The most common questions I get are about brand recommendations, so during this year I’ll be posting some round-ups of conscious brands in different categories. I asked my Patrons where to start and they voted activewear, so let’s get those muscles moving!
With all these round-ups I’ll try my best to have a mix of European and North American brands and at least one from Australia. The round-ups will include some brands I wear and love, but with a capsule wardrobe I don’t own very many clothes so can’t personally try all the different brands and products out. Also with any recommendations it’s important to do your own research and make sure that the brand meets your own ethical/sustainable priorities.
A NYC based and locally made loungewear brand, Miakoda has a selection of pieces great for yoga, working out, or just as comfy day-wear. I especially love my leggings from them, the fabric is super soft and the cut is really comfortable. All their pieces are made with plant-based fabrics using blends of bamboo, organic cotton, lyocell and soy.
-The Breakdown- Products: women’s casual lounge & yoga wear Great for: comfy & soft essentials Conscious Highlights: eco fabrics, reuse scrap fabric, vegan brand, made in NYC Size range: XS-XL Ordering: based in USA, ships international
A yoga and exercise brand from Germany with a wide range of unique styles and cuts. I especially like their tops with built-in bras and they always have a great selection of colours and prints. Mandala uses a variety of eco fabrics from certified organic cotton, to Tencel Lyocell, to recycled polyester, made by people paid fair wages, under fair working conditions in their factories in Turkey and Shanghai.
-The Breakdown- Products: women’s yoga & workout wear Great for: creative details/prints & functional design Conscious Highlights:eco fabrics, certified/branded fabrics (GOTS, Lenzing, Repreve), fair manufacturing standards (non-certified) Size range: XS-XL Ordering: based in Germany, ships international
Teeki specialises in unique and creative prints. Their line of yoga bottoms and tops are all made in the US from recycled PET (plastic bottles). I’ve owned a pair of their cropped leggings for a few years now and they’re great for running and the gym, although in general I do prefer natural fibres over wearing synthetics. Their fabric has a lot of spandex which could be an environmental con but it also means they hold their shape very well and after years of use (and proper care to preserve spandex) mine are still holding up great which I also see as a big pro.
-The Breakdown- Products: women’s yoga wear Great for: fun, colourful & unique prints Conscious Highlights: recycled plastic bottles, made in the USA Size range: XS-L Ordering: based in USA, ships international
Some other brands which I haven’t personally tried but look like good conscious options.
Ethical fashion pioneer People Tree also has an active line! The have a pretty basic collection of leggings, tanks and tees, but everything is organic and fair trade certified.
-The Breakdown- Products: women’s yoga wear (they also have a large women’s clothing collection) Great for: simple, organic yoga basics Conscious Highlights: Soil Association & Fair Trade certified organic cotton, fair trade factories, transparent production Size range: 8-16 (UK) Ordering: based in the UK, ships internationally
Known for their beautiful solid colour sets, Girlfriend Collective has a collections of bras, leggings, and shorts made from recycled PET (plastic bottles). Their fabrics are made in Taiwan and they manufacture in Vietnam in an SA8000 certified factory.
They’re also have the most inclusive size range I’ve found from XXS-XXXL in tops and up to 6X in some leggings!
-The Breakdown- Products: women’s yoga & workout wear Great for: matching sets in trendy colours Conscious Highlights: recycled plastic bottles, Oeko-Tex certified Standard 100 fabrics, SA8000 certified factory Size range: XXS-XXXL (some leggings to 6X) Ordering: based in USA, also ships to UK, Australia, and Canada
Austrian brand Nice to Meet Me was co-founded by a yoga teacher and offers a collection of yoga and exercise wear made from organic cotton, Tencel, and recycled fibres. They manufacture nearby in a workshop in Czechia.
-The Breakdown- Products: women’s & men’s yoga & workout wear Great for: colourful designs tested by yoga professionals Conscious Highlights: eco fabrics, GOTS and OEKO-Tex certified cotton, Made in the EU, vegan brand Size range: XS-XL Ordering: based in Austria, ships within Europe
Mainly know for their swimwear, Elle Evans also has a line of athletic leggings and tops. Everything is made to order from ECONYL® which is regenerated nylon often made from things like recycled fishing nets.
-The Breakdown- Products: women’s & children’s swim & yoga wear Great for: colourful prints & sexy cuts Conscious Highlights: recycled materials, made to order to reduce waste, reduce & reuse scrap fabric, made in Australia in their workshop Size range: XS-XL Ordering: based in Australia, ships internationally
While not specifically an active brand, Groceries Apparel does have a nice selection of clothing which could also be great for yoga and exercise. They manufacture in California using a variety of sustainable materials, and even some natural dyes!
-The Breakdown- Products: women’s & men’s casual wear Great for: basics & naturally dyed pieces Conscious Highlights: eco fabrics, made in USA in their own factory Size range: XS-XL Ordering: based in USA, ships internationally
London based, Asquith has a range of lounge and yoga wear made from bamboo, organic cotton, and Bambor® which is their own bamboo and organic cotton blend. They manufacture in a GOTS certified, family-run factory in Turkey.
-The Breakdown- Products: women’s activewear Great for: solid colour basics Conscious Highlights:eco fabrics, made in GOTS certified factory in Turkey Size range: XS-XXL Ordering: based in UK, ships internationally
To be honest, I’ve always been hesitant to recommend Pact because their prices are so low, which often is a red flag (I’ve also heard mixed reviews about their quality). However they have solid credentials – many (although not all) of their basics are made with GOTS certified organic cotton in Fair Trade USA certified factories.
