ethical fashion

How to Start Dressing Ethically

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist

I have only been consciously dressing ethically for five years now (since 2012) but in that time I have picked up a few tips. Making the decision to start dressing ethically can be both exciting- as well as completely overwhelming when you start to look around you and see only fast fashion, or sustainable fashion brands that you cannot afford to buy from! The first step to dressing ethically (yay!) is not in completely overhauling your entire wardrobe, but in taking small steps starting from this point on. So, continuing in the spirit of Fashion Revolution Week, today I am sharing both a completely ethical outfit, as well as my tips on how to start dressing ethically yourself.

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist, shoes and purse

My purse was from a vintage store, and the scarf and shoes were thrifted. 

Shop Secondhand 

Secondhand clothes make up a large portion of my wardrobe, because they are a really great and affordable way to dress ethically. Because used clothes are already in existence, whatever history and supply chain they may have had previously is given a second chance at life when you add it to your wardrobe. There are so many textiles already in existence, and unfortunately many of them are sent to the landfills. (11 million tonnes each year in the USA alone!!!) This is obviously unsustainable, and one of the best ways to combat this is to wear secondhand clothing. For my fellow vintage lovers, we’ve already seen the value in wearing “old” things 🙂

While shopping second hand may be time consuming- and might not be the best option when you need something very specific, if you treat it like a treasure hunt, you might be surprised at what you can find. Some of my favourite pieces in my closet are thrifting finds: one man’s trash is certainly another’s treasure.

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist, outfit

My shirt was “thirdhand” as it originally belonged to my aunt, who then passed it on to my sister, who finally passed it on to me! 

Some easy ways to start wearing secondhand clothing would be by thrifting and shopping at vintage and consignment stores. If you don’t have a thrift store in your area, consider having a clothing swap with friends, accepting hand me downs from others, or buying online through places like Etsy or ThredUp. (ThredUp is an online thrift store. I’ve never purchased from them before- but I know plenty of other people who have had great success shopping there.)

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist, outfit

I upcycled my skirt from a thrifted extra large wrap skirt.

Handmade

Another great way to way to dress ethically is by making your own clothing or accessories. Learning to sew, if you don’t know how to already, is a great life skill and can really help you to appreciate the value of clothing (and the hard work that goes into making it!) By making your own clothing, you are escaping the “fast fashion” trend and instead creating thoughtful, slow-fashion pieces.

Although, one of the downsides of sewing your own clothing can be in not knowing where your fabric is sourced from, one of the best ways I have found to sew sustainably is in refashioning and upcyling. This is second hand and handmade combined in one: the best of both worlds 🙂 Some of the projects I have upcycled (including this dutch wax print skirt) are featured in these posts here, here and here. Even if you don’t want to get involved in time consuming refashions, second hand textiles such as linens or extra large maxi skirts give you a lot of fabric to work with to cut new things out of, and some thrift stores even sell yard goods!  That being said, I do still purchase new fabric from time to time, if I have a specific project in mind. I would love to one day be able to source all of my fabric from sustainable textile mills, but in the meantime I am glad to be able to hand make slow-fashion pieces for my wardrobe.

And, even if you don’t want to sew for yourself, have you considered the handmade pieces other people are making (both clothing as well as accessories)? Check out your local craft fairs and farmer’s markets, or search on Etsy. There are so many talented people out there who are selling lots of beautiful handmade items. Some of them even take custom orders- so you can get exactly what you want!

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist, belt detail

My belt is from the Canadian company Brave Leather, and as well as being fair trade, it is also made of vegetable-tanned leather byproducts sourced from the food industry.

Ethically Made

Another way to dress ethically is in buying from (and supporting) companies that are producing sustainable and ethically made goods. When it comes to finding ethical fashion brands, keep in mind that it’s like getting a grade in school- if you get a good grade you tell everyone, and if you get a bad grade, you tend to keep it to yourself. Ethical fashion companies usually have easy-to-find information about their practices and supply chains. If a company doesn’t have that information for you, they probably aren’t an ethical company (although that’s not always the case.)

