Guest Post : Lauren Bravo on How to Break Up with Fast Fashion

We are delighted to be able to share with you a guest post from Lauren Bravo, author of How to Break Up with Fast Fashion, with her top 5 tips on how to break the habit. The book itself is full of ideas on how to help you shop more sustainably  - a  great read can't recommend enough! 

Lauren Bravo's top five tips for breaking up with fast fashion

1. Do your digital due diligence

The subliminal message to buy, buy, buy creeps into our daily lives all the time without us even noticing, so one of the first useful steps you can take to cutting ties with an unsustainable fashion habit is to unsubscribe from all those mailing lists and unfollow all those influencers that drive you to shop. Instead, fill your feeds with slow fashion advocates like @ajabarber, @EnBrogue, @citythrifter and @notbuyingnew, who all delight in re-wearing clothes again and again, showing off charity shop finds and championing small brands with integrity and longevity. Scrolling through their posts is genuinely soothing, and inspiring. Alternatively, following a lot of small, adorable dogs with Instagram accounts helps too. 

2. Take stock

I’m not about to insist that you get rid of 90% of your wardrobe and start from scratch – that would be pretty counterintuitive if you’re also trying to stop shopping – but it definitely helps to get all of your clothes out, and heap them into a pile on your bed. All of them. Yes, even those. Now take a few minutes to marvel at the sheer volume of clothes in your life. Take stock of just how many garments you own, and how every time you’ve sworn you have “nothing to wear”, the evidence to the contrary was right under your nose all along.

Then, start sorting. Go through every single item, look at it, try it on if you need to, and ask yourself how many times – be honest – you’ve worn it. And if the answer is “not many”, ask yourself why not? Think carefully about the reasons you’ve bought clothes and got bored of them, or left them in a crumpled ball on the floor of your wardrobe. Pay attention to quality, fit and fabric; maybe there are certain materials or shapes you just don’t feel good in, or items you buy for a life you don’t actually have? But likewise, you’ll probably rediscover clothes that are still perfectly nice and totally wearable, clothes you’d happily wear now – if only you hadn’t forgotten you owned them. Learn from all this (take actual notes if you have to), then sort everything out. Iron what needs ironing, mend what needs mending, and arrange your clothes as best you can in a way that makes it easy to see what you have. Because next up, we’re going shopping...  

3. Have a dress-up session your wardrobe. We’re shopping in your wardrobe. Take a spare evening and rediscover the joy of a good old-fashioned trying-on session. You might not done this since you were 15, but it’s a really good way to to get more from your wardrobe, and resist the siren call of the high street. Try clothes on in different combinations, pairing newer items with things you’ve had for ages. Experiment with styling tricks, like layering skirts over trousers, jumpers over shirts, and summery dresses over thermal turtlenecks. Experiment with accessories. Push yourself to go beyond the top 10% of your wardrobe and dig out older things too. You’ll be amazed how often you can scratch a trend itch with something you already own.  

4. Make New Rules

If you’re not going to stop shopping altogether, dressing more sustainably means scaling back and thinking really carefully about every purchase. And doing that is much easier if you set a few rules and guidelines to help you. 

One of my favourite is the #secondhandfirst rule – before buying anything new, ask yourself if really need to make a purchase, or if you could borrow it, thrift it or make it instead. A sustainable future will be much easier if we’re prepared to pool our collected resources and make our wardrobes open-source. Another great guideline is the #30Wears rule; ask yourself ‘will I wear this item at least 30 times?’ before you reach the till. And if the answer is no, don’t buy it. 

You could also try the #Iworeitagain challenge, re-wearing and styling up clothes on consecutive days to eke more life out of your wardrobe (according to WRAP, increasing the lifespan of a garment by just nine months can reduce its carbon footprint by as much as 30%). Then there’s Six Items or Less, Project 333 and all kinds of other challenges designed to help you refocus your relationship with your clothes, all with great online communities to cheer you and give you new ideas whenever the call to haul gets too much. 

5. Discover new brands to fall in love with

Congrats! You’re now on the rebound. And one of the nicest things about ending a toxic relationship with fast fashion is realising just how many gorgeous, kind and conscious brands are out there doing things differently. Romance them instead.

And I mean romance. Because we’re more likely to keep, wear, care for and maintain clothes if we have an emotional connection to them, it pays to do your research, take your time and find out the story behind each label. Fast fashion might have been a temporary thrill, but nothing beats the rush of telling where your clothes were made, and how, and who by. 

Remember that each time you shop, you’re casting a vote with your wallet, so take the time to find makers and garments that you really connect with, and are prepared to welcome into your wardrobe (and life) for the long-term. Think of it each purchase as somewhere between a pet and a house plant. Only buy when you’re ready to truly commit.