-written by Teja Arigela (@theclassywuman)
The term “Sustainability” is the buzzword in the fashion industry these days. The pressing climate emergency and rise in conscious consumerism is pushing brands to make sustainability, a business imperative. But unfortunately, increasing number of businesses are trying to cash on this movement and hoping onto the sustainability bandwagon regardless of their practices. Everything from a bobby pin to a runway dress is sold under the sustainable tag, making it an ambiguous term.
One easy approach to handle this growing greenwashing is by doing things the old-fashioned way. Our grandparents lived in an age when sustainability isn’t plain marketing jargon but a way of living. Fast fashion was nonexistent in those days. People used to purchase clothes from local shops and invested only in staples they needed. They took proper care of their clothes and mended them at the first sign of wear out. Now, if you are thinking that am plainly sprinkling superficial information that you already know, read further.
I jotted down few simple tips n tricks our yesteryear fashionistas followed to stay sustainably stylish.
Understanding personal style:
Our grandmothers did not have magazines, blogs or influencers to tell them whats in trend. Infact, they never followed trends. They relied on the knowledge of self. They knew what kind of outfits and fabrics flattered their bodies. Their wardrobes dominated with outfits that matched their lifestyle and everyday activities, meaning they did not make purchases under influence but with conscious thought.
With so much of fashion content being consumed via social media every second, it’s hard to step back n take stock of our personal style. A simple start in situations like these would be to start paying attention to the clothes you wear while making that quick trip to the grocery or while taking kids on a stroll. Those observations will reveal your basic style. This basic understanding will give you a canvas on which you can build your unique sense of style by trial and error.
Operating out of plan and budget:
Digitalization and brands that offer cheap clothes at lightning speed has eliminated the need for planning and budgeting. We wish something today and its available at our doorstep tomorrow. This is one of the main reasons for over consumption. We are falsely forced to believe that its ok not to put much thought and time in purchasing an outfit. We can try beating this thinking by recalling the shopping and spending habits of our parents and grandparents.
For ex: My grandmother saved money in different jars for different needs and held to it strictly. Not just that, her focus never drifted away from what she wanted to purchase. If she likes a particular saree or blouse, she will save-up for months and reserve that budget only to purchase that item but nothing else. This allowed her to add variety to her wardrobe instead of buying multiples of the same type or picking up random stuff.
Her another funny but powerful trick was to make friends with the local tailor. Mom often shared stories of grandma going in search of tailors and befriending them whenever they moved to a new place. This was her clever little hack to ensure that she and her three daughters stayed fashionable in a budget. Though this hack may not be practically possible for many of us, shopping from a small business pretty much does the job. Small businesses do made-to-order outfits and that’s a perfect counterfeit to mass producing fast fashion.
Investing in accessories:
While confidence is the brightest accessory we can wear, we cannot undermine the power of that one handbag or one pair of shoes that takes an outfit to a whole next level, and my grandmother rightly knew this decades ago. She used to skip clothing purchases to save for embroidered hand purses and beaded chains that complemented existing outfits in her wardrobe. Isn’t that a golden rule to have put together looks?
Even today, when she can afford them all, she follows the cost per wear principle and buys only whats needed for her meaningful, utilitarian wardrobe.
I am sure many of you will have such hand-me-down ideas from your grandparents that will help you lead a sustainable life. Please do comment and let us know.
Teja is a Clinical researcher by profession and an Entrepreneur by passion. After working in the health-tech sector for 6 long years, she took a break and started her own clothing label for the love of fashion. Her initial days of work in the field of fashion made her realize the negative impact of fast fashion on the planet. This pushed her to move towards slow fashion and advocate it at every possible chance. In her free time, Teja writes about sustainable living and conscious consumerism on her Instagram. On a relaxed, work free day, you will see her playing with her 5 year-old daughter. To know more about her, follow her work @theclassywuman