As of Januray 1st 2020 that was it. A year without new clothes is complete.
This time last year I watched the Stacey Dooley documentary on Fashions dirty secrets. It was after that I decided to take myself and my 3 kids on a journey to give up fast fashion. As somebody who had only stepped into charity shops to donate stuff rather than buy it, this was a huge step for us.
However, in the last year I’ve used charity shops, swap shops, Amelia had some hand me downs from her cousins and good old eBay often came to the rescue but at no point did we go without the clothes we needed for any occasion.
I bought clothes for our holiday, for work and to attend a wedding. Ethan had a whole new wardrobe purchased for him as he outgrew his old clothes and we even got our new (musical and light up) Christmas jumpers second hand too.
Rather than telling you WHY you should ditch fast fashion, I am going to assume you know the reasons we need to change and I want to give you hope. I want to share some useful information to help you on your journey to ditch fast fashion in 2020 be it for a month a year or for life.
First off everyone has different rules for themselves. Mine were we could buy second hand and our only new items would be underwear and school uniform essentials. You can set your own boundaries but I found this worked well for us.
In this photo is a tale of two black tops. You see I work for Lush where we have a black and white dress code and I wanted a long sleeve black T shirt for work. Something that kept me warmer than a T shirt and didn’t need a jumper if there was a chill in the air. I tried 5 charity shops and all I could find was the Julien McDonald top I am holding. Not really what I wanted for work as the sleeves were sheer and frilly.
At the till the guy asked had I got what I wanted and I halfheartedly said “Well yes and no, I wanted a plain long sleeve black t-shirt for work but this will do.” He shouted out the back to somebody and 2 minutes later out she came with the top I am wearing, a plain, long sleeved, black t-shirt in my size. Perfect. It was the first time in my year of no new clothes that somebody pointed out if you ask the staff in charity shops for something specific, they often have it out the back and are happy to fetch it! What a wonderful nugget of information to keep in our back pockets for when we really need a particular piece of clothing.
My top tips for shopping pre loved:
- Visit local charity stores often but mostly without expectation. Browse and if you see something you love it’s a happy bonus. Learn which stores are best for which items e.g. I found kids clothes hard to find in many of my local stores.
- If you need something specific, plan ahead. It’s hard to last minute shop for a dress to wear to a wedding when you are going pre loved but if you give yourself a couple of weeks notice you will find something beautiful.
- Embrace local swap shops or better yet if you can’t find one then arrange one with friends! It’s a great way to get things you no longer need out of the house and find new items you will love for free.
- Ebay is your friend. Yes you have to pay postage and no you can’t try it on in advance but if you know what size you are in a particular item them it really helps. I got all my M&S trousers for work this way. I also set up an alert to secure a Scamp and Dude top I REALLY wanted in my favorite colour and size.
- Learn that it’s okay not to own everything you wear. You can borrow things from friends for occasions or rent them from a local hire shop. No, you wont own anything for your money but you will keep space free in your wardrobe and avoid spending big money on an item which may spend most of its life hanging there unused for the sake of a few occasional wears.
If you’re thinking of jumping aboard the good ship pre loved then my advice is not to sweat it. You will find what you want when you need it and there is always plenty out there to choose from. You will also realise how much you can repair when it’s hard to replace, extending the life of your own clothes beyond your normal barrier. A great idea is to keep a needle and thread in the same colour as your work trousers in work. I once got to work and noticed I had a hole in my trousers, ordinarily I would have just bought new trousers there and then but to keep to my goal I bought a needle and thread. After a quick repair those trousers are still hanging in there with me months later.
Good luck with your mission to avoid fast fashion and to shop more consciously, I’ll be there with you. For although our year is up, I can’t see a reason to go back to buying from fast fashion retailers. I’m choosing to vote for sustainability with my money.