Ethical Clothing

Updated: Nov 5, 2019







Not surprisingly, decluttering my wardrobe has caused me to think about my clothes in terms of quality and style (helped me further hone in on mine). There is another, perhaps less obvious aspect relating to clothing that surfaced for me through this process. This is one of ethics. How my clothes were made and who made them became much more important to me.

After purging so many unloved clothes, it felt so natural and freeing when I decided to give up shopping for a year. This welcome respite gave me a chance to step back and think about how I wanted to proceed in when it comes to buying clothes.

About eight months in, the decluttering of our pantry ruined my self-inflicted time out. As I started eating healthier, the weight I lost caused my clothes to become a bit ill fitting. The same thing happened to my husband. My sister lovingly told me it was time to find some less droopy drawers. Hiatus over. It was time to put a new way of shopping into practice.

I decided to try to delve (back) into the world of second hand clothes. Back in the day when I thrifted as a teen, I could score vintage clothes from previous generations that were well made and still in good shape. Those generations invested in quality. Businesses built their reputations on it.

These days, it's not unusual for a shirt to gather more pills than a pharmacy after a few wearings. Once pilled, the low quality shirt might get shoved into the depths of a closet, or maybe donated to an already crammed donation center. Second hand stores are filling faster than they can manage with poorly made clothes. Goodwill stores in New York and New Jersey alone collected more than 85.7 million pounds of textile donations last year. Many clothes end up in landfills.


This doesn't mean that quality second hand clothes cannot be found, I just have to be patient and make sure I buy quality items that I love. To fight "sales rack hysteria" impulse buys, I plan my wardrobe and know what I am looking for before I shop. I am pickier.

Online shopping works best in my current season of life. I have managed to find clothes for my family from online consignment sites such as,, and I try to search for higher quality brands and many times find pieces "like new" or "new with tags". I have been diligent about sending items back that don't work and not recluttering my closet. I try to be mindful of the websites' marketing strategies for free shipping after a reaching certain amount. Returns are offered for store credit many times and then it can be tempting to spend more to use your credit and achieve free shipping Nirvana again. It can be a vicious cycle if you aren't careful. Recovering shopaholics beware!

Sometimes particular pieces are hard to find and I decide to purchase new. Waiting for a good sale at Patagonia helps. (If you are curious about this company, listen to NPR's How I Built This with the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard here. You're welcome!) Buying high quality, timeless, ethical clothing is an investment to save for. There are new brands sprouting up all the time that are doing it right (and amazingly they aren't all selling hippie looking clothing). Just Google "ethical clothing". Maxine Bédat is the co-founder of Zady. Listen to her Tedx talk for a deeper understanding of the ethics of fashion.

If you have the time, check out the documentary The True Cost. I watched it on Netflix. Click the link for other ways to watch.

Interested in finding your style and a more ethical wardrobe through an in-house consultation? We offer that. Check out our Closet Edit.

"Do you know where your clothes come from? The apparel industry is one of the biggest violators of both the environment and human rights. In this compelling and information-packed talk, Maxine Bédat shows how you can take back the power of your wardrobe, and feel better in (and better about) your clothes. Maxine Bédat is the co-founder and CEO of Zady, a fashion brand and lifestyle destination creating a transparent and sustainable future for the $1.5 trillion apparel industry. Her background in international law and diplomacy, including serving as a legal clerk for the U.N., led her to found The Bootstrap Project, a non-profit organization that works with entrepreneurs in the developing world. For its work in sustainability, Zady was named one of the world’s “Most Innovative Companies” in retail by Fast Company and its creativity was recognized by Mashable, which called the company “the #1 business rocking content marketing.” Bédat serves on the Council of NationSwell, has spoken at some of the world’s leading conferences, including the WWD Apparel/Retail CEO Summit, and has been regularly featured as an expert by Bloomberg, Forbes, Business of Fashion, CNN and the Huffington Post. Bédat is a graduate of Columbia Law School." ~Tedx bio

#ethicalclothing #sweatshops #fastfashion #environment #secondhand #consignment #patagonia #zady #MaxineBedat #YvonChouinard

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