Thoughts on Slow Fashion Season & My Wardrobe Moving Forward

With the change from summer to fall, Slow Fashion Season has also come to a close. If you haven’t heard of it, Slow Fashion Season was a challenge in which participants committed to bringing nothing new into their wardrobes for the entire three months of summer, instead encouraging consumers to turn to more sustainable alternatives like thrifting or making your own clothes. 14,486 people participated this year which was so amazing to see!

In today’s article I wanted to share my experience and thoughts on Slow Fashion Season, as well as how it’s impacted my views on my wardrobe and blog moving forward. Buckle in folks, because this is going to be a long one!

My Thoughts on Slow Fashion Season

Slow Fashion Season began on June 21, 2019. At that time, I had also committed to doing a #NoBuyJuly challenge, in which I was only going to be purchasing necessities and nothing else for the entire month of July; whereas Slow Fashion Season was related specifically to wearables like clothing, shoes, and accessories. I was super excited to commit to both of these since as I mentioned in my previous summer capsule article, I was feeling a little uncomfortable and inundated with too many new things due to working with brands on sponsored and gifted products (more on that later).

To be honest, that first month of July was a breeze! If anything, it felt like a relief. It was freeing to be on the outside of that consumerism cycle for once. If I saw anything that remotely piqued my interest, whether it be an advertisement, new summer launch email, or a post on Instagram, I just ignored it straight away because of my commitment. Of course there were still times that I had impulses to buy, but it felt good to say no – which is strange, because I expected to feel like I was missing out or deprived. But I didn’t – instead, it felt like I’d been released from something that previously had a hold on me.

I should add an important note here that this is all coming through an extremely privileged lens. I’m lucky to have the choice to buy something if I want it – and I realize that not everyone has that luxury. The last thing I want to do is make someone feel badly; my goal is simply to share my own personal experience as I journey towards being a more conscious consumer.

Continuing into August and September, I’ll admit I did start to feel a bit of FOMO. Tradlands launched their beautiful jumpsuit, and I turned down the opportunity to collaborate with them on it. I refused or postponed all collaboration opportunities with my brand partners while the challenge was on (although some collaborations that I had already agreed upon came through during the challenge). It allowed me to slow down and rest a little, as well as focus on finalizing and launching my e-book.

I also got to prioritize getting use out of the items already in my closet instead of incorporating new things. I did buy two new-to-me items during the challenge – a slip dress and a light grey cotton button-down shirt, both originally from Aritzia, that I found pre-loved at my favourite consignment store. I already have the same dress in another colour, but it’s a staple in my closet and when I found it in black and in my size, I couldn’t say no. The shirt is also a classic piece – a boyfriend oxford shirt which works well for the office or dressed down for the daytime.

Outside of shopping, I accepted a hand-knit cardigan from my mom (how could I not?) and made a couple of things for myself, including a pair of pants, a linen dress, a wrap skirt, and some pyjama boxers (I still need to finish the top, but will share those soon!)

Other than that, I basically abstained from clothes shopping for the full three months. Normally I allow myself a small capsule wardrobe refresh at the beginning of each season, and (very gratefully) receive some gifted items from my brand partners throughout. But when I thought about it, I had no real reason to shop. At the end of the day, I already have all of the clothes I truly need. Everything else is technically just a want at this point, which is still okay – I just try to be more conscious and moderate what I bring in. But since I didn’t actually need anything, it just felt more right to not buy anything at all for the challenge.

Throughout the challenge, I did however add a few things to my wish list as I began to plan for fall. This felt a little disingenuous, because it felt like I was still technically shopping, but just postponing the purchase until later, if that makes sense. So towards the end I think I did start to get caught up in that sort of consumerism cycle again, which honestly, it’s hard not to. But I think overall the challenge did a great job of helping me take a break from it, at least for a while. Not to mention the fact that with the amount of people that signed up, a huge impact was made and a lot of awareness was generated about slow fashion and sustainability, which I think is amazing.

All-in-all, I thought it was a great challenge and I’m already planning to sign up again next year (signups for 2020 are already open!) Did you participate in Slow Fashion Season? If so, what did you think? And if not, would you consider doing it in the future? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

My Wardrobe Moving Forward

So, now that the challenge is over, where does that leave me and my wardrobe? It’s a question I’ve been mulling over and it’s been bringing up a lot of thoughts and feelings for me. Part of me thinks, okay, now you can go back to working with brands and doing your seasonal refreshes and shopping consciously. But part of me also wonders, wouldn’t it be possible to do this not just for summer, but all the time?

I mean, there are people out there doing just that. One that comes to mind is @notbuyingnew on Instagram (definitely an account to follow if you’re not already). As their username suggests, they purchase only secondhand items, focusing more on owning less. They are setting such a great example when it comes to slow fashion and sustainability.

