fashion: we are all different shapes


Before looking at your own shape, it’s worth thinking about society’s ideal. Now, I’m not advocating that we should be striving to be something we are not, I despise the fashion industry’s idealisation of a figure that most of us don’t have. But the fact of the matter is that the reason the fashion industry uses that body type is that it wears clothes well and the image sells. In part we are trying to create the illusion with clever dressing that we have that body shape. In reality, we are all different shapes, we have some areas that wear clothes well and some that don’t. By imagining what shape wears clothes well, we can understand the tricks we need for the illusion, the styles that draw the attention towards your good bits and away from your not-so-good bits. We do ALL have good bits, even if we chose to focus on the bad, so this is an exercise in finding and celebrating your assets as well as being honest with yourself about the parts of your body that aren’t so great.

I’ve spent most of my adult life yo-yo dieting and exercising, trying to achieve my ideal figure. I sometimes wonder if the reason I wasn’t drawn into the fashion industry before was because I never felt I looked right. But actually, the fashion figure I was striving for was unachievable because no amount of exercise is going to make my legs longer or my shoulders more square. The only time I genuinely haven’t worried about my figure was when I was pregnant and as I see my children grow, I realise how very different we all are and how ridiculous the fashion industry is to suggest that we fall into a few size categories.

ready to wear2

Ready to wear clothing was introduced in the 1930s but even then manufacturers each had their own arbitrary sizing system and clothes often didn’t fit well, requiring alteration. Sizes were based on inaccurate body data or no data at all! And it was found that garments of widely differing dimensions were labelled the same size! We haven’t learnt much have we?! Some bright spark thought, lets solve this by just using models so thin, it won’t matter! Sizing of women’s clothes continues it’s rocky road to this day but it’s a problem that can’t be solved because the real issue is that every single one of us is a different shape. What bespoke tailoring and dressmaking did was to work with a woman’s best assets and her own individual shape. As the fashion industry has developed, styles and fabrics have become more comfortable and more varied. Clothes should be comfortable but with increasing choice, it’s easier to decide what to wear based on what it feels like than what it looks like.


So looking at the “fashion shape”, it’s all about balance of proportions;  shoulders and hips are balanced, legs are longer than the upper body, narrow ankles move into slim calves then toned thighs and the waist is defined between curvaceous hips and bust. A long slender neck accompanies dainty feet and wrists. From the side, there’s a cheeky round bottom and a lovely oval tummy, arms are toned and back is straight.

OK so back to reality for my next post when I will analyse my shape against this vision and pick out some styles that suit and some that I’m going to avoid.

restyling my wardrobe: trying on



Trying on is actually stage 3 of my Restyle Guide but I had an inkling I may have to do two trying on sessions and I wanted to grab my friend, Katy when she had her day off so I skipped stage 2 and I’m going to come back to my “Understand your body shape” for my next post. Katy is my good friend and Wardrobe Sorting partner, she has a good eye for fashion and I trust her judgement, I know she’ll be honest. Wearing my most flattering undies and bra, I tried on all the items on my rail and in the piles I had identified as unworn or worn very little last summer. I had dug out some shoes that had not seem daylight for a while, especially the heals!


There were a few things that just weren’t right and went in the black bag but mostly they fell into 2 categories;

  1. Things that needed altering in some way, either because they were too big or too small or just out of date.
  2. Things that I’d forgotten about in the haste of daily life.

I also had a few items that I wasn’t wearing because I didn’t have a matching piece to make up an outfit.

Re-styled and Re-loved

I rediscovered some items I hadn’t worn for ages. We had a play with shoes, belts, jackets and jewelry and found some new outfit combinations. Not sure I’ll ever wear the candy-striped 70s dress but I can’t bring myself to change it, perhaps I will glide around the garden in it with a G&T!! I have been posting some #reloved items on social media this week.



I have a rail of upcycling ranging from a quick half-hour alterations to longer sewing projects. I’ve realised I have lots of tops but fewer skirts or trousers other than jeans or leggings to make up outfits. When I’ve done my body shape analysis, I will crack on with some upcycling projects to fill the gaps in my wardrobe.


