capsule wardrobe

Inside an Ethical Wardrobe: Summer 2018

ethical fair and sustainable capsule wardrobe summer 2018
Contains affiliate links

My summer wardrobe is, admittedly, about double the size it needs to be, at about 50 pieces not counting shoes. But that's because I can't bear to part with the vintage dresses, the cropped blouses, and the swingy beach cover ups. I may never wear them, but give me the right occasion and they'll suddenly become the most practical things I own.

I've made my peace with this. I am not a minimalist. Clothing holds nostalgic, romantic, and aesthetic value for me beyond its practicality. I hold onto things gleaned from the thrift shop after a volunteer has died. I keep graphic tees because I like reading the graphics. I store away shoes I wore when I first met Daniel. This, for me, is not materialism. This is a material culture that references shared humanity and reminds me of love and loss. Things are a beautiful part of life.

Maybe I should write a whole essay on this? For now, I'll just share with you the things I've worn over and over (and over) again in the high heat of summer. I still have and wear a lot of the pieces I featured last summer, but some of them, due to poor fit and my fluctuating weight, were donated.

This is what I'm living in this summer...

ethical fair and sustainable capsule wardrobe summer 2018
Old J Crew Tissue Tee, OESH Shoes | Thrifted Tank Top, Tonle Cropped Pants, Deux Main Sandals | Hackwith Design Jacket, Thrifted Kick Flares, Nisolo Huaraches

Everlane V-necks and Crew Necks

I bought my first Everlane tee in 2014 and only just last month did I retire it to my pajama drawer. They last and last, and the fit is perfect for me (though I often size up in the crew neck for a looser fit through the body).


Everlane Linen Tee

The drapiness of lightweight linen is super flattering, and I love the muted green/taupe color.


Old J Crew Tissue Tees

Light, breathable tees that flatter even though they have a high crew neck cut.

ethical fair and sustainable capsule wardrobe summer 2018
Everlane Striped Tee, Thrifted Wide Leg Crops & Silver Sandals | Thrifted Tank, Everlane Pants; Deux Mains Sandals | Everlane Tee, Thrifted Denim | MATTER Prints Top, Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants, Secondhand TEVAs

Elizabeth Suzann Linen Clyde Pants

The surprise winner of my closet. The perfect weight for summer and the big pockets are helpful at work.


Everlane Easy Chino

Admittedly, I bought these because I had some store credit to burn through, but the weight and style is perfect for very hot weather. These and the Clydes are the only pants I'm willing to wear in full sun.


Thrifted Wide Leg Cropped Jeans

Groovy Ralph Laurens circa 2003 or so.


Thrifted & Cropped Kick Flare Jeans

Never underestimate the power of scissors. They turned a pair of awkwardly short jeans into cool high waters.

ethical fair and sustainable capsule wardrobe summer 2018
Abrazo Style Dress | Vintage Dress from Low Vintage (local) | Everlane Linen Tee, Vintage Skirt, TEVAs

Thrifted '90s Dresses

I can't resist those perfect '90s floral prints, the soft rayon and cotton fabrics, or the v-cut waist seams.


Abrazo Style Dress

I've had this dress for two years and the lightweight chambray and beautiful, three dimensional hand embroidery keeps me coming back.

Secondhand Gingham Sundress (not shown)

An impulse buy after my photoshoot with Darling Boutique, the cost per wear on this dress I paid 20-something for is well into single digits.

ethical fair and sustainable capsule wardrobe summer 2018
Thrifted Birkenstocks | Deux Mains Sandals | Thrifted TEVA Flatforms | Thrifted TEVA Premier Sandals

Thrifted Birkenstocks

These came into the shop where I work and had barely been worn. I LOVE them because they have the soft footbed and I wear them 3+ times a week.


Secondhand TEVA Universal Premier Sandals

So comfy and perfect, these compete with the Birkenstocks for most wears.


Secondhand TEVA Flatform Sandals

LOVE these. I've been pinning pictures of TEVA flatforms for at least a year and have wanted a pair of flatforms for almost a decade. I finally found my perfect pair, secondhand of course.


