Posts Categorized: shopping

Thrifting for Trends: Fall/Winter 2015 Edition

It’s time, once again, to examine the hot “new” trends for the season, and remind ourselves that fashion recycles EVERYTHING! Here are just a few of the garments, colors, and styles that are trending for fall and winter that you can easily track down at your local thrift and consignment shops. (Note that all of the on-trend items I’m wearing below have been thrifted. Already.)

Chunky knits

chunky knits fall trend

Now is the PERFECT time to hit your local thrift stores in search of some cozy, chunky knit sweaters and sweater dresses. The winter stock is already out, and you’ll be able to score some heavy-duty knitwear. As you can see, pastels and light colors hit the runways, but thick knits in just about any palette will do the trick.

Dark florals

dark florals fall trend

This one has certainly made the rounds several years running, but that makes it all the easier to thrift. What you want here is a print that has a dark color as the background. Floral prints in which the blooms themselves are done in dark prints will look lovely, but a black, eggplant, burgundy, or navy background with botanicals of all kinds will capture the somber mood you want here. Dark florals will be mixed in among the brighter and lighter ones at your local Goodwill. When you can, opt for large-scale florals over ditsy styles.


turtlenecks fall trend

I find turtlenecks to be pragmatic, but a little tricky to style. Designers showed them as stand-alone tops – my preference – and also layered under sleeveless dresses, which I feel can get a little schoolgirl-y. But this style of sweater is certainly pragmatic, and can be very elegant when worn simply or with a statement necklace. Turtlenecks are eternal, so you’ll find them in a rainbow of colors and array of sizes on the thrift store racks.

Mini skirts

mini skirts fall trend

Mini skirts are marvelous for fall and winter since tights are typically part of the equation. Even if you feel a little too exposed in this style of skirt with bare legs, add a nice pair of opaques and some boots to the mix, and you’re good to go. Leather is also big this season, and if you love the look of a leather mini, by all means go for it – I’ve seen many in my thrifting excursions. But more sedate materials – wool, rayon, ponte – will all be available in secondhand abundance, too.

Layered crop tops

crop tops fall trend

So this is a two-parter, but it’s the crop top that’s the essential piece. And although crops are a fairly recently revived trend, they are definitely thrift-able. You can also consider thrifting and cropping yourself or with the help of a tailor. Designers showed crops layered over button-front shirts, but they also layer beautifully over dresses, creating fun proportions in the process.

Why buy new when you can update your wardrobe with a handful of affordable secondhand pieces? Now get out there and thrift!

Image credits all, Altuzarra, Burberry Prorsum, Thakoon, Saint Laurent, Rosie Assoulin

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Vendors and Brands with Sustainable, Conscious, or Worker-focused Practices

ethical shopping

Since many of you expressed an interest in my running list of vendors who meet my personal criteria for taking at least one step toward sustainability, conscious production, and/or caring for their workers, I’m happy to do so today. This list is a work in progress and I’ll do my best to highlight new companies as I find out about them. Here are my own criteria:

  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Secondhand/used
  • Handmade/homemade/artisan made
  • Created using sustainable materials
  • Created using fair trade/transparent labor practices

Since items that are made in the U.S. qualify, I’ve done my best to point out which companies only manufacture SOME of their items using domestic U.S. workers. I’ve found that I absolutely have to check item by item, and Amazon is actually a good resource for that:

amazon product description

Scroll down until you see “Product Description.” Under “Origin” you’ll typically see where a product has been made. This screen cap is from a Frye bag, and although Frye touts themselves as a USA-made brand many of their products are made in China. I’ve started using Amazon to vet products that I’ve found on other websites, too. Just pop the product name into the search bar and see if Amazon has it, too. Nordstrom also does a decent job of listing origin. Many other places don’t. I’ve learned that “imported” virtually always means China or India. If a product is made in the U.S. or Spain or Italy, the company wants you to know that and will call it out. If they’d rather you didn’t focus on origin, you’ll see “imported.”

Just about every vendor website has some sort of social responsibility statement, and it can be tough to decipher which ones are genuine and which ones are B.S. Based on what I’ve read and seen in “The True Cost,” my impression is that a statement that merely references adhering to codes and standards can’t be trusted: In many cases, that means factories are warned about inspections, tidy up for the day, and then revert to normal once they’ve passed. That said, a few vendors like ECCO seem to be doing more … but it’s a little hard to say. Please use your own judgment, create your own criteria, and understand that this list is a work in progress and likely includes a few vendors that will eventually be revealed as far less conscious than they claim.

