Ethical Fashion Style Study

Closet Check In: GOALS

March 21, 2017


My shoe collection is outgrowing its allotted space, collaboration opportunities are filling my time and I’m starting to feel like I don’t know what to wear. Sounds like it’s time for a good, honest Closet Check In. I like to do these periodically because 1) I always want to be transparent with you guys and 2) it forces me to actually take the time to be mindful and assess my closet and the goals I have.

OVERALL GOALS:

1 //  SHOP ETHICALLY. I feel really good about saying I set this goal quite some time ago (two years this summer) and I really haven’t looked back. I am so used to avoiding places like the mall, even stores I once loved, (*cough* Madewell). I’m thankful that shopping with ethics in mind has become second-nature. It’s fun to read back on some of my first musings on the concept of slow fashion, because I share the same sentiments today. The bottom line: people are more important than clothes, and no person should be harmed in the making of your clothes, to include unsafe sweatshops. Inexpensive clothing is just not worth it. Furthermore, our fast and furious consumption of clothing is damaging the environment. The apparel industry is one of the leading causes of pollution to our planet.

I’ll cautiously say I think this topic is continuing to move away from fringe conversations and more toward the mainstream. There is a lot to take in, but don’t feel overwhelmed. Here are a few resources to help. If you want to learn more, check out this fabulous guest essay I published awhile back, or catch The True Cost documentary on Netflix. If you want to know how to get started on simply shopping ethically, try my Baby Steps. If you’re just looking for a place to shop responsibly made goods, visit my Where to Shop page.

2 //  MAINTAIN A LEAN CLOSET. I want getting dressed to be simple and easy. The most effective way I’ve found to do this is through a lean closet. When I was a capsule’r I did this by storing away everything but my current capsule. It made getting dressed very easy. Now that I live outside the capsule realm, I have to be extra careful or my closet will feel overwhelming. I try to keep a strict gate about what I allow in, but it can be hard when you’re a blogger, and the opportunity to add more items presents itself on a regular basis. I am very thankful for the opportunity to showcase brands and designers for you guys, and the opportunities are what keep my blog moving forward. That said, I am very choosy about the brands I work with, and the number of items I take as ‘gifted.’ I don’t want to end up with an overstuffed closet again, and I don’t want to be ‘out of touch’ with non-blogger folks who are doing their best to stay stylish on an ethical wardrobe. Currently, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by my wardrobe, so I plan to pack away a few of my colder weather items – some sweaters and a flannel – to reduce the visual noise.

3 //  LIMIT CLOTHING PURCHASES TO 3 ITEMS PER SEASON. This is probably the hardest of my goals, but also my favorite. I love the way it forces me to look at my clothing in terms of trade-offs. Which do I want more, sandals or another summer dress? Which hole in my closet would get the most mileage if filled? This ‘rule’ makes it a lot easier to pass on any would-be filler items. It also plays into my first goal, because let’s face it, shopping ethically can be pricey. But, if I’m only buying 2-3 items a season, I can usually afford to spend a little more on them. This goal also supports my second goal, for obvious reasons. Care of, or c/o items are a definite ‘gray’ area when it comes to this goal. For example, for spring I have purchased four items, but I have accepted a handful of gifted items that are parts of collaborations and reviews. As I mentioned above those items are the fuel that helps propel this blog forward. A big part of what I do here is connect people like you with like-minded ethical brands. To do that I share and showcase a little more than the average woman. Therefore I’ve chosen not to include gifted items in my ‘3 per season’ rule.

How have I faired on this goal so far this year? Not as good as I’d hoped. I only made 3 purchases for winter, but between winter and spring I added some jeans, a cardigan, even a winter coat I snapped up on sale. That was before I got to my spring purchases (which I detailed in my last post). So, I still have work to do in this department, but overall it has really shaped my buying and shopping.



WINTER GOAL CHECK IN:

Mega kudos if you’ve made it this far. This post has turned into a lengthy one. On a much briefer note, we find my seasonal goals. This winter I set out with these three in mind:

1  //  Work on identifying my uniform, in 2-3 versions. – I put a post together on this topic, and found the introspection helpful. However, after a little time passed, I found the third uniform wasn’t quite accurate. Perhaps trying to nail three uniforms in one season was a bit ambitious.

2 //  Continue to keep my dresses and skirt game strong. – Definitely struggled here, as I yammered on about a few days ago. I’m letting go of the ‘shoulds’ for now, and I feel good about it. See you in the 70’s my lovely dresses.

3 //  Avoid making clothing purchases until spring. – I did good on this one, until I didn’t. I ended up buying two items off season (vintage denim, and fisherman sweater) plus a winter coat. Part of the reason for the impulse buys were because vintage items can be rather hard to find, so when I spotted them I felt the need to pounce.


ANY NEW GOALS FOR SPRING?

I’m pretty exhausted from reviewing all of this, and thinking about it all, so I plan to keep it super simple for spring.

