It’s buy nothing day!

buy nothing day

Hip hip hooray, it’s Buy Nothing Day! 

Challenging myself to not buy anything on Black Friday this year, because I am trying to cut down on my impulse purchases, buy gifts because they’re meaningful rather than because they’re on sale, and focus more on what’s really important this holiday season.

Presence > presents.

Anyone else giving Buy Nothing Day a go? (Have to make sure to ignore the promotional emails!)

So you want to learn about conscious fashion…

But maybe you don’t know where to start.

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Over the weekend, M. and I went out with a few friends for dinner and drinks. We were chatting and one of my friends (much to my happiness!) commented that she saw my Instagram posts about conscious fashion and was really interested in the topic. She asked me how I got into it and where she should start if she wanted to learn more.

It is definitely overwhelming to begin exploring the world of conscious fashion. You might be asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • Where can I get a basic understanding of some of the issues around clothing production? 
  • Are the brands I like to wear conscious brands? How can I find out?
  • Where can I discover new conscious brands?
  • There’s a lot of lingo! What’s the difference between ethical, sustainable and conscious fashion?

Well, read on to learn more!

Where can I get a basic understanding of some of the issues around clothing production? 

The first thing any conscious fashion advocate will tell you is to watch The True CostIt addresses both the human and environmental impact of our over-consumption, and puts faces to the people who make our clothes. It also highlights the designers and farmers who are pursuing a better way. You can find it on Netflix.

Are the brands I like to wear conscious brands? How can I find out?

The first place to start is on the brand’s website. Do they have a sustainability statement? Do they have a human rights statement? Can they track their supply chain? Brands who can do these things are proud to put that information out there and should have it readily available. Brands who can’t tend to be silent about it.

Project Just is where you should turn if you can’t find information on a particular brand. They offer detailed reports on a brand’supply chain practices, from working conditions to waste management. They also have a list of approved brands that go above and beyond in their social and environmental efforts.

Where can I find out about conscious brands?

Well, besides Project Just, and my list of conscious brands, check out some of my favorite blogs below!

There’s a lot of lingo! What’s the difference between ethical, sustainable and conscious fashion?

It may seem like these phrases are used interchangeably, but they actually have their own distinct definitions.

Ethical fashion: Ethical fashion is concerned with human rights. The focus is on how those who make your clothes are treated and paid. Brands that fall under the ethical fashion umbrella often make products that benefit their workers/ local community, such as through education initiatives and job training. Animal welfare and animal rights also fall under ethical fashion.

Sustainable fashion: Sustainable fashion is concerned with the environment. This encompasses things like water usage, recycled content, absence of pesticides in production, dyeing processes and more.

Conscious fashion: Conscious fashion is also referred to as slow fashion. Conscious fashion is concerned with quality, though many of the above topics can fall under conscious fashion because it is a bit more like a philosophy. Conscious fashion is a mindset of purchasing fewer, better garments that transcend trends, and taking good care of the clothing you already own to maximize it’s life.

 

The pieces I’m loving lately

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I haven’t posted recently about what I’ve been wearing lately for a few reasons – I’ve been super busy with my volunteer work, a lot of my closet workhorses are at the dry cleaner (I’m not a fan of dry cleaning in general but it seems like so many ethically made pieces are dry clean only. Note to self to explore that in a future post.), and I’ve felt like a lot of my photos aren’t “blog-worthy.”

Blogging today is definitely more about your visual content than your written content, but seeing as my friends, or husband, or mom, take my photos, I’m not always able to get the highest quality images of what I’m wearing. My photographers just aren’t always available to take a photo when I’m wearing a particular piece! Also, I always feel sort of weird asking people to take pictures of my outfit. Maybe that’s something you just have to get over if you want to blog.

But, I decided to post some of the pieces I’ve been wearing over and over lately anyways, because I’m starting to notice a few trends in the things I gravitate toward. I hope making note of this will help me to be more thoughtful in my clothing choices moving forward.

