Style Wise | Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Sustainability


the moral wardrobe: royal

vintage midi skirt, thrifted look self portrait, stylewiseguide.comvintage outfit,

Just me in my favorite vintage midi skirt again. Crazy patterned skirts and pants is (are?) pretty much my signature look. It's important to know your signature look in case you become famous and need to share that information with People or Us Weekly.

I meant to take an hour long nap after working the opening shift at work today, but I ended up staying in bed for nearly 3 hours. After hour one, I awoke and heard the mail man talking to Daniel, so of course I immediately dozed off again and dreamt that the mail man stole our house key with the intent to break in at a later date. Daniel chased him all around the neighborhood. It's a sad dream, really, because our mail man is awesome in real life.

Oh! Did I tell you I'm modeling in the Floyd Fest fashion show this year? I just met the team and consulted with hair and makeup and they decided to dye my hair lavender! My appointment's in a couple weeks. I get to wear sustainable Synergy clothing and pretend I'm from The Capitol in The Hunger Games.

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

  • Top - thrifted

  • Skirt - thrifted

  • Necklace - handmade via etsy

  • Shoes - Old Navy (old)

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an ethical outfit: casual date


date by fracturedradiance featuring a woven bag

Hannah of Lifestyle: Justice posted her date night outfit this week, which inspired me to come up with an ethical date night outfit of my own. Daniel and I rarely go on intentional dates, but we do have Chinese Food Thursday, which consists of ordering takeout and pigging out after I get off work on Thursday evenings. I've been really into Tofu with Mixed Vegetables with an eggroll or egg drop soup (yum, eggs).

I'm really hungry, if you can't tell. I'm going to convince Daniel to order Chinese food.

Oh, and Meg Ryan came into the coffee shop this morning! I made her a double shot soy cappuccino. I was starstruck the rest of my shift. It was exhausting.

If you would like a discount code for thredup, you can access my affiliate link here.

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The Primark Label Mystery

fair trade news

Primark, essentially the Forever 21 of the UK, is one of the companies known to have had clothing manufactured in Rana Plaza before its tragic collapse last spring. They're under scrutiny again this week now that two shoppers have found cries for help on the tags of their bargain finds.

Rebecca Gallagher found a hand sewn, hand stitched label in her sundress with the words, "Forced to work exhausting hours" embroidered on it. A few days later, Rebecca Williams found the message, "Degrading sweatshop conditions," in her polka dot top. Both tags were found in the Swansea store and the women don't know each other.

Primark hasn't yet been able to investigate the garments, but I'm placing my bets that a UK-based labor rights organization is behind the whole thing. Regardless of who did it, the messages are true.

To view both tags, visit Metro's website: one, two

Update 6/27/14: The labels are thought to be the work of a Swansea artist judging by the style and content. Hope she doesn't get in too much trouble.

eat your vegetables

eat your vegetables

eat your vegetables by fracturedradiance on Polyvore

I spotted this Gorman veggie print tee on an Australian blogger and immediately clicked the link to purchase it. Turns out it's a small, Australian label and the price plus shipping to America is astronomical.

So I did what anyone would do when they're desperate and in need of help: I wrote a whiny facebook status. Several friends, to my delight, sent me links to veggie shirts, but I needed to find one that was ethically produced. My mother-in-law sent me a link to One Lane Road, maker of the green shirt above, which made me realize I hadn't yet bothered to check etsy.

None of the etsy screenprinted options measure up to the all-over print of Gorman's tee, but at least I now know a niche market exists for vegetable t-shirts. If I do buy one, it will be the bottom gray one with the carrots front and center. Yum.
Sources: Gorman / One Lane Road / EMaryniak / Borders TeesGive me a little Smirk

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accessorize: mata traders earrings

Mata Traders is an American fair trade clothing company. I love that they've begun to make more streamlined, less feminine garments that appeal to my aesthetic. I find that their clothing isn't really tailored for my body type, however, so I'm happy to support their accessories line. Mata Traders sent me this season's Quill Earrings and I wear them at least a couple times a week. They make a statement while remaining lightweight and relatively minimalist. I prefer geometric shapes in my jewelry and most of their offerings provide exactly what I want.


The real selling point, though, is that they're reasonably priced in the range of 18.00 to 25.00. I typically buy my jewelry from etsy sellers or Ten Thousand Villages, so I always expect to pay in that range for an ethically made, high quality piece. I'm strongly considering buying a few of their sale items, like the black and gold ones featured above.

*I wasn't compensated for this post, but I did receive a pair of earrings to review.


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ModCloth: it's not that great

modcloth is meh

ModCloth, popular online retailer of vintage-inspired clothing, has a lot going for it: independent designers, an in-house collection, fair trade options, and diverse models and size ranges. But I don't like them. I've placed a dozen or so orders over the past few years and have returned almost everything due to poor quality and fit.

