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The Sustainable Style Series: Alexandra Dudley

In the first of our Sustainable Style Series, we caught up with lovely Alexandra Dudley, writer and dinner party host extraordinaire. Alexandra puts sustainability at the heart of her delicious food and has an eye for ethical fashion to boot. Read on for why you shouldn't be trimming your veg and her style secrets.

Why is sustainability so important to you? Where did it all begin?
It's a buzz word these days but I think really it's very simple. Try to make things last, know where they came from and try to make as little a negative impact on the planet as you can. For me, it definitely started in the kitchen. I was brought up in a household where we were taught never to throw anything away and it stayed with me. Food waste was something I was always adamant to avoid and I was always encouraging friends to keep hold of their broccoli stalks, beet tops and cauliflower leaves. Over time it filtered through into other areas of my life and I started paying more attention to where my clothes, household products and makeup came from. I've always been a fan of vintage clothes and organic food but I took it one step further. 

What are your top tips for becoming a more sustainable cook?
Stop trimming veg! We spend enough time plucking, waxing and perfecting ourselves. Vegetables, like us, are unique. There is no need to trim them excessively. Often the knobbly or gnarly bits are the tastiest. The stalky end of the courgette, for example, is absolutely delicious when roasted. In my house its the bit that everyone wants. 

What is your go-to dish for Autumn?
Anything with squash; acorn squash, butternut and onion squash are my favourite. I love to use nuts in lots of dishes during autumn too. It adds a lovely rich indulgence and a good crunch.

What is your one top tip for a dinner party?
My top tip for hosting a dinner party would be to always make sure your guests have something to eat and drink as soon as they come through the door. it can be as simple as crisps or nuts but it's nice to do a bit of a canapé. I love to make a simple pesto with a twist. Something like cashew and tarragon or walnut and sage. Spoon a little on some broken crackers or toasted sourdough and sprinkle with pine nuts and lemon zest. Very simple but delicious and it just takes it to a step above having your friends over round for supper to a dinner party! It's really the little things that make the difference.

Can you describe your personal style?
I'd say my style is varied. I love to wear statement pieces and buy a lot of vintage. I love anything flowery or velvet but during the day my style is more basic. At the moment I am living in a brown corduroy skirt and a grey roll neck cashmere jumper. Tights and boots and I am good to go.

How do you incorporate your passion for sustainability into your wardrobe?
These days I avoid the high street pretty much entirely. If I do shop on the high street it is only if I absolutely fall in something. I bought a Kooples dress a few years ago and love it. Otherwise, I try to stick to vintage, second hand and ethically sourced brands. I love Justine Tabak who makes the most beautiful dresses from of cuts of fabric and I have a few bits from The Acey I couldn’t live without. 

What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
Probably a ruby red velvet jumpsuit I've had for years. It makes me feel fabulous every time I put it on and it has very well cut sleeves that are almost pinned at the shoulder and then open so you can wear it in the summer too. Then Ive got another velvet dress which is an electric blue. It is vintage 80’s and has killer shoulders. Recently I invested in a ZAZI Vintage coat. It’s bold, bright and brilliant. Very seventies. There is a wonderful story behind the creation of it too.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
Life! I’ve always been someone who sets goals so have always found a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I am an early riser and get up around 6.00am. I've worked for myself most of my life so have never had anyone to tell me where to be or when to be there. Self-motivation has thankfully, always come with ease to me. I tend to be most productive in the morning and have always been a believer that ’the early bird catches the worm’. 

How do you relax and switch off?
Shamefully I’ll admit that a bit of Netflix usually does the trick. I love shows that are set before our time like Victoria, The Crown and Madmen but I’ve been reading daily recently too which I am enjoying immensely. It’s good to get away from the screen. On the weekends I often leave my phone off and always try and get a big walk in. Usually on the heath. 

Has to be done - top 5 dinner party guests, dead or alive?
Oh gosh, it changes every day. I love this question as its one I ask on my podcast ‘Come For Supper’. At the moment it's probably Stevie Nicks (I love her), David Bowie, Nora Ephron, Nigella Lawson and Paolo Nutini. 

Finally, top picks for the G&S site right now?
The Oudi Maxi dress by Rakha, Veja Esplars and Linen Jumpsuit by Veryan.
Alexandra's book, Land & Sea is out now full of beautiful, sustainable recipes. Find out more.