How shopping sustainably helped me define my personal style


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.

you don't need to be loud to be bold (2)

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:

personal style 2

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.

personal style 3

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!

style isn't about the clothes, but how you wear them (1)

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.

personal style 4

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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Outfit details:

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.

18 thoughts on “How shopping sustainably helped me define my personal style”

  • YES I totally can relate to this, I think I had the same worries when I began my ‘journey’ too but I definitely found it became so much easier to define and find a style I actually like (And items that actually suit me and I feel comfortable wearing) when the choices became more limited.
    Loving this dress, the colour is perfect! Charlotte xx

  • I would even say that shopping sustainably can enhance the creativity of the wearer!
    While I think many of us can relate to that perpetual craving to buy another exciting item to “up our game”, I have found it more exciting to wear an old item in way I didn’t before; re-using and re-paring has proven more creatively fulfilling than rabid consumption.
    If the ability to be fashionable depends on consumption, then the only people who can really enjoy and participate in fashion are the people who have the financial resources to do so…
    Apart from supporting environment-friendly brands, I think sustainable wearers can help redirect fashion towards creativity again through resourcefulness. And hopefully that can help make fashion a more inclusive space. Because let’s be real, “fashion should never be frustrating, it should be fun” (Rihanna from 2014 CFDA awards )

    Long rant I know but my point is that I believe sustainability and creativity can go hand in hand quite nicely.

    • Yes I totally agree! I think my interest in fashion really began as a young girl, when I had to get creative to wear the clothes I wanted..since I had zero funds haha! I think one of the best things about going sustainable is that I really have to force myself to get creative as opposed to just going out and buying something new. Thanks for your thoughtful response!

  • i’ve been thinking about weening my wardrobe and buying more items from sustainable fashion brands. This blog post has encouraged me to do some more research into it. I know most of what I own is from fast fashion brands and the quality isn’t great (not to talk about their awful practices) so I do want to focus on making a more environmentally friendly change.I tagged you in the Liebster award check it out x

  • Such an awesome secondary effect of switching to sustainable fashion. I haven’t made the jump myself, but I am big on staying true to your personal style and not buying simply bc of a trend. Love this!

  • Many of my thoughts on fashion have shifted to these ideals. I have been moving toward living a minimal lifestyle and changing my thinking about clothing has helped this process. While these sustainable items are pricier than others from traditional retail stores, the quality of the products and the ethics of the organizations cannot be compared. I have a few pieces from Girlfriend Collective and Synergy Organics. I was even able to visit the Synergy outlet in Santa Cruz once! Thanks for your thoughts on this issue. I enjoy reading your blog…keep posting!

    • Yes, I completely agree. It’s so worth it to save up and wait to get the high quality, timeless piece I’ll truly treasure rather than buy something that just works because it’s cheaper or I’m impatient. Both Girlfriend Collective and Synergy are great slow fashion brands that I personally love, too! Thanks so much for reading, Heidi! Glad to have you along this slow fashion journey.

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