Thrifted Silver Sandals

Another thrift shop find, these are by Mephisto and are quite supportive, not to mention shiny.


Deux Mains Slide Sandals

I bought these last summer and still wear them all the time, especially when I'm hanging out in the backyard in the evening.


Wardrobe Thoughts

This has been a really easy season for me, getting-dressed wise. Daria's Wonder Wardrobe course helped me push past some of my fears around cohesive wardrobe building/capsuling and make smarter choices. That freed me up to finally buy things I've wanted for years and years but thought would be "impractical," like the TEVA flatforms I've worn almost every day since I got them a couple weeks ago.

I've also decided to do a little less hand-wringing over making the perfect choice, because there are no perfect choices. I'm trying to stay true to my values and my personal style with a strong emphasis on lightening the mental load. Surprisingly, this has probably made me a more sustainable shopper because I'm making fewer purchases overall and often choosing secondhand.


As you can see, a significant portion of my everyday wardrobe was thrifted or purchased secondhand from a consignment shop or online retailer. If you want to hear my reasons for that, check out this post.

Never underestimate the power of secondhand shopping. If you're not near a good thrift or consignment shop, I recommend these online retailers:

Enter specific search terms to find exactly what you're looking for.

See other Inside an Ethical Wardrobe posts here

Inside an Ethical Wardrobe: Summer 2017

an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer,

Hey! I actually managed to photograph two seasons of wardrobe items in a row.

I actually wanted to do my first video now that I have a camera with recording capabilities, but I couldn't figure out how to get the sound going (maybe I need a microphone?), so photos it is.

As I always mention, I don't do capsule wardrobes because I'm a big believer in versatility and layering. My style is cohesive enough across seasons that a lot of basics, like t-shirts, can be worn year round. This, however, doesn't represent everything I own. I focused on the things I've actually been wearing throughout the summer and disregarded those aspirational items that don't suit my lifestyle.

I've linked to items that are currently available for purchase. This post contains some affiliate links.

an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer,
Left to Right: Thrifted Shorts | NeoThread Co. Tee | GlobeIn Hat | Mawu Lolo Suborsubor Sandals | Elegantees Giselle Top | Thrifted Skirt

New this season: Shorts, Tee, Sandals, Skirt

an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer,
Clockwise from Top Left: Everlane V-neck | United by Blue Tank | Thrifted | Everlane V-neck | Everlane Striped Crew | Logo Tee from Retreat Center (not ethical) | Thrifted Stripes (similar) | Everlane V-neck | Everlane Linen (similar) | Old Tee

New this season: Logo tee, bought to commemorate my time at my favorite retreat center

an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer,
Thrifted Skirt | Thrifted Shorts | Thrifted and Cropped Shorts | Krochet Kids Prescott Maxi Skirt

New this season: Skirts and one pair of shorts
  an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer,

New this season: Pyne & Smith Dress

an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer,

New this season: All items
   an ethical capsule wardrobe for summer,

New this season: Live the Give Tank and Songa Designs Sarong

Not shown: YSTR Jumpsuit, Vintage Sunflower Dress, Live the Give Vintage Tee, Wide Leg Cropped Jeans, Thrifted Denim Skirt

My Favorite Pieces: Deux Mains Sandals, Smockwalker Vintage Romper, Love Justly Kimono Jacket

What I Learned About Style This Season

I am a creature of habit and will almost always choose ease over a perfectly crafted outfit. Tees and simple accessories are the basis of my wardrobe, and I'm ok with that. I do like an interesting or unusual dress, though, and summer is the perfect time to wear printed and embroidered dresses. To my surprise, I haven't been as into skirts this year. I've been relying instead on wide cut pants that provide some airflow while allowing me to bend over, sit on the ground, and do whatever else I need to do at work.

More than anything, I'm enjoying wearing sandals every single day.


See other seasons here. 

Back to Basics: An Ethical Capsule Wardrobe (Updated)


When it comes to basic wardrobe builders, we're not all going to have exactly the same list. The dress-inclined may need dresses, cropped sweaters, and tights, while the jeans-lover may prefer classic tees and boyfriend cardigans.

