Putting together outfits is so much more than simply obtaining new clothes. Your outfits reflect your mood, tell the world how you want to be viewed, and can switch your confidence dial from zero to a hundred in minutes. Whats not to love? Unfortunately quite a lot, especially if you are keen to promote Ethical Plus Size Fashion.
The fly in our fashion Chardonnay is, that our desire for affordable “fast” fashion often means our clothes are made in terrible conditions by some of the poorest people in the world (kind of makes you love your “on trend” jumpsuit a little less when you realise a nine year old sewed the buttons) and as textiles are one of the most polluting industries in the world, our need for constant Madonna style fashion reinvention is filling our landfills with cheap clothing that take years to break down.
So, how can fat fashionistas balance a love for fashion with a growing awareness that the way we currently shop isn’t sustainable or ethical? Where is all the sustainable plus size fashion?
Here are my six tips to enjoying plus size style whilst acknowledging that every penny we spend, sends a message about the kind of world we want to live in.
Tip #1 Shop Thoughtfully
How many times have you brought something on impulse only for it to still be hanging unloved and unworn six months later?
Following fashion and acting on new trends can give you such a rush but like all fast highs, its often accompanied by an almighty hangover.
The next time you feel you absolutely “must” buy something new, think about how it would work with what you already own. Do you have shoes to go with it? Is it in a colour that you wear a lot of? Mentally catalogue the outfits you wear again and again that always make you feel great? Does this purchase complement those? If the answer is no, pop it in your virtual basket and leave it for 24 hours. If it still makes your heart beat too fast, if you cant stop thinking about it, then hit the “Go to checkout” button but I guarantee you nine times out of ten you will realise its really not that special.
Tip #2 Be A Second hand Rose
Including some second hand purchases in your wardrobe not only means you will have outfits that are unique to you, you will also be saving clothes otherwise destined for landfills. I’m not here to tell you that buying thrifted clothes as a plus size woman is always easy, it’s not, but you would be surprised what’s out there if you really look.
Charity shops are always my first port of call. It’s easy to be overwhelmed as there are no obvious “fashion stories” to be found, however if you make a list on your phone of some things that would really add to your current wardrobe (a red cardigan, a belted mac) you will be surprised how you will find things. Also take a look in the men’s section, I bagged a fab camo jacket from the men’s rail last summer which fitted perfectly.
Many of the clothes you will find in charity shops still have the tags on or have only been worn once, someone else’s poor fashion choice can be your amazing new find, and you get to give to charity – it’s a thrifty win/win.
Tip # 3 Sitting In The Bay Of The E
Ebay is always my go to when I get a hankering for a new trend. Last summer I fell in love with the idea of a black denim pinafore dress. Lots of my fellow blogger babes were looking amazing in them and I knew I would get tons of wear out of one, especially as I had recently found a cute Breton striped tee in a charity shop which was crying out to be worn with black denim. Rather than sprinting over to the Asos or Simply Be I checked on ebay and found one in my size. It was half the price and was reusing an item that would otherwise just be binned.
Ebay is a great resource for second hand plus size clothes if you simply don’t have the time to scour charity stores. Depop is also starting to nip at ebay’s heals and quite a few very stylish plus size bloggers sell items from their wardrobes using this app.
Tip # 4 Take Part In A Multi-Coloured Swap Shop
Plus Size clothes swaps are a great way to reinvigorate your wardrobe without spending a penny. They are still such a beautiful example of how the plus size community can work for the greater good. It’s a simple premise, you take along your unwanted clothes and can then choose the same amount of items from other people’s donations. One woman’s trash (and by trash I mean clean, pressed clothes in good condition, no decorating tee-shirts or bobbly leggings) really can be another woman’s treasure.
It’s often a great way to finally get your hands on an item that you simply couldn’t afford at the time (or your size had sold out) and of course to meet new people or catch up with friends.
Tip # 5 Declare Independence
Buying from an independent brand is often the fastest way to ensure your clothes are ethically made. There is no escaping the fact that if someone is paid a fair wage, the cost of items will be higher. This is where you can practice your thoughtful fashion mantra. By buying less throwaway items you will be able to invest in high quality pieces which not only help create a fairer world but also support someone else’s dream.
This does mean you may have to adapt your shopping habits but to be honest, when you look at your wardrobe, crammed with poor quality cheap clothing does it fill you with joy? Chances are no.
We have been sold the idea that the only way to be happy is to always have new things to fill our lives, that to wear things more than a few times is a fashion fail and yet we have never been poorer, more miserable, less contented. Hop off the hamster wheel of constant buying and instead invest in beautiful items made in beautiful conditions.
Tip # 6 Customise
We customise our phones, our nails, even our social media pages but rarely our clothes. It’s so easy to forget what you already own when putting together new looks. Go through your wardrobe carefully and you will undoubtedly have items which can be adapted for new styles or given a new lease of life. Our reliance on fast fashion means few of us ever get items altered, or repaired but it’s often a much easier job than you think.
Recently I have customised a past season denim jacket, re-dyed a faded black dress and added a lace collar to a plain top. The time these customisations took was a few hours tops and yet it has breathed new life into things I was quite bored with. It’s a great way to make your clothes unique and it costs so little.
I hope these tips have inspired you to think about how you can include some ethical plus size fashion choices in your wardrobe.