5 things to think about before you buy that dress

When people go shopping for new clothes, they usually only think about the style and the price of a new item.
Since I started my journey with slow fashion, I've found that there are so many other things to consider before you buy an item and work out if it is right for your wardrobe. Although style and price are important factors, when you start to make more considered fashion and style choices, there is quite a bit more that I now like to consider. These are things to think about beyond what you see in the shop and more about where the dress came from, who made it and its journey in to get to the shelf.
1. What is the dress made out of?

Cotton, Silk or polyester? Looking at the material that clothes are made out of is important not only because of the issues around the logevity of the item. Certain fabrics like cotton take 2700L of water to grow enough cotton for one t-shirt! Also, the large amounts of pesticides a cotton plant requires, along with the prevailance of genertically modified cotton should be a huge concern when you are considering what clothes to buy. Bamboo can be a good subsitute for cotton and as it needs less water and is faster growing!

Another consideration is the complications around washing synthetic fibers, as everytime you wash synthetics they release plastic microfibers into our water system. This enhances the prevailance of plastic pollution which is a major concern!

2. Who made the dress?

This is something that often receives more attention, especially from campaigns like Fashion Revolution Week, who focus on the welfare of people who make our clothes. When you go shopping it can be useful to do a bit of research before hand and try and find out where different brands clothes are made from. This is usually quite difficult but a few are more transparent like, strangely, Jack Wills who strangely enough are slightly more open about their clothing than other brands. They also have a section of the factory that makes a lot of their tweed etc which is pretty unheard of for a mainstream brand.

3. Where was it made?

Supporting local design and business is at the heart of the sustainable fashion movement and is central to ethical trade. Buying something that has been made and designed locally shows your support for local people and artisans, keeps money in the local economy and promotes independent business.

If something has typically been made in Bangladesh or Cambodia, it will also usually be low quality and wont last as long. If you buy something that has been locally made usually more time has been taken over the product to create a higher quality bespoke item that will last for years.

4. Do you need it? Is there something else you could wear instead?

This is a question that I like to ask myself before I even go shopping. Do I actually need what I'm going out to buy or could I just wear something I already have? Yes we all love a new look and something to make us feel good, but we don't really NEED new things.

5. Dose it fit your style and will you wear it again?

This is something that I feel can be often overlooked, but when you buy something new I always like to think how much wear will I actually get out of this.. can it be dressed up or down? How much do I really like it... can you wear it in different seasons?

Asking these questions always makes sure you make a good choice and choose something you will love for a long time.


I hope you all enjoyed this, don't forget to leave your comments and follow my blog on my socials!

One year on - How ethical is my closet?

This fashion revolution week I thought I would have a look in my wardrobe and analyze... How cruel is my closet? After a just over a year of promising to change my unsuitable ways... How much has my closet actually changed? How ethical is it now?

Even though I promised myself a year ago that I would do my best to shop ethically from now on... I don’t actually have that many ethical clothing brands in my closet. Looking through the small section of my wardrobe that I don’t have in storage, I would now say around a third is ethically purchased but I have less than five ethical brands. I would then say about another third is investment pieces that I have splurged on, which I also consider to be ‘ethical’ as they are pieces to be worn for 10 years or more (in my eyes these investments are slow fashion as they are classics that you intend to wear for the rest of your life).

Most of my ethical shopping, however, happens when I buy things second hand from a charity shop or depop as this is the cheapest way to shop ethically. This means that I don’t have to stop shopping from fast fashion brands it just means the money goes to charity or to a sassy girl on depop rather than going out of the country into a large corporation’s pocket.

(Side note this is another issue that I don’t feel is mentioned enough, large fast fashion companies dodge tax in this country while using our infrastructure etc! So I would rather my money go into the pocket of someone local that taken out of the country with an unethical company)

I defiantly think my wardrobe has at this time slightly matured and the amount of basics pieces that I have has increased, allowing me to create more outfits that are better put together. There are still one or two things I would like to add in but most of them I will find thrifting to save pennies and help charities at the same time.

