Style Wise | Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Sustainability


Rib Knit Revival: Ankura's Pima Cotton Arielle Dress

Ankura Arielle Dress with organic pima cotton
This post contains affiliate links and I was provided a dress for review by Ankura.

Ever since I cut my hair short again, I've had an insatiable urge to wear '90s-style dresses. 

The soft vintage rayon, the flattering cuts, the body skimming rib knit: it's super figure flattering without feeling constricting, a little bit like late '90s, kick-ass feminism (Buffy anyone?).

This year I have felt freer than usual in bringing in pieces that I like. It's as if I've finally gotten back the confidence I had as a teenager to go with my gut and wear what I want. With that in mind, when Ankura reached out for a collaboration, I immediately went for this avocado green pima cotton dress, The Arielle.
  Ankura Arielle Dress with organic pima cotton stylewise-blog.comAnkura Arielle Dress with organic pima cotton

About Ankura

Ankura makes sophisticated and quirky pieces out of sustainably harvested organic pima cotton and alpaca fiber, working with fairly paid artisans in Peru to produce their line of women's clothing and accessories. Both pima cotton and alpaca are some of my favorite fibers due to their incredible softness, breathability, and long-wearing nature.

Ethical fashion can often feel like it's intended for a stay-at-home artist or heirloom gardener with breezy, minimalist shapes that fit oversized. Ankura shatters that perception with its crop tops, color blocked sweaters, form fitting skirts, and body con dresses that feel at once fun and a bit sexy.
    Ankura Arielle Dress with organic pima cotton
Ethical Details: Arielle Dress - c/o Ankura; Top -; Earrings - Often Wander via Soul Flower; Boots - thrifted

My Review of the Arielle Dress

Going into this review, I knew that the Arielle Dress would likely hug my curves closely, so I opted to go a size up, to a Medium, to accommodate my proportionally larger hips. It was the right decision, but it also means that the torso fits lower and looser than it does on the model, meaning I really need to layer this up like a pinafore (or maybe have the top altered) to get the right look. That being said, I had actually intended to wear a t-shirt or blouse under it anyway, so it worked out. 

The rib knit is tightly woven, which makes the fabric opaque and sturdy while still providing lots of give, and the contrast edging at the front V and the deep V in the back gives this an amazing retro vibe, especially paired with the '70s-esque green shade. Considering that the portion of my neighborhood that I live in was built in the mid to late 60s, I was excited to shoot on the sidewalk rather than with my usual woodsy backdrop to lean into that vibe. 

So what I'm saying is: this dress does a '90s meets '70s mashup so well, and maybe that's also the best way to describe my sartorial taste at the moment. 

The Arielle Dress retails for $119. 

Shop Ankura here

Wardrobe Additions: April 2018

ethical capsule closet
This post contains affiliate links

In the interest of accountability, I am thinking about starting a monthly series called Wardrobe Additions, where I list what I purchased (or acquired through collaborations) each month.

It's a vulnerable task, but I think it will serve me well, and maybe it will be interesting to you all, too.

I've been staying pretty true to my Spring Capsule Wardrobe with a couple exceptions: I've added in sandals whenever the weather spikes above 70, continued to use sweaters on cooler days, and haven't really taken advantage of skirts or dresses, with the exception of Easter Sunday. This is exactly why I will only use a flexible capsule: whim, occasion, and weather patterns necessitate it.

I've gotten a lot of use out of my spring shoes, however, and have tried to prioritize them over winter or summer footwear because I really only prefer low cut, closed toe styles when the weather is mild. I ended up returning the Everlane Babos and replacing them with a pair of Franco Sarto flats, purchased locally. They're not the most ethical purchase, but the style is more timeless than the Babos.

There are a couple items I received in April that I'll be spotlighting in May, so I'm not going to include them here.

everlane cheeky high rise straight jeans review

Everlane Cheeky Straight Leg Jeans in Faded Indigo, Sky Blue, and Black

I wouldn't normally purchase three pairs of one thing at a time, but I had store credit and these jeans are awesome! They're fitted at the waist to the top of the hip, but then skim the leg the rest of the way down. I have thicker thighs and my knees sometimes swell due to standing on my feet all day, so these are so much comfier than the skinny leg version and I plan to wear them every season. After months of looking for jeans I can wear every single day without discomfort, I am relieved to have found these.

I measured myself again before buying these and discovered that my waist is 29" so that's what size I ordered. I find these true to size with a looser fit in the butt. If you don't mind a waist that pinches, you may prefer to go down one size.

