As a dog owner, I’m always caught between the comfort vs. style conundrum when it comes to my wardrobe. The majority of the time, I’m out with exploring Cornwall’s beautiful walks and beaches. However, dressing for the weather, particularly in wintertime, isn’t always the most thrilling. Is it possible to own a dog and dress fashionably? Today I share with you my very own capsule wardrobe for dog owners.
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Where Do I Stand with Fast Fashion?
I’ve been studying fast fashion for a few years now, mostly reading books and watching videos on the topic. It’s something that has fascinated me since university. If you’re looking to read more in depth about fast fashion and its impact on the environment, I’d highly recommend Lucy Siegle’s book To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World?* Chapter by chapter she describes the impacts popular fibres have on the environment, including cotton, leather, wool and synthetic fibres. It’s incredibly eye opening and explores how fast fashion is a complex issue that will never be resolved overnight.
As much as I would love to only purchase ethical clothing, where garment workers are well paid and fabrics are environmentally friendly, the majority of the time it’s way outside my budget. I do enjoy shopping secondhand, however Cornish charity shops can be limited in terms of stock. Therefore, I often buy my clothes brand new. However I try my best to purchase with longevity in mind and have been using a capsule wardrobe method for many years now. I prefer wearing the same few pieces until they are worn beyond repair and choose to invest in items I’ll wear time and time again.
I own a handful of tops, which I rotate throughout the week. The majority of them are t-shirts, with a couple of athletic style vest tops, which I use for hiking. I find t-shirts are the most comfortable and versatile option, year round. A staple piece in any capsule wardrobe for dog owners. In summer I pair them with shorts and in winter they go underneath my many layers of jumpers and coats. It’s easy to clean muddy paw prints from them and they don’t take up too much space in my wardrobe. They’re also abundantly available in charity shops across the country. I’ve found a number of secondhand brands for a fraction of their retail price!
You’ll notice a general water/seaside theme in my t-shirts, which is completely unplanned I’m honest! I love my secondhand Saltrock Waves t-shirt, which I picked up from Cancer Research in Falmouth. Did you know that Cancer Research is a dog friendly charity shop? Woody loves receiving a treat whenever we visit! I also purchased this Plastic Free Coastlines Bamboo Tee from Surfers Against Sewage, a Cornish charity who campaign to lower plastic consumption to protect our oceans. We come across so much plastic washed up on our beach walks, particularly after heavy storms. It’s heartbreaking to know we’re having such an impact on the natural environment, particularly towards our marine life.
Sweatshirts and Hoodies
I’m allergic to wool, which is an absolute nightmare in Autumn and Winter, as the majority of knitwear contains it. I’ve also got very sensitive skin and am prone to eczema. Cotton isn’t a great alternative if you consider its impact on water supplies across the planet but it’s near enough the only one I’ve got. Cotton knitwear is typically a lot bulkier than its woollen counterpart. I’ve found it takes ages to dry out too.
This year I’ve swapped almost exclusively to wearing sweatshirts and hoodies. They’re an essential in my capsule wardrobe for dog owners and are much better catered to my outdoor lifestyle. I buy all my sweatshirts and hoodies in the largest size possible, as I prefer them to be baggy and cover my bum! My Walkies Sweatshirt by the Distinguished Dog Company is an Earth Positive garment meaning it’s been manufactured using renewable resources and organic cotton fibres. I also love to wear my Passenger Laguna Sweatshirt, which is less environmentally friendly but equally as timeless in design.
My Surfers Against Sewage Classic Zip Hoody is perfect to throw on on lazy days, where I’d rather be sleeping than out walking! I bought the hoody in pea-pod green, which has since been discontinued in the Zip Hoody style. I may or may not have recently purchased this sweatshirt from Etsy and I’m still waiting for it to arrive. I wanted to invest in a third sweatshirt, as two aren’t always enough, particularly if it’s super muddy or cold during winter. They’re great pieces to layer under each other too!
Coats are always a talking point among dog owners. I expect so much (maybe too much?) from my coats and they’ve got to perform under pressure! Waterproofing is high on my list. Owning a working breed, staying indoors to avoid the rain is never an option. I also value really REALLY big pockets in my capsule wardrobe for dog owners. The sort of pockets you can fit a lead, poo bags, treats, valuables and everything but the kitchen sink in. I currently own 3 coats, which may seem excessive, however when you live by the sea you’ve always got to be prepared!
