Sustainable fashion

Part of this post has been sitting idle in draft form in the depths of my laptop for weeks. I’ve been keen to complete it and crack on with blogging but, due to life in general and the hours my children are keeping this academic year, I have been struggling to find the time for something as indulgent (and concentration-demanding!) as writing. Apologies therefore to those of you who are kind enough to have been checking my blog.  I am hoping to get into more of a rhythm but, for now, no promises…

Today I’m writing about sustainable fashion – a topic close to my heart. My year of not buying any new clothes ended as 2015 began, but I’ve yet to make any purchases of the garment variety.

I found opting out of clothes shopping for twelve whole months surprisingly easy, but recently (and now that I’m ‘allowed’ to expand my wardrobe) I’ve started wandering through the ladies’ departments in shops again and – oh my goodness –  suddenly I’m tempted to go wild, and my self-imposed limit of 6 bought items seems rather paltry.

I know there are a few of you who read this blog who hardly buy any clothes at all and that’s a way of life. I don’t naturally fall into that category, although I wish I did!  Previous to my challenge I purchased clothes freely, and while I don’t consider myself to have had an ‘addiction’ to fast fashion, I probably bought (at the very least) ten new items in a year. I now want to find a comfortable middle ground.

I could do with a few new items – all but one pair of my jeans have now worn through at the knee plus my dress size has changed, making some of my old staples look rather comical. Don’t get me wrong, I could probably get through another year on what I’ve got, but I’d like to make a few sensible fashion purchases. I don’t want my quest to live a more sustainable life to feel like it’s some kind of endurance test.

I feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights though. I am proud of opting out of the fashion industry for a year and, as I had hoped, that experience really made me think about where my clothes come from.  I need to make the right choices for me.

Shopping from ‘ethical’ retailers – or perhaps I mean ‘less unethical’ retailers – is an area in which I am likely to dip my toe into soon.  There are lots of lovely blogs out there about sustainable fashion, including my fellow Scottish blogger Wendy, from Moral Fibres. I have a bit of research to do, but I like the look of People Tree plus I want to find out a bit more about Fat Face – a favourite store of mine which seems to have scored well in the ethical stakes recently.

Another option for me is to make my own clothes. Learning to knit and sew are two of my goals for 2015, and I have been working really hard on them.  I have completed a pair of mittens and a dress so far. I’d love to sound modest here but, if I’m being honest, then I’m absolutely delighted with my achievements!  I had to work hard on both, and many hours of concentration went into them.  Stitches were pulled out, and frequent requests for help were made, but I did it and I can now realistically look towards making more of my own clothes. I’ll go into more details and show pictures of my ‘works of arts’ in my next couple of posts.

Finally, I’ve not mentioned shopping for clothes in charity shops which is of course another way of boosting my wardrobe. I’ll admit it’s not an option that I find especially attractive for a number of reasons, but I’m open to changing my mind if anyone’s got links to blog posts that might entice me!

For the moment, I’m still thinking and not buying but I’ll keep you updated.

Highly relevant to this post is the book that I am currently reading, ‘Clothing Poverty’ by Andrew Brooks.



I must confess that as I read this labour of love by Dr Brooks, my desire to take part in buying from the high street diminishes with each page I turn. The book follows a pair of jeans as it evolves from its various components, towards the shelves from which it is sold, and then the journey it endures after being discarded by its owner. It’s fascinating and thought provoking stuff.

If this is a book you fancy reading, then you may be interested to know that Zoe of @ecothrifty and Eco Thrifty Living is hosting a Twitter book club throughout the day on 29 April, and the book will be discussed using the hash tag #susbc (sustainability book club). Everyone is welcome to join in. I apologise for leaving you so little time to get hold of the book and read it, but perhaps you might be interested to take part or follow the conversations, even if you are yet to acquire it or are part way through its digestion? You can read Zoe’s fab post on the topic here.

If you’ve got any other book recommendations you can make about sustainable fashion, I’d love to hear about them

11 thoughts on “Sustainable fashion

  1. Sorry for the blog post sized comment!!

    I haven’t got links to blog posts to convince you, but I just wanna put a vote in for charity shopping! Im new to your blog so I don’t know what kind of person you are haha, but I know what most people think of the charity shop crowd. I’m young, wear nice dresses and I hope look quite stylish at times, although I don’t really follow fashion on purpose (I get lucky a lot). I haven’t bought any NEW clothes in a long time, with the exception of undies, socks and shoes. I live in Germany so the charity shops here are terrible, but every time I go home to St Andrews I hit the charity shops and I get a better haul than I’d ever got before from normal shopping. I can safely say that 90% of my clothes in my wardrobe were bought in charity shops, and I really love my wardrobe now more than I ever have.

