Time for another Your Ethical Style feature! This time, Edinburgh blogger Stephannie Hay is sharing her ethical style tips, secrets, and inspiration with us. Stephannie blogs at The Inelegant Horserider a blog about, funnily enough, horse riding, with Stephannie’s other loves of running and ethical fashion thrown in for good measure.
Stephannie and her beautiful horse
Over to Stephannie:
Hi Stephannie, can you share with us three fun facts about you?
I took up horse-riding again about eight years ago and love it, hence the name of the blog. I am a nervous rider and wanted the blog to help me realise how much I have achieved and it allows me to chart my highs and lows. The blog has really helped me during my recent attack of nerves.
I live in Edinburgh. I adore the city – it is a beautiful place to stay and I love how small it is for a city. I like being able to get to the country and the coast in no time at all.
I am pretty terrible at sewing or crafting but I love trying. Just now I am attempting to learn to knit again: it’s going slowly but it’s fun. Oh, and my baking is very much bingo baking – sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t!
Where are your favourite places to shop for ethical clothing?
Probably Howies, Finisterre*, and People Tree*. I also like Rapanui for t-shirts, they have brilliant prints and the softest material. Last year I took part in the Wartime Wardrobe Challenge – a year-long clothes rationing challenge – and started getting into eBay again. This year I have also been to a few clothes swaps which are good fun, especially when combined with friends and cocktails! I also really like Totty Rocks, an Edinburgh-based design duo. They are so friendly and happily alter items to fit you perfectly.
What’s the last ethical item that you bought?
The last secondhand item I got was a black and white stripe top at a clothes swap a couple of weeks ago, which I love. The last ethical item I bought was a brilliant pair of cycling chinos from Howies which have a higher waistband at the back and extra stretch making them perfect for, well, cycling! I adore them: I wanted a pair for a while now and the fact they are smart enough for the office is even better.
Some of Stephannie’s clothes swap finds!
Is there anything ethical or secondhand that you are lusting over at the moment?
A Vaute Couture Emily coat in Emerald. One of the bloggers I follow, Jesse Anne O, introduced me to this brand. I haven’t managed to buy anything yet but I love their coats. They look so luxurious and warm plus the colour is incredible. Alternatively, I would settle for a Finisterre padded jacket. They look so cosy and stylish – perfect for being out and about whether on horseback or not.
Do you have a top tip for shopping ethically?
I think this top tip is probably just a top tip in general – I would say taking your time is key. I have made so many purchasing mistakes through impulse instead of thinking if I need the item or in most cases, if I love it. Let’s face it, we all have items that we love in our wardrobe and ones that we don’t. I think this tip is especially important at clothes swaps or second-hand or vintage shopping. Here it can be tempting to get lots of items which you don’t need just because they are free or cheap.
Is there anything you find difficult about shopping ethically?
Jodhpurs are a niche item that is hard to find ethically produced! Joking aside, I do find certain parts of sportswear trickier to source. What’s more, some ethical brands I have tried have not been up to the job. It is definitely getting better though with Ronhill, who has a pretty decent ethical policy. Howies also have some good cycling and running gear, while Finisterre* have good base layers. And, of course, if in doubt you can patch and mend while emailing each company you like asking about their ethical policies!
Where do you get your style inspiration from?
A tricky question for me as I am in a bit of a style quandary at the moment, I’m not even sure I have a style! But I like the 1920s/30s/40s style captured beautifully in the Agatha Christie Poirot series. I also love looking at street styles, friends’ styles, and other bloggers’ styles for inspiration. I particularly enjoy Franca at Oranges and Apples (you can check out Franca’s ethical style here!), Jesse Anne O, and Katie at Sustainability in Style.
What is your best secondhand or ethical find ever?
I have a couple of these! Firstly I love my bright red Totty Rocks mac printed with blue ponies on the belt and collar. I got it as a reward for achieving something important to me. It is made to measure with these huge pockets that can fit so many things in it so you don’t need a bag! The other items are kind of a set. I have my mother’s denim Chinese-style jacket and denim shirt from the 70s. They are fabulous, worn to the softest denim and I like the fact that I have pictures of my mum in these items styled totally differently from how I wear them.
Stephannie’s gorgeous Totty Rocks mac.
What would be your ultimate thrifted find?
Hmm, this one is one for the horse riding folk, but I would love to find some Ariat Windermere boots – perfect for riding and stomping around in.
Finally, Stephannie, can you share three ethical style tips with us:
Clothes swaps are brilliant fun.
The internet is your friend for ethical shopping: people out there have often done some of the hard work for you. See Ceri’s Ethical Fashion Blog and Ethical High Street as just two examples.
If you can make friends with your sewing machine or even friends with someone who can use a sewing machine (in my case my mum!) it helps for fixing and altering items that you need to. My mum managed to rescue a jumper that was attacked by moths by patching the holes with brightly coloured sequins. It’s so simple but looks great!