Someone recently asked me if Everlane is really ethical and I honestly told her, "it depends." In the case of their low waste, resource responsible denim factory, however, I'm completely on board.

uncommon goods rug

Franco Sarto Flats

Bought to replace the Babos, a cool-toned neutral with a simple, rounded toe. I also bought this adorable rug from Uncommon Goods (because our old one literally blew away in a wind storm), but that's not a wardrobe addition.

Ankura ethical rib knit dress

Ankura Rib Knit Dress (c/o)

A soft, pima cotton dress made ethically in Peru. I'll be posting a full review of this piece on Monday.

WAMA Underwear (c/o)

See my review here and get a discount code.

New Undies from PACT Apparel

I took advantage of PACT's 40% off sale last weekend to stock up on some basic, lace-waist undies to replace my disintegrating pairs from a conventional brand.

Vintage Cotton Sundress

My favorite vintage shop in town, Low, is chock full of reasonably priced vintage. I don't visit very often, but when I do, I look for sundresses from the 80s and 90s because I can't resist the "V" angled waist on dresses from that era. Co-owner Nora knocked a few dollars off the dress I bought because she knows I have a blog, which was very kind of her.

smockwalker vintage #haulternative fashion revolution

Items for #haulternative Post from Smockwalker Vintage (c/o)

Justina sent me a pair of jeans and two blouses to upcycle for Fashion Revolution Week. See the posts here: Embroidered Blouse, Fringed Denim, Beet Dyed Blouse

Total Items: 14

Thoughts: Overall, I think I made smart decisions this month. I acquired a little more than usual from collaborations due to the #haulternative posts, but those were also really in line with my growing interest in promoting secondhand and upcycled goods on StyleWise. Now that I have a denim wardrobe and new underwear, I won't need to repurchase in those categories for a long time.

#FashRev Week | Z Shoes' Commitment to Community Accountability

Z Shoes Fashion Revolution Week
This piece was written by Z Shoes in partnership with Vele and the Not For Sale Campaign. "Z Shoes, Vele, and Not For Sale work together to radically transform the way we do business, and ultimately, end exploitation" with a special Fashion Revolution education campaign I'm participating in.

The Exploitative World of “Fast Fashion”

Most of the clothing, shoes, and accessories that flood the fashion marketplace today fit within the category of “fast fashion”: trendy, cheaply made goods that are churned out quickly and discarded almost as if they’re disposable. Fast fashion doesn’t come without a devastating cost. Manufacturers are chosen for how quickly they can produce clothing for the least amount of money, not for how ethically workers are treated or how sustainable their process is. Some fashion companies can’t even trace their supply chain, as the drive for cheaper and cheaper prices leads to shady subcontracting deals that can be rife with child labor and other types of labor exploitation.

Consumers, now more than ever, have a window into the world in which our clothes, shoes, and accessories are made. We hear about workers fainting in Nike manufacturing facilities or withheld wages and deadly fires in flip flop factories. It’s clear that something must change within the fashion industry, and that individual consumers and fashion giants alike need to be a part of the solution to the exploitation and slavery that plague it. Activism movements like Fashion Revolution, a global campaign pushing for greater transparency and better ethics within the fashion industry, help consumers form a strong collective voice in asking companies for more ethically made clothing.

Fashion Revolution urges consumers to ask brands “Who made my clothes/accessories/shoes?”, holding brands accountable for how people and the planet are affected by the making of the products that we wear. Not For Sale brand partner Z Shoes is prepared to answer that question. As a brand that values transparency and good ethics, Z Shoes is open about the company’s supply chain, and proud to share their partnership with Not For Sale in building social enterprises to empower communities at risk for human trafficking.

Z Shoes Innovates For Good In The Fashion Industry Through Every Step Of The Supply Chain

150 billion in profits are generated annually by businesses employing slavery and exploitation (more than the revenues of Google, Microsoft, Apple, ExxonMobil, and JP Morgan Chase combined!). Numbers for labor exploitation and human trafficking continue to grow - currently it’s estimated that 45.8 million people around the globe are being exploited and living without access to basic human rights.

