Status: In a Long-Term Relationship (With Fashion)
Elyse Hart is a personal stylist and works in corporate headquarters for a group of entertainment/media companies in Los Angeles, California. She started the blog Dust to Stardust in January 2018 to document her journey to become a more conscious fashion consumer. She shares her journey so far with you here.
Back in January, I decided that my New Year’s resolution was to become a more conscious fashion consumer. I was already doing pretty well on this front, as a majority of my clothing had been purchased second hand. Yet when I wasn’t buying second hand, I realized I wasn’t paying attention to what was behind my labels. I bought bras from Victoria’s Secret, which I now know earned a D+ on measures of human rights from Baptist World Aid’s Ethical Fashion Guide. I’d bought stuff from Forever 21, which earned a D. In December I bought clothes in a holiday spending frenzy from Express, which earned one of the lowest grades in Fashion Revolution’s index this year. As a personal stylist, I realized that I had an opportunity to be at the forefront of this burgeoning revolution that has been surely gaining traction since 2013, when the Rana Plaza Factory collapse made international headlines and gained the world’s attention, obliging many changes to public regulations and private sector practices. However, there’s still much work to be done and I realized that as a consumer, especially an American consumer, I cannot stand idly by and trust that governments and companies are going to do the right thing. I needed to become more aware and conscious, and reconsider my entire relationship with fashion.
This is when I decided to begin on my journey and create my blog, Dust to Stardust, for the express purpose of documenting my journey and findings, and sharing it with the world. Another factor that I needed to consider was my budget, as at the time I started this journey, I was living single renting an apartment in one of the most expensive cities in the USA, Los Angeles. So I set a budget of $250 USD (about $330 AUD) per season.
To put it most succinctly, I have changed my relationship with fashion from a short-term disposable nature to a long-term committed nature. It is an appropriate change for me too, as at the time I began this journey, I had just become engaged to my fiance. It’s no coincidence that my relationship with clothing parallels my romantic life. I think it’s the thought of settling down and starting a family that makes me want to be more ethical in my consumerism, as I know that the choices I make now have an impact on the world I will pass on to my future children. I strive to educate myself and change my habits before the wonderful and sometimes chaotic bustle of family life enters the scene, when it will be most enticing for me to relapse to my old way of thinking. I give kudos to all you lovely Baby Peppers customers, as you must have arrived here knowing that how you shop is just as important as what you shop when it comes to your little ones.
And since my relationship with fashion has changed, I’m using a variety of methods including buying new items (from ethical/sustainable brands), buying second hand, swapping with friends, and even repurposing things I already own by styling old things in new ways.
When I’m buying new items, I’m thinking “long-term, committed” by expecting this item to last me the next 5-10 years. These are sometimes my big ticket item, for example a pair of practical black point flats that cost $200, but are made from the finest materials and are constructed to last. Yet as a stylist, I’m not immune to the call of trendy or less practical fashions, so when I buy trendier items, I shop second hand. Second hand items are much less expensive and are being repurposed, so I don’t have to consider the materials or the brands. Other methods such as swapping and repurposing my old clothes also allow me to sometimes try fun styles.
One thing which really comes into play in my new relationship with fashion is learning how to care and protect my things. One of my favorite posts on Dust to Stardust is my post on sustainable ways to care for clothing. Your relationship with your clothes, just like any long-term relationship, is going to have snares and need therapy along the way, so I think the importance of proper cleaning, protection and mending cannot be overstated. You can bet that I buff out the scuffs in my $200 shoes and massage them with shoe conditioner on a regular basis. My favorite wash cycle is gentle/delicate and many of my things have never seen the inside of a dryer. Just the other day, my zipper broke on a pair of black jeans. I had bought them second hand, but they had really served me well for a couple of years already, so I took them to the tailor to have the zipper fixed. It cost me nearly as much as I paid for them at the thrift store, but it was much cheaper than buying a new pair. Plus they had many more years of life and style relevance in them, so I wasn’t ready to let them go quite yet.
I hope you see how whether or not you’re in a romantic long-term committed relationship, you can be in one through fashion. I have found that changing the way I think about fashion has given me a great stability and made me feel more connected with the world. I’m less concerned with chasing the latest trends and more concerned with how my purchases affect both our global society and the environment. At the same time, I’m finding gorgeous, timeless, quality pieces that will support me through my day for years to come.
If you have a personal fashion journey you’d love to share, I’d love to hear it in the comments or you can contact me through my site. If you believe thinking about fashion in a different light is a worthy cause, please share this article and subscribe to my blog to follow me as I continue on my journey!