Style Wise | Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Sustainability

SUSTAINABLE STYLE & ETHICAL LIVING

introducing MadeFAIR, an ethical boutique for cool people

j crew top
sseko designs gold loafers
This post contains an affiliate link.

MadeFAIR is a brand new ethical boutique that carries some of my favorite fair trade and conscious brands (Sseko Designs, Tonle, Greenola Style, and Mata Traders to name a few). Founder, Tavie, introduced me to her concept a few months ago and I've been anxiously awaiting the launch because the branding is spot on.

Curated fair trade shops often lean hippie or ultra feminine - styles I'm not that into - but MadeFAIR is simply cool. Tavie said she wanted to create a shop that catered to the easygoing traveler sort with pieces that are versatile and timeless without being boring. She wants it to be an easy shopping experience, so everything works well together and looks great on the page as you scroll through the site.

Tavie sent me the Sseko Designs Gold Loafers so I could get a taste of what the brand has to offer.

minimalist outfit madeFAIR post
MadeFAIR review

The shoes arrived quickly and felt comfortable right out of the box. You may remember that I bought myself a pair of Sseko loafers several months ago and they didn't work out, but I experienced no size discrepancies or condition issues with this pair. Sseko loafers are made ethically in Ethiopia using leather sourced from Ethiopia's small, regulated meat industry. I'm excited to wear them with everything this fall. My husband thinks they're cool, too, so that's a plus.

Tavie and the MadeFAIR brand have a lot more up their sleeves for the brand and the fair trade industry. The founders spend much of their time in Cambodia and recently tried to film a documentary on the factory remnant supply chain, but it became difficult to get all the footage they needed, so that's on hold for now. They'll also be collaborating on a special project with a prominent fair trade organization in the coming months.

You can use code, STYLEWISE15, for 15% off your purchase at MadeFAIR. Plus, stay tuned for a pretty incredible giveaway coming next week.

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I encourage you to follow along with MadeFAIR on social media: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Marx on labor-power as commodity

Jacob's biscuit factory

"But here comes the key to profit. The laborer who contracts to work can ask only for a wage that is his due. What that wage will be depends, as we have seen, on the amount of labor-time it takes to keep a man alive. If it takes six hours of society's labor per day to maintain a workingman, then (if labor is priced at one dollar an hour), he is 'worth' six dollars a day. No more.

But the laborer who gets a job does not contract to work only six hours a day...he agrees to work a full eight-hour, or in Marx's time, ten- or eleven-hour day. Hence, he will produce a full ten or eleven hours' worth of value and he will get paid for only six...

But meanwhile the capitalist gets the full value of his workers' whole working day, and this is longer than the hours for which he is paid...The system is perfectly 'equitable,' and yet all workers are cheated...

...capitalism, where historical forces have created a propertyless class of workers who have no alternative but to sell their labor-power - their sheer ability to work - as commodity."


Excerpted from The Worldly Philosophers by Robert L. Heilbroner

from the draft pile: Millennial Evangelicals & the Fair Trade Movement


Sometimes I write articles that don't end up getting accepted for publication. I wrote this one in April at the request of a newspaper editor. It's not my usual tone for the blog, but I thought it needed to see the light of day. 

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For fair trade activists, this is the busy season. On April 24, people and organizations across the globe asked retailers, “Who made my clothes?” wearing their garments inside out to expose the tags and sharing their photos on social media. It was the second annual Fashion Revolution Day, a call-to-action event founded by Carry Somers, owner of British fair trade brand, Pachacuti, in reponse to 2013’s Rana Plaza garment factory collapse that killed 1,133 people and injured hundreds more. In its first year, #fashrev represented the number one global trend on twitter and, thanks to the efforts of a growing fair trade community, this year brought meaningful engagement across social media platforms.

Now, we’re just a week away from World Fair Trade Day on May 9, and the fair trade community and the wider umbrella of conscientious consumers are at it again, finding new incentives and new angles to promote the fair trade cause. Though the movement is not an expressly Christian one, it should come as no surprise that Evangelicals, and particularly those of the millennial generation, are taking up the banner.