That being said, I think we can agree that most women want a dozen or so key pieces in their wardrobe to mix and match with the signature items that makes one's style truly personal. I searched through the archives and realized I'd never really offered a concise list of basics, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to provide some options today.

Think of this as an ethical capsule wardrobe that can serve as the jumping-off point to developing your personal style within the ethical marketplace. 

You don't need to hurry to replace the conventional items in your closet that you can still get some wear out of, but when you're ready, I hope this list will be helpful.

List updated 5/2019

An Ethical Capsule Wardrobe: 20 Essential Pieces


1. The Tee

Everlane | Pima cotton essentials in easy fits

Elegantees | Feminine tees in stretch cotton

American Giant | Classic, longer line v-necks, u-necks, and more

Miakoda | Easy lounge fits in soft sustainable fabrics

2. The LBD

Maven Women | Professional and classic fits for all body types

Everlane | Modern and minimalist cuts

Victoria Road | Feminine and embroidered pieces

3. The Jacket

ABLE | Americana, modern cuts

Eileen Fisher | Looser, longer cuts

Ode to Sunday | The perfect blend of tailored and drapey

4. The Jeans

Everlane | Made in a fair trade and sustainable factory in lots of classic cuts

ABLE | Made in a fair trade factory with more modern fits

Levi's Waterless | Sustainable processes, American classics

5. The Statement Skirt

People Tree | Beautiful, British

Ash & Rose | Flowy and feminine

Mata Traders | Vintage-inspired with hand done details

Mayamiko | Artisan fabrics and mod cuts

6. The Blazer

Everlane | Modern, menswear-inspired

People Tree | Classic cuts

Mm. Lafleur | Versatile, for the modern professional woman

Connecticut Country Clothing | A classic tailored fit

7. The Drapey Cardigan

Miakoda | Lounge-inspired in soft fabrics

Soul Flower | Hippie-inspired

EcoVibe Apparel | Flowy and easy

Synergy Organic Clothing | Stretchy, soft organic cotton

8. The Sandals

Nisolo | Classic and minimalist

Fortress of Inca | Sturdy and beautiful

Birkenstock | Comfortable and classic

Po-zu (vegan options) | European made with European flair

9. The Sneakers

All Birds | Super sustainable sneakers made with wool and bamboo

Saola (vegan) | Skater inspired

OESH (made in Charlottesville!) | Ethically made in China, suitable for athletic activity

Everlane Tread | Sustainably made fashion sneakers

Adidas Parley Collection | Made with ocean plastic, suitable for athletic activity

10. The Versatile Flats

Nisolo | Feminine and office appropriate

The Root Collective | Fun details, artisan made

Fortress of Inca | Menswear-inspired

Po-zu | Vegan options

11. The Boots

Fortress of Inca | Sturdy and beautiful

LL Bean (made in Maine varieties) | Bean boots!

Po-zu | My favorite

Bhava (vegan) | Beautiful sustainable vegan leather alternatives

12. The Cotton Undies

PACT Apparel | Classic cuts in organic cotton

Organic Basics | A simple collection in organic cotton and Tencel

Everlane | Pima cotton, very soft

13. The Leggings

PACT Apparel | Classic cotton leggings

Maggie's Organics | Thicker cut, sustainably made

Fair Indigo | Full coverage

Miakoda | Soft fabrics

14. The Party Dress

Accompany | Artisan made luxury

Victoria Road | Beautiful embroidered pieces

Passion Lilie | Block printed, lots of summer styles

EcoVibe Apparel | Flowy and “younger” pieces

PERI the Label | Lovely textiles

15. The Black Pants

Brass Clothing | Ponte pants

Mm. Lafleur | Versatile

Everlane | Lots of nice essentials

16. The Socks

PACT Apparel | A variety of cuts and patterns

Maggie's Organics | Classic socks, including wool hiking socks

19. The Button Down

The Fable | It’s their specialty

Kowtow | Tailored pieces with modern fits

Eileen Fisher | Flowy and artistic

Tradlands ($25 off with this link) | Menswear-inspired classics

20. The Cold Weather Coat

Patagonia | Technical fabrics made sustainably

United By Blue | Sustainable and organic

Everlane | Made with recycled plastic

21. Classic Jewelry

Hannah Naomi | Super minimalist

Thicket | Nature-inspired

Fair Anita | Artisan made

Suggestions or questions?

