How To Say Goodbye To Fast Fashion – tips from stylist Sarah Ryan

Perhaps you’ve been hearing the term ‘Slow Fashion’ being bandied around in recent times. But what is it and how can you contribute towards a more sustainable image without sacrificing on style?


Many of us have become accustomed to buying into new trends every season at a very low cost. With the prevalence of social media and the idea that we can’t be seen in the same outfit more than once, I know I, for one, have been sucked into this mentality at times without much consideration of the implications. 

I have made changes in recent years to move towards a more ethical approach in many aspects of my life. I turned plant-based about four years ago and now I am looking to my wardrobe to make further changes. Let me be the first to say that I am far from perfect, but I am trying. I think that is all we can ask of each other in pursuit of a greener Earth. 

So what are these little changes we can make in an effort to be more eco-friendly with our style?

I would like to share with you a few tips that you might try. 

Firstly, let me say that being in the business of style I am well aware of the price point of ethical, vegan and sustainable clothing brands.  It is considerably higher than what we see on the high-street and for good reasons. They source materials ethically. They pay a fair wage and the clothing is often made in countries within Europe where employees’ rights are protected.  These price points might exclude many of us and so we return to old shopping habits. So what else can we do when our budget does not extend to this? Here are my top tips:

  • Where possible resist the urge to splurge on fast fashion items. Instead take inventory of what is in your wardrobe and identify gaps of items that could be considered versatile and timeless. For example the classic white shirt. Save the money you would have spent on throw-away items and start to invest in key pieces that will stand the test of time. You will be shopping less but you will be happier with the quality pieces you have collected over the years.
  • When buying a new piece for your wardrobe think about cost per wear rather than the price tag.  Take this example. You buy an unusual sequin top for €50 and wear it twice over a year. The cost per wear is €25.  Now take your classic white shirt that cost €104 and you wear it once a week, every week for a year. The cost per wear is €2.  Try thinking about the amount of times you will wear the item rather than what the price tag says. This little shift in mindset can result in big changes.
  • The throw-away mentality has led a generation or two to forget the need to care for our clothes. If a €4 top gets discoloured in the wash or shrinks in the dryer we are not terribly upset over it. If the same thing happens to our €90 top the consequences are a little more devastating. Caring for our clothes in an effort to preserve the life of them should be a priority regardless of the price. Spot clean where possible and follow the instructions to get the most out of your clothes.
  • Invest in getting to know your style and forget about the fashion influencers. I’ve seen it far too often that a person on social media promotes a fashion label or a certain item of clothing and next thing you know it is sold out within minutes. Again, in the past I have been guilty of jumping on this bandwagon only to be disappointed that the coveted item looks pretty dreadful on me. The reason? They have a completely different body shape, personalty and colouring to me. Of course it’s not going to look the same. I have learnt to appreciate the style of others while developing my own. Each of us can look great in our own way by getting to know our best colours, what cuts and fabrics suit us and developing our very own style personality. By doing this we are curating a wardrobe that is individual to us. You don’t have to be concerned with trends when you own your style. You will find that you will shop less yet have more to wear because you are investing in your personal colour palette and clothes that work together rather than having an eclectic mix of everything. What’s not to love?
  • Second-hand, pre-loved, vintage clothing. Whatever your preferred phrase is shopping for clothes, shoes and handbags that were previously owned is becoming a new trend in itself. I will admit this required a little bit of a mindset shift for me as I had this mentality that second-hand clothes were just rags and unfit to be worn. However in my pursuit of being more sustainable I started to explore what was available in the circular fashion industry and I was pleasantly surprised. Admittedly you have to have an open mind when shopping in this way. You cannot look at a website and select your size or colour. What is there is limited and so patience is key. Be prepared to walk away with nothing at all but when you find that unique piece at a bargain price there is no better feeling. I have taken great joy in discovering some of Ireland’s gems of pre-loved clothing stores as well as those online. Here are a few of my favourites:

Siopaella, Dublin & online.

The Harlequin Vintage, Dublin

Finders Keepers, Bray

Yaas Vintage, Dublin

The Wardrobe, Kilkenny

Designer Exchange, Dublin

Vestiaire Collective, Online

Depop, Online

So regardless of your budget I hope I have been able to inspire you to try a few different things to move away from fast fashion and towards a slower, more sustainable and stylish wardrobe.

Get in touch to learn more about your individual style and stop wasting your hard earned cash on poor clothing choices.  In the words of Vivienne Westwood, ’Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.’

Sarah Ryan

The Style Coach™ – visit for more.

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