I love clothes and fashion and always have and I’m hands up guilty of enjoying shopping a little bit too much, that thrill when you find something you love and it’s a bargain, you know you don’t need it but hey, it’s gorgeous and it’s only £30, but, and it’s a big but, I’ve never really thought about the impact throw away fashion has on the world we live in. Until now.
Watching textile factories in Indonesia pumping out chemicals and dyes into the dirty, foaming Citarum river where adults and children wash, clean and play and the effects it was having on them was heartbreaking. Seeing the Aral river, now mostly dried up and desert like due to cotton production puts things clearly into perspective and really, do I need another pair of jeans when the 5 pairs I already have are perfectly fine and good especially when you consider it can take over 15,000 litres of water to grow the cotton to make a pair of jeans. I don’t think so. So what can we do?
For starters, before you go shopping just because you fancy something new, ask yourself do you really need it or can you wear something you already own yet hasn’t seen the light of day for a while? Can you style it up differently or even take it to your local tailor and make it into something else ie a dress into a top, a maxi dress into a skirt?
Assess what is in your wardrobe already and look at what gaps you have rather than duplicating something you already own because let’s face it, you really don’t need another stripey top! Invest in a piece that is going to enhance your collection and won’t end up months later wasting away in your wardrobe with the labels still on or worn once and never again.
Instead of heading straight to the nearest shopping centre or high street, check out your local charity shops, they are treasure troves of amazing pieces at great prices. Why not gather all of your friends together and do a style swap, investigate dress agencies or online pre-loved websites - you never know what you may find. *If one million women bought their next item of clothing second hand instead of new, we would save 6 million kg of carbon pollution from entering the atmosphere*.
Don’t let your heart take over your head when shopping, if you find something you like, ask yourself, how many outfits can I make from this one new item. If it doesn’t create 3 new outfits from your existing wardrobe don’t buy it otherwise you’ll find yourself on the financial merry go round of having to spend more and more money on new pieces to go with the other items in your wardrobe and needlessly consuming. Remember “less is more”. More clothes doesn’t create more choice, it just makes it harder to see what you already have which more often than not means you reach for the same few pieces again and again. Most of us wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time……Ring any bells with anyone?!
Be mindful of where you spend your money. If you can, invest in quality timeless pieces that will stand the test of time and please look after them. Don’t boil them in the washing machine, or over heat them in the tumble dryer, treat them with love and kindness, you spent your hard earned money on them after all. Get to know your local independent shops where more often than not the items are not mass produced but manufactured in smaller quantities and always ask yourself “do I really need this and why am I buying it”.
It’s been an interesting week following on from the documentary. I had a moment where I questioned my future of being a personal stylist but I honestly believe that using the services of a good stylist is not only beneficial to you but also the environment. Firstly we aim to get you making the most of your current wardrobe and showing you how to wear more of your clothes more of the time by combining existing pieces in new and exciting ways. If we do take you shopping , it’s usually with a focussed shopping list and we’re mindful of the choices we’re making for you and don’t suggest buying in vast quantities just for the sake of it regardless of the cost. One of the things that saddens me most is seeing shoppers loaded down with overweight Primark bags buying in bulk because it’s cheap with the idea being "if it falls apart after a couple of washes, it doesn't really matter because it only cost £10" - it's a false economy.
As your stylist we don’t making buying decisions based on the heart, we will only suggest something for you if it truly enhances your wardrobe and we know it will give you flexibility. Our aim is to get you to a place where you have a smaller capsule collection of clothes that all co-ordinate and work together and where possible there is minimal divide between work and casual.
Our priority is to eliminate the need for you to constantly drip feed your wardrobe and ideally we’d like you to only shop twice a year, for autumn/winter and spring/summer. I don’t want to be a fashion kill joy and absolutely appreciate that sometimes you just want to buy something to reenergise older pieces and because you have hook, line and sinker fallen for something that you love, but I would like to encourage you to make sensible buying decisions and not spend to fill an emotional void or out of boredom which is very often the case. Go for a run instead.
If we all made small changes to our shopping habits and became more mindful of what our spending is supporting, together we can make a positive difference and stop the mass consumerism that is destroying our planet and peoples lives.
For further information on how I can help you have a better curated, stylish and timeless selection of clothes that is kinder to the environment and your wallet, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or have a look at my website: www.karenl.co.uk
*Statistic courtesy of One Million Women*