Can Formal Wear Be Sustainable?

Sustainable formal wear

This question is becoming a topic of discussion in the sustainable community. We grew up with the idea that you go out and buy something new for a formal event. We would never think of wearing a secondhand or rented wedding dress. However, when your average wedding produces 400 pounds of garbage, you may stop to think about that.

So, what actions can people take to have a sustainable wedding or formal event? First, we must shift our mindset from single-use to repetitive use. Second, do your research. It enables us to be aware of our choices' impact on the planet. When we are self-aware, we are motivated to reflect on how our choices affect ourselves and their effect on the bigger picture. Third, look for ways to harmonize glamor and sustainability. Sustainable fabrics have been developed that make it easier to design refined formal wear that balances glamor and sustainability.

But how can formal wear, such as a wedding dress, be sustainable?

Consider two ways, fabric choice, and cost per wear.

First, although the standard fabrics used to make wedding dresses, such as satin, charmeuse, chiffon, organza, tulle, and lace, aren't made from natural fibers, some brands have recycled or used deadstock of these fabrics. Also, look for dresses made of innovative sustainable materials, such as peace silk, silk made from wood pulp, fibers mixed with orange fiber, Tencel, etc. For example, Cécile de Fleur uses peace silk in their collection of luxury, ethical wedding dresses. What is peace silk? Peace silk is produced in such a way that does not harm or kill silkworms and avoids the harmful use of silicone, bleach, and harsh dyes. True sustainability! Their choice of French leavers lace is sustainable by being an almost divine and intricate fabric, slowly woven on 19th-century lace looms by highly skilled lace-makers, making it high-quality and long-lasting.

Next, consider the cost per wear. A formula helps you figure out how much it costs to wear an item of clothing based on its price and the number of times you wear it. For example, your average wedding dress ranges from $2,000 to over $10,000 and is worn once, which means your cost per wear is the item's total price. However, if you could wear a wedding dress more than once, your cost per wear would be $1,000. The more you can wear an item, the lower your cost per wear; this harmonizes sustainability, reducing, reusing, and recycling. 

Is it possible to purchase a wedding dress that women can wear more than once?

Yes! For example, Cécile de Fleur designs timeless wedding party dresses that can transcend and be worn to special events, such as galas, balls, ceremonies, and all-white parties. Each dress features detachable sleeves and spaghetti straps, making it possible to create various looks with one dress. Other sustainable options are renting, purchasing secondhand, or looking for brands that have designed wedding dresses to be versatile, such as wearing them again for a formal event.

What resources are out there?  

Check out these sustainable platforms: Conscious Life and Style, a digital media destination that explores ways to create a more sustainable future for fashion. Luxiders Magazine is a luxury magazine for conscious women and men that represents an enhanced global resource for sustainable brands, creative professionals, and consumers who want to improve and increase their knowledge about sustainability.

Editor: Nicol Cunningham

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In the quiet moments of curiosity, even a humble cocoon can reveal the threads of extraordinary beauty.

A quote inspired by the tale of Empress Leizu and the discovery of silk