This post is written in partnership with For Days, the first ever closed-loop clothing line. This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Clothes, they don’t last forever. As much as we fix, mend, and wear, despite torn holes and splotched stains, I can guarantee you that your clothes will not see you ’til the end of your days. Alternatively, you may choose to abandon it before it abandons you (a much more likely scenario). Whether it’s a shift in physique, personal style, or mental state, a day will come when that favorite tee or trusted jean will no longer be pulled from its hanging place. It’s a certain fact that clothes will not last forever. The only question is, will it give out on you or you on it?
Regardless of that, there is a new company in town promising to actually make clothing last forever. At least, for its full life-cycle ensuring it goes back to the Earth and biodegrade into nature from whence it came once all is said and done. Appropriately, the name of the company is For Days.
For Days considers them self the first-ever 100% closed-loop clothing company. How are they doing that? They accept used and unwanted clothing and upcycle them by integrating the fabric into new products. My shirt (which I was wearing when I was shopping at EcoNow, my favorite bulk store in Orange County, CA) is a combination of two older versions of unsold vintage V-neck tees that were combined to make a new style. For Days is constantly revamping stuff and it is awesome!
Additionally, 100% of their products are recyclable. Despite this fact, I would like to state that their shirt is so so soft. I usually am wary of recyclable materials because I don’t like stuff that feels cheap. However, when I received my shirt, I was surprised to find a high quality tee. The colors are so bright, and the fabric really feels good on the skin. I can’t believe it’s recyclable!
But For Days doesn’t stop there. They are pushing the envelope by asking consumers, why recycle when you can upgrade? For Days is providing their customers with a forever discount for doing the sustainable thing. That is, trading in an old For Days style with a new one. This is the first time that I’ve seen a company give a decent incentive for swapping consumer goods. I have seen other companies give shop credit for a returned item, but I am talking about $5 here or there for articles of clothing that cost $100+. However, at For Days, I’ve seen as much as a 50% discount with their Best Seller items, such as this Daily Crewneck. I truly believe that in order to change a consumer culture, we need more companies pushing for change with these incentives. And as consumers, we need to be supporting these companies in return.
For those de-cluttering closets this weekend, order one of their Take Back Bags to make an environmental difference. For Days will take your unwanted stuff and make sure they never end up in a landfill. The bag costs $10 and comes with a free shipping label. Additionally, anyone who purchases this bag gets a $10 discount on their next For Days purchase. The bag is HUGE! It measures 19″ x 24″, so feel free to curate your closet away.
Lastly, a note on style. Most middle-aged folk (can I already call myself that??) will really appreciate For Days’ Retrograde styles. Even this color block tee of mine reminds me of the ’80’s, which I was barely born in. But there are plenty of 90’s trends like the tye-dye craze that is resurfacing the streets. Belly button shirts, baby camis, half terrys and long shorts all make the cut. It’s a new wave of slow fashion using old wave trends. I’m really digging it and can’t wait to see what else For Days has up their sleeves.
It is no secret that I am a proponent of sustainable products and ethical consumerism. When it comes to choosing companies worth promoting in this humble space, I am definite about which ones make the cut. I am aware of the fact that doing so alienates a majority of the population because most items of the eco-conscious and socially impactful variety have a higher cost.
However, we must remember that this cost we refer to is only monetary. If we compare the true costs of alternative “cheaper” options in terms of environmental and social impact, then I would argue that the monetary number is worthwhile.
Naturally the best option, always, is to consume less in order to have the most impact. After all, the most sustainable clothing are the ones already in your closet.
Additionally, less shopping means we will be spending less of our money on cheap goods and collecting our hard-earned dollars for a few things that actually hold value.
Yet, we cannot ignore the fact that there IS a gap.
I speak with privilege.
Especially during this trying time, my promotion of certain companies could border insensitive.
I promise this is not my intention.
Luckily, frugal sustainable options lie in second-hand shopping, made available by companies such as Poshmark. By choosing to shop used, we reduce our environmental footprint. In buying second-hand, those who cannot normally support companies doing good, can. Used products have a lower price range, which means clothing made of higher-quality materials in safe and ethical factories are more attainable to a larger population.
Additionally, by sending dollars to those wishing to de-clutter ethical goods, we are also giving money to those who have the ability to further support slow fashion. I would like to think that someone who made a conscious decision about a particular company would continue to do so next time. I would therefore be willing to support theirfuture purchases in the slow fashion industry.
For those who are just naturally frugal, buying second-hand is a wonderful opportunity. Deals and steals can continually be found through Poshmark. Plus, the platform is free to all users. Also, the “Like” button allows shoppers to bookmark clothes while they think about their purchases (does anyone follow the 30-day rule?).
Lastly, Poshmark promotes collaboration between buyer and seller. Finding a price that works for both parties is simple. The “offer” button allows the buyer to name their price, while giving the seller the option of accepting or replying with a different fee. Likewise, the seller can create a “bundle” of items from their shop and offer a discount to the buyer for buying multiple items at one time.