Z Shoes was born out of a desire to create a business that would fight those statistics by offering a path to economic opportunity within vulnerable communities in Peru. The Peruvian Amazon is one of the most resource-rich areas in the world, but also one of the poorest. Labor exploitation, sex trafficking, child malnutrition,and illiteracy, are all catalyzed by economic vulnerability and poverty. Economic Instability is a root cause of the community’s vulnerability to exploitation. Z Shoes intentionally crafted a supply chain that has a positive impact at every step.
Z Shoes Fashion Revolution Week

The Cotton

Z Shoes’ partners on the ground in Peru have been growing Natural Cotton Colors in earthy beige, brown, chocolate, green and mauve tones since 1978. We support the growers’ unique Amazon jungle Drug-Free cotton program, which offers a viable alternative to illicit coca leaf cultivation. Our partners were the first to certify the superior Peruvian Pima fiber-- the longest, strongest and softest cotton anywhere -- as organic. Our cotton is USDA Organic certified.

Only natural, plant-based dyes are used for Z Shoes, ensuring that we only contribute toward preserving the environment beauty of the Amazon, rather than harming it though polluting it with chemical or synthetic dyes.

Though souring the cotton used for Z Shoes, thoughtfully, Z Shoes supports the use of environmentally conscientious practices of small farmers and producers, while fostering sustainable relationships and understanding among American peoples of diverse ethnic and cultural heritages.

The Rubber

The rubber used to craft the soles of Z Shoes is sourced from a local indigenous tribe of the Iberia region of Peru’s Amazon. Harvesters (Shiringueros) make incisions across the latex vessels, just deep enough to tap the vessels without harming the tree's growth, they then leave small buckets to collect the latex. This process is known as rubber tapping. Their process epitomises the term sustainability. So much so, that the local harvesters are still tapping rubber from the same trees that their great grandfathers once did generations before.

Natural rubber is biodegradable, as is cotton, meaning that Z Shoes’ designs will break down and return to the earth at the end of their lifecycle.

Who Made Your Z Shoes?

Z Shoes are made in both Lima, Peru and Portugal (the Self Love line). Each factory uses fair trade practices and allow their employees opportunity for growth. 60% of Z Shoe’s partner factory in Portugal’s employees are women, and 200 local residents are employed through the factory.

The Impact

2.5% of every shoe sold returns to Not For Sale, where it is used to support indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon through building schools, installing clean water systems, helping to build farms, and more. Not For Sale has developed a scholarship program to provide housing, school fees, supplies and emotional support for vulnerable children in rural parts of Peru, and we also provides artisan training and small business workshops for hundreds of women in the Amazon. The women develop self esteem while learning marketable trades and skill sets.

Z Shoes not only seeks to join the growing force of businesses pushing for a more fair and ethical fashion industry, but also offers consumers a chance to take a step forward for freedom and for fairness for all.

#FashRev Week | #Haulternative DIY: Beet Dyed Blouse

#haulternative fashion revolution beet dyed blouse
Thanks to Justina at Smockwalker Vintage for providing goods to DIY.

The last post in my #Haulternative series! See the embroidered blouse and the fringed denim.

I had originally intended to cover up a few small stains on this blouse with Indigo, but there is no indigo to be found in this town! I ended up ordering some online, but it wasn't going to be here in time to prep posts, so I had to come up with an alternative on the fly. A customer recommended beets, which was actually a better idea for this blouse anyway because the light tone means the cute little embroidered diamonds are still visible.

Beet Dyed Blouse

#haulternative fashion revolution beet dyed blouse#haulternative fashion revolution beet dyed blouse
Beets are deceptive little suckers. Their juice will stain your hands a deep magenta, but the effect on cotton is much more subtle. It's hard to tell in the photos, but the final effect is a lovely, pale rose, which perfectly covered up what looked to be makeup stains near the collar of the blouse.

What You'll Need:

  • A vintage, thrifted, or pre-owned cotton blouse (even better if it's got a few small stains you want to cover up)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 beets
  • Medium pot filled 3/4 of the way with water
  • Knife for slicing beets

To Make:

  1. Thinly slice two beets, then place in pot with water and vinegar. Heat to boiling on the stove, then cover with lid and simmer for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Remove beet slices from water. Keep pot on burner.
  3. Fully saturate blouse with water, ring out, and fully submerge in beet water.
  4. Bring beet water back to boiling, reduce heat, then cover and simmer the shirt in the beet water for at least 20 minutes. 
  5. Take pot off heat and continue to let shirt steep for an hour or more.
  6. Ring out shirt and rinse thoroughly in cool water. Air dry.
#haulternative fashion revolution beet dyed blouse
Ethical Details: Top - upcycled via Smockwalker Vintage; Pants - thrifted; Shoes - #30wears

What I Learned From A Week of Upcycling Projects

Even though I work with used clothing daily as a thrift shop manager, it's easy to not see the potential in a pair of worn out jeans or a stained white shirt. Doing very simple DIY projects like embroidery, fringe, and vegetable dying showed me that old can be made even better than new at a low price with only a small time commitment. 

