Last Summer, after studying fashion and sustainability with London College of Fashion, I ambitiously made the following pledge to be a (more) conscious consumer.
It all started well. I began falling back in love with items in the back of my wardrobe, found myself browsing in charity and vintage shops more often and did a huge clear out, shifting loads of things I never wear on eBay. Then the new season started, the way it always does with a fresh palette of colours you feel like you've never seen before and after months of grey skies, I had the urge to hit the high street for the gratification I knew would come from indulging in something new. It didn't help that I had a wedding with a strict dress code approaching and after shopping my wardrobe, trawling eBay and downloading a rental app unsuccessfully, I was running out of time and found myself guiltily scrolling ASOS thinking about buying something I might never wear again, just for the convenience.
Something that isn't often mentioned when talking about becoming more sustainable, is just how much more time consuming it is, at least in the beginning. Most of us are trying to change the habits of a life time after all. Shopping less is the easy part, but what about when you actually need something? You have to think further ahead, do your research and perhaps shop around - I was starting to feel the fatigue.
It was a panel talk with The Frugality, EnBrogue and Emma Slade Edmondson talking about what individuals can do to make more sustainable fashion choices that made me realise I was being a bit too hard on myself (ok more than a bit, a lot!). Many of the tips they were giving out were things I had already started doing - buying a lot less and better (good quality and/or sustainable fabrics), buying secondhand and even loaning a few items from my wardrobe. But most importantly I had been forgetting that buying the odd thing brand new, doesn't cancel out all the other good choices I've been making, it's about progress not perfection.
Another key takeaway from the panel was that fashion is fun and we shouldn't be ashamed of loving it. Like all forms of art, fashion is a means of self-expression. I have to admit I'd started to lose that feeling because I was so concerned about shopping the 'right way' or not shopping at all. I'd stopped having fun experimenting with my style and I missed it.
I still don't have anything to wear for that wedding with the strict dress code but now I have renewed energy to approach the task. I'll be hitting the charity and vintage shops with the shoes I already own and a mental shopping list of how I want to look (top tip from Emma Slade Edmonson!) and I'll keep an eye on eBay and the rental apps at the same time, but I'm not going to beat myself up if I end up buying something new. Maybe I'll even let you borrow it.