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Sanjida O'Connell

Dr Sanjida O'Connell is a writer and a TV presenter. Sanjida writes about science and green issues. Her latest novel, The Naked Name of Love, was published by John Murray in March. Her latest TV series was on BBC 2: Nature's Top 40, and was a guide to our top British wildlife spectacles. Find more details about Sanjida's work at her website, sanjida.co.uk

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Eco Chic: All ethically made over

Posted by Sanjida O'Connell
  • Monday, 23 November 2009 at 10:03 am

Zoe Robinson is a rare creature: a stylist who specialises in ethical style consultations and make-overs. A professional actress who trained in fashion and textile, Zoe sees the business she’s created (Think-Style) as a way of combining her two loves: “I have a passion for ethical fashion and wanted to combine my love of fashion by helping educate clients about eco-friendly outfits – but I never push too hard. For instance, vintage clothes are unique – no one else will have the same outfit – and that’s often what people focus on.” Zoe also works as a consultant for Eco Concierge and writes for green magazines and websites.

We meet in a chic café in Islington. In person she is warm, friendly, supportive and most decidedly not the type to tell you to shift a few pounds or how dreadful your clothes look. In fact, she’s a perfect example of an eco-fashionista, wearing well cut jeans, high heeled boots, and her grandmother’s top. Normally, for an image consultancy, we would have stood in front of a mirror and she would have measured me up with bits of bamboo to determine exactly what kind of figure I have and therefore what shape of clothes would suit me. She also looks at the kind of colours that work best with your complexion, discusses make-up, hair style and offers wardrobe revamps, where your clothes are profoundly knocked into shape, mended, chucked or organised. And finally she also offers personal shopping, including vintage. Thanks to Zoe I make two discoveries: that Islington’s Camden Passage is an absolute vintage mecca and there is an actual shop – Equa-clothing – where you can buy ethical fashion without the traumas of shopping over the internet.

Instead we drink tea and I eat a fat slice of cake. I’ve just discovered that I’m pregnant and so the normal style rules no longer apply. Obviously I’m delighted but in a complete spin – I feel as if I’ve only just got a handle on how to look good wearing ethical clothes and now, not only will I have to find a completly new wardrobe, I’m going to have to do it on a strict budget. I imagine that stylish, ethical maternity clothes are in short supply. Zoe is calming and soothing. We discuss the minimum amount of clothes I can get away with and what kind of style I’m after. She offers helpful tips, like talking me through what I’ve got that I’ll still be able to wear later, and suggests I wear accessories round my throat, instead of necklaces and scarves that dangle down, to drawn attention away from boobs and bump.

We visit Equa-Clothing, which has a wonderful selection of clothes and very helpful staff. Zoe is the perfect person to shop with and picks out a top I’d never have looked at. It’s an indigo blue fitted smock made by Komodo – it should see me through the lumpy bit at the start of pregnancy as well as accommodate my bump and I can imagine wearing it when I’m back to my normal size too.

Back home I do some panic googling and find out that you can buy bundles of maternity clothes locally via websites like Gumtree, ebay sells millions, my local National Childbirth Trust organises sales of maternity wear and baby clothes and there’s a dress agency for maternity clothes that sells over the internet or allows you to make appointments (it’s in Berkshire: www.maternityexchange.co.uk). There are also several sites selling very basic clothes made out of bamboo, which, whilst having some eco credentials, are produced using the same toxic chemicals as viscose.

A few days later Zoe emails me a very comprehensive and thoroughly researched list, which even includes specific garments that would suit me and where I could actually buy some of them in Bristol if I don’t want to do all my shopping over the internet. I’ll attach her suggestions for those who are interested. But even if you are already stylish and not pregnant, I’d suggest that time with Zoe is worth every penny.

Zoe is offering a 20% discount on her services, including gift vouchers, between now and Christmas. Contact her via Think Style and quote Eco Chic



Picture is of Zoe Robinson

Eco maternity tops, trousers and belts



Natural Collection

Budget Bumps

www.budget-bumps.co.uk specialises in 'good as new' items, so far more eco friendly than buying new when you’ll only be wearing them for a few month.

Eco maternity dresses


Boob is a Swedish brand that uses organic cotton and Lyocell as well as fleece from recycled plastic bottles.





Does my tum look big in this?

www.doesmytumlookbiginthis.com is a maternity dress hire site, though not cheap.