-The Breakdown- Products: women’s lounge & yoga wear Great for: affordable basics Conscious Highlights: GOTS certified organic cotton, made in Fair Trade certified factories Size range: XS-XXL Ordering: based in USA, also ships to Canada
Something I really struggled with is finding an eco brand that makes high-impact sports bras. These brands are great for yoga, the gym, and low to medium impact workouts but as someone with a larger cup size, it’s often not enough support for running and high-impact activities. If you’ve found a conscious brand that makes high-impact sports bras, please let me know!
Also as with most conscious brands there unfortunately seems to be only a limited size range available, except for Girlfriend Collective which it’s great to see someone offering larger sizes. 👏 If you know any other conscious activewear brands with a larger size range please share them.
Finally I’ve also had pretty decent luck finding good quality activewear secondhand (except for the fabric softener incident 😬), so that can be a great way to shop as well!
A few months ago I posted a video about measuring and sizes and it included a link to a survey. I wanted to get some insight into the mystery of clothing sizes and fit and have actual data on what sizes and shapes people are. By far the most common complaint I hear is that people have trouble finding clothing that fits, so I was hoping the survey might show me what common fit issues there are and maybe I could have some stats that would be helpful to show brands where improvements with sizing and fit could be made.
First, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who filled out the survey! You input has been incredibly helpful.
It’s taken me quite a while to wade through all the numbers and to be honest the scope and variables of this kind of data collection were a lot more complex than I initially anticipated. However I found it really interesting and also was quite surprised by what I learned.
Housekeeping and info about the survey
The survey received 955 complete responses, I was hoping for 1000 but still think it’s a decent sample size.
Since the survey was mostly filled out by my audience (although it was also shared on social media and through some other ethical bloggers). It’s important to acknowledge that there might be some bias with the results because I assume people who are following fashion bloggers for clothing and brand recommendations are more likely to follow someone who is a similar age, speaks the sample language, maybe are from similar parts of the world, or maybe even has a similar body type to them so they can see how clothes might look. These are all speculative and of course we follow people for different reasons but it’s just good to note that this isn’t a totally random sample of people.
Also I think it’s very important to point out that the data was all self-reported. Taking measurements in particular can be difficult and even though I provided some instructions there was no control over how people were measuring themselves and therefore likely some variation and inconsistency with that.
Some basic demographics
The vast majority of respondents were 18-44 with the bulk of that falling in the 25-34 age range.
The respondents are also mostly from North America and Europe:
While I really appreciate the men that filled out the survey there unfortunately weren’t enough to have a good set of data so I just focused on women’s sizes for this project.
So what did I find?
Let’s start off with a more simple one…
Height & Petite vs Tall Sizes
One thing I was interested in was height and what percent of people usually wear petite or tall sizes. This chart shows the height distribution of respondents (in cm – sorry everyone who prefers inches but I work a lot better with centimetres so had to convert everything) and what portion wear petite or tall sizes. Typically petite sizes are for those under 160 cm although some also go up to 162 while tall sizes generally start at around 171 cm. However these sizes are mainly for limb length, so for example if you are a average height but have long legs and a short torso or the opposite you might still wear tall or petite sizes and I think that’s why we see some overlap.
Something I found interesting is there are slightly more taller people than petite people however more people wear petite sizes than tall sizes. Maybe this has to do with availability or how clothes are designed, but I found it interesting because I assumed it would be the opposite – since it’s possible to hem regular clothes for petites but you can’t add fabric for taller people.
Measurements & Sizes
This is the data I was really interested in. With my background in fashion design and pattern-making I’ve always used a “standard size guide” for drafting patterns which as far as I understand is based on quite old measurements. I was really curious how closely these measurements matched real people and also how closely the respondents fit into clothing brand’s size charts.
Everyone was asked what letter size(s) they usually wear and these fit relatively close to the way stores typically order sizes, with medium being the highest and tapering down from there (a standard curve), although compared to the survey data stores would likely order more larges and fewer smalls.
Although as I’ll explain shortly this graph isn’t totally accurate and this is also where things really got interesting.
Looking at the measurements (participants measured their bust, waist and hip) there was so much variety in sizes and shapes that it was very difficult to find commonalities and overlap to draw conclusions from. I basically had pages of measurements that really just illustrated how diverse and unique women’s bodies are.
One thing I wanted to do was see how easily people fit into brand’s sizes, so I decided to average the size ranges of 10 popular brands (I used a mix of regular and sustainable/ethical brands) to get my average size ranges. This on its own was interesting to see the variations from brand to brand – they were relatively close for the S-L range but then getting into plus sizes the variations were so drastic it was basically impossible to find a good average.
I then looked at how everyone’s measurements fit into this average size range and assigned a letter size to the bust, waist and hip measurements.
Something that I found incredibly interesting is only 23% of people are the same letter size across their 3 measurements (ie. M bust, M waist, M hips) and this is a generous percent as I also included people who are at the edge of the size range above or below (for example someone who is M bust, M waist and L hips but close to the bottom of the L size range I still included in this %). So this means at least 77% of people don’t fit a single letter size! Most people should be wearing different sizes for tops and bottoms, although even with that, often people’s waist and hips, or waist and bust are different sizes, which can cause fit issues, nevermind buying a fitted dress that needs to fit all measurements. I’ll talk later about some things you can do though!
This is also a good time to highlight the fact that these are a VERY simplified set of measurements, we’re not taking into account things like torso length, bust point, shoulder width, upper hip/lower hip, neck size, thigh size etc. Even with the most simple measurements we could possibly have, there already is a ton of diversity with women’s bodies. Letter sizes are also more simplified than number sizes, so if there is this much of a difference in letter sizes than it must be even greater with number sizes. I of course expected there to be a lot of different shapes and sizes but was surprised at how different everyone actually is even with such basic measurements.
