Conscious Fashion – How to Apply the Concept Without Looking Dowdy
A couple of days ago, one of my oldest friends, Manasi, who runs her own blog (https://manasichaudhariblog.wordpress.com/) that talks about marriage, gender issues, life experiences and travel with a female-centric approach, sent me a text saying that she wants to start blogging again and needs someone to co-motivate with. The only other thing that I lack in my life besides self-control is motivation, so I obviously agreed. Hence, here I am, over a year later, writing this blog on an Air India flight back home (only because it has the best salted peanuts), filled with highly audible fellow citizens and a few caucasians who think that the national costume of India is dhoti pants.
The content of this blog is something that I have been meaning to talk about for a really long time – Sustainable fashion. Honestly, I dislike the term sustainable. Not because it has no meaning but because its umbrella is so vast that it is easily manipulated and loosely used to make everything seem like a “sustainable” product. I still haven’t found a term that I love but for now, conscious fashion is slightly more precise where it indicates a state of mindfulness in production and consumption.
For years now, subconsciously or consciously, I’ve been very attentive to my fashion buying habits. It may stem from the fact that as kids, wasting was unacceptable at home. Be it food or clothes, we were never allowed to dump or even hoard. I was 5 years old when my family started the ritual of circulating clothes. My eldest (male) cousin, was bought an exceptional pair of jeans which was passed down to me and I passed it down to our youngest cousin. In my opinion, they were just trying to keep the wealth within the family like the Royals. To sum up, I’ve been raised on a ‘waste not-want not’ culture and it is something I am proud of. Even though it does not help me save money, owing to my gastronomic vices and a dying urge to have porcelain skin, clothing really isn’t something I crave to buy all the time.
My principle is simple – Don’t buy it if you don’t need it. Also that I’m mostly broke is motivation enough. We have to realise that when we buy cheap, someone else is paying a hefty price for the product- either the workers in India and Bangladesh that get paid less than half of what they deserve and occasionally take a beating from their managers for a lack of better managerial technique, or the environment that gets dumped with toxic waste while making cheap textile. I will not get into the depth of what goes behind the production of fashion as it is pretty depressing but I intend to summarise that in my next blog to give you a preview of what goes on within the industry.
It is NOT possible to be fully sustainable. There is always going to be an element that will deter the piece from falling into the 100% sustainable category but that does not mean we can’t try. To be honest, it is really not that difficult. Once you get into the loop, you will realise how much money you save without compromising on your style and way of life.
If you see my Instagram feed (@seersuckerovervelvet). I am usually wearing the same stuff over and over by just styling it differently. If you wish to make the a change and don’t know where to start, here are a few tips that will help you:
First things first, open up your wardrobe and pull down everything that you currently own. Either use the KonMari method, widely endorsed by Marie Kondo or your common sense, widely endorsed by God and get rid of whatever is a size too small or big, too damaged, too ugly, out of fashion or just something you haven’t worn or don’t intend to wear. Detach from what you own, use your brains, not your emotions.Once that is done, make 2 piles, one for charity and the other for friends and family. The latter pile can comprise of stuff that you love but are hesitant to part with. Expensive stuff that you don’t wear goes in this pile too. Now give away all of this with a lot of joy. Do not regret it. Once you’ve de-cluttered, your wardrobe will be so much cleaner and ironically you will have much more to wear.After this, make a list of what you lack that will complete your wardrobe.
This is the best advice my mom has ever given me! She insists on buying natural fabrics and their blends like cotton, silk and wool. Try your best to avoid synthetic textiles and their blends. Polyester fabrics are the worst! First off, they’re made of petroleum derivatives which we all know is the most polluting industry in the world and after production, every single time they’re washed, they release microfibres that are technically plastic and get ingested by marine life, thus entering our food cycle.
I went to fashion school and I know the pressure a designer undergoes in order to conceive and implement an idea. If you can, you must try to invest your money in one-of-a-kind pieces that resonate with your style, made by independent designers that work their asses off. Find the ones that you like at exhibitions in your city or through your network of friends. Support the people you know. Do you realise that when you wear a unique piece, you’ll fetch way more compliments than something that you pulled out of a Zara rack? Since I live in Paris, I go to little independent boutiques in Le Marais and pick out cute printed blazers and jackets that I can team with a monochromatic outfit.
Styling for dummies says that you cannot go wrong with a basic black, off-white, navy, oxblood and beige. These are the only 5 shades you need for an Indian skin tone. Get your trousers, shirts and t-shirts in these colours. They go with literally everything! Black trouser? Oxblood shirt and vice versa. Find brands that make high quality, well-cut trousers and buy them in 4 different colours. Do the same for
t-shirts too! I swear by the trousers from United Colours of Benetton and their 100% Merino sweaters. They’re a bit pricey but last if you take care of them.
Build your wardrobe on these basics. Get some quirky summer jackets that will change the entire look of your outfit or invest in fun sneakers and stilettos that can transition you from day to night.
Recycle / Upcycle / Exchange:
Going back to the same principle of circulation, repair clothes that can be repaired, convert old jeans into beach shorts and exchange pieces you don’t wear with friends and family. Try not to waste what you have.
Invest in accessories:
Scarves, belts, shoes, bags, statement jewellery, et all. Accessories can make or break your look. You can throw on the ugliest t-shirt and tuck it into a well-fitted pair of jeans, some chunky earrings and a scarf and you’ll go from Plain Jane to Jane-iffer Aniston!
Two ways to style turtlenecks
Wash Less or Don’t Wash At All:
Maybe avoid this if you perspire a lot. You don’t want to lose your friends. There is no need to wash your clothes if you haven’t run a marathon in them or if you’re sitting in an air-conditioned room all day long. You cut the life of your piece by 15% every time you wash it.
Find your look:
I’ll give you an example- I love a good haircut and just doing my eyes. This is my look. Then I’ll wear it with business casuals or a body-con dress it doesn’t matter. Find a look that you like and make it your signature. Take into account Anna Wintour or even Karl Lagerfeld. Sunglasses and hair is their identity. Try creating a silhouette for yourself. Once you get into the habit, you’ll take less than 15 minutes to get ready (A little more if you shower)!
Just remember girls and boys, choose your clothes like you choose your partner- Quality over quantity.
If you have any more questions, feel free to comment here and I will answer them for you.