Shipping is made easy, with the buyer having to pay for the shipping fee. Once the sale goes through, Poshmark e-mails the seller a shipping label, and all the seller has to do is package the product and drop it off at the nearest USPS.
I myself am a seller at Poshmark (find me @cordeliabyrant), and I have high confidence in the platform after one occasion wherein my mailed package was deemed lost. Poshmark still paid me for the product AND refunded the buyer their money. That kind of guarantee allows me to continue using Poshmark with peace of mind.
I am frequently asked the question, “How could you write about frugality while also writing about expensively ethical products?”
I am still a frugal person. I find ways to get products that hold value using alternative ways. Below are five frugal life hacks.
I have a running wish-list which I refer to during birthdays and holidays. For larger purchases, I ask multiple family members to pitch in for a single gift. This also helps me be a minimalist while solving the problem of receiving unnecessary stuff from others.
I receive many products to review through this space, which is essentially part of my job. I count products as part of my income on my monthly income reports. Combined, life hack #1 and #2 make a majority of my stuff #gifted.
I buy second-hand through companies such as Poshmark and Craigslist to try to close the loop. I mean, even our couch is from Craigslist! Likewise, I sell my used items on these sites too, which keeps them out of the land-fill (hopefully).
I borrow my way through life. My mom is the opposite of me. She is sentimental about things, so she keeps a lot of them. I rummage through the boxes in my parents’ garage first, in search of any buried gems.
Only when I’ve exhausted all my options do I buy directly from the company. If I ever buy from a company myself, I wait for a sale or discount. I avoid paying full-price for brand new items at all costs.
This post is written in affiliation with Warby Parker, a revolutionary eye wear company that gives people an alternative for modern, quality specs. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and creative content are my own.
Eye wear seems to be my thing in 2020. Perhaps it’s the new decade that’s brought a keen awareness towards the need to protect my health. Perhaps it’s the long list of current events. Either way, I’ve been terribly conscious of my waning physicality. I have never been overly zealous in protecting my youth, but suddenly, at the ripe old age of thirty-one, I have become obsessed with it.
Is this what they call a mid-life crisis?
I previously wrote about the need to protect our eyes from the blue light emanating from the screens attached to our hips, like oxygen tanks that we carry around in order to breathe. But let’s be real. I am not wearing my blue-light blockers all day, everyday. Yet we are still exposed to light rays twenty-four seven. Erm, at least, I hope you are still able to get some sun?
My entire life, I’ve found sunglasses to be a nuisance – something too expensive and too easily left behind (or sat on). I have owned very few, and the last pair that I purchased were discounted from when I still worked at a retail store ten years ago. Yes, you heard that right. My last pair of sunglasses was purchased ten years ago.
So I would say it was high time that I finally invested in a pair to protect my eyes. Most important to me was finding sunglasses that I would actually want to wear. Ones that were simple, light-weight, elegant, timeless, and well, minimal. Obviously.
I settled on Warby Parker when I learned of their mission to provide a pair of glasses to someone in need for each pair purchased. I was intrigued by their origin story, seeing as how the inspiration came after a founder lost his sun-specs after a backpacking trip (already relatable) and lamented on the insanely expensive prices of quality sunglasses. Reason being, of course, that the eye wear industry was dominated by a single company that keeps prices high. The rebellious Warby Parker was created as an alternative option for good eye wear at revolutionary prices. They set out to create a personal customer experience while providing exceptional prescription and non-prescription specs. They exude everything I love about a company, so how could I not love them?
I came across my first Warby Parker store in Newport Beach about a year and a half ago. Back then, I wasn’t interested in buying sunnies. It just so happened to be a storefront within a store next to the Aesop that I frequent. I walked in and was charmed by the different styles and friendly staff. I ended up walking out and forgetting about it.
Earlier this year, we were walking the streets of San Francisco when I entered my second Warby Parker store. I vaguely remembered seeing them before and even picked up a few frames to try on. I found styles that I liked, but I still wasn’t interested in buying glasses. This was in February.
Then, in June, I turned thirty one. I got my first pair of blue-light blockers. I started blinking a lot. The sun hurt my eyes. I got extremely conscious about light – too much light, lack of light, weird lighting in general. I debated whether UV curing lights at the dental office were more harmful than computer screens that I stare at as I type posts like this. I started to think about sunglasses, and why I wasn’t wearing them.
The truth? I don’t have a pair that works for me. I don’t like the one I owned, it didn’t fit my style, and it didn’t work with my lifestyle. If there’s anything I learned about myself, it’s that I use most the things I love dear. As for everything else, I just don’t.
This was around the time I seriously considered buying Warby Parker.