Combine that thought with the fact that I have been feeling a little bit of discomfort, as I mentioned, over the amount of brand partnerships and collaborations I’ve been doing lately. Jess of @jesswithless recently alluded to something similar in a recent Instagram post. It’s been hard trying to navigate working as an ‘influencer’ in this slow fashion space and finding that balance between promoting good brands while continuing to live my values and set a good example, especially as my audience grows.

Then, there was the recent conversation that happened over on Katelyn’s (@corporateglitter) account where she owned up to a lot and spoke about her own defensiveness in the face of the opportunity to be and do better as an influencer. If you check out the post, also make sure that you also check out the accounts she tagged of the people who called her in and inspired her to purchase only ethical and sustainable fashion moving forward. This made me want to examine myself a little more critically because I know that I, too, could be doing better in my own way.

Sometimes working in this space, I feel a bit of impostor syndrome. Like, should I really be here, telling you how to be more sustainable when others are doing it better, or when I’m not perfect at it? I am on a journey and sharing my experience, so I know I’m not going to be perfect – but I don’t want to fall into old habits of consuming so much, just because it’s now from ethical and/or sustainable brands.

It honestly makes me wonder if I should continue creating and sharing my seasonal capsule wardrobes because there is a bit of an impulse to make it ‘perfect’ and include everything that you need, which might mean picking up a few things to complete the collection. That said, I do enjoy it and it’s really helped me move towards living with less and downsizing my wardrobe over time – and I hope it’s helping you do the same, too! I don’t want to influence more shopping by encouraging people to pick up something that is in my capsule; although if people are going to shop, I’d like to recommend certain brands who are doing things more sustainably and ethically over fast fashion.

My original plan for this blog when I started it was to share simple living tips, such as being zero-waste, being more self-sufficient, and content related to minimalism and personal development. But I started incorporating the style and capsule wardrobe side of things, because that’s where it started for me, and that’s what my audience really seemed to like. So that sort of dictated where I took my blog and my content focus. And now these two sides sort of clash and create that discomfort for me, although I do still think it’s possible for someone who enjoys style to be a minimalist – it’s all just about finding that right balance and ensuring everything is in moderation. And, I’ve always loved style and am working towards building a more sustainable and ethical wardrobe, so of course I enjoy partnering with these great companies.

What I will say is that I consider the brands I work with very carefully before sharing them with you to make sure that I think they’re good enough. There are a few things I look for when I partner with brands, and they need to check at least one (but ideally most) of these boxes:

  • Quality: they create products that are durable and that will last me a lifetime.
  • Timeless style: they’re focused on long-lasting basics and fundamentals over passing trends.
  • Sustainable production practices: whether it be using more eco-friendly materials or decreasing their carbon footprint.
  • Ethical production practices: ensuring fair wages and working conditions for employees.
  • In addition to these, I would also love to start focusing on working with more local or smaller businesses, especially those owned by women and diverse makers.

I turn down quite a few sponsorship opportunities because they’re not the right fit or with a company I would want to promote. (As a side note, it’s kind of funny sometimes what brands appear in my inbox – even though I clearly state I am about slow fashion and sustainability, I’ve been offered partnerships on everything from fast fashion to diet teas to plastic phone cases. The list goes on – but I digress.)

But, I still feel like I’ve been accepting too much this year, even if it’s from a good brand. The partnership that I’ve been most uncomfortable with lately is Everlane. Don’t get me wrong – I love their company and think that they offer great, high-quality basics for affordable prices, in addition to making improvements towards sustainability and transparency in their production processes. It was super exciting to start working with them because they are such a well-known company – one I never would have dreamed I could be partnered with.

But at the same time, the way my partnership with them works, I can receive multiple items from them on a monthly basis. While I love it all and carefully consider my picks and what I share with you, it sort of goes against my values of moderation and reducing consumption. So in this way I feel like I’ve been selling out a bit – and I’m sorry for that.

At the end of the day, I still want to work with brands and accept gifted products, partnerships or sponsorships – not only because I have a dream of one day making this blog my full-time job, but because I also want to support these companies and promote them as better alternatives to fast fashion brands. But I don’t want to compromise my values anymore and I think that this discomfort that I’ve been feeling is telling me that I need to slow down and re-think how I’m doing things.

With all of that said, there are a few takeaways from the Slow Fashion Season challenge that I’m going to keep with me moving forward. I hope these will help me do better for you all as I continue down this conscious consumerism path.

