Guest Blog from Charly Conquest – How to Shop Sustainably

So I imagine you all saw the Stacey Dooley Fashions Dirty Secrets BBC documentary this week, where she travels the world to uncover the hidden costs of our addiction to fast fashion and asks the question ‘are our clothes wrecking the Planet?’

She sees for herself how toxic chemicals released by the garment industry pollute waterways that millions of people rely on. She witnesses the former Aral Sea, once one of the largest bodies of fresh water, now reduced almost entirely to dust.

These are shocking discoveries likely to make you think twice about whether you really need those new clothes and certainly made me consider the issue carefully.

As a personal stylist I think it’s really important to shop your own wardrobe and really think hard about new purchases and make sure that they work with what we already have and that you’ll want to wear them again and again, however, this clearly still isn’t enough.

One of the easiest ways to do our bit is to donate clothes to & shop from charity & vintage shops. I always give my unwanted clothes to charity shops, or offer them on ebay, I have also recently started using MicoletUK an online women’s second-hand clothing site that offers a wide range of nearly new clothes from lots of Instagrammers & fashion bloggers. You can literally shop my wardrobe here.

I also love to charity shop & have found some real winners like this amazing leopard faux fur from my local Beckenham Vintage fair So Last Century and this super cute red blazer from Wandsworth Oasis in Clapham Common. My Mum is actually one of the best charity shop shoppers I know & at 72 still finds the best pieces but it does take time and you do really need an eye. Not only are you helping the planet you’re also finding really individual & unique pieces and saving the pennies too!!!

Anyway I digress, as soon as I started watching this documentary, I couldn’t help think of my fabulous Insta friend CharlyConquest!

If you don’t follow Charly already, please do as she is super fun and one of the Insta ladies that I totally admire as literally every #ootd post she does is 100% recycled, as she describes it herself …..someone else’s cast offs (apart from her knickers 😉 ) So rather than me bang on about it, I thought I’d ask Charly to write a guest blog about her top tips for charity shopping….so grab a cuppa and have a little read below……

How to Shop Sustainably AKA “your bra cost more than my whole outfit”

I was absolutely delighted when Alice asked me to write something for her blog in response to the recent discussion around sustainable fashion. I’m also thrilled that the movement is slowly coming more and more to the fore, and that all of us fashion loving folk are being given the information to make informed choices about where our clothes come from and the impact their manufacture has.

I started shopping in charity shops – which is where I buy 95% of my wardrobe – during University. This was because a) I was very poor and b) I didn’t want to look like everyone else. I was kind of baffled by my friends getting themselves into extra unnecessary debt in order to shop in All Saints, to then end up wearing the same pair of boots as 5 other people in our halls. This for me is the first big tick for charity shopping – so often you’ll find things that are really unique, and – amazingly – very often still with the sales tags intact.

One tip if you want to follow the trends is the shop a season ahead. As nuts as it sounds for a charity shopper I keep my eyes on the next season’s catwalks as people are more likely to throw out stuff that isn’t in ‘this second’ (but possibly regret it later)! So six months ago I was hoovering up all the animal print I could find knowing it would be something I’d want to incorporate into my looks in the winter. It does involve a bit of planning, but that’s half the fun! A great example are my Clark’s boots, which were £12 in the summer and I’m now wearing daily.

In terms of good places to look, it definitely depends on your budget. I go to Richmond in SW London often, which is quite affluent, and therefore you pick up designer brands, but with a slightly higher price point. I got a mint condition Mulberry bag for £60 here, and my beloved Burberry scarf (in picture Alice) was £35 from Fara (one of my faves) – but worth every penny. If this is your aim, then Knightsbridge, Richmond and Chelsea are your areas for London, and I’ve also found some amazing stuff in Edinburgh. However, I love, and I mean LOVE going to little towns and even villages and picking things up there – Surrey is great for this, but there are gems up and down the country. Prices are often a lot lower – you might even find things for £1 – and whilst there’s more ‘very well loved’ items, I’ve also found some excellent bargains like cashmere jumpers for £5 – you just have to rummage a bit more.

Another great place to buy pre-loved is eBay – and my top tip is to simply type in your size and scroll through. My gold skirt was £1 excluding postage, and I got it through this method. It does take time, but I tend to do it whilst watching TV, and you’ll be amazed what bargains you can find, and you might end up trying something totally new because you’re not being so prescriptive in what you’re searching for. I also got my wedding dress on there for £40, but I appreciate this is a bit extreme for some!

Having come from a less affluent background shopping this way hasn’t only helped the planet and some good causes, but it’s helped me too. I partly attribute the fact I own a house to the money I saved in buying second hand – over the 15 or so years this has been my lifestyle, it has quite an impact financially and you’re still getting something ‘new to you’.

When I do buy new (which is pretty rare), I gravitate towards smaller independent brands, and this is something that’s really come to the fore since being on Instagram. I’ve been introduced to brands like SOTR, Pickle and Jana Reinhardt whose founders you get to know, and who put love and care into everything they make, meaning you want to do the same and look after the pieces you buy from them.

Not to say that my journey to being sustainable has been smooth – due to my ‘eclectic’ approach, I’ve had some interesting comments over the years…:

“You look like you ran through your wardrobe and whatever attached itself to you stayed on” – my Uni housemate, 2007

“My bra cost more than your whole outfit!” – an aghast colleague, 2009…

…..but it does help you get noticed and stand out from the crowd (much like posing like an idiot, which I will happily write another post about when Stacey Dooley does a doc about that!)

Final thought – if you’re thinking of having a clear out please, please donate to your local charity shop…not only are you helping a good cause, but you might be the prior owner of my future outfit like Dana and the Red Shoes…(see pic) 😉 !

So thank you so much Charly! Some really fabulous insights & top tips there….I would hate to think how much I could have saved in £££ if I’d shopped a little more like this over the past 45 years let alone helping the planet.

Fashion’s Dirty Secrets showed us in real terms the devastating environmental, social, and economic impacts fast fashion can have on our planet and certainly has made me think a little harder.

If you’d like to find some more tips on dressing ethically I found this article here rather interesting from the Sustainability Consultancy Eco Age

Thanks for popping by and hope to see you back soon,

Love

Alice x

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