Time to ditch fashion and relish style...
I have found the term 'ethical fashion' troubling for a long time. What we now know about the effect our consumption levels are having on the world really does make that term a nonsense. I think we should be looking at our wardrobes in a different way. Our clothing does a lot for us practically, socially and emotionally and if we think about making good longer term choices the effect can be really positive all round.
So, what's the problem with fashion?
Noun: “a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behaviour.” By definition, fashion goes out of style and when things go out of style they’re often forgotten, thrown away or discarded. This creates waste, sadly often in vast amounts. Rapidly Changing trends plus cheap, disposable clothes, means fashion waste is now a global problem.
But there is a better way…
Noun: “a distinctive appearance, typically determined by something's design.” Yves Saint Laurent said it best: “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” Stylish garments endure changing fashions and remain usable, reducing waste. Combine style with ethical manufacturing and the ‘better way’ emerges. Make things last, make do, mend share, swap,buy second-hand and if new buy quality, natural fibres where possible.
How can our relationship with style help us and our world?
Style is personal and eternal. It may gently fluctuate through the years but once you know what makes you happy, suits your personality and your lifestyle you're on the way to a simpler relationship with your wardrobe. I've done some reading around this subject and have been trying to apply it to my life. Here's what I've learned so far. I'm not sure style gurus would agree with my findings but it's all a personal journey and I'm up for more learning.
Lots of websites seem to suggest looking for style icons and better understanding your body shape. This sounds all very well but it felt like a slow and unproductive way to start this process; and dangerously like it might make me want to start buying more clothes! So, I started by looking through my wardrobe and asking myself 3 questions..
When did I wear it last?
How do if feel in it?
How do I feel about it?
I have a bit of a problem with clothing holding memories and am loath to get rid of items which I have loved and may one day use again. This is a good and a bad thing. Good if the clothing does get reused in the end (for example my one of my daughters has just borrowed a skirt which my mother made for her own 21st birthday) but bad if they are stored away and not being loved ever again (one solution here is to photograph items before you pass them on so that you still have the memories).
By asking myself these questions I managed to quite quickly identify some items which didn't make me comfortable or happy. At this point I had a stern chat with myself and tried to identify the issues with each piece so that I didn't buy similar items again. The great news here was that some of the lovely ladies in the Turtle Doves team liked what I was getting rid of and they had new homes pretty quickly.
I then looked at which items I loved and made me feel happy and comfortable (and felt very grateful that there were some). I went through the same process, this time trying to identify what was good about them.
This left some gaps in my wardrobe. I realised, for example, that I have more bottom half than top half items. Armed with and idea of what I do and don't need and what items to avoid in future I could then look with confidence at the charity shops and gradually make my wardrobe more practical and easier to enjoy without adding to the overall consumption of the UK fashion industry.
For me style doesn't have to be a 'signature look'. I mean, on a good day I might be able to claim that I feel like the 'modern-town-nomad-eco-chick' I'd like to be but in general just getting dressed and not feeling like I've made a mistake is good enough for me.
If I can create a smaller footprint and enjoy my wardrobe more along the way what's not to love?
I'd love to hear your ideas about how you manage your wardrobe, it's something I'm thinking about more and more. All advice gratefully received!
Thank you! Kate xx