When you see a title that says you should wear clothes that matter, what does that mean for you?
Let me share in a few short sentences, what that means to me.
Wear pre-loved clothing: This matters to me because I feel that even though I’m being ‘fashionable’, I’m helping to keep clothes from landfill for longer. This is important to me.
Repeat outfits: You can only repeat an outfit if you love it. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of what you buy. Only bring clothing into your closet that you really love, will rewear and that bring you joy.
Know your style: When you know what your style is, you won’t be lured by the trends. If you’re sure of your style, you’ll purchase clothing that matters to you, and that will be part of your wardrobe for the long haul.
Purchase quality of quantity: When you decide what truly matters to the environment, and purchase with awareness, you will choose clothing made from more sustainable fabrics. This may influence your budget, but instead of buying many ‘cheap’ items, you can decide to bring in one or two quality items into your closet.
Take special care of your garments: In order to get extended wear from your items, it’s important to care for them well. If clothing matters to you, you will take the time to read the Care Labels before just throwing everything into the same wash cycle.
I am aware that as I persist along this Slow Fashion journey, I will become ever more mindful, and act, using wiser practices regarding my clothing spend. I am aware that this is only the beginning. There is so much more that we as a society can learn about being more ethical in our purchases, being more sustainable with our wardrobes, and being more deliberate in general. Maya Angelou said that we should, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
A simple white tee, and a pair of white skinny jeans as a base for a cooler, autumn day, are perfect. I know that at this time, we are not moving beyond our front doors, but just imagine you had a quick meeting with a client. The easiest thing to do would be to add a blazer. Obviously, finishing off the outfit with the right accessories and correct pair of shoes, makes all the difference.
So let’s take a closer look at these two outfits.
This gives the simple outfit an instant lift. The jeans are slightly cropped so the heels give the otherwise casual look, a more polished edge. The shorter length blazer works with the cropped jeans and I’ve given the tee a full tuck so it doesn’t peak out the bottom of the blazer. This helps to keep the outfit polished and business-like. Add to that a pair of silver hoops and a couple of rings, and you’re good to go. I didn’t bother with bracelets as you won’t see them and I left off the necklace because I buttoned up the blazer for a more serious look.
In this second look, I did a French tuck with the tee, so although it is a little messier than the first, it lends itself more to the overall casual vibe of this outfit. I added a pair of sneakers. They can always work as long as they are not scuffed or dirty. I’m wearing the same hoops and rings, but added a necklace as this blazer doesn’t have a collar, so feels a bit less fussy.
Depending on the meeting you’re having, and which client you’re going to see, both these looks will work. They both look more elevated because of the addition of the blazer. It’s quite remarkable what a difference a blazer makes to an outfit – and it’s so quick and easy to change things up by adding one. Honestly, you could have endless options here depending on the style you were going for. A simple, classic white tee and jeans, works perfectly as a base for any blazer look.
Consumers, now more than ever, are curious about where their clothes come from and how they are made. We feel let down by the fast fashion industry. Inexpensive, mass produced and marketed fashion trends are contributing massively to the decline of our climate. The slow fashion movement attempts to be the cure. A sustainable fashion item is made in an environmentally friendly, ethical manner. From the initial low/no waste design, using sustainable sourced raw materials, ethical manufacturing processes, to green distribution. More and more fashion brands are aligning themselves with this sustainable supply chain.
Me & B is such a brand. This is a South African brand founded by a mother and daughter team. As a brand they support sustainable practices and fair trade. They aim to create timeless pieces that will appeal to all shapes and sizes. Their website states: fashion has no size (everything available from size 32 to 44). The feel of the brand is urban African.
I like the simple lines and statement patterns. I like the contemporary feel and the idea that I won’t be sharing the same style with thousands of other women. I like the feminine quality of the designs. But most of all I like that Me & B is a local, slow fashion brand.
I’m planning ahead. Thinking about what I could wear when (if) my husband takes me out for our wedding anniversary. We usually just hug, kiss and tell each other how grateful we are that the other person was able to stick it out. This year we both changed the way we think about celebrating each other. Well, I hope he feels the same.
I shopped my closet for the three date night/wedding anniversary outfits. I don’t have loads of clothes and re-wear regularly. I do have a list of clothes and shoes that I need, but didn’t buy anything for these looks. I did find out that I need a pair of nude heels (see look 3). This will go on the list. I went for romantic, classic and more formal looks. To cover all the bases.
