Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Green Oscars

I was delighted to discover that several stars were wearing "green" on the red carpet for this year's Oscars!

Livia Firth (Colin Firth's wife) has a fashion blog and is an advocate for eco-fashion. She's began the "Green Carpet Challenge" in 2009 when a friend challenged her to wear sustainable fashion to celebrity events. Livia herself has taken the challenge to heart, and for the Oscars this year she wore a sustainable Valentino gown designed especially for her. The fabric was made from silk and recycled plastic bottles.

Photo link from Livia's vogue fashion blog
In addition, Meryl Streep who was the winner for best actress also work a sustainable dress! Meryl wore an beautiful eco-certified gold Lavin gown.

Photo link from Livia's vogue fashion blog
Other celebs that wore eco-friendly fashion choices included Missi Pyle, who wore a sustainable gown from Red Carpet Green Dress contest winner, Valentina Delfino. The gown was lined with recycled polyester, made of silk peace chiffon, and included a sustainable zipper. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a sustainable zipper!

photo from
Men were included in the sustainable fashion trend as well. Actors Kenneth Branagh, and Demian Bichir wore eco-friendly wool suits. And Livia's husband Colin Firth re-wore his Tom Ford suit from last year's Oscars. That more than anything else makes me happy. Re-wearing a suit from the year before is such a simple solution to create less waste. Plus when you have such a gorgeous suit, why not re-use it!

Friday, February 17, 2012

One Year Anniversary!

Happy one year of eco-friendly fashion to me! Exactly one year ago I wrote my first entry for this blog, oh the memories! I’m summing up my thoughts on my eco-year, and looking at how my perspectives have changed and what I think about the future of eco-fashion.

What I felt and what I learned
The eco-fashion rules I placed on myself this year have been both easy and hard to follow at the same time. I compare it to being on a diet: you’re doing it because you know it’s good for you, but every time you make the decision to have the salad instead of the french fries, you get a little sad. You stick to your diet to reach your goal, but you know deep down that you can’t do it forever.

The fist rule that I took to heart was buying less clothing. This is probably the hardest rule, but also the most important. By taking a step back and asking “do I need this?” before making a purchase, it really is possible to cut back on wasteful purchases.  I taught myself to be able to look at a beautiful dress, check the label, see that it was made in China and/or non-organic, and then put it back down without trying it on. Sometimes it was so hard!  

Buying organic clothing was extremely difficult. Besides the Hempest on Newbury I didn’t find any physical stores that sold organic or sustainable clothing. There are a lot of small shops on the internet that sell fashionable clothing made of sustainable fabrics, but it is tricky to find them. I also hate buying clothes online since you can’t try them on first. So all things considered, didn't buy very much clothing that fit into this rule.  

I would say the easiest rule for me was buying second-hand clothing. It’s cheap, there are a lot of second-hand shops in Boston, and you can find interesting things. The only downside is that second-hand clothes are always a little worn. It just can’t compare to buying a new item. After wearing a lot of second-hand clothing I felt dingy and was dying to buy something new and fresh. I also think second-hand is usually not quite nice enough to wear to work.

I should have used the “buy nice, expensive, long lasting clothes” rule to buy my work clothes, but the truth is I’m cheap. Yep. I’m getting better at spending more for quality, I really am, but I still hesitate to spend a lot on a piece of clothing. I do find myself now, at the end of the journey, realizing that I need some nice, quality pieces for my work wardrobe. I will have to invest a little so that I can buy more professional pieces.

I didn’t sew enough of my own clothing this year. I was proud of the dress I made for my friend’s wedding, and I loved my Halloween costume, but I wish I had done more. It’s just really hard to find time to sit down at a sewing machine and create a garment from scratch. It’s something I need to work on, and I hope that with a little focused discipline I can start making more of my own clothes in the future.

In some ways I feel like I’m always re-using stuff I don’t want. Whether it’s making earrings from left over materials, reworking a unitard from middle school as a costume for my aerials show, or turning a dress I don’t wear into a skirt I wear all the time. I do see potential in things, and I try to make use of them instead of throwing them away. However, regarding my last rule, I didn’t get around to donating any clothing this year. I do have a bag of clothes in my closet that I’d like to bring to Goodwill. I’ll try to work on doing that in year two ;)

It was hardest to follow my rules when I needed to buy basic necessities like tights, socks, and underwear. For those kinds of items most of us have one brand we know and love and use all the time. It was difficult to start from scratch and find something eco-friendly. The other challenge was shoes. It’s great that we have a vegan shoe store in Porter (Sudo), however you can’t rely on one store alone. Shoes need to fit perfectly and they need to be the right style. My thought going forward on shoes is that quality is the way to go. When it comes to shoes, it really benefits to invest in a good pair.

How I'll approach fashion in the future
Overall it’s been both hard and easy to stick to my rules this year. I think I was able to do it because I had a short term goal to accomplish, but after going through this journey I've come to terms with the fact that I can’t live with the rules my whole life. 

Going forward I am still going to be very conscious of my clothing choices. I will try to stick to my rules whenever possible, and I will still stay away from fast fashion stores. I want to be a conscious consumer and think about where my clothing comes from and how it gets into my hands. 

