Buying secondhand is the most sustainable

I have been studying sustainable fashion for several years now. I'm always intrigued to learn about technological innovations that are allowing a very dirty industry to begin to clean up it's act. While textile recycling and garment upcycling are wonderful solutions to ensuring that clothing doesn't end up in landfills, it does nothing to address the problem of us simply making and buying too many clothes for the earth to support. 

My personal solution to addressing this dilemma is to buy second hand clothing 99% of the time. I've always enjoyed thrifting for the pure pleasure of unearthing a treasure in an unlikely place. In recent years, I've found it an incredibly practical solution to so many issues, both personal and global. 

I have reached a point in my life where I do not really need more clothing. My closet is fairly full and all of my basic attire needs are met. That does not mean that there are not times when I do not want a new piece. During those times I hit up one of my favorite thrift of vintage shops.

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“Nused” = New to me + Used and loved by someone else.

Buying secondhand clothing is far more economical than buying new clothing. I specifically shop for items that are made out of high quality natural fabrics such as silk and cashmere. Purchasing such items new would be completely out of my budget but even a relatively expensive vintage find is still affordable. I prefer to refer to the pieces as 'nused' since they are new to me.

I hear the question posed almost daily, "Why should we pay more for sustainable clothing?" or "How do you convince people to pay more?" Quite frankly, I think this question is silly. It is completely unnecessary to spend more money to embrace sustainability. In fact, it is the opposite. Embracing sustainability can save you a tremendous amount of money because buying secondhand clothing is by far the most sustainable approach (other than not buying clothing). 

I know that by purchasing items in thrift and vintage stores I am contributing to building a community of people who embrace clothing longevity (slow fashion) and am encouraging the practice to continue and grow. When clients or friends ask me where I found a specific piece and I let them in on the thrifting secret, I feel hopeful that I might begin to change some erroneous thoughts about what buying used clothing means.

I'll never forget shopping with an ex-boyfriend who was shocked that I wanted a pair of heels I found in a vintage store. I patiently explained to him a few simple facts. It is rare for me to find shoes (and clothing) in my size, that fit well, of a quality that I appreciate, in a secondhand store. When I do find them, and the price is right, I am likely to buy them as I acknowledge, "What are the chances?"

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By the time these shoes hit the shelf of this store, they have not been on anyone else's feet for quite some time (weeks, maybe months) so any chance that a stray bacteria or fungus is lingering is negligible. When you buy new clothing, approximately 20 - 50 sets of hands have handled it on it's journey from crop to textile mill to garment factory to shipping to retail (just as a simple model) so new clothes are DEFINITELY not clean when you purchase them. I will wash or dry clean all items before I put them on, regardless of where they are purchased. 

There exists in many communities a stigma linked to buying used, well anything really. Maybe that ex hailed from one of those communities but for me, looking at, embracing and occasionally bringing home a treasure that someone else has already found joy in is somehow comforting. There's someone in the world who shares similar taste with me, or at least they did at some point in their life. I'll most likely never know who they were but we have something linking us, the same way that I will with the next person who wears the things I donate, gift or sell when I have retired them from my collection. 

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I am a creative dresser, I always have been. In high school, my favorite accessories were a pair of scissors and fabric markers. I rarely follow trends and have always been and continue to be in love with fashion from the 50's and 70's. Shopping well curated vintage shops is a supreme joy for me because it allows me the opportunity to search for pieces that demonstrate my true style in a way that current designs don't seem to be able to. It also allows me to ensure that where ever I go, I'll never walk into a room where someone is wearing the same thing as me. 

I continue to be excited at the launch of new sustainable companies and fashion tech advances but I will always look to second hand fashion before any other sources for the most eco-friendly option. 

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5 ways to wear a button down shirt

A classic button down shirt is a wardrobe staple. Boyfriend style or fitted, it can be worn anywhere and styled to accommodate any personality.

1. Meghan - Understated and stylishly simple, pairing a button down with jeans or a simple trousers is a classic look that will always work. The recycled leather bag is a classic style that would be worn well with any look. Available from PaperThinks
 

2. J. Law - A little bit of boho flair makes this look charming and approachable. We recommend a fitted shirt with a  tuck or half tuck of the shirt to keep the volume slimmer. These wool culottes sold by Cooperativa are an easy item to style and make a good canvas to build a variety of looks.
 

3. Poppy - Bright contrasting colors are an immediate pick me up and attention-getter. 2forjoy has a selection of fantastic sustainable wardrobe building items including full skirts. 
 

4. Gal - A pencil skirt is another wardrobe staple and pairing these two basics with some metallic shoes and accessories elevates the look from basic to breathtaking. This Sseko cow horn bangle is a stylish decoration for the arm. 
 

