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Dressing With Kindness

by Besma Whayeb

My fashion choices really mean a lot to me. I think it’s the same for most people - clothes express personality, mood, culture, interests… but they also express the stories that are woven into them too.

I only realised this complex nature around fashion when I was finishing my degree in 2014. I’d chosen to focus on sustainable agriculture - a dry topic on the surface, but one that took me on a journey through farmlands, factories, markets, and into our pantries. It struck me that much of our clothing is made in a similar way, grown from natural materials (or in the case of fast fashion, made with petroleum-based products), spun into threads and woven into fabric. So many hands touch our clothes before they reach our wardrobes, and I realised how important it was to ensure that the people in fashion supply chains are happy, healthy, and respected.

So, I began my journey into sustainable fashion. I decided to research the fashion industry - I recommend watching The True Cost documentary as a start - and then tried to suss out my own style. I really think that’s the best combination: understanding where your clothes come from, and also what your clothes say about you. This appreciation and confidence means I’ll wear my clothes more, and love them over the years too. And the best thing: they all have a kind backstory. 

Today, it’s so much easier to find sustainable fashion, and to get that kind of inspiration. Books like The Curated Closet, or even magazines such as this one provide a combination of style and substance that once was quite difficult to find!

My Top 5 Tips for Dressing With Kindness

If you’re just getting started with sustainable fashion, or would like to brush up your sustainable styling skills, here are my top tips:

  1. Read up on the issues in today’s fashion industry, and look for the brands and organisations doing things in a better way.
  2. Get to know the terminology - while sustainable fashion is often used as an umbrella term, you may also see:

  • Slow fashion: clothes that are not governed by seasonal trends, and are instead classic investment pieces that can be worn whenever you like
  • Ethical/fair fashion: clothes from a supply chain that treats their producers and garment workers fairly
  • Circular fashion: clothes that have been regenerated or are part of a circular system

  1. Define your style - get to know your body shape, the colours you prefer to wear, and perhaps a few style icons to follow too!
  2. Look for transparency. Find out more about your favourite brands - the ones that proudly display badges and certifications are often a much better bet than those who hide their supply chains and impact.
  3. Be open to trying something new. The world of sustainable fashion is still growing, and there’s so many new options popping up to explore! Recent discoveries for me include fashion rental, upcycled customised items, innovative materials such as mushroom leather, and more.

Besma Whayeb is the author of Curiously Conscious, an award-winning sustainable fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog. @besmacc See below for Besma's picks: