Janet Christie's Mum's the Word - Slow fashion - it's retro, it's cheaper and won't add to the discarded clothing mountain

'I’m sure lots of people have T-shirts older than their kids – but mine are nearly 30'
Mum's the Word. Pic: J ChristieMum's the Word. Pic: J Christie
Mum's the Word. Pic: J Christie

“Nice vest,” says Eldest Child when I appear at breakfast in the flat in Beirut where I’m visiting with my family, exploring the bruised and beautiful Lebanon.

It’s black with a white line drawing by Picasso of Woman and Dove. My favourite vest.

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“Thank you. Yes, had it a while, but I don’t get to wear it much in Scotland,” I say.

Looking at Eldest sitting opposite me on the balcony overlooking the chaotic traffic six floors below, I realise the vest pre-dates him. It must be 30 years old. Also because it’s a bit boxy it’s seen me through summers where I’ve been everything from a size 6 (not well) to 16 (pregnant) and everything in between.

It winters in a drawer next to other long-lived favourites like my National Union of Miners 1984 Strike T-shirt and my Solidarity with the Workers of South Africa and Namibia as worn by Little Stevie Van Zandt when he sang (Ain’t gonna play) Sun City at the Nelson Mandela concert at Wembley in 1988, both still going strong. Classics.

I’m even more pleased I didn’t buy any new holiday wear when we visit Tripoli’s magnificent crusader castle which is still in use by the Lebanese army, thanks to its 360 degree views over the city, sea and mountains, then walk downhill into the crowded souk. There the clothing on offer to local people is stall after stall of second hand clothes, the cast-offs we offload at recycling centres so we can get on with the mad cycle of buying more.

With the Lebanese economy on the floor (food inflation at a staggering 2,300% since 2019) our discarded clothing is what people here can afford - it’s not because they’re Miami Dolphins or Arsenal fans, eat at Burger King or are The World’s Best Dad.

I’m not claiming I never buy new clothes, but since talking to The Great British Sewing Bee’s Esme Young, who doesn’t buy any because she has plenty, and reading the interview with Vogue cover star Miriam Margolyes who says she has enough clothes to see her out, I’ve resolved to wear what I’ve got. So a vest older than my kids is a baby step in the right direction - and leaves me free to feel guilty about all those air miles.

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