We’re short (At least if you’re petite). But it’s not just that WE’RE short. Everything about us is short. Our legs are short. Our arms are short. Our torsos are short. We’re basically just pint sized adults.
So what does this mean for us exactly? It means that because EVERY PART of our body is shorter than the standard sized person (I refuse to say normal) , the length of the sleeves, the inseam and the waistline have to be shorter too.
What happens when everything is too long? #shortgirlproblems and shopping fail, that’s what happens. You can see the visuals on my previous post, but basically you end up looking like a 5 year old playing dress up with your grandma’s wardrobe. That’s right, your GRANDMA’S.
At a stunning and youthful age 32, I have no desire to age prematurely. I’ve spent way too much on anti-aging for that!
In addition to being vertically challenged, petite women also tend to be slightly more narrow than a regular woman of the same size.
That doesn’t mean we’re slimmer (My love handles and chest beg to differ). It just means a regular size 6 would be slightly wider at the shoulders and hips than a 6P (petite).
Imagine getting a 2P so that the dress would fit at the bust… only for it to be snug at the shoulders. If you’ve ever gotten stuck in a dress in the fitting room you’ll know that this isn’t fun!
In addition to thinking about the sizing, designing petite fashion also requires consideration for stylistic features. This would accentuate a smaller frame and help elongate and lengthen the body and limbs. One example of this would be laying off all that frills and ruffles that end up drowning a smaller frame. Who wants to look like a cockatoo anyway?
AKA yes we’re short but we don’t want to LOOK short. We want to look like a tall small person (if that makes any sense).
Unfortunately, that leads us straight to a dead end a lot of the time as:
Petite sizes are not always available
Not all clothing is created equal
Not all sizes are accurate (Which one of us hasn’t wondered why I’m a size 4 here and a size 6 there? And no I haven’t gained weight! It was ONE donut!)
Our Favorite Fashion Tips
This being the case, as petite women, we have to learn some tips and tricks to make sure our clothes not only look good but make us look good. Trinh and I are both 5’1 tall.
So without further ado, here are some tips to help petites look taller and more proportionate (I will admit I had not been doing any of this).
Shell N Silk Hi-Lo Dress
Skirts! The best way to elongate your legs is to wear the hem anywhere above the knee (but keep it classy) or slightly below the knees.
Try something asymmetrical (hi-lo style) or that has a slit to show more legs. Short legs can be nice legs too ladies.
Avoid chunky shoes if you’re wearing skirts below the knees.
Consider rolled up sleeves if you’re wearing something that’s covering your arms and legs! This will show long lines and help to create an elongated look.
¾ sleeves break up sleeves and create a lightness to the arms, and showing legs will extend them.
Midi/maxi skirts and dresses are great! Just stay a little past the widest part of the calf where the legs start to narrow.
High waisted pants and skirts will help give your figure balance between the top and bottom while elongating the legs.
Vertical stripes are another way to elongate your body!
Jumpsuits that cinch at the waist looks great on petite frames. It creates a vertical look which helps extends the body and helps you, essentially, look longer. I don’t have this in my closet but… I really really want one of these…
Try going monochromatic. Wearing one color top and bottom helps to create the vertical appeal.
How about a V-neck style? The reason v-necks are good for petites is because it shows more of the neck, collarbone, and cleavage, helping to elongate that area.
Shell N off shoulder wrap dress
Shell N knit sweater and mini skirt
Show some skin tastefully. Similar to v-necks, showing other parts like the shoulders, legs, or arms will help expose the linear look.
Baring your shoulders will also elongate the neckline.
Cropped tops are another way to extend your body! And a pair of high waisted bottoms is a fantastic way of keeping yourself proportionate and giving the appeal of longer legs.
Straight leg/tapered pants also help the legs look slim and long. Even better if you add a pair of heels!
Another great tip is to learn quick alterations so you can do them at home. Easy alterations are hemming, shortening the shoulder straps, taking in the waist. Don’t try these on an expensive piece though! That’s what professionals are for (And I don’t want to be blamed for ruining your clothes).
Well fitting clothes will always do you well as a petite girl, so finding the right fit is important.
If you’re a petite like me though, I’m sure you don’t enjoy shopping. But the fact is that keeping a few key pieces in your closet is a must if you’re a petite female. We can’t wear outfits the same way as standard sized people. We’re not standard sized. So let’s own our petiteness but dress like a tall petite person. (And if you think that’s an oxymoron- it is, but that doesn’t make it less true!)
