On a cold, blustery Fall day like today, it’s the perfect time to look through my fashion scrapbook for some seasonal inspiration! It’s still technically Summer, but it’s time to start phasing out the summer dresses and straw hats, and replacing them with wool layers and berets. In this in-between stage of seasons, I like to merge and slowly transition to the next season of clothing. Here are some of my favourite fashion photos from the past that I’ve saved in my scrapbook!
This is one of my favourite photo shoots of all time! (It includes both of these photos above) By Angela Lindvall for the Vogue October 1998 issue, this picture, above, is inspired by the Andrew Wyeth painting “Christina’s World” and it’s beautiful!
I really like this bold yet soft makeup look for Fall and Winter. I’m not sure if it would suit me very well, personally, but I really like that 20’s inspired smudged look!
I know that people have conflicting feelings about fur, but I personally love the look. If it is ethically sourced or vintage, I have no problem with it, though I do understand why some people don’t. Gorgeous fur coats and collars are beautiful for cool weather!
Again, from that same 1998 Vogue magazine (so many good photos in that one!) is this lovely European inspired photo shoot. Again a lovely fur stole, this time paired with a fabulous feathered hat.
If fur isn’t your thing, though, there are so many beautiful wool coats for cool weather. I love my vintage cashmere coat, and will treasure it forever!
And here’s another from Burberry in 1998; again such a classic coat for cooler days.
I don’t think this is technically a Fall image, but I love the colours and patterns of these bold sunglasses and zebra collar combination.
The socks and shoes pairing was definitely a trend a few years ago, but I actually don’t mind it as far as trends go, because it’s inspired by the even older trend of bobby socks and saddle shoes!
I’ll end with this gaucho and blazer look from Armani, below, in 1998- it’s so classic that you could wear this today and look just as fresh.
If you come across vintage fashion magazines in the thrift stores, buy them! They have so much good fashion inspiration and, because they are no longer trendy, you can really sift through the looks and determine which pieces were trendy and which pieces are classics. If you can look at a fashion spread from years ago and pick out pieces that you’d wear today, then you know you’ve hit on a Classic!
Which are your favourite looks of these? Do you like to page through old fashion magazines? It’s not as popular today, in the days of Pinterest, but do you save magazine clippings?
When I published this post about personal style a few months ago, one of the inspirations I listed was Beatrix Potter from the 2006 film Miss Potter. Not only are the costumes of Miss Potter some of my favourites, but the movie itself is also high on my list of favourite period films. Starring Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson and others, with costumes by Anthony Powell, this movie tells the story of Beatrix Potter, the author of Peter Rabbit and other children’s books. I shan’t spoil the story it if you don’t know it, but definitely recommend that you watch it yourself, not only for the story, but also for the cinematography, the beautiful English scenery and of course the costumes!
When I watch historical films, I don’t usually mind if things aren’t “100% historically accurate” down to the very last buttonhole, as long as the costumes fit the story, are well researched and they don’t jolt you out of the timeline. If the costume designer displays expertise of the era that the film was set in, I’m not too picky if they have chosen to interpret and tweak history in a creative way for the purpose of story telling- please just don’t use any zippers or incorrect underpinnings! Thus, today, I’m not going to go over whether this film is historically accurate, or even accurate to Beatrix Potter’s real life, but rather, I’m sharing what some of my favourite inspirations are from the costumes in this film and how I have integrated those into my own personal wardrobe.
Costumes are such an important part of a movie, as clothing gives insight into how people present themselves and interact with the world and what message they are sending. Even in fictional movies, costumes can still demonstrate how people wear and move in their clothing and can give more understanding than a static photograph can.
The film is set in the early years of the Edwardian era, from 1902- 1906, and is full of high collared blouses, peplum jackets with puffed sleeves and elegant walking skirts, but one thing I love is how wearable the costumes look.