Let me know in the comments.

A note on selection: I judged items by ethical labor standards, transparency, and eco-friendly advances while prioritizing fit, quality, and versatility. Many of these items are things I own myself.

The Moral Wardrobe: MORE Clothing's Avalon Tank, Styled Two Ways

Thanks to MORE Clothing for sponsoring this post and providing an item for review. All opinions are my own. 

Jeremiah of MORE Clothing reached out way back in July to tell me about his new-ish ethical clothing store, but it got lost in my inbox until I found it while searching for a different email. And I'm glad I did, because I'm really excited about their curated collection for men and women who love casual, classic clothing that won't go out of style 6 months down the road.

MORE carries several brands I've heard of - like Krochet Kids and Mata Traders - and some that are completely new to me. The Avalon Tank I'm wearing here is by a company called United by Blue, which specializes in ethically sourced, casual, outdoorsy wear in eco-friendly fibers. This tank is 100% tencel, made from eucalyptus fibers. Plus, with every item sold, United by Blue pledges to remove a pound of trash from waterways.

I loooove this rust color. I think having henna-red hair has helped me experiment with warmer tones in my wardrobe.

Ethical Details: Avalon Tank - c/o MORE Clothing; Denim - secondhand via Poshmark; Shoes - Oliberte via ebay

I'm trying to show more versatility on the blog this season by photographing items I own in several ways. The Avalon Tank is a great place to start.

When the long hem is half-tucked into jeans, it makes for a casual, comfortable silhouette. I paired it with Oliberte boots in this first look. I would wear this to work with a cardigan or maybe on a hike at a local park. The weather is just now getting into the 60s during the day, so tank tops are still a good option when the sun's shining.

Additional Details: Blazer and Boots - thrifted

This is my business casual look, aka #girlboss, aka #womanbossbecauseimagrownwomandamnit, aka #justabosswhyisbeingabossgendered.

It'd be perfect for attending a talk at UVa or leading a conference session where comfort is still a priority (and comfort is always a priority). I like the dramatic length difference between the cropped blazer and long hem tank.

MORE Clothing is working to partner with International Justice Mission, an organization committed to ending sex and labor trafficking. I'll be talking a lot more about trafficking in December since I'm joining a Dressember team this year, but I'm glad that people are getting the word out about the realities of forced labor and modern day slavery.


Get 30% off your purchase at MORE Clothing with code, STYLEWISE.

Follow MORE Clothing: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Ethical Fall Favorites: A Virtual Capsule

Ethical Fall Capsule Wardrobe
This post contains affiliate links.

It's taken me 4 years, but this former Floridian actually looks forward to cool weather now. I joke that I'm a reptile - I need to warm up in the sun before starting my day - but fall really does hold a bit of magic no other season holds. Maybe it's the startling, bright, liveliness of things dying: all the tactile, sensory delights of crackling leaves and crisp air and seeing your breath as you exhale.

I'm also going into this season with a refreshing clarity around what I like, what I "need," and what works with what I've already got. It's taken nearly 4 years of being a more conscientious consumer to get to this point, so I'm ready to mix things up and get full use out of my fall closet.


Everlane Luxe Wool Sweater in Oxblood

I purchased this sweater (in a size Medium) and it's just perfect for early fall. Lightweight, slightly form fitting, in a lovely brown-red oxblood that I love.

Prana London Jeans

I'm fortunate to already have my denim wardrobe squared away for the fall, having purchased a few pairs 2 years ago that have held up quite well (I re-dyed some with indigo last week and they turned out great!). If I needed new denim, though, I would consider Prana's line of classic cuts in classic colors.

