Buy Less Buy Better – How To Shop More Consciously
Step away from fast fashion with these expert tips to buying less but buying better. We speak to three personal stylists on how know your style, declutter your wardrobe and shop more consciously.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Buy Less, Buy Better,’ but what does this actually mean? In an era of fast fashion, we are told by clothing labels and PR spin that the only way to happiness is a £8 dress from Boohoo. Shopping more consciously doesn’t have to mean spending lots of money. It also doesn’t mean having nothing to wear. We speak to the personal stylists who have made it their mission to help people shop with a conscience, and actually wear what they buy.
The Road To Slow Fashion
Breaking up with fast fashion isn’t easy but it is doable. Gemma Maclean is a slow fashion convert. In her piece ‘Hoarder to capsule wardrobe – How I broke up with fast fashion’, Gemma details her student years spent buying up anything she could lay her hands on, simply because it was cheap. Fast forward to today and she owns a quarter of what she used to own however admits that “I have more options even though I buy less.” And it’s all thanks to conscious shopping. “You have to get intentional about your style and know why you’re buying,” Gemma, who is now a Personal Style Coach, says. This starts with figuring out your style and doing your research.
How To Find Your Personal Style
According to Lucy Myners, former luxury PR turned eco wardrobe advocate, you have to start with you. “The first part of the process establishes the [clients] style. Accept your size and shape,” Lucy explains. It’s time to get honest, “this is what suits me, be honest about what you actually wear.” This helps her build a picture of what your ‘wearable’ wardrobe actually looks like. Gemma recommends getting busy with a Pinterest board. “Pin everything you like,” she advises. “You might not know why you like it, but patterns will emerge and it gives you time to consider things before making a purchase.” If you feel a little daunted by this then P.S. Online Styling is here to help. From £30 for the Style Light package and £70 for the Style Pro experience, the service is very accessible. Simply take their quiz (formulated by professional stylist and founder Ella Gaskel) and P.S. Online Styling will pair you with your very own stylist. After a consultation, you’ll receive style mood boards, created just for you to help you get organised.
Creating Your Capsule Wardrobe
Now you know what look you’re aiming for, it’s time for a refresh. Lucy delights in clearing out and decluttering her clients wardrobes. “I always prided myself on wardrobe organisation. People don’t wear all of their wardrobe, so combining this into our service was an easy decision.” Lucy’s company See Wardrobe, offers flexible packages based around her clients needs. She recommends having a good clean up and clean out. Dispose of clothes you won’t wear (responsibly of course. Lucy is on hand to recommend how things can be moved out of your wardrobe in an eco friendly way). Display what you want to keep in a way that inspires you to wear it all. If you can’t see it you won’t wear it. Lucy can also help with storage of out of season clothes, plus moth deterrents to keep what you do have in tip top order.
Once you’ve organised your closet, a few gaps will appear. That’s fine, it’s unlikely that you already own everything you need to style your capsule in the optimum way. Take the time to research what you want. The functional black boot that isn’t too high of a heel. The elegant blazer with the perfect fit along your shoulders. Pieces you’ll wear and care for are what we’re going for here. So you know what you want, where do you get it? This is where investing in quality comes in. Cheap clothing is tempting but as Lucy points out, those £25 jeans won’t last as long as a pair from E.L.V. DENIM will. Ella Gaskel agrees, “buy good quality items that you know you’ll wear. Think about cost per wear – it should be a high number.”
“Avoid man made, synthetic materials,” Lucy advises, “they are usually unflattering, harbour body odour and don’t wash well.” Natural fibres (preferably organic or sustainably sourced) are the best way to proceed.
All three stylists agree that supporting sustainable brands is best, the high street does not need more of your money. However they understand that this isn’t always affordable. Ella explains, “one thing people come to us about is price”. P.S. Online Styling has teamed up with over 100 UK based independent, ethical brands to offer P.S. The Club members amazing discounts on their shopping. She’s also a big fan of renting. P.S. have partnered with Hurr, to direct their clients towards wardrobe rental as an affordable not to mention eco friendly option. Gemma agrees, “if you want to rent or borrow then you’re eliminating the returns process. Which will help minimize our carbon footprint when we shop.” She sees renting, as well as clothes swapping as big trends in consumer habits.
All this is well and good but what if you can’t kick the habit? Gemma knows your pain and she believes it can all be helped with an accountability buddy. Her Low Buy group on Patreon is a ready made support group for those that can’t stop the shop. During weekly check ins, members get an opportunity to talk about what they have bought and why and what sort of feeling it elicited. “I want people to think about why they shop, instead of just going cold turkey,” she explains. It also helps to have a listening ear, “so you don’t feel like everyone else is shopping except you. We want to break free from the cycle but no ones talking about it.”
Building a more conscious wardrobe is like everything in ‘sustainable fashion’, nuanced and very open to interpretation. However with these tips and maybe with a little professional help, many of us have the opportunity to shop slower, but wear more.
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