What are some fashion tips/tricks you practice as a petite woman?
Congratulations! You’ve just won a shopping spree! You’ll have 2 hours to pick out as many clothes as you can and whatever you like, you keep. The catch? You can NOT redeem your prize for money. But that’s no biggie right? If you’re like most women you love shopping…
Oh the cliche! If you’re like most women you MUST love shopping. I’ve met so many men and women who’ve thought that as a female it would only be natural that I like to spend hours in a store shopping. And if it’s FREE? Forget about it!
THIS however, sounds like a nightmare to me. I win a prize that I basically can’t use? Whoop dee doo. What do you want me to do? Laugh? Cry? Sing?
If you haven’t gotten the point by now…
I HATE SHOPPING. I know that doesn’t make much sense coming from a fashion blogger, but imagine walking into a store, spending hours there looking for a dress or an outfit for a hot date or an interview, only to walk out with nada. Squat. Potatoes.
The sad fact is that petite sizes is a niche that just isn’t covered by the fashion industry. There’s only a few petite fashion brands but other than that, they don’t exist.
WE don’t exist.
The majority of fast fashion companies tailor their fit to standard sizes as that’s where the money is. As the average size in America goes up, the amount of fitting clothes we as petite females can find goes down.
I don’t want to repeat everything I wrote in my #shortgirlproblems post but THIS IS LITERALLY every petite person’s life.
And this is EXACTLY how I spent last Sunday. The only difference is, this time I had my fashion designer friend, Shell, and her sister Trinh (who also hates shopping without her fashion designer sister) along with me.
The Shopping Expedition
2 ½ hours. 35 outfits. 3 people; one of which is a fashion designer. You’d think with these numbers Trinh and I would have come with a couple of shopping bags full of clothes and high credit card balances. I only came out with ONE of these things and I can NOT blame that on Nordstrom Rack. So that extremely full shopping basket… trolley… whatever they call a moving clothes rack cart? It definitely didn’t STAY Full (Did anyone else not know those existed?!).
We walked into the store with one mission and ZERO expectations: to find cute outfits that would look good on Trinh (Shell’s sister) and I as petite females. We decided to aim for a pair of pants, a dress and a nice top.
I know I discussed the issues involved when a petite person goes shopping in my #shortgirlproblems post but there’s nothing like visuals for effect.
So please, go ahead, grab a bucket of popcorn and laugh at our expense, or better yet, grab a pint of ice cream and cry along with us.
The Perfect Jeans for a Perfect Tush… Or not
I thought it was rough shopping for myself but I was REALLY flabbergasted watching Trinh try on outfit after outfit. When I say nothing fit… I really mean NOTHING FIT. Trinh is 5’1, slim with a small chest which means she has to go for XXS-XS and 00P-0P, which, if you’re wondering, is the smallest size you can find usually.
Our first mission was to find a pair of fitting jeans.
Jeans are wonderful and they’re a definite staple for your wardrobe. The perfect pair of skinny jeans will elongate your legs, hide those pesky love handles, hug your tush and make it look all perky (Especially when you throw on a pair of heels with them).
I also do not own a pair of fitting jeans. Why? Because they’re a hassle. Usually they’re just too long! Trinh should not be STEPPING on her jeans. What is she supposed to do slide the sock over it? Cut into the specifically designed holes that cost actual money to make (Thank you fast fashion for finding yet another way to eat my money)?
Here’s another issue. The jeans are STILL TOO BIG. You see all that space?!
Jeans should stop at your ankles. Jeans should NOT have to be pulled up every 2 seconds. Jeans should not ride around your buttcrack as you waddle like a duck just to keep them covering the goods. JEANS SHOULD NOT REQUIRE A BELT!
And that is why I wear jeggings.
Dress to Impress or DRESS to DEPRESS?
Our next mission was to find a dress.
We found Trinh this green floral wrap dress which ideally would have been perfect for her as it was a size 0 petite. It SWALLOWED her. Just check out all that extra fabric on the sides!
If the tag says the dress is a 0P, it should not ENGULF the wearer. So my question is, by what standards are these petite sizes being made? And if that’s the smallest you’ve got and the dress ate my friend, then dudes and dudettes, YOU’VE got a problem.
There’s a misconception that petite women all have the same body shape. WRONG. Here are two examples of petite women with very different shapes NEITHER of whom can find clothes that actually fit.