Something else I found really interesting is 27% of people fit a totally different size than they say they wear, and this is a very conservative estimate because I only included people who were significantly different in size than they said. Some of this might have to do with brands having variations in sizing, for example if your favourite brand fits really small or large, or people wanting tighter or looser fits, but I was still surprised at how high the percent of people wearing the “wrong” size is. I also didn’t find commonalities of people saying they wore larger or smaller sizes, for example there’s women who wear an M but fit in a XS size range and women who wear an M but fit in a XL size range.
In hindsight I should have added another question for clarification – asking if people purposely size up or down for fits they like, because I don’t know if a lot of people are doing that on purpose or if a lot of people don’t know what sizes they should be wearing.
Common Fit issues
The one commonality I did manage to find is many women have wider hips than clothing brands account for. The waist-to-hip ratio needs to be larger for a lot of women’s sizes and this was echoed with the question about what common fit issues people had – the biggest issues were hips fitting too small and waist fitting too big. Thighs fitting too small was also very high and also relates to the waist-to-hip ratio issue.
Everything thing else was relatively close with people needing certain areas larger or smaller, so it would be difficult for brands to make changes. Although offering different inseam options could potentially be helpful.
Something else that really needs to be talked about, especially in the ethical fashion space, is inclusive sizing. Many conscious brands only have a S-L range, or if you’re lucky a XS-XXL range. Based on the data I also found there is an under-served market in ethical fashion of about 11% of people who need size XXL or larger and 7% of people who need size XXS or smaller.
What’s the takeaway?
To be honest, going into this I hoped to come out with a list of recommendations and things brands can do to better serve the fit needs and sizes of their customers, and ideally a better size chart that more closely reflected people’s measurements. However what I learned is that clothing brands essentially have an impossible task, women’s bodies are just so different! And this was from only looking at the very simplest of measurements – while people might fit the bust/waist/hip they could have have broader shoulders, larger cups, longer arms, etc. Basically clothing perfectly fits almost no one.
For reference I compared the “standard size” I was taught to draft patterns for and the same measurements many brands use for their sample size (this size is supposed to be the ” average customer”) to the data and not a single person exactly fit the base size! 4 people (out of 950) were pretty close but it still blew my mind that no one actually fit the measurements which entire brand’s sizes are based off. Out of all the sizes less than 1% of people were the base size measurements for the different sizes I and so many fashion students are taught to draft and grade patterns for.
I tried to come up with a new size guide based on averages of the measurements, and even creating clothing for the average person in each size only actually fits a few people and not even perfectly – there is just too much variation.
After discovering this I was actually surprised to see over 25% say it was very easy or fairly easy to find clothing that fits. Although this is pretty close to our 23% of people who fit 1 size in their measurements and it still shows that about 75% of people have issues finding clothing that fits.
How easy people said it is to find clothing, 1 = Very Easy, 5 = Very Difficult
So what can brands do?
Utilise stretch in fabrics (although most everyone already does) to fit a wider range of people
Go for a niche market and focus on designing for a specific body type instead of for everyone – use customer feedback and different fit models to develop fits
Offer custom sizing or do alterations
Possibly try a larger waist-to-hip ratio as this seems to be a common fit issue
However we have to recognise that things like custom sizing cost a lot more and targeting a niche market really limits your audience so I unfortunately can’t see many brands going that route.
I would also recommend brands use a medium size as their base/sample size to grade from since that is the most common size.
Is it too much to expect clothing to fit off the rack?
I hate to say it, but yes.
We’re so different and yet we expect brands to make clothing for all of us. It’s also important to point out that this is a relatively new expectation, historically it was normal for everyone to get their clothing tailored, custom made, or do alterations themselves, but with the rise of fast fashion tailoring has been dying. With clothing that is so cheap and abundant we care less about how it fits and don’t want to spend extra money to get it tailored. There also has been a huge rise in knit clothing and spandex because it allows clothing to fit a larger variety of people.
Fit your largest parts first! Since we learned most people wear different sizes based on their bust, waist and hip measurements it’s best to go with the larger size and have it taken in to fit the smaller areas.
Although this depends on the garment you’re thinking of buying – so you want to pay attention to what areas are most fitted, for example if you’re buying a dress with a fitted bodice and flared skirt the hip measurement doesn’t matter as much but you want to fit the bust and waist measurements.
Check if the garment is a knit (like jersey which naturally has some stretch) or a woven which has no stretch, or if there is any spandex or elastane. This will affect how the garment fits and will give you more flexibility with determining the size you need.
Find a tailor or learn to do alternations yourself. My biggest lesson from this project is how important tailoring and alternations can be for a good fit.
With all the variations in size and shapes it actually feels like a miracle that someone can walk into a store and find a piece that fits perfectly (although I’m pretty sure that miracle’s name is Spandex).
It’s easy to blame the clothing industry for not making clothes that fit but from the perspective of someone who has experience working in the fashion industry and drafting patterns, after combing through all these measurements it seems basically impossible to make clothes that will even fit the majority of people. Fitting about 1/4 of people mostly well doesn’t actually seem so bad when you look at all the variation.
I do think though that if we understand our bodies, proportions, and fits we like, then we can get better at finding the kind of cuts that fit and also know how we can alter things ourselves or with a tailor to get that “fits like a glove” garment.
However if clothes don’t fit this DOES NOT mean we should blame our bodies. I sadly hear this all the time, instead of “these pants are too small”, people often say, “my butt is too big”. We should never be criticising ourselves when clothes don’t fit, it’s an issue with the clothes not you! This project really showed me is how incredibly unique everyone is, of the 950+ participants the vast majority of people have completely individual measurements and at the very most share measurements with 1 or maybe 2 other people. I think that’s pretty incredible. We love to compare ourselves to others but I actually think it’s really freeing and empowering that everyone’s body is uniquely theirs!