One key feature of Beatrix’s wardrobe is her subdued, earthy colour palette. My own wardrobe consists of these colours- shades of brown and tan, earthy greens, smoky blues and creams. I think that these colours are specifically used to show Beatrix’s love of the countryside and connection to nature, especially the Lake District, which is reflected in her oft repeated colour blue. These colours all blend together extremely well too.
Beatrix’s costumes in this film are tiny bit Victorian, (mainly her small London hats) which I think reflects that her character doesn’t chase the latest trends, but is instead absorbed with her work. She also wears a very plain style of clothing, which is used to juxtapose her style against her mother’s which is a much fussier, ornate style. Other ladies are also shown wearing much more glamorous pieces, yet Beatrix is always bit pared back. Her clothing choices are far from boring though! There are so many subtle details that you miss upon first glance, but stand out with a second look.
I have realized, over time, that my favourite looks from the past are ones that are more traditional and classic, rather than the opulent, “fashionable” ones and I often find myself wanting to pare things back in my own wardrobe too. I am always drawn to classic styles over trends. Beatrix’s costumes are a great example of a character whose clothing has intricacy and detail, but is still rather minimal in ornamentation compared to the popular fashions of the time period.
Her clothing choices display many details; from extra long shirt cuffs, to contrast collars, to shaped waistbands, to unique buttons- there’s so much to take note of when you take a closer look. There’s so much inspiration for future sewing projects too! Using details like this adds interest and depth to your wardrobe.
I also appreciate that Beatrix has what would today be considered a “capsule wardrobe”; which is what a standard wardrobe for any time period before the modern era would have been. She is consistently seen repeating key pieces and mixing and matching them to create new looks. Her blue shirtwaist is a common repeat, as well as her brown blazer and walking skirt. Because each of her pieces coordinate with each other, she is able to create an infinite amount of combinations. This is such a useful way to curate your own wardrobe- one I am still perfecting myself!
Almost every outfit she wears consists of the tried and true skirt + shirt combination. She has a couple beautiful wool A-line skirts that coordinate well with her blouses. While I probably wouldn’t personally wear a floor length wool skirt like this, shortening this style to knee length suddenly modernizes the look, while retaining that classic look.
She also proves the value and versatility of a good white or cream basic blouse. She has several that she rotates through- each slightly different- featuring lace insertion, embroidery or pleating. While each individual blouse is different, they all coordinate well with the other pieces in her wardrobe, as well as providing a background for brooches and jewelry.
Speaking of jewelry, I absolutely love this long necklace she wears. Is it a watch? A key? A locket? I can’t tell and haven’t found any answers…what do you think it is?
I really like how it clasps to her waist almost like a chatelaine or something. Long pendant necklaces are one item that I absolutely love to wear in my own wardrobe.
There is just something so elegant about them, and I think they work quite well to add some jewelry without the flashiness of a statement necklace. Brooches are also an under utilized piece of jewelry today, I think. I have several vintage brooches, but don’t wear them nearly as often as I should!
Another wonderful part of Beatrix’s wardrobe are the straw hats that she wears while visiting the Lake District! This is the epitome of the cottagecore look- and I love it! I’m not a big fan of the tiny Victorian hats she wears in London, and I interpret the large informal sun hats that she wears while in the country as shedding the stuffy London rules and expectations and becoming her true self.
Her clothing evolves when she leaves London, becoming softer and more rugged. For example, she eschews her fitted, structured jackets for casual knitwear. I think this reflects her love of nature as a key component of her character, and shows that she has fully adopted the country as her own. She takes advantage of layering to create visual interest, as well as warmth!
One final detail that I love from her costumes, are her aprons. You just can’t go wrong with a good apron when you’re doing some messy work around the house. I love historical aprons, because not only were they were designed to protect your clothing, but they look pretty at the same time!
Well, these are some of my favourite details from the costumes of Miss Potter. Have you seen Miss Potter? What are your favourite parts of her wardrobe? Are there any films that you draw fashion inspiration from?
