I recently wrote a post reflecting on my first year of cultivating ethical shopping habits, and being on a budget, I learned a lot about how to put my principles into practice in spite of my financial obstacles. Over the past few months, I’ve been sharing my tips and tricks for being budget-savvy while sticking to your principles and supporting an important and worthwhile cause: workers rights around the world. So without further ado, here’s Part 3 of my Ethical Shopping on a Budget Series.
- Take it in steps. Replace your clothes on an as-needed basis. When I first switched to buying only ethical clothing, it was months before I made my first clothing purchase. In the meantime, I was a little discouraged because I felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. I couldn’t afford a complete wardrobe overall, which was what I needed to rid my closet of fast fashion brands, and I felt like maybe this lifestyle change I felt so passionately about was nothing but good intentions. When I thought about it logically, however, I recognized that for the fast fashion pieces I owned prior to making the switch, the damage had already been done and that getting rid of all of it was not only financially impractical but wasteful. What I decided to do, and what I think is the most viable option for most people, is to incorporate ethical pieces into my wardrobe on an as-needed basis. Whenever my basic white t-shirt from Target wore out, I replaced it with an ethical one from Les Sublimes. When I needed some business casual clothes for my new job, I picked up a few skirts from a consignment shop. This was not only more financially feasible but also more suited to the slow fashion mantra that less is more.
- Instagram is your friend. When I began to write blog posts about ethical fashion, I would try to promote those posts on Instagram using hashtags that were geared toward conscious consumerism, slow fashion, and sustainability. In using hashtags such as #haulternative or #fashionrevolution, I was able to discover so many small ethical clothing companies. In fact, the majority of brands listed on my Fair Trade Clothing Companies 1 and 2 posts were ones that I discovered through Instagram. As someone who is passionate about learning more about slow fashion and supporting small businesses, this was a win-win.
- Shop off-season. Though shopping secondhand is a really great way to shop ethically, there are times when you just want to treat yourself to something new, and I understand that that’s not always possible when that Reformation dress you’re eying is $200. For me, the key to shopping from ethical brands, which are understandably more expensive than fast fashion brands, is to wait until the end of the season sales. So I’ll buy winter pieces in the spring and summer and vice versa. My reasoning behind this is that seasonal pieces go on sale when the season is over, but also that brands tend to tack on an additional discount for the end of the season. For example, in Reformation’s end of the year sale, they gave a discount worth 40% off of all items, even sale items. I found a pair of pants in the sale section that were originally $150, but between the original markdown and the extra 40% off, I snagged them for about $40. What I’m getting at here is wait until the end of the season and shoot for the double sale. You’ll some really great deals on high-quality pieces that will last you a while if you do.
For this outfit, I mixed some of my old fast-fashion stuff from years ago with some new-to-me pieces from my latest Etsy purchase. My striped top has been in my closet for years and will remain there until it’s coming apart at the seams. These jeans are my new favorite clothing item. I picked them up from a vintage shop on Etsy, and I’ve been wearing them non-stop. There’s a possibility that I’ll be moving to Paris in September, and if I do, I think this outfit might become my uniform of sorts. It’s very stereotypically Parisian, don’t you think?
How do you shop ethically on a budget?