This romper is a small and would look really good on her… if they weren’t made for the giant from jack and the beanstalk! Did you notice her feet? Or her lack thereof? Yeah. That’s NORMAL for us.
On the other hand, in the pictures below, I’ve managed to snag a romper that lengthwise, is fine. The problem is, I’m a CURVY petite. So as important as it is for my outfit to be short friendly, it’s equally important for an outfit to be CURVE friendly.
THIS. IS. NOT. CURVE. FRIENDLY.
The suggestion at this point is usually to size up. So here is an example of what happens when I size up to accommodate my chest.
There’s no front view FOR A REASON.
This is another dress that Trinh is basically drowning in. I would rename her Rose at this point but I guess it was Jack who died.
If you want to say it’s not that bad, look again. She almost doesn’t have hands and from all that extra fabric she’s holding I’d say that the dress is still about 2-3 sizes too big for her.
Need another example? Keep scrolling.
Aside from the fact that my eyes are closed and it looks like I’ve never been in front of a camera in my life… does this photo look weird to you?
No? Well look again. That is NOT where my waist is. My torso is NOT that long and I’m darn proud of my short stumpy torso without someone trying to elongate it the WRONG WAY.
So 35 outfits, 2 petite women, 1 fashion designer, and 2 ½ hours later ONE of us (me) left with a pair of jeans, a skirt, and a top. I know that sounds like a lot but consider the fact that each of us found one item that worked in those 2 ½ hours.
In any normal situation I would have left the store within the first 5 minutes with nothing. This however is for the blog, and thus I bravely sacrifice my time, energy, and sanity.
So yes. 2 ½ hours later this was what our cart looked like. And THAT is what we petites call a SUCCESSFUL shopping experience.
So now you’ve heard our shopping horror stories! We want to know yours. What kind of problems do you encounter when you go shopping? What do you want out of a petite fashion brand?
If you’re reading this post you’ve obviously done your own laundry at some point in your life. Or at least I really hope so. If you haven’t… I urge you… LEARN. It’s a life skill. That being said, I’ll be totally honest.
My idea of doing the laundry has always been something like this:
Throw clothes in machine.
Dump detergent in machine.
If you want your clothes to last guys… this is NOT how we do the laundry.
Despite what you may believe, there is a right way to wash and dry your clothes. So here are some tips to prolong the lifespan of your wardrobe.
Remove stains immediately! Once a stain sets it is way harder and sometimes impossible to remove it. Remember your favorite white shirt that you spilled wine on after just one wear? (That can’t just be me right?)
If you want to save your shirt, the best thing to do in this situation is to run to the bathroom, or if one’s not immediately available, grab some water, soak a paper town and some soap (if you have it) and dab the stain until it’s gone or as close as you can get to it.
Sure you might have wet shirt and flash a few people on your way out of the bathroom, but honestly, I’m sure you can live with giving a few people a glimpse of the goods if it’ll save your shirt. (I sure can!)
Once you get home if the stain is still visible, rub some stain remover on it and you’ll be good to go!
Pay attention to the care labels. I hate this one. I reallyyyy do. BUT I’ll be honest, I’ve started to do this, mainly because what kind of a fashion blogger would I be if I didn’t practice what I preach?
Let me share a tidbit I’ve learned lately.
Not all outfits should are made the same! Every fabric is different and therefore should be cared for differently. Yes, half of what we wear (or more) is made from synthetic fabrics that you can toss in the wash, but there’s the other more delicate fabrics (some natural fibers require more care) that have their own methods of washing and drying.
Some outfits HAVE to be hand washed. Some outfits HAVE to be dry cleaned.
And rule of thumb? If it requires hand washing, you shouldn’t throw it in the dryer. So if you don’t want your favorite pair of black leather shorts that hug your butt just right to end up a shriveled mess in the laundry (I’m not mad), I urge you- CHECK THE LABEL.
And do yourself (and that cashmere sweater you paid $100 for) a favor and learn what these handy little symbols mean:
It’s easier than learning the Korean alphabet (which legit takes maybe 10 minutes to learn).
Don’t overwash your clothing – color can fade and the structure can be damaged.
I shower twice a day. No really. I wash my hair and straighten it literally every day despite the fact that the hair lady said it’s awful for my hair. Why? Because I want to be cute and smell like freesias and jasmine and all that good stuff, not like some bad curry (I can say that because I’m brown). The result is that my hair is DAM-AGEDDDD.