I am definitely a minimalist when it comes to makeup. Back when I started wearing vintage, I experimented with vintage makeup looks- black cat eyeliner and red lipstick etc. It was fun to try out different styles but, over time and through much trial and error, I have come to the conclusion that for an everyday makeup look, it’s just not for me.
With my Soft season colouring, high contrast makeup isn’t my best look. If I wear too bold of a colour of eyeliner and lipstick, I have discovered you see the makeup first, and the rest of my features kind of fade. My sister, with her higher contrast colouring can wear very bold makeup and it looks great- but when I wear the exact same amount, it looks like way too much.
However, that suits me just fine, because I am far too lazy to put in the time for precise eyeliner and lipstick everyday! I’ve realized that I like to wear just a hint of makeup, so I’ve settled into this routine. I change up the colours a bit from time to time, but keep mostly to this formula. It isn’t anything super special and makeup aficionados are probably shuddering to see it, but here is my quick 5 minute everyday makeup routine!
First, I always put on face lotion and lip balm. I like this one by Andalou Naturals because it smells like roses. I also like to use as many natural products as possible.
Next up is concealer. I use a Maybelline green colour corrector stick to cover up my red spots and blemishes. Sometimes I’ll use a makeup sponge, but usually I blend it in with my fingers. I don’t have a regular concealer at the moment, since mine expired and I haven’t been wearing it enough to buy a new one. Come winter I will probably get a new concealer, but for summer I go pretty light on coverage anyway.
I like to let my summer freckles show through, so I use Zuii Organic pressed foundation. It mostly just evens my skin tone out, without completely full coverage. I love this pressed powder, but I cannot find it anywhere anymore- the shop I got it from last time has stopped carrying it! I just hate it when that happens, don’t you? I am going to be sad when this one runs out…
Next, after the foundation, is my eye makeup. I usually use a darker shade, either the plum, pink or cinnamon colour on my lid.
Once that is blended, I take a lighter shade, either this green/taupe colour, or a cream shade I have in a loose powder.
My eyeshadows are from Pure Anada, and my palette is one that I made myself. I put a magnet on the bottom since their shadows are loose, so I can easily pop a new one in to replace the empties! Also, I noticed when I took these photos, that the gold has rubbed off the wallpaper that I used to cover the palette; that probably isn’t healthy…
After the lighter shade is evenly blended, it’s time for eyeliner. I like to use a small wet brush and dip it in both the brown and charcoal coloured powders to make an eyeliner. I also will sometimes use a pencil, but usually I do this since I already have my palette out and it saves some time!
I alternate between doing a smudgy smoky line, or doing it a bit neater with a little wing. Since this is a “hint of vintage style” tutorial, today I will do a tiny flair for a soft cat eye look. I like to do this, since it doesn’t have to be as precise as black liquid liner has to be! But it still gives a subtle vintage style, and the powder actually lasts pretty well throughout the day.
Once I’ve finished the eyeliner, I will either use a pencil or the same dark powder to fill in my brows a bit. I never used to do my brows, as they are already so dark, but I’ve recently started and it gives them a nice look I think. I don’t draw outside my natural brow shape, I just fill in the centre a bit.
I really should do my eye makeup first and then my foundation, but I never remember to do that, so I need to do a quick brush over with the powder brush to pick up stray eyeshadow fallout!
Next up is mascara. I use Maybelline Colossal because it’s not too bad on the “toxic” ingredients and it’s very affordable too. I’ve tried some other natural mascaras, but they either end up falling onto my cheeks over the course of the day, or give me itchy eyes! So, now I stick to this one.
Finally, time to finish up with lipstick; I usually use lighter shades of pinks, tawny and brick. Since they aren’t too bold, I don’t have to line them and if they rub off it’s not a big deal. This shade is Mary Kay’s Sweet Nectar… I just realized that I’ve had it for 10 years now so I really should probably chuck it…but I probably won’t. After blotting my lipstick, I’m done.
