Style Wise | Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Sustainability

SUSTAINABLE STYLE & ETHICAL LIVING

shop local: Betsey Boutique

betsey boutique charlottesville

Betsey Boutique is a new-to-Charlottesville women's clothing shop on Market Street near the Downtown Mall. I first heard of it while using Mata Traders' find-a-retailer search tool and was so excited to see that Mata Traders had finally come to Charlottesville. I intended to stop in several weeks ago, but it was closed before I could get there.

By a twist of fate, however, Betsey Boutique had been asked to participate in the Sew What fashion show I was set to model in, so I met owner, Lisa, during fittings for that event a couple weekends ago and got to wear a few Betsey items on the runway! In our conversations during show prep, she told me she recently relocated from a small Virginia town and loved to find unique items at reasonable price points, the latter being something sorely lacking among Charlottesville boutiques. She also features local designers when possible.

sew what fashion show
photo credit: Keith Alan Sprouse

Yes, that's me (my own mother had trouble recognizing me at first). Here I'm wearing a tunic dress from a local designer. 

I finally got a chance to check out the store a couple weekends ago and was pleasantly surprised to see a wide range of fair trade and made in USA options (Betsey is not exclusively an ethical retailer), including lots of Mata Traders' jewelry and dresses, ethical bags, and cute soaps made in New York. 

mata traders charlottesville
betsey boutique charlottesville
betsey boutique charlottesville

I plan on stopping in again to shop when I have more time (I have my eye on a dress and some earrings). 

betsey boutique charlottesville

Lisa wasn't there when I took the tour, but a friendly shop attendant welcomed me. Thanks, friendly shop attendant!

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Check out Betsey Boutique on facebook!

warby parker home try-on (take 3)


warby parker glasses

This post contains a few affiliate links.

Warby Parker has come out with a bunch of new frames and colors since my last home try-on, so I ordered 5 new pairs to sample. I had much better luck this time around (you may remember I pretty much hated everything last time) and will probably order something from this batch.

With the try-on program, you order 5 pairs of frames free of charge and get to try them out for 5 days before sending them back with a prepaid label. If you find something you like, you simply input your prescription during the order checkout process and Warby Parker will send you a new pair of prescription glasses. Prices are reasonable, materials and production are comparable to anything else on the market, and Warby Parker works with vision care facilities around the globe to help people see better.

warby parker review

This time around, I ordered (left to right, top to bottom):

Chalmer in Striped Beach, $145.00


I like these, but I don't look very cool in them. And obviously, I want to look cool.

Chamberlain in Crystal, $95.00


Very square. Very crooked on my face.

Newton in Striped Molasses, $95.00


It's amazing how much darker these look against my pale skin compared to the product image. I really like the slight cat eye reference here.

Haskell in Crystal, $95.00


These fade into my face pretty well and the rounded shape is more appealing than the square-ish shape of Chamberlain. These are in the top 2.

June in Moonstone, $95.00


These look more brown in person, but they're really cool. Maybe too cool?

I think I'm going to go with Haskell or June, but I want to do a bit more exploring on the website and see what other color options they have for the frames I tried out.

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To read my previous Warby Parker home try-on post, click here


7 Blogging Tips for Niche Bloggers Looking to Make Their Mark

blogging tips

I've been fashion blogging since 2010, but it's only this year that I've felt like I've become "successful." Blogging fills different needs for different people. Some people want a safe place to voice their opinions or a blank wall for pinning inspiration or a virtual community. And then there are those who want to make this a full time job, with sponsorship opportunities and international fame.

When I started blogging in a particular niche (I was on Live Journal 15 years ago, but I'm talking about my now defunct personal style blog), I wanted a little bit of all of those things. Those were the years of boutique sponsorships galore, when fashion blogging still felt like a way to democratize style but was on its way to becoming corporate-owned. Before the bubble burst. Admittedly, I was envious of all the eclectic, ModCloth girls getting new products to wear in every post. I spent a lot of time wondering why my blog was failing: Was I ugly? Boring? A poor photographer? And maybe it was a little of all of that, but ultimately, I think it failed because I was trying to force myself into a mold instead of playing to my strengths. 