An exhausting day, but a worthwhile start. I still feel that my wardrobe is a bit random and I have that moment in the morning when I stare at my clothes and think I have nothing to wear. I can see plenty of items of clothing but with the time pressure of the morning routine, the weird weather and a feeling of wanting to wear something different for the new season, it takes a while to feel inspired. So I am going to do another session and focus on putting outfit combinations together. Looking at the photographs there are definitely things in my wardrobe more flattering to my shape than others so I will do my body shape analysis before I try on again.


Marie Kondo has opened up the idea that using ALL of your wardrobe is also about how you store your clothes.  When I’ve read a bit more, I’m going to rearrange my wardrobe into categories by occasion so that I have all my daytime outfits in one place for easy selection in the mornings!  One simple reason I wasn’t wearing my clothes was that they were waiting to be ironed so that’s also on my “to do” list! I’m also keeping a “wardrobe gaps” diary for a couple of weeks and when I’m struggling to find an item, I’ll note it down for my shopping or upcycling list.

There are no short cuts to this, but a few days in and already I’m feeling brighter, less cluttered and I’ve worn some clothes that I haven’t worn for ages. I’m looking forward to some upcycling projects and finding some new outfit combinations. And the best bit is, I haven’t spent a penny yet! And I feel that when I do shop, I will be in a position to make wise choices and spend more per item because I will know that I need them.


restyling my wardrobe: edit



When my cousin, Bridget saw my wardrobe sorting on Facebook, she recommended “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” by Marie Kondo. I’m only a few pages in but it gave me a couple of things to keep in mind for the first stage of my restyle

  • It reinforced my belief that you should have a relationship with your clothes; Kondo asks “Does it spark joy?”.
  • Kondo also says that you should “tidy once and properly”, taking everything out of the cupboard before you start to discard and sort, “tidying a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever”.

At the beginning of each season, I put away the clothes I won’t wear for the coming season into an old suitcase. In fact, Kondo says you shouldn’t do this but I like it, it feels like I have new clothes to wear each season and it forces me to review my wardrobe on a regular basis. Some items are trans-seasonal so they never get put away but I can’t see the sense in cluttering up the space I have with big chunky knitwear all summer or shorts in the winter!


On Monday, I took everything out of my drawers and wardrobe and took my summer clothes out of my suitcase. I put my winter clothes away, saying goodbye to the rain and the cold! Then I put summer favourites in the drawers or wardrobe (or ironing pile!) Then what clothes were left, I grouped like items together, into piles or onto my rail. These were things I hadn’t worn much last summer or even at all, I had some that I was hanging onto despite not having worn for years. I forced myself to do this systematically, fighting the urge to go more quickly, thinking there shouldn’t be any items I don’t wear .. seems obvious but the danger of my suitcase is that I put things into it that I can’t make a decision about, taking up space with things I am not wearing.


I find it hard to discard clothes, it feels ruthless and I’m attached to my clothes, but the reality is if I’m not wearing them, there is a reason why. I tried to focus on a step at a time … “I’m just hanging them on a rail for now, I’m not getting rid of them. I’m not even asking myself if they spark joy or why I didn’t wear them. Just, did I wear this last summer? Yes or No? Wardrobe or rail”.

I did manage to bravely select a few items for the black bag  .. though it is still sitting dangerously in the corner of the bedroom, I have been know to revisit my black bag and things creep back into the wardrobe! I’m planning to check out some swapping events so I’m going to keep a few things for that, somehow feels better than giving away.


I tried to take my own advice and be ruthless about the quality of items. Scruffy, damaged … they might spark happy memories but not joy. I do allow myself a memories box in the loft for really special items such as the shirt I wore almost everyday when I was travelling. That shirt was with me for one of the most important journeys of my life, I can’t discard it, it would be like throwing away a friend!


I don’t really have multiples of similar items because I don’t shop on the high street, my problem is that my wardrobe is a bit random. I buy clothes second hand or I’ve inherited them and I make decisions based on what I like rather than what I need. I’m pleased to say, I only had a couple of items I hadn’t worn at all, mainly because on the odd occasion I do buy new, I make sure I can return if I get items home and change my mind.

