Sustainable. Ethical. Conscious. Real Style. Footprint. Fashion Focus. Carbon Footprint. Who made your clothes ? Fashion Revolution. Recycle Fashion. Vintage. Second Hand. Op Shopping. Vintage Shopper.
What do these words mean to you? Do they resonate with you?
They may feel familiar and yet someone apart from you. You know the words, you know you should probably consider them more, but it all feels a bit hard, like it’s for other people who are in the know and not for you?
Don’t worry! I’m here to break it down, make sense of it and offer you the very best tips and tricks from my friends – the experts.
We’re here babes to talk Conscious Style and how you can jump on board and play your part, dip a toe in and get amongst it, in your own way.
My conscious style journey
My conscious style journey, started unknowingly really – when I was a 15 year old hippy vegetarian who took animal rights very seriously. I dressed in op shop clothing (but to be fair, I didn’t love the smell of them) and tried very hard to not wear leather or eat animal by-products.
That steely sense of purpose somewhat dissipated over the years, but I always have in the back of my mind that I need to be aware of where my clothes come from and how they are made and do I really need so much?
What I’m saying is this: conscious and sustainable style may look different to you than it does to me, but the goal is likely the same – do better for the earth, do better for the footprint we’re leaving for future generations and do better for the people that make our clothes.
I want the Sisterhood to know that it’s possible to dip a toe in the water that it’s better to start small and grow into being more conscious rather than do nothing at all. I consider this my 15 year old John Lennon loving hippy self, coming of age.
My top 5 reasons to choose conscious consumerism.
1.Why not. It makes sense to the health and wealth of our planet and the future we’re leaving our children in charge of.
2. Because it will always come back in fashion. Trends are cyclical in fashion – they make a reappearance every 20 years or so, that it makes sense to hang on to things sometimes – it’s all part of the cycle of fashion. And if you’ve Marie Kondo’d the shit out of your wardrobe, you can always buy something that’s on trend, second hand, cause it’s bound to have a second life, sometime!
3. Be curious for a better way. I’m a novice conscious shopper. Even though I am a stylist, I want to consume less and get more use out of what I have. I second guess most purchases now and consider where else I can get the same look from a second hand or vintage store.
4. I know it can be scary or seem like it’s for ‘other people’. But making better purchasing decisions, buying things to last and considering how and where your clothes are made makes sense. Buying second hand doesn’t need to be for other people – you can do it too.
5.There’s no one “right way”. There are many ways we can adopt better buying habits, consume less, and focus our desires to the betterment of the planet and it’s inhabitants.
So how do you start? Let’s ask the experts
I have girl crushes on all of these women – all style queens and women of substance. I asked them to share their top tips and ideas on how to be more conscious of what we wear, what we buy, how to shop second hand, what to avoid and how to start! Thanks so much ladies for offering your expertise for the sisterhood. You ladies rock!
Introducing the experts…
Alyssa – a vintage shopping Queen
Steph from Painted Bird Vintage
Amy from Outliv Official – Sustainable bag designer
What does sustainable style mean to you?
Alyssa – the Vintage Shopper
“ Choose second hand because there is always so much treasure! It’s unique and no one else will have what you have. You can look and feel magnificent by investing in good pieces – but always ensure they will work with your current wardrobe.”
Anna – Everlasting
“ It’s about buying pieces you love, not buying them because they are ‘in fashion’ or ‘on-trend’.
Steph – Painted Bird
“Sustainable style begins with changing your shopping habits. Using vintage pieces combined with something purchased second-hand can be right on trend with minimal environmental impact. For me, sustainable fashion at its core, is something that can be created consistently without negative impact on environment or otherwise. In other words, newly created fashion from newly created materials is not sustainable – it is fashion oxymoron.”
Amy – Outliv
“Sustatinable Style means maintaining a caring relationship with our clothes for the good of the planet and inturn, valuing the people who took the time to make them.”
What are your top tips for second hand shopping?
- Only buy things you love
- Vintage sizing is different from modern so try it on. Too big is ok if you love it and can get it tailored. Too small? Put it back.
- Make sure it’s in good condition and it’s a quality item in terms of material and how it’s made
- Clean it post purchase
- You’ll be surprised at the number of labels and big brands you’ll stumble across but stick to your budget and don’t get too wooed by an overly expensive item
- Have an idea of what you actually need – it can be incredibly overwhelming with so much going on so if you need jeans for example then start there.
- Ignore the sizes – sizes fluctuate like crazy between countries and brands. In NZ the sizing standards aren’t regulated tightly so try a variety on – it’s a great place to experiment with things you might not of normally tried.
