The excitement of the awards event invitation is often swiftly followed by the ‘what the hell do I wear’ panic! With the Northern Power Women’s award ceremony just around the corner you’ll be thinking about planning your outfit if you haven’t done so already. For many people, including me, this type of event is not a regular occurrence (‘sigh’) so we do not have a wardrobe full of occasion dresses to choose from…or maybe even one for that matter. In an age where we are trying to be kind to the planet, you’ll be pleased to know there are more environmentally friendly alternatives available. So, before you grab the credit card and rush to the shops to buy a new one, you’ll wear only once, here are some ideas to consider: –
Renting clothes is a billion-dollar market in the states and although not as big in the UK it is growing fast. If you usually spend a few hundred pounds on an event outfit you don’t wear very often it makes sense to rent instead as this will reduce the cost and waste.
Hurr Collective – this is a peer-to-peer rental service for dresses worth £150 and upwards. The lender is responsible for posting the dress and rental prices for seven days are around 20% of the total price for the dress. Worth noting that range tends to be contemporary designs and sizes are quite small, but the stock does change on a regular basis.
Girl Meets dress – one of the original and largest dress rental companies with a broad range of styles and sizes. Rental costs are around £50 – £100.
Wardrobe HQ – this one works on a subscription basis so once you have become a member you can rent the dresses. It has some great designer names to rent including Valentino and Alice Temperley for a fraction of the price. Check out Wardrobe HQ here.
Chic by Choice – a good range of evening and full length dresses up to a size 16. Next day delivery is available anywhere in the UK and they’ll also give you a free back up size.
If you can’t find anything you like from these companies, there are hundreds of others. You might be lucky enough to have one local to you so it’s worth searching what’s available in your area.
Buying pre-loved or vintage clothes is a great way to find an environmentally friendly outfit. You may need to make friends with a tailor to have garments altered slightly but the bonus is you are not likely to bump into someone in the same outfit. Here are some of the larger online websites to try buy don’t forget to visit your local charity shops too!
Vestiaire Collective – is like an eBay but purely for clothes and you have to become a member first. It has thousands of dresses available so be prepared to spend time searching. My suggestion would be to seek out the designers you like and see what’s available in your size, otherwise it could be a full-time job!
Hardly Ever Worn it – if you’re in the market for an investment designer dress at a discount then this is the place. The prices aren’t cheap though!
Rokit Vintage – a long established vintage clothing company that has shops in London. They have a few full-length dresses available.
If vintage and second hand shopping isn’t for you then the best way you can purchase an environmentally friendly outfit is to ensure you will wear it once the event is over. Wearing a garment 40 times massively reduces its carbon footprint. Considering styles that you’ll wear for other occasions is a great way to move outside your usual occasion wear comfort zone. Here are some ideas that have worked for my clients and me: –
A brightly coloured suit
Now seen at many a red-carpet event, a brightly coloured suit packs a punch and is also brilliantly versatile. Look at Emma Thompson for inspiration. Team with heels and metallic accessories to create a glamorous event outfit and wear afterwards as separates for the office. I have one client who is extremely senior in the civil service who wears her suit with trainers!
Zara Jacket £59.99 and trousers £25.99
Jumpsuits look just as good with flat shoes and sandals as they do with heels. They may not always be appropriate for your office, but they work brilliantly for informal social occasions such as dinner with friends and trips to the theatre
Plain jumpsuit Massimo Dutti – £169. Printed jumpsuit Anthropologie – £220
A beautiful statement top or skirt can be easily combined with a more casual piece after the event. Sequin tops look fabulous with jeans and I’ve seen may people dress down floaty skirts with a jumper and trainers
Needle and Thread top – ‘snowdrop’ top £310. H&M tulle skirt – £59.99. Mango trousers – £49.99
I’d love to know if you found this useful so please stay in touch and let me know what outfit you choose.
If you would like some more tips to create a sustainable yet stylish every day wardrobe I’ve created a free guide to help you. It features advice on how to make your current wardrobe more sustainable, a list of ethical brands and which fabrics are environmentally friendly. To get your free copy just sign up here.
Sally Smy is a personal stylist and founder of Queen Bee Styling. She is recommended on The Parenting and Professional panel of experts as well as being a partner of Capability Jane with whom she presents a regular webinar. Sally recently contributed to the newly released book ‘A New Way for Mothers’ by Louise Webster from Beyond The School Run. She also runs workshops and talks at many women’s networks including The Department of Media, Culture and Sport and The Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
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