It's also a great feeling to be able to do something with my hands instead of with my thoughts, to see the visible, tangible proof of my labor. I hope to make the #haulternative life something I pursue all year round, not just during Fashion Revolution Week.

If you end up doing a #haulternative this week, Justina and I would love to see it! Tag @stylewiseblog and @smockwalkervintage on Instagram!

Learn more about Fashion Revolution Week here.

simple ethical and natural DIY projects for fashion revolution week #haulternative

#FashRev Week | #Haulternative DIY: Fringed Denim

fashion revolution haulternative DIY fringed denim with smockwalker vintage Denim provided by Smockwalker Vintage.

See yesterday's #Haulternative post here.

This season's fringed denim trend is screaming for a DIY. I mean, there's literally no reason to go buy someone else's (likely a sweatshop worker's) upcycling project when there's such an abundance of denim on the secondhand market. Justina at Smockwalker Vintage provided these groovy green jeans with a super high waist for a fringed denim DIY.

Fringed Vintage Denim

fashion revolution haulternative DIY fringed denim with smockwalker vintage

What You'll Need:

  • Vintage, thrifted, or pre-owned denim jeans
  • Scissors
  • Pencil, pen, or chalk for marking the denim

To Make:

  1. Lay the jeans on a flat surface (I used the floor). Carefully cut off the bottom hem. I cropped mine to right above the ankle.
  2. Determine how long you want your fringe to be, then carefully mark the top edge on each leg. I eyeballed mine, then created a small pen mark on each leg.
  3. Carefully cut quarter inch strips all the way around each leg. Tip: pay attention to where the side seams are and try to make them their own distinct strips.
  4. To get looser, more distinct fringe, wet the denim, then run them through the dryer.

How to Choose Your Denim: You can really choose whatever silhouette you want, but I like the way these straight fit jeans turned out. This vintage cut can feel a bit frumpy because the cut is so wide down the leg, but the fringe makes the shape look more intentional.
fashion revolution haulternative DIY fringed denim with smockwalker vintagefashion revolution haulternative DIY fringed denim with smockwalker vintage
Ethical Details: Tee - Everlane; Jeans - upcycled via Smockwalker Vintage; Sandals - Everlane


Justina actually fringed some denim for me, but they were a bit too small, so I've decided to give her pair away. Please note, there's only one pair in one size, so check the measurements before entering.

To enter, find this photo on Instagram (@stylewiseblog) and follow the instructions!
fashion revolution haulternative DIY fringed denim with smockwalker vintage

If you end up doing a #haulternative this week, Justina and I would love to see it! Tag @stylewiseblog and @smockwalkervintage on Instagram!

Learn more about Fashion Revolution Week here.

simple ethical and natural DIY projects for fashion revolution week #haulternative

#FashRev Week | #Haulternative DIY: Custom Embroidered Blouse

#haulternative fashion revolution week embroidered blouse DIY Blouse provided and embroidered by Justina at Smockwalker Vintage.

It's Fashion Revolution Week! This year I'm posting three days of DIYs inspired by Fashion Revolution's #haulternative prompt...

#Haulternative: the sustainable version of a shopping haul, spotlighting dearly loved, vintage, secondhand, swapped, rented, and upcycled goods in an effort to show that fashion is about more than a shopping binge. Learn more here.

I've participated in the Love Story and #whomademyclothes social media prompts in past years so I knew I wanted to focus on DIY this time around. It's something I've loved since I was a kid but don't often make time for in my busy adult life. I emailed Justina at Smockwalker Vintage to see if she would be on board for sending me a few good-but-not-perfect vintage things to upcycle. Not only was she in, she even did her own DIY work on two things before sending them!

I'll be featuring three different clothing DIY projects this week, starting with:

Justina's Adorable "L" Embroidery

#haulternative fashion revolution week embroidered blouse DIY#haulternative fashion revolution week embroidered blouse DIY
Ethical Details: Top - upcycled via Smockwalker Vintage; Skirt - c/o People Tree; Shoes - Julia Bo

You'll need:

  • A thrifted, vintage, or pre-owned collared shirt
  • Embroidery thread in the color of your choice
  • A needle
  • Scissors

To Make: 

I recommend following this step by step guide. You might not need the embroidery hoop for a small project like this one.