GOAL: Make getting dressed easy. If I have to pack some items away, I might do that. Or maybe it’s time to purge. I’ve also been toying around with this new app Cladwell sent me to preview called Outfits by Cladwell.* You input your wardrobe, and then it checks the local weather and your closet inventory to suggest something for you to wear for the day. So far I haven’t worn exactly what it suggests, but it’s given me a great starting point. Either way, bring it on spring, let’s do this!

YOUR TURN! Now that I’m finished talking about my closet and goals, I want to hear about yours. Do you have overall goals you want to share? Or do you set goals seasonally? 


Outfit 1 Details: denim jacket (similar) | linen shirt, Everlane | sunglasses, Ray-Ban | tooled leather bag, vintage | mules, c/o Nisolo | wide pants, c/o Everlane

Outfit 2 Details: Mara dress, c/o Only Child | cardigan, c/o IMBY | tassel necklace, c/o Kate Whitehouse | blush oxfords, c/o Everlane | backpack, c/o Everlane

*Contains affiliate link.

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23 Comments

  • Reply Julie March 21, 2017 at 9:21 am

    My goal is to build a cohesive wardrobe that is 80% made in USA. Issues that arise: 80% is hard to achieve, and it’s more like 40%. Cohesion is difficult because I feel tugs toward my Eileen Fisher side (neutrals, chunky knits, cocoon silhouettes) and a LET’S WEAR A PINK SHIRT AND RED PANTS! with a snarky lapel pin side. I want to reconcile these without having a 2 parallel wardrobes.

    • Reply Andrea March 23, 2017 at 12:36 am

      It is crazy hard to find items made in the USA! Even a lot of ethical companies have to do production overseas to keep costs somewhat down. I think it is a great goal though! Ha! I love the way you described your dual-minded style. I’ve been struggling with that too lately. Because spring is dawning, I’m all “give me all the bohemian” and pastel earth tones. Crazy.

  • Reply Rebecca N March 21, 2017 at 9:29 am

    I did fairly well last season sticking to ethical or thrifted items. Since the new year, I have bought 3 things for my everyday wardrobe and a handful of workout wear since I am regularly attending yoga again and my workout drawer was pitiful. All have been either thrifted or ethical! I have a spring list and plan on adding a linen tank and maybe a dress from an Etsy designer in Vermont, a few Everlane v-necks, plus, whatever quality pieces I find while thrifting. My goal is to continue on my path to shop ethically and to be mindful about new purchases only being natural textiles. I wrote a paper last semester about textile pollution, and the research really opened my eyes to the textile waste in landfills, much of which is not biodegradable. My wardrobe is getting to the point where almost all of it is good quality so I don’t anticipate needing to buy more than a handful of things for spring and summer.

    I have also carried this over to my household and gift purchases this year. Other than metal shelf baskets I picked up at Sams, all have been American-made companies, small business, or local artisans. Even my dog has got in on the action with bones made in the USA or toys made locally. :-) My goal for this year is to have at least 80% of household, gift, and pet purchases to be ethically produced.

    I love these posts! Reading your goals are very inspiring to me! :-)

    • Reply Andrea March 23, 2017 at 12:37 am

      I love, love hearing about what you’ve done around the house. We’ve made similar shifts, but I don’t think as well as you have. That is so awesome and inspiring Rebecca! I’m definitely not as interested in the decorating section at Target as I used to be. :)

  • Reply monica March 21, 2017 at 10:13 am

    my goal is to make my wardrobe leaner and only keep items I love… i’m planning a massive ebay sesh and charity shop will benefit too…

    Also agree on the visual noise, my clearly winter items need to move out of sight.

    i’m doing well on the quality v quantity and are much less prone to impulse buying….

    thanks for nudging me in the right direction!

    • Reply Andrea March 23, 2017 at 12:21 am

      My pleasure! Thanks for weighing in Monica.

  • Reply Lo March 21, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Love this. My biggest spring goal is to take photos of my outfits as I’m actually wearing them, to get a better idea of what’s working and what’s not. I’m also trying to make the most of what I have and limited my purchases to 3 this season. I also have a much easier time getting dressed in the morning when everything I have available at my fingertips is edited down somewhat.

    • Reply Andrea March 23, 2017 at 12:20 am

      I’m with you on the edited down (she said as she eyed her closet suspiciously). Excited to hear what you bought for this season… heading to your blog now! Good luck with your mirror selfies. ;)

  • Reply Pav March 21, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Hi Andrea! I’m a new reader, and I have to thank you for helping me so much on my journey to leaner, more mindful closet. I also love your style, very effortless and cool, and I appreciate that you take your time to review items in depth. You’ve also introduced me to Only Child a small business local to my city :)

    My goals for my closet are to reduce the number of disconnected wear-once items that I have. I’m also trying to construct a small set of good quality basics, I think I’m trying to still figure out what works well for my body type (5′ 3″, pear shaped), and what I feel most comfortable in. I’m willing to take the time to figure it out though, and not just rush out and do a complete closet overhaul in a month or two. I have a long way to go, but I’m so glad I can keep coming back here for references and inspiration, thank you!

