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Plus-Size Ethical Fashion, Privilege & Shopping Better | Q&A

By February 16, 2018 Ethical

A while ago, I answered some of your questions about ethical fashion in a simple, almost Agony Aunt style post. It went down well, so I’m back, helping simplify and break down some of your concerns and quandaries based around the idea of ethical and sustainable fashion. Hit it!

Plus Size Ethical Fashion and Discussing If Sustainability Is a Privilege

WHAT I WORE: Floral Blouse (ASOS Africa – old) // Floral Trousers (ASOS Africa – old) // Keep On Asking Sweatshirt (Lost Shapes x Tolly Dolly Posh) // Sleeveless Denim Jacket (Jumble Sale & DIY) // Sunglasses (Unknown)

How can I find body inclusive, plus-size, ethical fashion on a budget?

Firstly in answer to your question, I want to apologise for the fact that I don’t tend to cover plus-size fashion. This is simply because I’m personally not plus-size so for my own style, it’s not something that I need to focus on. However, I understand how important it is to be inclusive and appreciate all body shapes and sizes.

Admittedly, ethical fashion brands do seem to be rather size exclusive, although they can be far more diverse in other areas compared to fast-fashion or unethically focused brands.

My knowledge of ethical plus-size brands is small so I took a brief moment to do some research and the first brands I came across were all fairly highly priced.

It led me to an article by EcoCult which in the end, also came to the same conclusion, explaining part of the problem to be that due to ethical and sustainable brands usually being on the smaller scale of business, it creates an added cost to produce plus-sizes (new patterns need designing) which in turn puts the price up for customers.

This is ultimately a little unfair – nobody should be paying more for fairly made clothes simply because of their size – so, if you’re struggling to find good examples, don’t be too hard on yourself.

As always, a really good option for finding new (to you) clothes is going second-hand shopping, whether that’s online (eBay, Depop, Oxfam* etc) or offline (charity and thrift shops, garage sales and car boot sales etc).

However, depending on your size, some of my favourite brands like People Tree do go up to sizes like UK 16. I think it’s just the case of spending your time researching and working out what’s best for you.

(I know there are issues surrounding Oxfam right now but I use them as an example as they have a great online charity shop and I appreciate the work they are doing in making second-hand shopping more appealing.)

Plus Size Ethical Fashion and Discussing If Sustainability Is a Privilege

How do I get into the habit of paying attention to the kinds of clothes I buy?

This is an interesting question because for me, once I became educated about the ethical issues around fast-fashion or the issues around sustainability when it comes to our clothes, I started to watch out for what I was buying almost instantaneously. The fact that you’re even asking the question makes me believe you’re on the right path already.

You can almost go at it by using the rules of writing (the 5 W’s and 1 H). Ask yourself 6 simple questions…

  • Who made it?
  • What’s it made of? (Try and stick to natural fabrics like cotton, if you can)
  • Where was it made? (Can you find information about the supplier? ‘Made in’ labels don’t mean much)
  • When will you wear it? (Can you see yourself wearing it 30 times or more?)
  • Why are you buying it? (Is it an impulse purchase?)
  • How could you find an alternative? (Is it something you know would be readily available second-hand?)

You might only ask yourself one or two of these questions at a time, and some of them might never apply but having them in the back of your mind, especially when shopping on the high-street or from a brand which has an unclear ethical stance, can help you make much more considered choices. Remember, it will always be about shopping less when you can’t shop better.

What are some independent ethical brands?

Have you taken a look at my ethical directory, yet? It’s full of them! Some of my favourite true indie brands are Lucy & Yak (they do wonderful corduroy dungarees), Lost Shapes (did you know I designed the sweatshirt in this post for them?), Vintage Style Me (all handmade in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire) and What Daisy Did (they use scrap post-production leather to make their dreamy handbags).

Plus Size Ethical Fashion and Discussing If Sustainability Is a Privilege

Is sustainable living, a matter of privilege? 

This is a topic which has been floating around the sustainable-sphere rather a lot lately, mainly due to some recent controversy around a statement made by a well known, waste-free brand.

I’m going to lay out my current thoughts plain and simple. They’re open to evolution, criticism and hopefully mutual-understanding. For me, I don’t see thinking sustainably as being a privilege but the physical action of, for example, using and buying less single-use plastic or supporting ethical fashion brands, as yes, a privilege that not everyone has the ability of participating in.

I’m being very selective in my choice of wording here as I don’t want to imply that thinking sustainably isn’t a privilege for everyone. If I were to say everyone, I would really be suggesting the target-audience of my blog and anyone who stumbles across my share of the web in the future.

So, to explain my thoughts more accurately, let’s use you and me as an example. Just you and me, the singular person reading this text. I believe you are capable of thinking sustainably.