I recently discovered that ModCloth purchases from the same LA fashion district warehouses as Forever 21 and other discount retailers. This wouldn't be an issue if ModCloth garments were priced in the range of Forever 21. But they're often quite expensive; full priced dresses start at $44.99 and tend toward the imported and cheaply made variety. Despite thinking I know a lot about the retail industry, it hadn't dawned on me that ModCloth was using its wholesome reputation to generate absurd profit.

Personal Disappointment

I purchased several pairs of domestically produced high waist jeans in the price range of 35.00 to 50.00 over the past year. A button fell off the first pair on the second wear. The second pair had a grossly off-center waist placket; when I exchanged it for another pair, I found the button hole impossible to fasten. When I got in touch with a representative to voice my quality control concerns, I was dismissed. The third pair I purchased went back due to a defect, as well. That one happened to be the last pair in my size and I noticed a few days after my return that the size was back in stock with 1 pair left, so I know they ignored the defect and resold them as new.

Poor Corporate Environment

As if quality control issues weren't bad enough, I read recently that warehouse conditions are sub par, with grueling hourly processing expectations preventing employees from adequately looking over garments. The social environment is akin to that of my old employer; it's a drink-the-koolaid-or-else mentality that offers all the surface level bells and whistles without any of the personal fulfillment or long term security.

modcloth article quote

Deceptive Branding

I've gotta hand it to them for their genius social media and branding tactics that make them seem like a small but thriving happy band of social justice warriors. It's genius because it isn't quite true. ModCloth's sales exceeded 100 million dollars last year. And in a recent interview with Mashable, co-founder Eric Koger, states, "We want the brand to come across as if Susan is still writing copy, not a big organization." On some level, this makes sense and it's certainly a great way to ensure personable customer service. But when customers are led to believe they're supporting a small business, they're more likely to overpay and over-advertise the company to their social networks. When they're being duped into doing it for a large, established company like ModCloth, the feel-good branding doesn't feel so good anymore.

modcloth article quote,

I like some of the things ModCloth stands for: individuality, community, diversity. But I fear that it's all a big marketing ploy. I fear it's all smoke and mirrors to cover up widespread quality control issues, poor sourcing practices, and meh corporate standards.
*I'm shooting myself in the foot here because I just applied to be a model for ModCloth. Oh well. Also, they just changed their return policy, so beware: returns are no longer free!

the moral wardrobe: madras

thrifted outfit at warm day outfit, stylewiseguide.comsummer outfit, madras, stylewiseguide.comDespite having had a busy week, I don't have much to say. Happy that the weather is cooling down after a few brutally hot days.

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

  • Top - H&M

  • Skirt - thrifted (my favorite!)

  • Shoes - Sseko Designs

  • Earrings - c/o Mata Traders

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American Apparel Founder Fired

fair trade news

Dov Charney was fired from American Apparel last night. Hopefully the brand can move to a cleaner, less sexualized aesthetic that appeals to a wider market. I've often thought that American Apparel was targeting too small an audience with marketing photos that are reminiscent of '70s porn. Maybe we could see the same unretouched models doing a variety of tasks that don't require looking sensuous?
American Apparel has always been about a lifestyle, and aspects of that lifestyle currently feel far from fashionable. All that is left, now, are the tops and skirts and lurex-covered leggings, and a company left distancing itself from its founder as it tries to retain some of its sheen.

Read more at The Guardian.

rooftop shoot

A few weeks ago, one of my coffee shop customers asked if I'd be willing to model in a just-for-fun collaborative fashion shoot on the rooftops of downtown Charlottesville. I said yes, of course. After a few hours of hair touchups, makeup application, and trying on clothing from a local vintage boutique, the team headed up to the unfinished roof of a downtown apartment building and began shooting as the sun went down. I had a great time and am excited to work with everyone again in the future if I get the chance.

IMG_5058 IMG_5121 IMG_5131IMG_5226 IMG_5275 IMG_5292
Hair: Erica Haskins-Crutchfield at Topknot Studio / Makeup: Emily Mora / Photography: Sarah Peyton / Clothing: Low Vintage

the moral wardrobe: community

anthro skirt outfit thredup outfitmodern clothing outfit

This week has been inexplicably stressful. Maybe it was the weighty theological discussion that went on too long. The flea bites from petting a couple outdoor cats. The allergies. The people, ugh, people everywhere - asking questions, ranting, confused.

But the funny thing is that all the annoyances are just small parts of the beautiful life I get to experience. Dinner on the porch; affectionate neighborhood pets; flowers and green leaves; enthusiastic customers and thoughtful friends. A community enamored with the opportunity to linger outdoors after a winter that lasted too long.

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

  • Top - H&M

  • Skirt - secondhand via thredup

  • Shoes - vintage Minnetonka

  • Earrings - handmade via etsy

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