People Tree Crystal Dot Pendant

I'm addicted to simple, minimalist jewelry that adds just the right touch to an outfit. I like the lariat style on this natural stone, handmade necklace.

Housgoods Rill Ring

A simple little ring to stack and pair with other rings in my growing collection. I didn't like wearing rings when I was in school because they always hit against my pens uncomfortably as I took notes, but now that I am free from the burden of note-taking, I've found that I like the simple statement they make.

Amour Vert Paola High-Low Tee in Tandoori

I bought this tee in early September as soon as the Tandoori color became available. I LOVE it. This is the color of the season for me, and the high-low cut feels very contemporary.

Prim Botanicals Organic Botanical Lip Sheen in Pretty Perfect

This lip sheen is nearly the same color as the Amour Vert tee so, naturally, it's my favorite. I'm getting back into tinted lip balms and glosses this season. It's nice to add some color as the world gets more monotone.

Sseko Designs Black Suede Loafers

I bought these last winter, but I'm looking forward to wearing them more frequently this season. They're super comfortable and pair well with casual and more formal outfits.

Etiko Organic Fair Trade High Tops

I grew up wearing Converse high tops, but the pair I had in high school (pink patchwork!) is no longer with me, so I was so pleased to find fair trade sneakers that fit the bill. I'm planning on wearing these with everything.

Komodo Liana Wool Boucle Dress

I am really into the idea of layering tops under tank dresses and pinafores this fall, both to get more use out of my summer favorites and to add some versatility and creativity to my wardrobe. I love the color and length of this pinafore, and it looks great layered with a turtleneck. I'm a bit self conscious that turtlenecks make my neck look big, but I'm trying to get over it, so maybe I can convince myself into it with cute styling.

My Ethical + Sustainable Back-to-School Wishlist

ethical and sustainable back to school shopping list

I haven't gone back to school in 5 years, but living in a college town (with a grad student husband) forces me - and probably most people in town - to organize their lives around a school schedule. Summers in Charlottesville are quiet; the normally crowded roads clear out and the student hangouts are suddenly populated by townies who were too shy to venture out during the school year. But things rev up again in early August and you can't help but get wrapped up in the back-to-school excitement.

So, I created my ideal "Back-to-School" closet update made up of ethical and sustainable items. Of course, I don't have any need to purchase 10 items in one go (and I own versions of some of these things already), but it's fun to think about what would supplement my current wardrobe and mentally narrow down this list to a few key pieces.

1. OESH La Vida Sneakers, $110.00

Made in Charlottesville with injection molded soles and nontoxic glue

2. FashionABLE Monochrome Choker*, $38.00

Made in Nashville, Tennessee

3. Sseko Designs Caramel T-Strap Sandals*, $59.99

Handmade in Uganda under fair trade principles, leather sources from small scale meat industry

4. Dorsu Rolled Sleeve Crewneck in Plum, $37.00

Made in Cambodia out of factory remnants under fair trade guidelines

5. Dorsu Roll-Neck Dress, $60.00

Made in Cambodia out of factory remnant under fair trade guidelines

6. Monkee Genes Indigo Denim Skinnies, $85.00

Made in England with organic cotton

7. Synergy Organic Clothing Sahara Full Skirt, $44.00

Made in Nepal under fair trade guidelines using GOTS certified organic cotton

8. Komodo Black Floral Skirt via MadeFAIR, $53.24

Made of sustainable tree cellulose (rayon) under fair trade guidelines in Indonesia

9. Braintree Clothing Latifa Hemp Skirt, $65.00

Made from sustainable hemp and organic cotton under fair trade guidelines

10. Everlane Dipped Mini Zip Backpack, $70.00

Made with transparent manufacturing and pricing in Dongguan, China

Are you going back to school? What items do you look for? I would love to see your wishlists and compare notes.

Pinning Down My Style & Shopping Less

curating a wardrobe capsule wardrobe

I like spending money on things.

That's probably not unusual, but it's very difficult for me to set aside anything I deem extra money for a rainy day when I could go buy a new fair trade dress or check out what the local thrift shop got in this week. It's not as though I have an overspending problem, it's simply that I buy too many things I don't need, or even particularly want.