And there is my very quick everyday makeup look! I say this is “everyday”, but in reality I pretty much do this look for special occasions and evening too… The only thing I change is perhaps adding in some gold eyeshadow or a darker lipstick, but other than that this is pretty standard for me. While I do like to experiment every once in a while, this is pretty much what I wear, whenever I wear makeup.
When I was a teenager, I never cared about makeup, and went barefaced all the time. Then, like many others do, I went through a stage where I wore a lot of makeup (still minimalist by Beauty Influencer standards), but as I’ve gotten older I’ve settled into a routine that suits me. I don’t feel the need to cover up all of my blemishes, which is good, because I don’t have perfect skin. While I do like to add a bit of eyeliner and mascara, I don’t feel self conscious anymore if someone sees me without my “face”, which is a nice place to be I think.
How about you- do you have a specific everyday makeup routine? Or do you like to switch it up each time? What is favourite makeup look?
This is my final post in the PERSONAL STYLE series. Today I am talking about how I have been using minimalism to clear a lot of clutter from my closet that was hindering me from the dream closet I wanted.
Should I Use Minimalism as a Tool to Curate My Wardrobe?
After collecting vintage clothing and accessories for over a decade, I came to the conclusion last year that my dream closet was always bigger than my actual closet. I probably came to that conclusion while hauling a suitcase full of out-of-season clothes from under my bed, or trying to reach a shoebox on the top shelf in my closet. No matter where I live, my closet is always just a bit too small and I am always having to cram in as many items as can fit (mostly hats), yet still having to store the excess in a dresser, and under my bed, and in the hall closet, and on the back of the door. . .
Along with this frustration over lack of storage space is the knowledge that I will probably always be a small space dweller and, as much as I love small spaces, they come with less storage space, which ultimately means you have to own less stuff. So, even though I love collecting vintage, I was tired of having too many pieces in too small of a closet; like many other people, 2020 became the year of the Great Closet Clear Out. It was actually my decision to start paring down the items in my wardrobe that sparked this entire series of posts.
I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a Minimalist, even though that is what I titled this post, because when it comes to my wardrobe, or anything else, I don’t actually desire to get things down to the minimum. I like to keep some things around that aren’t useful and that I might never wear, but I keep them just because I like them. However, while Minimalism might not be a lifestyle choice for everyone, many of us could probably do with some simplifying and paring back of our wardrobes and other possessions. Rather than following a strictly minimalist approach, I prefer to follow this advice by William Morris (a designer who was key in the Arts and Crafts movement). I think he perfectly sums up how many items you should keep, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. I think that is a pretty good description of what minimalism should be.
When you’ve gone to all of the effort to figure out your personal style, it makes sense to then apply this advice to your closet and remove the extra; keeping only that which you love and value.You can look at it kind of like a stone carving- you’re getting rid of the excess to reveal the figure within. So for this last post in the series, I wanted to share my tips for how to pare down your wardrobe, in case you’ve ever found yourself in the same situation!
IDENTIFY YOUR PERSONAL STYLE, COLOURS & SILHOUETTES
Once you’ve figured these out, and come up with a clear picture of your own personal style, it will be a lot easier to evaluate your closet, because you’ll have a clear vision of what you want your dream closet to look like.
When you are looking at your clothes from this perspective, you are choosing which items to keep rather than which items to get rid of. Selecting the items that you love puts a positive slant on the process and you can more easily evaluate the items left behind. I tried this method, and it really helped me to be more objective about those items I wasn’t sure about. Because I had taken the time to figure out my style description and colour palette, it was so much easier to part with items that weren’t fitting into any of those categories.
MOVE PAST THE SUNK COST, OTHER ATTACHMENTS & GUILT
It can be really hard to get rid of items that cost you a lot, or that you are emotionally attached to (a gift for example), but it is freeing to simply accept that you no longer love something and move on.
