Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Green Clothes

I'm a dedicated second hand clothes person - all my clothes are second hand apart from underwear, which I buy either from high street stores or from the Natural Collection, which has a selection of organic underwear. I find though (whisper!) that organic underwear doesn't come in such appealing styles and loses shape and colour quicker than underwear bought in the high street. Some high street stores are starting to stock organic cotton now which is a great sign!

I only buy clothes when I need them (though of course need is always relative!). I like to mix and match my clothes, so that the same item can fit many different occasions. For example, I have two short cheongsam dresses that I can either wear with tights to go clubbing or with trousers to go out to a nice restaurant. By mixing and matching items its possible to get more wear out of them. Whenever I get tired of an item of clothing, I think whether there are other ways I could wear it before I give it away.

I've also experimented with customising clothing. I'm not very good and sewing so I've kept these experiments basic but it's fun to liven up a dress with some beading or gloves with some lace.

Shoes are always a problem for me. Second hand shoes have usually taken on the shape (and smell) of someone else's feet and don't fit properly. I have bought very lightly worn shoes second hand but usually find myself in high street shoe shops, unable to make a decision. I don't have many painrs of shoes - one pair of sandals, one pair of hiking boots, one pair of every day flat lace ups, two pairs of smart boots and a pair of summer shoes. All except the hiking boots are made of leather, I've never found an alternative to leather though being avegetarian I'd love to. I'm very fussy about shoes, I like something that stays on my foot, supports my ankle properly and doesn't look really clompy. That limits me anywhere let alone in the more restricted ethical shoe marketplace. I get my shoes repaired as often as possible - my favourite boots have been reheeled three times but some shoes can't be repaired so easily, my last pair of sandals had lasted five years but this year fell apart (a rabbit may have had something to do with this!) and I haven't found a good pair since (thankfully I didn't need sandals with the cold, wet summer we had this year!).

Has anyone got any recommendations of good 'green' shoes in the UK? Plus if you've got any other ideas for green clothes buying, feel free to share them here.

(I have edited this in response to the comments below.)

9 comments:

Ces said...

Wow! I applaud your dedication. I don't think I have seen any organic clothes stores here in our part of the US. I would be happy if the grocery stores stock only organic foods which are more costly but "cheap" seems to be the driving force.

Plain Foolish said...

I also wear mostly secondhand clothing, with homesewn dresses and salwar kameez thrown in for when I want something comfy - and bought undies, though I recently learned how to sew a sports bra and now have a customizable undies pattern that is intended to be made from t-shirts.

I admit that I've mostly "solved" the shoes thing by getting well (and ethically) made shoes that can easily be taken apart and put back together by my local cobbler. Grand total, I own 5 pair of shoes: one pair of athletic sandals that I wear for anything aquatic as well as for hiking, one pair of No Sweat gym shoes (plimsolls, I think?) for the gym where they don't allow the black soles on my sandals (these live in my gym bag and are only worn in the gym, which should mean that they won't wear out for a long time), a pair of gardening clogs, and 2 pair of Birkenstocks.

The Birkenstocks are because I actually need the corrective soles for everyday wear, but even before the doctor told me to change over, I had found that I really didn't need a bunch of shoes as long as I kept the ones I had basic and flexible. Before the Birkenstocks, I wore ballet style street shoes with everything.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Ces - yes cheap is so often the driving force in everything

Plain Foolish - I'd wear homesewn as well if I could sew (home sewn sports bra particularly impressive!)! Shoes - I don't have many and I like to have them repaired as often as possible rather than buy new but...

Garden girl said...

I wouldnt buy second hand shoes, unless they were only v v slightly worn...but instead of buying second hand isnt it better for your feet to buy something new, something a little more expensive but is good for your feet, and a brand that will last a long time. I think thats being really green then. Having one expensive item, looking after it and it lasting a long time and looking after you. jmho!

Crafty Green Poet said...

HI Garden Girl, yes I agree, as I said in the post my last sandals lasted about five years (and that included 2 summers of heavy wear). My current flat shoes will last years. My favourite boots have lasted at least three years. But leather is an issue for a vegetarian environmentalist and that is something I've not found a good solution to.

Inland Empire Girl said...

I buy used clothing also and if I recycle mine always donate them to be reused. I do have a problem with shoes. I need to be on my feet all day and need good support. I, like you cannot usually wear used shoes. I just try to get good quality and get them repaired. My nieces still don't mind hand-me-downs and they are teens. They have been hand-me-down kids all their lives.

Sandy said...

I make almost everything I wear, and have since I was around 12. I have tried sewing underwear a few times, but so far, haven't found the right patterns. Most of my clothes are made of natural fabrics,and cut classic styles. As for shoes, I wear Birckenstocks 99% of the time. My other shoes are nice ones, but some are 10+ years old.

One question though, what are high street stores?

Crafty Green Poet said...

Sandy - I wish I could sew clothes, but hten there are so many second hand shops in Edinburgh that I don't really have the motivation though I do repair my favourite clothes. High street stores are the ones found in the main streets of British cities and towns (ie the well known, national or multinational chain stores). I didn't realise that wasn't an American phrase too. Oops!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Inland Empire Girl - your nieces sound great! Shoes are always a problem like that, though if you find a good pair they can last and last.