Success as a blogger looks different to different people. For a niche blog like mine, it's important that people actually read it, and it helps if a little community can grow up around it to sustain and challenge it in appropriate ways. So success for me means that 1. I can help fair trade brands flourish through mutually beneficial collaborations, 2. I share meaningful, unique content that touches people and helps the movement grow, and 3. people beyond the conscious consumer community enjoy and share what I write.

More than anything, Style Wise exists to help and encourage anyone considering their consumer habits. It's certainly helped me stay the course over the past couple years.

Without further ado, my top 7 tips for helping a niche blog grow in a meaningful way are:

1. Stay on topic, but don't get stuck.


My blog is on fair trade and sustainable fashion. It's fine for me to share varied content and personal stories, but I have to be careful not to post things that stray too far off topic. Occasionally, I've wanted to do long form journal posts about what's going on in my life - and I think it's fine to give yourself some leeway - but I get a lot less engagement from posts that have nothing to do with why people come here.

The added benefit of sticking with a clear topic is that you can eventually become an expert in a particular area. Writing on fair trade over 2+ years has given me the opportunity to present myself to organizations and individuals as someone who really knows what I'm talking about, because I do. It's an education that opens up doors to opportunities outside of blogging.

2. Have cohesive design elements that don't change too often. Brand yourself.


I consider myself an adequate graphic designer, but I don't know how to code and creating a whole blog design is something I'd rather let someone else do for me. From my experience as a reader of blogs, I think it's important to have a clear, unique blog design that fits with your brand and your blog content's aesthetic. I purchased a pre-made template for $30.00 (see the footer of this page for info) and made a few tweaks with Blogger's customization tool to make it my own. 

You should also consider in-post graphics. Try not to go crazy with different fonts or colors. Keep things within a particular color scheme that suits your overall blog design. You don't have to be an expert designer or photographer, but you should strive for something that won't overwhelm your readers. I use PicMonkey for basic graphic design and photo post processing.

3. Be honest about free products and affiliate linking. 


Alden wrote a thorough post on affiliate linking, but I'll rehash a bit of it here. People come to your blog to hear your voice and they want to be able to trust you. Being clear about links that may earn you commissions is not only a way to build trust, it's the law. It's also important to clearly note when you receive items free of charge in exchange for reviews or when you receive monetary compensation in exchange for a post. I also try to be transparent about whether or not comped items fit into my regular budget. Sometimes they're more than I would spend and I don't want people to get a false sense of my income level.

Though it can feel tedious to keep disclosing any perks you've received, it will serve you well in the long run. Plus, if you're writing on ethical issues like I am, being ethical about everything is really important.

4. Network!


I hate the idea of networking, but it really works. I joined two ethical blogger networks this year and their feedback, ideas, and blogs have been invaluably inspiring. Sure, occasionally they link back to me or share my content, but more than anything they've helped me understand how to best engage with readers, how to use social media (I'm pretty bad at it), and how to do a better job conveying information in a way that has lasting power.

A few of them feel like virtual friends who care just as much as I do about conscientious consumerism. I feel supported in intangible ways, too, and that gives me the confidence to keep caring and to push myself to be better. A lot of us are fairly small bloggers, but we benefit immensely from sharing ideas with each other.

5. Strive for authenticity, and take a break if you need to.


The first part of this step is obvious, but the second one is probably not a common piece of advice. Write because you care about what you're writing about. Share ideas with an expectation that people will give you honest feedback. Strive to build real community. It should feel like a commune, not a monarchy with you at the top. 

And if you're just not feeling it, take a break. I don't think bloggers need to apologize for burnout or force themselves to keep going when they are out of ideas. Maintain a presence on social media, maybe, but don't get too crazy. If I give myself the mental space to breathe, I come up with much better ideas.