I’m leaving this project with 4 main takeaways:
There’s definitely some frustration from the designer/pattern-maker side of me seeing how incredibly difficult it is to design and make clothes that fit well. The only real solution is custom sizing but that unfortunately isn’t realistic for most brands and customers.
It’s really disappointing that we don’t see more of this incredible diversity of bodies in the media.
This project really emphasised for me how terrible it is that we’re taught to see the things that make us unique as “flaws” which should be hidden and to wear “flattering” clothes to try and create the illusion that our bodies are different – typically with the goal to look like whatever body shape is currently idealised.
It’s amazing how unique we all are and horrible how critical I and so many other people can be of their bodies. Nothing is “wrong”, “weird” or “different” – everyone’s body is different! While it might make trying on clothes frustrating I think that uniqueness is something we should celebrate 💕
I’d also love to hear what you learned or took away from this!
If you made it through this whole post, congrats! It was probably the longest post I’ve ever written – definitely the one I’ve put the most time into 😅 and hopefully it wasn’t too dry and data heavy. Even though I feel like it isn’t full of revolutionary findings that will change the ethical fashion industry I still hope it’s helpful and interesting. I found working on this fascinating and would really love to hear your thoughts! Also if you filled out the survey, (thank you!!) was this what you expected to come out of it?
Heading into a new year I always think it’s great to have a mix of goals/resolutions including personal, career, relationship, and also things you can do to reduce your impact. So here are some ideas of things you might want to try this new year. Also check out last year’s post for more ideas!
Save water by watering your plants with the water used to boil veggies or pasta (when it’s cool!)
Try to repair or get secondhand electronics first
Shop with a list to help prevent impulse purchases
Wear sweaters and use blankets in the winter and turn your heat down a bit
Share some of the sustainable things you’re doing to help and inspire others!
I’d love to hear what your conscious resolutions are for the new year!
My lovely friend Kaméa Chayne from the Green Dreamer Podcast made these beautiful planners where you can not only keep track of your days but it also promotes self-care and conscious living, plus has space and prompts for goal setting and reflection. The planners are so beautiful, I already love using mine AND each planner sold plants 50 trees!
Since moving back to Canada I’ve had to re-think my capsule wardrobes a bit with the new climate. The biggest difference from where I was living in Germany is that winters here are a lot longer and colder. Into November we were already very much in winter so I decided it was time to switch my wardrobe at the beginning of December. Project 333, which I started my capsule with, breaks the seasons into 3 months each but in a very cold climate I think it needs to be adapted it to at least 4, maybe even 5 months for winter.
My goal for this capsule was to have good layering options. We live in an apartment building which can actually be quite warm (we get a lot of heat from the neighbouring units and direct sunlight) so depending on the day a t-shirt might be fine inside but then I have to layer up to go out or into the evening. I didn’t include any under-layers in the capsule since they’re not really part of outfits but I still need them, so if I’m going to be outside a while I’ll layer leggings or a fitted tank or tee under my outfit for extra warmth and I made sure the pieces I chose can work layered over.
Even though I’ve been doing capsule wardrobes for years now, I always try to learn from them so I can improve the next one. Especially with any big life changes, like moving to a different climate, it’s important to assess your capsule and learn what works and doesn’t work, because something that worked well before might not any longer. I think I have a pretty good selection of items but I’m also going to be flexible if I feel the need to swap or adapt the capsule to work better for Canadian winters.
Our consumerist society is amplified during the holidays and unfortunately it seems like consumption has become the focus of the season. Events require new outfits, festive-ness is measured by how many decorations you have, it seems like parties have to feature a Pinterest-worthy spread, and marketing tells us the bigger the pile of presents the more happiness there will be. 🤔 I’m not here for it.
Now maybe you think I’m a Grinch but I actually really love the holidays! I just think we need to refocus a bit.
One shift that is incredibly important is moving from gift giving focused around quantity to quality. This is not only a lot more sustainable (we really don’t need more gifts ending up in the landfill in a few months) but I’ll bet it also helps with that holiday shopping stress.
This holiday season let’s try to focus on giving quality over quantity!
(this post is kindly sponsored by BuyMeOnce)
One store making it easier to buy better is BuyMeOnce. I’m exited to be partnering with them on this post because I not only think they have a great selection of gifts but I love their mission to “find the longest lasting products” and not only that, they also prioritise ethical manufacturing and sustainability in their selections.
All of the products they recommend have been thoroughly researched. They start by asking these questions:
Do the materials and craftsmanship make this product more durable than its competitors?
Do customer and independent reviews confirm the product’s durability?
Is the product made ethically, and, if possible, out of sustainable materials?
Does the company offer aftercare?
Is the product’s design timeless?
If it passes, they then test it out themselves and sometimes they’ll also bring in experts to weigh in. A lot of their listed products also come with lifetime guarantees so even if something does happen it can be repaired or replaced.
Ideas for quality, long-lasting gifts
For the music lover
Tech is a tricky area to shop consciously – there are always new or improved versions coming out and it’s an industry notorious for planned obsolescence, which is when companies deliberately design products to wear out, become outdated in a few years, or products are designed to prevent repairs. So I was pretty surprised to see BuyMeOnce carrying a speaker. This Minirig 2 portable Bluetooth speaker is made in the UK which is really rare to see and is designed to be taken apart, so if something breaks it can easily be repaired, or if technology improves individual parts can be replaced instead of needing to buy a whole new speaker. Also, it can be coupled with a second speaker and/or subwoofer for improved sound that can fill a larger space.
This speaker has an incredible 80 hour battery life so it’s great for taking to the park, on roadtrips, camping, or travelling.
Know someone who loves to cook or bake?