I've found that the best way to avoid the shopping itch is to spend my time far far away from a store or computer. But since that's not always practical, I also find a lot of enjoyment in seeking out images and representations of my aesthetic and work on curating that instead of my literal wardrobe.

A couple weeks ago, I printed off Caroline's Capsule Wardrobe Planner booklet. I don't practice a Capsule Wardrobe and I don't plan on starting one up again, but I liked the way she broke down wardrobe creation into sections based on lifestyle, habits, and personal preferences.

Listing out what I love versus what I don't love in my current wardrobe was a sort of Duh! moment that helped me realize, 1. I already have everything I really want and 2. obviously I should not buy silhouettes and colors that I don't feel good in, even if they look fine on me. I might experiment with interesting color stories and vintage silhouettes, but there are just some things I won't wear. It's about time I learn that about myself.

For visualizing my style, I rely on Pinterest boards organized by season. As you can see from my Spring/Summer board below, I'm drawn to stripes, midi skirts, mid-wash denim, and minimalist flat shoes when the weather's warm. The images are remarkably consistent, aren't they?

Makes me wonder why I think I don't have a consistent, personal style.

The Moral Wardrobe: Finding my Style with Made in USA staples from IMBY

IMBY ethical capsule wardrobe review IMBY ethical capsule wardrobe reviewIMBY ethical capsule wardrobe review
My friend, Sara, founded IMBY out of her own frustration trying to build a capsule wardrobe that was both financially sustainable and ethical. An IMBY item must incorporate three principles: made ethically in the USA, designed with a small wardrobe in mind, and priced in a range people can afford.

Each piece is curated to fit together, so whether you're building a capsule wardrobe or just don't like to think too much in the mornings when you're putting your clothes on in the dark, you'll look good. It's a refreshing take on an ethical marketplace model, which can often feel overwhelmingly patterned and incongruous. I'm finding myself drawn more and more to simple but striking pieces (and fits that look good on me rather than things that are in right now), so the pieces Sara sent me to try are helping me get a better sense of what I ultimately want for my wardrobe.

IMBY made in usa clothing review Ethical Details: Organic Circle Shirt - borrowed from IMBY; Perfect Blue Jeans - c/o IMBY; Shoes - Sseko Designs

This one-size-fits-all circle shirt is extraordinarily fun to wear. The tunic length, low back, and spin-able silhouette make me feel put together and modern, but also like I'm wearing lounge wear. It's made from an organic cotton/bamboo blend, so it gets extra points for sustainability. That being said, it's probably a better fit for someone who wears a medium or large rather than a small. 

The jeans are made of surplus stretch denim that feels luxurious. The high waist is on trend without being juvenile and I'm excited to wear them again and again in the coming years. A tip on sizing: I had to get a Large in these to fit without pulling at my hips, so ask Sara for some advice before ordering!

Though I've been shopping thoughtfully for about 3 years now, it's still a challenge to put my blinders on and make shopping decisions that suit me in the place that I'm in now while also being adaptable for the future. Life in my 20s has been full of transition and it can be difficult to know what styles and cuts will work for me in the future. Being able to collaborate with curated companies like IMBY helps me streamline my approach. Finding jeans that work in both casual and semi-professional settings feels like a big win. 

Shop IMBY here. 

Follow IMBY on social media: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest


I've been thinking a lot about some of your responses to my Reader Survey. Know that I plan to address your questions more in the future, but I do hope you've noticed that I intentionally work with brands and choose products that offer items in a moderate price range, and try to limit my collaborations to 3-4 times a month max to allow for a variety of posts. The vast majority of my wardrobe is comprised of items I purchased myself over a span of months and years (if the item shown is not marked "c/o" it means I purchased it myself). If you ever have questions or concerns, please do address them with me! I promise I don't bite.

the ethical closet: spring closet update

ethical capsule wardrobe madefair thredup This post contains affiliate links.