Also, I hope it’s obvious that this is not meant to be a complete list. Not by a long-shot. There will be countless companies, brands, and websites I’m not yet aware of since this is a new practice for me. I welcome your additions in the comments.

I’ve called out shops that offer specialty sizes and done my best to briefly describe what you can expect to find on these websites and from these lines.


LISSA the Shop
Committed to supporting the fashion industry’s growing movement towards becoming a more mindful and responsible trade. Stocks brands that combine a unique and timeless aesthetic, who employ sustainable production methods, have quality construction and craftsmanship, and use natural fibers.

Artisan-made, fair trade, and/or philanthropically focused goods only

Moorea Seal
A curated selection of accessories and objects, highlighting handmade artists from the United States

Fair Anita
Stocks trendy products made by female entrepreneurs around the world. The sales of these products provide economic opportunity for over 2000 talented yet marginalized women in over 10 developing countries. Learn more about Fair Anita here.

Fair Indigo
Fair trade, organic, and made in the U.S. clothing

The company cultivates close relationships with its vendors and seeks products that meet their stringent criteria for responsible sourcing, from organic fibers to environmentally friendly production practices, including minimal packaging. One of the only places I’ve found that stocks sustainable bras and knickers, though most bras are sports or soft-cup.


Karen Kane
Made in the U.S.A. Classic clothing designs with an edge, including great dresses and my all-time favorite denim. Plus sizes available.

Gudrun Sjödén
Many items made from organic cotton. Brightly colored and printed clothing, meant to be layered.

Eileen Fisher
Many items made from organic fibers, and a plan to get to 100% sustainability. Petite and plus sizes available.

Total transparency along the production chain, including deep partnerships with their factories. Minimalist blouses, sweaters, pants, and shoes.

Prairie Underground
Many garments made from organic materials, many of which are grown in the U.S.A. Known for hoodies and leggings.

Many jeans made in the U.S.A., but some specialty denim made abroad. Mostly jeans, but also some jackets and tops. Petite and plus sizes available.

Alternative Apparel: Some organics and recycled fibers used for tees and tops. In most cases, look for “Eco” in the product name. Great loungewear, tees, sweatshirts, and loose dresses.

Comfy USA
All made in the U.S.A. Tunics, dresses, pants, and skirts in stretchy knits. Also find this brand at LISSA the Shop and Evie Lou.

Neon Buddha
Designed in Canada, produced and managed by a team of 300 women in Chiang Mai, Thailand. NB uses solar power in offices and factories and takes great care of its employees. Also find this brand at LISSA the Shop.

Made in the U.S.A. Comfy, slouchy knits, sweaters, dresses and tunics. One of my closet MVPs is an LAMade tunic.

Using organic cotton and practicing transparency. Sweaters, tees, skirts, shoes, and more most with a pared-down aesthetic.

Hackwith Design House
A Minneapolis-based company making less than 25 of each item sold locally by hand. Minimalist basics, mostly oversized and/or flowy. Plus sizes available.

Bailey 44
Made in the U.S.A. Suiting with a twist, asymmetric lines, and luxe layers.

Nanette Lepore
Made in the U.S.A. Frilly, feminine dresses, blouses, coats, and skirts as well as some shoes and bags. Also find this brand at Amazon, 6pm, and Bloomingdale’s. She also does swimwear and home goods, though some are made abroad.

J Brand
Some items are made in the U.S.A. Trendy but well-made premium denim.

Star Vixen
Some items are made in the U.S.A. Printed dresses and blouses and casual tops at low price-points. Plus sizes available.

Imogene + Willie
Made in the U.S.A. Mainly denim, but also tees, bags, and vintage offerings.

Heidi Merrick
Made in the U.S.A. Edgy layering pieces, gorgeous coats, and blouses with eye-catching details.

Emerson Fry
Made in the U.S.A. Coats, slouchy knits, jeans, and footwear with a cool-girl bent.

Manufactures most of its limited-edition products in its own sustainable sewing factory in Los Angeles. They also help people recycle old clothes. Sexy body-con dresses, floaty blouses, simple sweaters, sassy skirts, and slinky jumpsuits.

