2019 first half money talk, or how expensive an ethical wardrobe is?

Money is the typical contention point of ethical fashion, because price is, of course, fast fashion’s forte. And once we have accepted that 5€ t-shirts are possible, how do you convince people that it has to be 30 at least? The fact that most online pushers of sustainable fashion either make it, distribute it or receive it for free to review it plug it in doesn’t help either. Even more, it is common to tell people to vote with their euros which is so class-biased and so insidious if you stop and think about it…

So to be the change you want to be in the world tell where at least my money goes while following my list of priorities in wardrobe detoxing, here you have
The first half of 2017,
The second half of 2017,
the first half of 2018, and
the second half of 2018.

This post is about last six months, January to June 2019. You have the full list and the total below, followed by more details ordering the purchases from most euros spent to least.


Overall, I am very pleased with how 2019 is going. The only actual ‘fashion’ buy have been those Vejas that I desperately sought the internets for. And I’ve had three pairs of the same style before, so no risks (and this acquisition should imply no footwear worries well into 2020). Then I just needed some socks, and still want to learn to sew. Hell yeah!

As I have discussed elsewhere, several factors make this possible: (1) the amazing hand-me-downs from my mom (and other family members and friends), (2) the the swaps I organize, and (3) the occasional (new) gift from my mother. But even if your mom is very different or you are not yet organizing swaps (you totally should, take a look here and here), noting your clothing expenses down and seeing where the money goes is so very informative. Yeah, you guessed it, in a spreadsheet!


Learning to sew, 64 hours: 624€.

Yeah, I’ve taken a lot of classes in these six months, and I have been LOVING every minute of them. As I’ve been repeating on money posts since I started taking the sewing classes with Carmen at Opció Taller (web, FB, IG) in March 2018, it is, of course, more than direct spending on clothes. I am learning a skill I really want to have, materializing much of my politics (hello there, mending, fixing, upcycling and self-reliance!), and having a great time.

During these 64 hours I have received a course on pattern-making and made my own base pattern + (a) fixed my mom’s jersey dress, (b) made the second yoga mat bag, (c) made my first dress based on my very own pattern, (d) fixed (again!) my mom’s lace undershirt, (e) fixed the yellow swap pants, (f) thought through and prepared materials to make a patch pocket out of my current embroidery. All that thanks to the generous support of Carmen. I am making significant savings on materials and notions as I mostly use workshop’s notions (that’s Carmen’s politics, and a big thanks for that) and I still haven’t bought any fabric for my projects, they just keep appearing magically.

So, as always, I wholeheartedly recommend Opció Taller for anybody looking for sewing, shoemaking or painting courses in Barcelona in Spanish. Carmen and Cristián are great!


Veja Taua sneakers, two pairs: 130€.

If you have read this blog for a while, Veja Taua model keeps appearing as my all-time favorite sneaker that I was denied of renewing last year (to replace my first three pairs that had been worn to shreds) as Veja discontinued it. This: Swap VI and the problem with the threadbare. Unless a company has an explicit ‘timeless’ policy, you cannot repeat a garment that has turned out to be perfect for you. I bought the next most similar Veja sneaker in 2018 and – despite having worn them happily for more than 200 times – do not want to repeat them. So when kept stalking Amazon for some leftover Tauas, and got myself these two pairs from my teaching paycheck in January.

The blue ones are now at 50 years and finally comfy. They are size 39 instead of 40, so breaking in was a bit of a struggle and I can already see breaking points where they will disintegrate again. Ugh… Well, I have the purple ones waiting their turn once these ones fall apart. I have no clear plan for later on, as so far neither amazon.es nor amazon.co.uk – or anybody else I know – are stocking any in my size (out of those very few pairs still out there).


Embroidery thread, second hand: 25€.

I got a sudden urge to embroider in June, and decided to couple it with a supply rescue operation through second-hand sellers. Throughout this first experience I got what I wanted: (a) a cool stash of pretty color 100% cotton Spanish embroidery thread and (b) a confirmation that, as I suspected, Wallapop is the weirdest place uniting in transactions the weirdest people. I’ve already finished all that stash, so my August mission will be to go out there or either start buying it from orderly mercerías or to carry on interacting with strangers selling their dead mothers’ crafting stash.


A pair of stay-ups and several (5?) pinkie socks from Calzedonia: 19.75€.