My first coat is a Cornish classic, the Seasalt Sea Folly Jacket in Mustard. I bought this coat in a sample sale, it was discounted because of a missing piece on the zip. Sample sales are great if you’re shopping with a tight budget. It’s basically where perfectly usable but unsalable stock is sold. Items typically have minor blemishes, missing pieces or holes that are easily mended. If you can sew a few stitches by hand, I’d definitely recommend visiting a sample sale!
My second coat is a hand-me-down from my parents, who purchased their Barbour Border Jacket many years ago. It’s in incredible condition given its age and has the most humungous pockets ever imaginable. I can fit everything and anything in there, to the point that I often lose my keys or phone inside! Barbour also offer repair services for their products. It’s reassuring to know that I can get any rips/holes professionally fixed, saving me the fortune of repurchasing one of their coats! In contrast, my third and final coat was a real steal. I purchased it for £5 on Facebook Marketplace. It’s fully water and wind proof, ideal for our coastal walks and is big enough to fit round my DSLR camera if we’re caught out in the rain.
I like to make sure my legs are unrestricted as much as possible while out on walks. Woody and I regularly end up clambering across hills, cliffs and coastlines whenever we’re exploring. Something we both find incredibly fun! Living in Cornwall the land is rough and rugged, particularly along the coastal paths. Footpaths aren’t always clearly defined, one minute they’re there and the next they’ve vanished! It’s all part of the county’s charm and I like to make sure my clothing choices equip me to tackle any type of terrain
In winter I live in leggings. They’re comfortable, easy to style and don’t restrict movement at all. I’ve torn holes in countless jeans in the past and prefer knowing that everything is where it should be when I leave the house! I have a small collection of leggings, mostly purchased in the sportswear section of TK Maxx. I prefer thicker yoga style leggings, as they tend to be opaque. There’s nothing worse than bending down to pick up Woody’s business and realising everything is on display!
In summer, I swap leggings for denim shorts. I tend to purchase one pair a year and usually wear through them before the warm weather is up. Somehow, this year’s shorts have survived and I’m looking forward to wearing them again next year. I bought them from Sessions Surf Shop in Falmouth, they’re originally by RVCA.
I am partial to wearing a dress, particularly on long summer evenings. They’re easy to dress up or down and instantly make you look more put together. I have a couple of Seasalt dresses, bought both new and in their sample sale. I love their high quality and am excited to wear them for years to come. Seasalt are known for using organic cotton across their range, along with linen and other more sustainable alternatives.
The other dresses in my capsule wardrobe for dog owners were both bought second hand. I found the blue and white patterned one below in a London charity shop many years ago. Depop is another great resource for secondhand clothing. You can find plenty of high street brands such as Topshop, River Island, Billabong and more for a fraction of the price.
Another talking point for dog owners is where to find good shoes. By good, I mean durable, weather resistant and comfortable footwear that can be worn on our daily walks. I’ve settled for a small collection of wellies, boots, flip flops and trainers, which see me through a year’s worth of walks. They all style nicely with everything else in my capsule wardrobe for dog owners too.
My most worn shoes have got to include my Barbour wellies and my Trailback riggers. They’re a solid arsenal, well equipped to tackle the most miserable Cornish weather. In summer I swap for bare feet or flip flops and use my New Balance trail trainers on warm autumn days where the footpaths are dry.
The final essential in my capsule wardrobe for dog owners has to be good swimwear. Perhaps this is only relevant if you live by the sea but I find myself wearing swimwear almost all the time. It took me a while to find a bikini set that could actually withstand water sports. I love kayaking, paddle boarding, rowing and sea swimming and mainstream bikinis are just not made for sports!
I discovered a beautiful but practical bikini from OceanPositive. They create swimwear using recycled ghost fishing nets, helping to reduce plastic waste in our oceans. I love the sports bra like design and that the bottom half isn’t a thong! It’s great for wearing under t-shirts in summer – you never know when a dog walk might turn into a sea swim in nice weather! For winter, I’ve also got a wetsuit. It’s nothing fancy (I think it’s from a supermarket) but it does the job just fine. I wear it for autumn kayak trips and the rare occasion I fancy a sub-zero degree swim!
What’s in your capsule wardrobe for dog owners? Are there any pieces you’ve come to rely on? We’d love to hear your suggestions for dog and outdoor friendly clothing brands in the comments!
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