Be the Change | Choosing second-hand fashion, whatever the occasion!

The clothing and textiles industry accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than international aviation and shipping combined. Rethinking the amount of clothes we buy and refreshing our wardrobes with only second-hand pieces challenges fast-fashion culture, saves money, and encourages creativity. Read on to hear from two colleagues who are relishing the fashion challenge.   


Vicki Carliell, Teaching Associate, VET school

Vicky and her second-hand wedding dress

“I’ve been a charity shopper since my student years, when numerous student balls, formal dinners and work placements required fancy clothes I couldn’t afford. I once found a gorgeous blue silk cocktail dress (which costs more to dry clean than the dress itself!) – I’ve enjoyed many occasions in that dress over the years.  

I’m getting married this summer and we’re considering the environmental impact of all our choices. My wedding dress and all five bridesmaids’ dresses are all coming from charity shops. Initially I was nervous my bridesmaids would think I’m being cheap, but they’re excited and think it’s cool I’m doing it. We’re looking for bright, colourful, mismatched dresses – bold and vibrant! 

When it came to choosing dresses, they came to Bristol and we first visited the Tenovus Bridal Store on Glouster Road. They’d held back some dresses I’d pre-selected, closed the store and made it a really nice experience for us. We found my wedding dress and three of the bridesmaid dresses that day. Some of my bridesmaids are now considering donating their old wedding dresses to charity to give them another lease of life, which is a great thing to do.” 




Josie's old outfit of the day
Josie’s ‘old outfit of the day’

Josie Maskell, Student Administrator, School of Physics 

“I’ve always loved finding unique items of clothing at low prices in charity shops, but following sustainable influencers online, I’ve learnt more about the huge impact that fast fashion has on the planet. I’ve challenged myself to reduce the amount of clothing I buy, and to buy second hand as much as possible.  

It can be hard finding specific items you need or want but apps like Vinted and Ebay mean I can search for specific items second hand, and filter by colour and condition. It can be more work buying second-hand, but I find it especially rewarding when you find the perfect item of clothing after searching – it’s much more exciting than just picking something up from the high street.  

Another way I refresh my wardrobe is by going to clothes swaps. You take along a few good quality items to swap, and everyone’s items are put out on racks to browse. I love these because you never know what you are going to come home with, and it encourages you to have a clear out so that you aren’t holding onto excess clothing.  

Having access to so many great second-hand items online, I have been tempted to over consume and buy things I don’t need. I try to follow the 30-wear rule, where you only buy something if you can see yourself wearing it at least 30 times.  

It’s fun to be creative with the pieces I have, and I often share my outfits on social media using the “old outfit of the day” hashtag, which was created by sustainable influencers to encourage people to join the slow fashion movement. Since doing this, I have heard from a few of my friends that I’ve inspired them to buy more second-hand items which always makes my day.” 


Find out more and sign up to the challenge here. 

Be the Change: Clothes swap and repair, Wednesday 19 April, 4-6pm, Physics Building  

The Sustainability Team is partnering with The Emporium of Loveliness  and Gorgeous by Design to help you on your way to a more sustainable wardrobe. Simply bring along your gently used clothes to swap for something different or bring along an item in need of a minor repair and get it fixed for free! Staff and students can sign up for this free event on the Be the Change webpage.   


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