James Perse skinny split dress | size 2 (also seen here)
Emerson Fry Yoshi tunic sweater | gift for review from Emerson Fry
Vince Blair sneakers | several years old
Kara small dry bag
Since one of the outfits in my 23-piece sustainable minimalist wardrobe was inspired by one I wear/own already, I thought I’d show it to you (and I actually wore it yesterday…).
Clearly, this is an outfit for a mild winter/fall and not appropriate for very cold weather. I was comfortable yesterday; it was about 60, sunny but very windy. I did edit my original post to include some sustainable winter layers like tights, and a few pairs of boots. But obviously, I have NO IDEA how to dress for northern winters. Thankfully I’ve never had to (I don’t know how you guys manage it!!)
A note on the sustainability of this outfit since I included some pieces in my fall/winter sustainable wardrobe: James Perse is not what many would call a sustainable designer. The company actively supports select environmental and social issues, manufactures mostly in the US, and is thoughtful about production and materials, occasionally using recycled materials, but I’m not sure that’s enough to be considered “sustainable” by official standards.
FOR ME, however, James Perse is my ultimate “sustainable” designer in terms of how long the clothes last and cost-per-wear, because I love and wear the clothes for years. I have pieces in my closet that are 10 years old and still wearable; they stand up to wear after wear and wash after wash beautifully. And really, in my opinion, that’s a large part of what sustainability is: the notion that you buy something and wear it often and for a long time, and that it is made well enough so that it will be beautiful and practical for many years.
Emerson Fry has sustainability built in to the company and design process, manufacturing small batches, in the US, and with eco-friendly materials like linen, organic cotton, and US-based wool. I’ve two years experience with the brand, and from what I can tell, my pieces (two sweaters, one chambray top and shoes) will absolutely wear well for many years. I WANT to wear them all the time, they are that good.
My Vince shoes aren’t what I would consider inherently sustainable either, but they are several years old, and I’ve chosen to continue to wear them instead of buying a new pair, and THAT IS sustainable.
Now my new KARA bag (purchased mostly with credits at Garmentory while it was on sale). Honestly, I’m conflicted and feel a teeny bit guilty about buying it. I love it, more and more everyday that I carry it, but it is imported, and I don’t know anything about where the leather came from. The company is headquartered in NYC and the bag is designed there, and that’s all I really know about the brand. I appreciate KARA’s designs, which is what drew me to the bag in the first place (I actually thought I was getting a different bag though), but I can’t help feeling a little guilty about it. All I can do now is carry the hell out of the bag to make it worth it, which I am happy to do.
Just being honest with my own conscious consumption habits. I try to do better everyday, but I definitely have moments of weakness….at least now I am fully aware of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
Love this look on you so much. Totally my style these days. The Mimu Maxi hug dress fits like this and comes in grey now!
I agree with your take on sustainability. I think that if you wear what’s in your closet, donate or re-sell what you don’t and only buy what you love that is a huge step! The chart is great.
I am still having a lot of trouble with the “don’t be afraid to let go” part of the conscious closet. I still have so many things that I have had for years that I NEVER wear. I am doing much better with wearing things many more times before I wash them and buying new things that I really like. The journey continues.
I’m going to work on making my wardrobe more “sustainable”. I sure do love this guide you’ve given us, Grechen. My areas where I could work harder: buying when I need to vs. just because when things are on sale, and also using the dryer less.
Getting my sustainable, minimalist wardrobe put together will be one of my goals for 2016!
I’m totally going to do a copy of this look – I love it so much!! I’m working on getting my closet more sustainable. I am going to start with weeding out what I don’t need, and getting really strict about what I bring into my closet. I’m a terrible lover of fast fashion, so buying for longevity is going to be a big change. Thank goodness you made me such an awesome list of sustainable, plus size designers 🙂
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Huge WOW for this look. I literally said “Wow” out loud — just the right amount of drama, nice lines on you.
Your point that aesthetic integrity is an important factor in sustainable design is great, and something that doesn’t often get mentioned. A truly sustainable design (and this goes for fields like architecture and interior design as well!) needs to hold up over the years. When something is overtly trendy and oriented towards what’s in”fashion” at the moment, there’s a high likelihood that it will be cast off after a couple of seasons or a couple of years. This is where understanding one’s own individual style becomes important if one wants to build a truly sustainable wardrobe, or home.
You sure have a lot of clothes.
I would say your James Perse definitely counts as sustainable since you wear it for so long, and so often. I’m finding that some pieces in my wardrobe are favorites and I wear them often (mostly the Eileen Fisher…sometimes “officially” sustainable/sometimes not…and Vince, probably not technically, but I wear the hell out of it and it will get passed on through donation.)
I’d love to se this dress/outfit with your Rag & Bone Aston booties! I think it would dress it up nicely. What’s to feel guilty about with the bag?
I am the worst about only wearing a portion of my wardrobe. When it is chilly in and out of the house, I tend to gravitate toward just a few comfortable, warm items and wear them over and over. I could pare my weekend or work from home wardrobe down to about 10 pieces right now and I’d be set until March.
Right now I’m all about fleece leggings – I buy the Cuddle Duds brand, probably not sustainable. I cover my rear with an eileen fisher ponte skirt that I feel has become too short to wear to work (I am tall, and it has shrunk). On top I wear one of my black flowy knit tops, or a black merino EF pullover, or both. If I’m leaving the house, I top this with one of two heavyweight EF dusters I’ve had for a few years – one is black and gray, one is a grayish off-white.. I wear this all with black clogs.
If I’m feeling really fancy, I will swap the leggings for tights and wear tall boots in place of the clogs.
The only thing I really change up is my jewelry and scarf. I always wear some kind of long necklace to break up the black.
It’s a rut for sure, but a comfy one, and hey – it’s sustainable because I’m certainly not buying anything new.