I don’t regret trying out new things, or even making style mistakes, because from those fashion experiments I was able to figure out what my personal style and preferences are. Without trying new things, I wouldn’t have known, so that learning experience was valuable. However, keeping items that I no longer love just because I spent a lot on them or invested time into them (for example, pieces that I made myself) doesn’t help me in any way today. That money and time is already gone and it isn’t coming back by keeping the item, so sometimes it is better to be realistic about it, rather than feeling obligated to keep things that are just collecting dust.
I’ve also learned to move on from clothing pieces that bring me guilt or body insecurity. For example, keeping clothes that haven’t fit for years, and might never again, is not a great motivator to get in shape. Likewise, as I talked about in this post, there isn’t any point in keeping items that you don’t wear because they aren’t a great fit for your specific body type. For me, I decluttered two gorgeous vintage plaid skirts that I never wore. I really loved them, but every time I pulled them out of my closet I would inevitably decide that I didn’t like how the plaid looked on me, and I would end up putting them back in the closet. Instead of keeping them, and then feeling bad every time I didn’t wear them, I now plan on sewing some skirts with the plaid cut diagonally rather than horizontal, since I know I like that look a lot more!
It can also be easy to hold on to pieces “just in case” or because you’ve had them for so long without thinking about whether you still want to keep them. For example, I had some hats that I loved, but never wore. I kept thinking “one day, I will figure out an outfit to pair with that hat” but when I took a second look at them, I realized that I didn’t actually want to wear them anymore. Just because they were vintage and one of a kind didn’t mean that I had to keep them, if they didn’t really suit my style anymore. It’s OK to pass things on to new homes where they will be more appreciated when they don’t work for you anymore.
GET RID OF YOUR 80%
I have never been one who wanted to limit myself in the wardrobe department. While I am intrigued by the idea of a capsule wardrobe, I have never personally been interested in pursuing that. In fact a lot of my wardrobe advice from the past has been, “Why limit yourself?” I love to experiment and try new things and I never wanted to fit myself into one specific category, but over time that doesn’t always work well. For me, rather than having lots of options and coming up with new outfits all the time… I really just had too many clothes that didn’t go together, so I ended up mainly wearing the same few coordinating pieces over and over again. Instead of focusing on the versatility of each item I purchased, I was choosing variety, but when you have a lot of clothes that don’t coordinate, you end up having to get more accessories to go with each outfit, which then means you need to have more storage…it’s an endless cycle.
It is said that we wear only twenty percent of our clothes eighty percent of the time, and that was definitely true for me. I had a closet full of clothes, but wasn’t actually wearing many of them on a regular basis. I realized that a capsule wardrobe is basically removing that eighty percent of clothes that you aren’t wearing, and focusing on your twenty percent. So, instead of having a closet bursting at the seams with clothing, I got rid of that excess and focused on how to improve that twenty percent that was left. And of course, there isn’t any set number of pieces; the perfect number of items for you might not be the same number as someone else.
ALWAYS KEEP WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY
Don’t feel the need to get rid of everything you don’t wear; keep the pieces that make you happy. (Especially if they are unique, one-of-kind vintage pieces!)
I have several beautiful evening dresses that I will probably never get rid of. I’ll probably never wear them either, but I love them too much to pass them on. I used to have a lot of evening dresses and then realized that I didn’t really need so many when I don’t ever (or want to) go to parties. However, when I pared down my collection, I kept some of my absolute favourite and irreplaceable ones. I like to hang them out on display where I can enjoy them.
DECIDE WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR DECLUTTERED ITEMS
Having a plan for what you are going to do with the items you are removing from your closet can make it a lot easier for you to part with them. In the past I had kept a lot of pieces in my closet, even though I knew that they weren’t working for me, because they weren’t things that my local thrift shop would want, or I had spent a lot on them and felt bad about losing that “investment”.
