I had the privilege today of taking part in the clothing swap hosted by Sustain SU, the University of Alberta Student Sustainability Service, in honour of Sustainability Awareness Week.

Sustainable Style School

Sustainable Style School
Sustain SU has more than 70 student members and they organize events all year including distributing reusable cutlery!  Sounds like someone I know SUPER SU!

The clothing swap was THREE DAYS LONG!  That’s my kind of party!

Sustainable Style School
For every piece you brought to the swap, you received a precious gem to use to “purchase” one item!
Sustainable Style School
All this retro stuff is so appealing to me!! Hello Ugly Pattern, old friend!
Sustainable Style School
Pretty Free People tank in size Tiny University Student.
Sustainable Style School
Should’ve got this dress and used for a Minnie Mouse costume, eh Chantel?!
Sustainable Style School
They had everything at the swap – clothing in all sizes for all people, bags, accessories, shoes – it was awesome!
Sustainable Style School
So happy to see a member of Sustain SU take home my silk BCBG dress. So *that’s* how it’s supposed to look!

Not only did I get to swap some pieces, I gave an informal chit chat all about sustainable style!

Sustainable Style School

I ended up talking mostly with the Eco Project Runway students who came to swap and experience post-secondary sustainable action in action!

Such a great group of girls! These girls WILL be the change of their generation.
Such a great group of girls! These girls WILL be the change of their generation.

It was a casual affair, but here’s what I had prepared to share!

10 Tips for Sustainable Style in Edmonton (or anywhere)

  1. Opt out of the popular insatiable consumer mindset where we treat clothing like it’s something to be used up instead of something to be used!  Consider the Buyerarchy of Needs!
  2. Use what you have and consume less!  Adopt the old motto, “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!”  Learn about capsule wardrobes or give the 10-Item wardrobe a try! 
  3. Make one choice to NOT buy fast fashion and from then forward, you don’t have to make regular judgment calls.  Just say no.  Check the label and ask yourself, who made this?  We have gotten used to cheap clothes, but they cannot be that cheap.  Who is paying the cost?
  4. Buy garments made in Canada, made in the US or made ethically like my favourite belts, Flatter Me Belts.
  5. Buy garments made locally and other sustainable labels.  Focus on quality and if buying new, ensure it’s a piece that fits your style.  
  6. Make your own garments or buy homemade from others.  There’s nothing wrong with this – it’s a double whammy against fast fashion when you thrift homemade!
  7. Participate in clothing swaps – BOO YAH!
  8. Buy secondhand – thrift, buy and sell pages, Kijiji, eBay, Trend Trunk, consignment, etc.
  9. Donate clothing and household goods you are done with.
  10. Set achievable goals for yourself – you don’t have to do everything but don’t do nothing.  Could you involve your friends and family?  Start a discussion!  Taking one step at a time in a new direction will lead you to a new destination sooner or later!
Embracing sustainability in my outfit - thrifted $2.80 denim, $9.10 Ann Taylor dress, $11.90 leather boots and $2.50 sunnies; accessories by local designer She Does Create; belt (not shown) by ethical manufacturer Flatter Me Belts; velvet blazer from my closet circa 2002 - when some of the girls were born! Buy well and pieces will last like this!
Embracing sustainability in my outfit – thrifted $2.80 denim, $9.10 Ann Taylor dress, $11.90 leather boots and $2.50 sunnies; accessories by local designer She Does Create; belt (not shown) by ethical manufacturer Flatter Me Belts; velvet blazer from my closet circa 2002 – when some of the girls were born! Buy well and pieces will last like this!

10 Tips for Thrifting in Edmonton

  1. Let go of thrifting myths!  E.g., thrifted pieces are old, worn out, out of style, broken, ruined, damaged, torn, stained, etc.  None of this is true!
  2. Where to thrift?  Shop little thrift and big thrift!  Watch for sale days for even better scores!
  3. What to thrift?  Anything and everything, including slips, bras, socks, bathing suits, earrings and shoes!  Thrifting is the time to try trends and take style risks!  It’s a good idea to have an idea of quality brands and labels so you know just how big you’re scoring!
  4. Thrift in short manageable chunks or time or take a day for a marathon trip.  If you tend to get overwhelmed, start short and sweet.  You’ll be an addict in no time. 😉
  5. Go with a hunting list but be open to what you find!  When shopping for a particular item, look for an interpretation rather than an exact match.
  6. Hunt with a friend – especially in a different size!
  7. Wear a tank top and loose skirt so you can try on in the aisles… if it comes to that.
  8. Scan the size above and below your usual – lots of pieces fit differently or can easily become misplaced.
  9. Collect now, edit later – throw whatever catches your eye in the cart and worry about editing your selections after you’ve tried everything on.  You won’t likely get back to where you saw that great piece or someone else might snatch it up which only leads to tears.  You can also Google brands while you’re browsing to further inform your decisions.
  10. Try it on before you buy – a bad fit is not a good purchase no matter how cheap!  Be realistic about altering and ironing (if you’re not going to do it and the piece needs it, don’t get it).  And always wash before you wear!

Thrifting is addicting… in a good sustainable way!  If you want more thrifting tips, click here and here.

I also recommend a good dose of "thrifting faith" - the right pieces will find the right home! You gotta have faith faith faith! (another 80s reference that the students wouldn't get)
I also recommend a good dose of “thrifting faith” – the right pieces will find the right home! You gotta have faith faith faith! (another 80s reference that the students wouldn’t get)

10 Tips for Styling your Swaps

(*even I do not have the wherewithal to try to give teenage girls fashion tips!  But I’ll leave them here for the rest of us old ladies.)

  1. Explore your style – It’s not just about clothes and it’s not superficial.  It’s your vibe, your you-ness, your first impression.  You have a style whether or not you hone it so rather than default, be intentional.
  2. Extend your wardrobe repertoire through accessories (scarves, necklaces, belts) and tricks (roll or cuff your pants, push up your sleeves, belt a cardi).
  3. Fashion formulas are your friend!  Try “long over short over skinny”!
  4. Embrace the Rule of 3 with the help of accessories and layers.
  5. Casual + fancy = win
  6. Matchy-matchy vs. mix-not-match?  Both are good for looking stylish!
  7. Embrace pattern mixing – especially classic patterns likes stripes, polka dots, plaid and floral!
  8. Wear colour neighbours and colour opposites.  Get out your old colour wheel if needed and YES this works for neutrals too!  
  9. Ask yourself “does this spark joy?”  If not, adios.  Give your other pieces more wear time and let someone else have a chance to love that piece!
  10. Keep it personal – swap for thyself!  (same goes for hand-me-downs)

True “style” is wearing what you love and what you feel good in and hopefully, the more you learn about style, the more sustainable it will become!

Embracing my style tips - short over long over skinny, Rule of 3, casual + fancy, rolled pants and sleeves, and wearing a damn necklace. (Didn't mention that to the children!)
Embracing my style tips – short over long over skinny, Rule of 3, casual + fancy, rolled pants and sleeves, and wearing a damn necklace. (Didn’t mention that to the children!)

I didn’t exactly get to all of this in my time at Sustain SU’s clothing swap, but just being there and sharing and talking is moving in the right direction!  Thank you so much for having me!

1 Comment

  1. Kristen Davenport Byrnes Reply

    Mo McKnight Howe it reminds me of your clothing swaps!

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