Minimalist fashion: the end

Well friends, we've arrived. For the last two months I've been exploring the topic of minimal + ethical fashion, and it's been amazing. I've gotten so many comments, both here and on Instagram, and several of you have mentioned that you've purchased from the brands and shops I've shared about. That truly makes me misty-eyed!! The idea that by sharing something I'm passionate about, someone else might become passionate, too, or just choose to make one small choice for a more ethical option, is incredible. Because all those small choices DO add up and it WILL change the world.

For this last post, I wanted to answer a few questions I've gotten, as well as share my actual current wishlist from the shops I shared in my last post. I know there were a ton of places listed, and many people asked for a highlight list they could maybe start from. So if that's what you're looking for, scroll down!

First, some frequently asked questions.

  1. What about gifts? When I receive a gift of clothing, or when someone gifts Xavier or Matt clothes, I graciously accept it and write a sincere thank-you note. that's it. Because I am grateful. I'm grateful they put thought into a gift for me. I'm grateful they spent time picking out something they thought I would love. It is never my intent to be legalistic about my minimal/ethical goal. Whether you keep the item forever and ever is another matter entirely - your home is YOUR domain, and you should feel freedom to let go of items you don't want to keep and do that freely, without guilt. Whether that's clothes or tchotchkes, I don't think our houses should be cluttered with things we don't love simply because we feel obligated to keep them. But, like I said, that's an entirely different matter and one I won't get into here :)
  2. Why fashion? There are so many other more important issues. I don't have a cut-and-dry answer for this one because yes, there are SO many issues to get fired up about in our world. Clean water. Orphan care. Food scarcity. Racial injustice. Animal welfare. The list goes on and on. All I know is that the Lord has captured MY heart on THIS subject. Of course, I'm passionate about other things, too. We support orphan care with our monthly tithe, along with an evangelical missionary outreach, our local Catholic church and a non-profit in India who is working to end the cycle of poverty for disabled children and their families. There are one thousand more charities and organizations I wish we could support. But, we all have our roles to play, and God has really convicted me on the topic of ethical fashion. I can't find the source now, but I read somewhere that 1 in 6 workers worldwide are employed in the garment industry. That is a huge section of the humans on this planet, so by changing what is considered "acceptable" in garment manufacturing, there is the potential to positively impact millions and millions of people. That's huge!
  3. If I buy my clothes cheaply, I have more money to donate to more worthy causes. This, at base level, is also true. But I think this comes down to a difference in ideology and how you view the world. A few years ago, I would have said the same thing. Why spent $30 on a tshirt when I can spend $5 and donate $25 to Food for the Poor? Thanks to my work with The Archibald Project, I've come to understand that efforts at prevention are a far more sustainable approach than simple alleviation - whether that's alleviating poverty, adoption versus family preservation, so on and so forth. Of course, alleviating suffering for the poor in the world is vital - of course. But if we're looking towards long-term solutions for the future, prevention is key. When thinking about ethically made garments, you have to take ten steps backward up the supply chain. By purchasing the $30 ethically made tshirt, the person who made it is paid a living wage, meaning they can provide for their family. No need for a program like Food for the Poor to provide their food. No need for World Vision to sponsor their child's education. Of course, I'm majorly simplifying this. But I think it's important to note that we DO have the capability to break the cycle of poverty rather than spend the next 100 years responding to it. To me, buying ethically is to say to the person on the other end of my garment, "I see you. You have dignity. You have worth. And it's worth it to me to pay more for that dignity and worth to be upheld." Too deep of thoughts to ponder when looking at tshirts online? Maybe, maybe not. Important thoughts, regardless.

If you have more questions, send them my way! I love having open conversations about this topic and would be so glad to discuss it more beyond this series!

And now, my ethical wishlist:

 

  • Effortless gray tunic from The Flourish Market - looks so great for pregnancy + postpartum!
  • Classic striped tee from Krochet Kids with a lovely, drapey shape (postpartum winner!)
  • Cozy fleece pullover from Nordstrom (made in USA) - looks awesome for chilly winter days!
  • This loungey gray maxi from The Flourish Market will be awesome for a postpartum summer.
  • Marled gray crewneck sweatshirt from Everlane, a classic layering piece.
  • I've been looking for a raglan tee everywhere, and this one from Homage Classics looks perfect!
  • This isn't exactly monochromatic, but I've been eyeing this gorgeous floral maxi from The Flourish Market. It would be so pretty for spring maternity photos!
  • A pretty blush top with a super flattering peplum shape, from Elegantees.
  • Summery striped tee from Everlane - I'm such a sucker for stripes!
  • Comfy looking sweatshirt skirt from Garment Collective. A fall/winter staple!
  • Classic black skinnies from Nordstrom (made in USA). These have been on my list forever.
  • You can't go wrong with a basic black sweater, and this one is made responsibly in Kenya for Slumlove Sweater Co.

You guys, thanks so much for sticking with me on this series. I'm so grateful!! It's been so fun and I'm excited to keep sharing more on this topic in the future! xo!