5. Kristen - Earth tones and nature inspired accessories make are what make this look so down-to-earth, without sacrificing style. The suede skirt is by R. M. Williams, a specialty boot maker from Down Under. 

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5 ways to wear bright pants

Brightly coloured trousers are easy to work into a versatile wardrobe. Here are some fun ways to style them.  

1. Midwest  Comfortable and casual but still stylish. A sweatshirt can get dressed up with the right accessories. This Claire V. clutch is a perfect compliment. 

2. Southeast  I'm not normally a fan of printed t-shirts but an occasional positive message works for a busy day outfit. Recycled and recyclable vegan flats from Rothys add a little but of edge to this look.

3. Northeast   This FAIR+true blouse is a delightful take on a button down. It'll dress up any look.

4. Northwest   A open cardigan is a wardrobe staple that works as an added layer for any look. Matt&Nat's vegan bags are a classic accompaniment. 

5. Southeast  Easy, breezy, a white tunic top is another wardrobe staple that works with so many looks. A pair of long necklaces like these from Baroni designs put some polish on this casual ensemble.

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5 ways to wear a knit skirt

Knit skirt? Yes, please!

1. A Little Bit of Country A white t-shirt is always the answer, regardless of the question. Adding some ankle boots make for a casual look that is comfortable too. 

2. Japanoise  This kimono influenced jacket would look great over skirt. Add a belt and some knee high boots to up the wow factor. 

3. A Little Bit of Rock n'Roll  A shimmery blazer can work with a huge variety of looks, from a good pair of jeans to a tight knit skirt. The added sparkle means this look works just as well for the office as it does for a night out. 

4. Classic  Basic hues and clean lines don't need to be boring. Use some fum accessories to up the fun factor on basic pieces. 

5. EDM (Essential Design in Metallic)  All that glitters may not be gold but adding a little gold to your look can certainly make you look glorious. 

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Style Spotlight - Cooperativa

Luxurious and sustainable at the same time, these pieces from Cooperativa are flirty and fun. All of the items on their site are made by South American designers, many of whom are reviving or continuing traditional crafts and cultural aesthetics. 

We styled this look for a night out, combining pieces from 4 different designers that are available in the site. It was hard to choose from all of the many wonderful pieces so look for another set in the furture. 

Bustier SANDRA WEIL  Shorts KRIS GOYRI  Necklace by LUCCA LUC  Bracelet ISHI

Vegan leather boots BEAD AND REEL   Bag AMOUR VERT

5 ways to wear an off the shoulder top

Not sure what else to do with that top? Here are some ideas that will take you from end of summer into fall. 

1. North East

Perfect for those evenings on the East Coast beaches that are starting to cool off. Floaty culottes keep the summer feeling while a scarf add an extra layer of warmth and style. 

2. Pacific Northwest

A great look for going from the coffee shop to the farmer's market. 

3. SoCali

Summery shorts are a great match for this top, especially when paired with some glittering accessories that help you express your inner diva. 

4. South of the Border

No better way yo keep those summer feelings flowing than to embrace colour, and lots of it!

5. Midwest

Simple but not boring, this look includes a collection of some staple pieces that will be a slow-fashion closet's best friends. 


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Style Spotlight - Fairly Fabulous

This stunning dress by TAIBOBACAR is an alluring combination of print and detailed lace. We styled is in two ways demonstrating how the dress can be a versatile addition to a work or socializing wardrobe.

The dress is available on Onychek.com. We were excited to find this well-curated site that sells luxury fashion from African designers and producers with a mission to promote craftsmanship, preserve culture, and positively impact makers in Africa. 

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5 ways to wear a printed skirt

Every week, ToLoveStyle brings you style inspiration on how to wear wardrobe basics. We believe that versatility is the key to a functional, healthy, sustainable wardrobe. We hope the 5 ways to wear series can help inspire new combinations. As a subscription service, TLS will create personalized looks for you with the clothes that are already in your closet. 

1. Matchy-Matcy It is never the wrong answer to pair matching separates. It looks sophisticated, coordinated, and totally boss. Just make sure not to let the accessories get too busy. 

2. Simplicity Rules A simple white shirt should be the staple of every wardrobe. Dressing it up with glimmering bright compliments elevates the look from 'Plain Jane' to 'Doin' It Diva'.

3. Pretty Preppy A color block cardigan will always give off a little NE vibe but partnered with a printed skirt, it tells an entirely different story. 

4. Colder Shoulder The trend doesn't seem to be going any where so why not liven it up with some creative colour? 

5. Regal Ruffles When this look walks into any room, everyone will be ready to pay close attention to the goddess drifting into their vision. 


Looking for some personal recommendations on how to squeeze more style out of your current clothing collection? Send us a message and we will be elated to let you know more about our virtual personal styling subscription service.

