Location: Richmond, Virginia and Southeast Asia
One question I often hear is, “How can I begin to create an ethical wardrobe?” We can start by looking in our own closets. Many of us have way more clothes than we need. Experts say that we wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time—I know I’m guilty of this. However, wearing and repurposing what we already own is the most ethical thing we can do.
Several years ago, I traveled to Southeast Asia with one of my best friends. Prior to our trip, I had meticulously planned every outfit for our 2.5-week journey. To make a very crazy long story short, our luggage was lost for 5 days, and we were forced to make do with what was in our backpacks as well as the $50 stipend the airline gave us to cover the “essentials.” During that time, we did our best to find clothes at markets, mostly that was produced locally by women artisans. Those clothes were not the least bit fashionable (think one size fits all) and far from the carefully curated collection I had packed in my suitcase.
As trivial as it may sound, that travel inconvenience forever changed the way I looked at clothes. For the first time, I was forced to think creatively about how I could re-wear the same dress and sarong five days in a row. It also created a desire to make more conscious purchases that support women artisans working hard to provide for their families. In fact, the entire experience had such a profound impact that when I returned home, I decided not to buy clothes for a year. I wanted to see how I could repurpose my own wardrobe and use what I already had. Not to mention, I had just started a fashion blog when I made the decision to forgo buying clothes.
The yearlong process helped me to cultivate my own personal style and be creative with what I already owned. Not sure what your personal style is? More on cultivating your style in a later blog post. I write this to say that we all are on a different journey when it comes to conscious consumerism. Your journey will likely look different from mine. But the important thing is that we are all working toward a more conscious mindset when it comes to our shopping habits.
If you are new to ethical fashion, welcome! Want to learn more? I recommend the following resources:
- The True Cost documentary (Note: you may never buy fast fashion again)
- Wear No Evil by Greta Eagan
- Huffington Post’s Ethical Fashion Section
- This article on the misconceptions of sustainable fashion
- Fashion Revolution’s website for getting involved and letting your voice be heard
Rocking the sarong and dress combo in Bali