Groceries Apparel
Clothing made from organic cotton, eucalyptus, recycled plastic, hemp, or recycled cotton. Solids and simple shapes, mostly knits, skirts, dresses, tops.

Study New York
Carefully monitors every step of their products’ journeys from field to cutting table. Every part of a garment’s process is carefully examined and controlled to be socially and environmentally conscious including dyeing, which is a rarity. Earthy, oversized button-fronts, pants, and dresses.

Works to provide consumers with fashion-forward clothing and accessories options that meet the following criteria: local production, organic textiles, reclaimed materials, fair-trade or zero waste. Loose shapes and earthy colors in dresses, sweaters, blouses, and jeans. Also stocks other brands with sustainable practices like Prairie Underground, Veja Shoes, and Emerson Fry.

Synergy Organic Clothing
Made from organic cotton and other eco-friendly fibers by women in Nepal, low-impact dyes used, solar lighting in warehouses. Yoga clothes, knit jackets, cute layered skirts, and flirty tunic dresses.

Fair trade, organic, and recycled material clothing as well as vegan leather bags and handmade jewelry. Simple organic cotton basics, graphic tees, classic bag shapes, earthy jewelry designs.

Fair trade, ethically made, and recycled fiber clothing, shoes, and accessories. Based in the UK. Super stylish coats, colorful jeans, colorblocked sweaters, badass boots, and tons more.

Mata Traders
Fair trade clothing and handmade jewelry, mostly from India. Works with organizations that educate, employ, and empower women. Printed cotton tops and dresses, colorful jewelry.

Etsy for vintage and handmade

Thrift, vintage, and consignment stores for secondhand

eBay for secondhand

Recommendations for ethical lingerie from The Note Passer, suggested by Gracie Lou


Made in the U.S.A. Also at Zappos and Nordstrom. Comfort shoes with an arty flair. Wide and narrow widths available.

Some styles made in U.S.A. Cowboy and motorcycle boots as well as heels, sandals, and flats. Some wide-calf options in tall boots.

All shoes created in ECCO-owned factories which managed based on the lean manufacturing philosophy. Also at Zappos and Nordstrom. Comfortable shoes and boots with rounded toes and heels.

Owned by Elizabeth Olsen! Shoes are made of 100% animal-free and cruelty-free non-animal materials, in sample rooms and factories that are checked for ethical practices and environmental impact. Quirky sandals, heels, and boots many with color-blocked designs.

Ariana Bohling
Shoes are produced by men and women who are also paid fair and livable wages. Currently, they employ around 60 artisans in Peru who create their shoes and slippers. Also at Anthropologie. Beautifully minimalist oxfords and ankle boots.

Vintage Shoe Company
Some styles made in U.S.A. Also at Nordstrom. Rugged moto boots and oxfords.

Mostly made in Italy. Wood platform sandals and heels, tall and ankle boots, wedges, and mules in chunky but classic shapes.

Rag + Bone
Some styles made in Italy. Also at Nordstrom and Amazon. Modern ankle boots with thoughtful details, plus a few sneakers and sandals.

Every single pair of Oliberté shoes is made at the company’s factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In September 2013, they also became the world’s first Fair Trade Certified™ footwear manufacturing factory. Oxfords and lace-up wedges.

Designed in New York, made in Spain with locally sourced materials. Also at Shopbop. Wood-sole and chunky heel boots, ankle boots, and sandals in sleek shapes.

Some styles made in the U.S.A. Chunky mules, fringe boots, and platform sandals.

Transparent labor policies and shoes handmade in Peru from locally sourced materials. Oxfords, smoking slippers, and sandals in simple, sleek shapes and dusty colors.

The Palatines
Handmade in Los Angeles. Also at Need Supply. Gamine flats, clogs, and block heels.

Handmade in Spain. Espadrilles and wedges.

Created from quality artisan, organic, recycled and cruelty free components. Factories are monitored and vetted. Chunky sandals and ankle boots.

Nara Shoes
Made in Italy. A mix of stilettos, badass boots, and quirky sandals.

Stuart Weitzman
Made in Spain. Also at Amazon, Zappos, and Nordstrom. High-fashion heels and boots, including iconic over-the-knees. Wide and narrow widths available.

Made in Spain. Also at Planet Shoes and Online Shoes. Chunky sandals, round-toe flats, and color-blocked designs.

Hires high potential women in Uganda to make sandals to enable them to earn money, and ource ethically made products from East Africa. Ribbon sandals, suede chukkas, and loafers as well as simple leather bags, scarves, and jewelry.

