Creating A Fair Wardrobe (Part II)

It’s time for part two of Creating A Fair Wardrobe! Yay! If you missed part one you can find it right here. I’ve said this before and I will say it again and you will probably hear me say it twenty more bajillion times between now and the end of time but here it is:

I love that we can literally make a difference in the lives of others through what we buy.

From where I stand right now, deep in the world of mothering little kids, volunteering or going overseas or working with a non-profit is kind of out of reach. But this – changing how I buy so that someone else can have a good life – this I can do. You might be in a similar situation, lacking time or resources and not feeling like a world-changer but stop being silly. Seriously. You have value. You can do something. The end.

Now, on to part two…

fair-wardrobe-part-2

Creating a fair wardrobe is about buying clothes that are thoughtful of other people. It might take a bit more effort to switch your shopping habits but I happen to believe it’s worth it and pretty rewarding too!

Once upon a time ethically-made clothes were limited to hippie dresses and the like – not exactly on the radar of my very un-hippie like closet! But over the last few years fair fashion as evolved into something amazing. Pretty much anything you need or want is ethically produced somewhere. Building a wardrobe that is beautiful AND people-friendly has never been easier! Here are some tips to get you started.

 

Fair Wardrobe Tip #1: Be Intentional

One of the reason there are sweatshops in the first place is because of our collective desire for more. More clothes. More shoes. More this. More that. Whether you love to shop or generally avoid stores, there is a little part of all of us that is constantly desiring something new. With the vast amount of stuff vying for our attention it’s so easy to snatch up whatever we think is pretty or “need”, without giving it a second thought. But all this consumption actually has a hand in fueling unethical labor. As factories race to fulfill massive orders and stay competitive with retailers they force workers into long hours and reduced wages. Bleh.

One of the most important things you can do in creating a fair wardrobe is to STOP. Stop consuming without thought. Stop buying something just because you think it’s cute and at a ridiculous price point. Just stop.

Instead, buy with intention. Before you add another outfit to your physical or virtual cart ask yourself: do I need it? Do I like it? Will I still like it in a few months? Is it the best quality I can afford? Will it match anything else I own? Do I know the conditions it was made in?

I read once that if you really want something then wait a month. You will either have forgotten about it or realize you want it even more. Waiting a month may not be practical in every situation but I love the idea behind that practice: think before you buy.

before-you-buy

Fair Wardrobe tip #2: Quality over Quantity, One Piece At A Time

The best way to create a fair wardrobe is to slowly incorporate new pieces as you need them. When you have gaps in your closet that need to be filled look for high-quality pieces that you truly love and that are fairly made. Happily, one of the benefits of fair clothing is the attention to quality! Since most ethical clothing is produced on a smaller scale, there is more control and you end up with a higher quality garment.

buy-less-choose-well

I love that quote. Buy less, choose well, make it last.  If you invest in good clothes they will be with you for years. Look for classic and simple pieces that won’t be out of style by next season. Chose colors that blend well with the rest of your clothes.

 

Fair Wardrobe tip #3: Find New Places To Shop

You probably know this by now, but creating an ethical closet means shopping outside the normal retailers. You won’t find what you are looking for at the mall or in your local Target. But that’s okay because there is so many other places to discover new (fairly made) clothes!

THE INTERNET (of course)
The Internet is hands down the best place to find ethical clothing. I get practically giddy when I find a new store with pretty clothes and fair standards! It never gets old. (Wanna know my favorites? Look here.) Beyond the fair fashion world there are some pretty awesome second-hand clothing websites too. Some of my favorite places to window shop are: Vinted, ThredUp, Blogger’s Closet and the vintage section of Etsy.

The hardest part about buying online is knowing how the clothes will fit. It’s still trial and error for me (if you have any tips I would love to hear them!). All I can say is reference the size chart and know what the return policy is!

thrift-store

THRIFT STORES
Thrift stores have been some of my most loyal friends over the last few years. It’s such an easy way to give back to your community, as most stores support local outreach: women’s shelters, disadvantaged youth, etc. Thrift stores offer up amazing clothes at stellar prices and are the perfect alternative to traditional shopping venues. Yes, you sometimes have to overlook the junk and quirky smells but it’s so good when you find what you were looking for. My favorite wool pencil skirt was a classy thrift store find for just a few bucks!

LOCAL ETHICAL BOUTIQUES
Not every city may have an ethical or fair trade shop but they are becoming more and more common. We have one here in Boise and our local Whole Foods carries some ethical brands as well. If you are lucky enough to have one close by, go check it out! They are handy because unlike online retailers, you can try on clothes before you buy!

Action Point: Get Started!

Ethical shopping can be a whole lot of fun. Weed through your closet and pare it down to what you love. If you need to add a few items, find the fair alternative. Dig through your local thrift store. Window shop your way across the internet. Or just make do, be content and love the clothes you have. Because that’s important too!

Further Reading:

If you need some guidance on simplifying your wardrobe and developing your style I recommend all these ladies on my Creating a Wardrobe Pinterest Board.

Here are some great tips on thrifting from the ladies at A Beautiful Mess and The Secret Life of Bee.

The Note Passer has a great infographic on making ethical shopping choices.  She is a goldmine for ethical clothing advice too.

Got any ethical wardrobe tips?  Share away!

Creating A Fair Wardrobe Part Three

12 thoughts on “Creating A Fair Wardrobe (Part II)

  1. Reading your blog and beginning to learn about these things has changed me. I was shopping with some girlfriends a few weeks back and I didn’t find one item that was made in the US and we were shopping for hours. I know that being made abroad does not necessarily equate to unfair labor, but so many of the items were made in Bangladesh that I couldn’t stop thinking about Rana Plaza. I didn’t intend to buy anything that day, I just went to spend time with my friends, but I don’t think my conscience would have allowed me to purchase anything now that I’ve learned about the difference I can make by choosing fair trade. Thank you!

    1. Julie, thank you so much for your sweet words! They totally made my day! It’s so crazy how knowing about the sweatshops and everything just changes you…you never really look at clothes the same way again!

  2. Beautiful words!! This, along with wanting to empower vulnerable individuals, is why my friend and I started Imagine Goods! (Www.ImagineGoods.com) Thanks so much for your heart.

  3. I’m becoming more and more a fan of the “capsule wardrobe” and “uniform” movement. The thought of having a few, well made pieces- and that’s that- is so liberating! Love the links on your pinterest board.

    1. Me too! I’ve been downsizing my closet recently and it makes getting dressed so much easier, for sure. I really like getting to wear only what I love!

  4. thrift stores are def my best friend as well with this! My husband and I have always been on a budget, from living abroad on grants, to either or both of us being full-time students, so we often can’t afford some fair trade shops, but wa-la, we turn to thrift stores. we also like to go together and it’s kind of a fun little date thing we can do, sometimes pointing out silly things to each other. we also love the local thrift stores that support a certain charity, and of course love that we’re keeping stuff from the landfill!
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  5. Hi Julie! Thanks so much for the shout out for The Note Passer. I’ve been transitioning to this subject as well. I’d love to collaborate on something sometime! Thanks again!

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