Cheap Chic

Being a student/mum/fashionhoardinaire, means that my finances are often more threadbare than an Oliver Twist musical. I have collected a tonne of beautiful things over the past 20 years, and thanks to commandeering space in the attic, a negotiated percentage of my daughter’s wardrobe, and a decent sized dressing room (credit to Ikea for storage solution genius), I have stockpiled a pretty decent collection of great clothes. Clothing has been the greatest love affair of my life, my husband accepts that he’s always a close second, and has even agreed on a ‘zombie apocalypse’ plan, in which he has to find and pack 4 particular pieces before we run away, if he fails to bring them, I WILL feed him to the Zombies.

 

My other more recent love affair is with sustainable fashion. I love clothes, but I don’t like that the fashion industry is awash with morally bankrupt production systems, over consumption and fatally poor environmental practices. As a breeder, I feel an obligation to work towards furnishing my litter of golden headed offspring with a world worth inheriting, and not a desert of vacuous morality and weird ass weather patterns, that will relegate our species, maybe even all Earthly species to a concluded chapter in the cosmic history books. So I try to combine fun and practicality in my clothing, certainly in my purchasing habits.

 

Buying sustainable clothing is just not on the radar for many, because it is often super expensive. When you buy sustainable clothing you pay rightful product value which translates to respecting the environment and the people that made your clothes, you are usually buying fantastic quality, well made, and intelligent design. When purchasing from our current corporate fashion mega-beast, the cheapness of the garment is always taken in real cost to the environment (which isn’t factored in the equation), and from the modern slavery inflicted on underdeveloped human communities that are so desperate for income, a living wage or personal well-being is not a consideration.

 

No matter how crap we may feel about fast fashion, and despite most fabulous fashion industry reps condescending the evils of fast fashion, from astride their high horses made from lotsamoney, there’s no way to avoid the fact that most of us normal folk can’t afford to clothe ourselves without dipping into the fast fashion fountain of plenty.

 

A simple equation:

 

Fashion fiend + low income + ethics = invention and creativity.

There are a few strategies I’ve developed that help me achieve Buddha-esque inner peace, while masquerading as a fashion diva. Having no doubt bored you all to tears with my love of charity shops, swish parties and vintage Ebay shopping, I’ll stick this week with my inner-wardrobe tactics for a more sustainable style on a subdued budget:

 

So I couldn’t get a decent image for Sheena Matheiken’s Uniform Project, but she is an inspiration, so I’d recommend checking out her work. Unbelievable style magician, with all these looks coming from one base dress. Awesome!

 

Re-wear

Seriously, this whole wear an outfit once myth, is a killer. If you have a killer piece wear it! Spend some time with it, and try it out in different ways. There are always a million ways to wear the same thing. If you need some inspiration check out Sheena Matheiken, founder of the Uniform Project, who wore the same dress for 365 days, styled with donated recycled and borrowed clothes, all while raising money for kids to go to school in India https://vimeo.com/11113046

Clearly a complete overachiever, but don’t hold that against her because she looks awesome doing it. The video is really inspiring, and it has one of my favourite bands playing background music.

 

Mix it up, wear your fancy floral kimono over your recycled jeans (turned into shorts when they no longer wore well). Worn with charity shop wonky sunglasses, some sexy pink lipstick and my over worn sequin vest top, seriously I’ve had this top for 5 years, it’s done evenings out with fancy skirts, daytime with jeans, this very outfit was a garden party look for a friends birthday.

 

More-wear

If you find an outfit that works, wear it, and then wear it again, looking good never goes out of style, even if you’ve worn it before. One of my favourite things to do with jersey or knitted items is to wear them backwards. Ever tried a cardigan on backwards? Or a favourite asymmetric dress? Completely changes the look of a garment, and is just brilliant fun! Just try things with a new eye, you’d be surprised how many things can be worn in ways the label didn’t tell you.

 

Change wear

There’s so much you can do with things when you spend a bit of time thinking about it. If something is passed the glowing newness which we so blindly worship, find ways to make it new again. If a dress doesn’t quite fit the way you like, take it in; if trousers are a bit dull, try them with a new belt or add an exciting iron-on patch; t shirt so last week, cut strategic holes in it; skirt is too full, use safety pins underneath to re-shape it, if you really love it, sew the hitches in. Vintage broaches are easily acquired (my stash was inherited, gifted and jumble saled), they offer a multitude of clothing changers, cinch a waist, gather some volume, asymmetrise some hems, decorate some sweater shoulders, literally apply to anything and everything. Belts are also great, belt an oversized dress, or jacket, even an oversized t-shirt can be game changed with an exciting belt. There are literally so many ideas out there, Pinterest, and crafting sites can give you so much inspiration for how to muck about with what you already have, extending your love affair with some favourite things.

 

Sustainability doesn’t need to be costly, it does sometimes call for some imagination, and a little bit of extra consideration. Extending the life of your clothes, and wearing them for longer really does contribute positively to our environment. The more we wear what we have, the less corporate fashion we buy, the less we send to landfill, the less we litter to charity shops, and the healthier our personal bank statements. Give it a go, would love to see how you get on. x

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Eve Copper

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