Plus Size Ethical Fashion and Discussing If Sustainability Is a Privilege

Whether you are like me, a teen, with very little money in the bank or whether you are a mother of two young children, I know that you have the capability of changing your mindset (at this point really, my blog may as well be renamed Tolly Dolly Mindset for the number of times I come back to that word).

Here, I am not implying that you physically have the capability of adapting your life to this mindset – I can’t know whether that is true or not, there are far too many variables -, simply, I believe you have the good-heart of somebody who knows the world needs to make significant changes to become a healthier and better place.

With that good-heart comes the ability to walk down a supermarket aisle and understand where we’re – humans; the system – going wrong. With this new found (or hopefully, years old) mindset, you’ll see plastic as something to be wary of and perhaps you’ll take time to really treasure whatever new dress you next buy.

That, I cannot see as a privilege. Perhaps time and education have to come beforehand and maybe that’s where my conclusion fails at the wayside; I’m again, happy to be proven wrong.

Anyone who jumps to the idea and exclaims that there is nothing getting in the way of anyone implementing sustainable and ethical practices is simply well, ignorant. As I recently tweeted, it’s vital to never assume that everyone has the ability to take actions and to understand that really, there are much bigger issues at hand.

As much as I hate to admit it, individual change and consumerism are only a minuscule part of the problem. 

Do you have any questions for me to answer next time? Leave them in a comment below or click here to fill out the Q&A form.

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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Calling out Hypocrisy Won’t Get Us Anywhere

By January 15, 2018 DIY & Lifestyle, Ethical

🎆🎉 Longtime no-write, huh? Happy New Year to all, even if it’s a little late to celebrate. 🎆🎉

Recently, I saw a tweet which was in regards to a cutting down on single-use plastics. The tweeter was on a flight when she used her Ecoffee cup (a reusable and biodegradable bamboo coffee cup that you can use in replace of throw-away options given out in public) and she wanted to praise the airline for allowing her to do so. However, the point that she was on a plane was highlighted and that became the major issue and talking point.

Fighting Against Single-Use Plastic and Hoping for a Better Future

My initial thought was that I could relate. For Christmas, I received an identical Ecoffee cup and I was undeniably excited about the prospect that I could now take it with me and be an example to others when I go to buy my next hot chocolate (I don’t drink coffee, ironically).

In fact, I even contemplated keeping it in my hand luggage when I, myself, took a flight after Christmas because I knew I would be faced with the same issue once I’d boarded the plane. I wanted an overly-priced cup of tea after a long day of travelling but do I really need to receive a cup with a plastic lid on it, in order to enjoy it? (As well another plastic cup I was given to keep my plastic milk sachets in – @Ryanair; what’s that all about?)

I didn’t use my cup mainly because I’m unsure of the regulations regarding them with the airlines I use (they still count as a liquid container over 100ml, right?) but the thought was still there, nagging at me.

Fighting Against Single-Use Plastic and Hoping for a Better Future

It seems that 2018 finds us in a, fortunately, very conscious and understanding time when it comes to our relationship with plastic. It’s still a major issue and once you open your eyes and walk around a supermarket, the idea of plastic ever going anyway anytime soon seems like an impossible feat.

Although Scotland may have just banned the use of plastic cotton buds (Q-Tips) and although the UK has now abolished the usage of microbeads, we still have Marks & Spencer selling slices of cauliflower as ‘Cauliflower Steaks’ boxed in, you guessed it, more plastic – it’s my understanding these ‘steaks’ are to be removed from stores but the point still stands.

More and more of us are starting to realise how toxic and unhealthy our relationship is with plastic and more and more of us are at least, attempting to make changes. Yet, according to the experts who responded to the tweet I used as an example – what good is a reusable coffee cup doing if you’re still using and drinking from it on a plane?

Fighting Against Single-Use Plastic and Hoping for a Better Future

Their point is valid and I agree with the argument from a certain perspective but following on from that, I could respond with another question – what good is pointing out the hypocrisy in front of you, if at least something is being done? In this instance, it’s safe to say that air travel isn’t about to be eradicated.

Anyone in their right mind would prefer if it flying was a more eco-friendly form of getting from A to B but often, travelling in the sky is the only realistic option. (May I also remind you that the fashion industry is more polluting than the whole of aviation put together.) So, if we as travellers can then try and make our experience on board more sustainable, why not?

I later discovered that the tweeter was in the field of plastics and its effects on the environment and that those responding to her were likely criticising the irony of the fact she was using this mode of transport to do a job to fix issues that are caused by it… but this isn’t the only place I’ve seen hypocrisy being called out. It’s everywhere and I even have personal experience.

Especially when it comes to being an ‘influencer’ or somebody with an audience that now expects me to approach and tackle these sorts of topics, it can be extremely difficult to be open and honest when it comes to my own hypocrisies.

