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The Ethical Closet: Summer Closet Update + Spring Changes

summer

In March, I shared my Spring Closet Update, but I made a few changes as time went on and it became clear that a few things I thought would be perfect didn't quite measure up.

Firstly, the lovely Mata Traders knit dress I shared dyed not only my purse, but my body, even after several washes, so I had to send that one back as a defective item. It was easy to replace it with the National Picnic dress I reviewed in April. Secondly, I realized that the TEVA sandals I bought occupied the same super-casual niche in my wardrobe as my black Birkenstocks, but were more challenging to wear in an outfit, so I donated those to a local thrift shop. To replace them, I ordered the Nisolo Serena Sandals, as they're more streamlined and dressy than the sandals currently in my closet.

My Summer Closet Update includes:
(clockwise from left)

LA Relaxed Jade Off the Shoulder Top, $58


This top is truly perfect. Soft, flowy, and lightweight with tiny stripes. I had been on the hunt for an off the shoulder top and I ultimately chose this one because the elastic at the neckline allows me to wear it more like a boat neck top if I want extra coverage. Made in LA of ecofriendly Modal.

Everlane Cotton Striped Dress, $38 (purchased with store credit)


This is definitely more of a beach dress, but the swingy shape and dropped shoulder make it feel retro 1980s, which is sort of cool. I like pairing it with my Sseko Designs D'orsays*. Made with transparent manufacturing practices in Vietnam. Shop via my referral link.

Everlane Cotton Tank, $15


This tank has a slightly oversized, long fit without being slouchy or sloppy. It looks great tucked into skirts and high waist pants. Made in LA. Shop via my referral link.

Eileen Fisher Cropped Boyfriend Jeans, purchased with thredUP credit


I scored these secondhand, but they're still available at Neiman Marcus. I like loose fit jeans for the summer, because they provide better aeration. Made with organic cotton in the USA. Shop thredUP via my referral link for $10 off your first purchase.

Nisolo Serena Sandals, $73.00 (received $25 off through referral link)


Thanks for your feedback on my Ethical Black Sandals post. You all helped me narrow down the selection to something that feels classic and versatile. Made ethically in Peru. Shop via my referral link for $25 off.

For some reason, it's been more difficult than usual to transition into summer dressing. I had developed a dependable uniform of tees, jeans, and sweaters over the winter. Since everything was relatively neutral, it was super easy to get dressed in the morning. But I enjoy wearing patterned skirts and quirky items when it's warm and sunny, so I've had to get back into the swing of planning outfits ahead of time. These easy-to-wear additions are making the transition less intimidating.


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.


MY PICKS THIS SPRING:

(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.


the moral wardrobe: here we go again

bonlook glasses nomads fair trade tunic outfitlong cardigan and jean jacket layered looklong layered cardigan seamly.co
Ethical Details: Tunic - c/o Nomads (Fall '14); Cardigan - Seamly.co; Jacket - secondhand via Thredup; Boots - thrifted; Earrings - locally handmade by A Pocket Novel

We got hit with another snowstorm Sunday night and the snow is still falling as I write this on Monday. I don't think we'll hit blizzard level this time, but I'm pretty sure it's going to mess up work scheduling. A lot is shifting and changing at work due to employee health issues and a general need for improvement to the building and store displays, so I'd rather just get back to work. Snow always insists that we slow down and I'm not in a slowing down mood!

I put this outfit together in my head last night. I like playing with lengths when layering and the cardigan and jacket together provide just enough warmth for a brief foray into the white wilderness. After over 3 years trying to make smarter, more ethical purchasing decisions, I'm finally starting to be able to pull together looks comprised of almost entirely ethically sourced things. 

It's important to use what we have regardless of where we got it, so it's not a huge accomplishment, but it's nice to see how items purchased from various fair trade and secondhand shops work together to create a wardrobe that is distinctly me. I don't feel limited at all!

the moral wardrobe: second tries

jean jacket thrifted outfitalpaca sweater modern ethical jewelry from madefairethical outfit
Ethical Details: Sweater - NOVICA; Jacket - thredup*; Boots - secondhand via ebay; Necklace - MadeFAIR*

Sometimes I photograph an outfit only to realize upon reviewing the photos that I hate it. I switched out my sweater and jacket and ended up with something that felt much more me. I have a tendency as a shopper to buy multiples of the same thing until I find the perfect version of it and occasionally I wonder what that says about me. Am I striving for perfection? Is that healthy? Do I need the thing at all if I can't seem to make it work?

In the case of this "jean" jacket, I'm happy I took a second chance. I love the look of denim jackets, but I can't stand to feel constricted in the shoulders, so this knit one from thredup was a much better fit.

I guess my point is that anything is better than nothing, but if there's a better way, a better opportunity, than why not strive for that? (In case you wondered, I'm not really talking about clothing anymore.)

