Steps To Authentic Style for Conscious Consumers
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I have to admit something to you all:
I have been bored – like falling asleep bored – with my wardrobe for the past year.
This may sound harsh or unfair or privileged, and it probably is. After all, I am a fashion blogger, which means I get free clothes and accessories and “everything I could ever want” for free (that’s in quotes because it’s what my husband tells me).
But the thing about fashion blogging is that a lot of the things you get for free, particularly when you’re just so happy to be working with brands at all, are not precisely what you would have picked out for yourself. I’m being honest when I tell you that everything I’ve reviewed in the last couple of years is something I like and would wear.
I mean, I DO wear them. But receiving some of these things for free has meant that I haven’t been able to shop like a normal person does – it means that I’ve restricted myself to certain brands and certain styles in a way that’s shrunk a bit of the creativity that initially delighted me about pursuing personal style.
Reclaiming Personal Style
It means, in some ways, that my style has become a bit less personal.
And I don’t like that feeling. I am a firm believer that fashion should be fun and that it can be a healthy extension of our identities. Of course, that can go too far, especially when the only way we can think of to have fun is to buy into fast fashion culture.
But even in the wake of new and exciting ethical brands cropping up everywhere, conscious consumerism can come off as a bit too restrictive in terms of style. Pair that with growing concerns that companies are not as ethical as they seem and it’s a recipe for wardrobe burnout.
So I’ve been pondering how to keep the “personal” in personal style when seemingly everyone in this niche has boiled down their wardrobe to a handful of Everlane and a sprinkling of Nisolo and a dash of Reformation. I mean, I like those brands, but how do I add one last splash of Leah into the mix?
For me, it’s been about this:
Just go for it!
Instead of buying two Everlane sweaters, save up for the kooky one from Solo Six.
And by all means, wear what you’re attracted to regardless of trends. I used to be worried that people would judge me for the weirder things I wear, but I’ve found that (almost) everyone is attracted to gutsiness and authenticity. When you’re revealing who you are – whether through your clothes or your personality – every day can feel meaningful.
My Tips for Sustainable, Personal Style:
- Create a moodboard or Pinterest board: with personal style notes, preferred styles, and specific products. See mine for Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter.
- Fill out your wardrobe with thrifted, vintage, and higher priced pieces that speak to who you are instead of what is in. I’ve been finding great vintage pieces at swap.com, ebay, and local thrift shops.
- Turn to Everlane and other basics brands for the foundation of your wardrobe, not the special pieces.
- Consider your lifestyle, fabric preferences, and real closet needs before making a purchase.
- Spend a little here so you can spend a lot there: set overarching budgets, not piece by piece ones.
- Remember that classics are only classics if you’ll wear them.
For myself, I’ve committed to producing fewer brand spotlight posts per month in order to give myself more flexibility when it comes to my closet. 2017 taught me a lot about what I want and how to work most effectively with brands and I can already see the fruit of that education. I’m ready to quit it with the bandwagoning and the keeping up with the Joneses and just do what I want.
It is possible to shop sustainably and stay true to you. In fact, the ONLY way to shop sustainably is to stay true to you. Otherwise, you’re adding needless filler to your wardrobe that you’ll inevitably get rid of when the next season comes around.
Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.