Ready for the trying-on stage ….



reboot wardrobe restyle

smiley-1020187_1920Lost my mojo a bit half way through last week. I started off all guns blazing with my wardrobe week, Monday was sorting day and Tuesday was trying-on day. I was posting on Instagram as I went along, practicing using some hashtags. Mid-week, I started writing a blog post but I couldn’t seem to focus and the words didn’t flow. As each day passed and I missed my planned deadline, I had to re-write as the context was wrong. Towards the end of the week my motivation trailed off and I’ve been avoiding the keyboard all weekend.

It’s been a weird couple of weeks, we lost someone very dear to our community, very suddenly; someone I saw everyday who was taken before his time. For the first week or so, I was in shocked disbelief, the family were keeping busy and life seemed to feel normal. But as reality sunk in, the mood quietened and shock turned to sadness. It was the funeral on Friday, an amazing service attended by over 100 people, a sunny day to say goodbye. And it hits you that you will never see that person again. And everything seems a bit trivial, it’s hard to be excited about your wardrobe or blog about fashion brands.


This is when I miss working as part of a team, when I find working alone at home is particularly challenging. Your motivation has to come from within and it’s hard when something happens to unsteady the force. At the best of times blogging can feel lonely, despite what your Google analytics are telling you, it’s not the same as proper human interaction. This is such a personal journey for me, the culmination of all of my life so far and a search for a new career at an age when I fall harder. I’ve put myself out there because so much of what I am doing is who I am.

On reflection, my reluctance to blog has been me wrestling with how to restart, it didn’t feel right to carry on as if nothing has happened. I feel vulnerable, angry and that life is unfair and those are real emotions that will inform my future in some way, they can’t be ignored. But until recently, I was excited and enjoying blogging, making some valuable connections and feeling positive about the future. So I need a reboot, a challenge to get me fired up again.

For some time now, I’ve been trying to master the art of writing and publishing a quick blog post rather than pouring over it for days! And I’d like to generate more readers and followers, so I’ve had a crash course in hashtags from my lovely mentor, Sylwia and I’m practicing using other social media channels with hashtags in between blog posts.


With these two things in mind, I’ve made a plan and I’m going to gather up the work I started last week and post each day, keeping each post short and posting updates on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Going forward I’m using #emmasfashionblog for everything I post and adding either #wardrobe #upcycle #sewing #ethical to identify the blog category. Since my trying on session I’ve tried to wear something each day that I’ve rediscovered in my wardrobe, so I will continue this week, posting using #reloved. Please join me, find something you haven’t worn for a long time, take a pic and post on Instagram using #emmasfashionblog #wardrobe #reloved

So, the week ahead … following my own “Restyle Your Own Wardrobe Guide”, featured in an earlier post.

Tuesday – Edit & Sort

Wednesday – Trying On 

Thursday – Understanding Your Shape

Friday – Summer Capsule Wardrobe

I’m on a steep learning curve, thankful that social media is fast moving and my mistakes disappear quickly! Feedback keeps me going, it’s so lovely when people respond or are moved to comment. Keep in touch, talk to me or even subscribe by using the button on the right – it’ll make my day!



restyle your own wardrobe


Does this sound familiar … you wear less than 50% of your wardrobe, you find yourself staring into the cupboard thinking “I have nothing to wear”, you go shopping and impulse buy items that look good in the store but when you get them home, you’ve nothing to wear them with or they disappoint when you put them on? So you stick to the familiar 50% and the new items decorate the cupboard with the tags on. Well it was only cheap so it’s no big deal. Unworn items are given away to charity but Africa has enough of our unwanted clothes and our donations are stifling their home industries. And despite what H&M have told us this week, very few textiles can actually be recycled into new textiles, the processes simply don’t exist.

The idea of buying clothes based on what we need is long gone with past generations when people had a Sunday best outfit, a party dress, clothes for work, home etc. Have you ever thought about those beautiful antique wardrobes? People actually used to be able to fit their clothes in them! Now, it’s a whole wall of storage required and we claim to have nothing to wear.


