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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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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curating a practical wardrobe

2019, fashion

Hello!

Between fashion bloggers, YouTubers and the sustainability movement, everywhere I turn it seems there’s talk about capsule wardrobe, minimalist lifestyles and anti-fast-fashion.

It’s really opened my eyes to how I adopt these approaches into my own lifestyle – I love shopping but I also don’t like spending money and I hate not making use of what I’ve got so if I find something in my wardrobe that I don’t wear I’ll donate it to a charity shop.

It’s been over a year now that I’ve been slowly refining my wardrobe – cutting it down to be somewhere between a capsule wardrobe and a minimalist wardrobe which is really practical for me.

I’ve had three big clear outs – the first time was when I was in Southampton and I had so many clothes I literally didn’t have enough space for them all, I think I got rid of 6 bin bags worth of clothes in a charity bin (which is mind blowing, really) and I just about had enough room for my remaining clothes!

I did another clear out after I’d moved home and we got everything back out of storage – as I was unpacking all my clothes I did another big sort out and made another pile of a couple of bags of stuff I didn’t wear.

And the third one was fairly recently – I was ruthless, I got rid of things that were too small for me and things that were too big for me and I started being a lot more honest with myself about what I actually wear. When I finished that one my wardrobe looked so neat and tidy, it was beautiful.

But I still don’t think I’m done – I have too many t-shirts that I don’t really wear, too many pairs of trousers and I can’t see them on the shelf they’re on so I need to display them so I can actually see them all.

I’m not a big fan of the capsule wardrobe though – for me, I just don’t like the idea of only having a couple of colours so that everything matches, because I just don’t think that’s very sustainable. Having a shirt or a pair of trousers that go with a few options but not every option is far more realistic than making sure every top goes with every bottom option I have!

The main thing I don’t like about capsule wardrobes is swapping out parts of my wardrobe every season – I’m a big fan of layers and I’m also incredibly lazy so having to change up my whole wardrobe four times a year sounds like a lot more effort than I’m prepared to put in. And I think that having one wardrobe that works all year round is probably smaller and more environmentally conscious than a bigger wardrobe where you swap items out seasonally? It means I get more wear out of my clothes because I wear a lot of them all year round.

But then my wardrobe isn’t quite minimalist because I think it’s too big – I feel like a proper minimalist wardrobe should all fit on one rail or only have 5 shirts, 2 bottoms and a pair of shoes or something! Maybe I’m thinking a bit extreme, but whilst I want to be sustainable and get lots of wear out of my clothes I also like having choice and mixing and matching my clothes into lots of different outfits.

I love the idea of living a minimalistic lifestyle but I’m too sentimental – between clothes, photo albums, ornaments and even plush toys, I really do struggle to get rid of things but it’s all about balance isn’t it! It’s learning to let go of the things I don’t actually have a sentimental attachment to and keeping the things that mean something to me.

The last thing I’ve found that has helped me curate my wardrobe has been shopping more consciously – the amount of times I’ve been in New Look or Primark and really liked the look of something, but most of the time I realise it’s because:

  1. It looks like something I already own
  2. It’s trendy and ‘everyone has one’ so I’ve convinced myself that I need and I don’t
  3. I want it

But what I’ve found has worked particularly well for me is thinking about what I need rather than what I want – thinking about how an item will compliment the rest of my wardrobe or potentially thinking of something it could replace. Thinking a lot more consciously about what I’m buying makes such a difference when I’ve got an armful of clothes in Primark!

I like having a smaller wardrobe because I feel like I’m getting lots of wear out of what I’ve got and at the end of the day, I’m not good at making decisions so if I’ve got less clothes to choose from it’s much easier for me!

It’s all about balance – having enough clothes to get through day to day but focusing as much on what you need as what you want.

Everyone is different and different things work for different people – but I think it’s worth talking about because when someone shouts ‘sustainability’ you think about plastic bottles and single-use straws, but fast fashion is something we can do something about! People complain about Primark but anything is fast fashion if you treat it poorly – Primark isn’t the problem if you make the clothes last.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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