Though I swore off doing a rigid capsule wardrobe last fall, I'm finding that my personal taste is narrowing in on particular colors and silhouettes that work well together anyway, and that things inadvertently look a bit capsule-y around here.

I used to find simplicity unbearable, but I'm learning that a well-cut garment that fits me correctly can be more beautiful than an unusual print or style. This season, I've updated my closet with a few things that will carry me through summer and into fall. I love knowing that what I'm buying can be worn for months and even years and still look good. Some of my pieces have become like security blankets, things I can fall back on when I'm not up to the task of putting together a complicated look.


(clockwise from top left) 

1. Mata Traders Here and There Dress via MadeFAIR, $64.99
It's not spring without Mata Traders! I was thrilled when the brand introduced cotton jersey to their collection last year, but the colors didn't quite work with my complexion. I'm loving this red for spring and summer. Hand block printed, fairly made in India.

2. National Picnic Organic Cotton Skirt via MadeFAIR, $59.99
I didn't purchase this particular skirt, but the style and print are what I look for in spring skirts. I always hit up the thrift stores for vintage midi skirts and recently found a polka dot chambray one at the shop where I work. I'll be featuring National Picnic on the blog soon, so make sure to come back and learn about the brand. Organic cotton, handmade in the USA.

3. Sseko Designs' D'orsay Flat in Caramel, $89.99
I have poor circulation in my toes, which leaves them feeling cold even when the weather's warm, so I'm betting on these beautiful flats to keep my feet comfortable. The style is perfect for both casual and more formal looks, so I think I'll get a lot of use out of them. Leather sourced from small scale meat industry, fairly made in Ethiopia.

4. Everlane Micro Striped Tee, $18.00
I love Everlane's new pima tees and I can't wait for this one to arrive in the mail. I plan on pairing this subtle pattern with my printed vintage skirts. Milled and ethically made in Los Angeles.

5. Jean Jacket via thredUP, purchased with store credit
I've had this jacket since early fall, but I have a feeling I'll be wearing it all spring. As I explained here, it looks like denim, but it's actually a woven, stretch cotton, so it's super comfortable. Secondhand.

6. Teva Sandals via thredUP, purchased with store credit
These aren't an exact version of the pair I purchased, but I'm glad I took the plunge into slightly ugly footwear, because these are quite comfortable and fully adjustable for the perfect fit. Check out ebay for a better selection of secondhand Tevas. Secondhand.

What are your spring picks? I'd love to know about new ethical brands you've discovered recently, as well.

Why I Quit My Capsule Wardrobe

why i quit my capsule wardrobe

Way back in August when the weather was warm, I decided to experiment with a capsule wardrobe. I incorporated guest posts and explored my shopping habits, then sat down and listed all the items I wanted to include in my fall wardrobe from memory. Only problem is I never actually started. 

Why the capsule wardrobe didn't work for me

I have no idea what to expect weather-wise from day to day in the Mid-Atlantic region! I mean, in the last month, we had a week in the 50s and then things got back into the high 70s. We had 4 days of fog and then weeks of sunshine. I cannot possibly put that into a capsule - it would be insane. Rather than making life easier, the thought of starting a capsule was making me anxious. I've worn sandals and boots with wool socks in the very same week. And you know what? I love this transitional weather and I don't have time to reach for some wardrobe ideal. I'm too busy taking in the last bits of warmth and enjoying cold weather gear that's been packed away for several months.

I also had a lot of trouble finding the last few perfect pieces for my capsule. I splurged on the Everlane Street Shoes, but the fit wasn't quite right. I tried my darndest to find a maxi dress, but then I realized I don't even like maxi dresses. Often the thing you think you want doesn't make sense once you get it home. My life - and my tastes - are fluid and my wardrobe needs to match that.

What I'm doing now:

I have been wearing more than half of what I listed in my capsule on a regular basis. After all, they're things I love. I also managed to sell a few hundred dollars worth of old clothing on ebay, so I was in good shape to fill in my wardrobe. I have a short term memory when it comes to cold weather - I'm a Floridian! - so I am finding that there are a lot of things, like jackets and sweaters, that I could stand to add to my wardrobe. I hadn't even considered that when the weather was still warm. So I've stocked up on some thrifted cashmere sweaters and long sleeve shirts, added a scarf, and purchased a pair of secondhand boots on ebay in addition to taking advantage of the J. Crew Warehouse sale here in town. Things are shaping up in a way that actually makes sense and I'm making full use of my wardrobe.

