Style Wise | Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Sustainability



ed ed2

I'll explain later.

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the moral wardrobe: pleasant surprises

casual outfit spring stylethrifted outfit post

When I added this top to my thredup cart, I thought it was black and white. Last night, when I opened my package in the dim light of the living room, I thought it was navy and white. This morning, in the bright spring light, I realized it was navy and robin's egg blue!

I had trouble rationalizing another black and white top in my wardrobe anyway, so this was a pleasant surprise. Add that to the beautiful weather we had today and the lovely customers I got to chat with at work and it was an all around thrilling day to be alive.

Since my first thredup order finally arrived (this week's winter storm caused delays), I thought I'd quickly review it in this post. Everything fits well and looks even better in person. One of the main flaws of the thredup site is that the pictures tend to be overexposed, so I was quite happy to see vibrant, rich colors and fabric in excellent condition. I'm quite pleased and will be shopping there again (and maybe exclusively - jeez, they should pay me for this).

Ethical choices are bolded below. Retailers taking steps to become more ethical are bolded in gray.

  • Top - secondhand Gap via thredup

  • Jeans - Levi's

  • Jacket - Gap

  • Shoes - Asos

  • Earrings - handmade via etsy

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The Opiate of the Masses

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I just began reading Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion (Carrette and King), an academic book that suggests that neoliberalism and its free market bent have co-opted spiritual symbols and rhetoric to increase profits.

I completely agree.

I worked for a company that really wanted me to drink the kool-aid. Though I worked terrible hours in a monotonous and physically demanding position, I was frequently asked why I wasn't happy. "Are you enjoying yourself?" "We can't read you very well." "You aren't happy enough to do customer service."

This policy of mandatory happiness was clearly supposed to distract me from the fact that I was working a dead end job with lousy hours that left me socially isolated. They wanted to convince me that they had everything I needed so that I would keep working and they could keep making money at my expense. I'd like to think it wasn't malicious, but it seems clear to me that executives employed a strategy of spiritualizing the workplace (in terms of community building, team values, and loyalty) with the specific intention of conning me into undervaluing myself. Anti-establishment as I am, I left after 5 months.

On the other side of the coin, advertisers are evolving their tactics to appeal to consumers' quests for meaning in an age increasingly devoid of meaning. Marketing has always been disturbing, but it's becoming more invasive. Everything is about branding, but not in terms of having a cute logo or a catchy slogan. Companies are trying to convince us that everything will be better if we buy into their brand. They promote new age religious practices alongside products. They convince us that what they're offering will help a cause, support a moral goal, or shed light on injustice.

Corporations want to convince us that our consumerist habits are the primary and best way to exercise our values.

But it's a lie! Changing the world, historically, has had very little to do with where we shopped or what brands we supported. I went to a talk given by the director of a local homeless resource center last night and I think he got to the heart of it. Being a catalyst for positive change in the world is, at its root, about seeing people, about acknowledging full humanity in ourselves and others. Then it's about becoming a partner in struggle with those we encounter. Buying a t-shirt can't do that. Wearing hippie clothes can't do that. Buying glasses can't do that.

I believe we have a responsibility to shop in ways that sustain and support people and planet. But we aren't consumers. We're human beings. Don't let the market dull your senses. Don't let the marketing blind you.

vogue's the cat and the flat

vogue cat and the flat vogue cat and the flat vogue cat and the flatVogue just published an ingenious style story featuring cats and flats. What a perfect pairing! View all photos here.

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the moral wardrobe: any day now

people tree preppy styleye3

Since the weather still hasn't decided if it'd like to become spring, I have to constantly check the forecast. On colder days, I just want to wear something easy; it's too annoying at this point in the season to obsess over layers and details.

I got myself a pair of Levi's with a 6pm giveaway credit after discovering that they're reasonably ranked for ethics and values on GoodGuide. I bought a couple more pairs of jeans using ThredUp credit (thanks to those of you who used my referral link). It's always more difficult to shop ethically for basic items that require a good fit, but I think I'm doing alright.

Ethical choices are bolded below. Retailers taking steps to become more ethical are bolded in gray.

