The Wardrobe Clear Out

You might have seen the video I posted in the post Can Ethical Fashion Be Stylish? about a week ago by Ms Wandas featuring Veronica Crespi of Rewardrobe, London’s first Slow Style Consultancy. I really loved Veronica’s advice, particularly where she says

I tell my clients, If they can make their wardrobe look like a boutique and where everything actually fits them, they wouldn’t feel like going out and buying more

As my wardrobe is well overdue a clear out (as you can see from the image below) and I am on a shopping ban, I thought I would give it a go.

Before

Life has got really busy lately and everything has just got in a big old mess.

After

So when my mother in law offered to look after the children on Saturday, I jumped at the chance to get my wardrobe organised. I got rid of anything that didn’t fit or there was no chance of me wearing, which only amounted to a few things. Then moved all of the out of season clothes and shoes into the wardrobe in my office. I put my more occasional handbags into cotton shopping bags to protect from dust and stored all my handbags in a plastic crate, neatly stacked the shoe boxes full of my less worn shoes at the back and lined up everyday shoes on the shoe rack so that I could actually find both of them when I want to wear them rather than just the one! I also made a to do list of clothes that need repairs or alternations and those that I don’t wear but could upcycle in some way.

Then I did something I thought I would never do, something I had previously considered was only for those suffering from OCD. I sorted my clothes in to colour order, starting from whites and creams, then progressing into beiges, browns, khaki, yellows and blues  then moving into the pinks, reds, bold and bright prints, dark colours and black. I also made sure that everything was hung up with just one item per hanger.

My verdict – it really does work!

Seeing my clothes and shoes laid out like this, makes it really easy to find something to wear each day. Having a clear out and arranging nicely also reminded me of what I have and gave me some inspiration for new outfits. I now really like looking in my wardrobe each morning and picking out something to wear, it does feel a bit like going shopping for something new. I particularly can’t stop looking at the clothes in the bold and bright patterns section.

So far I have managed to keep it super organised all week and have stuck to the colour order. All I need to do is get Mr Style Eyes to put a hook on the side wall of the wardrobe for me to hang my scarf hanger. This will give my clothes a little more space and make picking out  a scarf much easier.

I would definitely recommend giving this a try, especially if you struggle with finding clothes to wear in the morning or are a shopaholic. What do you think, is your wardrobe overdue a clearout?

Have a lovely bank holiday and Jubilee weekend.

With warmest wishes

Ceri x

Can Ethical Fashion Be Stylish?

I love this film made by Esther Freeman of Ms Wandas Wardrobe featuring Saffia Minney of Ethical Fashion Brand, People Tree and Veronica Crespi of Rewardrobe.

Can Ethical Fashion be Stylish? of course it can and it is definitely time to to put to bed the notion that ethical fashion cannot be stylish! What do you think?

If you are still havings any doubts, you could also check out the latest outfit challenge on Ethical Fashion Bloggers. Some fantastically stylish ladies who know how to mix a print.

Hope you are having a lovely week and enjoying the beautiful sunshine!

With warmest wishes

Ceri x

Swapping, Selling and Giving at Friendly Fashion

clothes swapping denim jacket

Denim jacket – swapped
Necklace – Made
Dress – Oxfam
Shoes – Dkode

We are all kind of guilty to a certain extent of buying clothes that we need or just getting bored with what we already have and fancying a change. Swapping, selling and buying preloved clothes is a fantastic way to refresh your wardrobe and it is better for your purse and the environment than buying new. I also think it is really fun and a great way of trying something new that you might not usually buy in the shops. I am so passionate about swapping that I set up my own clothes swapping website Posh Swaps a few years back to encourage people to get swapping. Since then there has been an explosion of Swishing (swapping) parties and clothes swapping websites which gives everyone plenty of opportunity for everyone to recycle their old stuff and get something amazing in return. The denim jacket in the image is the result of a swap I did and I wear it all of the time.

I recently recieved an email Friendly Fashion, a great new swapping site. They have some fantastic stuff listed on the site and I would definitely recommend checking it out if your wardrobe needs a little refresh. The site is free to use, allows you to swap, buy, sell and give away itmes and has a fantastic widget which can be customised and adding to your blog to help promote any items that you list.

Spring is the perfect time to have a good clear out. You can make yourself some extra cash or get something lovely and new in return for the clothes that you don’t wear. Here are some of my favourite items listed on the site.