Help them reduce waste and save time cleaning up sticky or burnt-on baking sheets by using silicone baking mats. These reusable mats come in 2 sizes and can also be cut to fit your trays or cookie sheets. They’re easy to use and a great zero waste replacement for foil or parchment paper. Plus the brand offers a lifetime guarantee.
I’ve ordered a set for us and am probably also going to get one for my parents so they can skip the aluminium foil. 🙂
Quality cast iron cookware can last generations and actually gets better with age as the seasoning builds up. I love cast iron because it’s super versatile, you can use it on the stove, in the oven, on a barbecue, or even on a campfire and you also don’t have to worry about potentially harmful Teflon coatings.
This Finex skillet not only is beautifully designed but it’s made in America, comes pre-seasoned, and the unique octagonal design allows for easy pouring. They also give you the choice to include a lid, and for extra quality assurance it has a lifetime guarantee.
It’s from Elvis & Kresse who have a line of bags made from durable, reclaimed materials such as decommissioned fire hoses, printing blankets (pictured), and leather off-cuts, and the bag is lined with reclaimed military-grade parachute silk. Designed to last, they also offer lifetime repairs on all their bags.
A product which I also featured in my green gift guide is Lüks Linen’s Peshtemal towels. Turkish towels are amazing for travel because they’re lightweight, compact, and dry quickly. I also love how versatile they are because they don’t look like a traditional towel you can wear them as a scarf, shawl, or sarong, and they can also be used at the beach, for a picnic, or as throw blanket. They’re incredibly practical for travelling, camping, spas/saunas, the gym, or just everyday home use.
Lüks Linen also offers a 20 year replace or repair guarantee on their products.
For little ones on the go there’s a wooden balance bike from Wishbone which has been designed to grow with your child. The frame and seat height are adjustable so they can use it from 18 months up to 5 years! The bike has also been designed to be 100% repairable so if any piece is damaged a replacement part can be purchased.
These bikes teach kids how to steer and balance and from personal experience are a great way to go on walks with kids and not have to carry them after 10 minutes. Plus the company also uses natural materials and non-toxic glues and finishes to keep children safe.
You might be thinking there’s no way jeans can have a lifetime guarantee, but these jeans from Blackhorse Lane Ateliers not only are designed to be good quality with features like hidden rivets and tacked stress-points but they come with free repairs for life! So if they get ripped or worn you can send them in to be patched and stitched up, how cool is that? Made in London from 100% organic cotton, selvedge raw denim these are the kind of jeans you can completely break in, mould to your body, and are sure to become the go-to pair.
A brand I was thrilled to discover is Swedish Stockings and I’m happy to see they are BuyMeOnce approved too! Stockings are unfortunately not going to last a lifetime, and because of this they create a lot of waste. Swedish Stockings however are tackling this by using recycled nylon and producing the stockings in zero waste and solar powered factories. If the tights do get damaged or wear out, they have a take-back program to recycle the stockings so they’re not contributing to more landfill waste.
Another gift idea, if you know someone who is also interested in shopping and living more consciously is the book A Life Less Throwaway by BuyMeOnce founder Tara Button. The book talks about why we tend to shop and over-spend, why products are no longer designed to last, how we can better take care of the things we have, how we can change consumerist habits, and how we can build a life around things that are meaningful and fulfilling instead of just accumulating more stuff.
There are so many ways to give quality gifts this holiday season, you can also give the gift of experiences and spending quality time together. Treat your friends or family to a nice dinner or activity they really enjoy.
This holiday season let’s take a step back, I don’t think we need to completely give up gift giving, but maybe consider if the piles of disposable presents are really necessary and if there’s a way to focus on quality over quantity gift giving.
Since we’re getting into the holiday season ❄ here are some of my gift ideas to shop consciously and support some amazing brands! This gift guide contains both North American and European based companies, but most ship internationally. Also almost everything is under $100!
$ = 20 $/€ or under $$ = 21-50 $/€ $$$ = 51-100 $/€
Miakoda’s joggers are a super soft bamboo and organic cotton blend, ethically made in NYC. Perfect for a cozy weekend or the drapey cut can easily be styled for a cute casual look. I’m told they’ll also be releasing soon a thicker winter fabric for extra warmth. $$$
Candles instantly add cosiness to winter evenings, especially one in a lovely vintage-inspired mug ☕. Prosperity Candles from Accompany are fairly made by women refugees in the US who are working to build a better life for themselves. $$
What’s cosier than a soft organic cotton blanket to wrap yourself in? Living Crafts cable knit blanket is both warm and decorative perfect for a movie night or adding a hygge accent. €€€
Those staples that everyone needs.
