I've been working on creating a capsule wardrobe for a while now, and let me tell you that it is no easy feat! The idea of a capsule wardrobe is that you buy fewer items of higher quality that can easily mix and match. This is gives you fewer items to deal with, but more options for outfits. Talk about sanity saving....once you get it established!
Along with buying better not more, I've really wanted to purchase ethically made items for my capsule as much as possible. This means that items are made using fair trade standards. Workers are given a living wage and work in safe conditions.
Like I said, figuring out your capsule can be a challenge and finding fair trade businesses is not easy either. I've compiled a list of five tips that have helped me as I've started this journey.
1. Keep What You Already Have
The most ethical thing you can do is to keep and wear the clothes you already own and love. You've already spent the money. Resources have already been used. Labor has already been put in.
Another thing to consider is keeping some old clothes. If you are a DIYer or do any gardening or farming, you won't be wanting ruin some of your new items an a nail snag in the barn. Same goes with paint. I would hate to ruin pieces in my capsule on the occasional DIY job.
So for me, work clothes and workout clothes don't count in the number of pieces in my capsule.
2. Buy & Sell Used
For the clothes that you do want to purge after deciding to give the capsule wardrobe a try, consider selling them on consignment. A lot of ethical items are expensive because laborers are paid a fair wage instead pennies. These items also use quality resources like real leather, real silk and organic cotton, which, again, adds to the cost. Consignment sales will help pay for some new pieces.
You might consider using ThredUp, an online consignment and thrift shop. I've used them before and have been pleased with the results. When selling you can choose to allow them to donate what they don't end up buying from you, or you can have them ship items back to you. If you want your items returned, they will deduct $12.99 from the total they are willing to pay you for the other items.
Buying used clothes is also more ethical than purchasing new. I will admit that I'm weird about buying used clothing. I have been trying to get over that since now that I stay home we have a few more budget restraints. But again, buying used is great because old clothing isn't ending up in the landfill.
If you want to try ThredUP, use this link and you will get a $10 credit to use while shopping and I will get $10 too! Win-Win!
3. Follow Others
Find other women on social media and bloggers who are trying to buy ethically made goods. This is the best way to find out about great brands that fit your style. Some women that I follow on Instagram are Hayley Morgan, Jamie Ivey, and Katie Walters.
4. Give Yourself Grace
You can still buy items that aren't considered ethically made. I just bought an adorable jacket at Target. Believing that if you are going to go ethical that it is an all-or-nothing endeavor reminds me of something that Dave Ramsey says about tithing.
When he's asked if people should tithe on the net income or gross income, he always replies with something like this, "Studies show that the majority of Christians don't tithe. So what difference does it make whether you tithe on the net or gross?! Tithing on either is better than not at all!"
I feel the same way about ethical fashion. Most people don't buy anything but what they see in the mall or superstore, which is not usually ethically produced. Those items are considered "fast fashion." But even if you only purchase 50% of your clothing from ethical sources, YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE, because we have to start somewhere! Buying better not more is a process since it is more expensive, but when I taught high school business, I always told my students that we vote for the world we want to live in with our dollars.
You want more organic food choices? Buy organic food.
You want goods made from recycled materials? Buy goods made with recycled materials.
You want more local shops in your town? Buy from the shops that are already there.
You want more ethical standards in the fashion industry? Buy more ethically made clothes.
Start somewhere and give yourself grace while you create your capsule wardrobe. Accept that you may still buy some items from the mall or superstore. Hopefully if more of us buy from companies with fair trade practices, we will have more options and more businesses will take note and clean up their act.
5. Start Here
I'm going to share some of the ethical brands that I've found so far. I haven't bought off of every one of these shops yet. I'm slowly saving to buy a few pairs of shoes off of two of these shops though!
- Everlane has great basics for the foundation of your capsule wardrobe. I've bought three tees from them so far and I love how soft they are! Every item on their site tells you which factory made it and then you can take a virtual tour of that factory. It's "radical transparency."
- Francis+Benedict create beautiful statement skirts. I have one ordered and CANNOT wait to be able to wear it. I've been saving for a while to own one of these! Francis+Benedict employs seamstresses in Togo, Africa by providing a liveable wage for them. Profits are given back to Togo community leaders to help orphans, widows and those in poverty.
- Sseko Designs is known for their sandals (They even have one designed by Sophia Bush!), but I have my eye on one of their leather bags and leather loafers. Sseko employs young women who are university-bound, and every young woman that has graduated from Sseko's scholarship program is either in university or has graduated from university. Along with these university women, employs other African women with a fair wage and safe working conditions. Their mission is to give the women of East Africa a chance to end the cycle or poverty and create a more equitable society.
- The Root Collective sells handmade shoes, but they are about more than shoes. Otto has a workshop in his home in Guatemala where he employs men trying to get out of gangs. The fabric on the shoes is handwoven by Mayan women that own a cooperative. I dare you to what the "What We Do" video and not cry! Use my link for 10% off your order!
- Noonday sells jewelry made by artisans around the world that use fair trade methods. But that's not all they do! You can shop online OR you can help an ambassador near you by hosting a trunk show through her. You can even have a trunk show to help fund adoption! How cool is that?! Noonday is making it possible for artisans and women around the world make a difference in their lives by providing them with a dignified way of ending the cycle of poverty through beautiful jewelry.
I hope that I've lessened the stress of starting an ethical capsule wardrobe and maybe answered some questions. Maybe this was the first time you've heard of such a thing. If it is, then I encourage to take a look at these shops and support them when you can. If you are an ethical wardrobe vet, share some shops you frequent in the comments! I'm always looking for a great new place to shop!
Matthew 6:21 says, "For where you treasure is, there will your heart be also." Let's show the world how big our heart can be and start supporting these great businesses!
Disclaimer: The above post does contain referral links. I will get credit from the store if you use this link to purchase items at no additional cost to you.