On another note, this sweater is an Alpaca/Wool blend and it's awesome!

second hand challenge: outfit 1, black and white stripes

second hand outfit
low back top
strappy flats
black and white outfit
Ethical Details: Top - thrifted; Skirt - secondhand via Thredup; Shoes - upcycled

I take it for granted how much of my wardrobe belonged to someone else before it got to me. Working at a thrift shop, you can lose track of how much you're taking home with you. When I bought this blouse (for $3.50), I remember thinking it wasn't quite my style and wondering if I'd actually get around to wearing it, but I love the plunging back and the fit of it so much that it's become one of my favorite pieces. 

That's not always the case, though. I've made a lot of terrible impulse buys that I end up re-donating. Still, I've had pretty good luck getting things I love at second hand shops. In the past month alone, I've purchased a cashmere cardigan ($3.50), practically new Urban Outfitters duster ($3.50), Sam Edelman Petty Booties ($3.99!), and a current season J. Crew top ($10.00) from thrift shops and ebay. (You may be asking, "But what about your capsule wardrobe?" at this point, and to be honest with you, that's up in the air; that project really helped me figure out my style and narrow down my purchases, but the seasons here are so unpredictable that I haven't been ready to start it.)

I know a lot of people find no thrill in sorting through poorly organized racks of second hand clothes (I can't imagine why! JK), but it's definitely worth your while to take a quick look around a second hand shop before splurging on a new item. You'll save money and give old things another chance to see the light of day. 

the moral wardrobe: tree mourning

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

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

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

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

*Referral link

the moral wardrobe: daytime pajamas

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

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

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

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

inside an ethical wardrobe: spring 2015

ethical capsule wardrobe

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


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

striped tees

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

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

thrifted cardigan

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

spring skirts wardrobe

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

ethical dresses

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

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

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

the moral wardrobe: flowers

flowering tree
style post thredup
style post thredup
the moral wardrobe: flowers
style post thredup
Ethical Details: Top - secondhand via thredup; Necklace - c/o Greenola Style; Sandals - thrifted

I almost missed my chance to take photos of our backyard tree in bloom; by the time I got home today, nearly all the flowers had been replaced by bright green leaves.

This morning, I stopped downtown at the coffee shop where I used to work to redesign their chalkboard menu in exchange for some free drinks and a gift card. The whole thing still feels like a family operation and I'm just one of the kids. Seriously, that place was so good to me. I had no idea what I wanted out of life, I had no friends, and I knew nothing about Charlottesville, but they took me in and made me feel at home in this town, and in my own skin. While working on the menu today, I eavesdropped on a very important conversation between a local author and a production team that wants to buy the rights to adapt his newest book into a film set in India!

*Thanks to Greenola Style for the necklace. More info and a giveaway to follow shortly.

the moral wardrobe: low back

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Outfit Details: Top - thrifted via the Schoolhouse Thrift Shop; Skirt - Old Navy (old); Shoes - thrifted

I'm emotionally exhausted over the disappearance of local student, Hannah Graham, and spent the week being snippy with people I love. I'm feeling a bit down, but am encouraged by the way the Charlottesville community has stepped up to comfort one another and aid in the search.

This week is birthday week and I'm determined to count my blessings. I have lovely plans for Friday and am going on a hike in Shenandoah National Park on Saturday, so there's a lot to look forward to. I'm also excited to work on some new pieces on my banjo; I'm painfully inexperienced, but I think my guitar basics will transfer well enough for now.

the moral wardobe: color of the week

wa1 wa4wa2
Outfit Details: Top - H&M / Skirt - secondhand / Jacket - secondhand / Shoes - ASOS

Now that my hair is on its third color in a month, people have begun asking, "what color will it be next week?" I never thought of myself as the new-hair-color-every-week type, but I guess that's what I've become. I don't plan on making any more changes for awhile, though, so cross your fingers that the color doesn't fade into some weird green-blonde.

Things are looking rather autumnal these days, so I had the chance to wear a jacket I bought several months ago to our monthly potluck. We spent the evening telling (mostly bad) jokes, eating crepes and salad and delicious varieties of cheese, and participating in general merrymaking.

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Fashion Project


fashionproject


fashionproject by fracturedradiance on Polyvore

Fashion Project is a new-ish online secondhand clothing retailer with one important difference from other companies in its market: 55% of proceeds go to charity.

The company focuses on well known, mid to high end designers and the site is distinctively modern, with clean lines and minimal use of color. It's a cool place to be. From a quick sampling of items within several categories, clothing is priced in about the same range as Thredup's higher end pieces (but noticeably lower on designer shoes), but the site layout and product images and descriptions are considerably better.

I don't tend to buy much from Fashion Project's preferred brands (Trina Turk, Elie Tahari, Anne Fontaine), so I don't really know where to start, but I think they're capable of appealing to a unique niche within the secondhand market, and that's a great thing. The more the merrier.