  • Sweater - H&M

  • Top - People Tree

  • Jeans - Levi's

  • Earrings - handmade via Fab

  • Loafers - vintage, for sale at Platinum & Rust

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12 months, 12 goals: eat fair trade food

march ethical goals

This month's goal is to replace non-fair trade food items with fair trade, organic options as often as possible. Something clicked with me at the beginning of the year and I started to find it easier to take the ethical path. It felt less like a sacrifice to avoid Old Navy or to buy fair trade chocolate over a tried and true brand. It's nice that it's becoming second nature over time.

The fair trade movement began with food, so there are more options at standard grocery stores than many people realize. And specialty stores like Whole Foods - we're fortunate to have one in Charlottesville - sell tons of ethical options, all clearly labeled.

This month, I plan to buy more fairly traded produce and continue to buy fair trade coffee, chocolate, and tea. All it takes in most cases is reading the label, but I can always research the production standards when production information is limited. I'll be relying in part on Fair Trade USA resources to narrow it down.

When I talk about fairly traded food, however, I don't just mean items with the fair trade label. Fair trade is tricky because companies normally have to initiate the certification process. If they don't, it doesn't necessarily mean they're hiding anything. There are plenty of local and domestic producers that likely follow ethical guidelines. It's all about doing proper research and asking for greater transparency.

Wish me luck and join in if you'd like. Also, if you have any suggestions or resources, let me know!

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12 months, 12 goals february wrap up

shop local

Phew! I'm a little behind on the 12 Months, 12 Goals posts.

Last month was all about shopping local to save resources and support ethical retailers in my community. Since I stopped most unnecessary spending, it was pretty easy to meet my goal on accident! I purchased products at or perused:

  • Java Java, a fair trade, organic coffee shop, for coffee and house made treats

  • Paradox Pastry, a local patisserie, for a yummy chocolate croissant

  • Low Vintage, my favorite vintage shop in town

  • Ike's Undergound, another local vintage shop

  • Trade, a local consignment store

  • Cafe Cubano, a downtown coffee shop that serves fair trade coffee

  • Aromas, a Mediterranean restaurant, for a delicious falafel wrap

And Daniel and I purchased two six packs of local cider to bring to various dinner engagements.

So, even though I failed to keep up with things here, it was a month of local love.

How did your month go? What goals were you trying to meet?

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review: thredUP

This post contains a referral link

When a facebook friend posted a link to thredUP, I headed straight over to the site. What I found were hundreds of secondhand clothing items priced well below similar secondhand sites. The search tab is still in beta, so it took awhile to find things I really liked, but there's certainly no shortage of products or styles.

thredUP acquires stock by sending out Clean Out Bags to interested individuals, who then fill them with unwanted items from their wardrobes and send them back, at no charge, to thredUP headquarters where items are looked over and processed. thredUP representatives pay for items they want to sell, and donate (or send back, at an additional charge) unwanted items. The process is identical to brick and mortar shops like Plato's Closet (or Charlottesville's Trade), but the advantage is that thredUP has the space and market to take on more items overall. Based on reviews from the selling end of things, you won't get a very good offer on your items, so don't send anything in unless you really don't want to deal with selling it through a more labor intensive channel.

But the pricing structure is great for buyers. While you're unlikely to find clothing you want priced below your local Goodwill, the ability to shop by item, price point, and size makes the experience a bit less tedious. I bought a few things for myself and a few things for resale using a coupon code to get two of my items free. I'll talk about my success with the items once I receive and wear them.

Update 10/29/15: I've purchased from thredUP a dozen times since writing this review and I've had good success overall. The search features have vastly improved and the pricing structure has become more consistent.


To receive $20 off your first purchase, visit thredUP through my affiliate link. To see thredUP items in my outfits, search the thredUP tag here

the moral wardrobe: fusion

sporty style st6ethical outfit modcloth

This outfit is a cross between referee and newsie. Refersie? Newseree?

I always forget I have this hat. Freshman year of college, my then boyfriend and I walked all the way to the transit station to take the bus to the mall, where I bought this at Gap under his sartorial guidance. That was a very short relationship, but I'll always have this hat to remind me - for better or for worse - of that strange, idealistic time in my life.

Ethical choices are bolded below. Retailers taking steps to become more ethical are bolded in gray.

  • Hat - Gap, quite old

  • Top - made in USA via ModCloth

  • Skirt - secondhand via ebay

  • Leggings - Old Navy

  • Boots - vintage via etsy

  • Earrings - handmade via etsy

On a different note, 12 Months, 12 Goals is suffering from recent life chaos, but I plan to do a recap post for last month and start up this month by next week!

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