My plan for the future is to find more small boutiques or designers (especially ones with sustainable fabrics) and buy from them whenever possible. When it comes to larger brands, if I buy from them I'll try to find ones that have green initiatives. They don't have to sell organic clothing, but if they are concerned about labor conditions or their carbon footprint, that's a good start. Finally, I’m going keep limiting the amount of clothing I buy. I've save a lot of money this past year by not going on shopping sprees once a month. I've proven to myself that having a lot clothing isn't really necessary. I can buy less overall, and instead spend a little more on each item - for more quality pieces. 

This journey has taught me a lot about the realities of living eco-fashionably. My conclusion is that right now it's not easy to incorporate eco-fashion into your wardrobe completely. When considering eco-fashion in the mainstream we need to be realistic. It won't change overnight and there is no magic solution. We need to start thinking about the impact of clothing and fashion, and try to make better choices in our personal lives, and then see where it goes...

I plan to still explore eco-fashion in this blog. I'd like to do more research about online stores and resources, and I'd like to look into new fabrics and new technologies. I also want to find out more about what's happening in eco-fashion throughout the world. And of course I'll continue to share my personal experiences as I go! 

Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Non-Eco Confessions...

The whole point of my eco-fashion journey was to see if I could live up to my strict eco-friendly rules. I think I did pretty well, but I do have to confess that I did deviated from my rules just a few times over the course of the year...

A Social Necessity
My friends from college organized a pub crawl back in May. They made some pretty awesome t-shirts that I helped design to wear on the crawl. Obviously the t-shirt didn't fit into my rules in any way, shape, or form. It wasn't even something I planned to wear again. But you know what? That's life! I could have chosen not to buy one of the t-shirts, but it was part of the fun and spirit of the event.

This deviation taught me that if you want to have a life, you can't control everything in your wardrobe.

Loss of Will Power
On the California road-trip with my sister over the summer, our first stop was LA. My sis wanted a new bathing suit so we went into a Gap in Santa Monica to find her one on sale. Of course I saw a bikini top that was super cute and just $5. I went back and forth and back and forth, but finally I bought it. It definitely did not fit my rules, and I knew it.

This was the one time over this whole year when I let my urge to buy something overpower my will to stick to my rules. I was on vacation, I wanted something new, and it was so cheap! Frankly I'm proud of myself for not splurging on random non-rule fitting items more often.

By Accident
Two months ago I realized I needed to buy some tights and nylons because the ones I had were in bad shape (missing feet and generally unwearable). I decided on the brand No Nonsense,, who had some cute items and was made in the USA.

As you can see on the No Nonsense website it clearly says "Made in the USA," however when I opened up the leggings I bought the tag said "Made in Indonesia!" If you actually click on the "Made in the USA" link on the No Nonsense website you'll see that just 95% of their products are made in the USA. So they weren't exactly lying, but I didn't do enough digging to find the whole truth.

The plus side of this story is that I love my leggings. I practically wear them all the time now (which is another issue entirely). Sometimes you just don't know what you're buying, even when you think you've done the research.

Monday, February 6, 2012

January Eco Recap!

We are coming up on a year of my quest to live eco-fashionably! It's unbelievable how fast the year has gone by. I'm starting to gather my thoughts about what this journey has taught me and how I will approach fashion in the future. I'll have my summary for you by February 17 - the one year reunion of my blog posts!

A little re-cap on some purchases I've made since Christmas...
So it's getting cold! Well not really (warmest winter in Boston in a while), but trust me my apartment is still very cold. I did some research on finding a warm bathrobe and warm slippers that would fit within my rules. Turns out it's pretty hard to do - at least in a reasonable price range. I've actually given up on the bathrobe. There are plenty of great terrycloth organic cotton bathrobes, but they are all around $200, and  the chunky terrycloth style is not something I'm looking for. I did manage to find some slippers though, and I finally bought something from Etsy!! They are from the seller Wooly Baby:

Wooly Baby slippers are handmade from upcycled sweaters and leather for eco-friendly warmth and comfort. 

I really like them, and they are super cute. The only problem is they aren't really warm enough for my cold feet in a 65 degree apartment, and they are starting to get pilly, which is a shame.

The other thing that I found during the Christmas sales at Bloomingdales was a casual sweater from the brand Alternative Earth:

Alternative Earth fabrics are made with organic cotton, recycled polyester and man-made fibers derived from sustainable raw materials, and then finished with non-toxic dyes, biodegradable fabric softeners and natural enzymes for a vintage-soft touch. 

I was very excited to find something that I could actually buy in Bloomies, and I really love it. It's big, comfy, and soft. Turns out they don't usually carry the brand in stores, it was an online return. I thought that was too bad, but at least it's an option in some way!

OK this last purchase, I have to confess that when I bought it, I didn't know if it fit in my rules or not... But to be fair, they are shoes, and I have known for a while that buying eco-friendly shoes is a challenge. These were 50% off at the Tannery in Harvard Sq, and I really needed them for my work wardrobe. So I made an exception. Happily when I came home I did some research and found out that they are in fact considered eco-friendly:

Born shoes use Opanka construction, which is a hand-sewing process that reduces the need for adhesives and machinery. 

So they probably aren't the most eco-friendly shoes on the planet, but I appreciate that they their process uses less chemicals and resources. Plus I know Born shoes are made well and will last a long time - which in fact is something I look for in my rules!