- Take a reusable bag and fill it with items that interest you as you walk around- far easier than carrying 20 items on hangers over your arm.
- Wear clothes that are easy to take on and off and often having a slip or singlet underneath is great as big second-hand sales often have communal try on spaces so it makes it easier all round.
- Like all shopping don’t buy it because it’s cheap – but it because it makes you feel great!
- Always try things on. Brands are all different in their sizing and you will be making a more conscious decision about the purchase if it fits you properly let alone if you even like it on! Sometimes how it looks on the hanger can be deceiving.
- Look for rips, holes, tears, stains and shoddy craftsmanship. Usually second hand stores are pretty careful about the stock they keep.
- Shop local. It supports your area with a range of businesses for you to conveniently shop. Usually, the store has selected items that they are pretty sure you will fit and like. In other words, they are not catering to a global marketplace – they are catering their stock to you! Your size ranges, your preferred colours and your style. They want you in their store.
- With the exception of vintage and antique which are collectable pieces and command a different price point, don’t pay more for a fast fashion piece than what it would have cost if it was new!
- And finally, be prepared to buy nothing! If you are hunting for something in particular Murphy’s Law probably won’t let you find it.
- Have in mind a clear idea of what you need or may be looking to find. This way you start with a mission in mind and don’t find yourself aimlessly looking through clothes wondering a few minutes later what you’re doing in there.
- Be sure you have a good hour or so, second hand shopping is something that shouldn’t be rushed. You never know what you might find if you have a bit of leisurely time up your sleeve.
- Wear an outfit that is easy to get on and off. You may need to try on a few frogs before you find your prince.
- This can be thirsty work, if you’re doing a few shops in one day, so make sure you take a drink bottle to re-hydrate.
- Don’t forget to look at the accessories before you go… you will often find a great box of scarves or jewellery that will often have some great finds!
What to avoid when shopping Vintage and second hand?
- Buying too expensive items
- Items that need too much work to make them wearable
- Buying items that don’t suit them just because it’s vintage and cool
- Feeling overwhelmed – find a space and just start there and take it slow just looking at each piece until you find your groove.
- Not trying on bottoms because tops and dresses and coats are easier to try on. We often have the most incredible jeans and pants left over and it blows me away. They can be such an overlooked item.
- Judgements about what second-hand shopping looks like and feels like – try it!
- Don’t buy more than you need. If you are at capacity (I am a self-confessed ‘maximalist’) promise yourself and take action when you get home to get rid of something. Actually do it.
- Go for quality over quantity every time. I read somewhere fast fashion has been made to last 5 washes. Sorry, but I won’t throw my money at poorly made clothing. Buy vintage.
- Don’t let your friend talk you into buying things you don’t need.
- Avoid trying on anything that has an obviously odour about it. I am pretty sure this one would go without saying though right?!
- If there is no mirror then perhaps pass this time. We all need to see that what we’re considering fits, suits our figure and makes us feel great!
- Any pierced earrings only hold up to your ears when considering to buy them. When you get home, give them a little wipe with surgical spirits to disinfect them before you debut them on your night out.
Where to shop vintage and second hand?
Our experts gave so many great recommendations, I’ve compiled them in a list for you to pick and mix from!
Everlasting – Recycling for the love of clothing (Not for Profit)
Dress for Success
Go Jo Recycled Clothing – New Lynn,
Vixen Vintage – Krd, Auckland
Vintage & Retro, Paeroa
Mercy Hospice – Mt Eden Rd,
Auckland Dove Hospice – Glenn Innes, Auckland
Look for the smaller shops – church shops, the small retailer trying to make their way or a charity that just can’t afford advertising and marketing.
Enjoy the ‘hunt’.
Share the love – when you find somewhere you love, don’t keep it under wraps, spread the joy around.
So Sisterhood, our experts have spoken wise words. There are so many ways to dip your toe in the sustainable style pool. Choose a path that works for you, find ways to be more curious about concious style and fit it in and around what you already have, how you shop and your lifestyle.
SOS action stations: Starting on your conscious style journey will mean marrying up what suits you and your lifestyle. If we all do our bit, we can only help, not hinder our planet and people.
Of course there are many ways to start. The list below is just the tip of the iceberg. x
Shop second hand. Shop Vintage. Reuse and recycle items. Repair your clothes don’t toss them. Buy less. Buy well and use less. Use sustainable and ethical fabrics, retailers, products. Ask questions about your clothes – who made them, how are they made. Be aware of buying fast fashion. The list is endless, but it should give you and idea on how to start your journey.
See you again soon, mmmmwah,
Love EJ, the Mother of the Sisterhood of Style x
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