Or in other words “how do I get a sustainable wardrobe?”
Please begin with love. Set aside some time to take care of yourself and come to your wardrobe looking for the joyful memories that it holds:
Reconnect with your old clothes
Take your time with this. Look at each piece and see how it makes you feel. There will be both beautiful memories and some that are less comfortable. Any item that provokes strong negative emotions needs to go, no matter how expensive it was or who gave it to you. No one steps out feeling great in a dress that reminds them of a bad break up - though a great dress might just get you through one!
This is an opportunity to examine everything, remember the stories that those baggy trousers have to tell, the weekend that you bought that dress and the beautiful man who unexpectedly gave you a flower when you wrapped that scarf around your head (who cares if it never happened again, it was wonderful when it did!).
Now you have taken time to really appreciate what is already here in your life:
Reinvent your look
It’s time to get stuck in and begin the experiment. Try everything on. Does it fit? If not do you love this piece enough to do the work/find someone to help make this look good on you now? It is important to think about who you are now. You will look fabulous, just as you are.
Any experiment requires trial and error so start mixing together pieces that you hadn’t considered before. Mix that tailored jacket with a floaty dress or pair of well worn jeans. Dig out an evening dress and see how it looks with trainers and a denim jacket. Smile at how darn sexy you look in that cami and laugh at yourself for not thinking to put it with the baggy trousers before. It’s time to have some fun and break every rule you have been hanging onto. And PLEASE forget what you have been told about how to dress for your age - trust your instincts and get some constructive help if those instincts feel a little wonky.
Now you have a collection of loved clothes that you are ready to create new memories in:
Re-imagine the clothes you would like to add
Give yourself time to plan and dream. Wear the items you have reconnected with, see how this process has made you feel and get honest about why you feel the need to shop. If it’s to find good quality basics because all your white tees are looking tired then you have probably got a point. If you're looking for a buzz of pleasure, validation from a friend or simply something to do you may be looking in the wrong place.
First have a look at the brands of clothes you are considering replacing. Does the cotton feel good quality? Is there anything about them that’s worth rescuing? Maybe check the final paragraph of this blog.
Are there gaps in your collection? It might be that the perfect pair of great shoes would mean you could get more wear out of the dress, the baggy trousers and a few other things besides.
How good are you at accessories? Sometimes a really good belt or the right colour scarf can breathe life into outfits that you know look good but feel a little weary of. The same is true with jewellery. If you are in the habit of always wearing the same pieces then a pair of funky earrings from a local business can work wonders.
Whether you are considering replacing items that haven’t stood the test of time or trying a totally new purchase then:
Taking time to research where you choose to shop is about respecting the processes involved in making any garment, the people who make it and the environment which we all share. Buying once and buying well is trending now and needs to continue if we are to leave even a half decent future for our children. I am not talking about buying expensive designer labels, many of these are the worst culprits. Understanding who we are buying from and if their ethics are in line with your own makes a huge difference to how you feel each time you pull on that gorgeous swishy skirt.
Admittedly doing the research is time consuming. There are many stylists like myself blogg
ing on this topic and we won’t all agree. However, it is possible to find out which retailers sell goods made by people who are properly paid for their work, treated with respect and dignity. Or perhaps, the environment is what matters to you. Those designers, small businesses and outlets who are taking this seriously provide information - actual facts and figures which go beyond simply saying that they are a sustainable brand.
My starting point for new to me clothes is always the pre-loved marketplace. Many are happy and confident navigating this, for some it’s a new adventure and others may need a guiding hand.
Re-use, Recycle, Upcycle
Those items that need a little help, maybe a stitch or two, deserve some love. If this isn’t your skill set then the options involve the huge recycling industry or simply a good seamstress. If you have good quality pieces that need a refresh then you could consider bleaching white tees that have seen better days or maybe a dye job to fit a new colour palette. Once you’re happy that you have made every effort to get the most wear out of a garment then upcycling is fast becoming a part of the clothing industry. This may be something you would like to explore for yourself or happy to pass on to someone who knows/enjoys what they’re doing.
It will not have taken you long to read this but it will take you a little longer to take action. This doesn’t have to be done all at once. When I talk of Slow Fashion I hope that everyone will take this at their own pace. Change takes time and sometimes it takes time to fall in love again, both with your clothes and with the person who wears them. Taking the first step on this path won’t cure you of that itch to buy the new “it” dress but each step you take will bring more confidence. Embracing the idea of Re-Loving is a process which will result in you feeling more comfortable with the image you present to the world, the impact you make on the lives of others, the air we breathe and the planet you take these steps on.