I know you are having flashbacks of a stuffy college classroom, a professor with a mothball eaten sweater, and the only C you got on your transcripts. Oh wait, that must be me.
All joking aside, the term ethical fashion of course is derived from actual ETHICS, in which we discuss our morals, our values, and principles by which we live and act. There are two main concepts within moral relativism* that are in play here: individual and cultural. Personally, I recognize we do not live in a vacuum and are very much informed by the cultural values of the society in which we live. But, without getting too Nietzsche, I believe we are capable of defining our own personal hierarchy of values that matter most to us as individuals.
This is where defining ethical fashion gets interesting. WE HAVE CHOICES!! I am happy to support sustainably produced leather as a carnivore, but if you’re a vegan, that is going to be a struggle for you to wrap your mind around. As a woman and a mother, I find the availability of education and childcare of extreme importance to those out there sewing my clothing. As a single dude with no kids, that might not be on your radar.
I am here to tell you that all of this is okay! Morally speaking, and otherwise. There’s already enough extreme messaging out there. We do not have to fit into or ascribe to one narrow definition of anything, let alone ethical fashion. In my mind, the whole point of fashion in general is an expression of individual identity. I know we often get far from that, but don’t you think the clothes we wear are supposed to be unique? Say what you want about copying trends, but it’s a rare day when I run into someone wearing the exact same outfit as me. Well, our personal values are just as differentiated as our clothing. We do ourselves, and frankly everyone, a disservice when we limit fashion to aesthetics. There is power in our purchase, in our voices, and in our presence. And so, ethical fashion gives us the opportunity to express more than just our personalities; we can wear our beliefs on our sleeves (quite literally), and create and motivate change.
If you need help sorting this out, there’s a Values Worksheet available in my DIY Digital Workbook. I’m also happy to walk you through the steps in a personal consultation. Gotta start somewhere! Why not here? Why not now?
*It’s 2018, and yes, I will reference Wikipedia, damnit!
Somewhere between being pregnant and not, I decided to quit the underwire. Who knew that fighting against the patriarchy could be so comfortable?
When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to wear bras. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, right? We couldn’t wait to shave our legs, make our own decisions, quit naps and veggies, and stay up late. And then all of a sudden we arrive here and realize most of adulthood is a bunch of responsibility wrapped in false choice. Am I right?
When I got pregnant, it was somewhere around the 3rd trimester when wearing underwire bras became too uncomfortable. I switched to shelf bra maternity camis and figured the growing belly was enough support/who cares what I look like anyway I’m pregnant/comfort first. Then I graduated to nursing bras, which I also hated as an extension of hating nursing. After that brief 2 year hiatus, I went back to my old bras when they fit again after a grueling tour of Insanity with Shaun T. Living a life of discomfort, constant readjustment, and skin irritation. Repeat x3.
But no! I am a grown woman, an adult if you will. I make my own choices! I do. not. have to wear an underwire bra! Really, I do not. And I have not for a year and I bet you no one has even noticed. I was living in discomfort all for an image that no one else could see.
Who decides these things? The patriarchy?! Well, maybe, but ultimately the real answer, my friends, is I do. Only I decide which bra I wear. Or if I wear one! Period. No need to burn your bra if you wear one that suits you. You have more choices in this life than you realize. Exercise those choices. Share your newfound freedom and happiness with others. Live life on your terms only. Rinse. Repeat.
What’s going on in your life that is making you uncomfortable? What can you do to get rid of it?
And no, I totally did not get paid for doing this. It’s just that good.
Follow me on Instagram @myeducatedstyle for more clothing recommendations and join The Style Collective, a private Facebook community of like-minded women taking control of their choices in clothing.
Not sure about you, but I am a little bit obsessed with holidays. Of course as kids, most of us are. We get presents and candy and attention and special food and there’s MAGIC. A lot of people then get disillusioned with the whole thing as they grow up and find out that it’s not real. You mean my parents were lying to me?! LAME. That was my mom’s handwriting on the Christmas presents, and a giant bunny doesn’t hide candy in your house with a giant magic key?! DUPED.
Not me. The magic of it all intensified. You mean my parents did all this for me? The ones who always say no to toys and candy and clothes the cool girls had at school? The ones who make me save all my money and never let me do anything fun? They’re the ones who perfectly curated all the holidays with the things and experiences I always wanted? WOW. MIND BLOWN (before that was even a phrase). I felt like I was now in on the best secret in the world and was all the more excited to create my own holiday fun with my friends as a young adult and now as a parent for my three kids.
With all this curated magic comes work, right? To recreate all the special memories I had as a kid during the holidays, I put some pressure on myself. Not gonna lie, there are some intense moments inside my own mind about how to create these experiences. What is too much, or too little? How much should I spend? Go big or go home for everything, or pick a few favorites and stick with it? The answer for me is usually all of the above or somewhere in between.
