I kicked off day 6 of the Ethical Brands for Fashion Revolution event with an introduction to ‘Wearing Your Values’. Since starting Roberta Style Lee back in 2015, a lot has changed in the fashion world. Ethical fashion is not such a niche anymore and people are more aware of the fashion industry’s dark side – the sweatshops, waste and pollution lurking behind the pretty clothes.
Fashion has really influenced the values I set for myself and my business, the way I see clothes and how I present myself. Learning more about the fashion industry was a real turning point for me at the start of my sustainable style journey. Instilling in me a sense of ethics and wanting to work with integrity. Today I proudly wear my values and try to help others do the same. So when I took my turn on the Ethical Brands for Fashion Revolution stage, it was a no-brainer to open my day-long event with my signature talk on wearing your values.
Here’s a round-up of my session and thoughts. Enjoy!
Becoming a sustainable stylist
When I began my styling career, I started looking at other stylists around me who were posting new outfit pics everyday, dressed from head-to-toe in fast-fashion brands and I realised…
a) that’s just not me
b) that would be in conflict with my values and everything I have learnt about the fashion industry.
5-years on and I’m well-known as London’s Sustainable Stylist – a title I’m very proud of! For me, being a sustainable stylist is about making the most of all materials – even if they’re not the most sustainable. It’s about getting the most out of what I already own and feeling empowered by my values.
I don’t have an 100% ethical or sustainable wardrobe, it’s not perfect. Because creating a sustainable wardrobe is a journey, not a destination.
Finding your values
Being authentic in yourself means being true to your values. What you say, do, wear, act, buy, eat and everything in-between is a reflection of your values. Knowing your values and finding your why is one of the most empowering experiences. But how do we decide on our values? I’ll tell you…
You have to be realistic when coming up with your values – you can’t check every ethical/sustainable box. So look at other people’s values and criteria and see which most resonate for you. This is a great place to start but ultimately wearing your values is all about YOU. What you care about, what’s important to you.
Take a step back and consider what matters most to you in life and in general. Not just your wardrobe. Find out what issues drive you emotionally.
What matters most for me is being sustainable with materials by reusing them, making the most of garments that already exist and also the ethical side of production. (i.e. looking at how something is made, where it comes from). These influence my decisions when purchasing.
Ultimately, what you care about and prioritise will vary from what your friends and family care about. It can be tricky to settle on your values and build this into your wardrobe. Don’t be fooled by the ethical influencers and bloggers who make it look so easy – this just isn’t a true reflection of everyday individuals!
Figure out your lifestyle and what your wardrobe needs and find a balance between the two. One size does not fit all.
Another great place to get inspiration from is the Sustainable Development Goals. You can check them out here. Look at the 17 SDGs and consider how you impact them either positively or negatively and then use these qualities when looking to add to your wardrobe.
Wear Your Values & Feel Empowered
Discovering your values will take time. You don’t wake up overnight and just go “ta-dah, I’ve found my vision, I have purpose and know my values”. It’s a slow process but trust me the journey is incredibly empowering! I’ve never felt more confident than when I started wearing clothing that represented my values. And as a result my clothing now means so much more to me. As my fellow Ethical Brands for Fashion Revolution host Jo Salter said:
Having a deeper connection with our clothes, through our values, makes us happier!
When building a wardrobe in line with your values, be practical – it won’t be 100%. But just getting started is the first step. Everything won’t always be available so come up with some non-negotiable values. A balance is required as you won’t be able to embody all of your values completely, all of the time. Even I occasionally have to buy things from the high-street if I cannot find a petite alternative in the style, shape, colour or size I need from an ethical fashion brand, but that’s a last resort.
Make a positive impact with your wardrobe
We all deserve to feel empowered by our style! But knowing where to start can be a tricky business. That’s why I’ve relaunched my long-awaited styling course to help you master the style basics and make a positive impact with your wardrobe. Knowing your personal style means less clothing consumed and wasted and less stress on our planet!
Look good, feel good – do good! 😉
I can’t wait to share my style secrets and wardrobe planners with you all! Don’t miss out, sign up for Spring 2020 enrolment and learn more about RSL’s ‘Create Your Own Personal Style’ course here.
Stay safe, stylish and sustainable!