The thing I love about them is that they give people the option of trying on their eye wear prior to purchasing. Even during this difficult, quarantine life, they allow you to ship up to five frames to your door FOR FREE just so you can try them on. If you don’t like them, simply ship them back within ten days. I literally had five frames in my cart the weekend before we left for Colorado in July when…
We drove by a Warby Parker storefront in Boulder, Colorado. I knew right away that I wanted to walk in. The store was limiting only two parties at a time due to COVID so I waited in the car for five minutes until it was my turn. The staff was incredibly helpful in guiding me towards the right frame for my personality and lifestyle. One thing about me. I am incredibly picky. But when I know I like something, I KNOW. It took five minutes to find the pair I wanted and check out.
I have a narrow, heart-shaped face, but the frames that worked best for me were Wright, Percy, Robbie, and Fisher. The first two were too girly, posh and trendy for me. They were also a tad heavier. The choice came down to the last two. Due to my high cheekbones, the flat, squarish edge to the Robbie ended up accentuating my plump cheeks. I ended up going with Fisher, which is a mix between the Merrick and the ever-popular Raider. There were two color options – a gold frame with colored lenses, or black on black on black. Need I say more?
These are the lightest pair of glasses I own. I put them away in the case they came with as soon as I’m done wearing them. Hopefully I never sit on them, even though Warby Parker has my back. Scratched lenses and bent frames can be taken to any storefront and they will try to the best of their ability to fix the glasses for you. Luckily, the metal frames on the Fisher are easier to fix than the plastic frames. And lenses with scratches can be replaced completely within a year of purchase.
I don’t wear prescription glasses (yet!) but if you do, no worries! When I went to the store, they had optometrists working who seemed very knowledgeable about eye wear. A few storefronts also offer eye exams, which I think is awesome! It’s your one stop shop.
If you are on the fence about the price, then I would highly recommend doing a few things.
As you know from this post, I only use one outfit for my workout routines. When this post was written, I was doing yoga five times a week and wore the exact same top and bottom to every class. To simplify my life further, after class ended, I would wash my clothes in the shower and hang-dry them so that they’d be fresh and ready the next day.
The pants have been with me since my early twenties, a capri cut from Forever 21 when I was still penny-pinching dollars from my retail gig. It’s safe to say that I was due for a new pair of leggings. I honestly didn’t mind the old pair (there’s a sense of comfort in the way they sit perfectly molded on your hips) and it wasn’t like I was willing to drop a lot of money on a new one. But when my sister wanted to gift me something, I knew that ten years of exercise in the same pant meant that perhaps it was time for a new one.
I had researched the perfect, sustainable, ethical legging option and landed on Girlfriend Collective as my choice (although Organic Basics was a close second). Transparency was the company’s prerogative while making active wear with a high-end fit and feel.
Less waste is the goal. Their compressive leggings and bras are made from 25 and 11 recycled bottles respectively (“because plastic bottles look better on you than in the ocean”). The LITE leggings are 83% recycled fishing nets and waste. If you wish to purchase tees and tanks, you will be happy to hear that they are 100% cupro, a delicate fiber made from waste left behind by the cotton industry.
The yarn itself is made in a zero-waste, zero-emission facility in Japan, then constructed at a SA8000-certified factory in Hanoi. To be as transparent as possible, all their recycled fabric is Standard 100 as certified by Oeko-tex. As an eco-conscious brand, they use only 100% recycled and recyclable packaging. In fact, when my sister presented her gift to me, she brought it in its original packaging unwrapped, just the way I like it. The leggings were inside a reusable pouch that was placed in a large brown paper envelope embossed with “Girlfriend Collective” in gold print. “I know how you find wrapping paper wasteful, so here you go,” she said with a big old grin on her face. That, alone, was a great gift.
The verdict? Fantastic compressive leggings! I am 5’1″ and 97 pounds and purchased the black color with a 23″ inseam. It goes right to my ankle. (I love that they have three length options because that is the most difficult part about pants for shorties like myself). In terms of sizing, I found that it was accurate having ordered an XS.
The compression is strong enough that it keeps me warm on cooler days and 6am runs. I ran in it for the first time and three miles were a breeze. Since I’ve always worn capris, I was worried that the ankle length would be too warm for running but it was not. The material of the legging is on the thicker side, but I tend to run cold anyway.
The waistline goes pretty high (above my belly button) without any bunching. I am a huge fan of high-rise in general and did not notice the pants ride up at all. In fact, it stayed put throughout my entire run! Despite being a gangly stick figure, there was no extra material anywhere. Their size guide was fairly accurate, however, it leans towards the smaller side and if you are unsure, I would order a size up. Lastly, there’s a pocket on the back where I can keep a key if need be.
It’s a beautiful pant for both yoga and running. I think it’s also as good for everyday lounge wear. I can see myself wearing these pants out during the weekends paired with some AllBirds or Tevas, T-shirt tucked in or a sweater half-tucked. This would complete any coffee shop outfit, or any stay-at-home mandate. I would highly recommend.
To learn more about their sustainability, this page is worth checking out, and girlfriend, GC is worth getting behind.