I should know, because I was one. I grew up in a conservative Evangelical household, where Biblical Literalism was the default and the Sinner’s Prayer was the key to being saved. By college, however, I’d become disenchanted with a culture that felt too insular, too judgmental, and too materialistic to really follow Jesus’ call of radical humility. It wasn’t until I bought my first pair of TOMS shoes, however, that I began to question who made my clothes. I didn’t realize it then, but I had joined the fair trade movement. During the inevitable spiritual identity crisis that came with questioning the worldview I was born into, I held onto the basic principle that Jesus modeled humanity and community for me, and that my calling – rooted in me so deeply that it would remain a part of my identity no matter what I concluded at the end of my spiritual questioning – was to work for justice and peace in the lives of others.

Evangelicals are uniquely equipped to join social movements because they hold activism, or faith in action, as a key component of their religious experience, and they’re often quite successful in the movements they undertake. As demonstrated by the rise of the religious right in the 1980s and more recent anti-abortion protest movements, Evangelicals’ tightly bound church communities and emphasis on seeking ultimate Truth, for better or for worse, are a powerful rallying tool. They also prioritize personal relationship with Jesus, which manifests itself in a desire to study and experience God’s Word for themselves. This predisposition to self-examination informs the discussion within the fair trade movement even when a Christian perspective is not explicitly stated.

Evangelicals of the millennial generation employ the tools of their heritage to propel the fair trade movement forward.  Young evangelicals may be critical of the materialism and political narrow-mindedness of older generations, but they haven’t lost the Holy Spirit fire. They’re motivated to find solutions to injustice and poverty in a globalizing world. And, though their explicitly religious rhetoric represents a relatively small portion of the fair trade conversation, they’re a vocal bunch.

I spoke with a number of fair trade bloggers and organizations rooted in the Evangelical tradition and their answers to the question, How does your Christian worldview motivate you to pursue a fair trade lifestyle?” display a nuanced, thoughtful approach to global justice. Let’s Be Fair blogger, Dominique, states, “If I say I value justice and love, I need to strive to live out those values in all things. So serving children in Africa is an act of love but it is not greater than serving my neighbor.” 

Jen Lewis, owner of fair trade shop, Purse& Clutch, describes her journey this way: “For me, the first step is educating myself. The more I learn about who makes my clothes, the more I begin to see the effects of my actions and purchasing decisions, and I can more clearly see the opportunity to show love in a very behind the scenes, thankless way. And isn’t that typically the best way to show love to others?”  

John Barry, co-founder of charity, Jesus’ Economy, a fair trade shop and development project, sees his involvement in fair trade as a direct result of globalization, saying: "The world is now interconnected. Each of us is dependent on our global neighbors, including the goods they supply. But much of the products on offer in the U.S. are made using practices that oppress other people, keeping them impoverished instead of lifting them up. Fair trade provides the alternative needed.”

A popular paraphrase of Jesus’ words in Mark 12:30-31 is “Love God. Love neighbor” and millennial Evangelicals are determined to live that out, expanding the term neighbor to mean anyone we have the power and resources to help. In a globalizing world, that increasingly means everyone. There’s still a long way to go, of course, and fair trade activists, Christian or not, must continually examine their intentions and systems to ensure that our attempts to help are effective and empowering. The fair trade movement, like any other cause, benefits from critique, but the energy and sincerity of Evangelicals will do much to propel justice forward.

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I recognize that a lot more could be said on this topic and that millennials, Evangelicals, and millennial Evangelicals are vast, diverse groups. I would love your comments and thoughts on this topic. Are there other reasons that millennial Evangelicals may be interested in conscientious consumerism? Do you think they're doing a good job?

the moral wardrobe: favorites

shawl collar top
lavender fair trade top
black and white skirt
betula birkenstock black sandals
eco outfit
Ethical Details: Top - c/o Gaia Couture (RIP); Skirt - secondhand; Shoes - Betula

It's always obvious whether I feel confident in what I'm wearing in my outfit photos. If I can't get a natural looking, happy shot, I give up on the photos and seriously reconsider the things I'm wearing. You can probably tell that I love this outfit. I got this skirt on ebay a couple of years ago on a whim and wear it at least once a week; the Betula sandals are comfortable and fashion forward at the same time; and the top fits me like a glove and has the most interesting neckline I've ever seen. Putting them together is outfit heaven. 