While donations to thrift shops are great, sometimes there are better ways to pass on unwanted items. Selling clothing can also be a worthwhile thing to do, especially if you have rare or vintage pieces. Now that Poshmark is in Canada, I was able to sell a lot of my items there. It did take a lot of time, but it made it a lot easier for me to part with the pieces, since I was able to make back some of the money I had spent. I also know that each of the pieces (even the vintage “wounded birds”) were going to people who wanted them.
Some other options are to give them to friends or family or to have a clothing swap. I also like to donate some of the nicer items to our local women’s shelter- it’s a good place to pass on some of the prettier items.
PUT ASIDE ITEMS YOU’RE NOT SURE ABOUT
When going through my closet, I did see some things that I hadn’t worn for a very long time, but I wasn’t sure whether that meant it was time to part with them or whether I just hadn’t had an occasion to wear them lately. (Probably something many of us went through in 2020.) If you find items that you haven’t worn for months (years?), then take them out of your closet for a while to help you decide whether you still want them or not.
For me, I realized that I needed to move some pieces into my sewing pile to see whether there was something I could do to alter/mend the item to make it more wearable. Other pieces that I wasn’t sure of, got packed away in a suitcase for a while. This works because when you open the suitcase or box again in a few months time, you’ll either be excited to bring those pieces immediately back into rotation, or you’ll find that you completely forgot about them, don’t feel any attachment and can easily move them into the “donate” pile.
I also have some items that don’t fit at the moment, but I do still love them and am not ready to just move them out of the closet. (I think this happens to us all at some point or other!) Rather than leaving those pieces hanging forlornly in my closet, I moved them into my out-of-season storage, and I will reevaluate them next year.
WAIT A LITTLE WHILE BEFORE BUYING
Especially when you live in a small space, at some point you have to curate your belongings to the amount of storage you have: your space dictates how much you can realistically own. If you have a difficulty in not bringing in new items when you’re shopping, picture where you are going to put it or store it. Or, figure out which item is going to have to go out to make room for the new item. (“One in, one out”)
I now create a list on my phone of everything that I am thinking of buying, and I hardly buy anything right when I see it. Even when browsing on Poshmark or at the thrift store, I try to think of what I am going to pair it with in my existing closet. I often bookmark things and think about them for several days or weeks before going ahead with the purchase. I debate about whether I will be disappointed if it’s gone and oftentimes I realize that while I like something, I wouldn’t be sad if it sold out.
Of course, if you have a large closet with lots of space to spread out, then you don’t need to be as ruthless with what you clear out or bring in!
TAKE A BREAK FROM BUYING TOO
While keeping to the rule of “one in and one out” is great, that only works if you have a good number of items to start with. If you are trying to actively reduce the amount of items you have, eventually you’ll have to stop buying new things. I see so many decluttering videos that neglect to mention this key detail: you have to bring in less or you won’t end up with less.
While paring down my closet last year, I tried to also do a “low buy” year, to give myself time to actually go through and figure out the right size of closet for me. I’m not sure I was completely successful on that front but, nevertheless, by the end of the year, I estimate that for every four items of clothing that I decluttered, I only brought one into my closet. I was pretty happy with that ratio.
IDENTIFY YOUR WARDROBE GAPS
Over the last year of this process, I have gotten better at identifying the gaps in my wardrobe, and knowing when it is time to bring something new into my closet. When I was decluttering I came across items of clothing that I liked, that fit into my style and that made me happy, but I still never wore, and I realized that it was because I didn’t have anything to pair them with! I also have some outfits that always seemed like they needed a certain something to finish it off perfectly.
I was able to figure out some key items to put on my shopping list this year:
tops in colours other than black so I can mix and match with my black skirts.
brown leather everyday shoes
an everyday brown leather purse
a couple new everyday skirts to replace the ones that were threadbare
a vintage brown fur collar (OK, I didn’t need this one, I just fell in love with it when I saw it!)