Other alternative options I came across are listed below.
Prana– Mike and I bought Prana hiking pants when we got married in preparation for a honeymoon filled with hikes in New Zealand. To this day, more than three years later, we wear the exact same hiking pants on every trip we take. We’ve hiked Banff, Juneau, New Zealand, Germany, and so much more. I absolutely love those pants and it has seen us through some very tough treks. I’ve fallen on slippery jagged rocks or walked through prickly reeds without incident. Prana is a company extremely dedicated to creating sustainable clothing. From farm to factory to your closet, you can rest assured that they have thought of a way to reduce the impact of their clothing on the environment. Their social responsibility initiatives include using Fair-Trade certified materials, overseeing the supply chain, complying with the Fair Labor Association and creating a movement for Positive Change. Their eco-conscious acts include choosing organic cotton, recycled wool, responsible down, and bluesign-approved products. They are currently having a sale this weekend until the 22nd of June – up to 60% OFF.
Everlane– The thing I can give to Everlane is their dedication to transparency. They have made ethical clothing affordable and mainstream, which is something I can get behind. And they publish the costs into making each item of clothing – extra work most companies aren’t willing to do. My one gripe with Everlane is a sizing issue. I am 5 feet 1 inch and 96 pounds, and I find most of their sizing too small which goes to say that the brand doesn’t help with the body shaming culture that exists in the fashion industry. While I can appreciate that there are now sizes that fit me, I would be willing to forego that pleasure and wear over-sized tees if it means a person my size doesn’t feel the need to size up to a medium and a person closer to normal size doesn’t feel the pressures of a slim world.
Organic Basics – Organic Basics makes the most luxurious products. I have written about their Intimates collection previously, but am happy to include them here as a a source for ethically made active wear. Not only are their practices clean, their products are some of the most gorgeous things. Their active collection features SilverTECH which is a Polygiene fabric made from recycled plastics in GOTS and SA8000 certified factories. TheDebtist readers receive an additional 10% OFF using the discount code DEBTISTOBC.
Outdoor Voices – This company has designed their products with longevity and circularity in mind. Their prioritization of raw materials (both in packaging and in fabrics) has greatly reduced their environmental impact. But their dedication does not stop there. Additional initiatives help to reduce their company’s impact, including running a stipend-based carless commuter program, incorporating sustainable design elements in new builds, such as recycled rubber flooring, launching partnerships with WWF, The Nature Conservancy, and CHOOOSE to generate funds for and drive education around sustainability, conservation and carbon offsetting, and eliminating single-use plastics from all community events. For all these reasons, I would recommend trying their active wear.
Patagonia – Patagonia has been at the forefront of sustainable active wear for many years. They sell everything from camping gear to winter sports clothing. Their products are easily accessible through REI.
Groceries Apparel – Lastly, I just recently came across this brand and do not know much about it except that they boast tracing the source of a product from seed to factory. They only use 100% GMO-free, Pesticide & Herbicide-free, Recycled & Fair-traded Ingredients. Additionally, they are supporting family farms, localized manufacturing, living wages, and Monsanto-free post-consumer ingredients. I am curious to try their leggings, although they make non-active wear, too.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
It seems unbelievable to say, but summer is finally here. Days spent outdoors, exploring nature, laying out on beaches, barbecuing in backyards drinking lemonade – these are the things I imagine when I think of my favorite months of the year. Which then seems suitable that I talk briefly about a summer sandal option that allows for all of that and then some in a sustainable, eco-friendly way.
Prior to today, my beach sandals were rubber-soled Birks that I bought in college at $25 a pair. They are scuffed, falling apart, and many many years old. But as I travel around the sun for the thirty first time, I was gifted with a new pair of sandals that are more suited to my personality and lifestyle. You heard that right. A new pair. As in, just one.
I’ve already said my fair share about curating closets and shoes but today I want to talk about why this pair checks off all the boxes on the list when it comes to summer sandals.
I like to have only one pair of jandals, as kiwis call them. It simplifies the act of dressing up. I prefer to have a sensible color, so I don’t have to worry about whether or not the outfit makes a good fit. I know exactly what I will choose to wear shall my feet volunteer themselves to a bit of sand or a plunge in water. However, the problem with water-proof options is that they are hard to come by made in sustainable ways.
Introducing The Original Universal Teva sandal. Teva has committed to using 100% recycled plastic for the straps that tie your feet oh-so-comfortably to the sole of this shoe. Over 9 million bottles are kept out of landfills, broken down into tiny plastic particles that the ocean never dost see, and then transformed into yarn that is used to form the webbing for your feetsies. The initiative to use 100% recycled PEVA to make ALL straps for this sandal began just this year.
On top of that, they are working closely with their partners to reduce water usage since 2017, thus saving 380 million gallons of water. If you are interested in other sandal options, they are also offering vegan friendly sandals by partnering tanneries certified by Leather Tanning Group and supporting the Better Cotton Initiative. Lastly, they are dedicated to using less packaging, and since 2017 have reduced their weight of packaging by nearly 4.6 million pounds. It was nice to actually unwrap a gift sans plastic.
