A brief sale in celebration of Spring! Click on the image to be redirected to Water Lily Thrift.
Originally published on my fair trade blog, Style Wise:
radical : of, relating to, or proceeding from a root
I started this blog with a specific reader in mind. I wanted to encourage young women – my peers – who were already reading personal style blogs to take an interest in a more thoughtful approach to consumption. Although it wasn’t fully parsed out, I knew that simply buying better wasn’t an end to the moral journey. But it’s a lot more fun to talk about etsy and charity-minded start ups than to talk about frugality or to address the dark, addictive underbelly of shopping.
But the more I think about morality as it pertains to consumption, the more I realize that I need to buy less altogether.
It’s important, of course, to realize on a superficial level that we bring more to the table than our curated closets and styling capabilities. But it’s immensely difficult to let that sink in, and to actually change our habits.
I assume that my readers come from a place similar to my own. I grew up (upper) middle class and, while my parents emphasized budgeting and saving, I experienced no real financial strain. Influenced by my grandmother’s sales rack obsession, I seemed to intuitively justify buying anything and everything as long as it was on sale. I liked the rush and the hunt of a good deal.
Later in college, just introduced to personal style blogs that emphasized the importance of investment and statement pieces, I replaced my sales-only paradigm with a boring, preppy basics only framework. And then, when I realized everything I owned was boring, I went crazy with prints. And the cycle continues. But the consistent result of each new set of guidelines is that it encourages me to search and spend like the addict that I am until I’m nauseated by my own materialism.
The point is that the real problem is bigger than poor labor regulations. It’s more than carelessness. It’s the addiction to new and better and cheaper. It’s the haul videos and constant self advertising and attempts to be brand ambassadors. It’s the thoughtlessness and vanity of it.
We need to spend less. I have to tell myself that, too: I need to spend less. And I need to focus less on what I can get my grubby, greedy hands on. And it’s at once ridiculous and terrible that it’s so hard for me to do.
Of course, buying ethically is a great idea. And buying things in general is fun and sometimes even necessary. But the mission of this blog is only a little better than its non-fair trade counterparts if it fails to acknowledge that maybe there’s something wrong with the whole system, that maybe buying ethically opens up a can of worms that causes us to reassess our spending habits at their root.
I’m beginning to see this process as a gradual (at times painful) journey to better, more thoughtful living in all areas of my life. The growing pains are in full swing, but I believe I’ll come out better on the other side. The important thing is not to give up – I’ve wanted so badly lately to give it all up. But I see that the fair trade mission is bigger than my aches and moans and will power, and if I can’t will myself to sprint ahead, I can at least resign myself to it – and keep pressing on.
For additional reading on this topic, see my homily here.
*image source: by SnowMika leírása
Happy February and happy shopping. I’m so excited about the stuff I listed today over at Water Lily Thrift, especially those Oxblood Aigner Loafers.
Winter hasn’t quite hit Charlottesville, but I’m already excited for spring fashion. I know fall is the season for fashion, but I’ve always preferred the bright, floral, bare-legged styles of spring over the drab, monotone glamour of fall. Fall is too serious for my taste.
I’ve been flipping through old Google catalogs for inspiration. Here are some of my favorite looks (including some fall looks that easily transition into spring):
Clockwise from top:
- Anthropologie, March 2012
- Clarks, Fall 2012
- Fossil, Fall 2012
- Madewell, Spring 2012
- J. Crew, February 2012
- Madewell, Spring 2012
Style Wise is my new blog dedicated to providing fair trade resources for the conscientious consumer. From now on, all fair trade posts will be posted on Style Wise. You can access it anytime by clicking on the Fair Trade category on the sidebar of this blog. I hope you’ll follow along.
We’re having a nice time visiting with family and friends-who-are-like-family this week. We made delicious turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pecan pie, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for our Thanksgiving feast.
This was my first time hosting – although I helped with the past two years’ meal preparations – and it was a bit overwhelming. I (mostly) forget that I’m an introvert until I’m surrounded by a handful of people for days on end. I become agitated and feel the need to flee, but I have to push through it, resist the urge to snap at people, and drink more coffee.
We’re likely spending tomorrow basking in glow of the coming Christmas season with local festivities instead of braving the ravenous crowds at retail chains. I’m morally opposed to Black Thursday/Friday in-store sales, but I love to peruse online sales (although I guess it may be just as bad for warehouse employees this weekend as it is for store employees). But as I always say, there’s no harm in window shopping. I am particularly drawn to the preppy basics American Eagle offers. All items are 40% off until November 25!
- Boyfriend Cardigan
- Leopard Print Belt
- Simple Striped Dress
- Bass Heeled Booties (way out of my price range)
- Purple Dress
- Patterned Bucket Bag
- BC Footwear Wedge
(click collage to view links)
I’ve compiled a mini list of ethical companies and resources for you to peruse:
- The Hunger Site
- ModCloth “Made in the USA” search
- American Apparel
- Worishofer (the Wikipedia article is hilarious)
- Fair Trade USA partners list
- Ten Thousand Villages
- People Tree
- Swedish Hasbeens
- Golden Ponies
- Goodwill Industries
Don’t forget to shop local, too. You likely have access to lots of small farmers and businesses from which you can purchase locally produced, organic products. Thrift shops and vintage stores are a great alternative to buying new. As Amy Skoczlas Cole of eBay’s Green Team says, “The greenest product is the one that already exists.”