The Conscious Wedding Guest

Wedding season is in full flow and I’ve definitely noticed the challenges this year of leaving enough time to prepare an outfit, your travel, a gift, and whatever else you might be organising in time for the big day (and probably the hen party too). I was determined not to buy something new for a wedding recently but failed to make enough time to borrow from friends or think outside the box with enough time and ended up panic ordering from ASOS (everything but a pair of nude knickers got returned) and grabbing a dress from a shop as a ‘back up’ which I ended up wearing on the day. It’s easy to come up with justifications in the moment when really with a little thought and planning, its not so tricky to create more sustainable choices when it comes to our occasion-ware and so I thought it would be handy to share some with you!

Honestly, the amount of times in my life I have bulk ordered from ASOS, scorned at all the packaging and then sent everything back, makes me feel a bit queasy. The impact of the delivery and return alone, let alone of the production of the garments, on the environment is not worth any amount of confidence boost I might get from a new outfit, not to mention the ethics behind the brands that I was unconsciously supporting. So before you open a tab and start browsing the 3,893,421 dresses on the website (surely that’s a sign that we’ve all lost it), check out these options first:

1) What is already in your wardrobe?

It’s easy to forget about that dress we wore last summer, or to worry that we don’t want to be seen in the same thing twice. But honestly, if we buy less and buy good quality things, I reckon that’s much more wonderful than lots of throwaway wear-once outfits. I love seeing a friend in the same thing twice; and always make sure I tell them “I love that dress on you” to flatter not only their fashion choice but their confidence in rewearing. Don’t be shy of bold options too - make it a statement and wear that big, bold patterned number with pride.

2) Borrow from a friend

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If you can’t make anything in your own cupboard work…

…the next port of call is to ask someone else. My girlfriends from school are still all in close contact so we recently started a Whatsapp group exclusively for the sharing of wedding guest dresses in anticipation of the large number of nuptials we will all be attending in the next 12 months. We each sent pictures of ourselves in whatever dresses we were willing to lend, along with the size. We set the ground rules (always dry clean before returning unless asked otherwise, and un unsaid rule that if its damaged, it is replaced or paid for by the borrower to avoid any awkwardness later). Then when we have an upcoming event, we have a Whatsapp wardrobe to browse and choose something pre-worn from a friend!

3) Borrow from a stranger

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So steps 1 and 2 haven’t worked for you…

Perhaps its your first summer wedding, maybe you’ve changed shape or size or just didn’t feel your best in that dress that suits your friend but didn’t quite work on you, or a whole other host of maybes meaning that you just can’t find the one. Introducing HURR. This revolutionary wardrobe lending service helps you to find and rent pieces from other peoples’ wardrobes. There is a bit of a waiting list to get on there due to overwhelming demand, so get signed up soon to join the community when it opens up again. Oh, and you can rent pieces from your own wardrobe for others to enjoy too!

4) Shop Preloved or Find a Sample Sale

If you’re going to look for something ‘new’, how about something ‘new for you’?! Ebay, Depop or your local charity shop! It’s definitely not the quick option if you’ve left it to the last minute but it does usually provide a good bargain if you’re willing to do the leg work.

5) Choose Sustainable and Ethical Brands

As a last resort…

…(and I know this is hard to commit to, because until so recently most of us wouldn’t think twice about buying something new for a special occasion), if you do want to go for something new, invest what you can in well produced clothing. Sample Sales can be good for this too as they lower the price point for some more expensive brands. Check out The Box who do brilliant sample sales of various designers. But remember, expensive and designer labels aren’t always ethical. Do your research and put your money where your ethics are!

Some of my favourite places to look are:

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