The first outfit is all about romance. Flowy dress and floral print. The wrap top is a favourite of mine and is just enough for a cooler day or evening. The hoop earrings add a whimsical feel to this look. I just love my necklace and the layers emphasise the romantic idea. This outfit is appropriate for almost any setting. From a coffee shop to a decent restaurant. My husband likes to be informal, so this is a good option to keep in mind.
This is a more classic, monochromatic look. I like the white trim around the neckline and sleeves. I feel it makes the outfit less serious. Because of the trim, I didn’t add a necklace. I do love the rectangular shapes in the bracelet and also my square earrings. They go beautifully with this classic look. My husband gave me the earrings a few Christmases ago. Maybe that is a good sign.
Lastly – the formal look. My mom made me this dress more than twenty years ago for a friend’s wedding. I very rarely wear this dress, but it could be time to take it out of the closet. I just had to pair this outfit with pearls and gold. My only regret is that I don’t have shoes that go with this outfit. This will go on my shop list. I do love this dress and will really like to wear it. I’m hoping for a fancy night out.
Now we just have to wait and see which outfit I will be wearing for our anniversary date. And I’ve decided to ask him out – maybe he wants to be asked for a change. This means I have to think of something to do. Something special and thoughtful. Any ideas?
Have you ever uttered the words, “I have nothing to wear”? I know I used to say this often. I believe I was suffering from ‘closet overwhelm.’ You could be too.
What do I mean by this phrase? It’s the feeling I describe when you open up your closet doors, and there’s just too much stuff. Making a decision, when one is spoiled for choice, is overwhelming. My granddaughter is now 3 years old. If I open up her closet and ask her to select her outfit for the day, she wants to wear everything, and eventually she ends up in a melt-down because, well, that’s just not possible. I have learned to take out 3 outfits, and ask her which one she’d like to wear, and this always works better. She might um and ah for a few seconds, but with her limited choices, the decision is simplified. It works the same way with us!
Marie Kondo has become the Queen of de-cluttering and organisation. She recommends taking everything out of your closet and placing it on your bed so you can see what you have. Often, when we see how much ‘stuff’ we have, we’re overcome with feelings of hopelessness and repulsion. It’s from this place of utter disgust, that we can move more freely, to a place that better serves us. Today though, I’m sharing my own process and not Marie Kondo’s. There might be similarities, but this is what I feel works for me, and hopefully, there’s some practical and prudent nuggets you can glean from me.
My process involves working through my closet, one item at a time. I don’t take everything out. Although I believe this is hugely beneficial, I have, over the past year already streamlined my closet quite a bit, to be able to work one item at a time. As I hold each item in my hands, I picture what outfits I can create using that one piece. I need to have at least three visual pictures. I also make sure the item still fits me. Depending on when you last wore it, you will know without trying it on, if this is so. If it’s an item you haven’t worn in longer than a year, place it on a pile on your bed.
I systematically work through each item. The ones that immediately go back into my closet, are those I love and know I currently wear and enjoy. So I then move on to the pile on my bed. The first thing I do is try each item on individually. If it doesn’t fit, it goes onto a pile on my floor. I don’t keep things that I might wear if I lose weight. However, I do make exceptions if I know I can easily alter the garment. A case in point is a pair of jeans that I loved, but didn’t end up wearing because the waist was too loose on me. I’d seen a hack on YouTube, and decided to try it out on my jeans. What did I have to lose? If it didn’t work, I would have in any case, donated the jeans. It worked, and that pair has become one of my favourites.
Next, I decide one by one, working through the clothing that fits me, whether it actually flatters me, fits into my style or is in good condition still. Clothing that needs mending but still looks great on me, I put in a pile to mend. If I haven’t mended them within a week of sorting out my closet, I either make them into rags or donate them to goodwill. I do not keep things around that add clutter to my home. If it fits me, works with my overall style, and is something I can see myself wearing to create at least three other outfits, I place it back in my closet.
This is a process I repeat on a three monthly basis. My aim is to eventually have far less than what I currently have. Although I’ve bought so much up until last year when my Slow Fashion journey began, the pieces I did buy, were good quality, so I have no fear that my items won’t last. The greater question in my process, has been, “Is this really my style?”