Camel & cashmere 

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I love wearing camel/tan, it feels so classic. I bought this sweater recently, secondhand through Poshmark. It’s a wool/cashmere blend, and it does shed a little – but I still can’t believe someone would have parted with it! It’s so soft, and everyone always comments on how cozy it looks! (P.S. these high-waisted button fly Madewell jeans, while not of an ethical brand, were a great investment for me. They fit in my budget, and fit me really well. I wear them so often).

Multi-way pieces

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I’m loving pieces that can be worn multiple ways, like this Vetta long cardigan, which can be worn as I have it here, or buttoned up and worn as a dress with the accompanying belt, and worn either with the buttons in the front or in the back.

Simple basics

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More camel (!) and these over-the-knee boots that I bought secondhand had me feeling my best. So comfortable but I still felt stylish! I’ve also been wearing this Jimani Collections necklace a lot, which I got in the Fall Causebox (anyone else a Causebox subscriber? The Fall box was my first one – I was really happy with it!). I feel like it jazzes up all my solid sweaters.

All stripes, all the time!

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I love this top (I don’t even know where I got it or when) but it’s a little short with a ruffle on the bottom. It looks a little dressy when I leave it out, but I am also able to tuck it in with high-waisted jeans for a more casual look. I also just really love stripes. I gravitate toward this top a lot when I’m getting dressed.

I’m looking forward to getting my dry cleaning back because I’d like to do a few more “styled” posts, but in the meantime couldn’t resist sharing these outfits. I’m thinking this might be the beginning of me determining a palette for my wardrobe, so I can start to focus more on what pieces work well together, and have some more guidelines in place for when I add new things to my wardrobe.

Do you have a color palette for your closet? Or do you just buy whatever you love and feel like works for you? I’m worried a palette might be too limiting, but looking at the above…maybe I wouldn’t even notice. Would love to get your thoughts, and hope everyone had a great weekend.

My conscious holiday gift picks!

conscious gift guide

Hey all-  I’ve had the shopping bug recently, but am trying to avoid purchasing things unnecessarily for myself. So, I thought I’d instead direct that energy toward a little holiday gift guide!

These are the conscious products I’ve been loving lately. I think they’d make for some very happy unwrapping! I actually did splurge and get the Pamut Wyatt tee, since I have a brand ambassador code – I’ve shared it with you in the links below!

Vrai & Oro Lightweight Hoops // Amour Vert Francoise 3/4 Sleeve Tee in Poppy // Slumlove Sweater Co. The Relaxed Vee in Ecru // Little Barn Apothecary Coffee & Mint Body Scrub // Thought Christmas Tree Bamboo Socks // ABLE Tigist Leather Clutch // Cuyana Long Sleep Set // Pamut Apparel Wyatt Tee (Save 15% on your Pamut purchase with code KELLIEHAYDEN15) // Soko Tassel Wrap Choker // Jimani Collections Mini Eyelash Tassel Basket // Under the Canopy Kimono Robe // Antonym Certified Organic Quattro Eye Shadow

What’s on your list this year?

*Disclosure: I’m a Pamut Apparel brand ambassador. If you use my code, I won’t receive any cash compensation, though I may receive free clothing (and who knows, maybe I’ll pass it along to my readers in a giveaway!)

This conscious fashion thing is hard.

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Real talk. This conscious fashion thing is hard.

Well, it was always hard, but it’s a lot harder now that I’ve decided to write about my closet’s journey. It feels as though there is so much more pressure to always pick the right pieces and do the right thing.

There is a massive conscious style community online, and I’m feeling like a failure right now for Amazon Priming a pair of joggers over the weekend and buying a J.Crew peacoat for the winter (even though it fit me better and worked better than anything else I tried, and I really needed a coat.) because it seems like nobody else has this problem of picking the “wrong” things. I want to be authentic at this thoughtful fashion life, but it’s so hard to be perfect.

It’s also really difficult to avoid impulse purchases and over-consumption in the conscious fashion world. With so many beautiful ethical, sustainable, slow brands making clothing that supports causes I believe in, how can I not click “add to cart”? Not to mention, capsule wardrobes are incredibly popular right now, and the related small production runs create a sense of shopping urgency that isn’t always there with mass-market brands.