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the moral wardrobe: before the storm

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 Outfit Details: Dress - secondhand via thredup / Shoes - Sseko / Necklace - handmade via (of)matter

When I went out to take outfit photos Wednesday I could tell a storm was coming from the eerie calm and tangible pressure. By the time I was wrapping up the shoot, the wind picked up, aggressively tearing leaves from the backyard tree and flinging them into the frame. It was exciting! As you can see, I look a bit terrified and the storm that ensued was rather dramatic, but I spent most of it indoors at a local pub eating a big bowl of fries with friends.

In other news, my hair is no longer blonde! I never felt quite me with blonde hair, but I didn't want to  spend a whole bunch of money at the salon having them re-dye it. I read some horror stories about using home dye on bleached hair, but it turned out fine. I'll probably need to dye it again to tone the extreme brightness down, but eh, whatever - it's fine for now. You can see what it looks like on instagram.

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an ethical outfit: everyday


everyday


 everyday by fracturedradiance featuring earrings

Since, as of noon today, I no longer work in the food service industry, I can wear pretty much anything I want, including tank tops (my boss had a very reasonable aversion to employees wearing tank tops while serving coffee and pastries). This outfit is very representative of what I like to wear when I'm not in the mood for a midi skirt or skater dress.

All items are fair trade, secondhand, or handmade in a well regulated environment. The earrings are from a UK based fair trade company called Made that makes really fashion forward metal jewelry; I found this particular item on ASOS, but they also have their own website.
Click the styleboard to be redirected to product sources. 

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the moral wardrobe: old favorites

black and white dress stylewiseguide.com personal style black and white stylewiseguide.comthrifted outfit stylewiseguide.com
Outfit Details: Dress - secondhand via thredup / Shoes - old / Necklace - handmade by someone I can't remember

I got my hair cut today in preparation for my new job (it starts tomorrow!). Gotta look totes profesh (I promise I wouldn't say that out loud). I didn't realize my desired length was going to cut off all the lingering blonde in the back, however, so now my hair color looks pretty interesting.

I rediscovered this necklace in a backpack I use when traveling. It must have been in there for a year or more. It's nice when old things feel new again.

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illustrated favorites: mid-summer

favescanedfinal2

Illustrated favorites take awhile to complete, but they always turn out so cute. This is about the limit of my drawing skills, in case you wondered.

You may recognize that floral dress from yesterday's The Moral Wardrobe post. It, along with a matching set I'm waiting to receive from The Floral Prince, are my two statement items for the season. I've been getting a lot of use out of my Leah Goren tote and various casual shoes that are suitable for work. I'm also anxiously awaiting new glasses from BonLook (they're not particularly ethical, but their production chain is roughly equivalent to Warby Parker).

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an ethical outfit: casual date


date


date by fracturedradiance featuring a woven bag

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

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

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

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

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the moral wardrobe: community

anthro skirt outfit thredup outfitmodern clothing outfit

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

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

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

  • Top - H&M

  • Skirt - secondhand via thredup

  • Shoes - vintage Minnetonka

  • Earrings - handmade via etsy


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the moral wardrobe: invisibility (hair) cloak

tr3 tr7tr5Look! My hair is practically invisible! The first half of this week was one long downpour and I enjoyed the opportunity to spend afternoons indoors reading and getting work done. I also enjoyed wearing my very favorite American Apparel cape every day. I had this on my wishlist for almost 2 years before Daniel decided he should get it for me. It's the perfect layering piece.

Though I enjoy the spring weather immensely, I've spent a bit too long soaking it in to the detriment of Platinum and Rust in particular. I'm working to get back on track with photographing and listing. I also need to hunt down some swimsuits to add to the shop.

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

  • Cape - American Apparel

  • Top - secondhand via thredup

  • Jeans - American Eagle

  • Boots - Target circa 2012

  • Earrings - fair trade Quill Earrings c/o Mata Traders


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the moral wardrobe: fair

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I wore this today for Fashion Revolution Day. It's not inside out (I chickened out), but it is all fair trade and secondhand. Instead of being forced to tell people why I was wearing my clothes inside out, I just shouted "It's Fashion Revolution Day!" to an assortment of customers until I felt I had done my duty. Even though I work at a fair trade, organic coffee shop and have a great relationship with the owners, I didn't think it was the right environment for this type  of conversation. There just isn't enough time for deep reflection when you're making coffee all day for people with places to go and things to do.

Since April is National Poetry Month, the local library had representatives hand out poems on the Downtown Mall today. I got Saturday at the Canal by Gary Soto. They left a few at the shop so I exclaimed, "Have you gotten a poem yet?!" in between Fashion Revolution Day reminders.

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

  • Top - People Tree

  • Skirt - secondhand via Thredup (I won a giveaway!)

  • Shoes - secondhand via ebay

  • Belt - thrifted


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