Lessons For Sustainable Style

This week I went back to school to give a talk to sixth form pupils about disposable fashion.

Typically, December is a quieter month for me, but it hasn’t worked out that way this year. I’ve found myself cramming to fit everything and everyone in, in a month when normally I am researching and writing. But it’s been lovely!

I gave a talk on Monday about disposable fashion to the sixth form at Ladies College here in Guernsey. A room full of fifty girls all dressed in their mandatory school uniforms but asking them to think about what they wear outside of school hours and there was giggles, gasps and solemn silences as I ran through my topic. At each talk I give, no matter who my audience is from business men and women, young entrepreneurs groups, corporate events, women’s groups or schools, there are always several ‘ah ha’ moments that stand out.

It does depend upon the orientation of my audience but it’s pretty much a given that they are unaware of just how damaging the fashion industry is to lives and the planet. Slowly but encouragingly the message is getting out there. The why. I focus on the how. Because, without a how, things can’t change quickly enough.

The three take big take always and reactions from the wonderful group of young women on Monday were:


1. I asked them to think about their favourite item of clothing and how long they had owned it. Only two hands were raised when it was a year or older. The vast majority raised their hands in response to their favourite item of clothing being between 2 months, 1 month and 1 week old. I roughly averaged it out at 6 weeks, which is exactly the same amount of time as a fast fashion trend lasts today. I believe this sample of fifty young women are not doing anything wrong by choosing to have a favourite item of clothing that is not older than six weeks. They are merely responding to the marketing machine dominating their existence. To buy, buy, buy. That myth has now been dispelled for them; that you are not fashionable or on trend if you do not consume. J


2. I touched on my topic of proportioning the clothes you own to what you do in your life. Attending school means they spend most time in their uniforms but outside of that, if they spend their evenings and weekends doing sport, a hobby, or hanging out with their friends, that’s what they should have clothes for. Having a huge collection of fun dresses and shoes to go out in when it is only once a month is unnecessary…seems many could relate to that one!


3. Then I talked about how we end up having so many clothes, because of both marketing and social media pressures. But what bought much acknowledgement and laughter was the fact that because they don’t know what they own or how to mix and match it when they get something new, as soon as they try it on at home, they then go buy something else to wear with it! Sound familiar?


So, to round up my musings this week, if you just can’t help yourself gifting someone an item of clothing this year or treating yourself, make sure it’s going to be loved and cherished and not just a six-week wonder. Maybe we could take some Christmas inspiration from Santa. He wears the same outfit every year and doesn’t even update his boots!! Ho ho ho.


Stylish Wishes




P.S. I promise I have only had coffee writing that last corny line and not started on the fizz early this Friday!