Buying more ethically and sustainably: my journey to cut down on high street fashion

Hi everyone! So if you’re new here I thought I better start this post of by explaining that recently (the last few months) I’ve really been trying hard to be more conscious with my fashion choices, with the aim of transitioning to buying almost exclusively second hand, vintage or ethical and sustainable clothing.

Since I’ve been a lover of vintage fashion from a young age this always felt like an achievable aim for me as I already knew my way around buying vintage clothing, as well as sourcing second hand clothing in general. I’ve even wrote a handy guide, which I’d recommend reading if you’re new to vintage or buying secondhand clothing online.

However, I also love new trends in fashion and unique and independent designers so I knew resisting the high street would be hard for me. Especially, since some of my favourite memories with friends have been shopping with them.

And that’s why I wanted to come on here and be honest about the struggles and slip-ups I’ve had, not only to try and re-commit myself but also to highlight that you don’t need to be perfect (and trust me I feel the pressure to get it 100% right).

Also, I may also want to get out a confession that I just bought a pair of new espadrilles because although I had tried looking for them second hand and for vintage ones I hadn’t found any as perfect. They were also that dreaded thing shops do to sucker you in … on sale.

So I caved and I bought them but only because I had wanted them for a long time (months, hence why they were on sale) and with a promise that I would wear them and could envision at least 5 different outfits (that I already owned) that they would go with. And I guess that is the message I’d like to spread, instead of making yourself feel guilty, make the most of your purchase (and make the most of your old high street purchases too).

Dress: Charity shop (from Monsoon originally)

Shoes: Warehouse x Shrimps

It’s not always possible due to different circumstances to buy new and as ethically as you possibly can (money, time and convenience are all valid factors) but try to reduce these events as much as possible. And when they do happen, make sure you wear the item till death (and then repair when possible). Digital Writer for Elle and vintage Instagram seller, Daisy Murray wrote a great Instagram post about how she thinks strategic high street buys can be still be a part of slow fashion, which I would seriously suggest checking out.

And if buying a particular item turns out to be a mistake and you can’t return it, sell it on Depop or on Ebay (donating to charity shops is also a good alternative for good quality items but a lot of items donated are sent overseas, so where possible try donating to friends as a better alternative instead). As much as I really try to consider my purchases now, I still make mistakes (especially with online vintage where you can’t try a piece on beforehand) and I really want to ensure I get better at making sure such pieces are being worn and loved so expect to see those pieces hit my Depop (@aprilrain3) shop more often.

Another example of something I bought new in the last few months is trousers for a job. I honestly tried looking for them on Ebay, Depop and charity shops (and succeeded at first because I thought I needed black trousers, turns out I needed a different colour) but was unsuccessful. So I got some on Asos instead because I’ll be honest it was convenient and both pairs were part of their eco-edit (to cut a long story short I got two different pairs of trousers because in the UK khaki means green but in the US it means beige, so when I saw khaki/ beige I thought I could mix it up a bit at work and have both but they just meant beige only, ha, ha) and they had a petite leg so I didn’t need to alter them.

Luckily, in this scenario I was able to donate the trousers I got to colleagues who needed them for work (and in the spirit of a full disclosure, I also got some back up pairs from other high street stores, when I realised I only had one pair of work trousers, which I also donated). I did not however donate the khaki pair (the pre mentioned green pair) but I found some ways to rock them with items I already owned and if I ever don’t have a place for them in my wardrobe anymore I will sell them (at the point I realised the error it was too late to return them).

Maison cleo blouse

Top: Maison Cleo

Trousers: Asos (Eco-edit)

Shoes: H & M

I also bought a few items while I was in China because honestly I didn’t realise how hot it was going to be and I was suffering so I bought some espadrille trainers (yes, I know I have a problem) which I wear all the time and love from H & M. Unfortunately, all the items I bought were from fast fashion sources because there were no vintage or second shops available where I was staying. However, all the items I did get are all items I see myself keeping for a long time but this is not something I want to repeat in the future and I know deep down that I did take advantage of the fact that I didn’t have other options a little bit to justify the items I did get.

On my blog, going forward if I’m wearing the item I will mention where they are from and link back to this post for explanation. Other than that if you see items that are from fast fashion brands it will say ‘old’ or ‘secondhand’ in brackets because it will be items I already own or purchased secondhand. On Instagram, I currently only tag brands that I like the ethics of and will explain the origins of any pieces I am wearing if asked.

Shirt: Stolen from Martin

Tank top: (old)

Trousers: No Me (bought in China)

Belt: Charity shop

Shoes: Vegan Dr Martens

Looking forward

Now I’ve got all my confessions out of the way I thought I better set out my path going forward and also just reiterate that I don’t feel guilty about fast fashion purchases I have bought in the past and love (I’ve got pieces I literally wear almost every day) and I am trying not to feel guilty for tripping up (as that will just make me want to give up completely). It’s going to be hard, and it can definitely be difficult on a budget, which is why in the future I definitely want to focus on some budget-friendly sustainable and ethical clothing posts, as well as trickier items (work out clothes and swimsuits for one).

As I’ve mentioned in this post, clothes shopping with a friends can be a challenge if you are trying not to buy new. Luckily, my friends let me drag them along to vintage shops and I also feel comfortable still going to high street stores with them. I’d rather help them to make a decision and buy a piece they really like and I generally try not to impose my beliefs on others (as I find people are more likely to want to talk to you about something if it’s just a fact about you rather than something you’re constantly preaching about).

So instead of not talking about the difficulties I’m going to embrace them and rant about them on here (sorry about that) but also start exploring helpful topics, such as how to make the most of your clothes (such as how to get your clothes altered/ how to repair and wash clothes).

My commitment then is to transparency, even if I make mistakes. I’m going to start small and aim for nothing ‘new’/ obtained from an unsustainable source for a month but that doesn’t mean you probably won’t be hearing about my vintage clothing finds. Also, I’d like to mention something that clicked for me recently as a fashion lover/ collector, trying to be more sustainable doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a tiny wardrobe, you just need to have more thought about what goes into it.

Denim vest: Charity shop

Skirt: Charity shop

Shoes: Shrimps x Warehouse

Dress: Vintage from Depop

Shoes: Shrimps x Warehouse

April (April is the Cruellest Month)

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Email: aprilisthecruellestmonthblog@gmail.com

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