Wearing black for work doesn’t seem like the most stylish option or what Heidi Klum would refer to as “Fashion Forward.” Most of the time I opt for simple pieces, wearing a pair of earrings on occasion or throwing on a jogging jacket and wishing I had a scarf for extra warmth. Since technicians are not supposed to be seen or heard, we often don’t think to dress with style in mind, but after my involvement with Tortoise and Lady Grey’s 20-Day Sustainable Fashion Challenge and seeing a few fashionable ideas from Wig Assistants backstage, I’ve found there might be a way for self-expression to still flourish. But, before I go on a giant shopping spree, I’ve kept the ideas of Sustainable Fashion in mind including mending/repairing, reusing/purchasing second-hand, and purchasing locally or from sustainable brands. Eco-Warrior Princess sums up additional ideas in her post “The 5 Often Forgotten R’s of Eco-Friendly Fashion,” which can give a clear idea of how to use what you have instead of over-consuming. In the following outfits, I’ll show you how I kept sustainability and style in mind by indicating what I used and mended in my current wardrobe, what I purchased second-hand (including price), what I purchased from sustainable brands (also including price), and what I made myself to create fashionable outfits for work backstage:
*A small note about the shoes. I usually prefer to wear sneakers and I’ve seen others in sturdy work boots or fashion boots. However, my sneakers have been retired and recycled. So, for this post I’ve chosen to use ballet flats, until I can find a new pair that’s ready for the backstage world.
Normally I don’t wear dresses backstage, but after seeing co-workers in a cute black dress and leggings, I decided I had to give it a shot. Plus I already had a great black dress to pull out of my closet! I can also use the leggings I’ve bought for future travels to cold countries, so my purchase doesn’t go to waste or get shoved in the back of my closet never to be worn again. It’s a win-win situation.
From my closet: Dress (H&M), bracelet (given to me by a co-worker, Mariah who made it from recycled tires)
Purchased: Leggings (Patagonia) Price: $22.00
What I made: Large stone earrings (beads and jewelry supplies purchased from Denver bead store, Ornamental Beads, Price: $5.00), scarf (alpaca and silk yarn purchased from Denver yarn store Tea for Ewe, Price: $19.00)
I’ve decided to replace my jogging jacket with a more tailored look I purchased from Goodwill that originally had white on the edges for contrast. Pulling out a scrap of black satin fabric from my fabric stash, I cut out strips of bias to cover the white edges. In addition to hand-stitching the bias on the jacket, I also mended holes in a H&M top that I reinforced with knit interfacing. An easy repair and a beautiful backstage outfit!
Purchased from a second-hand store: Jacket w/bias satin (Express, Price: $6.00)
I’m thrilled that for the first time I get to wear my own hand-made jewelry! Since I don’t want the necklace to get in the way of a headlamp I usually wear around my neck, I was happy to use smaller cording and beads to have a lightweight necklace. The jewelry adds just the right amount of interest without being overwhelming, and believe me you don’t want to wear huge accessories that could get in the way or caught on something.
From my closet: Sleeveless top (Target)
What I made: Necklace and earrings (beads and jewelry supplies from Denver bead store Ornamental Beads, Price: $13.00)
I hope you can see that with the prices shown, there are plenty of affordable options to make your work attire sustainable and fashionable. The great thing is that I can interchange any of the pieces or add them to the outfit (I’m sure I’ll be needing a jacket from outfit 1 or 2 for that short-sleeved H&M dress). It took some time and thinking to purchase locally and not buy more than I need at a second-hand shop, but with planning I’ve found ways to update, add to, and refresh my work wardrobe. Are you not a knitter, jewelry-maker, or crafter? No worries, to find a few tips on how to mend your clothes, take a look at Offset Warehouse‘s post “Tips for Mending Clothes.” You can also purchase an affordable scarf ($18.00, CLICK HERE) or pendant necklace ($16.02, CLICK HERE) from Hearts.com, earrings from Faire Collection ($18.00, CLICK HERE, or $19.00, CLICK HERE), or wardrobe staples from Everlane (T-shirts $15.00, CLICK HERE) and Pact (T-shirts $15.00, CLICK HERE or 2-pack of socks $12.00, CLICK HERE). Is there something you want from a Sustainable or Ethical company but can’t afford right now? Plan ahead and find times to shop sales and ask for gift cards to places you like so friends and family can give you gift cards for a purchase that will be meaningful (which is how I purchased my Patagonia leggings). An important key to not overconsuming is to know your style so you don’t end up buying something that’s trendy but you will never wear because it isn’t your style. As always, enjoy your outfits and remember Sustainable Fashion should be fun!
What other ways do you maintain wardrobe and to avoid throwing out items? What are your favorite local stores to shop from? What great pieces have you found at second-hand stores?