Another change in my wardrobe over the past year is the number of clothes that have ripped or torn and needed repair. Now, this may sound like a bad thing but I’m actually quite proud of myself that I’m using and wearing things this much! Soo many clothes just sit in our wardrobes unworn and unloved, they were made for us to wear use and enjoy not to gather dust. I’m sure I will look forward to fixing them all at some point... probably in front of a Real Housewives episode.

The main area that hasn’t really improved for me is my activewear and underwear.  Both of these I have personally really struggled with; as per my previous post there are ethical activewear companies out there, but they are very expensive and mainly aimed at yoga or light exercise not weight lifting. The main way I have tried to get around this is just by trying to not buy anything at all bar the odd ethical treat from pepper and Maine. I feel like as my back gets better and my training picks up however this will become a real problem when I’m working out 6 times a week again (I’m currently on four).

Underwear is also an issue, as most underwear that is ethically made is very expensive and very ugly. The pieces I have found that are bearable are usually completely out of my price range and no underwire. This is something I have really struggled with shopping ethically for... I have the odd pair of bamboo socks but I just find it really hard to find something that’s suitable. As above I have just resorted to avoiding purchasing for a while to slow my consumption of none ethical panties!

I think over the past year my wardrobe has changed slightly, I feel like my style and the pieces in it have got better; whilst in contrast, it has cost me less. I think I would like to get a couple of new ethical organic cotton basics and one or two things for summer from an ethical brand. Apart from this, I will be focusing on not buying unethical activewear and underwear which are the two areas I still have really faltered or caved mainly due to the price and accessibility/quality issues.

Haulternative

With so much emphasis on hauls in the online community, the fashion revolution movement is encouraging people to take part in a new trend. The Haulternative!  A haulternative is an alternative way of taking part in a haul; it's about renting, swapping, repairing and customising what you already have, instead of buying something new. 

Get your sewing kits out!

For my haulterntive I wanted to share with you all some old clothes that I have breathed new life into and am falling back in love with. The best way to do this, I have personally found is to reinvent pieces and find new ways of wearing old items. This can completely reinvent a jacket or a dress if you start wearing it in a different way. For this, I have really been enjoying making Pinterest boards of outfits I like and different ways of wearing staple pieces that I hadn't thought of!

(Check my outfit inspo on Pinterest!)

Repairing old clothes is definitely another thing that I want to focus on this week and I know I don't do enough of! Generally, when something breaks I would get a new one, but this is completely ridiculous and unsustainable! I have a big pile of clothes with holes in that I'm going to try and repair with all my sewing knowledge gained from A Level Textiles. These range from small holes too big tears but I think it is worth it and means I can get more use out of things for much longer. I have seen some girls do really amazing customisations but I'm not sure my sewing skills could stretch that far!

I don't really have much of an opportunity to swap or rent clothes and I'm not sure if that would be necessary for me.. I would like to swap with friends possibly but style is such a personal thing! The best thing about swapping however is I always think it makes you like the item more if you ave already seen your friend look lush in it!

Have you enjoyed swapping saving renting secondhand or customising at all? Let me know in the comments!

Fashion Revolution week

This week is Fashion Revolution week and because of this, I will be posting a blog post every day, as my way of contributing to the movement and promoting slow fashion.

Fashion revolution is the creation of Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro and was brought about as a reaction to the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. The aim is to raise awareness of the problems and damage that fast fashion causes; it is also to encourage people to think about their clothing purchases and divert funds from an ultimately corrupt system.

Read the manifesto HERE.

The main concern for me personally is the damaging effect that the fashion industry has on the environment specifically; this was the reason that inspired me to get involved and ask the question, who made my clothes?

Asking the question who made my clothes is a way of pressuring the industry and demanding more transparency; this, in turn, will help reveal the structures that are in place and open up the fashion industry so people can see what is really going on.

Hope you guys all enjoy my Fashion Revolution week posts and it inspires you to ask the question, who made my clothes?



MADARA - Cruelty-free and natural brand review!

MADARA is one of those brands that for me I found it hard to get excited about. Its clean crisp clinical branding never really excited me and their products were something I was hesitant to try. However, once I tried some of the MADARA night cream and the instant moisture mask I finally got it. 

Based in Latvia, MADARA is all about quality ingredients which are both organic and cruelty free; their ethos is one that I have often found in northern Europe, they understand that we are all part of nature and our beauty products should not be separate from that.