PS, if you missed any of the posts in the series, I've linked them all for you below!

A noonday giveaway!

Hi friends! Happy Thursday! I'm so excited to share this post today because free stuff is my favorite, amen?!

My sweet new friend Katie, who is a Noonday Ambassador, offered to host a giveaway in conjunction with yesterday's post about ethical fashion. If you checked out the master list of responsible brands, you would have seen Noonday Collection listed under the jewelry category. If you're unfamiliar, Noonday Collection is a socially responsible business that uses fashion to create meaningful opportunities around the world. You can read more specifics about how Noonday works to help create a flourishing world here

To date, Noonday Collection has employed 4,047 artisans in some of the world's most vulnerable communities (which has empowered them to provide for their nearly 20,000 collective family members- it has a trickle down effect!). In addition, by people like you and me simply shopping Noonday Collection, 1,621 adoptive families have received funds to support their adoption. How awesome!

Three ways to join in the good work Noonday Collection is doing: shophostjoin. Need some new accessories for yourself or good gifts to give? Think of Noonday! Even more, create a marketplace in your own home (or local coffee shop or downtown happy hour spot) for your friends and family to shop fair trade and support artisans around the world! Want to take it one step further? Become an ambassador and encourage social change in your community by encouraging women around you to use their purchases for good and help to create a flourishing world! 

Katie is offering a $25 giftcard to Noonday, so pop on over to my Instagram account to enter! You have from now until Monday to be entered to win!

In addition, Katie is offering free shipping for anyone that places an order while the giveaway is live (NOW through Monday!) - saving ou $6.95! Get a jump on that Christmas shopping or take the first step to buying yourself some ethical accessories :) Just go ahead and place your order as usual, and Katie will send you a $6.95 refund via PayPal!

As if that isn't generous ENOUGH, Katie is ALSO offering a $20 gift card to everyone who books a trunk show! By creating marketplaces in our homes, we are giving artisans platforms to continue their work and maintain their business! Noonday doesn't sell in box stores because we love the integrity and community that is developed through story telling and truly sharing the heart of Noonday. I hosted a trunk show last fall (at 40 weeks pregnant - HA HA) and it was awesome. Gathering my best gal pals in my home to eat, sip wine, try on gorgeous jewelry and chat about ethical fashion?! So great!

Okay friends, happy hosting, happy shopping, happy giveaway entering! I'll be tagging the winner over on Instagram on Monday! XO!

PS - you can also follow along with Katie via her Instagram account, as well as her blog. Thanks, Katie, for blessing my sweet readers with your generosity!

 

minimalist fashion: shopping resource list

If you've made it this far in the minimalist fashion series, I'm so grateful! I hope you've at least been spurred to give your clothing a second thought. By now, I've gone over my reasons for going minimal + ethical, what's actually in my wardrobe, staying minimal + ethical for kids' clothes and lots more. But I think today's post is what most people have been waiting for - where do you actually shop for responsibly made clothing?

The thing I hear most is the lack of ethical options when it comes to buying clothing. I think the general idea is that every ethical clothing company is super expensive, or only sells super out-there clothes that most mainstream consumers don't wear. But I've found this to be so far from true. There are a ton of ethical clothing brands that sell clothes I would LOVE to wear - and keep in my mind that my style is very basic, very neutral, very mom-friendly. I've listed all the brands I've found below - some of them ARE sort of "out there", but most of them carry clothes I would realistically wear. Some of these brands have their sourcing statements listed on their websites; others I emailed or contacted directly to ask about their manufacturing. I feel good listing all of them here. I'm sure many of them are not new to you, but maybe some of them will be and you'll find a shop you love that you'd never heard of before!

I hope this is helpful, and if there are other shops I'm missing, please let me know in the comments! xo!

ETHICAL CLOTHING SHOPS BY CATEGORY

minimalist fashion: my commitment to ethically made

I've wrestled with writing this post for weeks, so I want to start with a disclaimer. I have been on quite the journey over the past three years and it's taken every bit of those three years to get me to the place I'm at today, where I'm committed to buying only ethically made or secondhand items. It didn't happen overnight, and I'm in no way saying you, dear reader, should embark on the same journey. I really struggled with even sharing this post during this series, because this is the internet and things can get misconstrued, and it is never my intention that you feel guilted, shamed or judged for where you shop. The Lord has captured MY heart on this topic and led ME on this journey and has convicted ME in this particular way. I have no idea what things look like for you, and I don't want you to feel like I'm saying my way is the best or the right way. If by the end of this post or this series you're simply thinking differently about fashion, if you continue to shop where you shop but maybe pause when you see the country of origin on the tshirt tag, if you simply say a prayer for the people in the garment industry, I consider this a success. That is my heart. It is my heart that people feel convicted, but never guilted. Fired up to maybe make a change but never shamed for where they're starting. I wish we could sit down over coffee and chat about this in person so you could hear my tone and my passion, but we can't. So I hope this post bridges that gap in the most gentle and non-confrontational way possible.

