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How a sustainable stylist helped me out of my clothing rut

June 18, 2021By Francine Heath

Los Angeles-based stylist Cassandra Dittmer offered to help align my wardrobe with my values. Here’s how it went.

It’s commonly thought that I have a well-edited wardrobe because I work in fashion. The truth is, my closet is currently in a state of disarray following a clear out (as recommended by sustainability experts) that’s left me with what I can only describe as a bit of a jumble. 
Hanging on my rails right now are the following: 

Ghost of my fashion past that I’m trying to wash and care for carefully in order to wear them longer

Organic Agolde jeans that are oh-so comfy thanks to the balloon shape but will now never compare to the feeling of pulling on my WFH BFFs: sweatpants

Investment buys that I’m over-precious about because I spent so long considering them – namely a hemp Jacquemus blazer that I fell in love with thanks to how similar the soft blue hue is to one of my favourite paintings

Summer dresses that I’d shuffled right to the front with the aim of listing them on a rental platform. London then became gloriously hot and they were all I wanted to wear (ahh, linen)

Vintage finds that still need alterations (including some trousers from Paris that I picked up five years ago)

A peony-pink Maggie Marilyn dress that remains a really special gift

‘Exploding zipper’ pieces – styles I no longer fit into after jumping on the banana bread, TikTok pasta and whipped coffee trends during lockdown.

Everything that’s left I cherish, but nothing really goes together or can be thrown on without much thought – plus 80% is black instead of the joyful colours that I desperately want to be wearing as my diary starts filling up again. So, I thanked my lucky stars when an email came through from The Forward Lab’s founder, Joy, asking me if I’d like to try out the services of a sustainable stylist. While I’ve gotten to know some amazing sustainable brands through my work and what planet-friendly fabrics to look for, I had little idea of how to put complete looks together, or how to turn my existing wardrobe into a capsule closet that’s vibrant, interchangeable and aligned with my values. Cue Cassandra Dittmer.

Based in Los Angeles, Dittmer is an international sustainable brand consultant and fashion stylist. “I’ve been in the styling industry for about ten years and I started more traditionally in the red carpet space,” reveals Dittmer at the start of our Zoom call, sharing that she moved to LA for the weather and hiking, not the glamour. “I fell into entertainment and fashion after studying fashion design and for the first seven years I was just happy to be working and supporting myself in a new industry and a new city,” she continues. It was when she chose to go solo and launch her own business that it became clear she needed to decide exactly what she wanted people to come to her for. “I wanted there to be integrity to my work and I didn’t want to just take up space. I slowly started to become more interested in sustainable and ethical fashion, which I was always into, and I realised that it was still a bit of an afterthought,” she says. Eco-friendly style wasn’t what the conversation was centered around at the time, but she felt that it needed to be.

Having since gone from strength to strength in that field, Dittmer has launched an eStyling service that’s all about placing ethics and values right at the forefront of each fashion collaboration. Prices for the sustainable styling packages start at £120 and go up in tiers to £650 for a full closet refresh. Plumping for Tier 1, my trial began with a questionnaire that’s designed to unearth tastes, concerns and priorities. “Everyone is at a different place in their journey and has different values,” explains Dittmer of the meaning behind each considered question and the initial consultation. “For some people it’s important to shop local, for others it’s perhaps more important to integrate diversity or to find vegan products. For me, it’s all about looking at sustainability in a way that’s not ‘one size fits all’.”

After filling in my responses regarding everything from style icons to favourite body features, a beautiful Curated Digital Boutique landed in my inbox seven days later. It ticked every box by sourcing and showcasing easy core pieces that are very buildable, mixed with manageable amounts of personality and colour. 

15 new brands were placed on my radar (10 of which I’d never heard of and was excited to discover!), each accompanied by a short blurb explaining how they meet my needs when it comes to sustainable production, ethical work conditions, and female-led brands. Right at the end came a list of tips and useful resources. Bookmarking the PDF, I felt inspired to learn even more about these labels and designers, and that I was officially out of my clothing rut. 

Click here for more information about Cassandra Dittmer and eStyling.
Don’t miss The Forward Minds podcast with Cassandra.