How To Be Stylishly Sustainable - Interviewing Siobhan of Well Styled Stylist

I first came across Siobhan Young of Well Styled Stylist on Instagram. I was immediately taken by her colourful, playful approach to fashion, as well as her focus on style rather than being a slave to trends. 

But as I got to know her, I also understood her to be a true champion of sustainable style - something she strong encourages her clients to embrace and discusses during her style workshops. As you'll know, I also am a big believer in for fashion, and am against the fast disposable fashion cycle that has come to dominate the high streets. 

Keen to understand more of Siobhan's philosophy, I recently interviewed her to find out more, and to pick up her top tips on how to shop stylishly as well as sustainably...

Hi Siobhan, thank you so much for being interviewed today! And congratulations also on being runner up out of 40 women for Women In Education for your style workshops, and for being shortlisted as a finalist for Kent Women In Business Awards 2017 for Women in Education and Woman's Champion Award - how exciting!

So first could you tell me a little about how you work with your clients to understand what they are looking for?

Firstly, there’s a questionnaire and then we meet and have an informal chat over coffee. I usually write copious notes and ask lots of questions to help me fully understand them.

I don’t charge for this time as its essential for me to know who I am working with. I want to know everything about them.  Their families, their lifestyle, their moods, how their friends would describe them, their dreams and ambitions and why they reached out to me.

By getting to know them as much as possible, I can bring out their unique personality and individual style so they look and feel amazing.

Yes style really is an extension of one's personality, so it's great that you really take the time to get to know your client beyond simply the type of clothes they like.  So what are the top tips you suggest to your clients on how to shop savvy?

  • Complete a wardrobe detox for each season so you have a fresh start and know what gaps are in your wardrobe.

  • Shop with a list only.

  • Never be enticed by the lure of bargains.

  • Visit the most expensive boutiques and designer shops and educate yourself with what quality looks and feels like.  

  • Never feel afraid of snooty shop assistants. Their job is to help you.

  • Go shopping without making a purchase! Instead ask the shops to hold items.  Take photos of these items then return home and check whether they would add real value to your wardrobe and lifestyle.

All very sage advice. And of course all of these tips work equally well for shopping online! 

As well as offering great advice and such a personal service, I also love that you really encourage your clients to shop sustainably. There are so many different interpretations of sustainable fashion, so what does it mean to you?

While there is no formal definition of sustainable fashion my personal view is fashion that is made with love, has a timeless style and is quality (and the price may reflect this) is usually more sustainable than your average high street hero!

Yes I would agree. It's clothes that can be loved and last for years. But, as you say, the price will often reflect that! So whilst I'm sure we'd all love to buy beautiful quality garments all the time, most of us have to be selective! So what do you think are the best pieces to invest in?

A classic coat in winter, cashmere jumper, a little black dress and skinny jeans. 

So key wardrobe staples. And when purchasing these sort of pieces, what is your top tip for spotting quality?

It would have to be to check the item is fully lined. All tailored items should be fully lined to give it a more luxurious silhouette. 

Oh yes I love a good lining! Especially when it's in an unexpected colour, or has a great pattern.

So why do you think it is so important to shop sustainably?

When you are less intoxicated by fast fashion and mainstream trends, you will set yourself apart from fashion followers and have your own individual sartorial style.

 Your wardrobe will contain only treasured items that you’ll love to wear. Rather than clothes you care little about because you bought them easily for a bargain and will throw away once bored.

It saves you time and money but most precious of all, it mitigates your environmental footprint.

I completely agree. So, if someone wanted to try to become a more sustainable shopper, what do you suggest are the first 3 important steps to take?

  1. Define your personal style. Know it and grow it. Let the trends come and go and stick to your unique style.

  2. Only buy one item per season so your clothing budget is spent on one quality piece rather than many insubstantial ones.

  3. When you buy an item, wear it to death. Consider the cost per wear rule. Wear it on repeat with pride. Yes! Indeed, wearing an item more than once is OK. Kate Middleton does it!

Oh absolutely! I used to get scared about damaging my pricer clothes, but I've come to realise I might as well enjoy them - so I wear them now all the time. And because they are such great quality, they last! 

Siobhan working closely with a client

Fashion Trend Forecasters think 2017 will be the year we move away from fast fashion, and focus on a more sustainable fashion cycle. Do you agree?

I think we have become more aware of fashion’s footprint as more celebrities such as Livia Firth, endorse a more sustainable approach but sadly fast fashion is deeply seductive and prevalent. I think it will take a long journey of education and we need influencers such as young fashion bloggers to lead the way.

Education is always key. How do you think we should be educating individuals of all ages to embrace sustainable fashion, especially thoughts who still want to be on trend, or get bored of looks easily?

I’m working on this by running style workshops which teach people how to maintain a quality capsule wardrobe. Boredom is a problem and sadly shopping is an addictive soulless hobby.

Fantastic! Interactive workshops are always lots of fun, and you're promoting such a great message. Thank you so much Siobhan - it was lovely to chat, and here's to hoping more people start flying the flag for sustainable shopping!

You can find out more about Siobhan and Well Styled Stylist  - as well as sign up to her newsletter to receive 12 free style tips here. And if you'd like to get in touch, you can do so here

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