Plus, when I was taking these photos a butterfly danced across the yard, so I couldn't help but feel happy. 

the moral wardrobe: tree mourning

black and white striped outfit
aline skirt outfit
personal style black and white
Ethical Details: Skirt - secondhand via thredup*; Sandals - Betula; Earrings - c/o Bario Neal

About a month ago, the land lady emailed us to let us know she would be hiring an arborist to do some "tree work" on the property. I didn't think much of it; I knew we had some overgrown bushes and a tree on the side of the house that was growing dangerously close to the foundation. But when I got home from work on the day the arborist came, I found they'd taken down the lovely, sprawling, flowering tree that had lived in the center of our yard. I was devastated; in fact, I cried. And I didn't feel like spending time in the back yard being constantly reminded of what used to be. 

Over the years, I'd made a habit of observing the way the light shone through its leaves and branches every time I walked to and from my car, and for days after it was gone, I kept glancing over expecting to see something beautiful, instead seeing only a scattering of orange dirt. One can grow quite attached to something and not realize how important it was until it's gone. 

RIP, tree. You were my second favorite tree in the world.

*Referral link

Curating a Minimalist Wardrobe by Nichole Dunst

minimalist wardrobe
Image by Erich Ferdinand, used under Creative Commons license; effect and text added

Today's post was written by Nichole Dunst of the blog, Joie de Vivre. Nichole is a full-time flight attendant, part-time blogger, and holistic health enthusiast. She spent her college years working for her University’s Outdoor Recreation program on the Sustainability Team. Joie De Vivre chronicles Nichole’s conscious living pursuits and worldly travels. It seeks to showcase “green living” as a fun, stylish, and non-intimidating venture.
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There’s a hot new word that’s been circulating recently.

Minimalism

Something about the prospect of streamlining our chaotic lives seems so liberating. Whether it’s getting rid of old clothing, finally de-cluttering and re-organizing the apartment, or streamlining our social media strategy, most people would agree that there’s value in taking things down a notch.

The past year or two I have really found myself gravitating towards a more simplified style. My closet is looking a whole lot less Dazed and Confused, and more Fifty Shades of Grey than in years past. As I cleanse my wardrobe of trendy, cheaply made “fast fashion” purchases, I’ve slowly been replenishing it with higher-quality basics.

Developing a more minimalistic wardrobe isn’t something you should expect to do overnight. I’m not encouraging you to head out to the mall to drop your latest paycheck on straight lines and monochromes. This is more about learning what kinds of fits and styles you like, then streamlining your wardrobe so that it is simpler and more sustainable.

By sustainable I don’t only mean “eco friendly.” I’m also referring to a wardrobe that is set up to last you for the long-term. Quality, timelessness, and a sense of authenticity to your “personal brand.”

Understanding your Personal Style

In my opinion, the reason women go so wrong in building their wardrobe is that they’re not really in tune with their own personal style. We look at magazines and catalogues and want to wear what the celebrities and the models are wearing. We want that “hot new item;” to look like we’re up-to-date with the latest trends. There are two major things that are wrong with this way of thinking.

1. We shouldn’t let others influence or dictate what it is we do or do not like.
2. The clothes the models and celebrities are wearing probably aren’t going to look the same on us.

To help attune yourself to your own personal style, you can do several things...