My ultimate goal is to have a closet that is pleasing to the eye when I open it. I want my closet to resemble a beautiful store that I love and enjoy being in. That way, getting dressed everyday will become an even more enjoyable experience. Currently, I have only pieces that fit with my current style – or so I’m telling myself, but I am becoming aware that this is fluid. I know my style, and wearing clothes that don’t fit it, makes me feel like I’m playing dress-up. That might be your thing, and I’m not knocking that, but my style is very classic and understated, with a heavy emphasis on ‘casual.’ If my clothing feels too colourful, too dressy or too overdone, I don’t feel comfortable in it. Comfort for me, doesn’t come so much from the choice of fabric, but from the style of my clothing.
I hope this has been helpful to you. We will all process de-cluttering our closets from different angles, but there are some steps that can be helpful to each of us. By addressing some of them here, I trust you too, will be able to apply a process to your own closet, that will help you de-clutter with ease.
The focus on cheap, but trendy catwalk inspired clothing has given fashion a bad reputation. Not only is the fast fashion industry wasteful and unsustainable, but they also have us all wearing the same clothes and accessories – having the same look.
To express your own unique style has become a conundrum. Belinda and I trawl online, vintage stores and also have our own pre-loved clothing store: https://www.instagram.com/belle_whimsyclothing/ We want to mix our vintage finds with good quality basics. We are done with buying clothes that wash out of shape too easily and accessories that fall apart after just one or two uses. At this stage of our fashion journey we are ready to wear clothes and have accessories from good quality, local, slow-fashion brands that only manufacture a limited amount of the same item. Clothes and accessories that are classically timeless and can be worn for many years.
Fortunately for us, slow fashion is now a thing. Clothes created in an environmentally and ethically friendly way. There is something exceptional about wearing a clothing or accessory item that is made from 100% natural fibers, or recycled materials and is hand stitched. We are lucky enough to have a bunch of slow fashion brands in South Africa. The Joinery is such a brand.
If, like us, you are looking for sustainable accessories with timeless design, The Joinery is a great slow fashion option. Their vision is one of social and economic empowerment. In their own words, they “design to make a difference to people and the planet”.
The Joinery’s “My Office” range is made from recycled plastic bottles, handmade in South Africa by local artisans. This includes accessories such as laptop bags, iPad covers and tote bags that fit universal laptops.
The Joinery manufactures tote bags from recycled bottles collected from bottles destined for landfill. Vegetable tanned leather handles, finishes these bags off beautifully.
The Joinery is just one of many local, sustainable fashion brands. We hope that we will see even more inspiring slow fashion brands in South Africa.
When you decide to go on a slow fashion journey, one of the problems you may encounter is less clothes. Some slow fashion fashionistas started off with an extensive wardrobe, so when buying less, it doesn’t have that big an impact on variety in their styling lives. This is not my situation.
I didn’t lack clothing, but I had a lot of gifted clothes that wasn’t really my style. My journey with fashion led me to find my personal, authentic style and I decided to be true to myself. Now I have items in my closet that I wear regularly and that I feel comfortable in. The challenge is to wear the items I have in as many ways as possible.
That brings me to the main reason for this post. Can you wear a white summer dress into autumn and maybe even in our mild South African winters? Well, I’ve decided to give it a try.
I love wearing my white maxi dress in summer. It suits my personality and with or without a belt, I always feel comfortable. The fabric is very light and a bit shiny. I don’t know what it is, but it is definitely not made from natural fibers. I can justify buying it, because it is a thrifted treasure and I possibly rescued it from a landfill.
Firstly I tried something different. Last week I styled a wrap top back to front and it worked really well. I wanted to do the same with a buttoned cardigan and I also layered it underneath my dress and not over, as one would usually do. I just added a simple necklace which gave a boho feel to the outfit. I would usually belt this dress, but with the necklace it looked nicer without a belt.
For the next look I kept the cardigan under the dress and added a white button down for an extra layer. I’m wearing the cardigan the right way around and added a vintage, grey leather belt for definition. I am not so sure about the white button down. Maybe another long cardigan on top would look better – next time.
For my last, and least favourite look, I layered the white button down shirt underneath the dress and the cardigan over the dress. I think the cardigan is too low cut in the front to pull this look off. If I added a scarf or necklace, it would have broken all that white space. Almost there, but not quite. I like the idea of this look enough to try it again with another cardigan soon.
I will also try a few winter looks with this dress later in the season. I can add a jacket, scarf and cute boots. I would also wear leggings under my dress for warmth.
I have to be way more creative with my clothes now that I have so much less. I hope we can all learn from my experiments and keep going on our slow fashion journey.