There's always going to be tweaking and analyzing to do, but I'm happy with the way things are going. Considering a capsule was a great way to remind myself that I don't have to buy things just because they're on trend or on sale. I can take pride in what I like and what I wear, even if it may not embody the zeitgeist.

If you're thinking of doing a capsule, great! But do consider the practicality of it before you go all the way.

A summary of my obstacles:

  • Transitional/Varied climate
  • Eccentric tastes
  • A poor grasp of what I'd actually need in the upcoming season
  • An insistence on perfection instead of progress
  • Resistance to hiding away parts of my wardrobe

I think capsules work for some people (read Andrea's guest post for an example), but I don't think they're a long term solution for most people. Unless your wardrobe is super minimalist and you have a very good sense of seasonal weather, a capsule may actually make things harder.

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.

There’s a hot new word that’s been circulating recently.


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...


Keep reading at Joie de Vivre

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.


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. 

inspiration board: back-to-school 2015

I'm not going back to school, but it's hard not to get caught up in the frenzy, what with all the commercials of little kids skipping through hallways and twirling with backpacks. I loaded up on cold weather essentials last winter after two years of suffering through Virginia weather in Florida clothing, so there's no need to go wild this year. But, in my ideal world, I would buy a few high quality, ethical staples to round out my wardrobe as the temperature begins to plummet (though I wish it wouldn't do that!).


  • The Alternative Apparel Alpaca Cardigan
  • A printed canvas bag, preferably crossbody
  • A simple striped tee from Amour Vert
  • A new bralette (I've given up on underwires after experiencing some chest pain)
  • The Krochet Kids Pocket Tee
  • Warby Parker Newton Frames (already have these!)
  • Loafers from Sseko Designs (they've improved the heel design since I last tried them, but I might go for the Chestnut Afar Loafer this time around)
  • A classic, roomy backpack from Everlane (for weekend travels)
  • The Everlane Street Shoe

Click the product images to shop. Please note that these are affiliate links.

Organizing my shopping list this way has all the advantages of a capsule wardrobe without the fallout. I can get a sense of what I like and visualize how they'll all work together, but continue to use my full fall/winter closet - nothing hides away in a far corner to be forgotten. 

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.


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 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.

fall favorites '14

fall favorites featuring mata traders, thredup, and everlane

I'm suddenly really into Dusty Rose, which is essentially mauve. I'm noticing it everywhere, but especially at the thrift shop, where we seem to get in another Dusty Rose item every day. The volunteers always ask me if we should save it for spring inventory, but I insist that it's totally in for fall. Am I making it up?

My closet is well packed with clothing, but I envision my alternate wardrobe with soft Everlane basic shirts paired with muted prints, cozy tights, and cognac loafers or boots.

I've hit this point in my fair trade journey where my style has had to change to suit the ethical options available to me. Things have gotten a bit more hippie and I don't mind, but I'm having a hard time even defining my personal style within the constraints. It's likely not normal to be so worried about it, but I'm learning that I'm an extreme perfectionist that has to have everything sorted out and defined.

simple but significant

Make it simple but significant. - Don Draper

For all my scoffing at the whole capsule wardrobe talk, I obviously have my own signature style. I was compiling this set as inspiration for the upcoming season, but I realized almost immediately that, 1. my wardrobe already consists of items like the ones pictured and 2. if I'd created this set years ago, it would look basically the same.

I stick pretty closely to a uniform of printed vintage skirts, knit tops, and striped dresses. The waistlines and lengths have ebbed and flowed over the years, but I've always been drawn to simple silhouettes with unexpected details in the patterns, cuts, and seaming. It's nice to see that consistency and to be reminded that my natural preferences do create a recognizable look - no need to seek out flash trends.

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