The best way to find ethical fashion companies I’ve found, is simply by searching the internet with keywords like “ethical fashion brands”, “fair trade fashion companies”, “ethical leather purse”, “fair trade jewellery” “sustainable fashion” etc. This will bring up tons of companies for you to choose from, as well as sites dedicated to sharing ethical brands, such as this one. I shared a post a few weeks ago listing some ethical jewellery brands, here.

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist, bracelets

My fair trade bracelets are engraved brass, copper and mother of pearl from India, which I purchased from Ten Thousand Villages. The Pearly Bracelets and Etched Bangles are currently still available.

I find buying ethically made clothing to be out of my reach at the moment. I don’t feel confident in purchasing clothing online, because I am never sure if it is going to fit how I like it (and since I don’t live in the USA, where many of the companies are from, I don’t qualify for things like free shipping and returns). And unfortunately I don’t have any local ethical clothing shops to buy from. However, once thing that I do like to purchase from ethical companies is accessories. Things like jewellery, belts, and purses are a great first step to buying ethically. You don’t have to “try on” a necklace, so it is easy to purchase things like that online. I also do have a Ten Thousand Villages store a couple of hours away from where I live, so I’ve bought plenty from them over the years. Investing in ethical companies is a good option, because it sends the message to the fashion industry that this is something that is important to you- and by helping fair trade companies to succeed, you are helping to shape the future of the fashion industry too.

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist, jewellery details

My necklace was from Ten Thousand Villages. The Engraved Choker is currently still available for sale. My earrings are vintage and second-hand from my mom.

Well, those are my tips for some ways to start dressing ethically. It can seem overwhelming at first, but small changes make big differences over time! I hope that wherever you are on the ethical fashion scale, that these few tips can help you, and, if you have any other tips, please do share!

What are your favourite ways of shopping and dressing ethically?

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka: Recent Thrift Finds)

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist

This year, Fashion Revolution has suggested several ways to get involved, one of which is sharing a fashion “Haulternative” . The purpose behind the fashion haulternative is to encourage people to find ways to refresh their closet, other than buying new clothes. Today I am sharing a combination of their ideas: Broken but beautiful, 2hand, Vintage, Fashion fix (mended), Swapped and Slow fashion. 

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I always love a good thrift haul, don’t you? I am always surprised by what people get rid of- and am so happy that they do! One person’s trash really is another persons treasure. So, in honour of Fashion Revolution week, here are some of my recent thrifting finds, or should I say, haulternative, and ways in which I plan to refresh my wardrobe without buying new. 🙂

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, fur coat

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, fur-detail

First up might be my favourite find of all time: this gorgeous cropped grey persian lamb fur coat. My sister spotted it for me, and I was seriously having a “start the car” moment! I got it in February, but I have still had a few chances to wear it before putting it away for Spring. (Well Spring is an illusion lately- so maybe I will get lots of chances to wear it before Summer arrives!) I don’t have too many grey tones in my wardrobe, but I do have plenty of navy, which this pairs well with, and the grey has a bit of warm tone to it, so I think it might pair OK with browns too. I am working on creating a more cohesive wardrobe, and I think this coat will fit in well.

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, bedjacket

Next is this adorable little bed jacket. Now when I lounge in bed reading magazines and eating breakfast on a fancy tray, I will be all set. Now if I can just get someone to bring me breakfast in bed. . . . 😉

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, velvet skirt

This velvet skirt is an interesting one. I promise you that is a velvet skirt hanging on the wall- not a skirt shaped black abyss (do you know how hard it is to photograph black velvet!!??!!) This box pleated skirt was missing a button, but I thought- no problem to fix that, so I got it. I replaced the button, and then went to wear it on a Sunday morning. As we were headed out the door, I noticed a thread hanging from the hem, so I went to trim it- only to notice that a piece was chopped out of the hem! I have no idea why the previous owner did this- and it is even funnier that I didn’t notice it before. Well, because it is velvet, you can’t tell from the front, but obviously I will mend it. The skirt has room to be hemmed up an inch or so, so it won’t cause any problems. But, it is still so odd; who thinks, “I need a small scrap of velvet. . .  oh I know! I’ll cut it out of my hem!” ??? The joys of thrifting 🙂 I think that this skirt will work well with plenty of items in my current closet, so it was a rather good and versatile purchase.