As if this jargon isn’t satisfying enough, I must say that the sandals are extremely comfortable on the feet and stay put for other, more strenuous activities such as hiking, crossing streams, scrambling a few rocks… Honestly though, you’ll more likely find me wearing these guys to brunch paired with a plain black T-shirt dress or a white summer frock. In the Spring and Fall, I would likely pair these with my Levis jeans and a crewneck tee or cozy sweater. It’s as no fuss as it gets – a perfect, practical addition to any closet, curated or no.
Below, I list a few other sustainable sandal options, if you are searching:
+ Mohinders – For another beach friendly shoe, I would turn to Mohinders. These handmade slides are great for walking in the sand. I also love their clogs which are perfect for wearing around the house. Mohinders is a show company that works with 3rd and 4th generation shoe-making families, and the quality of their small batch shoes is undeniable.
+ Nisolo – Nisolo is undoubtedly my go-to shoe company. While most of their leather goods aren’t suited to bodies of water, I do stand behind their huaraches for other summery activities such as barbecues and picnics in the park. I own this white pair of huaraches and my sister-in-law owns the almond and my roommate owns the brandy. It’s a well-made, well-loved shoe. I also own the Isla Slide in a Brandy color that they no longer make, but this black version is a great alternative.
+ Bryr Clogs – For the dressier occasion, Bryr clogs provide great sandal options to pair with formal dresses for cocktail parties, baby showers, and weddings. I’ve got my eye on this pretty number, myself.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
I don’t like much physical activities that require sole training (I’m more motivated in groups or teams) barring a single exception: swimming. In high-school, I was not athletically dedicated enough to sign up for a sport but I did get out of the required Phys Ed classes by signing up for swimming – an alternative that did not require us to compete but that entailed endless laps of different styles day in and day out. I’m not exactly a fish out of water, but do I love the pool!
Since my preferred water activity is freestyle, I like bathing suits that will assist me in a good workout without the worry of whether a bottom will have the ability to hang on. Having been traumatized in my early twenties when a massive Southern California wave tossed me around and took my swim undies with its recessing tide (true story – I had to wear my male friend’s flashy gold water polo brief which he happened to carry around in his beach bag), I am extremely picky about choosing my swim attire. I get irked when I kick off the walls of a pool and feel a slight tug on my swim wear.
Therefore, I’ve stuck with one-pieces in the last decade. As a minimalist of five years, I have only owned one suit at a time (whereas young-me owned 4-5 pairs). And while I’ve likely wasted away my best years sitting in a cover up that acts as a full bodysuit armor, I’ve also spent much of my time poolside frolicking in the waters freely, a trade-off that I have no regrets over. As I watch other girls sun-bathe on decks with lotion in hand, I am the one cannon-balling with my guy friends into the deep end. Which isn’t to say sun-bathing isn’t cool. Only that you choose the suit that fits you.
So on to the point: When perusing for a new suit, I try to search for sustainable brands trying to mitigate a balance between creating hydrophilic attire and using environmentally-friendly fabric materials. Therein lies the rub. However, I was able to wrangle a few brands to rally behind.
Here are a few favorites.
+ Summersalt – I personally currently own a black SummerSalt one-piece (pictured throughout this post) with a classic racerback cut-out and a mesh upper half. The cut is supposed to be full coverage for the bottom half but even with my short stature, I think the cut is pretty high on the hip, exuding a big of that 80’s Baywatch style that puts this suit far away from being considered grandmotherly. It is, what I like to call, “the Little Black Dress of Swimwear”.
+ Reformation– When I was conisdering which swim suit to buy a year ago, Reformation was not only a contender but the second runner-up. I have a soft spot for vintage design. Reformation is one of the more famous companies in the slow fashion industry. Their retro styles spot high-waisted bottoms and bandeau tops, among other modern cuts. My favorite is this minimalist Brittany one-piece and readers would be happy to know that they are currently offering 30% off site-wide with free shipping around the globe.
+ Vitamin A– Vitamin A is the site for all bombshell ethical consumers. Their large selection of suits in Ecolux fabric is mostly made locally in Southern California. They also partner with a number of organizations to protect the environment (mostly marine habitats) by donating a portion of their proceeds. This is a company that believes in sustainability as much as female empowerment. Use this link to receive 25% off your next purchase.
+ Land of Women – This is for the essentialist woman. This New York based company cuts and stitches all products by a family-owned manufacturer. They offer a small collection of basics in practical cuts to simplify the shopping experience.
+ Nude – The Nude Label is another option for the minimalist who prefers bikinis in black or brown and high hip huggers. Their suits use 82% recycled polyamide without the frills or fuss. It’s a perfect stop for those shopping for intimates as well. See my review post on Intimates here.