I'll be back tomorrow with a fringed denim DIY!

If you end up doing a #haulternative this week, Justina and I would love to see it! Tag @stylewiseblog and @smockwalkervintage on Instagram!

Learn more about Fashion Revolution Week here.

simple ethical and natural DIY projects for fashion revolution week #haulternative

Wonder Crop: Why WAMA Underwear Uses Hemp

WAMA Hemp Underwear sustainable fashion review
This post was sponsored by WAMA Hemp Underwear and I received an item for review. Styling and research are my own.

I feel like I should start this post off with a disclaimer that I'm probably not your typical underwear model, nor do I have any desire to be. 

But I liked the idea of styling a pair of full coverage undies both for the challenge of getting over my modesty qualms and because underwear is one of the few garments that really does feel like a necessity. And since we're likely to go through dozens if not hundreds of pairs in a lifetime, it's one of the most important sustainable switches we can make.
WAMA Hemp Underwear sustainable fashion review
In my Ethical Undies roundup, I mentioned (or rather implied) that I tend to prefer cotton thongs or full coverage boy shorts over other styles because the specific shape of my butt and hips makes bikini and "cheeky" panties ride up, causing discomfort and an awkward panty line. Under thinner and more form fitting clothing, I go for minimal coverage.

But with vintage denim, trousers, and bias-cut dresses, full coverage is where it's at, which is why I am excited to introduce you to WAMA...
WAMA Hemp Underwear sustainable fashion review
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, WAMA released a limited collection of thoughtfully designed and produced underwear for men and women.

If there's one thing that sets them apart from other underwear brands, it's that WAMA makes their undies with hemp. 

An increasingly popular textile in the sustainability world, hemp is prized over more traditional fabrics like cotton because it is less resource intensive:
  • It takes half of the cropland to produce the same amount of finished fabric
  • It uses 1/3 to 1/2 of the water needed to grow cotton
  • It is pest resistant, requiring fewer pesticides
  • It causes less soil depletion
  • It is considered more durable and long-wearing than cotton

In addition to to its environmental benefits, hemp is naturally anti-microbial and breathable, making it perfect for underwear.

So why doesn't everyone use hemp?

If you've been reading up on sustainable textiles, you probably know that hemp agriculture and production is restricted in the States due to its chemical and visual similarities to marijuana (they're close relatives). Yes, you can get high on some forms of hemp, but it is possible to use only hemp containing very low amounts of THC, the chemical that makes your high, when growing it for textile production. 

The US is the largest consumer of hemp in its various forms, but almost all of those products are imported due to continued misconceptions and concerns propagated largely by lobbyists and lawmakers.

WAMA ethically produces their undies in a carefully managed, GOTS-certified (an organic textile certification) factory in China, a country where hemp is expertly cultivated for textile use. To ensure proper regulation, one WAMA team member is based in China so that they can access the factory whenever they need to.
WAMA Hemp Underwear sustainable fashion review

About the Hemp Hipsters

WAMA's Hemp Hipsters for women are made from a hemp/organic cotton/spandex blend. They have a soft, unstructured waistband and just enough structure at the legs to stay put without causing discomfort. The fabric is denser than a standard pair of underwear you might buy at a place like Victoria's Secret or Target and feels almost like a thicker version of soft pima cotton. 

On my "pear shape," these are a true low rise cut and still feel a bit "cheeky," but they don't create the loathed wedgie, which is basically a miracle for me. I plan to wear these under my vintage dresses for a bit more coverage in the wind. On someone with a smaller butt, these would likely work under form fitting clothing without creating too much VPL (visible panty line). Overall, I give these an A- for fit and an A+ for style and fabric quality. I'm wearing a Medium here and have 39" hips.

I really do believe that as the sustainable fashion sector continues to grow, the US will reduce its restrictions on agricultural hemp and we'll be on our way to creating a soft and sustainable hemp-topia. But it's always good to have options like WAMA. 

Use code, STYLEWISE20, for 20% off your order through May 31st.

Shop WAMA here.

WAMA on Social Media: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

The Moral Wardrobe: #MoreWithLess

MATTER Prints and Elizabeth Suzann review and outfit
MATTER Prints is doing a three-day challenge ahead of Fashion Revolution Week this year. 

