Finding the fun in planet-friendly fashion

I don't know about you but with little socializing this Christmas I am guessing glamorous party wear might not top of your list of things to organize? I am giving the sequins a miss this year and for my bubble I look forward to slipping into some tried and tested velvet - always so cozy and yet luxurious. Instead of looking at the usual sparkle, I have been delving further into one of my core values: sustainability.Do I hear you groan?  Yes, it does sound so very serious and the antithesis of fun, doesn't it?  Believe me, though, there are many ways we can enjoy the lift and delight something new gives us without plundering the planet.

The acceleration towards more sustainable fashion is exciting and I believe it has a head of steam now. There is still a long way to go but many innovative brands have popped up – more anon.  For me, part of sustainability is caring about the conditions granted to those who make our clothes.  The recent horror stories of forced labour in the Ralph Lauren factory and of Uighur Muslim workers in China featured in The Guardian do not make for easy reading.  As the daughter of a needlework teacher and someone who grew up making my own clothes, I appreciate what goes into garment manufacture  and I want those making mine (if I am buying new) to be paid properly.

So what can we do and how can we have FUN?

Shop your wardrobe. In my experience of doing wardrobe edits for clients, I have lost count of the number of times when, although the pile of discarded clothes on the bed grows ever higher, there will be one or two gems lurking unnoticed. The forgotten dress, shirt or skirt turns out to be perfect and the client just needs maybe different shoes, new accessories – some hitherto unimagined way of creating an outfit and the forgotten garment becomes a new favourite. 

*  Pick a long unworn garment or accessory from the likely 80% of long unworn items in your wardrobe and build an outfit around it.

Buy Vintage or Second Hand.  When does second hand become Vintage?  After 20 years apparently.  Explore Charity Shops, Dress Agencies, Ebay; even the vintage rails of Liberty or Selfridges.  I have so often found designer items which I would never otherwise have afforded and have enjoyed the added bonus of finding a perfect bargain e.g. the red sweater from Hobbs via Mary's Living and Giving (see below) 

*The best charity shops are in posh areas so once lockdown is over there is a good reason to go on an outing somewhere expensive!


Giving I was moved and delighted to receive, out of the blue, the red necklace you see. The lovely lady who sent it to me was having a clear out and realised it wasn’t right for her.  She thought rightly that it was in my colour palette so it has found a good home and will be worn and enjoyed frequently - with the added delightful dimension of it being a surprise gift. 

*Maybe you have a neglected something in your wardrobe which doesn't work for you but which would be perfect for a friend?

Rent This is not something I have done personally but would definitely consider for a special occasion. Some rental companies operate a monthly subscription but for single rentals Rotaro come out top in a survey by The Independent. The company also supports climate projects so you can feel super-virtuous with your glamorous rental!

“Buy less, buy better and really wear it” Michael Bastian. This is becoming quite a mantra and I am a fan.  Value beautiful fabric and good workmanship and you will want to wear the item again and again because you paid a lot and you feel.... er.... worth it!  

Checkout how sustainable a brand really is. I have just discovered a new app:  Good on You.  Not all brands are listed but many are and e.g. for a high street brand it is good to see H & M getting more stars.

All the above will be so much more successful if you know your colour palette and style personality – the keys to being sure of what will work and how you can look and feel fabulous.  Just saying!  

I promised you some sustainable brands.  Here are six I like:

  1. Finisterre for casual and outdoor wear and men! 
  2. Seasalt Cornwall – colourful, comfortable clothes in natural fabrics.  Also cater for petites 
  3. The Jewelled Buddha for beautiful, handwoven wraps and accessories. I met this brand at the sustainable fashion show last year and am delighted with my wrap (image below).
  4.  Grizas An unlikely name but some lovely, comfortable, flowing pieces which you can dress up or down, especially for size 12+  
  5. Wolf and Badger is an umbrella company for many brands to a greater or lesser degree ethical so clothes and accessories in a wide variety of styles.
  6. And if you fancy dressing up for Christmas anyway, try Mother Of Pearl  for exotic (and pricey!) party dresses.

These are just a few so if there are sustainable fashion brands you like I would love to hear from you.  Please post in the comments or send me an email:

 Jewelled Buddha Wrap.