Creating An Ethical & Responsible Wardrobe | Part 1
A few months back, I wrote a post on taking responsibility for decisions. I wrote about how we sometimes get overwhelmed and don’t research or look into a subject, because we are afraid of what we’ll find out. We like to tell ourselves that ignorance is bliss. But oftentimes, when we take the time to learn, we walk away empowered. And what we think will overwhelm us will actually inspires us. That’s exactly what happened to me when I researched the clothing industry. I was afraid to dive into the facts in fear of what I might find. My fears were confirmed, but the amazing thing is that instead of feeling overwhelmed, I walked away very inspired to change instead. If you haven’t read that post, I encourage you to read it here before you go any further on this one.
Ethical Wardrobe Series
I’m going to spend the next week and a half doing a series on creating an ethical wardrobe. An ethical wardrobe means that the clothes you buy are made in a way that is ethical. They are often made of natural materials such as wool or organic cotton or silk. Sometimes they are dyed with vegetable based dyes instead of chemical based dyes. And they are manufactured at factories that pay fair wages and workers are treated well.
Today, in this post, I’m going to talk about how I got to where I’m at. I’m not a typical girl in the sense that I love clothes and shopping. I chuckle at myself that I’m even writing a blog post about fashion and clothing, but I’ve actually really enjoyed researching this industry, and I’ve walked away feeling empowered to create a more stylish wardrobe. Next week, I’ll do a blog post on what is ethical and responsible clothing. Why it’s important and how we can even start. Then I’ll show you what a capsule wardrobe is and why I chose it. It makes switching to ethically made clothing much more budget friendly and do-able. For the last blog post, I’ll cover companies I’ve found that carry ethical and responsible clothing and shoes. I’ve spent 40+ hours researching and trying to find clothing and shoe companies. They are out there, but they aren’t easy to find and sift through. I don’t want you to have to do what I did of spending hours in front of the computer finding companies. I hope to make your life more simple, not more complicated! So I’ll share a pretty large list of my favorite online companies to shop from that offer ethical clothing and shoes. And as a bonus, most of these companies create clothing that are less toxic and better for you, because they steer away from synthetic materials and chemical dyes.
My Wardrobe Struggles
I’ve spent the past couple of months really diving into changing my wardrobe. Okay, well, “change” might be a strong word. I barely had a wardrobe to begin with. I’m not a shopper. I won’t say that I hate shopping, but the emotions I feel towards it are pretty close to that. I’ve never liked it. I don’t like malls. I don’t like online shopping. I just don’t like shopping for clothes. I even have a hard time enjoying “fashion.” 90% of my wardrobe is hand-me-downs from one of my sisters.
My mom used to make me wear a dress once a week in elementary school. Want to know what I did? Wore shorts underneath. I’d head straight to the bathroom when I got to school, take off the dress and stuff it in my backpack. I’d spend the whole school day in shorts and the shirt that had been under the dress. Then, at the end of the day, before my mom picked me up, I’d change into my dress. Seriously, if my barn jeans, a t-shirt, and my work boots would come into style, I would be ecstatic!
That being said, I am taking some steps forward to try not to look so frumpy. My goal isn’t necessarily stylish, but I would love to just blend in! I don’t want to be so out of style that I stick out. I want to have classy, long lasting pieces in my wardrobe. When I do leave home, I’d like to have something slightly nicer than my work jeans and whatever free t-shirt someone has recently given me to wear.
Like I mentioned in the “Taking Responsibility” blog post, I have known for several years to steer clear of synthetic textiles such as polyester, rayon, and acrylic. I had read, Slow Death by a Rubber Duck and learned enough about synthetics to avoid them as much as possible. My wardrobe wasn’t 100% free of them, but I was intentional to look at tags before I purchased and doing my best to not buy products that had those materials in them. Not only are they bad for the enviroment, but they are also full of chemicals that have toxins I’d rather not be rubbing against my body all day.
What I was hesitant to dive into was learning more about how clothing was made. I knew the industry wasn’t especially ethical, but I was scared to learn more. A couple of months ago, I finally sat down and watched a documentary called, “The True Cost” which you can watch on Netflix. Instead of feeling depressed, I was inspired! Yes, the information I learned was sad and disheartening, but I also walked away feeling like I could make a difference. I couldn’t wait to start working on my wardrobe. The good news for me is that my wardrobe didn’t consist of much. I’ve spent the last year pregnant, and I didn’t have many clothes before that. So other than a couple pairs of jeans and some t-shirts, I was starting from scratch. My biggest problem was style. I knew that with enough researching, I could find companies that created ethical, fair trade, and even toxic free clothes, but when I found those companies how would I know what to buy? That’s when I asked for help.
Asking for Help
My good friend, Lana, from Something About Beauty is amazing with style. She’s simple and not overdone, but always well dressed and classy. I sent her a text and asked if she’d help me with my wardrobe. She came over one evening towards the end of summer, and we went through everything I owned, which wasn’t much. She gave me a list of a few things to buy to get through summer. We only had a month left of hot weather so we didn’t want me to spend a ton of money on summer clothes. We decided to meet again once the weather changed to really go through my wardrobe and prepare me for fall and winter.
Well, last week she came over, and we spent 3 hours together. We went through what little I had. She started by asking me what I liked and didn’t liked. And of the things I liked, she asked what about it made me happy. What I love about Lana is that she knew and worked with me. She wasn’t trying to push her style or preferences on me. She knew me and wanted to help me feel like me and look good at the same time. We did an initially run through of my clothes and shoes. We got rid of about half of them. Then we started creating a list of what I needed for a capsule type wardrobe. I’ll write more about those next week. After we spent some time doing that, we went back through my clothes we had kept. We were able to weed out a few more.
At one point, we had kept a nice button down collared shirt from Everlane, an ethical company. I had bought it but hadn’t worn it. When we had looked on Pinterest in the summer, I kept coming back to some images of girls with jeans and a collared shirt with a scarf or something. So I had bought the shirt. Lana finally made the comment, “Do you really think you’ll wear this?” I realized my answer was no. I liked it. I liked how it looked on other people. But it wouldn’t be a shirt I would actually grab and put on. We got rid of it. I felt so good seeing it go. It’s like there was the pressure off of me of having something in my closet that was cute, and I liked but would never wear and would feel guilty for not wearing.
It was so freeing to get rid of things I liked but didn’t love. Everything in my closet I love. I love how it looks. I’m comfortable in it. And, it’s simple. I’m not looking at things I don’t want to wear anymore. Everything in there, I’d be happy with putting on every single day.
A lesson I’ve really been learning this past year is to ask for help when I need it. I LOVE doing things for other people. I’m a hard worker and don’t mind helping others. I do have a hard time accepting help from others. But this year with growing businesses, a new house, and a new child, I’m learning how to deletgate and ask for help. I’m terrible at fashion and style and sorting out my wardrobe. Lana came to my rescue. Not only is she good at this sort of thing, she loves it. So if you are like me, consider asking a friend for help. Someone whose style you admire or maybe someone who is good at fashion, and you know will help you create a wardrobe that is you.
Next week, I’ll start showing you what an ethical wardrobe is and how you can create one yourself in small, simple, and budget friendly steps.