Starting today, they're asking people to incorporate the same garment into three outfits and tag it with #morewithless and @matterprints on social media. The premise, if it's not already obvious, is to show how consuming less and wearing what you already own can be a fun creative exercise instead of a limitation. Feel free to join in on Instagram! MATTER Prints and Elizabeth Suzann review and outfit stylewise-blog.comMATTER Prints and Elizabeth Suzann review and outfit stylewise-blog.comMATTER Prints and Elizabeth Suzann review and outfit
Ethical Details: Top - c/o MATTER; Pants - Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants (old style); Sandals - TEVA, bought used via ebay

I wore this on Saturday (a high of 83 degrees!) to walk around downtown and catch up with shop owners I've befriended over the years. Charlottesville's Downtown Mall (an outdoor pedestrian street), when it's busy, is such a fun, bustling place perfect for people watching, bumping into people you know, and enjoying the homegrown music of buskers.

Unfortunately, the neo-Nazis and the violence they brought with them in August of last year has slowed down traffic to many local businesses as tourists fear that it's not safe and the local pro-Confederate population boycotts Charlottesville for being "too liberal." It's a mess, really, so it's nice to be able to give people my business and my support when I get the chance.

I actually bumped into the local Equal Exchange rep who trained me when I worked at the coffee shop and had a great time "talking shop" about the fair trade industry. Then I headed over to Low Vintage, my favorite curated vintage store in town, and co-owner Nora gave me a sweet deal on an '80s cotton sundress. The evening ended with local music, French wine, and sushi. It was perfect.

The Moral Wardrobe: Black and White and Spring All Over

The weather hasn't quite embraced spring yet (it snowed on Saturday, ugh), but I can see it's warming up to it (pun intended). 

The flowering trees have been blooming for a couple weeks and some of them are starting to reveal their little baby spring leaves. I am full of hope that someday I'll get to wear sandals and leave my house without a sweater. I took these photos on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) and it was still too cold to go without a sweater for more than a few minutes.

But oh how glorious that morning sun was!

Ethical Details: Top - thrifted via; Pants - Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants; Shoes - old Sseko Designs; Earrings - Soko (similar) via Causebox

I don't think I've talked about it much here, but I had a rough January and February. Just a lot of things on my plate and some interpersonal issues at work that fell on me to resolve. Not to mention this discernment process for ministry in the Episcopal church feels intermittently tedious and stagnant. March was a little better, and now that the days are longer and brighter, I'm feeling more stable, but I spent a lot of time feeling isolated and too much inside my own head. As much as I want to run this blog in a "professional" way, I always feel better when I feel known. So thanks for listening. 

Blog Housekeeping: Logo, Guides, & Patreon

ethical blog
It's been a long while since I did a Housekeeping post around here. 

I've been stir crazy, and there's nothing like doing a little spring cleaning to release some of that anxious energy. So I've updated a few things and added a few features:

1. New Logo Design and Illustrated Portrait by Tolly Dolly Posh

I've been following Tolly's work, primarily through her ethical fashion blog, for the last couple of years, so when she announced that she was looking to build her portfolio and take on new clients, I was immediately on board! Tolly created my new StyleWise logo and did the illustrated portrait in my sidebar. It was a really positive collaborative process and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her if you're looking for similar work.

A note on the logo: Tolly and I worked together to brainstorm some visual symbols that represent both me and StyleWise and I'm pleased with the result. The glasses are based on the glasses I wear, but can also represent the researched, thoughtful intent of the blog. The bee hearkens to my childhood nickname, Leah Bee, but also represents the sustainability aspect.

2. I'm on Patreon

Patreon is a platform that allows readers to make a monthly pledge to support the work of content creators they follow and enjoy. As a part of my long term strategy, I would love to rely less on specific sponsored content and more on crowdsourced funding that helps me dedicate time to research, blog-related projects and travel, and events. Even $5 a month helps a lot!

You can learn more and/or make a pledge here.

3. Updated and Alphabetized Shopping Directory

I alphabetized the Clothing and Accessories pages of my shopping directory over the weekend and added a convenient landing page here.

If you have suggestions for shops, brands, or categories, let me know.

4. I'm Making a Guide!

I've been wanting to do this for a long time, but I'm (hopefully) going to get it done in the next couple months. I'm putting together an Ethical Blogging Strategy digital guide with an add-on option for Skype consulting. If you're looking to build an ethical marketing company or blog, this will be a comprehensive resource to work through your story, set up a Media Kit, and make a financial plan.

The plan right now is to offer the guide at around $15 a pop with half-hour consultations starting at around $30. Let me know if this is something you're interested in and make suggestions for topics to cover in the comments. Leave your email address and I'll add you to my newsletter.

