2020 Vision for Sustainable Fashion


As the title for this post may indicate, you can expect three things from its contents:

1) Horrendous puns
2) Big-idea resolutions that may or may not come to fruition (I mean, let's be honest here)
3) Stuff about sewing and clothing and sewing clothing, which should come as a surprise to literally no one since that's what I talk about half the time anyway.

The too long; didn't read version is this: in the year 2020, I intend to expand/develop my wardrobe by making and thrifting ONLY, and resolve to not purchase a single article of ready-made clothing for myself. Yes. This includes socks and underwear. We'll get to that.

(I also want to take a quick moment to gripe about the fact that I've been working on this post for several days and had it almost completed yesterday - last year! - but somehow did not SAVE what I was working on - the autosave feature chose to just Not Work - and I had to rebuild several paragraphs from scratch today. I am grumpy about this, and pining for the loss of unreachable wordsmithery.)

OKAY, BUT WHY?

I've been reading a lot lately about the impact that fast fashion is having on the world we live in today, and spoiler alert - it's not good. Whether it's synthetic fabrics that end up as landfill when next season's apparel comes along or cheap straight-to-Walmart-clearance-racks items that are made by women working in deplorable conditions, there are a lot of problems involved in the clothes we (and by "we" I'm generally speaking of middle-class Americans, a category into which I fall) take for granted. (I have by no means plumbed the depths of this topic, by the way - there's a lot more to learn! I'm eager to read Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas, Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline, and Secondhand by Adam Minter in the coming weeks, as I've been hearing very good things online about all three books.) No matter where you fall on the environmental freak-out scale (from "wow, we definitely need to stop using so much plastic" to "WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS"), I think we can all agree we need to take care of the earth we live on, and that as a society we throw out way too much, too fast. Besides which, regardless of how much you know about the garment industry, most people are uncomfortably aware that much of American clothing is not ethically sourced, and that the people employed to make clothing around the world are frequently not paid a living wage. (The Dressember organization is an eye-opening website to peruse, bringing to light the realities of exploitation in clothing production.)

Edward Everett Hale, a 19th-century clergyman, is credited with the famous quotation,
"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do." 
Over the last few months, in thinking about the impact that small choices can make (and in learning more about where my clothes come from, who makes them, and where they go), I've felt a personal conviction to make some changes in the way that I acquire and wear my clothes. So I came up with a plan to spend the next year (for starters, at least! maybe forever!) making more intentional choices about my clothing.

SOUNDS COOL, BUT HOW?

Well, in case you didn't notice - I sew!

And, in case you also didn't notice - I'm not very practical about sewing!

Okay, okay, that's not true. I have, in fact, done quite a bit of practical sewing over the past few years - making do, and mending, and all that. I've made things like (knitted) laptop cases and aprons (didn't get a pic before I gave it away as a gift, though) and done repairs to favorite winter gloves and my husband's lunch carrier.  But the majority of what I've blogged about, sewing-wise, has revolved around historical costuming and sewing my wedding dress. I intend to change that in the new year, and focus a) on sewing more practical, everyday items, b) repairing and recycling when holes and stains happen, and c) blogging about the more dull, prosaic parts of this hobby... because there IS a lot of beauty in the everyday.

My other goal will be to buy anything I need and cannot easily make (for instance, t-shirts) from a thrift store. In some ways this will already be easy (after all, much of my wardrobe already comes from a thrift store!) and in other ways, hard, since there are only two or three thrift stores within a reasonable driving distance of my house. But since this narrows the playing field, it intensifies the game! Plus, thrifting (which Google does not recognize as a word, but it's 2020, Google - get with the program) saves a great deal of money when compared with buying new from the mall, and I am all about that.

WHAT ABOUT STUFF THAT NOBODY WANTS TO BUY IN A THRIFT STORE? EW. 

Yeah, we're talking socks and underwear here, right? Well, this is where the sustainability part comes in. I'm not starting from scratch, remember - I'm a fully-grown woman who already has a mostly full wardrobe. If my extant socks and underwear become damaged in any way over the coming year, I'm going to say no to the throwaway lifestyle and work to fix them. Would it be easier to buy a three-panty pack from Target? Yes. Will my life be ruined if I do this? No. But will it be a good challenge and an exercise in delayed gratification and self-sustainability to just repair what I already have? YES.

In short, no, I don't intend to buy any underwear from a thrift store.

DID YOU FINALLY FIGURE OUT HOW TO USE SUBHEADINGS IN YOUR POSTS TO BREAK UP CONTENT INTO TOPICAL SEGMENTS?

Yes. How did you guess?


WHAT SHOULD BLOG READERS EXPECT TO SEE?

Ideally, I'll be writing a blog post about each new or new-to-me item or outfit. I'm not going to bore you with a post about "hey, I purchased a basic black t-shirt at Goodwill today because I needed it for XYZ" but if I buy, say, a chunky black cardigan at Goodwill and trim, shape, and refashion it to a 1940's style to go with a skirt I already have, that might be more blogworthy.  I've toyed with the idea of making some YouTube videos for some of these projects, but I'm not particularly photogenic (camera-genic?) nor am I terribly comfortable in front of a camera, so we'll see. (If I do decide to start YouTubing, I'll definitely share the link. But my coughing, sneezing, happy-new-year-to-me-and-my-head-cold self will not be appearing in person on your screen today, I can tell you that much.) I will definitely be documenting on my Instagram as well, though, so if you're not already following me there, this is a great opportunity to check out my feed @bluestockingdressmaker.

SO ARE YOU GOING TO BE SUPER JUDGY OF EVERYONE WHO'S BUYING READY-MADE CLOTHES THIS YEAR?

No. Why should I be? I'm excited about this project, but laboring under no delusions that I'm going to save the earth or my fellow humans by doing it.  We are all on different paths and we all make our own choices about how we can best use our talents to help others (or to not contribute knowingly to things that hurt others). If my project inspires you to take your own small steps toward sustainability and social justice, I will rejoice. If this type of project would not work for you, I respect and applaud your efforts to make the world a better place for the people around you in your own way. And if you are already taking greater strides than I, then I will admire you and hope to emulate you in the future!There may be some who read this post and think, "this is great but it wouldn't work for me because I can't sew," or others who read it and think, "as if THAT'S going to make a difference in the grand scheme of things - you won't be helping anyone unless you go live on a homestead fueled only by solar energy, never buy a paper book again, and become a vegan!" But as I said before, I - and you - cannot do everything, but I - and you - can do something. This is my something.

ARE YOU DONE YET? THIS WAS LONG.

Yes. And yes. Sorry.

You Might Also Like

0 comments