Hey hey lovely readers! I am hoping all is well. So, I don't know about you, but recently I've been starting to bring out my spring and summer pieces. It's been AWHILE since I've seen some of these beauties and it's got me excited for all of the gorgeous outfits ahead...and the fact that I won't have to hide them under an enormous coat!
With summer comes new life to fashion. With this new life comes the tremendous effort to completely refresh our wardrobes and to start over and revamp our entire identities and pack our things and get on the next plane out of town an--
Mmm, that might've been too far. Let's just say exam season's gotten rough. ANYWAY, where I was going with that lil ramble was that, although you should totally try out new trends and dress in whatever makes you feel the best, you shouldn't do this in a way that hurts the environment or the people who make our clothes.
That's why today, for Part Two of the SUSTAINABLE WARDROBE MAKEOVER SERIES, I'm going to be talking a bit about how to avoid doing that. In the series' last post, I talked about refining your style identity so you actually know what you're shopping for.
Therefore, today I'll be focusing more on buying less, but buying better. I am a firm believer that we should avoid buying new as much as possible (the last thing our world needs is more items for sale) but that when we really desire something, we need to be supporting amazing social enterprises.
More specifically, this post is going to focus on Essential Investment Pieces. We've all heard about basics, and the idea that they're "the building blocks to our wardrobe", but what does that really mean? What constitutes one of those items? I'll break that all down for you. Moreover, I'll also give you my fave brand recommendations for these amazing items!
But before I dive into this post, one last post callback -- if you've decided you DO want to make some space in your closet for these new investments, be very conscious about how you get rid of those old clothes. You may not know it, but clothing donations are a huge social and environmental problem. This might seem overwhelming, but fret not! I wrote a post here about how to do better :)
Without further ado, THE POST!
For a plain t-shirt, my go-to's are either Known Supply or United By Blue. Quality-wise, these pieces are each 100% cotton, which is essential to look for in a nice tee.
Known Supply is an apparel company which also houses the brand Krochet Kids underneath of it.
I have and recommend the basic Standard Women's Tee, available in Heather Grey on Krochet Kids for $20 and in a multitude of other colours on Known Supply for $28. I currently only own it in black and white, but plan to grab a few more soon!
Ethics/sustainability-wise, what's really cool about Known Supply and Krochet Kids is that all their items are made in women's cooperatives in India, Peru, and Uganda. Moreover, each item is hand-signed by the maker! Another thing which makes them really unique is that you can get most of their apparel hand-stitched with anything you'd like. I'm looking into picking up a custom Ethigirl tee soon! ;)
Also, you can get 10% off your next order with Known Supply // Krochet Kids using this link and the discount code ETHIGIRL!
I own a couple of UBB tees: two of the Women's Standard Pocket Tees, in grey and in green, (which retail for $38 each) and one of the graphic tops (which range, but cost around the same). What I love specifically about the pocket tees is that they have the pocket, and also that the sleeves have a cuff sewn right in! I always cuff t-shirt sleeves anyway, so this is a nice little detail. The shirts are also really flattering when tucked into anything high-waisted, which is how I always wear them.
UBB strives to make everything locally, or responsibly overseas, and with sustainable materials. They also clean one pound of trash from waterways with every purchase! Truuuly social entrepreneurship.
So many knits and other beautiful sweaters can be easily thrifted. They're almost too easy to find! All of my favourite turtlenecks, one of which is 100% wool, is secondhand. Therefore, I totally recommend you try that out first.
However, if you're not able to find what you're looking for, my three suggestions are to purchase one of Fjallraven's gorgeous knits, a wool knit Irish Sweater, or to look at Patagonia's versatile selection. All three of these are insanely good quality that will most definitely last you a lifetime - I would bet my life on it.
I own the Ovik Women's Knit Sweater in a red and purple style which no longer appears to be available online. It's extremely soft, extremely warm, and has gorgeous elbow patches and the Fjallraven fox logo on one of the arms! This sweater has been an excellent investment that I was lucky to catch on sale at a local outdoors shop. As a general rule, Fjallraven items are HARD to find for cheap, and that's because of the amazing quality which each item is made with.