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Keep reading at Joie de Vivre

the moral wardrobe: daytime pajamas

daytime pajamas outfit
joggers and everlane
navy sandals
simple outfit ethicalEthical Details: Top - Everlane; Pants - thredup

Increasingly, I get the hankering to change into my cozy PJ pants as soon as I get home. I was never a fan of super informal wear when I was in school because I didn't want to feel weird asking a professor a question after class wearing a sports bra or candy corn patterned, unflatteringly droopy sleepwear. But if I'm just sitting at home, why the heck not?

This outfit was the result of not taking a shower until 5 pm on Saturday. Since our plans consisted of watching a movie at home with friends, I opted for something super casual. As I mentioned in my Everlane review post, this box cut tee barely sees the light of day because I can't figure out how to style it in a way that feels me, but it worked just fine for a night in. 

I'll be officially starting my capsule at the beginning of September - still have a few kinks to work out - but I'll be sharing mix and match outfit ideas in the next week or so. 

bloglovin' follower challenge

bloglovin follower challenge

Bloglovin', the popular blog reader, is doing a special challenge for smaller blogs during the month of August. Anyone with fewer than 10,000 followers is eligible to participate and three bloggers who gain the most followers during the month will receive a special feature on the Bloglovin' blog and on readers' feeds.

Though the odds are stacked against me, it's a great opportunity to expand my readership. If you follow or read my blog on a regular basis, please consider following on Bloglovin' by clicking on the button below.

Follow

Thanks, as always, for your support.

Tripty Project brings Bengali craftsmanship to the American market

Interview with Tripty Project

Tripty Project is a new slow fashion line produced in Dhaka, Bangladesh that specializes in jackets, backpacks, and kantha quilts. I had the chance to sit down for a phone conversation with founder, Luke Swanson, to learn more about the origin and mission behind the brand. I'm excited to share it with you now that their kickstarter has launched. Since I took notes during the phone call, I'll do my best to reconstruct our conversation.

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Why Bangladesh? Does it have anything to do with the Rana Plaza collapse?

No, actually. Luke had been involved in environmental justice work in the States for a few years before he decided to take 5 months off to visit a friend in Bangladesh. One night he met a woman in an expat bar in Dhaka. They got to talking and she suggested he apply for a position at an NGO that helped Bangladeshi citizens displaced by climate change. Though it didn't pay a great deal, he was excited about the work, so he took the job and stayed in Dhaka for the next couple years.  
Over time, he and a small team decided that they wanted to start a fashion label that highlighted both the skilled labor of the urban population in Dhaka and the artisanal textile traditions still practiced throughout Bangladesh. After Rana Plaza collapsed, the Tripty team worked with factories and organizations in Dhaka that employed survivors of the disaster, but the urban factories ultimately decided to pull out from high end, specialty crafts to pursue higher volume work for larger corporations. (Read more about the Rana Plaza tragedy here.)

Who makes your clothes?

Dhaka-based tailor, Dino, founded an NGO called Help for Poor People (or Friends of Poor People) with a mission to provide jobs and resources to people living in the slums of Dhaka. This is the main manufacturing facility for Tripty Project goods. Employees receive a living wage that is suitable to the local economy (he mentioned here as a side note that it's very important to pay people an appropriate wage, not just one that seems good, because inflated wages can lead to animosity from neighboring businesses and can wreak havoc on local economies). 
When hungry kids from outside the slums started arriving asking for food, Dino decided to find a way to feed them. This drew more and more kids to the area, so Dino and his team decided to start a school that now serves 300 students!
Tripty Project

Who makes your textiles?

There's an elaborate network of embroiderers, weavers, and textiles processers throughout Bangladesh and India.  
In western Bangladesh, survivors of sex trafficking embroider goods on their own time in their homes for extra income. In eastern Bangladesh, indigenous populations weave traditional textiles. Tripty works with them to create processes for better quality control and finishing.  
The team works with a textile mill in India to source their organic cotton and pineapple leaf fabric (used for their backpacks). The pineapple leaf textile was an original idea. Pineapple farmers in India had to pay to dispose of unwanted leaves; the Tripty team saw them piled high on a road side and decided to buy some off the farmer for a small fee and see if it could be processed down and used in their textiles. It worked! It's made of a blend of 20% organic cotton and 80% pineapple and is durable fabric for their backpack line. 

