This year my resolution was to only purchase clothing that is fair trade or made in the United States. After participating in Dressember and watching the documentary The True Cost, I felt convicted about how my frivolous fashion purchases affect the environment, the global economy, the lives of individual workers, and even my own happiness. Ten months into this journey, I have learned so much more about ethical fashion, and I’ve found several fair trade brands that make beautiful clothing while also fulfilling a mission to improve the lives of women.
One of these companies is Elegantees. They employ women in Nepal, and actively participate in the effort to rescue sex trafficking victims on the Nepal-India border. They also make ethical and fashionable clothes. I love purchasing from them because I know that not only am I investing in a well made, lovely piece of clothing, but my money is helping to keep a woman employed in a dignified job.
When I saw this top I knew I had to buy it–it’s called the Megan. I love the asymmetrical hem with a longer cut in the back. It’s perfect for my every day teaching style, or as an easy, casual shirt for the weekend. It’s comfortable and fits perfectly (I ordered a medium). I even made an error when entering my shipping information and Elegantees worked quickly and kindly with me to rectify my mistake and get my order shipped to me within a few days.
Additionally, Elegantees is working with Dressember again this year to create, not one, but FIVE styles of Dressember dresses. I’ve already ordered the Penny dress to add to my Dressember collection. I’ve also got my eye on the Courtney dress because apparently I can’t get enough black, hi-low pieces!
The dresses and shirts I’ve purchased from Elegantees cost a little bit more than I was used to spending on clothing. In the past I did a lot of my shopping at places like Target and TJ Maxx. Those places have some really cute outfits at great prices, but these days I am much more selective about how much I buy, and who I am supporting with my money. I could make a huge corporation even richer, or I could literally help keep a woman out of a sweatshop with my purchase. Whenever possible, I choose the latter.
Since I have been buying simpler, more classic pieces that I can wear for years to come, it’s also been fun to add some jewelry to my collection. I love the unexpected yarn detail on this Joy Necklace from Noonday Collection. Noonday is another Dressember partner that offers gorgeous fair trade jewelry, handmade by artisans all over the world. You can search their website for a Noonday Ambassador in your area. I’ve always placed orders online, but ambassadors also host trunk shows where you can check out their jewelry in person.
As I continue on my journey toward becoming an ethical consumer, I want to share what I learn with you. For now, I will only be providing links to items that are fair trade, made in the United States, or ethically produced in some way. I still own clothes that I bought before I made this shift in my purchasing habits, and I see no reason to throw them out and simply create more waste. Ideally, I’d like to transition to a fully fair trade wardrobe, but that will take time. It will also take creativity, and I welcome the challenge.
Photography by Joyetic