Dolce (Lifestyle)

7 Fashionable Looks That Pay It Forward

The warm tones of autumn are vibrant and aesthetically-pleasing. In autumn Australian temperatures are mostly mild and the trees are lit up with shades of auburn, orange, and yellow, withering to an earthy brown. Strolling through parks hearing fallen leaves crunch beneath my shoes, I’m reminded of nature’s fragility. This life cycle can be symbolic to fashionable people with a social conscience. Just as nature renews it’s materials, we too can extend the life of the clothing we wear.

Social Change

We are more selective when making purchases given the ability to compare purchases online and in-store. Many people care about how their clothing is made, and so not-for-profit organisations such as Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) have come about.

Currently funded by the Victorian Government, ECA offers voluntary accreditation to fashion brands and ensures that their supply chains are transparent and compliant with the law.

Since the year 2000, there has been a steady increase in the sale of clothing against a decrease in the utilisation thereof. The Ellen McArthur Foundation released a report titled, A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future which explores the current drawbacks in textile production along with the environmental impacts of discarded clothing.

This report has made me more conscious about how and where I shop for clothing. Like many people, I love a good deal and, as a frugal individual, I am careful with my hard-earned money.

I tend to shop for items that are comfortable, flattering to my build, and have a long shelf-life. There are clothes in my wardrobe that I have had for well over a decade which, I’m happy to say, still fit.

The following are some everyday autumn looks that I love. They make me feel good, and by purchasing the clothes from a charitable organisation, I get to pay it forward. In every one of these outfits, I have featured a purchase from either Oxfam Australia or Salvation Army (Salvos) paired with a few staple items from my wardrobe. The autumn looks I am going to feature are smart casual and semi-corporate.

Autumn Staple Items

The decline in clothing utilisation is an inherent issue in western society. Investing in good quality staple items will go a long way in helping to address this problem.

These staples can often be mixed and matched to achieve different looks, and can be dressed up or down to suit casual or semi-formal occasions.

Two of my favourite staples are a pair of jeans and a leather jacket. I bought a pair of Lee jeans back in 2011 and they are still going strong so I chose to feature them in this photoshoot. I bought a Lee leather jacket in 2008 and ten years later, it is still one of my favourite items.

I am not in any way sponsored by Lee, but I can vouch for the durability of their clothing.

Autumn Blouses and Tops

You can breathe new life into staples with a range of stylish blouses and tops. I have selected a few items that I recently adopted from Oxfam and Salvos, and paired them up with jeans and heels. The looks are as follows:

1) A blue and white patterned singlet from Minkpink with Lee jeans
2) A red chequered Dotti shirt with Lee jeans
3) A yellow embroidered blouse from Oxfam with Lee jeans
4) A floral-patterned All About Eve singlet with Lee jeans

My favourite would have to be the yellow blouse in the third outfit. I love the embroidered detail at the front, and the colour contrasts well against my olive skin tone.

Best of all, every blouse and top that you see in these images cost me between $4 – $15 and I was able to give to a charitable organisation. Feelgood fashion is an affordable choice!

This jeans-and-blouse outfit can be accessorised with different pairs of shoes, jewellery, handbags, or scarves. In fact, I can do a photo feature on accessories at a later date, so keep an eye out for that.

In the meantime, enjoy these looks and think of how you can breathe new life into the staples in your wardrobe.

Semi-Corporate Autumn Attire

If you are a supporter of labels, you may be able find some treasures in your local op-shop. Throughout my teaching career, I had to dress professionally, and so I liked wearing a blazer with a neat dress and heels.

I discovered this sleeveless chocolate brown Cue dress at Salvos for $10. Cue is one of the many accredited brands listed on Ethical Clothing Australia’s site. For a full list of ECA-accredited brands you can click here.

The first look is practical on a warmer autumn day, but for a cooler day, a blazer is a great accessory. I matched the dress with a second-hand Cotton-On burgundy blazer to achieve a semi-corporate look.

5) brown Cue dress
6) burgundy Cotton-On blazer paired with Cue dress
7) dark blue floral-print Dotti dress with red kitten heels

Autumn Floral Dress With Red Shoes

Floral prints are often associated with spring, but with some autumn days boasting 25-degree Celsius temperatures, a floral dress can be just as appropriate in autumn.

The dark blue Dotti dress – pictured above – was purchased for $6 from Salvos, and I have enjoyed wearing it on many occasions.

In the spirit of autumn leaves, red shoes can make a great statement by adding a pop of colour. I almost feel like Dorothy in Oz when I trot around in these shoes.

As well as being comfortable and supportive, they give my outfit an element of sass. I purchased this cute pair of red kitten heels from Salvos for $16.

Autumn Fashion and You

Ultimately, fashion should be something that gives you a point of difference. Let your clothes be an extension of your personality. Most importantly, your dress sense should be functional, practical and make you feel good.

Evidently, it doesn’t have to cost much to have a stylish wardrobe; reinvention is the key to finding new outfits. I hope that my autumn look book has inspired you to peruse your own collection and get creative by mixing and matching staples and indulging in an autumn palette.

I would love for you to share some of your creative autumn outfits with me, particularly if you have staple clothing that has been mixed and matched to achieve different looks. Together, we can be fashionable and minimise waste. Utilise your clothes more and share these tips with your friends so that they can do the same.

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