No Shopping for 365 Days?! Katie of Sustainability in Style

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my blog, let me introduce myself.

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My name is Katie and I am an ex-fashionista now Environmental Scientist and Sustainability major on a self imposed 365 Day ‘Wardrobe Workout’ shopping ban. Abstaining from purchasing clothing, footwear or accessories for a year has been a great way to learn how to stretch my current closet contents and Graces Way has asked me to share some of my tips with you.

Do some homework:

In order to get the most out of what you own you need to work out your personal style. The most incredible tool I have found to assist in the process is into-mind.com. The genius behind it all, Anuschka, has step-by-step programs that will help you identify your personal style and streamline your closet and best of all its free and fun.

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Creating a mood board is a great way to have a visual reminder of the style you want to convey.
The finished mood board!
The finished mood board!

Go Shopping and leave your purse at home:

Heading in store or online and checking out the latest styles without intention to spend can be a surprising experience. So often we are drawn to things we already own. If you have a feeling of shopping déjà vu there is a good chance you will find something similar in your own closet. On day 191 of my challenge I was lusting over a cardigan in the store window only to realise I have a shawl identical to it in my closet and could easily replicate the look. Take inspiration from what you love in store and try to style something similar at home, you will be pleasantly surprised at what you can come up with a little lateral thinking.

Inspiration Look...
Inspiration Look…
...and my version!
…and my version!

Make a mess:

Being creative can be messy. Get some crates or tubs you have lying around and label them ‘recycle’ ‘rethink’ and ‘repair’ and start sorting anything you haven’t worn in the last year (or ever) into categories. ‘Recycled’ goods are ones you know you will NEVER wear; these can be given to charity, used for fabric scraps, or repurposed into cleaning rags. Your ‘rethink’ box is for things you like but for some reason aren’t quite right. Most items in my rethink box have changed colour or shape a couple of times throughout my challenge. If you use INTO MIND to determine your idea colour pallet and preferred proportions, you might find yourself with a whole new wardrobe of clothes simply by dying (look for a copy of ‘Eco Colour’ by India Flint for dyeing options) or altering a few hemlines. If you just like the fabric you could use it to make a cushion or a purse.  The repair box will be full of old favourites, the things you long to wear but need some TLC. If you’re not sewing savvy find a great local tailor. Its much less ‘expensive’ time wise to invest a little money getting your favourites repaired than it is to find a perfect replacement.

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Be thoughtful about your look, and don’t be afraid to plan!

Take some time to appreciate what you have:

Have you seen ‘THAT’ person, the one that turns heads with their seemingly effortless and authentic style? That person could be you and you don’t even know it. Being OK in your body and your life can give such a radiant and positive glow to your persona. If you don’t believe me spend an afternoon on Stylelikeu.com. It is the most wonderful collection of personal stories of style and has some great insights into how style is not about what we wear, its about what’s underneath, our spirit. I personally recommend the ‘What’s Underneath’ Project and the ‘Second Skin’ series (BYO popcorn as you will likely be watching for a while, its addictive).

By shopping your closet you not only save money, you will save time, liberate yourself from the constraints of consumption (and yucky department store fluorescent lighting), and find your own style ‘groove’.

If you be brave and have fun with your style then outfit compliments are guaranteed!

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Megan from Grace’s Way here! As some of you will already know, Grace’s Way is promoting a one year, buy ethical challenge with the hashtag #graceswaypledge on Instagram and Twitter. For an even bigger earth-friendly challenge, let Katie know you are joining her cause with the hashtag #sustainabilityinstyle and #365DayChallenge!

Also, for those of you who are having problems with the giveaway widget, you can also enter the Luminance Skincare giveaway though their blog. You can also leave question for Luminant Skincare on this post to be entered! 

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Let’s dress like Grace Kelly and save the planet!

My closet full of vintage lovelies.

Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel, Grace Kelly, Daisy from the Great Gatsby- what do all these women (real and imagined) have in common? They were born into an age when your favourite dress came from a shop down the street, or was tailor-made for you and worn for years. It wasn’t mass produced in a factory across the world, where the people who worked on it are payed less than your lipgloss cost you. It didn’t fall apart after a couple summers. It stayed beautiful for years. Maybe this is why we can still buy dresses from the 40s, 50s, 60s- even 20s- today, and continue to wear and enjoy them.