    I have some amazing dresses, including a beautiful designer dress I got for a wedding which my mans mum slightly adjusted for me and which looks amazing (it’s the dress, not me haha!),and I have the best fitting jeans I’ve ever found in my life, some great shorts and skirts and some really cool tops. I have so much great wooly tops that I was gutted at the lack of snow this winter as I was eager to get an excuse to wear them. You know that great feeling you get when you buy a great item? It’s even bigger when it’s a charity item, as you’ve hunted it out, sifted through the rubbish (and I’ll admit, there’s a lot of rubbish) and found treasure, haha.

    Oh, and a tip for charity shopping… Plan it around the student calendar if you want some really great and designer finds. I find the best time in St Andrews (which must be the best charity shop town on Scotland haha) is when the final year students leave, so just around the exam time and end of exams, although there’s also a decent haul around graduation. There can be some good finds in January too, I guess people getting rid of unwanted Christmas gifts and having a January sales clear out. Students leaving town is the best time for charity shopping by far though.

    Haha I know charity shopping has a bad name, but for that I am glad, as most people who have the same size and taste in clothes as me wouldn’t be seen dead in a charity shop, which means I’ve got less competition haha! To be honest, going into normal clothes shops now makes me feel sick. I went into H&M recently and picked up a thin pair of jeans, as soon as I saw the “Made in wherever…” tag I just put it down and walked out. I dont wanna fund some huge company to pay terrible wages to have clothes as poor quality as that made and shipped half way across the world for me to wear a couple of times before they rip. I want clothes that I can love, clothes that are good quality (and I am super picky) which will last me a while.

    • Ooooh,, that’s really interesting! Thanks so much for taking the time to write all of this. I admit it did make me think twice. I’m near Edinburgh so I reckon a walk down Clarke St once term’s done could be exciting!

      I’ve never really taken the time to explore charity shops properly (I bet there’s a knack to finding good stuff) but after the summer I’ll have a bit more time on my hands so maybe I could get out there and explore! There’s such a convincing environmental argument to buy second hand and of course it means I can experiment with my sewing machine without worrying about ruining expensive fabrics.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. The beauty of buying from a charity store is that: 1) you are assisting your community with money and less waste; 2) the tax has already been paid on the item so you pay less; 3) a lot of fabrics are coated in Formaldehyde (google it). This is preservative they you really don’t want on your skin until you are dead. So by buying second hand, most, if not all, of the chemicals should have been washed out. Let me know your thoughts!

    • Ok, that is a very convincing argument! I must make some time to do the charity shops properly. Part of my problem is that I have very little child-free time but that will change after summer. I quite like the idea of buying second hand then adapting it to make it mine. Thanks so much for reading x

  3. Hey! I am also trying my hand at making some items this year and am pretty chuffed with the skirt I made. Books wise I enjoyed Stitched Up by Tansy Hoskins and of course Lucy Siegle’s To Die For. I would also mention the brands Howies and Finisterre to look at for clothing, I can voucher for Howies jeans in particular – mine have lasted years and years. Seasalt Clothing is also pretty good.
    I hadn’t heard of that book so I am looking forward to getting my hands on a copy, it sounds fascinating.

    • Delighted to hear I have a beginner sewing buddy now! There’s something quite special about wearing stuff you make yourself (with the added excitement of hoping it’s not about to fall apart!!) Thanks also for the book and brand recommendations. I’ve read Lucy Siegle’s book but must find Stitched Up 🙂

  4. Hi, this is a really interesting post and now I am feeling guilty as heck! I don’t buy loads of clothes but I definitely buy more than six a year. I’m very impressed with your complete ban last year. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of some interesting reads – the blogs and the book. Was lovely to find you on Twitter, I’ll watch out for your clothes journey. You should write a post about the dress you made!

    • Thanks for your lovely comment. Sorry about the guilt inducing post! Next post will be about the dress, I’m drafting it this afternoon (and hoping to finish dress no 2 tonight!) Off to speed read the end of the book for Book Club tomorrow – and to think I used to be bored with nothing to do before I had kids! So much to do, so little time!

  5. Pingback: The dress! | westywrites

  6. Hi Westy, I love that we are both getting really enthused about ethical fashion together, but from opposite sides of the world! I just read “Overdressed – The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion” and I’d recommend it. Also, there’s a documentary coming out about ethical fashion called “True Cost Movie” but I don’t know much about it.

    PS I really don’t want to buy this book (as it would break my buy-no-books policy) but I really want to read it! How would you feel about posting it to me once you’re done? Happy to post back and cover costs! (To UK – not to Australia!)

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