My sustainable style challenge: I wore one shirt for one week
Sustainable style is on the rise. Championed by the likes of Emma Watson and Priyanka Bose, it’s the much-needed kickback against the unrelenting pace of fast fashion. But ethical labels often come with a big price tag, and that can feel inaccessible to a lot of us. So how can you get involved without a celebrity budget? Luckily, Fashion Revolution Week is coming up, and it provides plenty of inspiration for embracing sustainable style.
Fashion Revolution is during April 24th-30th. It was born out of the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse of 2013, and aims to encourage transparency within the fashion supply chain by asking, “Who made my clothes?”Additionally, Fash Rev aims to get us to buy less, buy better, upcycle, and appreciate what we already have.
To get involved, I tried a sustainable style challenge to show you just how easy it can be. The challenge: I would wear one shirt for one week, styling it differently each day.
Sustainability doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to go out and buy a whole new organic wardrobe. It just means making more of what you have, and changing those throwaway habits.
I chose my trusty blue collared shirt for the challenge. It was second hand and cost less than $12, but it’s still one of the most frequently worn items in my wardrobe. What I thought was going to be a boring style week turned into a super fun test of my styling skills as I pulled the shirt from my wardrobe each morning and wondered what I could do with it next. My personal photographer (boyfriend…) snapped a photo of my look every morning, so let’s see how I did!
I eased myself into the week with a simple look, and teamed my shirt with a pair of vintage Levi’s. I think the half tuck makes it at least 15% cooler, but accessories and a flash of color were definitely needed. My pink boots added the color pop that the outfit was calling for, and my corsage choker (made from a hair band) was a nod to Saint Laurent’s fashion week styling. (Corsages are back, you heard it here first!). And finally, I threw on a pair of parrot earrings because, well, why not?
Since I went for the easy option on Monday, I felt like dressing up on Tuesday. Forget skinny jeans, I’m all about flares. I couldn’t do a simple shirt tuck two days in a row — that would be too lazy. Instead, I fished out a vintage red belt and turned my shirt into a wrap top. Dangly earrings and a few pieces of carefully chosen jewelery tied the mixed colors together. To finish, I stepped into a pair of white ankle boots (it added a hint of monochrome to temper the rainbow palette). I love this look — it feels sophisticated but not stuffy. So far, so good!
I decided to go for full Gucci vibes on Wednesday in order to float through hump day in a good mood. To channel Alessandro Michelle’s eclectic overtones, I mixed and matched my prints with wild abandon. Literally nothing here goes, but at the same time, it somehow works.
The trousers are a recent DIY project: another sustainable style tip. All it took was unpicking the side seams, stitching in the polka dot panels, and cropping the hems — and a brand new pair of trousers was born. Of course, no Gucci reproduction is complete without a flouncy bow. I put this one together from an old ribbon and a floral hair clip. I’ll definitely be recreating this look all spring/summer long.
I found this amazing red and black skirt in a vintage shop the previous weekend, and I couldn’t wait to wear it. In my mind, wide sweeping stripes and pinstripes wouldn’t work — so I was happy when they came together like a dream in the mirror. I echoed the gold of my boots throughout my jewelery to pull everything together. I’m not one to look too pulled together though, so I threw a leopard print headband into the mix. This is without a doubt my favorite look of the week.
After a week of wearing my shirt as, well, a shirt, I decided it was time to get creative. The deconstructed shirt is still a big trend, so I set about re-purposing mine into a skirt. I wore it over tights first but, somehow, it looked like I’d forgotten half of my outfit. Luckily, I’m into skirts and dresses over trousers in a big way, and that worked out. Half way between a shirt tied at the waist and a skirt, it’s a clever layering trick (and yours to steal if you want!). I topped off the look with one of my favorite t-shirts, and Friday’s look was a winner.
I like to think of myself as a bit of a sustainable style pro, but this challenge really showed me the mileage we can all get out of our clothes.
We don’t need a new outfit for every occasion, or every weekend — we just need to get creative. It’s easy when you know how.
Why don’t you take the challenge next?