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, belt

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, belt-detail

Next up is this cute little metal belt with an interesting clasp. I haven’t worn this one yet- but I’m sure I will find a use for it. Accessories are such a great way of changing up your wardrobe without getting all new outfits. You can completely change the look of an ensemble, just by switching out the accessories. I love adding belts to an outfit to add both an interesting detail, as well as helping to create that 1950’s silhouette.

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, skirts-to-upcycle

Now this is a project. I know I said I hate buying thrifting projects, but it is an addiction or something. I do have a plan for these though, so it’s OK right? Both of these skirts are rayon, and they work well together- in a clashing/quirky kind of way. I want to turn them into some kind of sundress or playsuit combination, using the dark fabric for a top, and the light fabric for a skirt. I don’t have a defined plan of action yet, but if it ever stops snowing, it would be nice to have some more summer outfits, so I’d better get cracking on it! Even though I don’t particularly love refashioning, I do love diverting textiles from the landfill, so I am excited about this project. I will try to remember to take photos this time, of my process for making it- and then create a blog post for sometime in the future.

These next few items were from a clothing swap. I do love a good clothing swap, as it’s basically a free way to get some fun new items for your wardrobe.

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, white top

This white eyelet top kind of reminds me of a Victorian/Edwardian style corset cover, when it’s tucked in. I think it will be nice for the hot summer days too.

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, leopard sweater

I love leopard print, but surprisingly I don’t own very much of it. I think that this cotton sweater will be a nice neutral for Fall and Winter. I like the colour combination of this one, and the way it looks tucked into a simple black skirt. I hope to be able to style it with a 40’s/50’s secretary sort of vibe.

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, scarves

Lastly here are some scarves- I love scarves! Especially since I started tying them as turbans. The one with the beaded piece makes an interesting sort of 20’s style turban (picture of that here). I haven’t tried the coral or green scarves yet. You might be able to see that the bottom of the coral scarf is faded. I think it was factory folded, and never used and unfolded, as it was perfectly faded in a square and around the edges! I got this scarf for free, so it doesn’t bother me, and as I will always be tying it, it will be hardly noticeable.

Well. There are my recent thrifting finds. Some of these are a bit out of season, so they probably won’t be making it into outfit posts until next season, but I wanted to share them now anyways.

Have you had any good thrift finds lately? What ways do you like to refresh your wardrobe, without resorting to buying new clothes all the time? Are you planning on taking part in the Fashion Revolution Haulternative?

Fashion Revolution Love Story: An Ode to a Humble T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Love Story: An Ode to a Humble T-Shirt, clothing love stories

Care for your clothes, like the good friends they are – Joan Crawford

Fashion Revolution Love Story: An Ode to a Humble T-Shirt, clothing love stories, horizontal

This year, Fashion Revolution has suggested several ways to get involved, one of which is sharing a fashion revolution love story. “We love fashion. We love how clothes can make us feel, and how they can represent how we feel about ourselves. They’re our message to the world about who we are. Rather than buying new, fall back in love with the clothes you already own. Share your story about an item of clothing that means a lot to you. The more we love our clothes, the more we care for them, and the longer they last. We are asking fashion lovers from all over the world to join the fashion revolution and create a love story.” Want to see more clothing love stories, or get involved and share your own fashion revolution love story? People are sharing on Instagram or Facebook this week with the hashtags #lovedclotheslast and #fashionrevolution.

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Dear cream coloured peasant style t-shirt,

You are such a sweet, yet innocuous garment. I bought you about six years ago now in the first big clothing “shopping spree” I ever had. There I was, just out of college and in desperate need of some clothing. I had a job and money to spend, and after so many years of hand-me-downs which were on the verge of wearing out completely, combined with years of a negative body image, in which I didn’t wear nice things, I was ready for some new and pretty clothes.