Removing a bunch of the clothing I wasn’t wearing finally gave me the freedom to go and fill some of the gaps in my closet with pieces that fit my personal style, rather than being held back by my bursting closet, despite the fact that much of it wasn’t working for me. Also, because I took the time to evaluate what I was looking for, rather than just browsing at the thrift store like I usually would, I was able to wait and save up to get the few particular things I really needed (and wanted) rather than wasting my time getting a whole bunch of small new things I didn’t need. And because I made back some of the money from my old clothes, I was able to put it towards “investing” in pieces I actually needed.
So, while I wouldn’t consider myself to be a minimalist, I would still like to be purposeful with what I have in my closet. I’m sure this is going to be a process that I will have to revisit many more times in the future, but it’s a start! I want my wardrobe to be full of things that I love and wear regularly- not to be distracted by clothing that I don’t love wearing!
How about you- have you ever done a complete closet overhaul? Do you have any tips for how you decide when it’s time to part with something, or when to keep it? Are you attracted to using minimalism in your closet or not?
I should have actually shared this post last week, as it would have been rather perfect for Fashion Revolution Week, but I guess today will do just as well. Fashion Revolution isn’t just applicable for one week in the year anyway, so perhaps this is timely, in case you have been wanting to read further about the fashion industry and how to put “sustainable fashion” into action.
I have a disproportionately large collection of fashion related books, compared to other topics at least, on my shelves. But as nice as social media and blogs can be for inspiration and information, there is still something special about pulling out a book and learning in-depth about a topic. So for today, here are some of my favourite books about sustainable fashion, as well as some of the books that sparked my interest in fashion, in case you are looking to add some books to your own library, or are just getting interested in sustainable fashion and aren’t sure where to start.
“Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth L. Cline
This is the book that started it all for me. A blogger recommended this book years ago (I think it was in 2012?) and I immediately went and checked it out of the library. It was an eye-opening look at what really goes on in the fashion industry supply chain, and is a deep dive into what happens before our clothing makes its way to the store.
While I had never been a shopaholic, or even very addicted to fast fashion, this book definitely changed the direction of my wardrobe, since I realized that many of the pieces of clothing I owned were from fast fashion brands. I immediately started looking at my clothing with new eyes- knowing the story behind the pieces- and changed my shopping habits for the better. If you are at all interested in ethical and sustainable fashion, this is definitely the place to start.
“The Conscious Closet” by Elizabeth L. Cline,
Also by Elizabeth Cline, rather than the investigative style of Overdressed, her follow up book about the fashion industry is more of an instruction manual or guide. I would say that this is probably the second book you should read once you’ve finished reading Overdressed and have become interested in ethical fashion. I have been reading about the cheap fashion industry for almost 10 years now, so this book was probably not as helpful for me when I read it in 2019, as it would have been if I had read it in 2012, because I was already familiar with a lot of the information within.
Nevertheless, it does have some very good tips, so if you’re just starting out, this is also a good place to start to put the ideas into practice. She includes tips on how to change your shopping habits, create a more ethical wardrobe, how to sustainably pare back your wardrobe, as well as how to care for your clothes and other steps for getting involved outside of your own personal closet and shopping.
“Wear No Evil” by Greta Eagen
This is another comprehensive “instruction manual” style book that includes many aspects of the fashion industry, as well as the beauty industry. I found this book extremely helpful when I first read it years ago (early on in my sustainable fashion journey) and I actually should read it again. I really like how she gives practical tips for how to move past the “awareness” stage to the “actions” stage.
What makes this book so helpful is what she calls “The Integrity Index”, which is a list of sixteen attributes/categories that a garment could potentially fit into. While you are probably not going to be able to find a garment that ticks all of the boxes, you can start somewhere. For example you might not find a garment that is organic, natural fibre, recycled, closed loop, biodegradable, fair trade, and locally produced, but you might find one that checks off three of those categories. I found it so practical and helpful to pick the causes that are most important to you and use those as your guide while shopping, and she includes some very helpful charts and lists with suggestions to make shopping easier.