Fjallraven is overall an outdoor goods company, meaning that sustainability is sort of a no-brainer for them: why would they want to hurt the thing which their products are made for enjoying? They offer a repair program, and they strive to use materials which are locally-produced and better for the environment.
Where do I even begin with Patagonia? It is one of my fave companies and truly one of the best models for a large, yet still sustainable and ethical company which exists. I own a multitude of products from Patagonia, but the one I will feature here is the Women's Better Sweater 1/4 Zip. Mine is in olive green, which is a colour they don't currently have in stock.
This sweater is excellent. It keeps in the heat so well, making it great as a layer for winter or even a substitute for a spring jacket. However you wear it, you're sure to be both warm and comfortable.
Moreover, like I mentioned above, Patagonia is super sustainable and ethical. They strive to use recycled or reclaimed fabrics or materials, to certify their sewing practices Fair Trade USA, they are a B Corporation, and they seek out factories overseas whose values match their own and then foster long-term partnerships with them.
Locally-Made Irish Sweaters - Aran Sweater Market
My last suggestion in the sweater department is a 100% wool knit cardigan from the Aran Sweater Market. I've had mine for over two years and I am still in love with it. My whole family owns these insanely well-made pieces that are built to last a lifetime. They're also extremely warm, yet still moisture wicking, as they were made to last intensely cold or windy conditions!
These are great to throw over a nice dress or blouse, or can be buttoned up and enjoyed on their own with jeans/pants. You can also purchase pullover crewneck sweaters, or many other styles. Their entire selection is available online.
Wool is a great material, and it's also all spun locally off the West Coast of Ireland, where the sweaters too are knit.
Ah yes, jeans. An item we'll all perpetually struggle with. The biggest thing with finding a great, long-lasting pair of denim is to try on a lot of different pairs. The worst thing you can do for yourself is only try on one or two.
Jeans are something you wear everyday. Do yourself a favour and make sure you love them - they do WONDERS to pull any outfit together.
What's that? Vintage Levis? Never heard of her! Just kidding. Vintage is alwaysss more sustainable, and Levis are such a hot item right now. Put them together and you're both sustainable AND hot ;)
You can walk into any vintage shop and find these. Now, the price tag on them is guaranteed to be a bit steep - we're talking around $50 at the least for a good quality pair, anywhere up to $100. But damn. I PROMISE you that when you slide on the right pair, you'll understand why they cost that much and you will do yourself a favour and you will buy them.
I have two pairs of vintage boyfriend Levi's, which tend to be the most popular. They're characterized by a mile-high waist, sometimes a button fly (in the case of 501's), and a straight leg. The denim will also have a very high cotton percentage and very little spandex. That's what you want for a long-lasting set.
If you're looking for where to buy these online, you can find them at places like ASOS and Urban Outfitters, as well as secondhand marketplaces like Depop or even eBay. Just be sure there's a return policy - you might not like the way you fit, and that's a lot of $$ to drop on a risk!
Mata is an amazing company with gorgeous and eccentric dresses, tops, and jewelry. I have two dresses from Mata Traders, both of which are amazing quality and great investment pieces. I love the fun prints and high-quality fabrics and details that go into each item.
Their items tend to be on the expensive side, with dresses costing anywhere from $70-$100. However, I promise you that if you pick the right one, you'll be wearing it all the time. They have more and less statement-y dresses, so you can ensure you choose what suits you and your needs the most.
Each of Mata's items are made in a women's cooperative in India and Nepal, where employees are empowered with sewing skills and paid fair wages in safe conditions.
The dress I'm wearing here isn't for sale anymore as I bought it a couple of years ago, but I really also love this vintage-inspired one for summer!
And there you have it! A master list of places where you can buy essential investment pieces ranging from tees to sweaters to jeans to dresses. I wholeheartedly recommend any and all of these great companies and choices. Try any of them out? Have any of your own suggestions? Let me know below!
With love and sustainability,