(Wearing one of my favourite capsule collection items above by Seaside Tones – I wear this linen shirt dress over and over again and it works through all the seasons with clever layering and styling!)
I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to write about the effects of fast fashion and how we can help to combat the problem by promoting capsule wardrobes, slow styling and really intentional purchasing. It’s something I’ve been moving towards for the past 5 years or so and then we watched that Stacey Dooley documentary a few weeks ago and it prompted me to look at my purchasing habits through fresh eyes and also be a bit more vocal about something that I really do believe needs to change. (As much for our sanity as for our planet.)
Yep, apparently so!
The thing that really shocked me, is just how much water is required to make our clothes. When there are people who have no access to clean and safe water to drink – how can we justify taking that water (and then some!) to create another t-shirt or pair of jeans that we might only wear once or twice a year? It honestly boggled my mind.
I really believe that our purchasing habits would be different if we knew some of these things right off the bat.
Unpopular opinion time – It’s not the retail giants that need to initiate the change, it’s us, the consumers. At the end of the day, if we reduce the demand for fast fashion, companies will stop creating and selling it. It’s that simple. I feel like putting the onus on big retail brands is actually a massive cop out and it’s essentially saying that we can’t think for ourselves or have the strength of mind to make better choices, I don’t know about you but that just doesn’t sit very well with me.
These companies are profit driven and no matter how much noise they make about sustainability, they always will be. We have to lead this change.
Before we go any further, I hope this goes without saying but I’m not pushing some perfect ideal here… Here at Break The Loop HQ we still eat meat, we also still use way more plastic than I’d like us to (has anyone tried to cut single-use plastic for a day or two, or longer? I did a 24hr challenge and it was so much harder than expected, it’s everywhere!), but small changes today lead to big changes tomorrow and it’s all just down to breaking old habits and forming new ones right?
Anyway, we’re trying really hard to implement changes here at home (I’ll go into them more in a later post) and one area that I’m already on the way to figuring out, is my wardrobe. So I thought that I’d share a few tips and mindset shifts that have helped me on my own sustainability journey.
When trying to make a move away from the instant gratification of fast fashion, it helps to switch the narrative in your head from one where, if you’re not constantly buying new items you feel like you’re missing out, to one where you know that you treat yourself to the very best that you can afford. It might mean that you can only purchase something once a month, or once every couple of months as opposed to mindlessly racking up credit card debt on your lunch break (we’ve all been there!).
To me, the latter feels so much more luxurious and enjoyable and it really is the case that quality items will last you years and years and if chosen well, will make you feel incredible every time you wear them, from the 1st time to the 50th time.
Secondly, it always helps to recognise when you’re buying or holding onto things ‘just in case’. We’ve all bought something in the sales that wasn’t exactly what we were looking for but that we convince ourselves is ‘good enough’… then 9 times out of 10 that item still has the tags on months later.
It’s the same with going through your wardrobe and having the necessary Marie Kondo style clear out… We all suddenly turn into hoarders, creating faux sentimentality about items just so we can keep hold of them. At risk of repeating what you already know – if you haven’t worn it in the last 6 to 12 months (weather dependent) then you’re probably not going to wear it in the next 6 to 12 months either. If you find yourself questioning whether or not to buy an item or whether or not to cull it from your collection, be strict with yourself, this process is about creating a wardrobe that you love and that makes you feel good.
Just ‘good enough’ in this case, is actually not good enough.
Try to sit down and really think about what pieces you need to complement your current lifestyle – not the lifestyle you want but the one that you’re actually living. Whilst I do totally get the ‘dress for the life you want’ thing, you’ve got to be at least a little bit realistic (I know, I know…).
If like me, you work from home and spend most of your time sitting at your desk, you’re most likely going to want items that make you feel like a boss, whilst also being super comfortable. I can guarantee, it’s those items that you’ll reach for day in, day out.
This might sound like a contradiction to point number one but I really want to amplify this point… You don’t need to be rich and buying only the highest quality items to help make a change.
Sometimes, with all the will in the world, we just can’t afford to flash the cash – there’s food to buy, bills to pay and a roof to keep over our heads. Sometimes we only have a few pounds to play with and I’m definitely not here to tell you that if that’s the case then you should abstain from shopping altogether! I have items from Zara and H&M that I’ve had for YEARS and I wear them every single season, multiple times. Perhaps they weren’t created in the most ethical of ways but I feel ok knowing that I’ll most likely keep them until they’re worn out, making them much ‘slower’ pieces than they were intended to be.
There’s also something really cool about saving up for something you really want, something that you then treasure because you know how hard it was to acquire it in the first place.
Think of cultivating a capsule wardrobe as not only helping to save the planet but also helping to save you precious time, as well as cutting down on stress each morning when you get ready. We’ve all stood in front of bulging wardrobes, hating every single item and feeling terrible in whatever we try on… panic rising as the time ticks on. (Dramatic? Possibly – but I know my girls feel me on this.) If instead, you’re looking at a collection of items that you love, that make you feel good and bonus points, all work with each other in some way – well that is a recipe for getting-ready success, my friends.
If you can afford to pick and choose the brands you buy from and you can spend those extra dollars in order to guarantee sustainability, then you go for your life!! If you can’t right now then that’s totally ok, just try to focus on buying things that you absolutely love. Cut out those purchases that you’re unsure about or don’t really need, it will make a difference and it will also help streamline your ‘getting ready’ process making for a much more stress-free morning!
When it comes to sustainability and healing this incredible planet of ours, every little bit does help.
Tell me, what are some of your favourite ‘anti’ fast fashion/ ethical clothing brands, ones that don’t break the bank are especially welcome!
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