12 Places to Find Eco-friendly & Ethical Vegan Shoes

ethical and eco-friendly vegan shoe companies
When it comes to ethical credentials, some are more straightforward than others. 

The Vegan designation, for instance, is complicated. If something is labeled vegan, it simply means it was produced without the use of animal products. It doesn't, however, account for the environmental costs of production, biodegradability, or toxicity, which means a whole lot of vegan products are made with synthetic, oil-based materials that are bad for people, animals, and the ecosystems both parties depend on. Read more on that here.

This doesn't seem to ring true to the broad ethos of veganism, which is to respect all life. Though I'm not vegan personally, I respect the arguments of those who avoid leather and other animal products and figured it was time to create a resource that pairs the vegan label with ecological sustainability and human rights.

Tip: When shopping for eco-vegan shoes, look for materials like cork, canvas, Pinatex, and recycled fibers. 

Contains a couple affiliate links



Made ethically with organic, natural, and recycled materials. Boots, flats, mules, and more.


Made with recycled faux leather (called Kind Leather) in the USA. Classic combat boots, flats, and more.

VEJA's Vegan Line

Made ethically with natural rubber and canvas. Sneakers.

Po-zu's Vegan Line

Made ethically with cork, Pinatex (pineapple fiber), and other innovative materials. Sneakers, flats, and more (+ Star Wars exclusives).

Bourgois Boheme

Made ethically with more eco-friendly PU and sustainable materials like Pinatex. Flats, boots, sandals, and more.


Fair trade and made with canvas and natural rubber. Low and high top sneakers.


Made ethically with canvas and rubber, with 20% of profits benefiting Kiva entrepreneurs. Low and high top sneakers.

And don't forget the secondhand option! Because secondhand shoes have already been produced and purchased once, they are a more sustainable option than buying new even if they weren't produced with natural fibers.

Tip: When shopping for secondhand shoes, aim for higher quality brands with minimal wear.

Secondhand Marketplaces

ethical and eco-friendly vegan shoe companies

Save the Date: Fashion Revolution 2018

Fashion Revolution 2018
Fashion Revolution, the world's biggest ethical fashion action, takes place this year from April 23rd-29th.

Fashion Revolution was founded by two fashion designers after Rana Plaza, a massive garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed due to faulty architecture and safety compliance failures, killing more than 1,134 people and injuring 2,500.

Since then, components of the legally binding Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety - signed by over 200 retailers and fashion brands -  have been put into effect, but as Hannah Theisen recently reported, numerous promised payments and protections have fallen by the wayside as Western consumers have lost interest in or forgotten Rana Plaza's survivors.

And the problems don't stop at Bangladesh. 

An unfortunate side effect of poorly regulated Capitalism is that as regulations are enforced in some countries, manufacturing moves to countries with fewer worker protections. For instance, as Cambodian and Bangladeshi garment workers have received more rights and better wages, many of the world's largest fashion companies have moved to Vietnam. The cycle will continue unless we as citizens and consumers step up and demand better.

It is time for us to realize that justice takes sacrifice, that it is not as easy as simply redirecting our purchases. Real progress will take political action: voting for leaders with a strong sense of ethics and transparency who recognize that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

And, as we've seen in the US in recent years, people who live here are not exactly thriving. Though we have strong labor laws, the working poor and undocumented immigrants slip through the cracks. There are sweatshops in the US. There are still slaves in the US, working in prisons and as nannies, farmhands, seamstresses, and sex workers.

A holistic ethic of human dignity demands that we see the big picture, and fight for the rights of those in our own communities at the same time that we fight for those in other countries. 

It is time for us to recognize, too, the US' complicity in much of the world's depravity, from genocide in Guatemala to food shortages in Venezuela to building collapses in Bangladesh. Yes, other countries' leaders need to step up, but that doesn't make us innocent bystanders.

But back to Fashion Revolution: the event. 

Fashion Revolution is a way to motivate the world to take the first step.

You can participate in several ways:
  • Wear your clothing inside out and ask companies, "Who made my clothes?" on social media.
  • Take a moment to read garment worker stories, available on the Fashion Revolution website.
  • Try a #haulternative, the antidote to fast fashion, by swapping with friends, buying secondhand, or doing a DIY project with what you already have. 
  • Share a love story: share your love for an item that you've owned for a long time.
  • Write your policy makers and your favorite brands.

What will I be doing?

I'll be speaking at a local event this year in partnership with Darling Consignment Boutique (I'll update the post once I have all the details). I'll also be participating in a social media challenge with MATTER Prints and, hopefully, posting a love story or haulternative on the blog.