We believe that the best skincare is the kind of care that goes deeper than skin. Not just to make us look better, but make us feel and act better. It is care for our well being and self-esteem, care about the choices we make, the values we respect, and care for the environmental footprint we leave".

As well as being cruelty-free, they are also ECOCERT certified, free from preservatives and synthetics. None of the products are particularly fun or fruity, with the brand resonating with a slightly older audience for who skin care is something to be taken seriously. 

The AHA Brightening Peel Mask is something I have spoke about before on my blog; it's a product I fall in and our of love with. Although I feel like it may be right for someone I do feel like it is quite harsh on my face. It does say on the product that it is strong and I feel like it would be better for someone with less sensitive skin.

The SOS instant Moisture and Radiance HYDRA mask is much more up my street! It has a silky soft texture and its a really nice mask for anyone like me who has sensitive skin that is easily dried out. I like this mask because unlike clay and peel masks the sole purpose is full on hydration which I definatly need!

One of my other favourite products that I really want to repurchase is the Total Renewal night cream; Rich and created to target cell processes to renew skin and increase collagen production I fell in love with this the moment I first put it on my skin! The only thing I would mention is wait a while before you go to bed or it ends up all over the pillow!

Fine line minimising cream is another product I have enjoyed however, Renewal is still my favourite! This one is specifically formulated for Dry skin but it is a more fluid runny day cream. This smells really light and fresh but I'm not sure how it would  fair under make-up.

Lastly, I wanted to share my experiences using the MADARA cleansing milk (made with calming jasmin); I'm not a massive fan of cleansing milk I feel like it is a waste of time, but I have been warming to the idea of using it as I want to try the Korean 10 step skincare routine. This one was quite nice, but not for me. I checked the website and it doesn't come cheap, also while it smelt amazing and did the job I just find them a bit of a faff. 





How to eat seasonally in the UK - Celebrating British food

Knowing what food is currently in season seems to be a big stumbling block when it comes to people eating seasonal food. Admittedly, until recently I have struggled; if you are in the generation where you are used to having tropical fruit all year round and your food brought to you from all over the world, you tend to lose sight of what actually grows on our island and when. 
I put together a really simple guide from a few things I have seen and tried to make it as simple and easy to follow as possible. I hope this is something that is easy to digest (excuse the pun) and encourages everyone to shop more seasonally and reduce those food miles!
Spring Vegetables: Asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, kale, spinach, celeriac, savoy cabbage, celery.

Spring Fruits: Gooseberyys and rhubarb.

Recipe Ideas: For a healthy veggie curry use seasonal cauliflower and spinach with lentils and spices, just because a food is seasonal it doesn't have to be boring! Chicken and asparagus pie, gingered cabbage and rhubarb crumble are all good ways to use seasonal produce. 

If in doubt look on the packet it will tell you the country of origin! 

Summer Vegetables: Fennel, beetroot, green beans, tomatoes and salad leaves along with carrots courgettes and garlic.

Summer fruit: Blueberries, Plums raspberries and strawberries.

Recipe Ideas:
As soon as I see blueberries raspberries and strawberries I think of an Easton mess or Pavlova! Summer is also a good time to take advantage of all the fresh fruit and make lots of smoothies! This summer I’m looking forward to going strawberry picking and am hoping I get enough to make some jam and freeze some for autumn and winter. 

Fennel can be a lovely addition to a summer BBQ and personally, I love it grilled with some salt pepper and lemon. Other people enjoy it grated on a salad but I personally feel like that is quite overpowering. Some other good seasonal recipes that are always fun to experiment with are stuffed courgettes or spiralized carrots!

Autumn Vegetables: Mushrooms, potatoes, pumpkin, squash.

Autumn Fruit: Apples, blackberry’s, damsons, pears plums slows bilberries.

Recipe ideas:  Hasselback potatoes or stuffed jackets are always a favourite of mine! Potatoes are so versatile and we really don't make the most of them. Pumpkin can also be really versatile but we don't seem to use it much here in the UK. Waffles, curries, risotto pumpkin hummus or even a pumpkin pie! They are really versatile and I'm hoping to do some experimenting this year with pumpkins. 