My ethical guide to fast fashion starts with 1) plan a capsule wardrobe for the season ahead. In order to plan what we need, we need to know what we have. Then when you know what you have in your wardrobe you can identify the gaps, key purchases that will offer new outfit combinations and make use of the pieces you aren’t wearing. The other element to this is knowing yourself, your body shape and what suits you. That’s the secret to style, it comes from within, it’s a confidence that is born out of knowing you look good and feeling comfortable, wearing clothes that fit well and flatter your shape. Style is not being able to copy someone else’s look or pick the latest trends off the shelves.

This all takes time, of course, but it’s worth some upfront investment … I guarantee you will feel liberated. You will be able to buy quality items because you will be buying less of them and you will love your clothes again because you will know them. This is the basis of our Wardrobe Restyling service, aimed at guiding clients towards creating a capsule wardrobe by upcycling and restyling existing pieces, using what you already have in your wardrobe.  I’ve adapted our service to a Restyle Your Own Wardrobe Guide, to help you tackle your own wardrobe, find some clarity and hopefully, a few ideas to find your own style. It’s a good idea to get a friend to help you, someone with a good eye who will be honest. You’ll need a couple of spare clothes rails, keep one empty. You’ll also need some luggage tags, a camera, a pencil and paper and a black bag.


  1. Groups like items together; trousers, dresses, tops etc.
  2. Have a look at each group …
  • Do you have multiples of the same item? Do you wear one or two more than the others? Why? Put your favourites back into the wardrobe and the others on the empty rail. What made you buy these pieces when you already had similar in your wardrobe, what do you like about them ….. write on a tag and hang the tag on the hanger with each item.
  • Pick out items you don’t wear and think about why … is it because you have nothing to wear them with? Or that you like them but you don’t know how to wear them? Is it simply that you bought it on a whim and you don’t like it? If it’s the latter then put it in the black bag. Otherwise write the reason on a tag and hang it on the item. 
  • Pick out items you’ve never worn. Why? Do you like some element of the item but not others; the shape but not the colour, the style but not the fabric, is the fit wrong? Write the reason on a tag and hang up. Is there a common quality about these items that makes you buy them but then you don’t wear them?
  • Be ruthless about the quality of items. If they are washed out of shape, faded or scruffy, they’re not going to spark that inner confidence … black bag. If they’re looking scruffy and damaged, think about how long you’ve had them and how many times you’ve worn them, you may even remember how much you paid for the item. Was it a wise purchase, how much did it cost per wear?
  • Comfy clothes – remember you need to love ALL your wardrobe to spark that confidence and develop your style. Don’t wear stuff you’d be embarrassed to open the door in, it’s probably because they make you feel crap. I’ve discovered recently the joy of decent house clothes, wearing them reminds me I dress for me and it makes me smile when I look in the mirror.

Ok, so you now have a rail of duplicates, items you like but don’t wear and items you like some element of but there is something wrong with them.


  1. Put on a pair of leggings and a tight vest top and take a good long look in the mirror. Get your friend to take a photo of your back and look at that too. Make a list of your features, start with the GOOD and then do the BAD.
  2. Pick out two favourite outfits, that represent your personal style … ones you get complimented on and make you feel confident. Try them on and have a good look at each. Take photos and make a list of what you like about them. Is it the colour, shape, style, fit, details … does your friend agree?
  3. If you are brave, try on a couple of things that don’t fit properly, where are the problem areas .. the hips, shoulders, length?
  4. Look at yourself with and without makeup, think about your complexion. Try different colours against your skin or treat yourself to having your colours done.


So, you’ve had an honest look at your shape, a rest and a cup of tea, it’s time to try on. Spare a thought for your undies, they may be hidden from view but can make such a difference to how an outfit looks and how you feel. Wear undies and a bra that suits your shape, if you don’t know what that is, it’s worth promising yourself a bra fitting.