NWT Summer dress

flowery dress

aztec top

summer jumpsuit

I definitely have plenty of pieces of clothing I would love to swap. How about you? Have you every tried swapping?

With warmest wishes

Ceri x

 

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My Shopping Strategy For An Ethical and Sustainable Wardrobe

Leather jacket, top, bag and shoes – all a number of years old, bought from conventional fashion retailers (not ethical or sustainable) and hoarded in my wardrobe!
Vintage lace skirt – Swap party at The Good Fashion Show
Necklace and ring – Made

Over the last few years, I have been gradually changing and developing the way that I shop for clothes with the aim of making it more sustainable and ethical. I have spent a considerable amount of time not buying anything new at all and about a year ago I made the commitment to switch to buying only ethical or sustainable clothing.

It’s not easy being green!

I can completely understand the difficulties that people face in making this switch. Not only may they have concerns over cost and lack of choice but also the whole question of exactly what is ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ clothing and which ‘type’ or ‘brand’ of clothing is it best to buy, a topic which I could write about all day.

My work as a writer with a focus on ethical fashion has given me a greater understanding of the issues surrounding ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry and the variety that is available. Whilst I can’t say I have all of the answers, I certainly feel that I can make a reasonably informed decision most of the time and have totally bought into the fact that there is a fantastic selection of high quality ethical clothing out there that offers much better value than fast fashion and could definitely satisfy me in terms of finding what I want to buy.

How much is too much?

The difficulty for me in dressing ethically and sustainably comes into play when I try and work out how much is too much in terms of volumes of clothes. Obviously buying cheap poorly made clothes to wear once and then throw away is not ethical or sustainable. But I have never really done this, even the ‘fast fashion’ clothes that I have bought in the past have usually lasted for years and many that have managed to stand the test of time still remain in my wardrobe now. I treasure my clothes, shoes and accessories and I don’t buy anything that I don’t think I am likely to want to wear 3, 4 or 5 seasons from now. I get some inspiration from current fashions but I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a slave to it and would never discard a piece of clothing because it wasn’t fashionable anymore.

My wardrobe is stacked full of clothes, I am definitely a hoarder/ collector.

Do I really need to buy any more?

I love clothes and I live clothes in both my work and leisure time. For me there is nothing shallow about fashion. What I wear is so important to me on many levels – my self confidence,  identity, comfort, success in work, the way others interact with me and treat me and also my own creativity and self expression (another topic, I could write all day about). I don’t need to but I like to wear lots of different outfits and I am constantly looking for and experimenting with new looks. Partly this can be satisfied by remixing, upcycling and recycling.

But

I also do have a desire to buy new stuff that if I am honest, I don’t really need. Through my blogging I discover so many amazing ethical brands. Not only to I love their clothes and want them but I also want to support these brands to try and help ethical become more mainstream. Supporting ethical brands is great but it isn’t sustainable to keep buying stuff that you don’t need. In order to change the fashion industry and the way it works, I think we all need to move away from the culture of constantly buying new stuff for the sake of it.

My Ethical and Sustainable Shopping Strategy

So here is the strategy that I have come up with, partly in a conscious kind  of way but partly it just felt right. Since making changes to my shopping habits I have been really happy with my clothes and the high quality wardrobe that I am building. I never really struggle to find something lovely to wear and I always feel great in what I wear.

1. I consider second hand or vintage is the most sustainable way to shop so I try and satisfy my whimsical desire to shop and constantly refresh my wardrobe in this way most of the time (it is also kindest to my purse!). Even with second hand and vintage shopping and I tend to end up buying too much so try and have in mind the sorts of clothes I am likely to wear and the colours and styles that will suit me and avoid just buying more of what I already have. I also upcycle, swap and readily accept donations of old clothes from friends. If and when I get bored of these clothes I just donate them back to charity.

2. Occasionally for a special treat I like to buy myself a piece of clothing from an ethical/ sustainable brand. This is often when I have some birthday or Christmas money. I always look at these purchases as an investment. I try and buy something that will be a high quality, stylish and flattering staple of my wardrobe for many years to come (if not forever) and will really add to and build on what I already have.

3. I only ever buy a piece of clothing that I really really love and tend to look for unusual and unique pieces. Where possible I try to buy from companies and brands that have made a company wide commitment to ethical fashion and sustainability and practice these principles throughout everything they do as I want to support then and help to push these practices into the mainstream.