Just like you can murder your hair with too much shampoo and heat, you can murder your clothes with too many chemicals. And just think about all that dough you spent. So just like your hair guys, save some water and wash your clothes when they’re actually dirty.
That leads me to my next point-
Denim can go a while between washes! According to Who What Wear, you should be washing your jeans every 4 to 5 wears whereas Levi’s Chip Bergh says you should NEVER wash denim. I’m not going around advocating walking around smelling funky (Sorry- I don’t plan on being the reason you can’t get a date).
Try steaming instead so the denim doesn’t stretch out.
Steam your clothes between washes. I just mentioned steaming but you don’t just do this with denim. Steaming your clothes between washes will help remove odors and kill 99% of bacteria, germs and dust mites.
Personally, I invested in a steamer a few months ago and I haven’t used an iron since! It’s easier than ironing, plus it’s cleaner so it just makes sense.
If you don’t have a steamer or just don’t want to buy one though, you can use your iron on steam setting to steam clothes. You can also run your shower to steam clothes (while you’re taking a shower of course unless you really don’t care about your water bill).
Bras CANNOT be put in the DRYER! Tell your boyfriends to get their gritty hands off your delicates! At least when there’s laundry involved 😉
Air dry, Air Dry, Air Dry! The dryer is really damaging to your clothes because the heat causes the fibers to break down much quicker. AKA air dry as much as you can. If you must use the dryer, change your heat setting to low or medium. Lower heat will also keep clothes from shrinking.
Also, I know when I say air dry some of yall will automatically try to bake your clothes outside. Don’t do that! It causes fading and that’s one of the things you’re trying to avoid.
Use a green dry cleaner! When your clothes says dry clean, you should treat it more delicately to reduce the amount of times you actually NEED to dry clean. My brother goes to the dry cleaner every weekend. This is SO unnecessary.
You can totally get away with handwashing certain items if they’re simple pieces without a lot of construction involved or they aren’t more difficult fibers like wool.
Shell hand washes her silk blouses and hang dries them in her bathroom.
You can do this in the bathroom sink. Make sure it’s clean, and then pre-treat any stains on the blouse. Fill the sink with cool water and use a gentle detergent to get rid of oil and dirt. Afterwards, swirl it around and let it soak for 10 minutes, rinse it in cold water, and press out the water without squeezing or wringing too hard. After that just hang dry it and you’re good.
If you have to use a dry cleaner, use an eco-friendly one that doesn’t use harmful chemicals.
Fold or hang your clothes immediately! (Changes in temperature locks in the structure of the outfit and that’s why it wrinkles).
Use garment storage bags for nice clothes. If you’re like me, you don’t really want to spend money on garment bags and don’t really get why you even have to.
Humidity, dust, insects, and LIGHT believe it or not can all can all cause damage to clothing. Those money/fabric eating monster moths are no joke (FYI the LARVAE that’s definitely sitting on your favorite shirt right now is more damaging than the moth it self- your welcome for the lovely thought), light damage can cause dye to fade, and dust can settle on clothing to create microscopic tears in the fabric.
Initially, maybe you won’t see the damage, but these snags, frays and tears can wear away at an outfit and drastically reduce its lifespan.
To keep your nice clothes in good condition invest in some breathable garment bags ( stay away from the plastic ones- they trap moisture and cause molding).
They’re inexpensive and they’ll be saving you money in the long run. And if you really want to save money, just buy one or two and place multiple items in one bag.
It works like this guys: Spend some dough in the short term, SAVE some dough in the long term.
I know this is a lot more than what the majority of us do on a daily basis but most of these tips take no time at all!
It’s literally just ADULTING. So be grownups guys. Learn to do your laundry properly.
I’ve always had an appreciation for a well made, high quality piece of clothing. The attention to detail, the feel of the fabric as I run my fingers across and check the stitching. I enjoy the process of flipping the tag to read the fiber content and care instructions regardless of whether or not that piece comes home with me. To other people this may seem tedious- time consuming and unnecessary, but to me… to me it means this brand cares about their craft, their design, and their customers. And that’s enough to enjoy and appreciate regardless of whether I make the purchase. But if it fits… if it fits that’s the icing, the frosting, the cherry on top.
Over the last few years I’ve created a wardrobe that I’m happy to wear over and over again. I’ve collected pieces that I’ve preserved and can pull out each season to pair with new seasonal items. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also become more particular about the clothes I add to my wardrobe.
