Style Wise | Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Sustainability

SUSTAINABLE STYLE & ETHICAL LIVING

the moral wardrobe: seasonless skirt

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Hooray for more outdoor photos. I consider myself an adequate photographer and I know my way around most manual settings on my DSLR, but taking self portraits outside is rather challenging. It can take forever to get the settings right and then the angle of the sun changes and I have to start over. But this skirt was made for light spring breezes, so I wanted to try to catch a little movement.

This is the Seasonless Skirt from Seamly.co that I mentioned a couple weeks ago when I introduced the company. I really wanted it because it reminds me of the skirt I wore in Anderson Area Children's Choir when I was 9. It was so stretchy and wonderful that I wore it into middle school. This one is also lightweight, slinky, and rather full. My only complaint is that it's a bit large around the waist and it's the smallest size they make in this style. I'm going to have to see if I can alter it (maybe I'll add some elastic to the waist seam?).

Seamly.co is offering free shipping on all orders until May 1 with code, MOVINGDAY.

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

  • Top - H&M

  • Skirt - Seamly.co

  • Shoes - Blowfish

  • Necklace - my mom's


*I purchased my own skirt for review, but did have access to a modest coupon code.

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New Article Up on Relevant

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Good afternoon. I'm excited to share my newest Relevant Magazine article, The Cost of Spending Less, with you today! Click here to read. And feel free to add to the discussion on the article page or here in the comments.

I should also mention that this fulfills one of my 12 Months, 12 Goals resolutions: Write an article on the state of the garment industry.
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in the news: Fair Trade USA

fair trade newsFair Trade USA has done much to increase awareness of working conditions in the food and clothing industries. But I was disheartened to discover in my research for an upcoming article that the organization split from Fair Trade International in 2011, stating "that FI’s requirements were too stringent for its corporate members" (CorporateRegister.com).

As a result, items marked with the Fair Trade USA label don't count toward statistics on global fair trade sales. Even though this is old news by now, I'm ashamed that my country's primary fair trade certification organization would compromise globally recognized fair trade requirements for the sake of its "corporate members." And despite the US having a population nearly 5 times that of the UK, the UK is the world leader in fair trade sales. It's time we get our act together.

"who made your clothes?" tee

shoppQuick! Get a "Who made your Clothes?" tee, designed by Michael Stars and produced in an ethical and totally sustainable manner, before they're all sold out!

Read more about the t-shirt and the cause here.
*Photo links to original source.


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the moral wardrobe: fair

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I wore this today for Fashion Revolution Day. It's not inside out (I chickened out), but it is all fair trade and secondhand. Instead of being forced to tell people why I was wearing my clothes inside out, I just shouted "It's Fashion Revolution Day!" to an assortment of customers until I felt I had done my duty. Even though I work at a fair trade, organic coffee shop and have a great relationship with the owners, I didn't think it was the right environment for this type  of conversation. There just isn't enough time for deep reflection when you're making coffee all day for people with places to go and things to do.

Since April is National Poetry Month, the local library had representatives hand out poems on the Downtown Mall today. I got Saturday at the Canal by Gary Soto. They left a few at the shop so I exclaimed, "Have you gotten a poem yet?!" in between Fashion Revolution Day reminders.

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

  • Top - People Tree

  • Skirt - secondhand via Thredup (I won a giveaway!)

  • Shoes - secondhand via ebay

  • Belt - thrifted


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a few favorites


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afew by fracturedradiance featuring home decor

Just a small assortment of images and things worthy of pinning this week: fair trade moccasins, a sporty midi dress, superb American Apparel flats, and a beautiful forest scene. Click on the styleboard to be redirected to image sources or check out my pinterest page by clicking the P. button below.

