How green is bargain chic?

If you want to dress stylishly on a budget then it’s possible to be green at the same time, although there are definitely areas where the two ideals don’t overlap. For example, cheaper fabrics aren’t always kind to the environment when they’re manufactured or biodegradeable when they’re worn out, and there can be ethical issues with the way factory staff are treated.

However, there are several areas where they fit together perfectly. It’s impossible to get everything into one article for reasons of space so here’s a quick overview for starters, and then I’ll write properly about each point in turn at a later date.

Buy less, buy quality
Buy fewer, more versatile clothes that you know you’re going to get a lot of wear out of. Having a few plainer items makes it easier to mix and match to create variety, and they are less likely to go out of fashion after just one season – you can put together an interesting capsule wardrobe without too much outlay. For inspiration there are now several green style websites that showcase good looking garments from more environmentally friendly manufacturers, if you’d like to buy new.

Take care and repair
Hanging clothes up properly, cleaning them gently according to the instructions, pressing them carefully and storing them away from moths can keep them looking good for years. Quick running repairs also keep garments going for longer, and sometimes it’s worth paying the professionals for invisible mending and so on.

Alter to suit
A little extra tailoring will give you the perfect fit on something you’ll want to keep for a long time, or you can customise clothes to keep up with seasonal trends or your personal taste. Give an old outfit a new lease of life. If you don’t feel like doing the handiwork yourself then you can buy ‘upcyled’ and customised clothing from a growing number of retailers, and look for garments made from recycled materials.

Borrow or rent
Get outfits or accessories on loan from friends or relatives (with a few ground rules agreed beforehand), or hire/rent anything from men’s suits to this season’s it-dress or designer handbags. Much better value than buying something expensive and then hardly using it.

Swap or swish
Swapping used to just be straightforward swaps with someone you knew, but now you can try organising or attending a one-off swapping event or party, or using one of the many new commercial or charity swapping services that have sprung up.

Buy second hand
Give a vintage piece a new lease of life, keep clothes in use and out of landfill sites, and stand out from the crowd in something unique. Home made, high street or designer, there’s something in every price bracket. What’s not to love?

If anything’s been left out here, feel free to add your 2p worth and more in the comments below. Updates on their way later…

Similar Posts


  1. Luv’ ya Penny! You are a girl’s must have, whereas I know no shame 😉 Here are my “make do and mend” site finds:

    jewellery care:





    Keep up the good work 🙂

  2. Hey Emma, you rock my socks! Thanks for all the excellent ideas, I’m sure lots of people will find them very useful indeed.

    I now have a sudden urge to attend to my poor neglected jewellery…

  3. Hi Penny

    Great post! Agree with your point about buying fewer items of better quality. One of my favourite stores, Reiss, has great quality clothes that can be pretty pricey but they always have such a great sale (online aswell!) with really good discounts.

    Love the site!


  4. Hi Verity – had no idea that the Reiss sales were so good. I’ll be keeping an eye out from now on.

    Penny x

Comments are closed.