Why did you decide to brand Tripty Project as mid-range high end?

Through Luke's interaction with NGOs scattered throughout Bangladesh, he learned a lot about how aid affects its recipients. He noted that a lot of traditional rural handicrafts sent to the Western market were low end, quick projects, and that, often, the buyer saw their purchase as an act of charity rather than as an equal exchange. Artisans in this arrangement are made to feel like charity cases rather than the true artists they are.  
Tripty Project is committed to treating the artisans they work with as the artists they are. This means using higher end materials and creating better textiles. This means paying the artisans more than they're used to receiving from standard NGO projects. There's also the matter of differentiating Tripty Project as something new and different in the ethical fashion category. They're truly slow fashion, and that means things will take more time and more money, but that also makes for a better quality, longer lasting product.

How do you fend off a Western/White Savior Complex?

It's important to remember that Bengladeshis know what's best for themselves and for their country. Tripty Project was careful to partner with systems and organizations already in place. They work on a small scale with locals at the helm of each sewing facility and organization. Luke and his team bring translators with them when they visit 2-3 times per year so that they can communicate effectively.  
Luke and his team know that what they bring to the table is an ability to access a Western audience. Their role is not to fix Bangladesh; it's to broaden the marketplace for the artisan work being done in Bangladesh. It's impossible not to run up against weird power dynamics in an international economy; the key is to be self aware enough to re-calibrate as needed. 
Tripty made in Bangladesh

What do you think American consumers should know about the international garment industry?

Everyone feels helpless. 
Garment works feel helpless because they don't control their own destinies. US consumers feel helpless because they're skeptical that their choices will improve working conditions for garment workers. Brands feel helpless because making improvements that raise prices could turn off consumers. 
But the truth is that consumers have all the power. They're in charge. If they insist on better wages, better systems, and safer facilities, it can happen. (Side note: it's really terribly unfortunate that we, the consumers, and not the factory workers hold all the power; the goal, I think, is to give away that power to the rightful owners. That's when things get better.).

What is the significance of the name, Tripty?

Tripty is the Bengali/Hindi word for satisfaction and is a common girl's name in Bangladesh. It also happens to be the name of the manager of Tripty's stitching project. It felt like the perfect way to describe a brand that seeks to satisfy people's needs and consumers' wants while honoring a beloved employee.

What can we do to support Tripty Project?

Support their Kickstarter!
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The Tripty Project team is the real deal. They've got lots of good ideas and the know-how to put them into action. Thanks for your time, Luke!

*all images belong to Tripty Project. First photo: graphic added by me.

Filling My Ethical Capsule: Smoking Flats

ethical smoking flats


*denotes affiliate/referral link

The one pair of shoes I want in my life (besides my newly purchased Everlane street shoes, which I found for half price on Tradesy!) are some black smoking flats. Hannah from the Life Style Justice blog wore her Sseko flats all weekend during the Justice Conference and I saw how versatile they are - they pair well with both dresses and jeans. They're just classic. And since fashion rules have broken down, I don't have to worry about pairing them with navy, particularly if they're textured and add a bit of their own interest to my outfit.

Several companies committed to ethical manufacturing make their own version of the smoking slipper in about the same price range ($90.00-150.00). Here are the details on my favorite options:


I'm selling off a whole bunch of old clothing on ebay to save up for the perfect pair. Ethically sourced shoes are investment items, but the higher quality often makes it worth the splurge. If you have trouble finding ethical shoes in a style, comfort level, and price point that works for you, consider searching secondhand items on ebay, thredup*, or Tradesy*. 

My Early Fall Capsule

fall capsule wardrobe

I was really (and I mean really) hesitant to embrace the capsule wardrobe concept, because I kept seeing it done so poorly. People were overhauling their closets to embrace something that felt more "them," even though that meant getting rid of tons of perfectly good things. But, as Andrea noted in Monday's post, a capsule can be a useful tool for cutting down on consumption and feeling more satisfied with your closet, if it's done with intention.