    • Reply Andrea March 23, 2017 at 12:19 am

      Hi Pav! Thanks for introducing yourself, it’s good to have you! I really appreciate your slow approach to your closet, I think that is so key for being successful. Good luck on your journey – keep us posted!

  • Reply Kerstin March 21, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    The Cladwell app is $5/mo, not crazy but not free. It let’s you choose images of similar items to what you own, but not the actual items you have. So you get an idea of an outfit, which is connected to your local weather forecast, which is nice. I’m not sure I’ll use it long term, by am giving it a month trial 😉

    • Reply Andrea March 23, 2017 at 12:16 am

      Thank you for bringing this up! I neglected to mention that there was a fee for the app. I do kind of wish I could put my own items in there, but that would take forever. I need to keep playing around with it because it sounds like the library is pretty extensive.

  • Reply Mel March 22, 2017 at 7:19 am

    My goal this year is to purchase less overall, but definitely less one-time-use items. After doing a closet audit, I think I’m pretty much good with shoes (even though I long for those nude Nisolo mules) and tees. For me, the hardest part is that my closet is mostly year-round. I’m in Miami so it’s pretty warm all year. My heaviest outer layers are: denim jacket, utility jacket and leather jacket. I usually need a sweater or light jacket indoors since everything is very much over-airconditioned (and especially my office). So my closet is larger than I’d like, but I do actually wear all/most of it year-round. This also makes it hard to shop “by season” so I’m just limiting myself to a few items every other month. So far, I give myself a B-. Not great, but not bad either.

    On this list for spring / summer (it’s already in the mid-80s here some days):
    – high-rise denim shorts in black or olive
    – Elizabeth Suzann raw silk Georgia tee in black
    – Elizabeth Suzann raw silk Clyde Billow Skirt in eggshell
    – Bryr Miranda Peep Toe clogs in either Whiskey or Cement
    – Cuyana silk shift dress in black
    – Only Child Mara Dress in denim (just bought with the 15% off!)

    If I can limit myself to the above before Aug 1, I will give myself an A+!

    • Reply Andrea March 23, 2017 at 12:14 am

      I could totally see the challenge of dressing out of a year-round closet! It sounds like you have some good strategies in place though. I looove your shopping list, so good! That Georgia tee has the most beautiful shape, it’s on my summer list! Excited to hear how you like your Mara Dress!

  • Reply Tess March 22, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Just out of curiosity what winter jacket did you purchase? :)

    • Reply Andrea March 23, 2017 at 12:12 am

      Hi Tess! I got the Down With It Parka by Patagonia. :)

      • Reply Tess March 23, 2017 at 7:58 am

        Awesome!! I am a huge patagonia fan! My winter coat is their Tres parka (which I love for its versatility) but I have one like the down with it as well, just a few seasons older. Love their ethical down now though!

        • Reply Andrea March 25, 2017 at 10:58 pm

          That coat definitely seems like the pinnacle of winter jackets!! My only beef is that the warmer component doesn’t have a hood when you wear it on its own. (Something very necessary around these parts!)

  • Reply Anne M March 22, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    One major goal is to keep up with repairs. I have been doing better at this lately, but a lean closet doesn’t work as well if say, for example, a T-top has a small amount of hem undone, and 2 shirts are each missing a crucial button.

    • Reply Andrea March 22, 2017 at 10:18 pm

      So true Anne! But why is it so hard to get to those things? Oye! Crucial to say the least. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Reply Anne March 23, 2017 at 11:41 am

    My goal: The reason I became interested in sustainable fashion is because I do shop at maybe not-so-ethical places, but I had pieces that have lasted for years (Express in particular). I’m at a point where finally those pieces are needing to go (some of them after almost 10 years!) and I graduate with my MSW soon , so I will hopefully have some cash money to spend on ethical pieces that will last me just as long.

    Also, as part of my master’s program, some of my classmates are organizing an advocacy event focused on sustainable apparel and I am SO EXCITED.

    • Reply Andrea March 25, 2017 at 11:05 pm

      Congratulations on your impending graduation Anne! That advocacy event sounds amazing! I hope it goes really well. As for new brands to try (for professional items) I highly recommend Brass clothing! (https://brassclothing.com/)

  • Reply Holly J March 26, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Cool post, Andrea! I, too, am working on an “ethical” closet–90% of what I buy is thrifted, and thrifting has become a hobby of mine…but I’m happiest with a super small wardrobe (30 items or less) in front of me. So, that’s a dilemma….the love of thrifting vs. wanting a small wardrobe.

    I’ve purchased 3 pieces this year that aren’t ethical–I looked for second hand grey skinny jeans and bid on a few used pairs (ebay), but wound up buying new in a store (and got sucked into 2 tee shirts). But, I’m doin’ better. And I haven’t let myself off the hook. I’m hyper-aware of those “unethical” items. And I wrote the company and expressed my desire for better working and environmental conditions for workers.

    I’m excited of all the knowledge I’ve found on where to buy ethical and Made in the USA. And education is a good thing. And I’ve been sharing my goals with others.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

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