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What is Sustainable Fashion?

Article by Ceri Wheeldon

style over 50 sustainable fashion image

What is sustainable fashion? It is being talked about a lot at the moment, from the source materials of what we wear , to the longevity of items that we purchase.

I was out having coffee with a friend, who just happened to compliment me on what I was wearing that day – I was wearing a leather skirt which I have had for at least 15 years, and a plain black sweater with zips at the cuffs from Karen Millen which I have had  ,I think, for about 7 or 8 years – and it has been washed and washed and looks far better than more recent purchases. This led to us having a conversation about whether or not today’s clothes are actually made to last.

Fast fashion seems to have become the norm. I have always loved clothes – and love putting ‘looks’ together by mixing and matching and playing with accessories. Many of the items I wear today are decades old, but look fresh because of what I pair items with – an old suit jacket from my headhunting days teamed with jeans, a shirt and red boots, or a dress belted and worn as a tunic with leather look leggings.  I have black dresses that I have owned for decades and I believe stand the test of time.

There was an article in the Mail recently talking about the 30 wear rule. It wasn’t about finding 30 occasions to wear each item, but looking at whether items of clothing could survive 30 wears. In the tests that they did with various pieces of clothing many didn’t pass!

The ’30 wears’ rule

I have written posts previously on savvy shopping in the sales for investment pieces, looking at cost per wear when allocating your clothing spend – but I really hadn’t thought about whether the items would survive the number of wears that I had anticipated.

old work blazer with jeans image

One of my favourite and oldest items in my wardrobe is a pink leather jacket – it’s at least 20 years ago, another favourite is a black blazer, lined with animal print, another a Little Black Dress – very plain, very simple – and 20 years old – I wore it recently to a friend’s birthday party. All have exceeded the ‘30 wears’. None are high fashion or ‘on trend’.  They definitely epitomise sustainable fashion – and work with my mantra of shopping in my own wardrobe first.

style over 50 black dress image

I have also, rather than throw things to declutter Marie Kondo style, had dresses I no longer wear for whatever reason shortened to make tops- increasing the number of opportunities I have to wear them.

I do think that if we buy quality over quantity and demonstrate our own style personality by accessorising we can help make fashion more sustainable – saving our money for experiences rather than a quick fashion fix.

What are your thoughts? What are the items in your wardrobe that you wear most often? How old are they, and what is it about them that you love?

I would love to know your thoughts !



Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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