I posted on Instagram last night in the midst of these thoughts and summarized these feelings, asking my followers what questions they ask themselves in order to make more meaningful purchases. I got some great feedback from friends and other conscious fashion aficionados that I respect so much, so sharing it here.

  • “I almost always ask myself “How many outfits can you wear with this?” or “How many outfits can you make out of this?” It helps me weed out the “one and done” items. – My friend Victoria. For her, two weekly outfits is the minimum requirement for making a piece work. I like that guideline, as someone who has owned so many one-and-done pieces.
  • Elyse, of Elyse Clark Style Diary, said she uses #30wears as a benchmark. She tries to determine what she will love wearing at least 30 times. I think keeping track of what you wear most is not only a great way to discover your personal style, but also a great way to make better choices about what to buy in the future. P.S. – make sure to check out her blog! She’s starting a year of no fashion purchases soon – what an awesome fashion adventure!
  • Stefanie, of stephaniemurrer.com, left me a comment that she has had a lot of the same thoughts lately, which was so reassuring because I’m really inspired by her sense of style. You can read her take on the challenges of conscious fashion here.

Ultimately, I think it’s important to confront that sometimes we’re going to make fashion choices that may not be perfect, or that other people don’t understand, and that’s because what we wear is deeply personal. It’s rooted not only in what believe about the world around us, but also in what we believe about ourselves. I think talking about the challenges we face in becoming thoughtful consumers also helps us support one another and make better choices. In the end, I may not always be perfect (and likely will never be perfect) with what I wear and what I buy, but at least I can always say I worked hard to be better, every day.

Anyways, that’s all for now.

The conscious brands I loved first

Wanted to take some time to share the conscious clothing brands that got me started on my journey to a more thoughtful closet!

Although it might seem like I suddenly became really into conscious, ethical and sustainable fashion, I actually started slowly adding ethical pieces to my closet around two years ago. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was building a more thoughtful closet, I was just trying to find good quality items that would look polished for work and would last after being disappointed in the quality of inexpensive, fast-fashion items.

The following brands are the ones I fell in love with first – some you probably know, some you might not.

Cuyana

Cuyana is based on the philosophy of buying fewer, better things and inspiring “intentional buying through pieces that are crafted with integrity.” Cuyana’s clothing and accessories are manufactured in the U.S., Europe and South America, and the company supports the Lean Closet Movement, which was created to give victims of abuse a fresh start. By selecting Lean Closet at checkout, Cuyana will send you a linen bag to fill with the things that are no longer of use to you. Mail the bag back and for every donation you make, you will receive a $10 credit towards your next Cuyana purchase.

The first piece I bought from them was the classic leather tote in stone, with my initials monogrammed in gold. The most recent thing I bought is the ribbed open back sweater in ecru.

cuyana tote

cuyana sweater

Images via cuyana.com.

Free Label

Free Label is a Canadian brand focused on basics and activewear, also championing the buy less but better message. Free Label manufactures its clothes in small batches using sustainable materials such as bamboo, organic cotton and wood pulp. Clothes are made locally in Toronto and Vancouver by employees who are paid fair wages.

The first piece I purchased from them is the black Andie reversible bra. The most recent piece I purchased from them is the black tulip tee (can you tell I really like open back clothing? They work for so many seasons depending how you layer them!)

free label andie bra free label tulip top

Images via shopfreelabel.com.

Patagonia

Ah, Patagonia – the beacon of ethical and sustainable fashion! (In my humble opinion). There probably isn’t much I can say here that you don’t already know, but to reiterate: Patagonia’s mission is to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Its products are fair-trade certified, the company can trace its supply chain, it pays workers a living wage and uses sustainable, reclaimed and recycled materials.

The first Patagonia piece I ever owned was a gift from my parents a few years ago – the gray Better Sweater.

The most recent item I purchased from Patagonia was a gift for my husband, the Refugio pack. He used it for our honeymoon, since we did a lot of outdoor activities.

patagonia better sweater

patagonia refugio pack

Images via patagonia.com

Eileen Fisher

I first discovered Eileen Fisher as part of a job search. I was familiar with the brand at the time, but didn’t fully understand its commitment to sustainability and producing clothing ethically. I was blown away when I started to research and learn more! Eileen Fisher clothing is about “simplicity, sustainability and great design.” The brand’s Vision2020 initiative makes several commitments in regards to production by the year 2020 – to use all organic cotton and linen, to have 30% of products bluesign certified, for U.S. operations to be carbon positive, to map its suppliers and to recycle one million of its used garments.