Come back to your rail;

  1. Things you have multiples of or you’ve never worn because you like the colour but not the shape, for example, can they be upcycled taking advantage of the bits you like and getting rid of the bits you don’t? A dress can be made into a skirt, a top into a jacket, a cardigan into a waistcoat. Collars or trouser legs can be reshaped to update style or simply changing the buttons can alter the look. If it’s the fit that’s wrong, have the item altered, shorten the length or nip in a side seam can make a dress look completely different. Have a go at sewing yourself or find a local seamstress, you can pay someone to alter items with the money you’ll save with your new strategic approach to shopping. And don’t forget items that can be repaired to make them wearable again.
  2. Things you don’t wear, try them on. Think about what would go with it, bearing in mind your shape. Try something random, you never know; be brave … clash a pattern or introduce a colour. If you really can’t find an item in your wardrobe then write on your “to buy” list. If you find some new outfit combinations, take a photo and hang back in your wardrobe. Any items awaiting a match, hang in your wardrobe in a group and label them, give yourself a time limit to find a matching piece.
  3. Have a play with your accessories, they can be key to lifting an everyday outfit or getting multiple looks from the same item. Be brave, even the craziest combination can make sense with the right accessory because it says you’ve made a fashion decision rather than a random match. Scarves, beads, belts, jewelry ….. pick out the detail or layer vests under tops that match with your accessory.
  4. Take photos of outfits you like and items to be upcycled or repaired. 
  5. Have a rummage through the tags, make a note of any pitfalls you might want to avoid in future … are you prone to impulse buy in the sales, do you panic when you need an outfit for a special occasion and buy rather than try what you already have. Are there colours and styles you are drawn to but don’t suit you, don’t follow trends if they don’t suit you.


  1. Compile your photos into a booklet to keep by your wardrobe for inspiration and take it shopping with you to remind yourself of your best looks. Also take photos of styles and colours you want to avoid, a stark reminder of what you look like in shocking pink rather than the model in the store ad will steer you away from an unwise purchase.
  2. Always make a list of what you need before hitting the shops. Pick out the stores you plan to visit and research online what they have before you go.
  3. Keep reviewing your wardrobe. Keep taking photos of new combinations. Those items awaiting a match, if you still haven’t found one in x months, maybe it’s not meant to be.
  4. Now you are buying fewer items, buy quality and make them last longer. You know what suits you now so you’ll want to wear for longer.
  5. If you do want to get rid of stuff, think about where you donate it. Local charities are good who help the homeless or refugees and organisations such as Dress for Success or Career Wardrobe who provide clothes for people trying to get back to work.

Good Luck and most of all Have Fun, watch your confidence grow and your style develop. Let me know how you get on and share your experiences with me by social media.




upcycle: embroidered velvet dress


I can’t remember where I got this, it’s been in my “to do” drawer for years. It’s made of the most gorgeous soft velvet and the embroidery is, perhaps a little full on, but it’s interesting. I had seen a shift dress in the White Company catalogue and loved it so I thought I would make my own version (that’s £95 saved!) And it was Lauren’s 18th, she’s very special to me, so I needed something special to wear!


I went for option 3. I did feel the embroidery needed reducing and I liked the V-shape that was created with the embroidery. See how it also draws the eye down the dress and makes it look longer and narrower and more flattering.

And it gave me a chance to try applique with my new sewing machine! Bonus!


I did this upcycle shortly after the bodywarmer so with PTSD (post traumatic sewing disorder), I needed a nice easy upcycle to feel the love again.  I shortened the length, took in and shaped the side seams, the fabric was lovely to handle and sew. Then I shortened the sleeves, I’ve kept those cuffs for another upcycle ….just noticed the pic below, they look like a couple of pints of Guinness! Cheers! Sewing love affair renewed!


A good time had by all, I felt stylish and comfortable …. my perfect combination for any outfit! Officially named my “Lauren dress”.


upcycle bicycle: tribute to #fashrev


My tribute to Fashion Revolution and my silent protest against fast fashion, I’m a walking #haulternative to shopping on the high street. Upcycled vintage skirt, given to me by a friend; home-made top and jacket and my shoes are one of my best investment buys, featured in Fridays post. Even my jewelry .. the one with the purple beads was 2hand and the other two I’ve owned for over 10 years and I wear them every day.


I had so many friends on FB say they loved this skirt as it was, I decided to stay true to the original design. I was also intrigued by the branding on the inside of the hem so I did a little research. Sportaville were a London company well known for vibrant novelty prints, this one dates from the late 1950s. Their garments were made from high quality cotton, as this one is, often from a French manufacturer, Boussac.  One of their mainstay products was the “kit-skirt”, customers bought the fabric cut to shape and made up themselves. I just love the fact that this skirt has a story and a history to it, that I’ve been able to bring it back to life; makes it all the more delicious to wear!