+ Prana – Prana is my husband’s favorite source of activewear. We both own a pair of hiking pants by Prana from when we went on our honeymoon three years ago and since then, those pants has gotten us through exceptionally difficult hikes all across the world. Suffice to say, they have high-quality products, swimwear included. Bathing suits use econyl recycled nylon, however I am still not sure how I feel about the percentage of elastane still being used. Of course it isn’t the perfect solution, but their company as a whole tries their best at creating sustainable clothes.
I suppose the main point of all this though, is the importance of our planet, the preservation of marine habitat, and the taking for granted simple things such as beach access and laying out on the sand. I do miss the ocean. I can’t imagine a world where younger generations have no access to such things. Hence the importance of choosing wisely what we consume, how we consume, and which companies we support.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
This post is in partnership with Organic Basics, a European based company focused on sustainably producing gorgeous basics for the everyday. Each item has a luxurious quality made using ethical factories with fair wages, eco-conscious packaging, and a sustainable sourcing of materials. They are the ultimate example of a company checking off all the right boxes without sacrificing beauty.
Before you roll your eyes at me because I am talking about intimate things again, hear me out. In my defense, previous conversations regarding Giving a Crap about using Plant Paper to wipe Tushys all revolve around the subject of the restroom which is NOT what this post is about. But okay fine, it is again regarding intimates, particularly those stored in your closet and worn on your person daily.
As a blog dedicated to droning on about curating en general, I would be remiss if I skip over the article of clothing that people most oft wear. Yet underthings are not at the forefront of the conversations revolving around an ethical capsule wardrobe. In fact, searching for sustainable underwear on one’s own can be a bit of a drag since there are only a handful of companies interested in making them. After much deep diving, I have surfaced with a handful of options that I think are worthy of the slow fashion movement, but of course, first, a word.
Intimates, to me, are not meant to be frilly things. I never did understand the draw to cheap lace, or worse, itchy mesh. And whilst I believe that our homes should contain only the most beautiful things, I am also a firm believer in the practicality of certain items. I like to think that all of my clothes earn their keep, and the most hard-working of them are the ones that I most cherish.
For example, I have a beautiful blue jumper that I love to wear year round. It dresses up or down, excusing it for every occasion short of a wedding (although I’d gladly wear it to one). It’s pretty to look at, sure, but its also a utilitarian thing made of linen that moves freely with my every action, looks good wrinkled, and is reliable for even the most demanding of activities whether that be yoga or washing my car. It has a simple boyish cut and is loose-fitting, and for all these things, it is one of my most valuable articles of clothing.
I hold my undergarments to the same standard, if not more. I expect them to be versatile, comfortable, and invisible. I don’t want itchy fabrics or skivvies with too tight of a fit. I hate clasps that dig into the skin, voluminous cups that try too hard, and mostly, underwear strings. And the care routine needs to be easy on me too. I would hate to waste laundry loads washing delicates separately, worrying about whether lace would snag, or removing cups before every wash. Forget about hand washing. Despite these utilitarian requirements, I don’t want them to be ugly. They must be good enough to walk around freely on warm summer nights when I have the house to myself (almost never, but I wish). And on top of all this, I expect them to be sustainable, ethical or fair trade? I must have gone mad!
However, I can prove that it is possible for I have found a few companies and styles that fit the bill. I included some that are very precious, and some that are more financially savvy for the everyday. None of these are by any means perfect, but just a more thoughtful solution to intimates. To give you a jump start, here is my list of recommendations.
+ Everlane – Everlane has a line of intimates that include bottoms, tops and bodysuits. While the functionality of the latter escapes me, I find their bottoms and tops collection to be very practical. My sister gifted me eight black and light gray bikini bottoms under my request for neutral colors in a singular style one birthday, and they have been my go-to bottoms for over a year. They have lasted weekly washes without needing to separate them from the rest of my clothes, which have made laundry day wonderfully easy for me and lighter on the environment. I have yet to observe any holes on them. They are thin enough to be invisible with most things I wear (an exception would be yoga pants), and they are very comfy. While I admire Everlane for their efforts to partner with ethical factories around the globe and providing transparency in terms of where clothes are made, my only gripe about Everlane is their lack of size inclusivity when it comes to producing clothes. But in terms of basic underwear quality, I have no qualms.