What am I doing which goes against another? What am I saying yet not doing simultaneously?

Fighting Against Single-Use Plastic and Hoping for a Better Future

There are lots of things I could list and I’m unashamed to share some of them…

😱 I talk about leading a life that is as sustainable as it can be yet I’m nowhere near living a plastic or waste-free lifestyle.

🤐 I understand the disastrous effects of fast-fashion on the environment yet I continue to eat meat which also pollutes the world we live in (and in the past, I’ve had followers feel comfortable enough to point that out directly, after posting a picture of a Five Guys meal on my social media – I’d just been through an extremely traumatic time in my life and the last thing I’d had on my mind was the environmental cost of what I was eating).

😥 I have a reusable coffee cup yet I continue to use single-use sanitary products as a period-having person. 

But we achieve nothing when these hypocrisies are pointed out. There’s enough guilt put upon individuals already when it comes to tackling the issues at hand.

We’re essentially in a time where we need to reverse a lot of the processes we’ve come to normalise – fast-fashion, plastic production, pollution caused by transportation, meat and animal produce – yet we also need to live our lives and get through each day as it comes. We can advocate and get behind as many issues as we like yet it’s almost impossible to be a perfect image for each and every one.

After taking a social media break for personal reasons at the end of 2017, I realised how much social media emphasises this and how we’re continually reminded of what we are and aren’t doing to aid the fight against what is, technically, killing our planet.

Fighting Against Single-Use Plastic and Hoping for a Better Future

If we weren’t on social media, we wouldn’t be consuming endless stories about the detriment of our world and ways to fix it or how the ways we’re trying to fix it, just aren’t enough. I felt that relief of guilt when I was disconnected from it all but it doesn’t mean it was completely forgotten. I saw it with my own eyes and I was able to understand what I personally could realistically try to change in my life.

I wasn’t constantly being told what I could be doing better and that pressure of doing so is what will, in turn, scare many people away from actually trying.

Praising one person for making one change, no matter how inconsequential it may seem, can lead to another person making the same, who also might be adapting to other causes elsewhere. It’s a domino effect and pointing out that there’s a domino we’ve missed leading in a different direction, stops us from completing the journey we’re already on.

However, it would seem ignorant of me to not point out that this is a very rose-tinted-glasses way of looking at things. I’m able to discuss this and believe that small actions lead to bigger things because I’m relying on an element of hope.

Fighting Against Single-Use Plastic and Hoping for a Better Future

Essentially, as a millennial or a teen from Generation Z (or whatever other buzz word or phrase you want to use), I have to. My generation is the rose-tinted-glass for past generations; I am the hope for others but that doesn’t mean I don’t need hope for myself.

Hope is the pair of rose-tinted glasses we all need. It’s a comfort blanket (or sleeping bag, for the purpose of the analogy I’m about to use) and it protects us from insanity and giving up before we’ve even started. It shields us away from the mountain of fears that I, and I suspect, we all have.

All of these issues in regards to the earth we live on, have created a mountain of fears of colossal size and hope provides the ropes and the hiking gear so that we can reach the peak or the sleeping bag that keeps us warm at night. Without it, most of us would be lost at base camp.

So, let’s not be too harsh on ourselves when we accomplish reaching the peak of all the smaller, less dauntingly sized mountains, first.

How do you feel about hypocrisy when it comes to fighting the good fight? Do you feel the same pressures in your own life? Let’s discuss in the comments!

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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Why Having Fewer Clothes Doesn’t Mean Your Wardrobe Is Sustainable

By February 8, 2017 Ethical

I began writing this blog post because as some of you might know, towards the end of last year (on Halloween, precisely) life took a bit of a turn for the second time (read here for the first), meaning I had to part with some of my wardrobe for a while. After tweeting and Facebooking and asking how many clothes my readers and followers own, the topic of this blog post has ended up being slightly different.

creating a sustainable wardrobe - second hand fashion

I originally intended to tell you that living with only 38 pieces of clothing over the past three months has been relatively easy. I, unfortunately, can’t pinpoint how many items of clothes I genuinely own seeing as I haven’t completed a full count before, but I know that the number in total would probably be double or perhaps even more than.

I can live with 38 items of clothing. Seeing as it’s winter, that number roughly includes about five pairs of trousers (2 pairs of jeans; 1 pair of black trousers; 1 pair of suit trousers; 1 pair of patterned), multiple tops (including 4 sweatshirts, 2 of which are the same with a different variation of design), one skirt (for wearing with tights which I didn’t include within the number – there are some essentials we can’t live without) and four choices of jackets for varying weather conditions and outfit choices.

