Looking good doesn’t have to cost the earth

Jul 1, 2020

So a few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about how I think we’ve reached a crossroads in 2020. Quite a few significant events have happened and are happening around the world that I feel we need to listen and then take action. Well, a simple way of taking action is to change the way we shop when it comes to fashion. I love clothes shopping, although I rarely go. Plus looking good on the outside is sometimes all that’s needed. So I asked an expert, Becky Barnes from Becky Barnes Style.

Over to you Becky

Hands up if you believe that looking good is going to cost you a lot of money?

I can understand where this belief comes from, especially if you scroll through the Instagram grids and see images of women wearing the latest ‘must-have’ items every single day. We can easily get sucked into believing that we too need that dress which in turn is somehow going to magically create the image that we’ve always wanted, but never quite achieved.

You see the fashion industry is a very well-oiled machine that creates a deep desire to buy new clothes all the time. You are never ever done as there is always something else that is newer, better or more beautiful on offer. In fact, the industry is so successful in its marketing that over the years we have moved from two collections a year (spring/summer and autumn/winter) to fifty-two collections a year, as brand new and enticing stock hits the shop floors every single week.

But what if I told you that there is another way?

What if I told you that not only could you leave all this behind and still look good, but you could also save yourself a fortune AND help the planet?

I know it sounds too good to be true but in this case it’s not. Welcome to the wonderful world of ‘Slow Fashion’ and in particular, shopping secondhand. It’s a way of life I embraced back in 2017 and I can honestly say I haven’t looked back since. It started as a challenge with my cousin to determine whether we would both go an entire year without buying any clothes from new but for me. It also led to a complete change in how I ran my personal styling business, putting sustainability firmly alongside female empowerment at its core. 

I’ve always loved secondhand clothes shopping, one of my favourite days of the year when I was at primary school was the Scouts jumble sale in the village hall, but it’s only in the last few years that I’ve truly appreciated the wide ranging benefits.

Secondhand shopping

Firstly, shopping secondhand takes off the pressure to conform. When you step into a high street shop, you are presented with the latest trends. If high waisted jeans are ‘in’ then high waisted jeans are the only type you can find. So even though you don’t really like them, you try them on. They might work for you but they might also look and feel terrible. Which in turn makes you feel inadequate. You end up trying to make yourself fit the trends but more often than not, they don’t work on you so your self-esteem takes a hit.

In your head you think if they are everywhere, surely they suit everyone so if they don’t suit me there must be something wrong? But let’s be honest here. Most of the trends out there are designed for pre-pubescent teens so what hope do I have as a 40+ peri-menopausal woman? When you shop secondhand, no single trend is thrust upon you. Instead, you usually have access to perhaps 2 or 3 decades worth of looks so you can pick and choose exactly what suits you as well as bringing you joy. It’s such a relief and what’s more, when you pick items that truly suit you and reflect who you are as a unique individual, you look good.

Secondly, shopping secondhand can have a huge impact on your bank balance. I worked out that an average item on the high street is £30 whereas the average item in a charity shop is £3.99. So, 10 items new could cost you £300 whereas it’s just under £40 shopping secondhand. This also presents the opportunity to get more bang for your buck because brands that might ordinarily be out of your financial reach now become accessible. And whilst not always true, more expensive clothes tend to be both cut and constructed better, using higher quality materials which make for a better fit. And a better fit goes a long way to looking good!

Thirdly the environment will also benefit hugely from shopping secondhand. Did you know that in the UK alone, we send over 1 million tonnes of clothes to landfill each year? Many of these will be made using synthetic fabrics so will take decades to break down and when they eventually do, they will leak microplastics into the earth. When you shop secondhand, you not only save clothes from landfill but you reduce the demand on the planet to create new. Did you know that a new pair of jeans (high waisted or not) requires 3625 litres of water, uses 3 kilos of chemicals, takes 400 mega joules of energy and expels 32 kilos of carbon dioxide. If all those resources have already been expended let’s at least make use of them for the entire lifecycle of the garment.

I could go on and on and on!

A lot of women say to me, that’s all well and good but I never find anything in secondhand shops or I just don’t know how to shop in them. That’s one of the reasons I set up the charity shopping tours as a means for me to pass on all my tips and tricks to becoming a savvy secondhand shopper. But please don’t think it’s just charity shops, although we have some of the best in the country right here on our doorstep. We also have fab vintage boutiques, luxurious pre-loved designer stores, so many online selling platforms such as eBay, Vinted, Depop, Etsy and Shpock, good old car boot sales as well as clothes swaps. There are so many ways of accessing secondhand clothes that I’m confident there’s something for everyone!

Thanks to Becky for sharing her knowledge and expertise.

Currently, all face to face sessions are sadly on hold but Becky can offer the following online sessions:

1/ Wardrobe detox – getting rid of things that no longer suit or serve you

2/ Outfit building – making more of what you already have

3/ Signature style creation – working out exactly what your style is

4/ Virtual Shopping – browsing secondhand sites online and selecting items for you to try

You can follow Becky on Instagram, Facebook or take a look at her website.

How will you shop differently?

You might also like to read ‘Have you reached a crossroads?’

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