As we prepare for Easter this year, I’m putting another question in the basket (see what I did there?): is it ethically made? I’ve become a more conscious consumer over the last year or so, and I want to be intentional about the gifts I give my children. Since responsible shopping comes with extra research, and that is a big reason why a lot of us don’t make it a priority (real life, am I right?) I’ve gathered some of my ideas here for you to use. Ethical shopping doesn’t have to be all serious. Have some fun, get some cute things your children will adore, and make a statement with your purchases that you will not support companies who employ children, who do not pay fair wages or do not provide safe working/living environments.
Where to Shop
I feel like this option easily gets left off a lot of lists promoting ethical consumerism. Probably because it’s not very consumer-y? (Totally a word!) But y’all, this is a super economical AND ethical way to shop, especially for kiddos! I can virtually guarantee you have a shop (or a few!) in your town that you can peruse, check out your local Craigslist or FB Marketplace, or stop by my FAVORITE shop: little peeps children’s resale. Natasha always finds the most amazing things for such great prices!
I love shopping local whenever I can. We have a super cute kids store in my city called Hopscotch and they carry eco friendly brands and locally made and ethically sourced items. I have gotten some of our family’s favorite books there, and they are a great resource for new parents when it comes to babywearing and cloth diapers.
Last resort, shop online! We live in a magical modern age where literally anything you want is a click of a button away. I’m lucky enough to live in an area with lots of ethically made items, but if you’re not, you don’t have to sacrifice. Just a simple google search using search terms that include “fair trade” or “sustainable” or “ethical” will guide you on your way!
What to Get
Fair Trade Candy
Perhaps you are familiar with fair trade chocolate; there are more options available every time I’m in my local grocery store. However, Easter-specific chocolate was harder to find. In case you didn’t already know, the chocolate industry is somewhat notorious for using children to harvest cocoa. Instead of mindlessly purchasing the same brands you always do, find alternatives that are made without the use of child labor, like these:
I have no idea what it is about kids’ pajamas but I AM OBSESSED. I use almost every holiday as an excuse to get them new pajamas. The brand I usually buy, while adorable, are not ethically made so I have discovered a few new brands in varying price points.
Now that I have two daughters, I am not ashamed to admit I make them match. My two favorite shops: Little Ladybug Accessories & Creative Rinds have super adorable options for holidays and everyday hairdo fun.
There is a cute little ethical shop in my city that carries these ladies’ matte eggplant ankle-style rainboots that I’ve had my eye on. (Sorry, that’s a little off topic…) But I did find out they have a children’s collection! ROMA Boots makes super sturdy, practical, gender neutral rainboots for kids…AND they’re an incredible company that gives back.
You can definitely check your local thrift store for super affordable options, or peruse ethically made and minded stores like Boden USA. <- Get 20% off! I love that they have options for my little paleontologist-in-training like this super adorable she-saurus bathing suit.
I check out my local kid’s shop for sustainably made items. Gardening tools, beach toys, DIY bubbles and chalk are favorites for my kiddos.
If your house is like mine, you may be overloaded with these fuzzy critters, but don’t let that deter you from checking out this incredible company cuddle+kind. Their seriously adorable animals are ethically handmade in Peru, and they donate 10 meals for each doll purchased. They all have cute names and birthdays, like Chloe pictured here with my daughter who were both born in August.
Always a tried and true option and the gift that keeps on giving. I have been known to ask family members who might give my kids gifts for the holidays to think about experiences. Trips to the movies, for ice cream, or to the beach. Lessons for swimming, or skiing, or dance. Memberships to the children’s museum, the zoo or tickets to plays or sporting events.
I always like adding to my children’s library for gifts. It encourages their love of reading, expands their knowledge of the world, and when done carefully and intentionally can be sustainable, too! Does your library have a kids’ program? Consider getting a membership or their own library card! You can also look second hand either at used bookstores, mom to mom or garage type sales or often your library will have sales on books no longer in circulation. You’d be surprised how many books you can find in great condition!
Where there’s spring, there’s summer waiting around the corner! Ditch the socks and put some adorably ethically made sandals in their Easter baskets. These ribbon sandals made at Sseko Designs help send women in Uganda to college and come in tons of fun colors. And mom can get herself a pair to match, just sayin’.
*That’s my affiliate link right there, just for transparency’s sake and all that.*
You’ll notice that some of these items above also fit into this category, but I wanted it to stand alone, too. If you’re like me and are often overwhelmed by all the STUFF, please do not think you need to give your children MORE to make a holiday feel special. Do your kids need a new toothbrush? Socks? Plates and utensils? Summer clothes? Underwear? Diapers? A new backpack for school because they lost it? (That really happens, just so you know.) Put it in a basket and hide it and your kids will be SO excited. I do this all the time, and it still makes it fun and special without breaking the bank or giving yourself extra STUFF to deal with.
Well, I hope I saved your Easter Bunny a lot of time avoiding the research black hole with some easy, ethical, and fun options for your kids’ baskets this year! If you have any suggestions to update this list, please let me know because I would love to hear from you!