Some people aren't shopaholics and won't find this exercise particularly useful in the long run. But I've been obsessed with shopping for as long as I can remember and switching over to more ethical brands only helped curb my over-consumption for a little while. Once I got used to the higher price points, I adjusted my budget accordingly, so I still found I was buying too much.

So last week, I sat down at my computer with a blank Word document open and started listing, from memory, my closet essentials. Doing this exercise from memory was awesome, because it made clear what items I don't care about and what I really love. When I got home, I pulled everything out that I hadn't even considered placing in my capsule and took a hard look at them. Weird colors, strange cuts, ill fitting - almost without fail there was a good reason why I don't wear or even think about these things. So I listed almost all of it on ebay (I think it makes a lot more sense to pass things on to people who want them rather than play roulette donating them to a thrift shop).

Capsule Examples:

*please note that image links are affiliate links.

Almost everything I placed in my capsule is something I already own. As it turns out, I have a pretty good handle on what I actually like, it's just that sometimes I get excited and buy stuff just for the heck of it. Most of it is ethically sourced, thrifted, or older, too, so I'm not just buying whatever I want. I've given myself a $200.00 shopping budget for 2 statement knit tops, a longer length dress, and black loafers, but I'm trying to make most of that money off of ebay sales, returning things I don't want, and odd jobs.

I also decided to use a more fluid schedule. A lot of people who do capsules do four a year, based on the seasons. But Charlottesville has finicky weather and I'd rather not be too rigid with myself. I'm prone to feeling trapped by my own rules. So I'll add in some sweaters at some point and stop wearing as many skirts.

Now all I need to do is make sure my closet is organized and ready to go.

How to Make a Capsule Wardrobe Work for You, by Andrea Hartman

Andrea blogs at Seasons + Salt where she shares smart shopping tips, her capsule wardrobe experience, and snippets of her life in Portland, Oregon. I love Andrea's approach to the capsule because she doesn't see it as an excuse to overindulge. She's also focused on building an ethical wardrobe. Read along as she shares her techniques and lessons learned.

capsule wardrobe

Last summer, I was three months postpartum with my third child and struggling to find my style amidst fitting back into my old clothes. I was trying to add new items to my closet that would be practical and make me feel good while wearing them. I tended to buy what was safe and what I thought I could wear all the time. The only problem was I didn't feel like me. Instead, I felt like a frumpy mom wearing 'safe' clothes. I hated it. It was time for a new approach.

I stumbled across a blog shortly thereafter touting the merits of building a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a collection of limited items worn for a season and then remixed with new purchases and old favorites for the following season. My interest was piqued and I set out with two main goals: define my style, and cut the cord to my perpetual shopping.

Each of my capsules was composed of approximately 40 items and worn for almost exactly a three-month calendar season. I did almost no shopping in between capsules.

My Capsule Process

1. Wish List - Mid-way through the season I start a capsule wish list on my phone for the upcoming season. I look at my favorite catalogs, blogs, Pinterest and people on the street for inspiration during this part of the process. I pin away to my mood board for the season and then I study my repeats and overall style to help hone my vision.

2. Purge + Plan - Two weeks before the start of the season I lay out all the clothes I think I am going to want in the upcoming season on my bed. I try on various combinations to see how they work, making sure each piece earns its spot in my closet. This also brings to light any holes I have in my wardrobe. For example, as I was trying on spring combos, I kept reaching for a classic cardigan to add to my outfits, and unfortunately the only one I had was light orange. :/ That meant, very quickly, a neutral cardigan rose to the top of my spring capsule wish list.

During this part of the process I bring in my number one consultant - aka my husband - to get his unabashed feedback on my combos and individual pieces. He knows he is allowed to be 100% honest with me and I truly do appreciate it. The laying out and trying on is lengthy. It usually takes me a few hours in the evening after the kiddos are in bed. But the payoff is worth the time! The process lays the groundwork for having a well-functioning closet where each piece plays an important role and is something you love.

