being fashion conscious on a low budget (and when not to feel guilty about where you shop)

2020, fashion, sustainability

Hello!

Fashion in a minefield at the best of times – keeping up with what’s trendy and what’s not (if you care, I don’t particularly), what clothes really look like on people that aren’t size 6 models and then figuring out how that all fits with your budget.

Having followed many beauty and fashion influencers (not because I particularly care about fashion, I just like the personalities) I’ve seen so many talks about capsule wardrobes, fast fashion, slow fashion, hauls from every fast fashion brand you’ve ever heard of, wished for pieces from more ethical brands that are way beyond my price range  and watched people make and up-cycle their own clothes.

And it often gets me thinking – as a teenager, I definitely had far too many clothes and as I moved every year at uni I’ve become far more interested in minimalistic living and getting more use out of the clothes I own (and repurposing all my old t-shirts into a big nostalgic blanket). So on one side of the ‘slow fashion’ coin, I’m doing alright at making sure I get enough wear out of the clothes I own and it makes me much more thoughtful when I am purchasing new clothes.

Buying new clothes is where I start to feel hypocritical – I love following creators that were sustainable brands and learning more about ethical companies and what makes fast fashion so unethical.

But I can’t afford it.

I can’t justify spending £50+ on one item of clothing, even if the cost-per-wear is significantly lower for how long it lasts, that still doesn’t mean I have the income to buy something that price in this moment. So I do my best to shop second hand in charity shops or find new ways to style the clothes I already have, but I do still shop in fast fashion brands because that’s all I can afford.

I treated myself to a little mooch in town the other day and after buying another house plant in Wilko, I wondered round Primark, popped into H&M and picked up an order in M&S. Granted, I didn’t actually buy that much – a pair of denim shorts and a t-shirt in Primark and a dress in H&M (and some jeggings in the M&S sale but they don’t fit so I think I’ll take them back) and the whole time I couldn’t help but think about how I shouldn’t be shopping in or supporting these brands.

But I can’t afford to spend more than £10 on a pair of shorts, I’ve been looking for summer dresses all summer and when there’s a pair of jeggings in the sale for £5.50 it’s too good to leave behind.

And I shouldn’t let myself feel guilty about all this! Fast fashion is definitely still the biggest avenue of the fashion industry and whilst I’m still a full time student who can’t get a job and no income other than some family support to pay my bills, I’ve got to make compromises where I have to.

I think being mindful is the key to all this – when I do shop, I’m now much more thoughtful about what I already have, what I will actually wear and making the most of the clothes I do spend money on. I don’t own a pair of denim shorts so I could justify buying them, I’m wearing a lot more t-shirts at the moment and I loved the design so I could justify it; I’ve been looking for summer dresses in a style I like for months and the one I found in H&M was perfect (and looked really cute, might I add!). I wasn’t doubling up on things I already had for the sake of it – I’m still in the mindset of curating and developing my wardrobe to work in every season.

As I finish my masters and develop my career and have a bigger income to work with, I know I can justify spending more money on clothes knowing I won’t have to replace them as frequently and the people that made it are being fairly paid and working in good conditions. But for now, I have to make compromises where I can – fixing up clothes I own rather than replacing them, experimenting with the clothes I have in my wardrobe to give them a new lease of life; turning my long dungarees into short dungarees for he summer because I’ll get more wear out of them that way!

It’s all a balance – as we learn more about slow fashion and prioritise ethical shopping over cheap consumerism, there will surely be more options to make high quality, ethical clothes accessible for everyone, whether it’s being able to pay in instalments, normalising not buying new clothes as frequently or making the most of second hand shopping.

Being more mindful is a great first step – environmental progress doesn’t come from a few people doing it perfectly, it comes from everyone doing it imperfectly. If everyone was more mindful of how often and where they were shopping, took more public transport and ate one less meat based meal a week it would all add up to make a huge difference.

I don’t know a lot about these kinds of topics, but I’m doing my best to learn. I recommend following Ellie Stennett, Lucid Seams and Clean Kick on instagram if you want some accessible, not preachy ways of learning more about being more environmentally friendly in fashion, recycling and cruelty free beauty!

(also Simple Politics if you find the world a bit too complicated and need some nice simple graphics to make it more understandable!)

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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making the most of your wardrobe (without buying anything new)

2020, creativity, fashion, sustainability

Hello!

This is my third attempt at writing a blog post for today. I just couldn’t settle on idea but after browsing The Anna Edit for some inspiration, I thought I’d have a ramble about clothes as someone who doesn’t have the income to buy anything new but quite often feels overwhelmed by what I have.

Often, we can feel a little lack lustre with our wardrobe – the ‘I have nothing to wear while I’m staring at a full wardrobe’ syndrome. I’m by no means an expert – I haven’t nailed the capsule wardrobe, I still spend more time than I care to admit browsing clothing websites and I quite often end up wearing the same outfits again and again.

