In 2021, as sustainability becomes a buzzword in the industry, we are increasingly opting for ‘pre-owned’ / ‘pre-loved’ garments found in charity shops, online auction sites, curated vintage shops, and luxury reseller platforms. But secondhand shopping is not the end of this movement towards a sustainable fashion future. This past year the creativity of looks has become an important marker of style, inspired often by snackable videos of DIY fashion projects proliferating Tiktok.
Photo by Nafinia Putra, Unsplash.
Sustainable fashion isn’t just about spending hours, physically and virtually, rummaging around secondhand shops to find the most unique item. By giving your garments a personalised touch with these 8 tips and tricks on crafting a sustainable style, we can wear our clothes with pride, no matter if it is ‘in fashion’ or not.
By reworking your secondhand steals or mending the back-of-the-wardrobe relics through these tips and tricks, not only will your wardrobe be reinvigorated by authentic staples at a low-to-no cost but it also builds your personalised style.
Embroidering The Imagination
Nothing says sustainable style more than embellishing your clothes with DIY crafts. Hand embroidery has been practised all over the world for centuries, meaning there are multitudes of techniques and styles to try your hand at. Using transfers, stencils or going free-hand on your jean pockets or hems, around a logo on a t-shirt, or on the cuff and collar of a shirt will add your unique signature to your style.
You can also add beads or sequins to your embroidery too.
To Paint Or To Print
Whilst embroidery may be for those who want a more subtle impact, painting or printing on garments you will achieve a large-scale, unapologetically bold impact. Fabric paints (acrylics can work too) can be used to create individual figurative or abstract designs. 100% cotton fabric will respond the best to the paint but you can try your designs on synthetic fabrics, silk or leather - but before you get going, make sure you test the paint out on a segment of your chosen fabric.
For those who have less time or are less confident in their artiste skills, you can print images through an ink-jet printer onto transfer paper and iron the product onto your chosen garment.
However, DIY crafts can be fiddly and not everyone has the time or patience. There is a simpler way to rework your old garments such as simply adding or changing buttons on a shirt, jumper, trousers or skirt. If you’re like me, you have probably accumulated hundreds of stray buttons in your lifetime that you can use. If you are not, why not consider swapping some buttons from other garments around?
Patch It Up
In the past 18 months, there has been a resurgence in the ‘make do and mend’ mentality, recalling the war-time sentiment. Rather than throwing away clothes with holes in or looking past a garment with a stain on, you can elongate the lifetime of your pieces through patchwork. By patching up holes or stains with scrap materials from pillows, table cloths or kitchen towels you can re-energise the signs of wear-and-tear. Darning holes with opposing coloured thread also offers a new lease of life to your garment.
Ready-made patches can also be bought or you can create your own through embroidery.
New Day, New Dye
Dyeing your garment is a sure way to invigorate your clothes with a new lease of life. Some materials such as cotton, silk etc. will respond better to dyes. Reminiscent of the '60s Summer of Love, tie-dye has made a comeback. By following a tie-dye kit or the DIY bleach method, you can imbue your style with a blast of ecstasy whilst California Dreamin’ rings in your ear.
You can also simply dye your item in block colours with dyes from your local craft shop or online.
Altering your clothes is another option. This is not for the faint-hearted though. If you are not confident with the processes of altering, find your nearest tailors. Before embarking on a journey to the tailors, make sure you have a measuring tape handy so you can go in prepared with the details of what you want to do. You can ask to get things taken in, up and sometimes out depending on the garment. You can also ask to change the style entirely.
Sustainable styling can also be about reducing expenses. If you have got a big event coming up and you have the urge to buy something new that you might not wear again, why not just look for accessories to reinvigorate your outfit like a scarf or some jewellery?
Reducing Time / Reducing Choice
Sustainable style can also be about reducing choice and time spent on daily outfits. You could plan your outfits around what you're doing in a week to save time. Or even pick a colour you could focus around this week. Or perhaps a specific silhouette. This way you can really start to narrow down your wardrobe and realise that you don’t need a lot of clothes to be stylish.
This way you can really start to narrow down your wardrobe and realise that you don’t need a lot of clothes to develop your personal style. This narrow approach is perfect if you are packing to go away: reducing space in the suitcase.
Conscious consumption habits are not the end of the discussion around sustainable fashion. By approaching your everyday fashion looks through the lens of constant renewal through creative means, we begin to gain a greater appreciation for our clothes. This renewed appreciation allows us to move toward a more cyclical fashion industry and away from our inclination to consume and waste. And TikTok has the answers!