+ Organic Basics – I had the pleasure of trying out Organic Basic’s lite singlet and briefs soft touch collection in TENCEL – a material made of wood pulp – and it is absolutely luscious. It is the prettiest piece of underwear I own. Pictured above in dusty rose, the couple is my ideal outfit for lounging around the home on hot summer days with the windows flung open and fans whirring overhead. The material is silky soft and light, while at the same time providing enough coverage – thus freeing me to mill about, read a book on the couch, or even write from the dining desk in my drawers. This also doubles as a pajama set and while the singlet has no padding for coverage itself, I’ve worn it underneath a scrub top without people knowing any better. For the record, that’s partially thanks to my girlish frame. Still, the practicality doesn’t undermine it’s beauty. Organic Basics definitely knows what’s up. A company founded with sustainability as a whole in mind, they care about the material of a product as much as it’s design. Functionality and timelessness are both key features to having something last and Organic Basics has both down. They work exclusively with certified factory partners (which they transparently share with their consumers) with a safe working environment free of child labor and forced labor while also paying a living wage and including employee perks such as free lunches and child care. I cannot boast about this pairing enough, and would definitely look into their SilverTech Activewear as well, which is treated with a safe, permanent bluesign approved recycled silver salt called Polygiene. For those who are wary of synthetic or recycled materials, they also have a line of undergarments in organic cotton. TheDebtist readers get 10% off Organic Basics when they use the coupon code DEBTISTOBC.
+ Pact – Pact (photographed below) gifted me a number of items to try on and I have to say this brand is for the practical type who can do without the frills. Pact makes sensible underwear for busy people in an all-organic matter. They use GOTS certified organic cotton and are Fair Trade USA Factory certified. My only gripe is the individual plastic packaging that they ship their products in. I tried their Classic Racerback in black, the Modern Racerback in heather grey, and a more traditional Triangle Bra in pewter (pictured). I also tried on the High-Rise Hipster in black and the Boy Short in charcoal grey. I have to say that their products are perfect for my lifestyle. They are equally as useful at a yoga class, on a run, underneath scrubs, sweating over bread turns or running errands – which take up the majority of my time. The bras are neither constricting nor bothersome. The modern racerback is the only one with cups which provide more coverage for bigger-busted women but due to my girlish frame, I find that the cups are actually a nuisance and prefer the lighter coverage options. The modern racerback also is made for taller people and without the adjustable straps fit a bit frumpy on me. The other two bras, though, fit like a glove. The bottoms are more standard with the boy short having a thicker material than the hipster. I would like to note that my husband also sports PACT boxers and briefs and he has reported a sincere affinity with their underwear. While they aren’t the fanciful undergarments you would wear to a tea party, they definitely fit the bill for incorporating sustainable clothes into everyday wear.
+ Botanica Workshop– This line of underwear is for the vintage-loving, delicate type (even their brand name exudes beauty) searching for pretty pieces worthy of a higher price point. Their most gorgeous best-sellers include bras made of silk and lace, or some limited-edition, small-scale, dyed-by-hand pieces. My favorite part about the brand is their passion for minimizing waste. Recycled and second-hand supplies are used in the production of their garments, which are drafted, cut, and sewn by hand. As a company, public transportation and walking are the main modes of travel, encouraging the business to grow on a very local level. Founded in 2014, the company partners with local artisans and technicians to produce small production runs in line with the slow fashion movement. Tiny details such as these made a huge impact and it shows in their products. For those who wish to walk around freely but be fully dressed, they’ve got a line of slip dresses which I would love to try out one day. Looks absolutely dreamy.
+Land of Women – Whereas the previous attracts the more feminine, I have to say that no one has perfected minimalism like the Land of Women. Without sacrificing luxe, their underwire are made for those looking for something other than cotton. I am not sure how ethical the Italian silk-like fabric they use is (it’s very beautiful but there is little transparency about the material itself), but they sure do know how to maximize style in minimalist cuts. Plus it’s a great resource for swimmers, too!
+ Nude– Nude is a family run factory in Valencia, Spain that ensure good working practices via a safe working environment that provides something as personal and sweet as pastries and snacks to their fairly compensated workers. Their locally manufactured organic cotton basics come in stylishly functional cuts available in nine beautiful and earthy colors. Their products also encapsulate men’s boxers, socks, and swim attire.
A word on storage: I store my delicates in drawstring muslin bags separated by tops, bottoms, and socks. The bags are then stored in a collapsible gray bin underneath a bathroom cabinet, where I also store all of my folded clothes – which is to say, most of my clothes. The separate bags make it alright for me to toss the underwear unfolded when in a rush putting away laundry, without creating an eyesore. I used to keep all intimates in a large dresser drawer when I was in college, but I’ve found that I had a tendency to rummage through and mess with the piles so that by the end of the week, I would have to refold the entire drawer again. Sometimes, I’d spend a good few minutes looking for a sock pair. Having bags to corral like things together have helped a ton. The muslin ones that I own are ones I’ve collected throughout the years which wrapped anything from Aesop products to Mejuri jewelry.
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Growing up, I was always impressed by still-lifes and images of homes. Museum-like staging of historical dwellings on field trips and home-decor magazines alike had me imagining what my ideal house would look like. As an early twenty-something, I would peruse magazines and circle with a pen the items that I would love to own one day. Along the way, I collected trinkets here and there every time I visited Ikea, Crate and Barrel, and Target … until one day, I woke up to having too much stuff. I realized that instead of the clean, well-manicured homes that I looked up to as a teen, what I had was a very dirty rented room that held a hodge-podge of mismatched items and styles. I didn’t know who I was, which style was “me”, and I suffered many hours keeping things tidy.