Bali ELF
Handmade in Bali using fair trade practices. Also on Etsy. Cutout heels, ankle and tall boots, wedges, and sandals in gorgeous colors.


Honestly, I am looking to Etsy and Novica for bags, scarves, jewelry, and just about every kind of accessory imaginable. A couple of folks have recommended Starfish Project, but I’m yet to check them out. Belts I will still thrift, but the rest I’m going handmade. If anyone has accessory vendors to share, please do.


Life + Style + Justice’s list of approved vendors

The local Twin Cities blog The American Edit

Eco Salon’s approved list (from 2012, so some are obsolete)


If you found this list helpful, please share and pin it. And by all means, add your own favorite brands, sites, and designers in the comments.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.

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Doing Better Moving Forward: How Watching “The True Cost” Changed My Mind About Everything


I’ve gushed quite a bit about Grechen’s blog and specifically her Minimal Closet series, and I will gush forevermore. Grechen’s honesty and candor about her own process and journey – moving from being a self-professed shopaholic toward being a conscious consumer and minimalist – is inspiring and unique. Months ago, she mentioned the documentary “The True Cost,” and described how viewing it was both appalling and important. The film explores fast fashion and clothing consumption at nearly every level from fiber farming to garment worker lives to supplier stress to environmental impact. And, as you might expect, there was irresponsibility, injustice, and ruthlessness at all of those levels.

Around the time the book Overdressed was released, a tiny little voice inside my head started piping up. It was a voice telling me that I needed to learn more about this stuff, needed to witness and understand and determine how to react. But I just couldn’t force myself to read the book. It was released during a time when I was overwhelmed by other aspects of my work and business, and eventually the idea of reading it got lost in the shuffle. But when Grechen started writing about “The True Cost,” the little voice started getting louder and angrier. When it started hollering that I had absolutely no excuse to avoid watching an hour-and-a-half documentary, I realized the time had come. So I watched. And everything changed.

Before I dive into that, though, a bit more about why I’d been alternately ignoring and bickering with this internal voice for a long time. I didn’t want to know because I didn’t want to look into my closet and see pain and injustice and desolation. I didn’t want to know because I imagined that knowing would limit me to a tiny handful of companies making expensive clothes that didn’t appeal to my own aesthetics. But more than either of those things, I didn’t want to know because I’m a very all-or-nothing person and I just didn’t see the point in trying to shop for clothing sustainably. I knew that horrible things were happening all along the production chain, and that items that appeared to be good choices on the surface could still be detrimental: The handmade tote bag created from leather that was tanned using polluting practices, the shirt that was sewn in the U.S. but from a fiber that wasn’t sustainably farmed, the organic cotton skirt created in near-sweatshop conditions, and so on. I didn’t feel like I could make a difference with my own actions because no matter what I chose, someone would get hurt. Unless I farmed the fibers organically myself using technology that didn’t require fossil fuels, spun my own thread, sewed everything using a solar-powered machine, hand-washed all the garments using organic detergent, and wore them all for 10+ years before repurposing them somehow, I would still be contributing to the problem. The problem was SO BIG and so far-reaching that I felt powerless to create change as an individual. I told myself that changes needed to happen at a systemic level, and believed that they would happen eventually based on the reporting and reacting I’d been seeing. I knew even as I made these excuses to myself that they were feeble and misguided, but I clung to them for a damned long time.

Watching the movie caused something to shift inside me. Seeing a mother who was forced to leave her daughter with family in another village so she could work longer hours at a garment factory, hearing about the brain tumors that cotton farmers consistently get, seeing the filthy runoff pour into rivers, learning that tons of donated clothing ends up in landfills or shipped to developing countries where it becomes a burden for other people to deal with … it had the effect on me that I’m sure the filmmaker intended: It made me realize that I couldn’t pretend this didn’t affect me, and that I had to do something.

And for whatever reason, it made me realize that I didn’t have to be so extreme in my thinking. I could give my money to companies that did one significant thing to make their practices less harmful, and even if my actions were minute they would be meaningful. I might never find any brands creating clothing in ways that were entirely innocuous from fiber to factory to store, but I could support the brands that took important steps.