6. Don't be afraid to adapt and change. 


If you read through my archives, you will see the ups and downs of my fair trade journey. I started with passion, but not a lot of information. My ideas about what constitutes "ethical" have changed immensely. My understanding of the industry has become more complex and less clear cut. My personal circumstances and spiritual convictions have changed, too. I have changed and the blog must change with it, and that's ok, because it helps me stay authentic. 

I also have to accept the fact that some ideas and post topics are no longer part of the larger conversation on conscious consumerism. A lot has happened in the manufacturing industry (like Rana Plaza) and in the ethical clothing movement since I started out and I need to continually educate myself on the conversation so that my words aren't outdated and irrelevant.

7. Make it matter.


Even if you have a great idea for a blog that you think a lot of people will enjoy, that might not be enough to sustain it. I'm really big on doing things that make a difference and I think the key to long term success is instilling your blog with meaning. Whether your goal is to encourage new mothers or consolidate news about a particular industry or share awesome recipes, make sure you're doing it because you think it could make someone's life a little bit better. It doesn't have to be life changing, but it should be more than dribble.


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There are a million other posts full of great information about SEO and tagging (I recommend Hoda's blogging series) that you should probably read if you're serious about getting more readers, but none of that matters if blogging doesn't leave you fulfilled and make you a better person at the end of the day.

the moral wardrobe: mad men

Ethical Details: Dress - c/o Nomads; Sandals - Sseko Designs

Did you watch Mad Men? It's 1970 in the last season (just ended Sunday) and all the secretaries were wearing itty bitty mini dresses to work. I don't think I'd wear this outfit to work, but it's just fine for a lazy Saturday afternoon. I used to wear short dresses all the time, but as I get older, I just don't feel like I can get away with it anymore. Subtle social pressure paired with greater personal awareness, I suppose.

This week is an exciting one! I drove over to Roanoke to see a friend on Monday, my parents are coming into town Thursday, and I'm going to a book premiere party for Lauren Winner's new book, Wearing God Thursday evening. They're even letting me give a little speech about Style Wise while I'm there. If you're local, you can RSVP on facebook.

American Apparel: When an "Ethical" Company isn't Ethical

Please note that some of the links below direct to articles and images that may not be suitable to view at your workplace.
american apparel ethics
Screenshot pulled from American Apparel's website

American Apparel has been on my Conscientious Companies list from the very beginning. They're the first company I heard about that encouraged domestic production in a post-globalized world and I thought that was great. The extreme male gaze in their advertisements made me queasy, but I saw a fair amount of feminists applauding it, so I shrugged my shoulders and stopped fretting about it.

But things have gotten bad - really bad - in the past year or so. 


Last year, former CEO, Dov Charney, was fired twice from American Apparel following allegations of sexual harassment and assault. He was known to invite shop employees into his home for raunchy photo shoots that eventually made their way onto billboards and magazine pages. The UK has even banned several ads and even online products listing photos due to the inappropriately "youthful appearance" of the models (models who appear 16 or under, even if they are of age).

Charney isn't back at the company yet, but he's already filed three lawsuits for damages, defamation, and wrongful termination. American Apparel has, in turn, filed a lawsuit against Charney for violating his standstill agreement. This despite the fact that American Apparel is in dire straits financially with 340 million in net losses over the last 5 years and 26 million in the last quarter alone, with stock plummeting as sales continue to dip.

Under new management, the company hired a third party service to clear out old inventory earlier in the year in an attempt to increase cash flow, but the Last Chance Sale mostly confused shoppers who were under the impression the chain was going out of business. And things still aren't looking up. In April, the company laid off 180 workers and increased hours for remaining employees. In response, about 1,000 employees called on workers' rights organization, Hermandad Mexicana, to lobby on their behalf.

Even with Charney out of the picture, things on the female objectification front aren't looking so good. 