3. Budget + Buy - Next I pull up my capsule wish list and prioritize my top five items. From there, I purchase what my budget will allow. Sometimes that only means 2-3 items, and I am learning to be okay with that. I'd rather have something made well than something that won’t last. Once it all arrives (hello online shopping! So much easier than trying to drag my kiddos from store to store) I try on my new items with my existing items to make sure they are a good fit for that season's capsule (and beyond!).

4. File Away - Finally, I store all my off-season clothes in two under-the-bed containers. Gotta keep things tidy in my sweet, but quaint city apartment.

I am currently in the middle of my fifth capsule wardrobe, and I can happily say I have met those goals and have even added a few new ones, but more on that later.

It’s taken me about a year, but I now have a pretty clear idea of what kind of clothes I like to wear and how I like to present myself, which means hopefully no more wasted purchases. Limiting the number of garments in my closet and focusing on what I really like (instead of ‘filler’ items) has really shown me where my style-loving heart is. I feel a lot more content with my closet when I am only wearing things I love.

Now that I only do organized shopping with a list in hand, it takes a lot less of my time. Because I only shop for a purpose and only every few months, I feel myself starting to break the cycle of the high of continually getting something new. I don’t want to live a stuff-driven life; I want to live a people-driven life. I want my highs to be connected to being with other people and not with consuming more goods.

Since I’ve met my goals of finding my style and ditching my shopping habit, I have had some new ones taking shape. I am working on making sure my items are well-sourced and ethically made, and being content with the closet I have created/am creating.

Final Thoughts on Capsules

My experience with capsules has been amazing. I could not have gotten here without them. However, a wardrobe capsule is a vehicle, not the destination. It’s a learning tool, and not necessarily the way I’ll construct my closet forever. For me the destination was defining my style and ending my love affair with shopping.

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Thanks for sharing, Andrea! Read more on this topic at Seasons + Salt.

I'll be exploring the idea of curating a minimal wardrobe this month, so stay tuned.

Creating a Conscious Closet: A Month of Exploration

Background photo - Creative Commons: Organized Closet by Emily May on flickr. Overlay added by me.

I've decided to dedicate the month of August to exploring what it means to have a conscious closet. Habituating yourself to seeking out and shopping ethical brands is a good start, but it's ultimately not enough. We've also got to untangle ourselves from the materialism our society encourages us to nurture at every turn. 

I've learned that firsthand over the course of my 2 or so years writing this blog. It was easy enough (once the groundwork was laid) to find better places to shop, but it's much harder to let go of my unhealthy addiction to buying things. So I'll be sharing the stories of a handful of women who are living better, less materialistic lives by being really picky about what comes into their closets, whether that's through a capsule wardrobe, a personal uniform, or some other method. 

In Lauren Winner's Wearing God, a chapter is dedicated to the metaphor of God as a garment. When I first read it, I was disappointed that she didn't mention conscientious consumerism, but now I think that's good. Clothing is more than just a thing we consume, it's a vibrant form of communication that shapes us - sometimes literally - in ways we often don't pick up on. To use another quote from Daneen Wardrop (cited in Winner's book):

"the body interacts and changes places with apparel as we wear it, changing ruffle to ankle, in the vision of one motion. We let it affect the way we move, the way we interact, the way we shape affection, the means by which we negotiate others' opinions of our social standing, the way we cognize our own body."

Building a conscious closet, then, is more than just what we put in it. It's how we respond to it, how it makes us feel, who we become and who we dream of becoming while wearing it. It's not merely choosing to consume or not to consume, it's choosing not to let our closets consume us, while continuing to acknowledge the cultural and personal importance of wearing clothes.

There's nothing innately immoral about clothing itself - it's the wearers that have some work to do. As such, I'll also be reading a few books on the intersection of consumerism and spirituality in this country. Scary stuff.

I hope you'll follow along and chime in with advice, questions, and recommendations throughout the month.