Are you tired of being told to ‘dress classic’ or ‘minimal’?

There is a bit of a trend on eco-fashion media that we all have to follow a specific set of rules in order to be eco or sustainably stylish. Many of these rules are based on the ideals of slow fashion and minimalist dressing. Slow fashion is a moment coined by Kate Fletcher to counteract the speed of our fast fashion model. Slow fashion is:

Fashion conceived of from a different starting point to growth, consumerist fashion… it [slow fashion] represents a changed point of departure for fashion with different values, goals and objectives. ~Kate Fletcher

The translation of this to the sustainable fashion market has been a literal embrace of timeless design, classic colour, and impeccable tailoring. Garments that will last decades! Minimalism ties in well with this timeless closet ideal as it champions owning only what we love, wear, and will cherish for many washes.

Fashion, on the other hand, is a seasonal beast. Once seasons aligned with changes in our temperatures. The fast-fashion model now sees us changing our clothes with the weeks of the year.

Issues with sustainable style and fashion.

It can be really difficult to gel the ever-changing world of fashion with a truly sustainable model of production. Fashion is developed on consumerism and is an industry that requires consumers to keep buying to stay in operation. The alternatives of slow fashion and minimalism often leave conventional fashion lovers at a creative loss while the small eco-minded design houses struggling to make ends meet with customers that purchase infrequently.

When you are accustomed to wearing a new creative version of self on regular occasions it can be hard to strip back to a minimalist or classic closet.

This article looks at some ways to soften the blow from conventional ever-changing fashion to being a mindful consumer ~ with style.

The deconstructed re-work

Fortunately for fashion lovers fashion is cyclical. There are very few ‘new’ ideas in the world of textiles, clothing and footwear and it’s safe to say that most of us could give the nod to a current season trend using items of years past hidden in the back of our closets. To address this let’s look at ways to deconstruct a trend and re-work what we have.

  • Find some images of an item, style, or theme you like. Check out fashion magazines, style websites or catalogues of your favourite labels for ideas. Pick an image or two that inspires you.
  • Check out the outfits in the image. Is it a colour you are drawn to? Shape? Line? Fit? Mood? Garment? Try to identify the   key things that brought you to the image.
  • Look in your closet for something simmilar. Is there an item that could be used in the same way? More often than not you will find that with a belt, a rolled cuff, a knotted tee hem, or a folded sleeve can make something you have look like the items you desire.
  • If colours are drawing you in find something in your closet that looks the same in a natural fabric and dye over it. You can experiment with natural dyes or buy conventioanl ones to get your desired hue.
  • Garment shape that can’t be changed with some creative belting or folding can be taken to a tailor for a rework. This might be a little bit of an outlay but it’s going to result in a one-of-a-kind result that updates your closet. If you are handy with a sewing machine you can do the job yourself.
  • Layers can work wonders. Try changing up your look by using the image for laying inspiration. You will usually notice that on-trend looks are just a different way of layering clothing (realistically we are all just working off tops, bottoms, and dresses… it’s much the same thing each season). Laying what you have in a new way (to you) can give a fresh and fashion-forward result.

 

Shopping Considerations.

If you have been on any eco fashion website (this one included) you will note that most people champion shopping secondhand as an eco alternative. This is accurate… to an extent. While shopping secondhand does keep items out of landfill, it’s really only providing them one extra lifetime before ended up in landfill (or the compost if you are dealing with biodegradables). Their life with you is a pitstop on the way to the dump.

Our secondhand clothing markets are also a breeding ground for fast-fashion cast offs and while shopping secondhand isn’t the same as buying new from fast-fashion- it still supports the industry. How? Firstly -opportunity cost. When you choose to buy that fast-fashion item second hand instead of a simmilar item that supports a sustainable or ethical designer that’s a missed opportunity to support a small business doing good. Secondly, you also represent the design house by wearing their clothing (even if it’s bought from a charity shop). These considerations aside, let’s look at ways to shop fashionably with a conscious- including budget friendly secondhand shopping.

Fashionably Secondhand.

You can inject new-season style into your closet on the cheap with some savvy secondhand purchases. After reviewing the trends to see what you think would match your personal style with a nod to new season think about the following.

  • What era is ‘on trend’. As mentioned earlier, trends are cyclical. Work out what era is cool (90’s has been in for a while now) and thrift for the real-deal items from that era.
  • Pick a champion. If you want to fake-fashion for the new season pick an item to champion. If it’s 90’s you are after find a really good pair of secondhand boots and wear them with all your faves and your boyfriends shirt tied around your waist. Inexpensive 90’s casual cool can really be that easy and there is no need to change your whole closet!
  • Don’t buy the whole trend. You don’t want to look like a carbon copy of the catwalk or an era. Take inspiration from that look and have it reworked to suit you. This is specifically true for vintage items. Many will need a belt, a hemming or a few layers to look fashionable rather than period-dress. Make friends with your sewing machine or tailor.
  • Get creative. It can be daunting to check out secondhand stores if you aren’t used to shopping in this type of environment. Don’t limit yourself to the store layout. Check all areas (kids, mens, women’s, plus size). A mens tee can make a great tunic, a kids dress might be a blouse, think outside the box!

Accessories are your friends.

Fashionable style doesn’t have to come from clothing. If you were really savvy about being an eco-minded-fashionista you would make friends with accessories. Many looks are achievable by simply working on a set of basics (yup, like slow and minimalist fashion trends) and adding new-season jewels, scarves, shoes or bags. You can choose to buy these from second hand stores or ethical and sustainable labels. Here are some tips on how to mix and match from that time I spent a whole month in one dress for charity.

  • Treat your neck to a scarf. You can change up a look really simply with a scarf. Wear it on your neck (the classic scarf move), as a shawl, belt for a kimono look, or tie it to a bag for a bit of boho-whimsy.
  • Sunglasses. These were once a own-and-wear forever item but you can find them readily at secondhand clothing stores. Switch up a look entirely with a change of shades, just be wary that your eyes are protected adequately if you shop secondhand.
  • Jewellery can lift a whole look to new levels. Experiment with layering what you own in new ways, buy from labels that create upcycled jewellery, or make your own from recycled or thrifted jewels.
  • Invest in shoes, hats and bags that make a statement. There is no denying the impact of a good shoe-hat-bag combo. These punctuate your look. Get them fashionably right and you could wear the same ones with your regular clothes all season and look perpetually on-trend.

Do you like to stay on trend? What are your top-tips for looking relevant without costing the earth? Share any thoughts or reflections below.