While separating wine bottles and old newspapers from the rest of the rubbish has long held eco cachet among all right-thinking householders, recycling our clothing somehow hasn’t managed to appear quite so cool.
Sure, send a bag off to the local Oxfam. But to be on the receiving end? Not quite so chic.
However, ‘recycling’ a dress for Christmas and New Year parties needn’t simply mean dusting down the same old frock you wore last year. Take a bow, Livia Firth – wife of Colin but exceptional in her own right. For it is she who must take some of the credit for this green revolution.
Firth’s Green Carpet Challenge has seen style icons such as Rita Ora, Javier Bardem, Alexa Chung and Samuel L Jackson embrace eco-friendly fashion in all its forms.
Designers, too, are beginning to understand the appeal – both to their conscience and, let’s face it, their bank balance – of going green. So we can now source ethical pieces from the likes of Stella McCartney, pictured, Bono and his wife Ali Hewson’s label Edun, and People Tree.
Former supermodel Amber Valetta is behind the label Master & Muse. Then, closer to home, there are brands such as the Hebridean Woolhouse, Ardlanish, Scottish designer Henrietta Ludgate, and Think Boutique.
Meanwhile, on the high street, you could do an awful lot worse than pick up some reasonably priced eco-friendly fashion from H&M’s Conscious Collection. It has a range of blouses made from Lyocell, which is a biodegradable fabric made from wood pulp.
Vintage, of course, has never gone out of style. Now, however, it comes with an added green sheen. Hey, you’re not only original and clever, you’re also kind to the environment. Give yourself a pat on the back. Buy from established pre-owned sites such as Ebay and Asos marketplace, as well as more recent newcomers such as French-based Vestiaire (a Chanel cashmere cardi for £367? Yes please) and Rewind Vintage for bags and accessories.
Dress agencies, too, are treasure troves for designer bargains. Google to find your local resale outlet. Sweet talk the owner and you might even be able to do a swap – last year’s Hogmanay sparkle for something new and more this year’s you.
Charity shops are another obvious source of wardrobe wonders – be prepared to rummage. And be willing to make some adjustments too – a nip and a tuck here, a belt there and it’s no longer that uninspiring old thing you dismissed on the Oxfam hanger.
Upcyling – that’s tarting up something old and boring – also works a treat for your existing wardrobe. A long dress could be made short; some embellishment added to the collar to liven up an otherwise dowdy top. Sites such as www.upcycle-fashion.com are full of ideas for even the least creatively inclined.
And have you considered borrowing? Yes, you could ask your mate if you can have that incredible Donna Karan dress she’s been saving for a special occasion. Alternatively, try a site such as Chic by Choice (formerly Wish Want Wear), where that Donna Karan frock, which retails at more than £1800 will set you back less than £300. Just remember to return it after it’s made all the right impressions. And don’t worry, we won’t tell a soul.
• Ruth Walker is editor-in-chief of www.wecraveit.com