Fashion Revolution Love Story: An Ode to a Humble T-Shirt, clothing love stories, detail and outfitmy most recent outfit featuring this peasant style top

On that day, while browsing the sale racks, I found you. In fact I found two of you. I bought two of the same shirt, because I thought that I would tie dye one. I am very glad that I never got around to doing that- because, well, tie dye isn’t really my thing and I am sure that wouldn’t have lasted long in my closet, and also because I can now wear “you” twice as often. I was drawn to you that day because, quite simply put: you were perfect. Basic, but different. Classic, with a twist. Vintage in style, yet made of comfortable knit. Long enough to tuck in and loose enough to be blowsy, but soft enough to drape. And on top of all that- you are a wonderful shade of cream that magically seems to coordinate with everything I put you with.

Fashion Revolution: An Ode to a Humble T-Shirt, 1anne of green gables worthy puffed sleeves

You work surprisingly well underneath my pinafore dresses, and make me look as though I belong in The Sound of Music (this is always a good thing). When I pair you with a full skirt, I look like I’ve stepped out of a 1950’s picnic. You work with all of my casual outfits, and function surprisingly well as a “shell” too, underneath blazers and cardigans. You are so neutral that you go with everything, and your “puffed sleeves” have just the right amount of puff without being overdone. When in doubt, I always know I can fall back on you.

Because you are cream, of course, I have spilled all manner of things on you- curry, spaghetti sauce, beet juice and many other staining kinds of things. And yet, every time, the stains have come right out- I don’t know how you do it- but I’m glad you do!

Fashion Revolution: An Ode to a Humble T-Shirt, 1with a pleated skirt

I bought you cheap from a fast fashion brand. You were probably less than $15.00 brand new, less than $5.00 on sale. All of the clothes I bought that day were on sale. That day, I bought cheap clothes, because I didn’t know differently, and I don’t think I could afford anything else either. Because you are so cheap, I am actually surprised that you have lasted this long. Yes, I do have two of you, and yet I thought you would have worn out years ago. I wear you at least once a week. . . probably twice a week, which means that I have worn each individual shirt at least 150 times in the last six years (but probably more). Look at how many times I have featured you here on the blog in just over one year!

harem pants with a vintage style blouse the artyologistperfect with harem pants

You were made in Bangladesh. I don’t know who made you. I wonder who cut out your fabric, sewed your seams, gathered your puffed sleeves and trimmed your errant threads. At the site of the Rana Plaza factory collapse four years ago, in the rubble, tags were found bearing the logo stamped on the inside of your collar. Were you made in that factory? I wonder about the garment worker who made you. Was she or he there that day? Where are they now?

the artyologist- vintage style dutch wax print skirtworn as a “shell”

I didn’t know about fast fashion in those days when I bought you. If I saw you today, I would have to pass on by. And yet, despite your questionable history and supply chain, you have without a doubt been one of the best garments I’ve ever purchased. If I was told to choose a favourite garment from my wardrobe, and pick something to write this “Love Story” about, my first thought would be something showy and exciting. Perhaps my grey fur coat, or a true vintage dress or a pair of pretty shoes. . .  but in reality, while those are the fun things in my wardrobe, I don’t wear them all that often. At least not when compared to you!

A Limited Knowledge of Alice's Understanding, The Artyologistwith a suspender skirt

I wash you in a cold gentle wash, and hang you to dry, to try and keep you in good shape. But, the other day I found a hole. It is near a seam, so I think I can mend it. But, I started to wonder- what ever will I do when you are gone? I know that I can never replace you, and you will surely be missed as one of my most loved garments of all time. As much as one can “love” a piece of clothing, I do love you, my humble and ordinary cream coloured peasant t-shirt!

Love, Nicole

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What is your favourite garment in your wardrobe? How long have you had it, and what is the story behind it? I’d love to hear your fashion revolution love story too!

leave a little sparkle, holiday outfit, the artyologistunder a cardigan

What is Fashion Revolution Week? (And How to Take Part)

What is Fashion Revolution Week, the artyologist

Here we are already, almost at the end of April, and this means that Fashion Revolution Week is almost upon us. Next week, April 24-30th is Fashion Revolution Week 2017, and I am getting ready to take part. I thought though, that some of you may not know about Fashion Revolution, so I thought I would share with you some of the “events” going on next week, so you can get ready to take part too.