I ask myself, can I wear this with my existing wardrobe and will I wear it multiple times? If the answer is no, more than likely I won’t buy it. There are exceptions but that’s when I’ve already fallen in love with a piece and usually that’s because it’s unique and I just have to have it.
As we get older we don’t have as much time to rummage through the racks for new clothes as often. Our finances are split between more responsibilities so buying clothes isn’t always at the top of the list. Having these staple pieces in the closet can be a life saver. Staple pieces are timeless, work with most of what you have in your closet, and if you invest in good quality clothing, they will last you for years to come.
You’re extending your wardrobe with quality, timeless pieces that will all match. Investing in the quality of your wardrobe is just as important as investing in the style of your wardrobe. Quality pieces will be loved and handled with more care than something you pick up to wear for a single event because you’ve succumb to fast fashion.
I’m more careful with my quality pieces because I don’t want to ruin them too quickly. I invested good money, so I want it to last as long as it can. That means treating it delicately and removing stains right away. It means placing it on a hanger when you take it off so it doesn’t wrinkled at the bottom of a pile of clothes. It means being careful not to overstretch necklines and other parts. I hand wash and hang dry certain pieces if my laundry basket isn’t full so that they don’t sit at the bottom of the basket for weeks. Trust me, if you love your clothes, they’ll love you right back, and more importantly- they’ll last.
Here is my list of the 10 staple pieces every woman should have in her closet for a timeless wardrobe. Trench coat: a classic beige color, double breasted, belted at the waist trench coat will serve so many purposes. If you get one that has a removable lining, you can wear it for cold or warm weather.
A classic trench coat will go with any outfit and will make you look put together. It will make any rainy day outfit chic. Just watch the ending of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Double breasted trench coat.
Pea coat: a fitted pea coat for the fall and winter season will keep you warm and stylish. You can throw it over anything you’re wearing from formal to casual. I personally like a long one below the knees.
Grab one in a color you love! It doesn’t always have to be black (even though that’s a classic). And if you buy one size larger, you can layer underneath.
Tip: Buy your coat in January, stores are getting ready to release their Spring collection so off season items are on sale. I buy my coats off season because they rarely change much in terms of style.
Camel pea coat with boots.
Fitted jeans: A well fitting pair of jeans can make you feel great about your body! Lifting your booty, extending your legs, and pairing well with pretty much any top. But finding that well fitting pair of jeans can be very discouraging because they all fit so differently. It does take some trial and error!
Don’t give up though- once you find them you may not need to buy more for a while. I myself am still wearing jeans from 5 years ago because they’ve lasted that long and it’s hard to go out of style.
Tip: If you have a pair of jeans that are long you can snip it and tear the excess off. This will leave you with a raw edge hem that is very in style now. No need to sew it back up! I did this for my sister with a pair of my outgrown jeans and she loves it!
Cropped fitted jeans with raw hem worn with a silk blouse.
Wrap dress: I love a good wrap dress. It’s elegant, professional, and casual all at the same time. If it’s black, even better! It can double as the little black dress. But really any color and print will be flattering.
You can dress it up or down with your choice of shoes and accessories. A wrap dress will always fit you and hug the right curves. Thank you Diane von Furstenberg for introducing this oh so flattering jersey number.
I have a black wrap dress that hits at the knees. I’ve worn it to a work function, second date, dinner with girlfriends and lent it to my sister to wear to a conference.
Black wrapped dress under a tweed jacket (sadly, I lost this jacket).
White button down: A classic white button down top is the second easiest thing to wear after a pair of well fitted jeans.
I have a thing for white button downs; I probably have 6 off the top of my head, ranging from a work one to more playful ones with embroidered collars and cuffs to a sleeveless with an open back.
It’s great for a work day, interview, or even a weekend brunch with a pair of boyfriend jeans.
Cotton asymmetrical button down shirt (cropped in front, long in back).
Cashmere sweater: sweater weather calls for cozy and soft yarns against your skin. A cashmere sweater will elevate any look.
When I need to be a little dressy but don’t want to actually dress up, I will wear a pair of black trousers and a cashmere sweater (this was my uniform for work when I had an 8-5). But really, you can have fun and pair it with anything.
Cashmere crew neck sweater under a thrifted houndstooth dress.
