Is eco-friendly style an oxymoron? Does being fashionable not require a consumerist mindset? Or is it possible to be stylish and sustainable at the same time?
A while ago, I wrote a post about dressing sustainably. I mentioned that, in my effort to lower the impact of my wardrobe, I had primarily avoided buying anything. There is nothing wrong with that strategy – to a point. To be sure, that approach was certainly lower impact! But I think I took things a bit far. To be honest, the extent of my wardrobe avoidance left me feeling quite dowdy and, as it turned out, without appropriate things to wear when I did leave the house – like shoes! In that post, I gave some other suggestions (besides avoidance!) for putting together a sustainable wardrobe. In this post, I want to take things a little further and discuss eco-friendly style.
Clothes, Lifestyle and Mood
I’ve never been terribly interested in having a fashionable wardrobe. It was more important to me to be comfortable and express my personality. I loved sewing my own clothes too (when I had the time BC – before children!) After years of being at home with young children and working for myself, I had become most interested in just being comfortable! Plus our budget for clothes was tight. I was in the habit of throwing on whatever I had.
Having recently turned 50 however, and with the increased body confidence that comes with the greater self-assurance of middle age, I felt like I wanted to overhaul my wardrobe. No doubt I needed more in my wardrobe but I didn’t want to just buy anything. I didn’t want to add unnecessarily to the textile waste problem but I wanted to feel good in my clothes.
This also felt important to me because I’d just come out of a sustained period of depression. I want to believe that mood is not influenced by something as superficial as what we wear but my experience has been otherwise. I definitely feel more confident when I feel good in what I am wearing. That said, I also don’t believe that looking good requires a huge wardrobe or new, expensive clothes. My sense was that, if I could build a small wardrobe of quality clothes that suited me, I could feel great AND dress sustainably.
Help Finding My Style
The problem was, my body had changed and I really didn’t know what suited me anymore. It had always felt extravagant and somehow the antithesis of anti-consumerist to consult a personal stylist but a friend with similar values as mine introduced me to Fiona and Kristi from Style Liberation. Their emphasis is on knowing what your personal style, what fits your shape and colouring and building a capsule wardrobe around that. They encourage smaller collections of clothes that work for you, using what you already have in your wardrobe, and Kristi is even a secondhand shopping devotee. Not at all what I expected from style consultants. They had an online program starting called ‘Style Transformation’ so I treated myself to it.
My Eco-Friendly Style Transformation
Within the course, Fiona and Kristi completed a detailed body shape and colour analysis and helped me identify my style personality and the type of clothes my lifestyle needs. Then they gave me the tools to build capsules. It has certainly been transformational. It hasn’t turned me into a shopaholic. Instead, it has helped me buy the right clothes (secondhand or otherwise) so I buy fewer things and wear them more. I know what giveaways to gladly accept or graciously decline. My current clothes are used to the full. I can put together multiple outfits from the same set of clothes.
I use all the principles I mentioned in my Dressing Sustainably post but I can focus on only adding things to my wardrobe that suit me and my lifestyle so that I can make sure that every piece works hard and as long as possible. I can feel great in my clothes and that I’m living in line with my sustainability values. This, to me, is eco-friendly style.