Happy Easter Weekend! I'm looking forward to my church's Easter Vigil this evening. If you've never gone to one, I encourage you to find your nearest liturgical church (Lutheran, Episcopalian, Catholic, etc.) and go! It's my favorite service of the year, as it moves through the despair of suffering and death to uncompromised joy by the end of the service. The Lenten season is all about looking our brokenness square in the face and learning how to forgive, repent, and find contentment in its midst. I believe that facing the hard truths of reality and moving forward with a heart of hope and compassion is one of the most important - and perhaps most difficult - steps we take in life. And now that we've seen despair, and now that we know "it is finished" (in the long run) in the sacrifice of Christ, we have cause for hope. We continue the year with new understanding, with a sympathetic spirit, with love to give.

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Fashion Revolution Day 2014

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Fashion Revolution Day is a movement.

On April 24, 2013, 1,133 garment workers in Bangladesh were killed when the building where they worked collapsed. Tags inside indicated that several well-known brands had clothing produced at the site; domestic brands include The Children's Place, Cato Fashions, and Walmart. The UN has asked involved brands to compensate families of victims, but most companies refuse to do so, claiming ignorance (cleanclothes.org).

In the year since over 1,000 lives were lost to the fast fashion industry, I've seen people start asking questions about where their garments come from, new businesses with transparent manufacturing policies pop up, and fair trade become more trendy. And that's progress and it's great, though it's a crying shame it took something horrific for our voices to rise above the ignorant, self-absorbed chatter. But the problem with making fair trade trendy is that it implies that it's something you can choose to adopt or ignore. And as long as people are free to ignore their complicity in human rights atrocities, the industry won't change. We're a species of excuses: "there's nothing we can do about it;" "it's up to their countries to take care of them;" "it's too expensive." But the excuses don't mean anything at all. This is about human life. This is about committing to do no harm, about the Golden Rule, about basic human decency. You don't get to opt out. You're either building up or tearing down.

Fashion Revolution Day is about turning our muted chatter about a sustainable fashion industry into a loud roar. We're asked to wear a garment inside out, tags showing, and ask the question: "Who made my clothes?" It's not an answer, but it opens the door to discussing consumer ethics with anyone we come into contact with on April 24.

So, who made your clothes? Wear your clothes inside out on April 24 and let people know that we're ready for change. 

Get helpful facts about the clothing industry at Fashion Revolution USA.
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sharing life

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Style Wise is an offshoot of my personal blog, Leah Wise: a journal. I wanted a place to develop a community of sustainability and ethics minded individuals working through our consumerism together. And, while I think it's worked to some extent, I got so caught up in keeping this space cohesive that it developed into something that's not quite intimate enough to generate lasting impressions.

My small business mentors told me in our last meeting that I am an important part of my brand and that I need to let people know not just where I stand but who I am. So I'm thinking about sharing more of my life here. You know, just day to day things, like what I do in my spare time, what events I attend, what's making me excited or melancholy or reflective. My desire to buy fair trade stems from a much larger story about how I see and interact with the world, so it makes sense let you in.

I'll start now. I spent a half hour walking around the neighborhood taking pictures of flowering trees this afternoon. At one house with a perfect front yard and low-hanging blooms, I spotted a bright blue jay at the feeder. I stood quietly and watched it for awhile until it flew away. I'm spending the rest of the day indoors with the door open doing inventory for Platinum & Rust (oh, joy) while Daniel sits at his chair and grades papers. It's shaping up to be a simple, happy day.

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brand: seamly.co

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The founder of Seamly.co, Kristen Glenn, reached out to me last fall to participate in her newly launched affiliate program. WordPress doesn't allow sidebar ads or affiliate links, however, so a full blog post seemed like the best way to promote her shop.

Seamly.co was launched with funds from a kickstarter campaign to produce an item called "the versalette," a seemingly simple piece of material designed to be worn up to 30 ways. I've never had much success with that type of garment since I prefer my clothing to have a set purpose, so I really love that the line has since broadened to include dresses, skirts, leggings, and basic tees.

Every item is made from surplus fabric in the USA, so it's guaranteed sustainable and ethically produced. Designs are minimalist and therefore versatile. They're perfect for this season's aesthetic and classic enough to wear for several seasons.

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I'm saving up for the Wrapped Cardigan and the Seasonless Skirt. I'll make sure to let you know what I think once I get a chance to see and wear the garments.

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