Lessons in Lent

As we are now a week deep into lent, it got me thinking about what people might be giving up. I didn’t give anything up by the way – I’ll be honest it completely passed me by, I was too focused on how many vegan pancakes I could eat! I mostly hear about people giving up certain food and alcohol, which usually results in a miserable 40 days for them and then going back to old habits. I couldn’t help but wonder; if we give something up do we have to miss out?

 Sorry I just love this meme too much

Sorry I just love this meme too much

A friend of mine was telling me about how she wanted to stop going to Primark so much and to buy fewer clothes, and it got me thinking about our bad buying habits. Some of the worst culprits of excessive buying and hoarding are my fashion-obsessed ladies – you know who you are! You buy following trends that have filtered down from the catwalk into the aisles in Topshop, you wear it once and then feel embarrassed about wearing it in public for a second time. Tell me I’m wrong. I’ll wait… Is it possible to give up buying clothes and still have a wardrobe you're happy with?

 Are your clothes one of a kind or one of many?

Are your clothes one of a kind or one of many?

Now I’m not saying I’m any better, I’ve been a slave to fast fashion in the past and I'm still trying to understand, and become more conscious of, my fashion choices and the consequences of those choices. But speaking honestly, I have had a lot of experience with buying in excess and hoarding clothes. So this lent (we’re starting late but lets call it fashionably late!) why don’t we give “going without” a try? Urgh I know, how un-appealing does that sound? But seriously, if we can reduce the amount we buy and learn to appreciate what we have more, our wardrobes will be filled with pride and style, instead of regret and impulse decisions!

And to that end, I have come up with, what I like to call, a few Lessons in Lent. Maybe you just try one, maybe you go hard and try ‘em all – either way, if you can use just one of these lessons and apply it to your own fashion choices, I truly believe you’ll feel happier and more confident with your wardrobe!

Weed out your wardrobe

 Have you ever seen such an empty wardrobe? Cue dramatic music *dun dun dun*

Have you ever seen such an empty wardrobe? Cue dramatic music *dun dun dun*

This is a question a lot of our mothers have probably asked us; “how much of these clothes do you actually wear?” to which we usually reply, “I will wear them someday!” And don’t we all remember the Sex and the City episode when Aidan (gotta love him) tries to get Carrie to clean out her closet, which leads to a huge – and inevitable – fight lasting several days. So I think we’re entitled to be a little wary about the dreaded ‘clear out’.

 Clearing out your closet - every woman's nightmare or just mine?

Clearing out your closet - every woman's nightmare or just mine?

In Lucy Siegle’s book “To die for: Is fashion wearing out the world?” when talking about how many pairs of jeans she owns, writes “I can count nineteen pairs in my wardrobe, of which four are in what I’d term active service” I love that term – active service. I say if you haven’t worn in it the last year, aka no longer in active service, get rid of it - by which I mean donate to a friend or charity shop… You could even try going for a minimalist look or develop your own ‘capsule wardrobe’ where by you only have a select number of pieces but they represent your style and mean more to you. I do believe in fresh starts – especially where fashion is concerned. And remember, nothing you bought in 2008 will come back in style hun.

Be a conscious consumer

In a recent study about how millennials make fashion-buying decisions, five purchasing influencers were asked what went into their decision-making process, and it was disappointing to say the least. Only 34% were driven to make a purchase because of a brand’s sustainability or eco-friendly ethics, and it was actually 95% for ease of purchase, 95% for price/value, 92% for uniqueness and 60% for the brand name. To read the full report click here. For researching purposes I would highly recommend downloading the 'Good on You' app to your phone, that way when you're out and about you can quickly check the ethics and transparency levels of a brand.

 Garment workers are largely underpaid and forced to work in unsafe conditions

Garment workers are largely underpaid and forced to work in unsafe conditions

I would encourage everyone to have a think before they tap their card down, and find out whom they’re giving their hard earned dollars to. Is this a company you want to support? Are their garment workers paid a fair wage? Are they responsibly sourcing their materials in an ethical way? Try and go for clothes that will stand the test of time, if you buy cheap don’t expect it to last past the second wash. It’s also good to think about when and where you would wear the item you’re about to buy, aim to buy clothes that you know you will get a lot of use out of. 

But I think most importantly, if you don’t HAVE to have it, do not buy it! You really should love your clothes, and invest in pieces that bring you joy (Namaste ladies). For researching purposes I would highly recommend downloading the 'Good on You' app to your phone, that way when you're out and about you can quickly check the ethics and transparency levels of a brand before you buy.

Buy pre-loved

You’ve probably heard the phrase “One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure”. You’ve also probably turned your nose up at charity shops and thrift stores (you can admit it, I won’t tell anyone!) But in reality, buying pre-loved clothing is a fabulous way of recycling old clothes and turning them into something new and unique to you! Think about it, if you pick up a pair of old trousers from the early noughties, what are the chances that you’ll run into someone on the high street wearing the same pair? Added bonus, you'll save a heap of cash and probably be able to buy more pieces if you need them!

 Loot Clothing is an awesome vintage shop in Bristol, near the Bear Pit - check them out!

Loot Clothing is an awesome vintage shop in Bristol, near the Bear Pit - check them out!

Reducing the amount of new clothing you buy also benefits the concept of circular fashion, which I’ve talked about on a previous post, where by clothing is created to remain in use and in circulation for as long as possible. Vintage clothing has never been hotter and I think we’re seeing a move towards more individual styles and outfits – which is great news, who wants to be a boring Betty? Not me anyway.

So there you have it, a few new fashion mantras to live by if you’re in the mood for a change and a refresh! Let me know how you get on and if you’ve got any other ideas for ‘going without’ this lent :D xoxo