British or Irish wool is my first choice. Scottish cashmere or French linen. I prefer to buy made in UK, or made in France, but made in the EU is acceptable too. I research everything and never buy out of desperation, after all there is always next season.

Starting the battle against fast fashion
#Take an inventory of wardrobe items. Write everything down on a list. Most people have too many ‘so & so’ clothes and ‘just in case‘ outfits, but not enough ‘I love to wear this every day‘ items.

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#Making lists. Lots of lists of what clothes I actually wear and more lists of what I would like to add. Split lists into outfits: every day, office, weekend, lounging…Every season has its own budget. Include real life wardrobe scenarios. Edit the list, and dwindle down to a few multitasking, hard working pieces, most of us tend to habitually overshop.

#Make another list of what is OK to wear now, but to be gradually replaced with ‘better quality ethical’ buy…(to be done slowly, so as not to lead to bankruptcy.) Ignore anyone who tells you it cannot be done and ethical shopping is for losers. It cannot be done straight away – but it can be done. One fast fashion item out and one good in…

#Going cold turkey, no more visits to fast fashion stores. This one is crucial, it’s like someone trying to loose weight, but keeps visiting fast food shops.

# Don’t be a sheep. It’s amazing how many people like to concentrate on just a few well known brands, be it designer or fast fashion. Having the confidence to investigate unknown designers, small brands no one else is wearing- they are tomorrow’s investment buy! Every time I visit Paris, this is the one thing I notice. Parisians don’t all buy the same designers. They have the confidence to explore, they spend less and look better.

#Finding another pastime. That was key for me. I am obsessed with clothes and the contents of my wardrobe, so my outlet was to clean, re-arrange and reorganise. Make look books, visit fashion shows, (real fashion) wash, iron and fold. And finally donate…

#Become a snob! Demand the very best ethics too. Who made our clothes? Happy, well paid, skilled artisans? or miserable, exploited sweat shop workers? Does the manufacturer look after the environment, or do they pollute the rivers and kill the wildlife?

#Up the grooming routine. Better skin care, investing in some lovely products. Better hair care…Regular visits to the hairdresser, DIY mani/pedi and low maintenance make up really helps.

#Joining an exercise group. For me it was yoga and ballet. I do something almost daily, using this app. Strengthening those abs, is key to good posture. Remember, no clothes ever look good if we don’t cultivate our inner clothes horse.

#Develop other, non-fast fashion interests. Recreational Shopping is not the same as knowing fashion! How about a philosophy course? I have also started brushing up on my French using this app.

#My final tip is to simplify. My own dressing improved dramatically when I settled on a ‘uniform’ ie a set silhouette that suits me. It’s easier to pick shoes as well because most clothes in my wardrobe now work together with my comfortable shoes. That may not work if you have a more complex lifestyle, but it certainly made my life easier. The chosen silhouette needs not be permanent and will be tweaked and adapted with time or other significant changes. I do think that a good silhouette is the foundation of being stylish, as we are not constantly swayed by this or that trend.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/may/08/fast-fashion-death-for-planet

Do let me know your own tips on winning the battle against fast fashion and The very best of luck with your stylish wardrobe creation, and may your clothes enjoy finesse and longevity!

The fight against evil
The fight against evil must go on, please help to spread the word or make a donation to Save the Elephant from extinction. Whatever you can give makes a difference.

© Ladysarahinlondon

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11 thoughts on “Real Fashion Vs Fast fashion #4 (and how to save money, save the planet and look good to boot)

  1. dottoressa

    Precious and valuable series and,if I may say, investigation,dear Lady Sarah! I’ve read the Guardian article,too.
    As I said before,there were only a couple of things I hade to deal with:
    – to stay by my principles despite all the comments from my friends ( “If you were shopping cheaper,you could shop more”-it made me look like a snob.
    But,in the end , as I keep my clothes far longer,I always had a lot to wear)
    – to really understand how the changes in my life or my life style influence my wardrobe (like: wearing the comfortable shoes took me in a new direction)
    – to understand the changes in fashion and world,”going out ” usually doesn’t require any more,if you are not at the red carpet, a lot of fancy outfits
    As I used to work in uniforme,it made everything much easier.
    Thinking about,checking the declaration (but,if it is made in EU, where does the fabric come from?) I always remember briliant,sad, film with Javier Bardem “Biutiful” and imported chinese workers to work in Spain in the same,sweatshop conditions
    And it seems,that I have to stick with the same old brands. Our textile industry was destroyed by cheap fast fashion chaines,some of the new designers I followed here,have Chanel-like prices now-and the quality changed as they became successful,some brands don’t ship here……
    Choosing the right path could be tough
    Thank you for sharing your experience
    Dottoressa

    Reply
    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      It is an going process. To start with I eliminated the big fast fashion giants from my shopping list. I never visit any more, and training my eye to see quality is key. In any case, our current shopping habits are not sustainable, either we have to stop them ourselves and become more conscious or the next generation pays for it. It is shocking how expensive good clothes are-but that is more of a true reflection of actual cost. When people buy Primark, what they don’t realise is the long term cost on jobs, livelihood and the environment.

      Reply
  2. Liesbeth

    For me, investing in mental health (eg through meditation practice) and self-confidence was crucial for,quitting fast fashion. If I let all the commercials and ads and all my friends’ talk about their new purchases and their fashion musts or faux-passes get to me, I would run back to the first fast fashion store I could find, crying for a makeover. After which, indubitably, I would regret all of the mismatched items that feel itchy or plasticky, are difficult to maintain and not even really ‘me’… Taking responsibility for the full cycle of purchasing through to disposing of an item also helps: such a chore, culling and selling and donating guilt-inducing bags of barely worn clothes.

    Reply
  3. silkpathdiary

    Excellent!
    I think people are put off by how long it takes, I know I was and it’s now 5 yrs since the start of my closet auditing. It’s only been in the last 18 months that I felt I understood my own needs. Nothing to add – you said it all!

    Reply
  4. SA.

    Lady Sarah,

    This is by far the best post I read on this topic. I love how you listed everything out. Thank you so much! I am going to be working on a lot of these things this year. I will most definitely come back to this post again and again to reference and implement in my life.

    For starters, I am going to live by this:
    “#Make another list of what is OK to wear now, but to be gradually replaced with ‘better quality ethical’ buy…(to be done slowly, so as not to lead to bankruptcy.) Ignore anyone who tells you it cannot be done and ethical shopping is for losers. It cannot be done straight away – but it can be done. One fast fashion item out and one good in…”

    THANK YOU!

    Reply
  5. Pingback: Updates and Staying Course | Dear Beautiful World,

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