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Luisa Kearney

How to Be More Sustainable in 5 Easy Steps

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For many of us, we hear the term ‘sustainable fashion’, we learn a little about what it entails and we are eager to start being better and being more sustainable. The only issue is - how and where do you start?

 

Search the internet on how to start supporting ethical fashion and in typical internet style (excuse the pun) you’ll find the usual combination of: highly valuable information, a mixture of controversial opinions, followed by a few misleading facts and some completely worthless reading! The most common debate is the “do you start again, throw out what you have and buy all new, sustainable fashion items? Or do you act sustainably and use what you have until the time comes when you will subsequently replace it with sustainable alternatives? The choice depends on you, but the most rational option would be the latter.

 

The art of supporting sustainable fashion involves supporting ethical brands, buying items of clothing made using eco-friendly fabrics and manufacturing processes, as well as preventing textile waste! We can all start being more sustainable today without rushing out to buy from ethical, eco-friendly brands! Here’s how to be more sustainable in 5 easy steps!

1. Learn what colours suit you so that you don’t buy the wrong colour that you’ll hate forever and never wear.

2. Learn what styles and textures suit your natural body shape and silhouette. Dress for the body shape and physical features you have rather than what you want, and you’ll always dress well!

3. Consider what you really need from your wardrobe: a small but tailored capsule collection of items that suit you perfectly and can be effortlessly mixed and matched without any thought? Or a more complex wardrobe of vintage garments, on-trend pieces, a huge range of accessories, as well as essential classic pieces? Unless require a wealthy collection for work purposes, I’m sure that most of you would feel better having a neat and stylish wardrobe full of quality items that never fail to flatter your shape and skin colouring. In this case it would be better for you to create a capsule wardrobe of items that you can effortlessly throw together to achieve a stylish outfit! This doesn’t have to mean you have a limited choice or always have to look the same. Take a look here at my 29 items to a perfectly stylish wardrobe checklist here – all of these items can be mixed and matched with little effort but guarantee you look fabulous all the same!

4. Don’t rule out using thrift stores! Here’s why… Second hand shops, charity shops, vintage boutiques, thrift stores. There are so many ways in which to refer to clothing outlets selling pre-owned items. What’s most important is what they represent – reusing clothing thereby preventing textile waste! Not everybody is keen on the idea of wearing items of clothing that once belonged to somebody else, so here’s a little food for thought. In some cases the items you pick up in thrift stores have actually been worn far less than brand new items you purchase from high street stores. In many cases, second hand clothing stores are full of items that were mistake purchases and have only been worn a couple of times or never at all! On the other hand, high street stores receive huge volumes of daily shopper traffic ranging from ‘the teen that just wants to try on items after school’ to ‘the keen shopper that’s going to try, buy, and possibly return everything’. My point is that more times than not, the items you buy on the high street have been worn/tried on more times by lots more people than something you might find in a second hand shop. Additionally, there are some quality items on offer in thrift stores, available at a fraction of their normal retail price.

Don’t forget that when conducting a thorough ‘wardrobe weeding’ session, offloading your unwanted fashion items to a charity shop/pre-owned fashion store is also a good idea. It eliminates waste and puts your old goods to better use!

5. DIY. Upcycle. Revamp what you already have!

You’d be surprised at just how many more years you could get out of an old shirt with a button missing (Fix: sew on a new one), or a plain t-shirt that bores you (Fix: sew on sequins, fancy buttons, add a brooch). There are lots of easy DIY fashion tutorials on Pinterest, Youtube, as well as on my own site. You’d be amazed at how quick and easy it is to completely transform your old clothing in the matter of minutes!

Finally, if you’re missing shopping and are in need of a little inspiration on how to revamp clothing you already own, take a trip to the mall for ‘research’ purposes only! Enjoy browsing round the carefully curated collections on display, but instead of taking an armful of hangers over to the counter, take out your camera phone and take pictures of garment details, styles and fits that appeal to you. Quite often, the items you see on shop displays are very easy and affordable to replicate at home. Take for example, a t-shirt with button details along the shoulder line. The extra detail makes the garment look expensive but sewing a couple of buttons onto a t-shirt couldn’t be simpler and is something anybody could do at home!