In an enlightening discussion in the comments on this article about attempts to remove the soft core porn aura from their ads, several people pointed out that the company has begun white washing its models, opting for traditionally attractive, predominantly white women over their previous diverse, pulled-from-the-shop lineup. According to current AA employees, "the so-called 'real models' the brand now wants are 5'7" or taller, predominantly Eastern European-looking and white." Read the original leaked document here (it ain't pretty).

Sexual misconduct. Worker mistreatment. Juvenile behavior. Racism and prejudice. Are these the marks of an "ethical" company? 

American Apparel has one redeeming quality: it's sweatshop free. But being comparatively kinder to one part of your labor force doesn't mean you get a free pass on everything else. I will no longer be supporting American Apparel, but I will take this with me: ethics must expand to every nook and cranny of your life or you're not doing it right. 

Update 10/16/15: American Apparel filed for bankruptcy in early October with a strategy to become profitable again by 2018.

Update 4/12/16: American Apparel laid off hundreds of workers and considered outsourcing some production

Update 11/14/16: American Apparel files for bankruptcy again.

ETHICAL ALTERNATIVES TO AMERICAN APPAREL:

an ethical outfit: summer exploring


Untitled #350


I love summer. When I lived in Florida, I never said that, but now I crave the humid air. I like stripping down the layers and going to the mountains in summertime, driving through dense fog and sudden rainstorms. In Charlottesville, we only get thunderstorms in the summer. I crave the temporary (albeit relatively safe) chaos of it.

On a warm day, I'd dress simply and load a crossbody bag with my camera before heading out to see what I can see.

The items in this look are:
(* denotes affiliate links)

  • PACT Apparel Fair Trade Dress*: Hooray! Pact makes dresses now. I also like the navy and white striped one.
  • Warby Parker Haskell Frames*: Warby Parker has a lot more clear frame options since I last did a home try-on, so I've ordered another set of frames to try out.
  • Gift Yenta Fair Trade Backback: I know nothing about this company other than that they listed this and other items as fair trade. I like the look of this backpack, though.
  • Sseko Designs Ribbon Sandals*: Summer classics, in my opinion. I wear mine several times a week.

I'm trying to find a comfortable, purse-sized backpack for upcoming travel, so if you have any other suggestions, please let me know. 

the moral wardrobe: after the storm

Ethical Details: Top - thrifted; Skirt - secondhand via ebay; Sandals - thrifted; Earrings - handmade by Hannah Naomi via Ash & Rose

Man, the past couple of weeks have been rough. So much being-a-grown-up required at every turn. Difficulties at work, last minute deadlines, flights to schedule, complicated talks with the duplex mates. It's one thing after another. When it all piles up at once like this, I often do two things: shop and have a crisis of self esteem. Though, as expected, these things did happen, I managed them a little better. Instead of spending money on fast fashion (or even slow fashion), I bought myself some Chik-Fil-A and got a hair cut. Instead of angrily picking my pimples, I put on a little extra makeup and got on with the week. I'm trying to go easy on myself without throwing in the towel and it's helped immensely to just simplify my routine and put on things that make me feel comfortable.

I know I've been an adult for several years now, but 26 has been the transformative year of actually feeling like one. It's not always good, but I am managing. And I think, more than anything, it's the confidence that I can manage it that makes me feel grown up.

Ten Thousand Villages Charlottesville WFTD event

world fair trade day at ten thousand villages

I had the opportunity to check out the World Fair Trade Day event at my local Ten Thousand Villages on Saturday. Manager, Sallie, and assistant manager, Valerie, were warm and welcoming, and plenty of volunteers and staff members were on the floor to show people around and let them know about the day's special offers.

Ten Thousand Villages was the very first fair trade company and their business still serves as a model for the industry. Begun by Mennonite Edna Ruth Byler in 1946, it has since built partnerships with artisans all over the world. Artisans are paid in full before products are sold to consumers, which provides security and assists with the costs associated with production. Additionally, artisans are encouraged to use sustainable practices.

ten thousand villages charlottesville

The shop was putting on several raffles for beautiful fair trade goods, including a scarf, sarong, bag, and the book, Fair Trade: A Human Journey, full of breathtaking images and concise information about how fair trade impacts workers across the globe.

