The long and short of eco-fashion
Truth be told, I’m an eco-fashionista.
It’s not because I watch “What Not to Wear” to get fashion tips, and check in with those catty Go Fug Yourself girls for fun …but because I understand that real fashion is very simple.
It involves finding (or altering) clothes that actually fit you...(i.e. no tugging buttons, shoulder seams actually ON your shoulders)…and finding them from good, solid sources with sustainable practices.
How does a person go about being fashionable and green, without breaking the budget?
Here’s what I’ve discovered…
1. The best way to save the planet is to wear what you have.
No kidding. When you bought that new, chic white blouse, you did it because you liked it and you knew you could use it. Using what you already own prevents new resources from being tapped to both make and transport the garment to its store. That’s a double whammy of earth savings!
2. Repair, repair, repair
If you are anything like me, you have a favorite pair of shoes. It goes with half of what you own, is amazingly comfortable, and (because you went with a classic style), is still in fashion. Want to make those favorites last longer? Take them to the cobbler! Put a new sole on them, have them polished, waterproofed---whatever it takes to get that pair to last longer!
And the same goes for clothes---a stitch in time, still saves nine. IF you can’t fix that busted seam, call your local seamstress. I’m sure she’ll appreciate the work, and you’ll appreciate the modest, budget-kind fee.
3. Wear it out
Use it until you can’t anymore---then find another use.
Your favorite blouse has been repaired 5 times now, and is getting too threadbare to be work appropriate. What do you do?
Salvage the best part of the fabric for a quilt that you (or a friend) may make—or take that last nice bit of fabric and make a headband, scarf, rug, or furniture dust rag.
4. Don’t buy it.
So, you’ve used that wonderful shirt to death, and now it’s your favorite headband.
Do you really need to buy a shirt to replace your old one?
Chances are you have four or five other shirts that are just as functional in your closet. Use them! They’ve been hanging out in your closet, waiting to shine, while the old favorite has gotten the glory. Let those clothes come into the limelight.
4. The Cleaners/The Cobbler
Believe it or not there are plenty of people who renege on their cleaning bills, and leave their clothes with the cleaners. Same thing happens with shoe cobblers. Check your local cleaner/cobbler and see if they have a “house cleaning” sale. They may give you the clothes/shoes for the price it cost to clean them.
5. Yard sale, Thrift, Consignment shop
Okay…Let’s say that you really do need to replace that old favorite blouse because it was the only one that went with three of your outfits
Now it’s time to shop in my favorite place: other people’s closets! (or, more accurately…their yards.)
I’m not suggesting you make a weekly habit of yard-sale-ing, as car gas usage may not be terribly eco-friendly. But pick a handful of weekends a year---map out your yard sale territories by using the online newspaper—and go shopping with an open mind.
Know that you need a new white sz 14 blouse, and all you see is a nice sz 18? Get that blouse, if the fabric is good.
Chances are you can have it altered to fit you. (And fit is the chief factor in being fashionable.) A nice shirt is one button shy of perfect? Get it. Buttons are the easiest things in the world to replace.
If you can’t find it at a yard sale, hit your thrift and consignment shops next. Your chances of finding the “right thing” increases if you shop in an upscale neighborhood where the Thift/Consignment discards of the nouveau riche can become your new treasures.
6. The truly new purchase
Okay, so you’ve hit the yard sales, excavated the thrift stores, and quested in the consignment shop all to no avail. Now what? Let’s buy it new!
Finding vendors whose products are not only environmentally conscious (made locally, in a sustainable way) by machinists paid a fair wage and treated well can be challenging depending on where you live. (Note: I didn’t say impossible. )
.Investigate your local vendors and see what they have to offer. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what’s out there. (For example: Most Outfitter stores carry brands like Patagonia, whose cotton clothes are produced sustainably.)
However, if you can’t find it in your neighborhood…or even in your state…
There are two routes you can go with a new fashion purchase:
a. Buy from a reputable eco-retailer ( resource list following)
b. Make your own clothing from sustainably harvested fabrics.
With a couple of sewing classes/patterns at the local fabric shop, a thrift store/library copy of Vogue’s sewing bible, and the best organic fabric store I’ve ever seen ( nearseagrassnaturals) you can create perfectly tailored clothing that will make you the envy of the workplace.
Though eco-fabrics are pricier than their mainstream counterparts, they tend to be affordable because you have saved so much through thrift and good use. Nicely, you’ll create a distinctive, polished look through your ingenuity that is inimitable. And for my money---(and the planet’s sake)---that’s priceless.