 

Supporting sustainable fashion and being more sustainable is highly creative and incredibly rewarding. Once you start implementing these 5 easy steps, you’d be amazed at how enjoyable your journey becomes!

 

Luisa Kearney

Online Personal Stylist

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How to Enjoy a Cruelty-Free Winter

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Stroll into your average high street store during the winter season and you are likely to meet a number of controversial types of clothing materials. Materials such as wool, leather, fur and suede are incredibly popular and widely available during the winter months. A simple winter hat with a fluffy pom-pom may contain traces of real animal fur. If you want to avoid innocently buying into unethical fashion, consequently supporting cruelty then you need to pay attention to what you are buying and how to identify the differences between animal skins and their ethical alternatives.

 

Identifying the Difference between Real Fur and Faux Fur

Worryingly, avoiding real fur with the intention of buying a faux alternative is not as simple as looking out for a big label stating ‘faux fur’. Unfortunately, some items made from imitation fur can contain traces of real animal fur, which is unfair on the side of the manufacturer if the consumer is making a conscious effort to avoid real fur! Not many years ago, faux fur was easily identified simply by giving the garment a quick look over and feeling the quality of the material. Just as little as 5 years ago, vegan fur was coarse, dry and by no means as soft as real fur. Nowadays, vegan fur is often softer and fluffier than real fur, which has helped to inspire many keen fur-wearers to switch to wearing faux fur. Real fur is possibly one of the most barbarically obtained animal skins, due to the fact that the animals are often skinned alive and left to die afterwards. So with that said, you will probably want to avoid buying real fur at all costs, so here are some ways in which you can determine whether you’re looking at real animal fur or a vegan/cruelty-free version:

·       As mentioned above, real fur is no longer noticeably softer than faux fur alternatives. These days it is often vegan fur that is softer than real animal fur so don’t let this confuse you.

·       Similarly, don’t let the colour of the fur fool you. Faux fur can easily be dyed and comes in a range of colours and shades. So don’t judge purely on its colour.

·       Look at the ends of the fur. Usually real fur tapers to a fine point at the ends, whereas faux fur is choppier and the ends are not so neatly defined.

·       If possible (very carefully) burn a few small strands of the fur. Faux fur will have a chemical smell, but if it smells like burning human hair then it is real animal fur.

·       Look carefully at the label on the garment. Sometimes hidden in the small print on a label, you will see that the item is made from e.g. 75% polyester and 25% mink (or another animal) fur.

 

Vegan Alternatives to Animal Leather

At this time of year, items such as leather riding boots and leather jackets are highly popular choices to add to our winter outfits. Unfortunately real leather is not an ethically sourced material, but don’t panic – there are a number of fantastic ethical and sustainable alternatives to leather, such as:

·       Leatherette

·       Cork

·       Mushroom Skin

·       Pineapple Skin Leather

 

Popular Materials and Fibres that are NOT Cruelty-Free

·       Bunting

·       Cashmere

·       Cerecloth

·       Doeskin

·       Duffle

·       Felt

·       Fleece

·       Horsehair

·       Leather

·       Mohair

·       Silk

·       Suede Leather

·       Tweed

·       Wool

 

Popular Materials and Fibres that are Cruelty-Free and Ethical

·       Acrylic

·       Canvas

·       Chino

·       Cork

·       Cotton

·       Denim

·       Elastane

·       Flannelette

·       Leatherette

·       Linen

·       Lint

·       Microfiber

·       Moleskin

·       Nylon

·       Polyester

·       Towelling

·       Velcro

·       Velour

·       Viscose

What is Sustainable Fashion?

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We often hear about sustainable fashion and we’re told that it’s the future of fashion but what exactly does it mean? There are so many terms to describe ethical and eco-friendly fashion but they don’t all share the same meaning or mode of production. So let’s take a look at what it means to live and dress sustainably.

 

Sustainable fashion is a term used to describe fashion items and their raw materials that have been grown, sought and produced in an environmentally-friendly way. Producing any kind of clothing takes its toll on the earth’s resources, but the sustainable fashion industry tries to find other eco-friendly alternatives where possible.

 

 

All of us have to wear clothes. Many of us enjoy the process of shopping, styling and wearing clothes. None of us want their fashion habits to have a negative impact on our planet!