 

Vintage shopping is nothing new, but it’s gaining popularity with trendsetters from Taylor Swift  to Violet magazine creator and star stylist Leith Clark (who has dressed Kierra Knightley, Clemence Poesy, Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams to name a few).

 

One designer who is vintage inspired is the iconic Orla Kiely. In a video on her collaboration with ethical clothing producer People Tree, Kiely talked about “fast fashion” vs. quality designs: “The race to buy cheap clothes…and you know, they don’t last, they fall apart, and I just think there’s so much to be said for quality now.” Kiely encouraged customers to “invest in pieces that they love and that will last,” and to “think about what they’re buying.”

Orla Kiely People Tree SS14 Dress

Of course, we often don’t think they have the luxury of buying ethically, because of how much we think it will cost. On her blog, Wildfox Couture designer Kimberly Gordon gave us some advice about this. “When I was younger I shopped at places like Forever 21, now I realize what that company has to sacrifice to keep their prices so low, including low pay for their employees, bad fabrics (in many ways), cheap factories, and the stealing of other people’s creativity and hard work,” she said.

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Kimberly Gordon of Wildfox

As an alternative, Gordon suggested “looking for local brands or vintage.” “If you regularly shop somewhere cheap check out its history and make sure you aren’t supporting something you don’t believe in!” she warned.

 

Those things that you may not believe in include art theft, in other words, when brands like Anthropologie and Forever 21 steal a struggling artist’s work and use it for their own profit. As the sister of an artist, that does not sit well with me.

 

An even bigger problem with high street fashion, is that the less you pay, the less wages and rights someone on the other side earns to get them to you. According to the Guardian, hundreds of people have been involved in making the shirt you are wearing. Many of them were paid $2 a day. Last year, the Rana Plaza Disaster in Bangladesh made use realize the impossibly high cost of of high street brands like River Island and Primark. Though most of the brands whose clothing was being created in the factories have signed The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, many are wondering if they will actually change their ways. Horrible things like Rana have happened before- fires, the discovery of factories without washrooms, of children working long hours…and little to nothing has changed.

 

Here’s the thing- by investing your money in quality pieces, you actually save in the long run. You won’t have to buy as much, or as often, since your clothes won’t fall apart. Get creative, and wear what you have, adding a fair-trade statement piece or a new pair of recycled sole shoes.

 

Quality is another pro of second-hand shopping: if a dress is in a vintage shop, chances are its been loved enough that if it hasn’t gone to piece by now, it’s not going to for another long while. Plus, there is always that shot in a million that it once graced the beautiful frame of one of your fashion inspirations.

Marie Claire’s 8 favourite online vintage stores

Buying used clothing is also a way to keep our planet beautiful. The process of making your t-shirt the colour of your favourite flower is actually one of the most serious threats to that flower. You know the sweet “Fabric of My Life” ads with a celebrity twirling in a cotton sundress? The industry that made that dress is responsible for 25% of the insecticides used worldwide.  That’s a lot of chemicals going into the plants and animals around us. By buying a similar dress at a vintage store, you cut down on those chemicals and save our natural resources. Plus, you look unique and adorable doing it.

 

Grace once said, “ If there is one thing that is foreign to me it is shopping for pleasure. On the other hand, I believe that it is right to honor all those who create beautiful things and give satisfaction to those who see me wearing them.”

 

In buying cheap products, are we really honoring those who made them? Or are we saying, “My desire to look pretty and own pretty things is more important than your life?” Do you, like Grace Kelly, want to be remembered as someone who did her best to help others, or as someone who just looked pretty?

 

This is what Grace’s Way is about- following the example of women like Grace Kelly. It is about resisting the urge- and the incessant marketing- that pushes us to buy more, at cheaper prices (and lower quality), rather than save up and spend more for pieces that will last long enough to become our favourites. It’s about acknowledging the beauty of the world and people around us, and loving enough to protect them.

 

I believe that beautiful things can be ethical too. Starting today, Earth Day 2014, I am making a commitment to the earth and the people on it. I commit to buying only vintage and sustainable clothing for this year. Will you make the pledge with me, and believe that beauty can do good? If you will, tweet or post on Instagram with the hashtag #gracepledge2014. Let’s join the movement of fashion for good!

What would Grace Kelly do?

Happy Earth Day 2014 from Grace’s Way! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!