But I have been on a long relationship with refining my wardrobe – two years ago I sorted through my clothes and donated six bin bags of clothes I didn’t wear. I really don’t know how I ever fit them in my uni house in the first place. From there I continued refining my wardrobe – when I was packing to move I got rid of more clothes, when I unpacked I got rid of more clothes and two years later I have got a wardrobe that I feel works for all seasons and reflects my style, each item getting the appropriate amount of wear.

One of the key things I found helped with actually wearing everything in my wardrobe was storage – if you can’t see everything in your wardrobe, there’s no way you’ll remember everything you’ve got and several piles of clothes will just gather dust at the back of your shelves. In this respect, the seasonal capsule wardrobe works really well for this because you’re constantly switching out and keeping everything fresh but if that’s not what you want, some new storage solutions might be the way.

Whether it’s buying some shelf dividers, folding your clothes in a different way or just pulling everything out and starting again, refreshing how your wardrobe is organised will not only help you see everything better but it can also remind you of particular items you’ve not worn for a while that you still love!

The next thing I would recommend, is sorting through your wardrobe regularly to decide whether there’s anything you want to donate or replace or if there’s any gaps you think a new item may help with. I did a ‘wear it all’ challenge in February where I only wore each item in my wardrobe once throughout the month, then at the end of the month I went through everything that was left and it made me think about why I hadn’t worn it and whether I still wanted to keep it. I made a note in my bullet journal that I want to sort through my wardrobe again at the beginning of the September – as the summer starts to change into autumn I can think about which clothes I’ve been avoiding, bring my winter clothes to the front and get excited for chunky knits and cosy coats.

And lastly, if you’re feeling creatively stumped by your wardrobe, get crafty with it! Turn those dungarees into a playsuit (but probably get someone to help you make sure both legs are even!), add some patches to your favourite jeans (you can use any clothes you’ve put aside as spare material) or tie dye an old t-shirt or hoodie to give it a fresh look! The longer we’re in lockdown, the longer we’ll all be looking for something to do so why not get creative with your clothes? @lucid.seams on instagram up-cycles clothes with the most beautiful acrylic painting, @catherinehyden did this really cute embroidery on a t-shirt and my sister @lauradoesathing makes entire cosplay costumes, from scratch, designing her own patterns, and making actual clothes. You don’t have to be super skilled at sewing to try something new with your clothes.

Personal fashion and style changes so often, so finding new ways to wear clothes you already have and matching new pieces together can feel so creatively invigorating!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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wear it all February | sustainable clothing challenge

2020, fashion, goals, sustainability

Hello!

My relationship with fashion has always been a bit strange – between owning a hundred t-shirts, enjoying a bit of ‘fast fashion’ before the phrase existed and now trying to re-establish what I actually consider my ‘style’ and approach to fashion.

Last summer, someone I follow on Instagram did a challenge called ‘wear it all July’ – she only allowed herself to wear everything in her wardrobe once and it forced her to try new things with her clothes and really highlighted the clothes she kept avoiding that she didn’t want to wear them. I’d thought about trying it for a while but the last few months have been hectic and now is the first chance I’ve had to do it.

So I’m doing ‘wear it all February’ – a challenge where I only wear the items in my wardrobe once. Obviously I’m not including any underwear, pyjamas, workout gear or shoes (I definitely don’t have enough) and my plan is to rewear clothes only if I run out in that ‘category’. For example, I know I don’t have enough trousers to get my through the month but I’m already incorporating more dresses into my outfits than I’ve worn in a very long time.

I’m finding taking this approach makes choosing what to wear more thoughtful than ‘jeans and a cosy knit’. I’m looking at my wardrobe in a whole new way and it’s going to help me see more of what I’ve got, especially when I’m down to the last few days at the end of the month.

Currently, the way I’m organising my clothes is that once I’ve worn them, I’ll either put them in the wash if they need washing or fold them up in the bottom of my wardrobe to redistribute next month when I reintegrate all my clothes back into the wardrobe. And as more clothes go into the pile at the bottom of the wardrobe I’ll be able to literally see the clothes I don’t wear very often more clearly.

Not only is this going to stop me buying new clothes, I think it’ll give a new lise of life to clothes I already have and remind me why I loved them in the first place. I’m loving finding a new approach to fashion – looking in charity shops, watching videos of people upcycling some of their clothes and having the same clothes for years and years sounds like something I should have always been doing. Consumerism, the business of fast fashion and the short-term gratification of shiny new things is hard to unlearn!

But this month that is my intention. I haven’t been taking outfit photos so far (because I forgot on day one and didn’t see the point in continuing at that point). I’m definitely going to write another post at the end of this month talking about how it went but if you have any questions or ideas about the ‘wear it all challenge’ then please let me know!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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