Messy first steps.
I’m making this the official mantra of my life right now.
After all, “How fascinating!” A little quiet reflection tells me that good things are on the other side of those messy first steps.
We know that when we take a big project and break it down into manageable steps, we’re more likely to stick with it + succeed, right?
So I decided to press pause on feeling overwhelmed + overthinking ethical fashion — and just try a step.
A small + manageable step.
I picked just three areas in my closet — shoes, bags, and active wear — and committed to shop responsibly in those areas from here on out.
Does this mean I’m tossing out all of my old shoes, bags, and active wear? No. To me, the most responsible practice I can adopt is trying to get the full use out of the things I already have. But it does mean the next time I’m in the market for one of these things, I have some affordable + ethical options at my fingertips.
And now that I’ve got bags, shoes, and active wear on lock, I’m ready to keep going and find ethical options for three more areas in my closet.
Now, I don’t want to oversimplify or pretend that this whole “pick three!” is a quick, neat solution to ethical fashion — it’s not. But hopefully, it’s a manageable step that can get us back on track when we’re feeling overwhelmed.
Before we keep going, though, I want to acknowledge the complexities. Because a part of my brain is shouting, “Um, grey area!”
A post about shopping + ethical fashion is a grey area for sure. Because, many agree that the most ethical thing we can do is simply not buy new things. Or at the very least, shop second hand.
For me, right now, my approach is a blend of shopping less + shopping second hand + shopping for new, responsibly made pieces.
These are my messy first steps. :)
So here we go!
Let me warn you, I got a little carried away. There is a LOT of stuff in this post. Almost an annoying amount of stuff. I considered whittling it down … but the point of this post is to celebrate that there are actually a LOT of pieces out there that are beautiful + ethical + not outrageously expensive.
It encouraged me, and I hope it does the same for you.
(Just FYI: The term ethical covers about a million different things. You’ll find more specific information next to each item, so you can pick the companies that match your values. And you can always click over to that company’s “About” page to learn even more about their ethical practices. It’s pretty inspiring.)
SHOES from left to right, top to bottom
01 | Classic sandal by Zuzii $110 | Slow fashion (handmade to order) + Made in USA
02 | Serena sandal by Nisolo $98 | Socially responsible
03 | Crossover sandal by Sseko $69 | Empowers women | Fit note: They run a little wide so you might want to size down. The straps are pretty tight at first too, but they should loosen up nicely with a few wears.
05 | Volley shoe by Veja $122 | Environmentally conscious + Socially responsible | Fit note: I’ve had my eye on these shoes since last summer, but it took me a while to get up the nerve to order them. See, Veja is based in France, and it would cost a whole lot to ship them back if they didn’t fit — so I was nervous. But I measured my feet multiple times, checked it against their size charts, did a little internet research on sizes, and crossed my fingers. And it turned out great! I’m a 7 in just about any shoe and I ordered a 38. And they fit! :)
06 | Arcade sneaker by Veja $110 | Environmentally conscious + Socially responsible
07 | Slingback sandal by Everlane $98 | Socially responsible
08 | Vegan leather sandal by Matt + Nat $80 | Kind to Animals
(To me, bags seem like the natural first step in shopping responsibly, since sizing isn’t an issue — yay!)
From left to right, top to bottom:
01 | Bucket bag by FashionABLE $148 | Empowers women
02 | Clutch by FashionABLE $78 | Empowers women
03 | Crossbody bag by Love41 $86 | Socially responsible + Invests in communities | Personal note: My dear sister-in-law owns this store. :)
04 | Vegan backpack by Matt and Nat $135 | Kind to animals + Environmentally conscious + Socially responsible
05 | Vegan mini crossbody by Matt and Nat $90 | Kind to animals + Environmentally conscious + Socially responsible
06 | Leather tote by FashionABLE $178 | Empowers women
07 | Vegan crossbody by Matt and Nat $130 | Kind to animals + Environmentally conscious + Socially responsible
08 | Circle bag by Baggu $140 | Made in the USA + Environmentally conscious
From left to right, top to bottom
01 | Slashback Crop by Outdoor Voices $60 | Socially responsible
02 | Graphic Leggings by Onzie $48 | Made in USA
04 | Macy tank by Threads for Thought $50 | Socially responsible + Environmentally friendly
05 | Sports bra by Outdoor Voices $55 | Socially responsible
06 | Shorts by YogaSmoga $84 | Socially responsible + Environmentally friendly + Made in USA
07 | Blossom tank by Threads for Thought $50 | Socially responsible + Environmentally friendly
08 | Lace up legging by Threads for Thought $65 | Socially responsible + Environmentally friendly
I hope you feel encouraged and inspired from all of this. There are people + companies out there doing good things. Let’s celebrate that — and then go do good things too.
And, finally, I just want to give you a big ol’ thank you for your insightful comments on last week’s post. I love the conversation we’re having, and I love how you’re treating it with kindness + grace + dignity.
What are you learning from your own messy first steps?