The first item I bought from the brand is no longer available, but it was a black jersey cardigan, somewhat similar to this (but not as long). I haven’t bought anything from the brand recently even though I love its items, as the price can be a bit prohibitive for me at times. Though the items are definitely well worth the price if you have the funds available.

eileen fisher jersey cardigan

Image via eileenfisher.com

So there you have it – the brands that paved the way for me to be as passionate about ethical fashion as I am today! I hope you learned something new, and will consider checking them out.

How I cleaned my closet (a tale of 9 trash bags)

But don’t worry – I didn’t trash everything.

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Not my closet. (I actually have a small storage room- not a closet – which also houses our Christmas decorations, etc. Apartment problems! But these are the types of images that inspire me, since I assume none of you are interested in seeing my fake Christmas tree and patio table we haven’t assembled yet. 😀 )

Hi everyone! I’m back from my wedding and getting back into my regular blogging. It was a beautiful day, and we also had an absolutely amazing honeymoon in Italy and Greece! You can see photos of the day and from our honeymoon if you’re interested on my Instagram account – @kelliehayden. Thanks to everyone who sent us well wishes!

When I decided to embrace conscious fashion, it really came from a place of desperation. I was overwhelmed with life: with graduate school, work, travel for work, wedding planning, and being diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. I felt like I didn’t have a lot of control over things in my life, but one thing I could control was how much of a mess our apartment, and my closet space, had become.

I became obsessed with figuring out how to simplify what I owned – I imagined an organized closet would mean an organized mind. I also wanted to make fewer decisions about what to wear and what to buy. Focusing only on the essentials and what I truly needed.

When I cleaned out my belongings, it was really only two steps:

  • How do I decide what to keep?
  • How do these clothes get a new life if they aren’t right for me anymore?

I started with deciding what to keep. The biggest thing I learned, in going through every item I owned, was that I had a lot of clothes that were for someone I used to be, or for someone I hoped to be one day. But I didn’t have a lot of pieces that were appropriate for who I am today: someone who works in a casual office, someone who mostly appreciates neutrals, someone who doesn’t go to parties or clubs or fancy places. With all that said, I had so many pieces that were too fussy, too fancy, or too occasion-specific.

So I only asked myself one question when it came to cleaning. I didn’t ask what brought me joy, or what I had or hadn’t worn over the last six months, or what I might need one day. I asked myself-

“Does this piece of clothing help me celebrate the person I am today?”

If the answer was no, it got bagged. All in all, I collected nine kitchen trash bags full of pieces that didn’t make sense for my life, and ended up with a much more realistic and approachable closet that is full of things I can wear for any given occasion. Well, for the most part. It isn’t perfect, but that’s what this whole blog and journey is about!

Then I was confronted with what to do with the nine bags. Knowing that most donated clothing is just resold or sent to developing nations (because there’s just so much of it), I sought to reuse as much as possible.

A few of my friends took accessories I no longer used, like a few clutch bags that were too small or too colorful for me. A friend of my mom took a bunch of things for her college-aged daughter, since I had so many formal or “going out” clothes from my college days. I think this is the best thing you can do, if you personally know someone who could get further use out of your gently used items! This method helped me to pass along most of the items in the nine bags.

I’ve also made great use of the Poshmark app, a social selling tool. I feel good knowing that people are purchasing my gently used clothing because they too intend to use them. I’ve also been able to find a lot of great secondhand pieces to fill different needs in my closet through it.

Items in poor condition I use as cleaning rags (at least some of them) – and it was only after all of these steps that items were donated to be sold or broken down into new materials, or thrown away.

Overall, I feel really great about the process, and it’s work I continue to do as I get dressed each day and discover even more items that don’t really make sense for me to keep anymore.

Would love to hear your tips for cleaning out your closet, and, if you’re into conscious fashion, what got you started on your journey! Leave me a note in the comments.