So, what is Fashion Revolution Week? Well, it is a global movement which seeks to create transparency, sustainability and ethical standards within the fashion industry. The fashion industry is one with more than a few dirty secrets, and the Fashion Revolution organization works to generate awareness about the issues and injustices garment and textile workers around the world face. In their own words, “We want to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased, so that what the world wears has been made in a safe, clean and fair way.

Fashion Revolution Week comes once a year, and falls on April 24th, marking the anniversary of the tragic 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Rana Plaza factory collapse, which is the largest and deadliest garment industry tragedy to date, resulted in 1,138 deaths (including both garment workers and rescuers) and injured over 2,500 people. Sadly, even though it is the largest tragedy, it was not the first to take place within the fashion industry, and it has not been the last either. There are many factories which are, quite simply, disasters waiting to happen. When word of the Rana Plaza building collapse hit the news, back in 2013, many consumers at the time, expressed outrage, claimed that the situation was terrible, and shameful and demanded transparency within the industry and improvements in the working conditions of the garment workers. But, like many other tragic news stories: people move on. Fashion Revolution was created in order to keep the issues alive, to keep people aware of what is going on within the fashion industry, and to keep asking questions, and encouraging us, the consumers, to ask brands and retailers, “who made my clothes”?

The fashion industry is one that is not fully “automated”. Someone, somewhere in this world made the clothing on the rack at your local shop. It may have been sewn by a machine, but someone was running that machine, and feeding the fabric through it. There are an estimated, 60-70 million people worldwide who work in the garment and textile industries, and about 3/4 of those workers are female. Some of those workers are treated well and are paid a fair wage, but many are taken advantage of and mistreated. Fashion Revolution Week gives people an opportunity to ask questions about how are garments are being made, who made them and what conditions they made them in. And of course, the goal is to be a part of helping to create change for the lives of these workers.

This year, Fashion Revolution has come up with several great ways to get involved in the event.

The first way to be involved is to ask brands, “Who made my clothes?” You can do this by showing the label on your clothes (like my picture above) and then asking the brand #whomademyclothes? You can do this on twitter, instagram or facebook. I’ll be taking part on instagram. Don’t forget to tag the brand in your post, so they’ll get the notification, and see your question!

There are a few new ways ways I am going to be involved, outside of social media, this year as well.

One is by sharing a fashion “Love Story”. I thought this was such a great idea on their part- by getting people excited about the clothing we already own and love we will start to think differently about impulse buys, cheaply made garments and “fast fashion fixes”. I’m going to be sharing one of my fashion “love stories” next week.

Another idea, is to share a “haulternative”, (fashion “haul” and “alternative” combined). This is a chance to refresh your wardrobe, without buying new clothes. I will be sharing some of my recent thrift shop finds next week, but there some other ideas for ways to take part in the haulternative.  Some of their great ideas for taking part are upcycling, mending, swapping or second hand finds.

They also have a template for writing a letter to a brand, in order to ask more directly, “who made my clothes”. I might be sending a couple of letters next week too. As for as other ways, last year I remember that there was also an “I made my clothes” event going on, where seamstresses and textile makers were sharing what they have made for themselves etc. so I might be taking part in that too. A lot of this will be going on over on Instagram, but I have those two posts lined up for this blog.

*UPDATE* I have since found out that, yes there will be a #makersforfashrev event going on this year too, hosted by Emily of In The Folds. Here is the “poster” for that. And feel free to share this image, Emily said, as the more people know about this event, the better!

makers for fash rev

If you want to take part in the event this year too, (last year there were over 70,000 participants) there is a pdf created by Fashion Revolution, with all the ideas on how to take part, here. Also, check out to see if there is an event in your area, on their page here. I am really excited for this years Fashion Revolution- because as each year passes, the event gets bigger and bigger- and though at times it may seem like an uphill battle, I know that changes are taking place in the fashion industry, ethical fashion is becoming more and more available and some of the bigger fashion brands are taking transparency seriously as well. Little by little change is coming, and it feels so good to be a part of that, in my own small way. We can’t be responsible for the actions of others, but we can each take a bit more care in the fashion and purchasing choices that we make for ourselves. I can’t wait to see what everyone is doing next week, and I hope you’ll join in the movement too!