UB skirt+top2

As lovely as it was, it was tiny so I needed to alter the waist to fit me. I took out a couple of the pleats at the front and put a new waistband on it. I went for a vintage-look washed out denim that I had in my fabric drawer which toned with the confetti dots but didn’t detract from the print design. I was able to keep the pleats at the back and found a button in my sewing box in the perfect colour.

As it’s a full, pleated style, it calls for a short top showing the waist. The flowered top above is a vintage M&S one which fits me well and was the boxy shape I wanted. I took a pattern from it and used the same denim as the waistband. I’m a bit partial to raw edge denim, it happens to be on trend and I thought it would give the skirt a modern twist! I was determined to use the top hat waistband somewhere!

UB jacket

The jacket was a piece I made in my 2nd year at college. The top was attached to the jacket, at the back shoulders and waist … to put it on you had to lift over the head .. not very practical. I took the top out, it wasn’t quite right with skirt so I’ve saved that for another upcycle.

I wore my tribute outfit to go to an exhibition of The Upcycle Project organised by Fashion Revolution attended by the wonderful #fashrev team, pictured below with founders Orsola de Castro and Carry Somers. The project was a 2 day upcycling workshop for fashion students, lead by experienced practitioners from the industry, including Dr Noki. They used textile waste and experimented with new techniques and materials. The garments were then exhibited and auctioned to raise money for Fashion Revolution. I’m going to have a go at the Dr Noki t-shirt slashing technique in a future upcycle.




#fashrev day 5: the investment buy



So this is the final piece of my #haulternative jigsaw for Fashion Revolution week, the idea that we should invest more money in a wardrobe item, buy less of them and make them last longer.

Last summer I bought a few t-shirts from New Look, each less than £10. Looking back, I think this was quite a pivotal moment in this journey because I remember so clearly that I got them home and tried them on; a couple of them didn’t fit quite right, they were OK but far from exciting. I kept 1 because I liked the print but every time I put it on, I want it to be longer. Then I went to my son’s nursery for an event and someone else was wearing another of the t-shirts, so that one went back. So, of the 4 I bought, I took 2 back. The other one I kept was a vest top which I put on the other day and noticed it has gone bobbly. So, a big question hovers in my mind, are we really saving money buying cheap clothes? I may well have to replace the vest top this year and probably the other one if I get tired of it not being quite right.

I’m just at the questioning stage of this element of my ethical fashion. I’m sure I do have things that were not expensive and have lasted. But I am also sure that I have a few things I splashed out for which give me joy every time I put them on.

So is it as simple as “you get what you pay for” or is it another question of finding the brands you trust whatever the price point?  I’m not ready to answer the question for myself but I do want to find out. I wonder if cost per wear is a reliable measure? I’m not sure I can answer that by myself but it would be interesting to test it. I’m mulling over an idea for an Instagram campaign, perhaps I will ask people to share their own experiences of cost per wear for items in their wardrobes. For now here are a couple of examples I found in my own wardrobe today.


I don’t think I need to say which side is cheap and which is expensive! I’ve mentioned the brown bag before, I think I paid £100 for it 15years ago and probably used it 1,000 times …. 10p per wear, it’s leather so it looks better with age and can be cleaned. The red bag was less than £10, probably used it 10 times … £1 per wear and probably won’t use it again as the fake leather is coming off.

My beautiful red brogues are my pride and joy, paid £80 (reduced from £160), worn about 30 times so far .. £2.70 per wear and still feel like new, all leather and getting more comfortable with every wear. Cream wedges bought on impulse as I needed a pair for an event, £20 worn twice .. £10 per wear, rubber and plastic and not very comfortable.

So there it is, I’m not going to conclude, I’m going to leave the question hovering for you to mull over, think about your own wardrobes …. this one will rumble on I think.