Usually, if my clothes weren’t stuck in a building damaged by an earthquake, I would have the choice of a fair bit more. Although I do sort my clothes by summer and winter, in turn, technically creating two separate wardrobes of choice, I like to say I have gradually mastered the art of wearing summer dresses layered up for the colder months meaning I have missed the extra choice.

There is a pair of ASOS Africa trousers which I thoroughly enjoy wearing, sat in a drawer, waiting to be worn by me again soon. There’s my grey and floral slip dress you may have seen in one of my final summer outfit posts, which I would have loved to have worn with a turtleneck and some tights.

I love clothes, obviously. I want to have my own collections one day; there’s no denying that, which means there have been moments so far where I’ve been bored and a little uninspired of what I have to choose from. I worked out that technically if I’m wearing about 4 items of clothing (excluding shoes, socks and accessories), I could wear about 361 different outfits with what I currently have with me. I’m not going to do that however because my suit jacket doesn’t match with my bohemian maxi dress but the idea that, that is a possibility is what has got me thinking.

creating a sustainable wardrobe - second hand fashion

WHAT I WORE: Floral Shirt (Jumble Sale) // Botanical Print Trousers (Motivi) // Vintage Yellow Leather Jacket (Jumble Sale)

After running polls and asking how many clothes you own, I received a lot of feedback which has had me questioning – does having fewer clothes, actually make a wardrobe any more sustainable? My answer is in fact, no.

52% of you own between 30 and 60 items of clothing in your wardrobe, which I will presume is a fairly rough estimate as I’m not expecting everyone to have rifled through and counted each individual item. That number surprised me because I happened to believe it would have been more. Only 26% (which is still a fairly large amount) of people responded saying they couldn’t count, or at least that the number went over 100. But; none of these numbers included shopping habits.

In a 2015 Barnardo’s report which I often refer people to, it states that typically in the UK, the average woman will spend £64 per month on new clothes, with 33% of the surveyed women deeming an item ‘old’ after only wearing it three times. And I don’t know about you, but I often read or hear the phrase ‘spring cleaning’ when it comes to clothes, which means there must be a high number for how many times those ‘old’ clothes are being removed and sent elsewhere.

Only having 38 items of clothing doesn’t make my wardrobe sustainable – my shopping habits do. Your shopping habits do. If 52% of you are living with between 30 and 60 items of clothes, that means you have around the same amount of options as I currently do; 361 outfit combinations, or more. That’s just under a year’s worth of outfits, for one per day. That only becomes unsustainable when you increase, and yes, decrease that total number.

creating a sustainable wardrobe - second hand fashion

A wonderful member of the #EthicalHour Facebook group brought up the fact of why decreasing the number of clothes you own is just as important as to how frequently you increase it. Starting a capsule wardrobe shouldn’t mean chucking away all of your clothes because that will then create waste, which creates a whole separate issue.

Some will say that you can donate to a charity shop and there won’t be anything to worry about, but as I will talk about in an upcoming blog post, that isn’t always the best option. Becoming vegan or changing an element of your lifestyle elsewhere, also shouldn’t mean suddenly and dramatically changing what you wear.

There are consequences to so many of these decisions. It’s about working out a way to get around all of them for you. Consciously shopping and working out whether you’ll actually end up wearing what you buy are super important elements to keeping your wardrobe at a sustainable level, and passing on clothes to other individuals or attempting to revamp an item will leave you feeling much more satisfied than taking your textiles to the dump.

In conclusion, whilst admittedly being bored at times, living with less has given me two challenges which hopefully, you can take something away from. Firstly, it has challenged me to wear outfits I’d never usually think about wearing. Just the other day I wore my vintage yellow leather jacket, the floral oversized shirt and completely contrasting navy floral trousers I’m wearing in this post. (Hands up if you saw it already on my Instagram Story!) In theory, none of that should have matched, but it did because it worked out looking fairly seventies inspired.

creating a sustainable wardrobe - second hand fashion

I discovered a new outfit I would never have worn before because I had nothing else to choose from except the blouse and sweatshirt combination I’d been wearing for a couple of days straight – in a hygienic manner, guys. It challenged me to think about those 361 combinations, and if I, in fact, need to make that number any larger.

And secondly, it has challenged me to think harder about how or if I do increase the choice I have. Recently, the only additions to my wardrobe have been from ethical brands, like Lost Shapes, who are part of my ethical directory. Truly measuring the size and scope of what I own, makes me value what else is eventually included. So, for you reading this, perhaps this will inspire you to count what you have, and count up the value of what you might have in the future.

Sustainability doesn’t happen by removing what isn’t ‘100% organic’ or produced using ‘100% recycled materials’. Sustainability starts when we limit the number of resources we’re using up.

How many clothes are in your wardrobe? How sustainable are your clothes? Let me know in the comments!

Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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