They were also offering free chocolate samples from Equal Exchange and Divine Chocolate, fair trade coffee and tea, and coloring activities for children.

ten thousand villages charlottesville
ten thousand villages charlottesville

I couldn't resist doing a little shopping while I was there, so I picked up a few things for my mom and received a delicious Equal Exchange fruit and nut chocolate bar and a sample of Level Ground dark roast coffee free with purchase!

ten thousand villages charlottesville

I had a great time getting to know some of the team, talking shop with the managers, and swapping fair trade brands and resources with others who care just as much as I do about shopping ethically.

Sallie let me know that the Charlottesville store was chosen to receive special recognition from Corporate due to its success, which means they'll have the opportunity to operate as a test market for new and exciting products in the coming months.

Congratulations on your success and thanks for having me, everyone!

world fair trade day sales

world fair trade day sales

Happy World Fair Trade Day! Go forth and buy fair trade with these deals:

celebrate world fair trade day at Ten Thousand Villages

World Fair Trade Day is this Saturday, May 9 and the whole world is celebrating! If you're near Charlottesville, consider dropping by the Ten Thousand Villages tomorrow. I'll be there to answer questions and talk a bit about my blog. 



Here's the write-up for the Charlottesville event:

10:00 am-7:00 pm
The World Fair Trade Day is an initiative of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) that takes place on the second Saturday of May of each year. It is an inclusive worldwide festival of events celebrating Fair Trade as a tangible contribution to the fight against poverty and exploitation, climate change and the economic crisis that has the greatest impact on the world’s most vulnerable populations.
Join us in celebrating the benefits of Fair Trade on Saturday, May 9th. We will have fair trade food and drink, free gifts with purchase, and more!
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For more information about Ten Thousand Villages events in your area, visit their website. For more information about World Fair Trade Day, click here. I'll try to update this post with World Fair Trade Day sales later on today.

inside an ethical wardrobe: spring 2015

ethical capsule wardrobe

Spring has sprung here in Charlottesville, so I'm back with another installment of my "Inside an Ethical Wardrobe" series. See my winter post here and my jewelry post here.


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I've been in aggressive spring cleaning mode for several weeks and I've finally been able to part with a lot of things I was holding onto because of their nostalgic or "practical" value. I'm a firm believer that it's ok to have an attachment to things that remind of us people, places, and experiences we love, but it was time to clear out old high school event t-shirts and ill-fitting blouses.

striped tees

I'm left with a reasonable, varied assortment of knit cotton tops, including several v-necks from Everlane, a few fair trade statement tops, a couple old items purchased from conventional retailers, and several thrifted items.

Note that a few things are missing either because I was wearing them or they were in the wash, but this is a pretty accurate representation of my wardrobe.

thrifted cardigan

I'm a cardigan lover, so I have about double what's depicted here, including a mustard yellow cardigan (an old purchase) I'm wearing while I write this post, a Seamly.co wrap cardigan (made in USA), and a thrifted shawl collar cardigan.

spring skirts wardrobe

I love skirts for spring and summer, particularly midi and maxi skirts that allow me to move freely without fearing my skirt will fly up. The above skirts are (clockwise from top left): Fleet Collection (made in USA), thrifted, secondhand via thredUP, Mata Traders (fair trade), and thrifted. I have a black skirt from thredUP coming in the mail this week.

ethical dresses

And finally, a mess of dresses. About half of my dresses are fair trade and the other half are thrifted or vintage. The ones pictured here are (clockwise from top): thrifted, Nomads, Synergy Organic, thrifted, vintage, and fair trade/sustainable from Gaia Couture.

I left out a few rarely worn graphic tees, formal dresses, and two button-ups that I keep around for professional events. I'll do a separate post for shoes and accessories later.

