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.
#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.
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.