Summer Capsule Wardrobe // Look 3

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Happy Monday!  How were all of your weekends?  I could tell you how relaxing ours was and how we spent so much time outside and had the best breakfast burritos at the farmers market on Sunday and it would all be true, but I also spent the majority of the last 48 hours reflecting on a movie we saw Friday evening.  Aaron and I decided to kick off our weekend by attending the LA premiere of a new documentary, The True Cost with a couple of friends.  (Highly recommend!  Go rent it now on iTunes!) I was really intrigued by the basic question they were asking:  What’s the true cost of these inexpensive fast fashion items that we buy on a regular basis from places like Gap, Forever 21, and H&M?  How are they able to sell $5 shirts?!  The answer to that question has probably forever changed the way I shop and wear clothes.  Did you know we buy 400% more clothing than we did just two decades ago?  Or that most factory workers in third world countries make less than $10 a month and work in vile conditions under physical abuse?  The story follows the plight of a few garment workers specifically and the fascinating reality that they live.

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I know what you’re thinking.  “Hey, I thought we were going to read something really deep about that tonal striped sweater!”  Sorry, friends.  I think this is an issue that’s really unique in a good way because we can make a huge change just by changing our own shopping habits and the way we get dressed. The capsule wardrobe does a couple of things to help the problem.  For starters, we buy less clothes when we are wearing the same 30-ish pieces for 2-3 months at a time.  Since we are wearing and consuming less things we can afford to pay a little bit of a higher price tag for pieces that were made responsibly/fair trade, which usually carry a higher price tag, but last longer and don’t diminish the lives of women and children around the world.  Instead of buying 10 $20 items over a few months, maybe we buy 2 items instead.  Do any of us really NEED new clothes at all?  We can also shop second hand.  And finally, we can start to ask questions. We were at Lululemon yesterday and I was eyeing my favorite workout pants in a new gray color.  I assumed since they were charging $82 for active pants that they were made responsibly, but I was wrong.  The tag said they were made in Bangladesh, a country notorious for the least amount of regulation and the lowest pay for it’s garment workers.  I still had hope that maybe Lululemon had just opened a fair trade factory there, but a little internet sleuthing proved otherwise.  (Also, pretty sure these denim shorts from Madewell aren’t making the responsibly made list either.)

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You guys, this is totally uncharted territory for me.  I’m not usually one to take a political stand on the internet, so I hope you don’t mind my crazy Monday rant.  It’s something new that I’m navigating and would love your help.  Do you guys have any favorite responsibly made brands?  My friend hosted a pop-up shop Saturday for Noncha, an online boutique carrying mostly Dutch designers and all fair-trade items.  It was the perfect start to becoming someone who shops more intentionally and with more consideration for how my clothes are made. I picked up a little something for my next capsule wardrobe that I can’t wait to share with you guys next month!    Curious if you’re favorite brands have been caught up in sweatshop scandal?  This article was interesting, but you can also just do a little internet sleuthing and probably turn up the truth.  And for a more recent account inside Cambodia, see this article.  Have I been a total downer to your Monday?!  I hope not!  I just couldn’t help sharing what I learned over the weekend.  (Tomorrow is a totally unpolitical DIY, promise!)

Thin Striped Sweater, Rag & Bone (Similar + Similar) / Denim Shorts, Madewell / Platform Raffia Lace Up Shoes, Robert Clergerie (Also, available here if you need a different size and this is a much cheaper somewhat similar version.)

Photography by Mary Costa

  1. Jen…you look so fresh face and effortless chic…the blog speaks for itself!!! xx

  2. I love that you are paying such thoughtful attention to this. The sweatshop conditions are truly horrendous and I (re)post articles about it often on the Noncha’s facebook. There are plenty independent brands that make the most gorgeous clothing without exploitation and usually higher quality. These brands are often led by women ( Aiayu, Maska, Ellen truijen, Aymara, etc) The fabric matters too. For instance llama wool is self cleansing and has other properties that make it last longer, it doesnt pill for example. Shopping ‘timeless’ as opposed to trendy helps as well.
    Anyways! Thank you for stopping by saturday! XOXO Lotte

  3. Bianca

    06/01/2015

    I’ve been thinking about this often lately, especially as I look for clothing for my 3 year old, where quality and long-lasting wear is not at the top of my requirements! However, really, how much could these companies pay their employees if they are able to sell me $5 t-shirts and shorts? I admire you Jen, for writing about this very important issue. You have motivated me to look deeper into where my clothing comes from. Thank you!

  4. You might enjoy reading Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline. Very thought provoking.

  5. what a great article. it’s important to be reminded of these issues, so it’s totally not a downer! more inspiring than anything else. levis is notorious for having strict regulations (and their junior leggings are my favorite jean) and everlane’s tees are hard to beat, but those are the only two i can think of off the top of my head so i’m curious to see what you turn up. love this and your outfit!

  6. I have to second the recommendation of “Overdressed,” and thank you for this post. It’s such an important topic!

  7. Malita

    06/03/2015

    Your blog would be a great source for retailers and clothing manufactures that are ethically sourced – I ran into this today via a friend on Facebook http://sudara.org/pages/about

  8. Rachel

    06/05/2015

    really interesting post, there’s no reason responsible dressing can’t be fun too and things will only change if we ask more questions

  9. Lorena

    06/12/2015

    Hi there,
    I love your blog and I am also concerned with the slavery issue.
    I have been thinking about it a lot lately. I agree with you in all you say, but I also think that pricier items are manufactured by the same people that manufacture cheaper ones. Expensive brands have also been acussed of mistreating their employees, not to say technology brands which are anything but affordable.
    Also, it is not only clothing, but also food, like coffee, chocolate, tea… and many other things we buy that are manufactured by people working in very poor conditions.
    It is such a shame. No company should be allowed to make sooo much profit of “closetolavery” workforce. Many people cannot afford fair trade clothing…it is really a difficult issue. Thank you for bringing up such an important matter.

  10. Pingback Thoughts on Shopping More Ethically | The Effortless Chic

  11. THANK YOU for writing a post about ethical fashion!! I’m so glad the True Cost movie is initiating the dialogue about how the fashion industry affects everyone in the supply chain. The capsule wardrobe is a great way to shift our relationship with clothes. I used to buy a new outfit for every event or just because I was bored and would end up having too much stuff that I didn’t really love. I never thought twice about my shopping habits until I read this article last year- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shannon-whitehead/clothing-globalization_b_4733516.html

    I have a page on my blog dedicated to ethical brands-http://goldpolkadots.com/where-to-shop/

    There are so many companies that are now dedicated to transparency and providing fair living wages.

    Thank you again and hope to see more ethical fashion posts!