Do you follow Andrea Cheong on Instagram or TikTok? If you don't, you should! She has become the trusted and approachable authority in an arena that many find daunting to step into: sustainable fashion. Breaking it down into bite-size pieces of information one can easily digest and use for more sensible shopping tactics in the future, Andrea's Mindful Monday Method is an absolute must-view if you want to be a more conscious consumer of fashion. With her wealth of knowledge and very good taste, it's no wonder we had to knock on her virtual door. Join Andrea each Friday on Who What Wear UK's TikTok channel (@whowhatwear.uk), where she'll be dissecting the latest trends and shopping phenomena. Last week, she showed you a more sustainable Lunar New Year shopping list. This week, she brings you a conscious guide to Valentine's date outfits.
Photo:Mariko Kuo / @andreacheong_
I don’t know about you, but I sense that there’s a (much-appreciated) culture shift when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Gone is the Sex and the City era where it's "just a typical Friday night waiting for some guy to call." Now, it’s whatever we want it to be. Another date, albeit with restaurants jacking up their prices. Or an opportunity to go out with friends. Perhaps a night in with your pet rabbit polishing off a family-sized takeaway from your local Thai. Is the last one acceptable? I’m asking for a friend.
Whatever the plans or no plans are, these are my five love-themed outfits for the 14th of February, all chosen with conscious and sustainable values in mind.
1. For the Classic Romantic
Photo:Me + Em
If your idea of a great Valentine’s date involves some vino and white tablecloths, then please meet your match: Me+Em’s silk pleated maxi dress. I am enamoured by the simple yet impactful things, like how all the pleats line up. Oh, and in pink, it is the dream!
However, don’t just take my word for it. Ask yourself: Do I have something similar already? If I could never take a photo in this, would I still want it? And finally, would my sister/friend/partner want to borrow it for that wedding in July? Because sharing is caring, especially when it comes to investment pieces.
Why it’s a sustainable buy: If it’s your style, I find it hard to find a fault with this. It’s expensive at just under £500 but also an appropriate price tag for the craftsmanship and the 100% silk composition. Typically, a garment like this can take a few days to a week to create. And yes, it’s lined.
2. For the Expert Self-Gifter
I’m a firm believer that lingerie is bought for ourselves. And let me tell you finding consciously made and ridiculously cute underwear was a labour of love from me to you. Fruity Booty, which I encourage you to say aloud many times in a row and as quickly as possible, is a British brand that creates beautiful, limited-edition sets. Love Bug (£70) could be the perfect treat.
Why it’s a sustainable buy: It's made in East London and Portugal and uses recycled polyester and deadstock fabric. We know that lingerie, which is often made with technical fabric, is likely to be synthetic. Opting for a recycled option is the more responsible choice. You may have noticed the word deadstock. This is the name for leftover materials from other brands, where the quantities are too small to use in full collections. By using deadstock, brands like Fruity Booty help to save perfectly good textile from the landfill.
3. For the All-or-Nothing Celebrator
Photo:Mariko Kuo / Courtesy of Andrea Cheong
If your plan is to "go out out," then you may already be thinking about your outfit. Occasionwear can be pricey, mainly as these garments tend to be far more detailed, which is more time-consuming and therefore increases the cost to make. For example, impressive balloon shoulders, embellishments and cut-outs—aka all the fancy things we love to see. I will always be an advocate for outfit repeating, but not everyone finds it easy to style and restyle themselves. Rental fashion is a brilliant option in this scenario. My Wardrobe HQ has partnered with Harrods, so its selection of evening wear is unparalleled. Think The Attico, Mary Katrantzou and Lisou available to borrow for £10 to £30 a night. And if you realise that it’s a marriage made in sartorial heaven, you can make the commitment to buy at a lower price than the traditional RRP.
Why it’s a sustainable buy: Renting your wardrobe is a small part of circular fashion. This term refers to designing and keeping a garment in use for as long as possible to reduce waste. This is a great alternative to traditional shopping because occasionwear is often made of synthetics that are not biodegradable, and as mentioned, they can be quite expensive.
4. For the Flirty Texter
Check your most-used emoji because if that winky face with a heart is one of them, then I’m setting you up with Omnes’s Riviera Midi Dress. Name a more suitable companion for you than that black dress with kitsch lipstick illustrations. I’ll wait. The adjustable back helps to tailor the fit and the slip looks great with a knit thrown over.
Why it’s a sustainable buy: I like that Omnes bridges the gap between accessible prices and more conscious materials. What is particularly great about this silky number is that it's one for the vegans. I’m often asked for the best alternatives to silk, and currently, cupro, lyocell or recycled polyester from post-consumer clothing are the best bets. This is made of the latter.
5. For the Homebody
Photo:Ethical Silk Co
The homebody knows how to invest in fancy pyjamas. This set is from the Ethical Silk Company, and the shirt can be dressed up with gold jewellery and jeans. That’s only if your friends manage to lure you from the comfort of your sofa.
Why it’s a sustainable buy: The Ethical Silk Company harvests from silk cocoons that moths have left behind, which differs from mainstream practises that result in the death of silkworms. Furthermore, they partner with Fair Trade organisations for ethical labour and use azo-free dyes. Dyeing textiles is one of the biggest pollutants in the manufacturing process, and this claim means that its colours are free from known carcinogens.
Next up, the 2022 trends we're trying second-hand.