And just a quick reminder that this isn't a capsule wardrobe. The items I photographed in my winter wardrobe post are still in regular rotation when the weather is suitable for them. Maybe it's my Florida upbringing, but I prefer to wear as much of my wardrobe as possible year round. In fact, I'm wearing my high waist jeans today.

6 Myths About Buying Ethical Clothing

6 myths about ethical and sustainable clothing
The most common negative comments I get on ethical fashion articles I've written for other sites tend fall into one of two categories, either:

Good for you for having enough money to buy expensive clothes. Some of us can't afford to buy a closet full of ethical clothing and it's classist for you to even mention it. Have you no pity on poor people in your own country?

Or:

Have you considered the fact that people in foreign countries will lose their jobs if we stop buying from sweatshops? Better to have a lousy job than no job at all.

Some of them are considerably less harsh and some are too horrific to repeat here, but it's clear to me that the biggest deterrence to acquiring an ethical wardrobe is money. So let me clarify a few things.

Firstly, I absolutely do care about the plight of the poor in my own country. It's despicable that, despite our national wealth, more than 45 million people live below the poverty line. And we've got a few social safety nets, but we haven't really figured out how to help people get a leg up long term, and it's only getting worse. And it's just a matter of fact that low cost, sweatshop-sourced clothing may be the best financial option for a lot of people. If you live paycheck to paycheck and have trouble putting clothes on your back and the backs of your children, please know that I not only feel for you, but I think you need to make the best choice for your family, even if that means making the ethics of your clothing choices less of a priority, or not a priority at all. You are welcome to this conversation, of course, but you may have other things to worry about.

But I also know for a fact that a lot of you can afford to consider your purchases. You're the ones I'm talking to (and I get the sense that, by and large, you're also the ones making the most excuses). Reality check: I manage a local thrift shop and my husband is a grad student. We aren't exactly making it rain over here. But we do benefit a lot from the knowledge that, if something were to happen to us, our parents would be able to step in to support us. We have a social network that makes us feel secure and that helps us make long term financial decisions we couldn't make if we were going it completely alone. We also don't have children to support, so our income stretches a bit further.

I am aware of my relative privilege, but I suspect there are a lot of you in my position who don't realize that it is possible to change your spending habits without breaking the bank. If you can overcome a few prevalent myths, you'll be on your way to making better choices in no time.

Myth 1: It's a given that I will buy at least a dozen new items every season. 

For many of us, it would be a financial disaster to buy more than a handful of fair trade clothing items every 6 months. But, if you've already built a basic wardrobe, you don't need to buy more than a couple new things a year. Magazines and 5 week trend cycles make us feel obligated to keep up with every new fad on the market, but it isn't necessary or even fulfilling. You may have to buy less if you're purchasing from more ethical brands, but that probably won't hurt you in the long run. Plus, in my own experience, fair trade and domestically produced items from small brands hold up better than fast fashion items anyway, so you won't need to replace your staples as often.

Myth 2: I can't dress well with secondhand items.

My go-to advice for people considering their purchases for the first time is to start with thrift shopping. The sticker shock of fair trade and sustainable items will wear off eventually, but in the meantime, try secondhand on for size. A lot of people insist that they can't get high quality items at thrift shops, but I suspect they don't regularly visit them. The thrift market is booming and it's surprisingly easy to find something you like that's in great condition.

And yes, thrift shopping is a more ethical option, even if you're buying conventional brands there. Why? Because you're not contributing to demand for new items and you're ensuring that things don't end up in the landfill so quickly. Additionally, money spent at thrift shops supports local charities.

Myth 3: My specific circumstances (size, profession, location) prevent me from buying from ethical retailers. 

I feel you on this one. The ethical market is still growing and it's not always easy - or possible - to find things that fit well or suit your lifestyle. To you, I'd suggest a few options:
  1. Buy from online consignment stores like thredUP. You may be able to find a greater variety of sizes and styles from secondhand sites online. There are also a couple new consignment shops that sell exclusively ethical clothing: Check out Bead and Reel's Rescued Collection and SLOWRE.
  2.  Search ebay's pre-owned section for brands you like.
  3. Buy well. If you can't find ethical or secondhand options, try to buy things that will last. You'll save money over time and you won't contribute as heavily to demand for sweatshop goods. I do this with shoes, because it's difficult to find well-made, comfortable shoes on the ethical market (though there are a growing number of companies filling the void).