So here’s what I decided: I would never again purchase any fashion item that was not either:

  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Secondhand/used
  • Handmade
  • Created using sustainable materials
  • Created using fair trade/transparent labor practices

I was delighted and relieved when I realized that many brands that have been long-time partners and supporters of this blog qualify quite easily. Karen Kane is made in the U.S., Gudrun Sjödén works with organic cottons and other fibers, Lissa the Shop stocks only brands that utilize sustainable fibers or practices, Shop Adorn stocks brands like organic fiber-focused Prairie Underground, Rhodesian of Edinburgh creates artisan-made satchels, Alternative Apparel uses sustainable fabrics and low-impact dyes, Etsy faves like Lockhart Wrks, Elizabeth Kelly London, and Adriana Soto create handmade items in their own studios, Eileen Fisher is committed to sustainability on every level.

But I was chagrined to see the volume of items from mall brands with questionable practices that hung in my closet. And I actually reached out to Grechen for her take: Now that I’ve committed to shopping more consciously, what about the fast-fashion leftovers? I’ve got lots of relatively new stuff that still fits and that I still love to wear but that has been made using harmful methods. Do I keep wearing it and visibly support brands I want to move away from? Do I donate it all and feed the quick-turn fast-fashion cycle while simultaneously risking it all getting shoved into a landfill? She ended up writing an eloquent post in response, saying:

You can have a conscious closet by simply continuing to wear what you have, keeping only what you love, and taking care of your clothes.

If you have items in your closet that you love and wear, that might have been produced in Bangladesh or Cambodia, keep wearing them! You may be conflicted about that, I get it, but you already own them; take care of them, and make them last as long as you can. Enjoy and wear those items and you will be honoring the women who made them.

And I agree. I would rather wear my Gap and H&M stuff until it is threadbare than offload it in bulk now, when it’s in perfectly good shape. While it’s true that it would’ve been better to get wise sooner and never have purchased those things in the first place, I lack a time machine and therefore must focus on doing better moving forward. So in future outfit posts, you’ll see that if I’m wearing and linking to a fast fashion/mall item, I’ll do my best to highlight a sustainable alternative, too.

The next conundrum: How to handle things like the sale picks posts and other product recommendations, which you’ve consistently told me you enjoy and find very useful. I don’t have a perfect solution. In those posts I’ve committed to tracking down three items that fulfill a specific reader request, making sure they’re all on sale/relatively affordable, and finding similar items in plus and/or petite and tall sizes as often as I can. That last one has become especially important to me since I know that many of you wear specialty sizes and feel excluded from these types of posts; I want to be inclusive and introduce frustrated shoppers to potentially new and helpful resources. But if I add sustainability factors to that list of requirements, the posts will be impossible to create, especially since most eco-conscious companies are yet to add petite, plus, and tall offerings. And although I want to encourage you readers to consider taking on some personal sustainability responsibility, I have no right to assume that you all will agree with or be able to adhere to my specific criteria. OR that all of you can afford to shop sustainable brands which are, admittedly, often more expensive than mall brands. So I will pledge to do my best to include and highlight responsible brands, and when I can’t find items that fulfill the request perfectly I’ll include relevant sustainable brands and resources that you can explore on your own.

My all-or-nothing mindset still creeps back in, especially when I begin to think about consumption practices unrelated to fashion: I don’t drive a hybrid car, don’t eat all organic, don’t have a home entirely illuminated by curly low-energy bulbs … but I am, quite frankly, not able to commit myself to a life that’s 100% free of environmental sin. Not yet anyway. Still, as someone who makes a living in the fashion industry – albeit somewhat tangentially – I know that I may be able to have an impact by changing how and where I shop. I can do better moving forward in this one area for now, and do my best to make progress in other areas over time.

Having lived with this practice for around two months now, I’ve flipped over enough clothing tags to see firsthand that nearly everything we see in retail environments is made in China or India. Even expensive and high-quality items. In response, I’ve begun to compile a list of companies and sites that meet my own sustainability requirements and would be happy to share that list if anyone is interested. But please also feel free to highlight companies, designers, websites, or manufacturers practicing low-impact production in the comments of this post. I’d love to add to my list, and I’m sure you will know about resources I’ve overlooked.

And if you haven’t seen “The True Cost” yet, it’s currently streaming on Netflix and available for rental. Watching it won’t be fun, but it’s likely to be transformative. I’d wager that a single viewing will inspire you to reevaluate your own choices, and afterward you may find yourself formulating your own criteria for doing better moving forward.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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