Style swaps & charity shops.
How often do you clear out your wardrobe? I don’t have space to keep everything in mine all year round so find myself swapping my wardrobe over every season. It’s therapeutic and something I gain a great deal of pleasure from; unpacking clothes that you’ve forgotten about and putting away those pieces that you’ve worn to death over the winter. I love fashion and have always enjoyed that feeling of coming home with something new and playing dress up to see how you can style it but has the current fast fashion trend created an addiction for today’s fashion consumers?
I’m sure I’m not the only one that has become more conscious of the negative impact that the ‘fast fashion’ industry is having on the environment. If you haven’t already watched the BBC’s Stacey Dooley “Fashions Dirty Secrets” documentary, then I can definitely recommend it. As a fashion model its part of my job to sell the clothes I’m modelling, and I do try and keep up with the current trends for each season but I’m no longer a slave to the fast fashion market. I’m 50 this year and I finally know what suits me and try to keep to those key principles in my wardrobe. I think it’s about balance, sometimes I’ll see a new outfit that I know I will get a lot of use out of but I’m equally happy rummaging in charity shops for that bargain find.
I was recently invited by the Shelter charity shop at Kings Cross to come and style a few outfits. Social media is such a great way for shops like this to get their message out there by using influencers, bloggers and fashion lovers to have their photos taken and share their looks. I have always loved shopping in charity shops, I love that feeling when you come across something that fits you perfectly and you know you can give it a new lease of life. I am conscious that there's a lack of larger sizes available in charity shops, a mere reflection of what’s going on in the high street, but it’s often much harder to find clothes in size 14 upwards so I was a bit sceptical about finding 3 outfits here that would fit. I am happy to report this particular charity shop had plenty for me to choose from.
I found a great pair of vintage jeans that were the perfect fit (they came home with me) and teamed it with an Eileen Fisher vest and unbranded army jacket for a more relaxed day look. I’ve been wanting to try an army jacket for a while now and this style session really reminded me to have more fun with fashion and experiment more.
I loved the 60’s inspired Marks and Spencers dress which went so well with my own Steve Madden White boots and handbag. I’m hoping it’s still there on my next visit as I should have bought that too.
Lastly a full-on evening outfit, including a figure-hugging vintage dress, M&S shoes and handbag, proving you really can shop for every occasion in a charity shop. If you have time to spare next time you're in London this Shelter charity shop is well worth a visit. You can also follow them over on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/shelterkingscross/?hl=en .
So how else can we step away from that desire to have something new to wear that I suspect the majority of us experience at times?
Two stylists from York, Sara Anson and Laura Fawcett have created an event that hopes to change the way we shop and think about our wardrobes in the form of Style Swaps. I grew up constantly swapping outfits with my close friend as a teenager because we couldn’t afford to keep buying new clothes, in fact on some occasions we still do. I spoke to Sara about why they think it’s so important “We do it to raise awareness of the impact fast fashion is having on the environment & encourage people to think about how they shop.To date we have swapped over 1000 of items of clothes (over 3 events) that may have ended up in landfill".
The idea behind the style swap is that everyone brings a minimum of 8 good quality items, which can be clothes, accessories or shoes that they no longer wear, and they can then shop the rails taking the same number of items. What’s not to love about the idea of 8 new items of clothing without having to worry about your bank balance and knowing you’re doing something good to help the planet? Sara explained that ‘‘events are always very popular (usually sold out!) We get a lot of really good quality clothes, a lot of the time still with tags on. It’s a great way to refresh your wardrobe for minimal cost & socialise with likeminded women.”
Tickets for their last event in January sold out fast and for an £8 ticket you can come and shop, have a cocktail and gain on the spot styling tips from Sara and Laura to help you create your own capsule wardrobe. I can see how trying clothes on this environment would really make you think about what will work with your existing wardrobe and you are still left with that natural high of coming home with something new. Any clothes left over from events then get sent to charity shops to continue the sustainable journey.
It’s reported that across the world we’re producing over 100 billion new garments from new fibres every single year and that just can’t be sustainable. With fast fashion brands offering cheap clothes with new stock coming in on a weekly basis, it certainly makes you think how as consumer we all have a part to play in helping change the industry for the better. Whilst I can’t say I won’t continue to buy new clothes; I am committed to buying less and wearing more pre-loved clothes so I can’t wait to attend the next Sustainable Style Swap on the 30th April in Wetherby.
I'd love to know what your favourite charity find has been?