These, of course, weren’t my biggest life problems – only a reflection of other aspects that bothered me about myself. After spending months (then, years after the first phase) of de-cluttering, I decided that I was not going to put in all that effort just so I can fill my space back to an over-whelming state, where I had to spend most of my free time organizing stuff, tidying up after trinkets that find their way out of their proper places like the toys from Toy Story.
Like with everything else, I decided to slow. it. down. Limit what I purchased and bought for my home, so that I could discover the whos, whats, whens, and whys of things. I wanted to be the curator of my own museum, and while homes aren’t meant to be museums themselves – they’re meant to be lived in and touched and loved and messed up, even – neither are they meant to be storage units holding symbols of our financial status. But as curator, I wanted to make sure that what I had was worth keeping.
The skill of curating doesn’t magically come from a bout of de-cluttering. In fact, I would go so far as to call it a completely separate ability that places more importance on our stewardship of what we allow in, rather than our selection of what we get rid of. You could be very good at de-cluttering without being good at maintaining your clutter. You need both skills to be able to create a minimalist space that allows for maximalist function.
With books up the wazoo about how to properly de-clutter a space, and movements that have people Marie-Kondoing their homes, I think what people still struggle with the most when creating a minimalist home is the inundation of stuffs through our doors – aka: the curation itself.
A curator for a museum needs to have a passion for the job, a knowledge about history and the arts, an eye for detail, patience and superior organizational skills. They research different pieces before deciding on one and manage the finances and lending needed to get the best piece for their space.
A curator of the home requires similar things, requiring knowledge of the self, patience, and the willingness to research options before a purchase.
Personally, I simplify the process down to three questions – which I ask of myself before I make a purchase. I ask them in the following order of importance:
Is it beautiful?
Beauty is my first question because I find that without beauty, I can easily fall out of love with something and lust after a nicer alternative. And while there are always nicer options, when you fall in love with the beauty within an everyday thing rather than the thing itself, no matter what happens to that thing or to you, you will have a sentimental connection with the piece that makes it hard to even look at another. Metaphors aside, I find that beautiful things hardly feel like clutter. A hand-made ceramic mug left sitting on the table with coffee drips dried from the lip is an artful piece on its own. A beautiful cardigan thrown over a chair looks almost staged when in reality, it was flung there forgotten after a more pressing life-matter beckoned. We are attracted to beautiful things, and of the three, sentiment is the strongest decision factor as to whether an item earns its keep. Because when something no longer becomes necessary or breaks and become dysfunctional, when it has lost its purpose and meaning, a person may still choose to keep it simply because it is beautiful.
Is it functional?
I like to think that what I own earn their keep. They do the hard work for me. They help me to not only live, but also to thrive. My things deserve my deepest gratitude for the sole reason that without them, my life would be a little less than. So it goes that my second question is to the functionality of a piece. Will it do it’s work? Is it practical? Will it hold against the tests of time? Things considered include the brand (is it reputable?), the material (I prefer iron, wood, ceramics, and linen), the maintenance (I don’t like delicate thinks that require looking after) and whether it does the job well (it must be efficient as well as easy).
Is it necessary?
This is the last question that I ask of myself, because sometimes, after you’ve determined that something is both beautiful and functional, you may also realize that you already own something else that does the same. And if two things fill the same void, then one of them will, eventually, have to go. An example that I have is tupperware. We love to cook. And we always run out of tupperware. But our tiny tupperware cabinet is 80% full with containers when all are available. I could choose to buy more containers so that we never run out, but I would hate to have a weekend where all are empty and spilling out of the tupperware cabinet. That is the exact definition of clutter! Not to mention the stress and waste of time spent on said weekend organizing tupperware into kitchen cabinets. So I refuse to buy more. Instead, I look for alternatives. I grab a casserole dish and put a lid on it. I store things in glass jars that we’ve kept instead of recycled. Currently, on our kitchen island is a dutch oven holding everything bagels with the pot lid on to keep them from going stale. These and more, just so the home doesn’t accumulate things for the sake of having them. It’s a fun game I play. The less stuff you have, the more creative you can get. What I’ve learned from this experiment is that in the moment, we may feel the need for something, but the moments often pass, the need – temporary. Most times, it is this final question that stops items from entering our home.
Surely, there is a long list of people who have Marie-Kondoed the ish out of their homes during quarantine. To you, I say congratulations. Before we all re-enter back into what once was, I wanted to share this tip on curating. Good judgement about what to consume can easily be clouded when we are stressed, which tends to happen at our usual pace of go-go-go. So before we return to “normal”, do recall that normal wasn’t working, and de-cluttering was more than a trend. This period has shed light on what was uncomfortable and what you felt was most important, so let’s hang on to that just a bit longer. And continue to take it slow.