4. Before I shop, I try and think carefully about what I need, what I am likely to wear and what colours and styles suit me. In the past I have made lots of mistakes. As I don’t buy as many new clothes as I used to and spend a little more on sustainable/ ethical clothing, I want to be sure that I get it right every single time . I have an ongoing wishlist where each item that I see and want is added, considered for some time and sometimes removed. I only buy something when I am absolutely sure that it will work for me in every way from making me feel good, to going with the other clothes I  have to being practical and eco friendly to wash and care for.

5. I do most of my shopping online as it gives me greater access to a huge variety of ethical and sustainable brands and makes it easier to compare, consider, research and read up on ethics if needed. It also cuts down on impulse buys.

So there you have it, that is how I shop. Do you have a shopping strategy? how do you decide what is too much?

With warmest wishes

Ceri x

Thrifty Ethical Fashion For Mother’s Day

This months challenge at Ethical Fashion Bloggers was to create a thrifty outfit which cost under £10 or as close as possible. At first this seemed like quite a difficult challenge but on looking in my wardrobe, I realised that I have quite a few clothes including this dress and belt which I have got from clothes swaps, so technically cost me nothing at all (except an old piece of clothing that I wouldn’t have worn anyway). The shoes were a little more tricky and ideally I should have worn a more glamorous pair of heels, but because of the distance I needed to walk and the fact that none of my ethical shoes are exactly thrifty, I decided to opt for this pair of ballet pumps, given to me by a friend (brand new,but she decided they didn’t fit her. The handbag was the most expensive at about £4 from a charity shop and the necklace which isn’t ethical or sustainable but I have had it ages and it only cost maybe £6 or £7.So I think in total my outfit cost about £10 or £11.

As it was Mother’s Day, I decided to take the opportunity to spend a little more time doing my hair and to attempt to set it in curlers for a retro hairstyle. This was a big fail, I got impatient and took the rollers out before my hair was properly dry hence the flat an uncharacteristically sleek look to it. In the end I couldn’t be bothered to faff with it any more and decided to get out and enjoy myself.

I took my oldest daughter to a cafe in Bath for lunch and then had a wander around Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fashion fair. The fair was disappointingly quiet with only about 10 stalls, but I did manage to get myself a lemon yellow sixties jacket and checked skirt for £2 each though and some vintage fabrics, so not a complete loss. Here are a few instagrams of my day.

I hope you had a lovely weekend!

With warmest wishes

Ceri x

Swap In The City

When I went to the Good Fashion Show on Saturday, I also participated in the Swap in the City clothes swap. Anyone that knows me will know how much I love a good clothes swap, I even have my own clothes swap website!

A clothes swap, or swishing party as they are also known, gives me even more of a feeling of excited anticipation than I used to get when I went on an occasional clothing shopping spree with the added bonus that it is completely guilt free. I am sure I don’t need to tell you, swapping is the new shopping!

I carefully lugged my heavy bag of clothes all the way to London on the train, the tube, the fifteen minute walk to London house and around the Good Fashion Show until it was time to hand my clothes in. I took along what I considered some really lovely pieces of clothing that I really loved but just didn’t suit my shape or colouring, a Burberry Prorsum safari jacket, a 1950’s heavily beaded floral pink knitted top, a 70’s midi dress with a pleated skirt, a printed chiffon By Malene Birger maxi dress, a People Tree jacket and a nearly new pair of Gap Jeans.

The clothes were hung on rails of either vintage and designer or high street clothes and we were given tickets with the number of vintage/ designer and high street pieces that we could pick. There were probably no more than 10 or 12 people swapping but a nice selection of clothes which suited me fine, as sometimes as too many clothes can make choosing something so much more difficult and too many people (as I have experienced at swaps in the past) a bit of a scrum . The swap commenced with the ring of a bell and it was no more than a minute or two before just about everything was gone.

Here is what I got:

 A Cacherel Top (I think from the Uniqlo collaboration), worn with necklace and ring by Made UK, old denim skirt and shoes by Irregular Choice.

If you look carefully, it has a tiny bird and flower print on it.

A knitted animal print tunic (labelled Lusa), worn here with a refashioned bleached jacket. I have been looking for the perfect top to wear with this jacket for ages.  I think I have now found it!The necklace is also by Made UK.