Black Trousers: Black trousers are versatile and so important to any wardrobe. I prefer trousers that are fitted, almost like tights but much thicker. I also like them to be slightly cropped around the ankle, this style is reminiscent of Ms. Audrey Hepburn (you can guess she’s my personal style icon).
They are easy to wear and so comfortable to be in all day. The great thing about these is they can be professional or casual. I wear them everywhere and with everything.
Black trouser with a Shell N wool jacket.
Cardigan sweater: I carry a cardigan with me almost everywhere I go. A cardigan doesn’t have to be the last thing you think about when planning an outfit. You could plan your whole outfit around a cardigan.
Don’t think you need to get a solid color basic cardigan just to keep warm. A cardigan can give so much attitude to your outfit. Find a classic one with unique details for functionality and style.
They can add a cool vibe to any outfits while adding layers for a more complete look.
Lambswool over-sized cardigan.
Fitted Blazer: A fitted blazer may scream 8-5 but that doesn’t have to be the case. A blazer can add a cool touch to any outfit. Throw it over fitted or loose fitting jeans for a fun vibe or over shorts for a vacation/weekend vibe, or dress for a laid back brunch vibe.
Great for keeping the top half of your body warm but also adding an extra touch of coolness and femininity.
And of course you can wear it to the office too.
White linen blazer over a silk top.
Silk Blouse: A silk blouse in a nice color or print will make you feel luxurious and ready for anything from the office to a dinner date. It can dress up any jeans or black trousers for a well put together look without the extra effort. It can also be worn under a blazer and cardigan to change things up a little.
Silk can be more difficult to care for but they do last a long time if you treat it well.
Silk blouse with decorative neckline and puffed sleeves, really love the details.
Extra tips for building the classic wardrobe
Don’t get everything in black. That’s boring! Having staple pieces doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Fit your staple pieces to your style but be mindful that they’re rewearable and versatile.
It’s easy to say invest in your wardrobe but I get it.
That costs money.
But think about how many clothes we buy on a whim because it’s “cheap” and wear once. That adds up too. Add that up and see how much you’re really “saving”.
A smart shopper is one who is conscious of what they are buying and makes use of what they have. Mix and match the pieces you have in your closet and you will find that these pieces will go a long way.
Also, resell your clothes if you’ve outgrown them size wise or even style wise. You can sell them online and on an app so easily now and people will buy them!
I’ve sold a few of my gently used clothes on eBay before. I even had one girl who fit my size well and would buy from me directly. Your quality staple pieces will last well beyond your use and into the next person’s life.
What staple pieces do you have in your wardrobe that you swear by?
Remember everyone, be slow. Be fashionable.
If Shell N Fashion designed and manufactured clothing made mostly from plastic, how many of you would buy clothing from us? Some of you? None of you? Whatever your answers were, I’d be willing to bet every penny in my bank account and then some that the answer is all of you.
Why is that? Because that’s literally what most of you guys are wearing everyday (me included)! Polyester, Nylon and Acrylic are all synthetic fibers that I’m sure you all have heard of, and probably have somewhere in your closet right (Relax- this is a no blame game)?
While everyone has heard of these materials, what a lot of people- unfortunately- don’t know is what they’re made from.
Synthetic, according to the dictionary app on my iphone (if you must know), literally means “not real or genuine; artificial; feigned” aka FAKE. In other words, it’s basically just plastic that’s made from Petroleum. If that’s the case, how long do you think it would take this stuff to biodegrade? Think HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of years.
Why should you care?
According to Newsweek in 2016, the number of textiles that Americans toss each year was 14 million tons (I’m sure that’s gone up!). Just how much is that? That’s about 7 millions cars plus all their nasty toxic emissions.
Yes, textile waste is damaging to the environment!
Think of all the dyes, bleach and other random chemicals that go into the fabric when making clothing! When you throw the clothes in a landfill, as they decompose they give off Methane- a greenhouse gas that warms the atmosphere and causes global warming (if you don’t remember your chemistry). NO, Global Warming is not a hoax- if you believe that, please go get educated.
Not only does this affect the atmosphere but the chemicals also soak into the groundwater, and when it gets burned in an incinerator, it goes into the air.
Congrats guys, you’re basically breathing, eating, and drinking contaminants!
So what do we do about it?
Well first off, the next time you fall in love with a piece of well embellished plastic at the mall, think of the 22 BILLION pairs of jeans at the landfill. Or the net equivalence of it anyway according to Angela Chao of Utterly.