Autumn and moving through into winter is also the best time to find game, such as venison and grouse. I personally love venison it can be a good way to make sure you are getting really high quality local red meat. Swap beef for venison in your roast for a lower fat roast, or try it in a stew or pie, delicious!


Winter vegetables: Sprouts, cabbage, carrots. Cauliflower, kale, parsnips, potatoes red cabbage, sewed, turnips

Winter fruit: Apples and pears, anything that you have frozen.

Recipe ideas: Winter is always the best time to celebrate our homegrown root vegetables! The most obvious way is a roast, however, soups, stews and pies are definitely my favourite things to eat in the cold dark winter months. Making your own kimchi, or creating ramen bowls celebrating our kale and red cabbage can also be a nice and easy way to use seasonal produce. 

Partridge, duck, pheasant, goose are also in season and pies, cassoulet and ragout can be a great way to eat your game as opposed to a roast. For pudding in the winter months, stuffed apples and poached pears have to be a winner! A pear upside down cake, tarte tatin.

(I also found a very interesting recipe for pears with cabbage which I might try...)

I hope you have all enjoyed my list, and while I know it isn't perfect or complete I have found it a really good place to start. If you're not used to eating seasonally, it can be a daunting thing to learn about; I grew up in the countryside with a garden and it's still a new experience for me looking intently at food labels!

The high cost of our Easter chocolate - Food for thought

Easter is one of those celebrations that I feel is really taken for granted these days. The meaning is forgotten and most people can't even be bothered to take the time to go to church or spend time with their families. However, there is one tradition that everyone still loves and seems to take part in and that is the giving and receiving of chocolate eggs. Most of us these days are swamped with chocolate at Easter, but how often do we stop and think where it comes from? I know I don't think about it!

Although we all love chocolate, I feel like something that is not thought about when chomping through a bar of Galaxy is where our chocolate comes from. The corruption in the cocoa industry is nowadays, often ignored and the problems surrounding the production of chocolate pushed to the back of our minds. 

Slavery and human trafficking in the cocoa industry is something that has been talked about for a while, with large companies like Nestle, being repeatedly sued for their use of slaves on cocoa plantations. Nestle, Hershey, Mars, Kraft to name a few have all been known to profit from their use of slaves keeping the price of labour down on cocoa plantations. 

These plantations in Ghana and the Ivory coast support and facilitate the kidnap and traffic children from countries like Malawi promising them jobs in the town. These children some as young as 6 are then sent to work on plantations without ever getting paid for their work. This, in turn, keeps the price of the cocoa bean low enough that people in the UK and other Western countries can guzzle down an average of 11kg of chocolate a year. 

Read more: Nestlé, Cargill and ADM are currently facing a separate lawsuit brought by three Malian former child slaves in 2005 that accuses the companies of aiding and abetting child slavery in Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa market.

On these plantations, these children face a life of poverty away from their families and subject to gross human rights abuses. The corruption within the industry is deep-rooted within the government and their collusion with these big international food companies. 

These companies even admit on their websites that they may use slaves in the production of their chocolate goods, yet people still continue to buy them. As someone who has boycotted Nestle all my life it really bothers me that people still buy their products. 

Another issue surrounding the production of cheap cocoa is the large amounts of deforestation that occur especially in West Africa. Areas of tropical forest are cleared inside national parks and classified forests. Short term this can lead to more money for local people; but long term to the destruction of any woodland leads to a massive loss of biodiversity, floods, droughts and desertification. 

The best way to incite change in the industry is to boycott a brand and stop giving them your money to send a very clear message; I feel like it is hypocritical for us to all celebrate Easter and forget the messages that Jesus preached to the world. I don't think most Christians who will be celebrating Easter this year will be really thinking about this, but it is important to remember that what we buy has an impact on peoples lives all over the world. 

There are other choices out there even in the supermarket/ high-street. Brands like Hotel Chocolat that have their own plantations in St.Lucia where they pay farmers well for the beans and have stricter regulations. Other brands like Divine and Booja Booja are easily found and offer a choccy choice that means a much less unethical supply chain and more money for the farmers who grow our cocoa. We are so lucky that we have a choice in what we buy and we all have the power to do good and create real change in the world.

I hope everyone is having a lovely Easter, spending time with their families as I am and getting excited about spring.