Turning the red carpet green! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will appear Sunday at the first Earthshot Prize Awards, celebrating the efforts of those trying to solve global environmental problems. Run by the Royal Foundation, Earthshot has been a huge priority for Prince William since he first announced it last year. The five winners will receive one million pounds each; the awards are set to continue for the next decade, funding at least 50 world-changing initiatives.
This very admirable work has forced me to think more about sustainability and royal style. I’ve been on a journey in other parts of my life, including at home and with my kids, to make more thoughtful choices — embracing new habits like composting and reducing my single-use plastic, while dressing my children almost exclusively in hand-me-downs from their cousins. But I’ll be the first to admit I have struggled to reexamine how I shop for clothes. I have always loved the thrill of the hunt (retail therapy, anyone?) and the rush that comes with wearing something new. That energy carries through to my Instagram, where I gush over a new piece worn by the duchesses and share links that very much encourage shopping. It’s a problem, I know it’s a problem!
So where to start addressing it? Because the situation is so dire that I find myself avoiding it rather than taking steps to improve. Now, I'm taking a page from Will’s playbook and getting excited about solutions. The prince has continually emphasized the need to infuse a bit more optimism into this discussion; the Earthshot Prize is meant to reward those doing something about the problems facing our planet.
I spent the week thinking about realistic steps we can take to be a bit more conscious in our shopping habits. Here are three thoughts (with thanks to you all for your input on Instagram and the duchesses for their IRL example!):
Make the most of what you already own
The harsh truth is we need to buy less clothing, a lot less. So take a page from the duchesses and rewear your favorites. Both Kate and Meghan have pieces in their wardrobes that we have seen time and time again (I especially love it when they rewear a piece from their pre-royal days, it reminds me they had a life before all of this!). If a royal can rewear, so can the rest of us.
How can we make repeats as exciting as new pieces? Again, follow in Kate and Meghan’s footsteps and try restyling them. Swap out your shoes or change up your hair. Try to mix and match other items from your wardrobe. I love how Kate rethought her Erdem jacket for an appearance this week. We first saw the green statement piece worn as a dress in New Zealand in 2014. Left unzipped and paired with trousers, it looked like an entirely new coat this time around.
Also, learn from the Queen and take care of your closet. Her Majesty was raised in the famously austere times, where a mantra was “make do and mend.” If something happens to something you love, find a way to fix it. Take that broken shoe to a cobbler before you trash it! If you’re feeling particularly committed, work with a tailor to remake a piece the way Kate has — or Diana did before her.
Shop secondhand or rent
A lot of fabulous fashion has already been made, and worn. Try renting a dress for a night out from Rent the Runway in the US or Hurr in the UK. Shopping locally at your favorite secondhand store is super special, too — remember those fabulous vintage coats Meghan wore at the end of her pregnancy with Archie? Online, I also recommend checking out ThredUp, Poshmark, and the RealReal. A big bonus: you'll often pay far less than retail. I found a fantastic Cushnie jumpsuit for just $84 on the RealReal for my book launch last year.
If you are looking for secondhand royal fashion, have a look at Your Royal Closet. Launched last year by Effervescence Media Group, which runs Kate’s Royal Closet and Meghan’s Mirror, the consignment shop offers “real deal” royal pieces as well as very close lookalikes. Brands run the gamut from J.Crew to Jason Wu. Consignors send pieces to co-owner Mackenzie Kerby, who screens them for quality. She also handles photography, posting, and shipping. “Making sustainability easy is the key,” she told me. “Because if it is difficult, people aren’t going to do it.”
Here's an insider tip: Once you consign with or buy from Your Royal Closet, you can get a first look at new arrivals. Use the code SOMANYTHOUGHTS for 15% off your first purchase.
Only buy what you love (and take good care of it!)
If you are going to shop for new things, only buy what you absolutely love. This strategy has helped me curb my shopping habits immensely, and made me appreciate the contents of my closet a lot more. I started taking this approach back in 2014, while reporting my first column for the Wall Street Journal. I wrote about Meghan-approved brand Cuyana, which uses the mantra “fewer, better” — that really stuck with me. “We don't want to make people feel guilty,” Co-founder Shilpa Shah told me back then. “It's more about getting rid of all that excess and creating a wardrobe of what you love.”
Spend your hard-earned money with brand committed to sustainablity and, ideally, natural fibers. More than 60% of clothes are made with synthetic materials, which means they won’t decay in a landfill. On Instagram, you all offered up some amazing brands to check out in the comments of this post, including:
Amour Vert makes its clothing in California with sustainable fabrics and zero waste
Pact clothing uses organic cotton and offsets the carbon footprint of its shipping
Stripe and Stare has sustainable underwear made out of Tencel, made Beechwood trees (and, let’s be honest, this is a category where buying secondhand is not advisable!)
Wherever you shop, consider looking the brand up on Good On You first (thank you to the commenter who suggested this!) It rates companies on their ethical and sustainable practices.
Lastly, think about the versatility and longevity of a piece before you buy it. Are there different ways you can style a sweater? Can those trousers be tailored? Will you be as excited to carry this bag or wear this dress in a few years as you are today?
But mostly: I’m committed to thinking more about style + sustainability in all parts of life, including my royal commentary. I need to do more to examine the sustainability of the brands the duchesses wear and work harder to be as excited about repeats as I do about new outfits. Also, with my links to lookalike products, I’ll try harder to find sustainable options. It’s a process, right? Thank you for thinking this through with me!
SMT Royal News Roundup
“Really irritating” was how the Queen summed up the lack of action by some global leaders on climate change at the opening of the Welsh parliament this week. The royal family has been more vocal on the environment ahead of COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Glasgow at the end of the month. (The Guardian)
Her Majesty's comments came on the heels of Prince William criticizing the global space race: “We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live,” he said on BBC’s Newscast. The podcast is a great listen, Will’s devotion to environmental issues is clear. (BBC)
Harry and Meghan are promoting sustainable investing by partnering with Ethic. “My husband has been saying for years, ‘Gosh, don’t you wish there was a place where if your values were aligned like this, you could put your money to that same sort of thing?’” Meghan told the New York Times. (New York Times)
The Queen used a walking stick for the first time in nearly 30 years this week, first at an appearance at Westminster Abbey and again on a visit to Wales. The last time the 95-year-old monarch was seen with a mobility aid was following knee surgery. (USA Today)
Treetops, the Kenyan lodge where then-Princess Elizabeth was staying when she found out her father had died and she was Queen, has closed due to a drop in tourism during the pandemic. (People)
Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, marked World Sight Day with a visit to a London school. Eye problems have been on the rise during the pandemic; Sophie, who is a global ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, was spotlighting the importance of having your eyes tested. (Hello)
There is a new Diana photography exhibition coming to LA, Chicago, and New York later this year. I don’t know a lot about it but I am intrigued! Tickets go on sale next week. (Princess Diana Exhibition)
Have a wonderful weekend, friends. I’ll see you on Instagram Sunday for the Earthshot Prize Awards (look for my SMT that day or the following, depending on how much my kids cooperate!). Also on Sunday, the second episode of CNN’s six-part Diana docu-series airs at 6pm PT / 9pm ET.