The beginnings of my journey to ethically made fashion really start with my 2010 mission trip to Haiti. I was in college and spent my spring break hanging out with kids and families in a village in northern Haiti. They were poor - so poor. But oh, they were joyful. So joyful. I remember when I came home from that trip, and I went to Wal-Mart in my college town, and as soon as I walked through the doors, I wanted to cry. Enough food in this one store, enough clothes in the men's section alone, to feed and clothe the entire village I'd just been with. I remember feeling sick about the excess in our country, in my own life. I had so much, SO MUCH, and yet was constantly trying to acquire more, more, more. For a 20-year old college student, these were big feelings to wrestle with.

A few years later, I read "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker, and it wrecked me. So many lines jumped out at me, but these two in particular were laser beams straight to my privileged, materialistic heart.

"What does it communicate when half the global population lives on less than $2 a day, and we can't manage a fulfilling life on twenty-five thousand times that amount? Fifty thousand times that amount? It says we have too much, and it is ruining us."

"The day I am unaware of my privileges and unmoved by my greed is the day something has to change."

I decided after reading this book that our lifestyle had to change. We had just moved into a house from an apartment and gained 400 square feet, and after just 6 months of living here, I already felt like the house was too small. It was ridiculous. Something had to change. Around the same time, I discovered Unfancy and decided to experiment with a capsule wardrobe. Pretty soon after that, thanks to a combination of pregnancy nesting and this newfound desire to be a minimalist, I Kon Mari'd our entire house and got rid of well over 60% of our belongings. Maybe even 75% now. It was amazing. I felt so light.

And yet. When I did buy a new item of clothing, I bought it from Target. I still stress-shopped. There was still way too much coming into our home. So in April of this year, when Nancy Ray announced she was doing another Contentment Challenge, I decided to do it with her. The Lord had been asking this of me for months, and I kept putting it off, saying I didn't really need to do that. But I did, and He knew it was going to be for my good.

Those three months of not shopping were so eye-opening. I did a ton of reading about the fashion industry and where our clothes are made. I broke free of the chains of materialism and felt freedom from the compulsion for MORE and BETTER. And when the three months were up, and I struggled with how to shop again without undoing all the benefits of the fast, the answer became crystal clear one day in prayer: I was only going to buy ethically made or secondhand clothing items from now on. The answer was so simple to me, after months of learning about the ugly truths of the fashion industry and how we as consumers keep it going.

The fact is that my wants and whims cannot sacrifice another human's dignity. 

When I face Jesus on judgment day, I want to say without reservation that I did my best on this Earth. And shopping at H&M, for me, is not my best. As Daniel Tiger says 500 times in the episode Xavier's been watching on PBS, "do your best, your best is the best for YOU." Because I KNOW the facts about the fashion industry, because I've educated myself about where mainstream clothes come from, because I've seen firsthand the devastation to families when mothers and fathers aren't paid a living wage, and contrary to that, the redemption and hope and long-lasting change that comes when families ARE paid a living wage, I cannot stand idly by. I cannot hide behind my ignorance. I cannot pretend I'm unaware. My personal best is not supporting an industry that keeps people - women especially - in bondage, that sacrifices their basic rights and dignity.

We live in a fallen world, and so there's no way to live perfectly in it. You might be saying okay, so you shop fair trade. But what about your cell phone parts that are manufactured in terrible working conditions in Africa? What about the puffs you feed Xavier, which are made by Nestle, which is one of the most notorious companies for human rights violations in the world? I know. I know. It burdens me. Everywhere we turn in this world, there are people taking advantage of other people just to make a buck or get ahead. It weighs on me constantly. But for me, not being able to do everything is not a reason to do nothing. As Saint Theodore Guerin, whose feastday was celebrated this week, said, "We are not called upon to do all the good possible, but only that which we can do."

I cannot do all the good in the world. I cannot fix every industry, take every corrupt business out of power, save every marginalized human. But I can do this. I can put my dollars into businesses who are upholding human dignity. I can choose to take myself out of the materialism race. I can not give in to every fleeting whim and want of my heart and practice discipline. And I can share why.

In today's day and age, it can feel like we're powerless. Like our votes don't matter, politicians are all corrupt, and nothing is ever going to change. But I believe we vote for the kind of world we want to live in with every dollar that we spend. By supporting fair trade and ethically made companies, or buying secondhand, you're voting for human dignity, human rights, family preservation, orphan prevention, and a thousand other things. You're voting for change.

I know shopping ethically made and/or secondhand can be overwhelming, so in the next couple posts I'm going to be breaking that down for you. Sharing tons of resources, tips and tricks for getting the most bang for your buck while supporting companies who are doing things differently, and therefore supporting people - real, live people with families and dreams and goals and hopes - who are on the other end of the clothes we wear.

I hope you're inspired, uplifted, and encouraged this morning. I want to end with a quote from Saint Teresa of Calcutta, one that has always stuck with me when feeling burdened by this world:

"If we have no peace, it's because we've forgotten that we belong to each other."

We belong to each other, you and I. You and the garment worker in Bangladesh. Me and the cotton picker in Uzbekistan. We belong to each other. And it is my goal to live like it.