 

Before we go any further, it is wise to familiarise yourself with the below listed terms, describing different aspects of ethical fashion.

 

Popular Terms Used to Describe “Friendly-Fashion”

 

• Slow Fashion 

You’ve heard the term “fast fashion”: fast-moving clothing retailers that produce fashion items in the masses, which are often manufactured under poor working conditions in other countries. Slow fashion promotes the belief of “buying less but buying better”. Buy garments that you’re going to wear. Invest in items you love. Wear the items you buy. Don’t waste your money on clothing that may fall apart after a couple of wears.

• Ethical Fashion 

Ethical fashion signifies ethical manufacturing, textile sourcing and working conditions. This means that no living beings (human or animal) were harmed or mistreated while obtaining the materials, during production or at any other stage.

• Vegan Fashion

Fashion items made from materials that are not obtained from animals, i.e. no fur, leather, wool, silk, suede, etc. Vegan fashion guarantees that no animals were harmed or killed for the sake of manufacturing fashion products.

• Cruelty-free Fashion

Cruelty-free fashion usually refers to products which do not involve testing products on animals or unethically obtaining skins and other materials from animals. In the world of cosmetics however, cruelty-free can mean that the product and its ingredients haven’t been tested on animals, but it may not necessarily be suitable for vegans – take cruelty-free honey lip balm for example.

• Sustainable Fashion 

Sustainable fashion involves using recycled materials or producing new fashion items using dyes and manufacturing processes that cause as little harm as possible to the environment. Other types of sustainable fashion involve swapping clothing, buying pre-owned items, upcycling what you already own, or buying less and wearing it more.

• Eco-friendly Fashion 

Fashion products that are manufactured in a way that is most economical for the earth’s resources and the environment. Eco-fashion manufacturing uses special dyes and fabric fibres sourced from natural, recyclable materials.

 

Would you run your kitchen tap and allow 7000 litres of water to just pour down the drain? It sounds like a huge waste doesn’t it?! It takes 7000 litres of water to make a single pair of jeans. Every time you discard of an unwanted fashion item that you’ve purchased on a whim, you are essentially throwing away thousands of litres of water! This is one of the many reasons why supporting sustainable fashion brands and being more sustainable in your daily life has such a major, positive impact on the planet. Typical clothing production using non-sustainable materials and processes is harmful to the environment for a number of reasons. The heavy use of bleach and harmful dyes (especially when dealing with animal skins) is not only damaging and potentially toxic, but also requires thousands of litres of water in order to carry out the dying stage. With such a huge choice of high quality natural fabrics and vegan leather available on the market, it is easier than ever to dress stylishly and ethically!

 

Easy Ways to Start Living More Sustainably Today

 

• Be conscious of what you buy. Buy items that you love, that suit you perfectly, and that you know you will wear over and over.

• The “30 Wears” question: last year I participated in a campaign called “30 Wears” – a challenge that encouraged people to wear each fashion garment that they buy at least 30 times before disposing of it. So, next time you shop ask yourself whether you could imagine yourself wearing the item you’ve just picked up at least 30 times.

• Take a good look at items in your wardrobe and see how you can upcycle them to make them more wearable. Sewing on a couple of sequins or accessorising in another way can instantly transform the overall look of a garment.

• Aim to buy from ethical and sustainable fashion brands. Every item of clothing has a story, so why not make sure its story is a positive and environmentally-friendly journey.

• Set aside 30 minutes per week to plan out your outfits that you plan to wear that week. Not only will this save you heaps of time and stress each morning, it will also allow you to see what exactly you have lying in your wardrobe which will help you to make good use of it by planning a way in which you can wear it.

• Learn what kind of styles, colours and fits suit your personal physical characteristics, enabling you to make more informed decisions when shopping for clothes because you won’t waste time or money on items that you know will not suit you.

• Wear what you buy! Textile waste is a huge issue across the world, so the insignificant act of making good use of the clothing you own and preventing textile waste can improve this problem in an enormous way!

 

Luisa Kearney

Online Personal Stylist

www.onlinepersonalstylist.com

https://www.facebook.com/theonlinePersonalStylist

https://www.instagram.com/onlinepersonalstylist

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