If you know anyone who hates their uncomfortable bras or has trouble finding bras in their size, get them a gift card for Lara Intimates. Their bras are not only incredibly comfortable (I wear my Wren bra almost everyday) but they’re also sustainable and ethically made, plus Lara has an amazing size range from 26A-36I ! ££- £££
Socks are another great staple gift – who doesn’t need socks? Especially during the holidays I love a cute print. Thought is my go-to for eco-friendly printed socks and their box sets make a great gift. ££
Like socks it might not be the most creative gift but it will be appreciated and used – some nice hemp and organic cotton Wama underwear. Everyone can use underwear (socks and underwear are literally all my husband wants for gifts) and these not only are a classic cut and colour, but also really comfy. Plus hemp is super sustainable! $$- $$$ for packs
A classic pullover makes a great gift for winter. This one from ThokkThokk can be worn on its own or easily layered, it’s organic cotton and both GOTS and Fair Trade certified. They also have a bunch of different styles for men and women. €€€
For someone who loves home-spa treatments a jade roller is a lovely, relaxing skincare tool. This Jade Chi Roller from The Choosy Chick can be used to cool puffy under-eyes, roll out facial tension, improve skin elasticity and also is really nice to roll oils or a sheet mask into the skin. Use code MYGREENCLOSET for 10% off. $$
The gift I’m going to be giving to most people this year is a subscription to Libro.fm audiobooks, it’s like Audible but way better – instead of your money going to Amazon, Libro partners with and gives a portion of proceeds to local bookstores, when you sign up you can select which store you’d like to support. As an added bonus you can also get a free audiobook yourself for the first month! If you like it and stick around, with this link it also gifts me a book too – thank you 💕 $- $$$
Jewellery with a special story – The Met Store’s jewellery is all inspired by historical adornments or art. These unique Hellenistic pieces are modelled after ancient Greek jewellery sets, they also have a Byzantine collection inspired by that time period, and a venus pearl collection inspired by a Rubens painting. Perfect for history or art lovers, and their new collections are made in the US from fairly minded stones and recycled metals! $$$- $$$+
Globein believes “every product has a story”. Their boxes contain an assortment of home, lifestyle and food items which support artisans around the world. You can gift a monthly subscription box or shop their previous boxes or individual products. $$- $$$+
The adventurers and explorers in your life.
Cotton Peshtemal towels are perfect for anyone who travels or camps a lot. Getting a Turkish towel for travel was one of the best switches I’ve made – they’re super light and compact, dry quickly, and can double as a scarf, cover-up, or beach/picnic blanket. They’re so much more practical and versatile than a bulky fluffy towel and I recommend them to everyone. $$
Super durable and sustainable, grünBAG uses all recycled materials from things like surplus tarps, old sails, and party tents. Their toiletry bags come in a variety of colours and are perfect for staying organised at home or on the road. They also have a great selection of bags and backpacks. €€€
For home or travel, La Aquarelle’s sleep masks are designed to block light and sit comfortably. They’re naturally dyed in a variety of colours and plant dyes, and made from all natural materials including the filling; you can select your outer-material from a choice of organic cotton or bamboo silk. They also have aromatherapy masks with sachets of lavender. $$
For the Cook
Share cookbook is a collection of recipes from the organisation Women for Women International. It’s a unique and special gift for those who love to cook featuring recipes and stories from women around the world. $$
Know someone who loves to sew? Friday Pattern Company offers both print and pdf sewing patterns in cute and modern styles – these aren’t your grandma’s patterns. Plus a portion of profits go to charity. Get a gift card and they can choose the pattern that’s perfect for their style and skill level. $-$$
Know someone who’s interested in building a capsule wardrobe? Project 333 creator Courtney Carver’s Dress with Less Microcourse is incredibly helpful and has different activities to get you started, provide guidance, and set the foundation for a successful capsule wardrobe. $
Experiences always make incredible gifts, movie tickets or dinner at a favourite restaurant are good go-tos, or their favourite activity. For something extra unique check out Airbnb’s social impact experiences. $-$$$
Finally if someone wants nothing, get them nothing! Donations to favourite charities in their name also make great gifts. 🙂
For the Little Ones
My favourite gifts for the children are books so I was really excited when my ethical blogger friend Holly Rose wrote a beautiful children’s book, Leo & The Lion Learn of Lovejust in time for the holidays! A lovely story where a wise lion teaches a little boy to love and care for others and our planet. It’s printed with a cradle-to-cradle printer or you can also get digital copies. Use code MYGREENCLOSET for 10% Off. $
I love MATTER Prints who works fairly with artisans to create amazing textiles and garments, and they now have a children’s line which actually makes use of the off-cuts from their adult clothes! Their adorable red weekend dress is super versatile and can be dressed up for a holiday dinner or worn casually, the loose cut also makes it easy for kids to grown in. $$$
Not your average toy truck, this one is a recycling truck! Kids can learn about sorting paper, metal, and plastics plus Green Toys are made from recycled milk jugs! They are tested to ensure they are phalate and BPA free plus they have no coatings or paints to worry about. $-$$
I hope you find this helpful for your conscious holiday shopping and thank you so much to the brands who partnered on giveaways!
I recently did an Instagram story about why you shouldn’t use fabric softener after buying a pair of secondhand leggings that were full of it. There were a lot of further questions and requests to have the information somewhere more permanent, so here it is! 🙂
Let’s cut right to it, you shouldn’t use fabric softeners. They’re not only bad for your clothes (especially athletic wear which we’ll get into) but also not great for your health or the environment, it’s just not worth it. Fabric softeners became popular in the mid-1900’s because the dyes, detergents, and dryers were harsh on clothes making them rough and scratchy. However with better technology, fabrics, and detergents they’re no longer necessary, yet still very commonly used and most people don’t think twice about it.
How they work
Fabric softeners typically come in 2 different forms – a liquid used in the washing machine or a coated sheet used in the dryer. They are designed to prevent static, help with wrinkles, add a scent, and make the materials feel softer. They do this by covering the fabric in a thin, lubricating film. This coating prevents static by making the garments slippery to reduce friction and the softener adds a positive charge to neutralise the negative static charge. It also helps to separate the fibres making things like towels fluffier. Additionally they are typically scented and designed so the scent will remain in the fabric. Sounds nice, so…
Why are they bad for your clothes?
You might have noticed on some tags, especially with performance clothing, they specifically say NOT to use fabric softeners. This is because the waxy coating can interfere with moisture wicking and absorption properties – athletic fabrics are designed to wick moisture from the skin to the outside of the fabric where it can evaporate, but if you cover the fabric in a waxy coating it’s like plugging up a drinking straw and blocks the ability to move moisture. The coating also builds up over time making it harder for water and detergent to permeate the fabric so odours and stains are more difficult to get out and become sealed in. I get questions about why workout clothes can still have a smell even after washing, and my first response is always to ask if the person uses fabric softeners/dryer sheets, which is almost always the problem.