Myth 4: It's actually in the best interest of sweatshop laborers that we keep buying their goods. Otherwise, they'll lose their jobs and it'll be our fault!

This one is complicated, for sure. On the one hand, I don't think it's a great idea to just pull out of countries like Bangladesh or Cambodia, because it's true that thousands of people are employed by garment factories there thanks to consumer demand for new goods in countries like the US. But I also think it's too easy to immediately dismiss the whole ethical consumerism discussion by pretending that supporting sweatshop labor is actually moral.

We should continue to support global manufacturing, but try to find the companies that are better regulating their factories. Everlane, for instance, produces a lot of their tops in China, but they can tell you exactly what it looks like to work at one of their factories. In Cambodia, Tonle employees earn fair wages. If we support Tonle, they will grow and be able to employ more people, which means a garment worker can leave the sweatshop for a safer, better environment.

On a related note,

Myth 5: If wages go up, a lot of garment workers will lose their jobs.

Consider this. In manufacturing centers like Dhaka, Bangladesh, entire families work in the factory, even children. With a wage increase, families may be able to afford to let some members pursue other things, like childhood or education. Entire families wouldn't necessarily have to work, so a few people losing their jobs may not be an issue at all.

This myth also presupposes that profit margins are already set as low as they can go when, in reality, higher-ups make a ton of money. Corporations have the wiggle room to provide better wages to workers and make improvements to facilities even without layoffs or significantly raising prices to consumers. They'd have to set up rigorous systems to ensure that wages are being passed down from contracted garment factory to the workers or set up their own factories, but there's more money to work with than they like to let on.

Myth 6: The market can regulate itself. 

No, it can't. The market is constantly being manipulated by individuals only looking out for their best interests. Regulation is essential; that's why we have a 40 hour work week and child labor laws in place in this country. The market is not some magical, mythical being that sorts things out for us. People call the shots and it's on us to make the market work better for everyone. That being said, we can certainly help the market regulate itself toward better ethics by making smarter, healthier, more loving purchasing decisions.

This list isn't meant to intimidate you or make you feel miserable. It's meant to empower you! You have more options than you might think.


Some places to start:
  • MadeFAIR - a curated boutique with contemporary, wearable pieces at mid-range price points
  • Ash & Rose - an online and brick-and-mortar boutique with a wide range of styles and sizes
  • Synergy Organic Clothing - clothes and yoga gear made from an organic cotton/spandex blend (carries plus size)
  • Dorsu - casual basics and cute dresses made from factory remnants
  • Everlane - modern, minimalist clothing and accessories at lower price points made with transparency
  • Thredup - a huge marketplace of secondhand goods (carries plus size)
  • Sotela.co - a startup specializing in clothing that accommodates natural seasonal weight fluctuations
  • IMBY - a curated boutique of city-chic, Made in USA pieces
  • Grove & Bay - ethical, affordable basics for women and men.

More companies I recommend are available in my Shopping Directory. Make sure to look through the Drop-Down menu for additional categories.

The market has expanded immensely since I first wrote this post, so Google Search away for specialty items and you may just find them!

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What's holding you back? What's the most common misconception about going ethical among your friends and family?


John Oliver slams the fast fashion industry



In this week's episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver featured the long and depressing story of labor violations in the fashion industry. If you've been following this for years, you won't learn a whole lot, but it's quite a good, succinct overview of the last 20 years. I've had a couple people ask me why I don't support GAP, in particular, and this segment will clear that up.

I've embedded the entire segment above for your viewing pleasure.

I'm curious to know how you feel about the segment. Do you think it went deep enough? Do you think it will prove helpful?