One of the biggest concerns I had about switching to sustainable and ethical fashion was that this change would limit my style choices. After all, the selection is much narrower and the price point higher—and sustainable fashion is all about buying fewer things.
Fast forward to now, four months into my slow fashion (and blogging) journey, and I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. Making more mindful choices about the items I buy has been incredibly freeing. Instead of anxiously following the trends that the fast fashion industry spends billions of dollars convincing us we need to follow to be stylish, I’ve been able to focus on what’s most important to my own aesthetics and define my personal style on my own terms.
So what is my personal style? I think it can be summed up in a simple statement: You don’t need to be loud to be bold.
This applies to my life as well as what I wear. I’ve found power in my softspoken, reserved personality and I’ve found that understated, minimal looks can likewise make bold statements without being flashy. I’m not gonna lie; the minimalism of slow fashion has definitely influenced the aesthetics I find pleasing, but I think it’s true to my spirit and my values.
Here’s how shopping sustainably has helped me define my personal style:
Since sustainability is about buying fewer, better things, I’ve had to be more mindful about my purchases. This means that I ask myself more questions before I buy something: How many times will I wear this? Can I style it different ways with the items already in my wardrobe? Will this still reflect my personal style five years from now? These questions help me curate a wardrobe that is cohesive and reflects my style, not just my mood or impulses at the moment.
And it also means that my style has evolved past simply following trends. I still love scrolling through fashion blogs and Instagram to see what people are wearing, but instead of buying things just to be on-trend, I try to think about how these trends fit into my personal style. I don’t want my style and my tastes to only be defined by the trends set by corporations, so I take the time to think critically about how each item I buy contributes to a look that is ultimately my own.
In addition, shopping secondhand (somewhat ironically) brings fresh sources of inspiration to my styling choices. There’s nothing like buying a unique vintage piece and knowing you won’t see the same thing on every fashion blogger’s Instagram. And experimenting with quirky clothes and accessories is so much fun!
A miraculous thing also happened when I slowed down my consumption of fashion: The anxiety I would get from trying to keep up with trends and feeling like I had to constantly buy new things began to disappear. I still often have urges to buy trendy items, but it’s easier to let go of those desires now that I’m investing more thought and money (per item, but less overall) into my purchases. I’ve learned that style isn’t about the clothes, but how you wear them. When I shop now, it’s more often for myself and to create my own aesthetic than to follow trends.
I love the look I put together in this post because it embodies my personal style and my commitment to sustainable and ethical fashion. The wrap dress, a style that’s become quite trendy, stays true to my personal aesthetic with a timeless, clean silhouette and a funky ring detail that makes it understated yet bold. I paired the dress with my favorite Nisolo slides and brass hoop earrings, which go with absolutely everything but still somehow make any look polished and elevated. Finally, I threw on my Kate Spade wallet purse, which is actually the only bag I ever wear because its minimal design perfectly fits the contents of my wallet, my phone, and nothing else.
How do you define your personal style? If you’re a sustainable and ethical shopper, how has this influenced your personal style? Let me know in the comments!
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Wrap dress: Olive Clothing
Sandals: Nisolo Isla slides (review and discount here)
Earrings: Nisolo hoop earrings
Purse: Kate Spade*
*From now on, I’ll asterisk brands/items that are not from brands with transparent and clear commitments to sustainable and ethical practices. As far as I know, Kate Spade has made some efforts to empower women through trade and has done some research into their environmental impact, but hasn’t fully committed to sustainable and ethical practices. Matt & Nat makes similar wallet purses out of vegan leather, if you’re interested in an ethical alternative.