That being said, being ethical and sustainable doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop! Summer is the perfect time to have fun with fashion. With all the weddings, parties, and vacations coming up, who wouldn’t want to invest in a new outfit now and then?
Unfortunately summer doesn’t come without it’s ick factor. I’m SURE I’m not the only one who has struggled to look cute on a date while wearing entirely inappropriate fabric for the heat and humidity. FYI, that the dress ended up drenched in sweat and pit stains and my date ended up covered in my melted make-up. On his white shirt.
BUT we’re not here to talk about the importance of setting spray (which it is!). We’re here to talk about the right summer fabric to stay dry and comfortable while remaining sustainable.
So, without further ado, here are some tips for a sustainable summer wardrobe:
1. Look for natural fiber fabrics– natural fibers are better for our environment and nowadays there are soooo many advances.
Nina Marenzi, for instance, a Londener who runs The Sustainable Angle, which is a non-profit that focuses on ethical fabrics. She stages something called the Future Fabrics Expo every year which incorporates innovative textiles with lower environmental footprints.
I know that’s a lot of tech talk but think apple and orange pulp being processed to make vegan leather. It’s 2020 guys. If Cinderella’s pumpkin could turn into a carriage, it sure as heck can turn into a dress. (Before you go around doubting my fashion sense, there’s such a thing called dye).
While finding Apple leather may not be so easy right now, you do have some other great accessible options.
Tencel– this fabric described as SOFT and DRAPEY is actually a form of lyocell (I know, I know- here I go again with all these weird terms).
This basically means that this is a form of fabric made out of wood chips. WOOD CHIPS! Isn’t that crazy?? The wood chips are mixed with a solvent that basically forms pulp and… alright I won’t bore you with the details but long story short, the wood chips turn into soft, feminine, eco-friendly fabric.
Better than wearing plastic right?
Organic Cotton or Cotton- if you’ve never heard of cotton, you’ve been living under a rock. Or in a hole. Somewhere without fabric obviously. Cotton is fantastic! It’s soft, breathable, great in the heat, and more importantly ALL NATURAL. Aka it doesn’t have to go through some crazy chemical process to change it into fabric. If you want to take it a step further though invest in some ORGANIC cotton.
What’s the difference?
It’s not grown using all those pesticides so you don’t have to worry that some poor farmer is getting cancer to provide you with clothes (Sorry- I’m blessed with bluntness).
Linen– Nothing says summer like linen! It’s more durable, breathable, and absorbant than cotton.
The best part? Linen is made out of flax plants so it’s all natural and EXTREMELY biodegradable. Just go to any vegan bakery and you’ll find some health nut munching on a flaxseed muffin.
You eat it so why not wear it?!
Silk– This queen of all fabrics is a protein fiber that’s woven by insect larvae (yuck). As much as I hate bugs, you just can’t knock silk. It’s soft, classic, anti-bacterial, and flame retardent. Need I go on?
And to the critter lovers who don’t want the silkworms to die, they have no-kill companies too.
Hemp – Cannabis plants. I feel like I should be able to end my description there. Yes, it’s made from the oh so versatile, Cannabis plant.
This fabric is great for winter and summer, PLUS it provides UV ray protection! The texture of the cloth is similar to that of linen and another cool tidbit- it gives back 60-70% of the nutrients it takes from the soil.
Being the “sober cousin”, doesn’t make it the boring cousin.
Deadlock fabric- cut waste; aka 20% of the fabric that fashion brands use are scrap material that end up in landfills and have never been used (Talk about WASTEFUL!)
2. Find something you’ll be happy to rewear for future occasions.
I can’t be the only one whose fallen in love with a dress or outfit at first sight only to leave it collecting dust in my closet. Buy clothes that last. Think as deeply about that next outfit as you would your next tattoo. I don’t know about y’all but I don’t go around tattooing just anything on my body. I better be darn sure I’ll love it for eternity first!
3. Second-hand local thrift shops, clothing swaps, or thredup. Thrifting is in and it’s environmentally friendly. If you want evidence, you literally just have to type thrifting in on youtube. And as a bonus, you don’t even have to leave your house anymore! Thrift online! Or BETTER, get a bottle of cab, a cheese platter and host a clothing swap! Free clothes and wine?! Are you really hesitating?!
Slow fashion is slowly making a dent but we’re not there yet. It only takes a small step to make a change. Rather than contributing to a wasteful future or (a lack thereof) slow down.