Beyond that, I am committed to being an active citizen and not settling for better-than-nothing when it comes to ethics. Small, calculated changes are fine. BS, greenwashing, and white saviorism are not.

Related Posts:

#WakandaForever: 3 Ethical African Owned, African Made Clothing Brands

black panther style: ethical clothing african owned fit for wakanda

Black Panther was a victory on many fronts, from its groundbreaking POC representation to its strong female leads to its counter-cultural - but totally accurate - narrative that African nations have a lot to offer to the rest of the world (And in fact, we need them. Just look at the history of colonialism: Western countries have taken advantage of and exploited Africa's natural resources and its people for hundreds of years).

I'm not normally one for superhero movies, so the fight scenes weren't really my cup of tea, but I absolutely loved the imagery (and also, I'm kind of in love with Michael B. Jordan). 

The initial bird's eye view of Wakanda made me gasp with delight. I loved the futuristic buildings paired with more traditional African elements, like street vendors selling their artisan wares and people wearing widely varied representations of African textiles. And that's what this post is about: those beautiful African textiles.

But I didn't want to find just any fair trade company working in Africa, because I don't think sharing African goods from companies owned by white Westerners rings true to the moral of Black Panther. Instead, I crowd-sourced companies that are owned and run by African-born women (thanks for the recs, Twitter friends).


Studio 189

Co-founded by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, Studio 189 is a Ghana and US-based clothing  and accessories line that works with artisans who specialize in traditional African artisan techniques, such as indigo-dying, batik, and kente weaving. Artisans are offered fair prices for their goods and Studio 189 helps set up educational programming. They also partner with the United Nations' ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative.

black panther style: ethical clothing african owned fit for wakanda

Omi Woods

Omi Woods celebrates founder Ashley Alexis McFarlane's Jamaican-Maroon-Ashanti heritage by sourcing eco-friendly, ethical clothing, jewelry, and accessories made with natural dyes with designs and techniques inspired by African culture.

black panther style: ethical clothing african owned fit for wakanda


Founded by Ethiopian-born childhood friends Fatsani Chikwana-Dogani and Tariro Mapuranga-Sibanda, TaSanni celebrates African craft tradition in hopes of bringing economic success to the artisan communities they work with. All items are produced with local fabric in Southern Africa.

There are a plethora of ethical brands working in Africa right now and some are better than others. EDUN, though it wasn't founded by Africans, has helped put traditional African production on the map in the high fashion world. But given white Westerners' violent colonial past in much of Africa, we must be cautious when it comes to supporting brands that don't have a connection to the indigenous people of the countries where they operate. Supporting small scale, highly localized companies is one of the better ways to ensure high ethical standards.

black panther style: ethical clothing african owned fit for wakanda

The Moral Wardrobe: Pretty in Pink

spring ethical wardrobe thrifted symbology and causebox Contains affiliate links

Sometimes it's good to be forced outside of your sartorial comfort zone. 

Case in point: I am decidedly not a pink person, but I received this kimono in the Spring Causebox I accidentally ordered and in the name of good stewardship decided I should probably try to get some use out of it. I actually really like it paired with bright lips and a high contrast, tomboy-ish crew neck. It makes the pink seem less fussy, and that's just the way I want it.
     spring ethical wardrobe thrifted symbology and causeboxspring ethical wardrobe thrifted symbology and causebox spring ethical wardrobe thrifted symbology and causebox
Ethical Details: Jacket - Symbology, a Causebox exclusive design; Tee - Everlane; Jeans - thrifted; Clogs - thrifted (try ebay for similar styles); Tote bag - c/o LEYO New York

Last time I wore these cropped, thrifted jeans in public, a friend commented that they seem like something a 30-something would wear (and since I'll be 30 in September, this is relevant). I didn't really know how to take it, but I think she meant that there's something kind of un-fashion about them, which in many ways is a good thing. It means that I'm dressing more for me than I used to. Of course, if she had known that cropped, frump-leaning jeans were a BIG DEAL in the fashion blogging world, she may have thought I was just a trend follower. Context is everything.

In any case, I don't think these jeans are particularly flattering, but they're super comfy and only cost me $4.00.

P.S. I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend whether you celebrate or not. Holy Week and Easter are my favorite church events of the year. This year I sang in 5 services and loved (almost) every second of it. We were also blessed with delightful spring weather and blossoming trees, so it was really the perfect long weekend.