“The Curated Closet” by Anuschka Rees
I don’t own this book, but I’ve checked it out from the library a few times and mentioned it before here (I probably should just buy it!). Even though I don’t own this one, I wanted to include it on the list because it has been a helpful tool to shape my closet. It’s not strictly a sustainable fashion book, but when you focus on creating a more intentional and curated closet, it is going to be more sustainable by default.
One of the biggest driving forces behind the cheap, fast fashion industry is the insatiable desire of consumers for more and more clothing. These impulse buys, in turn, push brands to create cheaper clothing and more and more trends each year in order to make more sales. But these clothes are often so poorly made that they degrade quickly or are flash trends that fall out of fashion so quickly that they need to be replaced- thus starting this unsustainable cycle all over again. By curating your closet to reflect your own personal style, with items that are thoughtfully purchased, you are going to automatically purchase less items and thus become more sustainable in the process. This is an excellent guide book if you are wanting to create a more streamlined closet by reducing the number of pieces you have as well as changing your shopping habits.
“The One Hundred” by Nina Garcia
I got this book when I was 16 for a Christmas gift, and I have no idea why- I must have paged through it at the store and liked the illustrations. However, it is actually a fun book to read, and it sparked my interest in classic styles. While this book isn’t sustainability focused in any way, this book is about those timeless pieces in your closet that you always reach for over and over again. While some might say that 100 “must have” items is too many for a sustainable wardrobe, I think it’s a good start.
Rather than following this book as shopping list and going out and getting all 100 items to add to your closet, I think of this as an evaluation of why some items are so timeless and chic, and in finding the value in the items you have in your closet that you always reach for over and above other items. These are the pieces that you love and care for, and aren’t rushing to replace any time soon. Again, a more thoughtful and curated wardrobe is by default a more sustainable wardrobe, so it really is a good idea to reflect on what particular items are your most loved pieces, and why. And, of course, the alphabetical format of the book, witty quotes and illustrations just make this one all the better!
“The Sartorialist” and “The Sartorialist: Closer” by Scott Schuman
Finally, the last one on this list is the blog/book that started it all. I discovered Scott Schuman’s blog in about 2007 or 2008 (the olden days of the internet) andput his first book on my Christmas wish list when it came out in 2009. I wasn’t a very fashionable teenager because, while I liked fashion (especially historical), I had no idea of how to interpret my interests into a style that was wearable. His blog, and then later his books, about real people’s street-style showed me the value of breaking fashion rules, stepping outside of the norm and then going on to create my own unique style. Even though he never photographed vintage styles, without his blog I don’t know if I would have ever gotten interested in incorporating vintage into my wardrobe on a daily basis. And while I don’t wear strictly vintage looks anymore, without that early inspiration to dress in a different way, I probably wouldn’t have evolved to where I am now with my style.
Scott is an excellent photographer and I love to look through these books occasionally to be inspired by all of the unique and different people in these pages. This book is 12 years old, but when I page through it, while I do spot some trends, it still seems as fresh as when it was first released. Again, this book isn’t one that promotes ethical and sustainable fashion in any way, but I think that it really demonstrates this quote by Yves Saint Laurent: “Fashions come and go, but style is forever”. When you aren’t concerned about the latest trends, but instead are choosing to wear your own unique, collected style you are, by default, creating a more sustainable wardrobe that is going to last you longer than any fast fashion trend.
So, there are some of my favourite books for learning about sustainable fashion. If you are wanting to learn about how to turn your wardrobe away from fast fashion, then these are a good place to start- though they are only the tip of the iceberg!
What are some of your favourite fashion books? Have you read any of these? Do you have any other recommendations to check out?