A fifties floral dress and red belt worn here with Irregular Choice shoes and a bag from Oxfam.

I also got an amazing double layered vintage white lace skirt. I haven’t quite worked out how I am going to wear it yet. I would either like a delicate and lacey sort of white camisole top which I don’t have at the moment, so will be keeping my eye out for in the charity shops or perhaps I should go for a complete contrast?

All in all I was really pleased with what I got. It all fitted me which is amazing. Despite it being a little questionable as to whether all of the pieces could be classified as vintage or designer and probably being worth less (in money) than the pieces I took along, I was completely happy to come home with something I would wear. The clothes that I  exchanged had been sat in my wardrobe unworn for ages and I probably would never have got around to listing on ebay.

There were a few people who seemed intent on grabbing everything in sight but I think everyone seemed to get a least a few things they wanted. Had I been a little more grabby I could possibly have got more but it is not really the way I am. I would definitely recommend a clothes swap or swish to anyone and Nicole of Total Renewal who organised the swap has lots of experience in organising such events. My advice would be to take lovely pieces of clothing that you are proud to enter in the swap but that you are completely happy to part with and to try and grab a few items that you like the look of quite quickly to ensure that you come home with at least a few items you love. The great thing about a clothes swap is that you quite often end up trying something new that you would not have neccaserily picked up in a shop.

I hope you are having a fantastic week and for those at London Fashion Week, I hope you aren’t too exhausted.

With warmest wishes

Ceri x

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And then it was gone

and then it was gone from Claire Pepper on Vimeo.

Just wanted to share with you a new fashion film by photographer Claire Pepper.
The film looks at ideas about how we use natural resources, and their consumption and destruction. Featuring designers including People Tree, Made, Hattie Rickards and Henrietta Ludgate, all the clothes used in the film are ethically sourced or vintage finds, modelled by new face Hana Hucinova at Elite London, and shot in an old victorian school building in East London.

Full credits:
Directed and produced by Claire Pepper
Photography by Claire Pepper and Natasha Alipour-Faridani
Styling by Katie Rose
Stylist’s assistant Sara Galvaz
Hair and Make up Joella Butler
Model Hana at Elite London
Music Moby Gratis

An Upcycled Heart Top For Valentine’s Day

This month’s DIY / upcycling round up on Ethical Fashion Bloggers has a Valentines Day theme. I decided to make a simple top using an old Fruits of the Loom sweatshirt that has been nestled in my airing cupboard for over 10 years (I am such a hoarder). The fitted cuffs, high neck and  band around the bottom of the sweatshirt look a little dated so I just cut them off and made the sleeves even shorter, cutting them at a slight angle. I used a small piece of heart patterned fabric which I had leftover from upcycling an old maternity top. All I did was cut out a heart shape from the fabric and sew onto the sweatshirt (over the Fruits of the Loom) emblem, with really tiny and close together handstitches. That is it.

Top- upcycled
Vest top underneath and skirt – really old (from high street retailers)
Shoes – Melissa

I doubt whether myself and Mr Style Eyes will be doing anything this Valentines Day. In fact I am sure we won’t as we have no babysitter and I have a School Governors meeting to go to. I am not too bothered as I dislike the whole overpriced, cheesy entertainment, set menu thing that many restaurants do. After 12 years of marriage, with 2 children and me working most evenings, we are just happy to have a rare hour or two together and a few glasses of wine at home. I can’t really complain as I get a bunch of flowers from Mr Style Eyes every week.

Will you be doing anything fun for Valentines Day this year? If you would like to join in with Ethical Fashion Bloggers DIY/ Upcycling round ups or outfit challenges, you can join here.

With warmest wishes

Ceri X  

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Updating an Old Dress with a Peter Pan Collar

I had a really relaxing weekend and for the first time in ages I didn’t do any work, not even the ironing! Problem was I really wasn’t ready to go back to it all this morning. On saturday I went for a birthday lunch with family. I decided to wear a dress that I have had for ages uodated with the leather Peter pan collar (by Rokit Recycled) that I got for Christmas from my mum. 