Although the fabrics might feel extra soft and nice at first, this build-up of fatty film overtime makes fabrics less absorbent. This is especially a problem with towels which obviously need to absorb a lot of moisture, as well as bed linens and underwear/base-layers which absorb sweat for comfort.
Fabric softeners can also stain your clothes, liquid softeners can occasionally leave blueish or grey stain spots on garments and overtime the waxy build-up can also cause yellowing on whites.
Finally they can leave residue in your machines which isn’t good for the machines and also means you can get fabric softener residue on clothes even when you’re not using it in that load.
One of the biggest issues with fabric softener is that they contain fragrance and the ingredients of fragrance don’t have to be disclosed, so we don’t know what exactly is in the product and there’s the potential they can contain toxic ingredients. Although in some countries like Canada cleaning products actually don’t have to disclose all ingredients anyway so it’s not just the fragrance where there are transparency issues.
Also a major ingredient in a lot of fabric softeners is Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs or “quats”) which are used to help combat static but can cause skin and respiratory irritation. Studies of medial professionals who used cleaning products with quats (they are also anti-bacterial) found an increase in asthma in those who were regularly exposed to them.
I also wonder if the coating and synthetic compounds in fabric softeners effects the biodegradability of clothing but haven’t been able to find any studies on it.
What are some alternatives?
Air-dry your clothes, it helps reduce static! I also really encourage air-drying because it not only saves a lot of energy (and $) but really increases the longevity of your clothes. There’s less rubbing and wear, colour fading and shrinkage from heat, plus dryers break down spandex/elastane faster causing your clothes to become misshapen, and they cause microscopic damage to the fabric – just look in the lint tray, those are all fibres that have been broken off or pulled from the fabric! Air-dryed clothes will definitely feel less soft than using a dryer or especially if you’re used to fabric softeners, but you can try just putting them in the dryer for few minutes to fluff them up if that’s a problem.
If you NEED to use a dryer, wool dryer balls can not only help soften your clothes but also cut down on drying time which saves energy. I’ve also heard of people adding essential oils to their dryer balls for some scent, but make sure you don’t use too much/stain your clothes, and use oils that are okay with heat. Some people also say dryer balls help with static – I haven’t tried them but I’d love to hear if you use wool dryer balls and how they work!
Also don’t over-dry your clothes, the dryness is what causes static so taking clothes out when they just dry will help reduce static.
Another option I hear a lot about is adding a quarter or half cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle as a fabric softener (although be sure not to use with bleach), again I’ve never found the need for my clothes to be softer but if you’ve tried this I’d be interested in how it works!
As with any changes it takes some time to adjust, but everyone I know whose stopped using fabric softeners says they were basically just doing it out of habit or thought you were “supposed to” and having stopped won’t ever go back.
Can you remove fabric softener already in clothes?
So I tried a few things on the leggings I bought that were full of fabric softener; first I washed them a couple times but this didn’t do much. Then I tried soaking them in water and castille soap for a few hours and this definitely made an impact although I could still smell the fabric softener. The most recent thing I’ve tried is soaking them in some vinegar and water and this also seemed to have helped a bit, but the smell is still there. Throughout this I’ve also been hanging them up on a drying rack to air-out as much as possible.
While I have definitely gotten rid of most of the smell (and it doesn’t give me a headache anymore just wearing them) it’s difficult to say if I’m only removing the fragrance or the actual fabric softener coating. The leggings still have a slightly waxy feel to them but it’s hard to gauge if any progress has been made. Hopefully as I keep wearing and washing them I can get rid of more of the softener but I don’t know if they’ll ever be back to the way they were originally.
If you have any other tips or suggestions for removing fabric softener please leave them in the comments!
I love natural dyeing, it not only is a beautiful process but it can be a lot safer for us and the environment. So I was thrilled when Kat from Sustain reached out to share her slow fashion brand that uses all natural dyes. It’s very hard to find brands even in the sustainable fashion world that naturally dye their fabrics. I think part of the reason is that customers and the industry are so used to synthetic dyes, some people don’t even know natural dyes are an option and there are misconceptions that they fade quickly, discolour, or won’t hold up (which we’ll get more into).
So how does natural dyeing work?
Dyes can be obtained from minerals, bugs, and plants – they can be extracted from roots, leaves, bark, wood, fruits, flowers, and fungi, even food waste like certain peels and pits can be used for dyeing. The dyes can come directly from the fresh plant or for more commercial dyeing they are typically in a dried, powdered, or extracted form.
Often fabrics are pre-treated with a mordant (which is French for “bite”) that helps the dye bind with the fabric and makes it more colourfast and long-lasting. Sometimes mordants are added to the dye bath and certain mordants can also be used to shift dyes to different colours. Sustain uses safer mordants like myrobalan (a medicinal Tibetan fruit), oak galls, alum, and soy milk, although it is important to know that some natural dyeing can use heavy metals so if you find naturally dyed products it’s often good to ask what has been used as a mordant.
The dye material is heated with water and steeped for a while to create a dye bath.
Then the mordanted fabric is added to the vat. It often needs to be stirred for even colour and given time to soak up the dye – typically the longer the fabric is left in the dye bath the deeper the colour will be. Dyes like indigo though are set when they oxidise so you have to repeatedly soak it in the bath and hang it up to deepen the colour.
After, the dyed fabric is rinsed to remove any excess dye, and dried. It might also go through other dyeing or printing processes, and then is ready to be cut into clothes!
