Siân T. Blog - Tog Tales
Vintage Style is good for you and good for the planet
2nd October 2019
If you love clothes, love the freedom and self-expression afforded by styling your outfit from underwear to overcoat, you might (like me) have been disturbed by recent reports on fast-fashion as an eco-disaster. With how we dress being a key way in which many of us communicate our mood, personality and culture to the world, the thought that we may have to sacrifice that to save our planet is far from comfortable.
As with all environmental issues, this one is complex. Some 300,000 tonnes of clothes went into landfill in the UK last year and synthetic fibres take anything from 20-200 years to break down. Plus, according to the UN, it takes 7500 litres of water (enough for one person to drink for seven years) to make a single pair of jeans and the fashion industry is responsible for more carbon emissions each year than international flights and shipping combined – fast-fashion is costing the earth.
So what’s the environmentally conscious fashionista to do? One possibility is to buy vintage or ‘thrifted’ (used and cheap!). Buying and using something that would otherwise end up in landfill has got to be a step in the right environmental direction. By buying vintage or thrifted , we aren’t fuelling demand for new clothing and many vintage clothes were made at a time when mass-production wasn’t a thing and what you bought was made to last – meaning less waste!
The thing is though, I didn’t start buying these things for the eco-credentials. I started buying them because I was bored of the high street’s bland offerings. I was tired of looking like everyone else and fed up of styles that didn’t suit me and didn’t fit me. I wanted a more unique look, and something that worked with my shape.
As a photographer, I also wanted to offer my portrait clients something different for their shoot with a wardrobe of exciting pieces that could be mixed and matched to create a unique style, and I’m not made of money so buying new and designer simply wasn’t an option.
If you’ve not considered vintage or thrifted clothes before, here are my top tips for getting started
1. Find your shapes. Which vintage styles will work for you depends on the shapes you like. If you like an hourglass shape take a look at the 1950s for the circle skirts and wiggle dresses popularised by TV’s MadMen. If you want something more relaxed, check out the 1970s boho look for flared jeans and psychedelic shirts. From the 1920s to the 1990s the shapes, colours and fabrics will be different so explore it all and find what you love.
2. Check out charity shops, vintage markets and online sales sites – the quality and price of what you find in a charity shop varies so it’s worth checking out the offerings wherever you are. Vintage markets come in all shapes and sizes from the ‘pay by the kilo’ events that travel the country and can be a great way to pick up cheap denim, to vintage festivals that have high quality, rare and unique pieces at a higher price point. Online sale sites can be hit and miss and are better when you know what you’re looking for.
3. Mix and match - Going full vintage can end up looking like you’re going to a fancy dress party, so mix your true-vintage items with modern pieces. Charity shops are a great place to pick up quality pieces like coats, evening wear and suits at low prices. Check the labels and watch out for designer and good quality high street brands to get things that will last.