I needed socks. And, after my calculations around Swedish Stockings in 2018, I just went to my nearest Calzedonia and repeated items I know very well, the opaque stay-ups with a silicone band and several pairs of the little invisible socks to get me through the summer. No regrets.


Notions (needle, ribbon, zippers): 10.10€.

As I said above, I mainly use Carmen’s notions on my projects and wonder out to shops only for things she does not have. During these 6 months those have been velvet ribbon and a pearl needle (I ended up not being able to use) to fix the bracelet I had given to Jorge and zippers for the second yoga mat bag and the floral dress. The bracelet, as you can see, turned out great and much more solid than it was at the beginning. I love the fact that he gave it back to me with a ‘hey, I love it but it is falling apart, maybe you could fix it’… and I was able to do it! Hell yes.


And that’s it. In comparison with the previous years, I have a feeling that my clothing and craft spending is very much under control and in line with my values. K-ching! While the number – 808.85€ – is big and scary, most of it is skill acquisition and working on maintaining garments alive for as much as possible. That’s a win in my book.

How are you approaching your sustainable wardrobe money-wise: free hand-me-downs, cheap seconhands, rather expensive investment pieces? Have you tried a ‘no-buy’ period to analyze your shopping impulses? Have you internalized so completely that browsing shops for fun – online or IRL – doesn’t even occur to you? Or do you indulge? Also, how are the rebajas going? Wink-wink.


  1. Hi! I have a similar wardrobe situation actually, i get most of my clothing from friends as hand me downs (bad for the world, good for me, I have some friend that just keep on shopping and shopping…), and together with some presents (unavoidable even I say I dont need or want anything new) from family for Christmas and Birthdays, that’s basically everything. Plus old and loved clothing ofc! I kind of quit shopping some years ago, and reduced it till a minimum, and now a days is something that I wouldn’t do ever again (as I used to do 6-8 years ago). I think the only thing in two years that came new and bought by myself is a pair of Vans…
    So I guess after some “no shopping” periods and time, I got used to not to shop.

    I would like to know your views on presents, and relatives insinsting on buying sth for you, as it happens to me quite often, and it’s sometimes difficult to make them understand that you want nothing. Some people don’t get the fact that there are other reasons to refuse new and nice looking clothing from fast fashion companies… I know there are good intentions behind… But it’s not easy to make people understand why new clothing is not necessary at all… Or they don’t want to listen to my view’s which could sound like a critic to the shopping behaviour they have. It’s complicated I guess… But it’s difficult to get to a curated wardrobe that you love, and then get some tshirts from H&M as a present that you don’t know what to do with, even if they fit my style…

    Would love to hear your opinions on that topic 🙂

    1. Hi, Marina! Thank you for sharing…
      Yeah, gifts is a difficult one. As you say, people want to show their love and there are cultural occasions where you are very likely to get something you never wanted. Depends very much on the family (workplace, friend circle), too. Mine has basically stopped giving me unsolicited stuff + I have an aunt who has made it normal to send out a wishlist before Christmas. So I make a short list of a couple of books and other things I’d like to have but somehow do not get around to buy (previous examples include a silicone oven mat, a pingpong set, new tablecloth with matching napkins, and several lavender baggies for the wardrobe). I try to balance it out and make pretty cheap; has been working out pretty well in my family. However, that’s the first step but, if you have some set family gatherings with gifts, it makes sense to start a conversation about not doing it, or doing some kind of gift lottery, everybody having one assigned person to prepare gift to, handmade gifts only (although this may backfire and make the gifts even worse), etc.
      The next one is taking stock of what actually comes in and disposing of the unwanted. KonMari and several other organizing books have helped me with the notion that the mission of a gift is to be given. Once it it yours, the initial intention of bestowing a gift is done, and you can do with the object whatever you want, including throwing out, regifting, reselling or taking to the charity shop. Depending on the gifter, this radical appropriation may require some lying because, obviously, hurting anybody’s feeling is not the idea. It is also a good way to learn to never inquire after the gifts you have given.
      Yet, I’ve heard stories of mothers who require to see their gifts worn, etc. with a following scandal if those are not to be found. It’s up to every person herself to see if these issues are worth rebelling against or just keeping a drawer with stuff that make that particular relationship easier.
      In general, if that H&M shirt fits your wardrobe, keep it, if not – pass it to sb else. And enjoy your no shopping journey, it’s a very curious form of freedom!

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