On Sunday, we went to a fantastic new restaurant called Za Za Bazaar in Bristol. It is a massive place on the waterfront that seat hundreds of people and has the theme of a street market with lots of different food kiosks. For just £10 per head you could eat as much as you liked including Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, English, French, Italian, Indian, Mexican, Caribean and Portuguese. I really thought they had managed to capture the atmosphere of a market (or as much as you can with an indoor restaurant). I would usually avoid this sort of eat as much as you like restaurant on the basis that the food will be rubbish but I had read a good review which turned out to be incredibly accurate. The food was delicious and you could even have some dishes freshly prepared in front of you. I has sushi, Vietnamese soup and a variety of meat and vegetarian curries and was slightly disappointed when I was too full to eat any more as there was so much I hadn’t tried, I will definitely be going back. For desert there were mini patisseries, an icecream machine, a chocolate fountain, lots of jellies and a giant cake stand filled with cupcakes. The children loved it! Sorry no food pictures as I was far too busy eating it.

So that was it, my weekend basically consisted of little else except stuffing my face. Well I did go for a run on Saturday so hopefully that might help in balancing out the calorie overload.

I hope you had a good weekend.

With warmest wishes

Ceri X

Ethical Fashion Essentials – Tights

OK todays post is not exactly the most exciting of subjects but I guess at this time of year we all wear tights, I would certainly consider them a wardrobe essential. Since I started wearing only ethical and sustainable clothing, tights is one of the areas, that I am afraid, I haven’t made any effort with at all. I already have a drawer full of tights and so there is little point in replacing them until they are no longer any good, but I suppose I have also just assumed that there isn’t a wearable and affordable ethical/ sustainable alternative. I have decided to make it the first post in my Ethical Fashion Essentials series in which I try and find some workable ethical and sustainable alternatives to some wardrobe essentials. I can’t promise to find all of the answers but I am going to try my best!

Sternlein Organic Opaque Tights – £24 at Fashion Conscience

These tights are available in black, burgundy, grey blue and navy (although black is currently out of stock). They are made in Germany from 93% organic cotton. Features include fitted feet, flat seams, square back panel and knitted waistband for comfort.

Monsoon Tights – from £5

Monsoon have a fantastic selection of very afforable tights including these 80 denier magenta ones and some thicker options too. Whilst they are not actually made from  a sustainable fabric, Monsoon does have some good ethics and was actually flagged as one of the most ethical retailers on the high street.

 Natural Collection Organic Cotton Tights from Ethical Superstore

I was quite excited by the option of striped tights in this range but if that is not your thing, they also have plain tights in 10 different colours. These tights are again made from 93% organic cotton in Germany. Each seam at the end of the toes is hand stitched to create as flat a seam as possible. Also they are currently reduced to £14.95 in the sale!

Oxfam – BNWT Tights

I have always considered wearing tights from a charity shop a definite no no. But I was amazed to discover that Oxfam has a great selection of new in their packet tights. I assume that these tights have been donated and so buying something that otherwise might be thrown away is a sustainable choice.Buying them will also help to support some of the very worthwhile work of Oxfam. Cancer Research also have a selection of BNWT tights in their online shop with prices starting a just over a pound!

Bamboozle Tights by Braintree Hemp at Amnesty International – £12.50

Bamboo is not only considered a sustainable fabric but it is also supersoft, warm but breathable and comfortable, the perfect choice for tights. These tights are made from bamboo, organic cotton and spandex and are available in purple and black. Again they have the added benefit that you are supporting a charity.

All in all I have been really pleasantly surprised by the choice and affordability of the tights that I found. Some where a little more expensive than I might usually buy but as they are really high quality, I wouldn’t mind paying a little extra for the luxury of comfort. I think with tights one of the best and easiest ways that you can be sustainable is by looking after them and making them last. All tights seem to contain a percentage of synthetic fibre so will not easily break down after use. For delicate tights I usually stuff mine inside a sock to wash them so that they don’t get pulls. Buying higher quality may also help them to last longer although this doesn’t always equate.

The one area that I couldn’t find a good ethical/ sustainable alternative was with pattened tights. I love wearing patterned tights and think they are a great way to make lots of different outfits with one dress or skirt. But Pretty Polly are an iconic British brand and still manufacture their tights in Britains largest textile manufacturing plant in the UK. For some supporting the UK economy and being sure of where they are made (in a factory governed my UK employment laws) kind of makes them ethical. Any how in the absence of an alternative, I would go with these for when I occasionally want to treat myself to a patterned pair of tights. They have an amazing selection which is available at My Tights including the very popular Henry Holland collection.

So what do you think? would you buy ethical tights?

With warmest wishes

Ceri x

ps this post does contain some affiliate links