#fashrev day 4: garment making


I don’t remember learning to sew, I’ve just always done it. I’ve never had any formal training and I’m still learning, I make so many mistakes, it baffles me that I’m still at it. But there is something about the feel of the fabric, the sound of my machine and the joy of wearing something I’ve made myself that keeps me going. I’m fascinated by the clever way in which a garment comes together, like a beautiful puzzle.

I want to share this passion and I want to find time to do more sewing, so I’m starting a sewing club. I’m launching this during Fashion Revolution week and we’re aiming for 1134 hours of sewing in 12months as a tribute to those people who died making clothes for the Western market in the  Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013. I’ve gathered together some friends, either because they sew or are willing to have a go at learning (or re-learning). We’ll each pledge a number of hours of sewing each month and once a month we’ll get together … chat, compare, share of our trials and triumphs. We’ll do everything from a full pattern to mending / altering or learning to use a sewing machine … anything that might enable my friends to use clothes they already have rather than buy new. We’ll be posting some of our 1134 hours on social media.






#fashrev day 2: fashion brands


Shopping for clothes on the high street frustrates me and there is a lot about fashion brands that make me feel uncomfortable but I need them to clothe my family. And as much as I love second hand and upcycling, I love fashion, I like to play with trends and I can’t always get what I want second hand. Love or hate the fashion industry, there would be a whole lot of people out of jobs if it wasn’t for these brands. Once again I find myself aligned with Fashion Revolution’s approach, encouraging us all to join the campaign to persuade brands to act more responsibly rather than boycotting them.

At present, even the high scorers are nowhere near where they need to be and when shopping, it’s a question of choosing the best of fairly bad bunch. But that choice is important because if enough of us make the right choice, it will lead to change. Fashion Revolution’s #whomademyclothes campaign asks everyone to wear a garment with the label showing, take a photo and post on social media #whomademyclothes and #brand (there is a list on their website). It’s a brilliant way to get the message out there and directly tell brands how we as consumers feel about ethics, tens of thousands of people have done it and the number is growing.


In my earlier post entitled “Ethical Fashion: A Look at High Street Brands” I talked in detail about some of the organisations looking into policies that fashion brands have in place for protecting the environment and their workforce. Today, I want to give you some pointers on where to look if you want to check out the brands you use and what to look for if you are on their websites.

Rank a Brand is a huge comparison site, with over 1000 brands in it fashion section. It’s easy to use and makes clear statements about what they are looking for and why brands might not be reaching the standards expected. You can ask about brands not yet rated and even poke a brand to encourage them to take part. Their ratings come out fairly low in comparison to others but I think this because their criteria is so broad (more explanation on this in earlier post). The site also has information on how they rate brands and what questions they ask.


I’ve previously used a report called Apparel Industry Trends 2015, produced by Baptist World Aid. This is an Australian organisation so many of the brands rated are not available in the UK, in fact the report has been renamed The Australian Fashion Report. However, Fashion Revolution, together with an organisation called Ethical Consumer have produced a similar report called the Transparency Index which rates 40 companies and includes some brands more familiar in the UK. Ethical Consumer have a very comprehensive website with their own rating tool, I’m going check it out for my next post on fashion brands.

Brand Websites

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These organisations are doing an amazing job, it’s a massive industry and entails long, complex supply chains, the brands that have co-operated and been rated are the tip of the iceberg. Also, there are many aspects to ethical fashion, some brands do better in one area than another. Brands with an average rating I call my grey area brands and I researched their websites to make a final judgement. What sets the high scorers apart for me is that they are showing commitment to improve. They have policies in place on environmental and labour standards and are communicating them to their customers. I can see from their websites and the research that they are setting targets and have monitoring in place to ensure standards are met throughout their supply chain. The lower rated brands did not even complete the questionnaire send to them for the Transparency Index.

To finish today, I’ve updated my own Brand Table, there has been some movement based on further research and I’ve added a couple of non-rated brands based on my own knowledge and research. I have to stress again that this is my opinion based on my principles and my personal moral code. I am not trying to tell people where they should shop and I’m not claiming that these brands are ethical. I would still favour using what I already have rather than buying new and sourcing second hand. But with busy lives there is also a time to be pragmatic, sometimes needs must. These are brands from my own wardrobe and it is a score relative to what is available, if I can find a better alternative, I will. You make your own judgement.