It was only recently, when writing a high-street fashion piece for Grazia, that I realised I love fashion, but quite frankly I dislike trends. When I say ‘trends’, I mean the kind that the high-street turns around in less than a month based on a runway show – collections that would have taken six months to produce – with half the quality and a whole lot more damaging impact on the environment. I’m talking about the kind of trends that won’t see you through a month, nevermind an entire season. Trends that you buy into because it looked ace on someone on Instagram but, truthfully, don’t work on your figure/skin tone/height/personality – delete as applicable. The mighty social-media world has warped our own sense of identity as we are confronted with the same outfits and fashion crazes being mimicked over and over again.
I’m a Fashion Director with 12 years of styling and editing experience. I’ve witnessed thousands of trends come and go, but it’s the styles I see repeatedly which are worth investing in. Take Chanel’s iconic bouclé tweed jacket. Created in 1954, it gets reimagined or reworked season in, season out (I’ve totally fallen for Virginie Viard’s longer length take for the Cruise 20 – see picture left) but if you were so lucky to find a little Chanel tweed jacket in your old aunt’s closet, then I bet you your Gucci logo belt that it would look just as excellent on you as it did back in your aunt’s heyday.
But wait. I know what you’re thinking: snapping up the trends is the very essence of shopping, right? Here’s my first trick to trend-dodging: I barely shop. Am I the biggest hypocrite in the industry or what? I work in fashion yet I don’t buy it. Stay with me here, there’s a method in my madness.
I tend to work with a solid base of clothes in my wardrobe that flatter my body, suit my skin tone – pieces that I feel good in. It’s only then that I inject some excitement for the new season. This season I’ve invested in Sleeper’s party pyjamas with feather trims, a purchase I’ve been deliberating over for six months but even after all that time they still feel like a classic addition that will see me through event seasons to come. By Far’s square-toe boots were another carefully considered purchase. The ’90s resurgence isn’t going anywhere, plus they look awesome with a Ganni leopard-print maxi dress I bought two years ago, and my cream cropped M.i.h (responsibly sourced) flare jeans.
Did you know that wearing clothing 50 times instead of five (a fast-fashion average) reportedly reduces carbon emissions by 400 per cent per item, per year? Bearing that in mind, it’s worth looking to brands like Ganni, Rixo, Sleeper and Reformation, as these labels often repeat styles throughout the seasons with design tweaks or fresh prints on an old silhouette, making their clothes every bit more valuable and postponing their expiry date.
I’m not a rush-out-and-buy-it woman. My shopping style is cautious and careful because I’ve made mistakes in the past and I’ve learned from them. As I slowly cleanse my wardrobe of my fashion regrets – selling everything on eBay or Dubizzle – I’m able to see what I can rework for the new season and what I may need to add to keep me looking at the top of my game.
My next rule is to shop consciously. I’m not saying we all should go out and invest in vintage Chanel and boycott Zara, but I am suggesting that it’s time to give up the ghost of shopping trends that are meaningless. If your purchase ‘only’ costs Dhs165, ask yourself the following questions: will I get more than one wear out of it? Is it good quality? Is it my personal style?
Lastly, dress for yourself, and not for the ’gram. No-one cares or even remembers if you wore the same dress last weekend. I know we tend to think everyone watches our style avidly, but the chances are they just see a nice dress, press ‘like’, and move on.
Shopping sustainably might not have the most glamorous ring to it, but it sure does leave a more desirable number at the bottom of your bank statement, and it will, without a doubt, keep your conscience a little clearer.