Holiday party pieces that compete with your favourite fast-fashion picks
A demo in making the more eco-friendly shopping choice
Fast fashion became the retail mega-monster it is because, well, who wouldn't want to pay significantly less for up-to-the-minute pieces? But while it may seem like we're saving money on our clothing these days, over time, we'll actually spend a lot more buying pieces that we view as disposable.
There's also the hidden cost the environment pays for fast fashion. Lucy Siegle, a British environmental journalist, recently reported that we consume 60 per cent more items of clothing today than we did in 2000. She projects that by 2050, we'll need three times the amount of natural resources to continue with the fast-fashion business model.
Still, we know it isn't easy finding desirably trendy pieces at an affordable price. So we did the research for you! For each fast-fashion trend in stores now, we've offered up a sustainable alternative. When it comes to finding alternatives yourself, you might have to put a little more work in, but you'll come out with a unique piece that you'll love longer… we promise.
THE FAIR ISLE SWEATER
Fair Isle–inspired sweaters are one of those winter trends that never seem to disappear, giving you all the more reason to find one that will stand the test of time. This year, we've spotted them perfectly tucked into vintage denim, and worn with leather boots or flats for that easy, French girl look. Vintage is the way to go with this trend, as these sweaters are an easy thrift store find, but Everlane's sustainable merino wool version is a great pick, too — no pilling after the first wash here.
Fast fashion: Jacquard-knit Sweater, $39.99, hm.com
THE METALLIC COCKTAIL DRESS
What would the holidays be without a little sparkle? We love this metallic draped dress from Asos, but also can't resist this long-sleeved vintage evening gown from Grant and Garbo. For the person who has several holiday parties to attend, we love the idea of renting your party frock, too. At $80 to rent, this sequined cocktail dress from The Fitzroy is a fraction of the price of its fast-fashion competitor.
Fast fashion: Asos Edition Blouson One Shoulder Midi Dress In Holographic Sequin, $220.92, asos.com
Alternatives (from left): Vintage 1970's Metallic Gold Copper and Silver Heavy Knit Lamé Full Sleeve Party Evening Gown Dress, approx. $60, etsy.com; Anna Sequin Wrap Dress by TFNC London, $80, fitzroyrentals.com
RHINESTONE STATEMENT EARRINGS
The 1980s are back in full force, and they brought their oversized, over-embellished rhinestone earrings along with them. More is more with this trend, and we're in serious need of these Cuchara multi-drop hoops — the perfect local, handmade alternative to fast-fashion statement earrings from Mango.
Fast fashion (left): Pendant Crystals Earrings, $29.99, shop.mango.com
Alternative (right): Swift Hoops, $135, cuchara.ca
PLATFORM PARTY HEELS
Channel your inner disco diva with this season's must-have party shoe: the ankle-strap platform heel. While we're loving the sparkly, disco ball version from Topshop, these recycled suede stunners from Susi Studio will keep disco in our closets for decades instead of days.
Fast fashion (left): Ringo Platform Sandals, approx. $82, topshop.com
Alternative (right): Veronica, $115, susistudio.com
Leopard-print clothing may be a top trend right now (more on that later), but it's all about reptiles when it comes to accessories. These black and white snakeskin booties from Beyond Skin are a vegan twist on the fast-fashion option, made with 100 per cent recycled faux leather and coated in a plant polymer. Plus, they're ethically made in Spain.
Fast fashion (left): Ankle Boots, $59.99, hm.com
Alternative (right): Lulu Faux Snake Vegan Ankle Boots, approx. $277, beyond-skin.com
THE BEADED PURSE
Why buy something that's only pretending to be the real thing? Retro beaded purses are the perfect cocktail/holiday party accessory, and can be found at almost any brick-and-mortar or online vintage store. Depop has an amazing selection at prices better then what fast fashion is offering up.
Fast fashion (left): Zara Mini Beaded Bucket Bag, $49.90, zara.com
Alternative (right): White Pearl Beaded Bag, $80, depop.com
Wearing this shockingly bright shade of pink to a holiday gathering is the fashion equivalent of spiking the punch. But why stop there? While browsing through consignment shops, or sustainable brands' online stores, look for details such as fringe, floral appliqués and polka dot prints to make your look the life of the party.
Fast fashion: Velvet Wrap Blouse, approx. $66, topshop.com
THE ANIMAL-PRINT DRESS
Leopard print is another one of those forever trends — a staple in your closet that you can pull out season after season. So it would do your wardrobe (and wallet) well to invest in a piece that's well made and can last more than a couple wears. We love Toronto brand Horses's ankle-length dress, with its flattering neckline, and Reformation's sustainably made, long-sleeved version with its thigh-high slit.
THE LEOPARD COAT
There are too many great leopard-print pieces available this season to only offer up one option. While the dress is perfect for any party, a fuzzy leopard coat is the best way to add a little personality to drab winter wear. And luckily, cozy cat prints are in abundance in vintage land. Right now, we've got our eye on these pieces from Common Sort, Black Diamond Vintage and Depop.
Fast fashion: Petite Leopard Faux Fur Coat, approx. $116, topshop.com
THE RED COCKTAIL FROCK
For the holiday hostess who wants to look as festive as she feels, a red party dress is the way to go. We love floaty sleeves and hem of this H&M dress. To get a red hot look of your own, try a rental, like this dress from The Fitzroy, or go for a timeless investment piece like this Horses slip dress . You can also hunt for vintage, of course. Nothing brings us more joy than finding an almost identical piece to what we are looking for, like this pleated frock from Persephone Vintage.
Fast fashion: H&M Glittery Dress, $49.99, hm.com
Alternatives (from left): The Last Word Dress in Red by Pink Stitch, $75/4-day rental fitzroyrentals.com; Slipdress, $415, horsesatelier.com; Burgundy Red Micropleat Tent Dress, approx. $322, etsy.com
THE TEDDY COAT
Versatility is key with the ever-so-soft Teddy coat. Wear it with jeans and a cable-knit sweater, trousers and a silk blouse or your little black cocktail dress. These coats are an easy find in any fast-fashion store right now, but just as easy to spot in any vintage shop, too.
Fast fashion: Shearling Textured Coat, $149, zara.com
THE VELVET DRESS
When it comes to revisiting decades, the '90s are top of the heap right now, and that includes its soft, shiny fabric of choice: velvet. Keeping silhouettes minimal is key with this trend, like this slip-style option from Reformation, or this simple, long-sleeved vintage dress from Asos Marketplace.