  1. The first thing is that I plan to commit to this challenge every summer moving forward. Summer is a slower season anyway, and probably my least favourite when it comes to style. So committing to spending 3 months of the year buying nothing new and reducing my consumption as much as possible is something I’d really like to continue.
  2. I’d like to increase my use of alternatives to buying new. Thrifting and shopping at consignment stores can be difficult if you’re looking for something specific, but if you’re patient and spend the time you can usually find something at least similar. It’s much cheaper and more eco-friendly than buying new, and supports charity shops and local businesses. Moving forward, I’d really like to incorporate that mentality more into my shopping. If I have something on my wish list, I need to remember that I don’t need it now and can wait until I find a good secondhand option.
  3. I’d also like to continue making my own clothes, something I’ve gotten back into this year. I really enjoy it and would love to improve my skills so that more of my wardrobe can be slowly and lovingly hand-made.
  4. Lastly, I want to go back to why I started this blog in the first place and create more lifestyle content for you, including sustainability tips, minimalism, personal development, etc. I still want to blog about fashion, but I want to create in other areas as well.

If you have any questions about the way that I work with brands, I’d be happy to answer them for you in the comments, or if there’s enough interest I could even do a full blog post about how it works! All of the #sponsored, #ad, #gifted, and #partner hashtags can get a bit confusing sometimes, and I want to be as transparent about it all as possible.

I am currently working on doing up my fall capsule wardrobe for you, and it should be ready soon. You’ll see a couple of new items in there that I am either bringing in for fall or that were added into my wardrobe in the spring via partnerships. For the most part, I’m including items that I already owned and if there are new pieces, they are from companies that I honestly believe in. I’ll be marking which pieces were gifted to me by a brand, and what’s new to my wardrobe for the season.

I also have a couple of fall collaborations planned, so you’ll see those coming up in the next few weeks as well. But just know that while I am receiving and promoting these items, it’s not expected or realistic for someone to be keeping up with that pace and buying it all. If it’s something that you’ve been looking for or really love, then by all means! But I never want to make you feel like you need something just because I have it.

For now, I will continue trying to give you all the outfit inspiration using mostly what I already have to help you shop your wardrobe – interspersed with promotional products from time to time to support companies that I believe deserve it. But like I said, I will be continually trying to improve my own consumption by focusing more on what I have and bringing in more secondhand items when I shop. And I will be more mindful about how many collaborations I’m doing and work on slowing that down to a pace that feels more acceptable. I am constantly learning and evolving, and just really want to share this whole process and journey with you.

This post has turned into quite the rant, so I will cut things off there. If you read this far, thank you for listening! I’d love to hear your general thoughts, comments, or questions below. Until next time!

Sincerely,

Emily Lightly

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  • Hi Emily, I’m a regular reader of your blog and I really appreciated your honesty in this post. I follow a number of sustainable and capsule wardrobe accounts and have often found it frustrating when they are adding multiple items a month to their closet (even if through gifting) and are constantly promoting different brands. On the flip side, as a careful consumer I appreciate the honesty and transparency these reviews provide, and I’ve discovered some fantastic and sustainable companies this way! Overall I think the answer is personal. Everyone has different ideas as to what a minimalism is and exactly how many items a capsule should include. When I choose to follow certain blogs I try to find those with similar values to myself and then instead of influencing me to buy buy buy, I am encouraged to turn to my closet and shop there! I have to say, your blog has struck a perfect balance (in my opinion anyways) between promoting ethical sustainable brands but not encouraging unnecessary consumerism. Keep up the good work! PS Can’t wait to see your fall capsule wardrobe!

    • Hi Emma, thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement! That means so much 🙂 I agree, I think it is a personal thing as well, and I have no issue with how other bloggers do things. This just hasn’t felt right for me so I’m hoping to strike a better balance. Currently working on the fall capsule.. I hope to have it up this week!

  • Emily! Appreciate this post so much. It’s a hard to navigate this world and I think you’re doing a great job of it. I’m really looking forward to your fall capsule. I’ve been refreshing your blog every day to see if it’s up yet. Honestly, as great as the capsule is, I LOVE looking at all the outfit inspiration / ideas at the end of the post. I try to pick out some similar things to what’s already in my closet vs. buying things that are exactly like what you post. And your outfit inspiration is a huge help to me and putting things together for someone who feels less fashionable and struggles with style and coordination. Hope you continue doing that too. Sending you warm thoughts – you’re killing it, girl!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I really appreciate it. And I’m so glad that you use the capsules as inspiration to shop your own closet, that’s awesome! I will try to include some extra outfit inspo for you this time around 🙂

  • Thanks Emily,
    I really appreciate your commitment to being honest in this process of blogging and influencing. I would love you to return to more posts on other areas of sustainable, slow, minimal living! Xx