5 easy tips to practice ‘Sustainable Fashion’

Amrutha Ananth
5 min readJan 13, 2020

Rewind to the 90s: Growing up with girl siblings in India, it was all about ‘Mix and Match’ at our house, from each other’s wardrobe! I can still recollect how my mother has always been the ‘Mix and Match’ fashion icon, draping even a simple dupatta in styles manifold — ethnic to not-so-ethnic, wearing the same ‘churidar’ with at least a dozen of Kurtis; reusing an old Sari by converting it into a skirt/blouse, and most importantly using only THAT one pair each of blue and black denims for all ‘western tops’. A closer look at these simple reuse and recycling clothing practices — ‘sustainable fashion’ has always seemed to be the mantra at our household!

Fast-forward to 2019: ‘Sustainability’ seemed to be the word on everyone’s lips conjuring different feelings and emotions but ultimately steering commitment towards environmental stewardship. Top publications, brands, celebrities across the world consciously decided to be a part of the ‘Sustainable movement’ by adopting different buzzwords or rather different strategies like ‘Go-green’/ ‘energy-efficient’/ ‘organic’/ ‘biodegradable’/ ‘greenwashing’ etc. In fact, this topic was also discussed in the popular Netflix show — Hasan Minhaj’s The Patriot Act last year! Now that we have a slight hint of the impact ‘sustainability movement’ has brought out across the world, time to tune into how you too can be a part of this collective marching towards greater ecological integrity.

Some backstory for the post below: As 2019 was drawing to a close, an exciting vacay to Peru with my better-half was coming up, and I thought to myself that it is time to put my ‘Mix and Match’ skills to good use, given that the sustainable shopper in me hasn’t really ‘shopped’ for many years. Yes, I come from a household that had the joy of buying long-lasting clothes only during important festivals which we would take care of by following instructions on its label to the T. We were also raised with an idea that only ‘branded’ clothes aren’t always the best. You must have guessed this from the earlier paragraph. So, back to the fun vacay part…I decided to be a part of the sustainability movement by adopting self-developed sustainable fashion tricks for our upcoming trip..and I can assure you it did not fail to give us sustainable memories. Scroll below for some fun Sustainable Fashion inspiration without giving up on your style quotient. PS: I went with an overarching ‘floral theme’ for this special holiday to Peru.

  1. Wear your ‘dress’ like a ‘long tunic’
    Like anyone else, I too had a memorable bachelorette and of course, I’m never throwing away that new favorite dress! But Peru being a mountainous region, there is a lot of hiking to do and thus arises the need to wear comfortable leggings/capris. I did a quick mash-up with a simple black Capri and tadah…I now have a brand new look and all set to comfortably explore the hilly Incan alleys in style.
1. Wearing the dress as-is 2. Sporting the same dress as a long tunic

2. Accessorize your dress!
Same dress. Different who?
In Peru, the weather is pretty unpredictable and when you have a pleasant beautiful day — you must grab the opportunity to do some local sightseeing and also click some good pictures, of yourself ;) Also, it is important to remember that the localities prefer you respect their culture and cover yourself fully while visiting the famous ‘Cusco Cathedral’ at Plaza De Armas.
All I did was add a floral ‘Cropped jacket’ to my casual breezy long dress — it turned out to be a winner simply because it certainly abided with the locals’ religious sentiments and also seemed to establish a gorgeously flattering style.

1. Look of the breezy pink dress as-is. 2. Breezy pink dress accessorized with a cropped jacket.

3. ‘Tuck-it-in’ style!

While the sun basked in full glory on the day we visited the Sacred Valley historic sites namely Chinchero, Moray, Maras, Ollantaytambo — it was definitely a good idea to pick something loose and breathable for the long sunny day that lay ahead. And given that these places did not have a lot of hiking — I decided to swing in a high-waisted skirt with a floral cold-shoulder top! High-waisted skirts are definitely in vogue and there is absolutely no need to only pair it with a crop top. You can also sport a normal-length top as a crop top — just by easily tucking it all in under your high-waisted wing skirt, as I did :)

1. Doing some gymnastics with The Washington Monument, wearing a floral cold-shoulder top with beige pants 2. Wearing the same floral top with a high-waisted swing skirt

4. Experiment with ‘Top-dressing’

It was now time to explore the historic center at Lima, Peru and how would you dress up on a sunny day with some gentle breeze?
This is what I did. I converted my knee-length dress to look like a mega-sleeve top for my A-line beige skirt — served the purpose of both layering and not compromising on a trendy look. This is what I call the super-inventive ‘top’ dressing. Get it? ;)

1. Floral knee-length dress with a shrug 2. Floral knee-length dress tucked into a skirt!

5. Make good use of ‘That one pair of denim’!

And with action-packed, adventure-filled days in Peru - where you hike the ‘wonder-full’ Machu Picchu or want to go all out into a sand-boarding expedition at the desert oasis city of Huacachina, you resort to THAT one pair of denim. I paired my jeans with a trendy bubble-sleeved cotton floral top for the desert and a collared baby-pink cotton tee for Machu Picchu!

Did you also notice the husband slaying it in a floral themed (cacti-printed) cotton shirt? That’s how we also play Mix and Match! :D

I guess adopting these simple repurpose approaches is a good starting point in aiming for zero waste goals. A quick yet creative mix and match make ‘sustainable fashion’ more affordable too, don’t you agree?

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Amrutha Ananth

MBA ’21, Babson College | Marketing Communications Professional