How My Style Has Evolved Along With My Ethics

by: Rosie Dalton | 1 year ago | Features

Image: our Fashion Editor, Rosie Dalton, wearing jeans by Denimsmith and a top by Miss Crabb.

It is Fashion Revolution Week at the moment, which is always a sobering time of year, because it marks the tragic anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh. But it is also an important time of year, because it reminds us of just how far the industry has come since 2013 and how far it still has to go, in terms of fashion’s environmental and social impact. For me personally, Fashion Revolution has been integral to my understanding of just how significantly our clothes can affect the world. And this journey of discovery is one that has had a major impact on my sense of personal style as well.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I remember wanting to wear new outfits all the time – and I was particularly drawn to outlandish colours, prints or silhouettes as a means of making a statement. My frame of reference at that time included films like Clueless and TV shows like Sex and the City. But today that particular approach couldn’t be further from how I would describe my personal style. In the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse – and as organisations like Fashion Revolution began to discuss how our clothes are made – I found myself wanting to consume less. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am no less enamoured by fashion now than I was then, but as my personal ethics shifted to a ‘less is more’ mentality, so did my sense of personal style evolve in tandem. Slowly I began to realise that newness is not necessarily a pre-requisite of good style. And my fashion icons shifted from the eternal chameleons (like Carrie Bradshaw) to the essential purists (like Jane Birkin). As a result, I began to see the inherent value in carving out a personal uniform – and today uniform dressing offers the most practical solution for me personally.

I used to think that my style had influenced my ethics, but I now see that it’s the other way around. In other words, my desire to buy less and buy better has influenced a uniform of timeless, well-made staples. The blue jeans that age well, while also keeping things relaxed, for example. Or the black blazers that are suitable for everything from work, to weekends and evening events. When made from quality fibres, these sorts of garments can last many years without getting 'old' – meaning that I don’t have to buy new pieces with each new season.

Of course, style is about as personal as ethics themselves, which means that what makes sense for me mightn’t necessarily be the best approach for others. But this is why it's so important to pick your battles. For me personally, paring things back purchase-wise has also meant paring things back in terms of how I dress. I no longer feel the need to wear something new to every event, or to shock people with the latest colour addition to my wardrobe. Instead, I am content in the knowledge that, though simple, my personal uniform allows me to feel comfortable and support responsible designers at the same time.

Ethical fashion – like ethics generally – is an incredibly broad area, so the best way to tackle it is often to focus on those issues closest to your heart. For me, these include supporting fair work and the continuation of jobs onshore – which is why I am a big fan of fair and local brands like Denimsmith. I also believe in protecting the planet wherever possible, so tend to opt for sustainable basics that cause minimal unnecessary harm. For me, these small purchasing choices make a big difference to the way I feel about my clothes. And they prove that, although overwhelming at times, ethical fashion doesn’t need to be overly complex – all you have to do is make it personal.


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