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Fashion, Life & Style

How To Build An Ethical Wardrobe From Scratch #4

ethical shopping

ethical shopping

As promised in my last installment of my how to build an ethical wardrobe from scratch, let’s talk about all things sales shopping.  Specifically on how to stick to your ethical guns when prices of things are dropping like mad.

Black Friday, which was only introduced to the UK a few years ago, but has caused chaos, is right around the corner, as are a whole host of other crazy sales that often pop up around this time of year.  Sales of up to 70% off aren’t that uncommon any more, even from ethical retailers.

It has to be said, I do like a good sale.  Being mindful of my budget, it’s a good way to buy the ethical things I need at a more affordable price.  I keep a mental list of things I need so that when the sales roll round I can fill the gaps in my wardrobe.

Sometimes whilst perusing the sales I will spot something not on my list that will make me go ooh.  If I can work out that I will wear it enough times to justify the cost per wear then I might consider it.  But before clicking the add to cart button, I ask myself one question: “would I pay full price for this?“.

For the list of things I need I know I would definitely pay full price for them.  It just so happens that I know I could get them cheaper if I just waited.

For those impromptu items that catch my eye, asking myself if I would pay full price for it keeps me in check.  If I’m only interested in the item because it is reduced, and I know I wouldn’t pay full price, then I know that I’m only tempted by the ticket price and don’t actually need the item.

I know only full well from my own previous experience that poorly thought out sales purchases just end up languishing at the back of the wardrobe, either worn once or twice, before being deemed not suitable.  Or worse, never worn at all.

A bargain isn’t a bargain when you don’t end up wearing it.  And a poorly thought out ethical purchase that sits unworn is almost as bad, nay, as bad, as a poorly thought out fast fashion purchase.  According to a recent survey the average wardrobe in the UK contains 11 items still with the tags on, which is pretty wasteful, and not just that but awful for our bank balances too.

Let’s be savvy together this coming sales season!

How do you keep your cool in the sales?  Do share your tips!

Fashion, Life & Style

How To Build An Ethical Wardrobe From Scratch #3

ethical fashion blog

ethical fashion blog

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by *

In another of my how to build an ethical wardrobe from scratch series, I want to again look at how to develop more mindful approaches to consumerism.

Last time I spoke about removing yourself from mailing lists, which is something I have found really helpful to resist fast fashion temptation.

Today let’s talk maths.

Fast fashion is cheap.  It’s undeniably difficult to avoid it’s lure when there is often a huge difference in price between an item of clothing on the high street and it’s ethical counterpart, and your budget is tight.  My budget is tight so I get this.  Everyone wants to get the most for their money and feel like they’ve got a bargain.   I’m no different.

So, is there a way to reconcile shopping ethically with shopping on a budget?  I like to think so.

But before we get to that, let’s put all ethics aside for now.  Let’s imagine I take a completely hypothetical shopping trip to the high street, one sunny autumnal Saturday, just after pay day.  I have budgeted and decided I can spend up to £50 on clothes this month.  I meet my friends for a coffee and a catch up, and then we head to our favourite fast fashion shop.  I buy a pair of skinny jeans for £15 because I figure you can never have too many of this wardrobe staple, especially at that price.

At the shop next door I pick up a red ‘going out’ top for £10, even though I don’t really need it.  The thing is it’s pretty and on sale, and my friends encourage me to buy it because we’re going out for drinks that night and I can wear it then.  Impulsively I pick up a pair of red shoes for £15 because they go with the top, even though they don’t go with anything else I own.  Giving me a total spend of £40.  I go out that night in my £40 outfit and feel great.

Sadly, my retail high doesn’t last that long.  The cheap top looses it’s shape in the wash after a couple of wears and I discard it.  Cost per wear?  £5.  I wore the shoes once but since I discarded the top that matches, the shoes languish at the back of the wardrobe forever more.  Cost per wear?  £15.  The cheaply made skinny jeans develop a tear in the crotch after a couple of months wear, that I’m unable to repair.  Let’s say the cost per wear was £1.

From a total hypothetical spend of £40 the cost per wear of these purchases was a huge £21.

If I had decluttered my wardrobe, and examined the gaps, I would have known that I didn’t need the skinny jeans, a ‘going out’ top or the red shoes, but what I did need was in fact a classic black go-with-everything top.  I could have shopped ethically and bought a well made quality black top* for £48 that I would then wear repeatedly, giving me a much much lower cost per wear.  If I wear the top 40 times, the cost per wear of my £48 top would be a bargainous £1.20.

Suddenly those cheap fast fashion purchases don’t seem to add up, or seem quite so good value anymore.  That more expensive but better made, ethically produced top suddenly becomes better value in the long run.

The idea of saving up to shop for better made ethically produced pieces becomes more appealing and makes more economic sense.  So, if you ever need an economic argument for shopping ethically then there you have it – cost per wear coupled with only shopping for what you really really need.

If you need another economic argument for shopping ethically then this cost analysis of a $10 (non fair trade) top is also useful.

Join me next time to talk all things sales shopping, and how to keep your cool whilst prices fall.