5 ways to wear a summer print

1. The Isolde - Colourful, functional, and fun. This look combines contrasting colours to make a flirtatious ensemble that works well for a desk to dinner look. 

2. The Calliope - Feminine, classic, and versatile. Adding neutral accessories keeps the dress the main focal point of the look, whether you are wearing it to a party, date or just for shopping. 

3. TheJuno - Layered, bold, and unconventional. That old rule that you can't belt a sweater, that one is out. Throw on a cardigan, add a belt or sash for silhouette enhancing and sashay your way through the day. 

4. The Oya - Simple, easy, and practical. On a hot summer day, nothing could be easier than throwing on a dress and very little else. 

5. The Lorelei - Unpredictable, original, and fetching. A short dress over jeans is a great way to transition the pieces when the temperatures fall. 

Versatility = Slow Fashion

We find the key to embracing a slow fashion lifestyle is to look for key pieces that are highly versatile and can be used in multiple ways like this garment from Siizu. The soft navy linen works well through multiple seasons whether is is worn as a dress or a jacket. 

Sustainable accessories from:

Rothy's         No. 13 London      AmourVert    Modavanti    Angela Roi

Clothing as works of art

When I was a teenager, my mother would bring me on an occasional weekend shopping spree to New York City. I loved those trips for so many reasons including getting some mother-daughter bonding time. My mother is a fabulously stylish woman and both of us have always thoroughly enjoyed shopping together. 

 

Two distinct memories of those experiences stand out in my mind. We spent hours digging through selections in vintage shops and finding amazing treasures from eras long gone. I’m sure that it is where I learned to shop skillfully, even in a store that is a disorganized mess.

The other memory etched in my brain is a place that was completely magical in my adolescent mind. A store (now disappeared) in Soho called La Rue des Reves. Inside those mystical walls, there was not only an entire menagerie but a collection of clothing that was aptly described as 'wearable art'. It may have been in that store and indeed on those trips that I began my love of "otherness" in style. The concept of clothing not merely as a necessity but as a form of personal expression, of creativity, of limited edition works of art.

Jumping into the present, I now reside in NYC. The same streets of Soho are lined with fast fashion retailers who have extra-large square footage and an incredible volume in sales each day. I have wandered through them and I'll admit that I have experienced that moment of joy when I found a steal in the discount section. But the older I get, the more I find myself resenting what I feel are edicts coming down to me from the fashion deities upon high; telling me what colours I should be wearing in a given season, how padded my shoulders should be. After completing image consulting training and learning even more about what truly suits me, I realize that my desire to look stylish in no way is related to my non-existent desire to be on-trend or 'fashionable'.

My particular mix of style encompasses vintage looks, even when they are not the current trend. Every few seasons a colour or silhouette is pronounced as "it" that I already love and when that happens, I get to be fashionable. But on the flip side, more seasons than not, the current colours don't work for my skin tone, or the cuts that are being shoved at us just aren't flattering or comfortable for me. Then I have no choice but to ignore what is fashionable, in favor of actually looking good (i.e. stylish) and feeling comfortable in what I am wearing.

Since making that realization in my early 20's, I've began to look at my collection of clothing, shoes, and accessories in a different way. I've learned to see them as a large body of art I have been gathering from all corners of the earth. I am fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you see it) to have amassed a rather large collection of wearable art. At this point it is even more important than ever for me to curate that collection carefully, the same way that one would with a visual art collection. A true collector would not buy a piece of art simply because they found it in a basement at a discount sale. It would have to be from an artist they were familiar with, an era they appreciated, and would need to be able to fit seamlessly into their current collection. If it met all of those requirements and was also deeply discounted, then that would be a true bargain. But investing any amount of money on a piece that is damaged, doesn't fit into the available space, or that you knew that you would get tired of looking at in a short period of time is just a waste. So why then do so many of us treat our wardrobes that way? We buy things we don't love, will only wear a few times, and then discard them. Meanwhile both our wallets and the earth are paying the price for our need to constantly change for fashion, instead of embracing our unique personal style. 

I've purged my closet of items bought in haste and I've embraced the slow fashion challenge of making sure that I only add pieces I will be sure to love well into the future and will last the test of time because they are made to last. I take the time to repair and refresh items when they need it. And I have never found it easier to get dressed because everything I have goes together and is something I am always happy to put on. 

 

 

5 ways to wear B&W

1.  50/50 Print

Black and White doesn't need to mean basic. Simple prints work well to add some spice to a wardrobe.

2.  Mostly white

Forget about the LBD, a LWD is equally functional and looks great as the base for a B&W ensemble.

3.  Stripes

Classic and always in style, simple stripes are a staple for adding a little visual interest into a look.

4.  80/20 Print

Instead of all black, a splash of a white infuses a bit of freshness into the look.

5. Mostly black

Pairing a black outfit with white accents makes the accessories pop even more.