This pj set is dyed with a combination of chamomile, lavender, rose, myrobalan, and indigo. First they do the flower vat which creates a yellow colour and then the blue indigo vat which together results in a blue-ish green. The pjs initially were more blue but as I’ve worn and washed them they’ve shifted a bit more green which I think is really cool. Some natural dyes will change a bit over time and some are even ph sensitive – I definitely made a mistake using red cabbage (highly ph sensitive) as a dye once which you can see in this video. We’re so used to synthetic dyes that any slight variances in colour are unfortunately often seen as “flaws” – it’s not uncommon for entire shipments of styles to be sent back (aka trashed) if the colour isn’t an exact match. With natural dyeing though likely no dye bath will be identical, little things like the water used or when the plants were harvested can all impact the colour and I think those variances and changes are part of what makes the pieces special and unique. 😊
Something else I really love is Sustain is even conscious of their water use. For these pjs the leftover flower water is used in their garden where they grow dye plants like marigold, weld, madder root, and indigo, and they keep their indigo vat for months, just adding more dye and water as needed instead of starting from scratch every time.
Sustain dyes some of their products in-house but also carries garments made with an ayurvedic dyeing process which is part of an Indian tradition passed down through generations. The ayurvedic dyeing only mordants with tannins from the plants, uses the whole plants for dyeing, and at lower temperatures to preserve the beneficial properties of the plants.
The tank is made from organic cotton that has been dyed with pomegranate peels and rhubarb – both of which have antimicrobial properties.
But doesn’t it fade?
First thing to remember is all dyes fade overtime – one of the common reasons people replace items is because they’ve faded, how often do people complain that their black clothes aren’t true black anymore? It’s a misconception that naturally dyed clothes are not colourfast. You can see garments in museums from hundreds of years ago that still have their colour! While natural dyes can fade over time, different dyes will hold up better than others (indigo and madder for example are very long-lasting) and most synthetic dyes aren’t colourfast either.
Like with conventionally dyed clothes, there are some things you can do to preserve the colour:
wash in cold water
use a ph-neutral and eco-friendly detergent
avoid storing/hanging in direct sunlight
Natural dyes do typically have a softer quality to the colour – you won’t get a hot pink or neon orange, but they also seem to have a richness to them that I think you can’t really replicate with synthetics. Plus I find it is so cool knowing my clothes were dyed with plants, and also knowing there aren’t harmful chemicals like NPEs or azo compounds hiding in the fabric or being dumped into the water – I have a video more about toxic chemicals in clothing.
Additionally, all of Sustain’s garments are ethically made in LA and they ensure safe conditions and fair wages for the workers making and dyeing the textiles.
Now that we’re living in a totally new climate I’ve had to re-think my capsule wardrobe a bit. So far this autumn we’ve had both beautiful warm days as well as snow and temps dipping into the negatives. Since it can be quite unpredictable I’ve really focused on good layers with this capsule so hopefully I can layer up or down as the temperatures require.
My capsule wardrobe is adapted from the Project 333 challenge. Over the course of creating many capsule wardrobes I’ve been fine-tuning them to figure out what works best for me. Last year I decided to no longer include shoes as part of my capsule wardrobe, I feel I have a good core “shoe capsule” and the one thing I occasionally seemed to miss was a certain pair of shoes. This has worked well this last year and I will continue to have a separate shoes from my wardrobe. My “shoe capsule” includes a pair of boots, heeled boots (which I need to replace and am currently searching for), sneakers, sandals, flats, formal heels and athletic/running shoes.
I also no longer try to hit a specific number, just build a wardrobe I think would work well. It usually ends up being around 30-35 pieces, often on the higher end in fall/winter and lower in spring/summer.
A vicious cycle happens in fashion – most new brands don’t have a customer base to develop sizes with so they turn to “standard size” guides for their patterns (which are surprisingly often based on sizing that was developed decades ago – some drafting manuals used today actually date back to the 70s and 80s!). Then because they only produce a limited size range designed for an “hourglass figure”, only women who fit that size can shop with them and that becomes their customer base. The brand might adjust fits slightly based on feedback, but it requires a lot of work and risk for brands to completely change or add fits and sizes so most will just stick with what they’re already doing.
On the consumer side I constantly hear in messages and comments on my videos and instagram about how women want to shop more consciously but can’t find brands that carry their size or they have trouble ordering online (which is often the only way to access sustainable and ethical brands) due to recurring fit issues.
I understand the challenges on both sides – it must be incredibly frustrating as a consumer to want to buy from ethical brands but can’t because of their often very limited sizes/fits. For the brands, so much work and money goes into producing a collection that they have to sell to keep the business going. Brands often are required to order a minimum number of garments in each size (unless they produce in-house) so sticking to “standard” sizes and limiting styles is the safest choice and sometimes all a new brand can afford.
Is there a solution to this problem?
After hearing about these issues on both sides I decided to create a size survey to get some actual numbers and data. There’s a few things that I think are helpful to know and I hope will come out of the survey:
What sizes are conscious consumers actually? Are there sizes under-served in the market?
What body shapes are people? What % of measurements line up with the “standard” proportions used by most brands?
Does size/fit drastically differ between regions and ages?
What are the most common fit issues people have?
I’m hoping that with enough participants we can have a strong set of data on sizes, measurements, and fit issues. This information will be compiled and I’ll put together a post/report which hopefully will help brands develop sizing and fits and work better for conscious consumers and maybe also give brands more confidence to take risks on fits outside the “standards”. It also would be wonderful as a consumer to give feedback to brands about fits and sizes and have some stats to back it up.
But this only works with your help!
We need a large enough group of participants to get viable data so please fill out the survey through the link or below, it’s anonymous and should only take 5-10 minutes. Also please share this with anyone you know who shops or wants to shop from more conscious brands!
Let’s help shape a conscious fashion industry that actually considers people’s shapes!