The foolishness of fast fashion

The seasonal wardrobe

September heralds the end of summer time in Ireland, and all that entails in terms of sorting out the wardrobe for the onset of autumn and winter. It reminds me of the seasonal clothing collections launched throughout the year by the clothing industry, and the foolishness of fast fashion. I consider fast fashion to be tightly bound up with our transition to becoming a throwaway society and I wonder how this evolved as an established norm. Our love affair with disposable stuff and our careless approach to discarding things, without so much as a second thought, is having a huge impact on the environment and on Earth’s resources.

On top of the environmental and human cost involved in the production of cheap fashion, have you ever considered the personal cost to you? Estimate the average amount you spend on disposable fashion pieces every season, calculate what proportion of your income is required to fund this spend then consider if it is truly worth it. Might you be able to reduce your working week if you cut down on unnecessary spending? Are you in debt because of your fast fashion lifestyle?

Social media platforms like Instagram can encourage thoughtless purchases and even debt as we pursue an Insta-perfect lifestyle. We love My Frugal Year (@myfrugalyear), in which an anonymous blogger charts her progress towards clearing off her debt. She details how envy of other people’s lifestyles online encouraged her to outspend her means and she now helps others to break the mindset that we need more stuff to be happy.

Sustainable fashion

Second-hand shopYou don’t have to be an environmental scientist to understand the impact of fast fashion on the planet and climate change. The reality is, we need to fast-track a more sustainable way of kitting ourselves out. I was delighted recently when I read about a student-led initiative in Ireland, GLAS (Fashion & Lifestyle). Set up by UCD students Meg O’Doherty, Sadhbh Whitty and Victoria Latham Brunton, these inspiring young women are proving that you can promote sustainability while still being fashion forward. The girls encourage their followers to become more aware of sustainable brands and of the benefits of visiting second hand and vintage shops. You can follow GLAS Fashion on Instagram here.

Do I really look good in this?

I believe the first step in helping to break free from the madness of fast fashion is to discover your own sense of style. Which colours suit you and which clothing styles really flatter your body shape? Trends change each season but not everything will work for everyone. Is it not ridiculous to expect that everyone could possibly feel great in the same dress, top or skirt? Personally I look daft when I wear prints close to my face so I always choose plain-coloured tops and dresses, reserving prints for skirts.

Spend a little quality time with yourself, be totally honest and reflect on what truly suits you. It might be helpful to look at photos that you love of yourself. There’s a good chance you were wearing clothes you loved and felt comfortable in. This will be your first step towards helping to free yourself from the grip of the very powerful fashion industry. I love Caroline from Un-fancy’s free wardrobe planner Take a look.

Don’t forget the importance of factoring in functionality.  Once you’ve established your style, consider how much of your wardrobe actually suits your life. Once again, be totally honest with yourself! There’s no point shopping for a lifestyle you don’t have. In the same way that you wouldn’t stock up on ski gear if you never go skiing, it doesn’t make sense to own multiple bikinis if you go to the beach or pool once a year, or ten cocktail dresses that are too glam for any event you’re likely to choose to go to.

Save money and time

WardrobeA few years ago my daughter introduced me to Courtney Carver’s Project 333.  Taking the time to sort out your wardrobe for the Project 333 challenge is so worth the effort. It saved me an unbelievable amount of time and energy and spared me a lot of stress. Yes, this challenge truly is all it’s cracked up to be. The idea is that you create a capsule wardrobe per season consisting of 33 pieces. It should contain only clothes you like and that fit well, and that go together.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has dashed out the door at the last minute, heart racing and vowing that this will be the last time I allow this to happen, simply because the outfit I had chosen the night before didn’t quite work as I had thought! That’s only one scenario.  Try: ‘I thought that white blouse was with my casual navy jacket!’ Or:  ‘Where are those black shoes I wore with this outfit last time?’ And: ‘This is not the white blouse I meant to choose’. Go on, check out Courtney Carver’s Project 333 and give yourself a break!

Once you have taken the Project 333 challenge you quickly realise you don’t need as many items of clothing, footwear and accessories as you thought you did.  This is where you can begin to save yourself a lot of money. Simply put, you will end up spending less. Other websites with resources for those interested in creating a capsule wardrobe are and

We’d love to hear your tips for breaking the cycle of fast fashion!