One of the most important strands in current thoughts around sustainability is that the world needs simply to stop consuming so much. This year, Earth Overshoot Day, the day on which we take all the earth can offer, fell on August 1 – after which everything is borrowed from our children. The toll our greed takes on the planet – the waste generated, the natural resources used and thrown away, the people and animals abused – is too high.
Nowhere is this more urgent than in the fashion industry where 80 billion pieces of clothing are consumed globally every year and consumption looks set to rise by 63 per cent by 2030. While 10,000 items of clothes thrown to landfill every five minutes, 23 per cent of our wardrobes go unworn.
We don’t need any more clothes. We just need to make the best of what we already have – like our grandparents did, like practically everybody did before cheap production made it possible to consume without regard.
I talk to three sustainable stylists about making your existing wardrobe work better for you – because, as Roberta Lee points out, “We wear around 20% of the items in our wardrobe 80% of the time, so before you head out to buy something new, I can pretty much guarantee there are ways for you to get more out of your existing wardrobe.”
EMMA SLADE EDMONDSON is a dynamic thought leader working across all elements of retail, marketing, branding and styling.A change maker in her field, she is renowned for her transformational work within the charity retail sector, including Charity Fashion Live, Barnardo’s first big step into sustainable fashion. www.emmasladeedmondson.com
1. Layer your garments: Layering different garments together is a quick, easy way to refresh your look. Wear a turtleneck, sweater or jeans under summer dresses to get more wear out of them. Or follow the Balenciaga two jacket trend and layer jackets together. A utility jacket under a giant teddy coat adds texture and looks great.
2. Give new life to old clothes! Try upcycling and altering pieces. Extend the life of denim by adding patches and badges – you can even commission your own bespoke embroidery. If there are pieces you don’t wear because the fit isn’t perfect, but you still love them, go and get them altered so you can finally enjoy them again!
3. Follow the trend reports. Take a look online and see what’s on trend for the season. Trends always come back around and you’re bound to have pieces that could work. For this season, pair animal prints together for a Max Mara style look, or wrap yourself in a blanket scarf to emulate the capes seen at Saint Laurent.
ROBERTA LEE is the founder of Roberta Style Lee and the Ethical Brand Directory; she is also a confidence coach, speaker, podcast host and eco-stylist. Find out more: www.robertastylee.co.uk/ and ethicalbranddirectory.com
1. Understand layering so you don’t bulk up. Layering is an art and many women try and layer with chunky knits and bulky fabrics. Big no no. Opt for multiple thin layers to stay super toasty.
2. Don’t dismiss those summer dresses just yet. Of course you don’t want anything too sheer or too floaty that will get static friction with layers above of beneath it. Opt for dresses that have a bit of weight to them so they hang off your body and under or over layers, rather than ‘stick’ to them. A thin long sleeved wool or cashmere roll neck jumper can see a floral summer dress transition right through the winter months. Team with chunky knit tights, ankle boots and a similar colour belt for the perfect pulled together winter ensemble. You can even wear a blazer over the top for a slightly smarter look.
3. Try it on back to front or upside down. Don’t just accept an item for what you were sold when you saw it on the hanger. I’ve been known to to wear my tops back to front. I’m also a big fan of wearing a dress as a top, with another skirt layered over the dress.
On November 29th, Roberta is hosting a clothing swap, group styling workshop and giving everyone the chance to have some new headshots taken. Book here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/
Alice Wilby has been pioneering sustainable styling since launching her website FutureFrock in 2009 and also styled several high profile campaign for Fashion Revolution. She is co-founder of art direction agency, A Novel Approach, and also teaches short courses in sustainable fashion at Central St Martins.
1. Get to grips with what suits you. Work out your body shape and what colours work best on you. Until you have figured at least the first one out, you could shop till you drop and never be happy with your wardrobe – and always find problems with your existing one.
2. Pinterest the looks, style or mood you want to try out. I’m a massive advocate for following your own sartorial star, so these could be looks from cinema or street style, or inspiration from your favourite artist over the current trends. Once you’ve done this, get your entire wardrobe out. You’ll be surprised by what you already have, hidden away and forgotten about. Look for pieces that fit your mood board and build outfits around them.
3. Swap. If you’re still bored, try hosting a swap and style session with some friends. You may want to swap pieces permanently or just for a few months. Either way you’ll get some fresh looks and some new styling tips you’d not thought of.