What Ethical Fashion CAN’T Do

What Ethical Fashion CAN'T Do

What Ethical Fashion CAN'T DoWhat Ethical Fashion CAN'T DoWhat Ethical Fashion CAN'T DoWhat Ethical Fashion CAN'T DoWhat Ethical Fashion CAN'T DoWhat Ethical Fashion CAN'T DoWhat Ethical Fashion CAN'T DoWhat Ethical Fashion CAN'T DoWhat Ethical Fashion CAN'T DoWhat Ethical Fashion CAN'T DoWhat Ethical Fashion CAN'T DoWhat Ethical fashion can't do

Can I be honest with you guys?

There have been times over this past year that I’ve grown weary of spending my valuable energy thinking about clothing.

It’s not that I don’t think clothing is important.

It can give you confidence and make you feel good.

I don’t think it’s silly or worthless or something to be ignored.

BUT, I do think it can become harmful really easily.

Clothing should be something that gives us confidence, but it shouldn’t define us or be the foundation of our confidence.

Our value is never going to be in what brands we’re wearing.

But it seems that no matter how you purchase your clothing, the temptation is always going to be to use those clothes as a ruler for how you measure up to those around you.

What Ethical fashion can't do

Buying sustainable clothing is 100% the way to go, but it’s never going to make you important.

If I’m standing next to a lady in the checkout lane and she’s wearing yoga pants from Forever 21, and I’m wearing yoga pants from Girlfriend Collective: the only difference is that my leggings were made more ethically. That’s it. It doesn’t say a single thing about our importance or worth as a person.

Clothing, sustainably made or not, is never going to hold that much power.

But we sure try to make it do so don’t we?

And we really try to force those same false hierarchies on other people (even if they aren’t playing).

And that’s what I’m tired of.

I’m not tired of pursuing ethical fashion, of thrifting and making, of being mindful of my purchases… or really clothes as a whole.

But what I’m tired of is the “game” of who’s closet is best.

Ethical fashion is something that should be inclusive… it should invite people into it, and not repel them because it seems like a “club.”

So one of my new goals here at Truncation is to show you ethical fashion routes in an inclusive manner.

There’s no “one size fits all” method, and I definitely take a less traditional route than most.

So we’re going to talk about it. Hopefully I’ll help show you that ethical fashion isn’t just about dropping $125 for a shirt (though that can be part of it).

And I hope to show you that even if your budget is tiny, you can still pursue a more sustainable way of dressing.

I definitely don’t do things perfectly, so I think we’ll go on this journey together.

Let’s learn and grow as a team, and hopefully with enough attention to the topic, we can collectively make a difference.

How do YOU pursue ethical fashion? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,


Outfit Details:

Top: Vintage. Similar bodysuit. Vintage Option 1. Vintage Option 2. Similar Blouse.

Denim (run, don’t walk! These are SO good… probably my favorite pair of jeans I’ve ever owned).

Basket Bag c/o the Oak Closet




Hi there! My name is Karin and I am a lifestyle blogger with a focus on mindful style, clean beauty, and joy filled motherhood. I hope you find some inspiration here!

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  1. June 20, 2018 / 9:18 am

    I so appreciate your point of view on this. It can be another way of measuring and judging rather than trying and working on ourselves. Great post!

    • Karin
      June 22, 2018 / 1:24 pm

      Thank you Tammy… I think it’s human nature to immediately try to measure ourselves against others.

  2. Karen
    June 20, 2018 / 10:15 am

    This exactly! So often I choose what I wear based on wanting to look better then the others I’m spending time with. In a sense to “win” at the clothing game. It’s so exhausting! Thanks for this post. I thrift almost all of my clothes because I can’t usually afford the ethical options.

    • Karin
      June 22, 2018 / 1:25 pm

      I do the same thing Karen! You’re right… it is exhausting! I’m a thrifter too (I’m sure you’ve noticed 😉 )! Love it!

  3. Harriet Wilks
    June 20, 2018 / 11:17 am

    I would LOVE to learn how, when,where to shop ethically on a budget. Any and all info on that will be greatly appreciated.

    • Karin
      June 22, 2018 / 1:25 pm

      That’s a great idea for a post Harriet! I’ll add it to my calendar.

  4. Kim
    June 20, 2018 / 4:03 pm

    I admit, I have dismissed the idea of ethical fashion because I can’t abide the notion that if I cared about others, I would spend $200 on one piece of clothing. I live with a small person who wipes mustard and snot on a $200 shirt at exactly the same rate as a $20 shirt.

    I try to remind myself that being content with what we have is really the most ethical option, and thrifting is a good second choice. So glad to see you writing about those ideas!

    • Karin
      June 22, 2018 / 1:27 pm

      I totally get that Kim! It’s a hard balance to strike for sure. But that’s where I think the conversation has broken down because we now equate small makers with the only way to pursue ethical fashion. There are a lot of ways to do so, and as you said, wearing what you already own and thrifting are both EXCELLENT ways to be an ethical shopper.

  5. Susan Fahning
    June 20, 2018 / 5:12 pm

    The yoga pant s t or doesn’t tell the story of where she got her Forever 21 pants. We’re they a gift? A garage sale purchase?

    Me? I don’t have many clothes, they are high quality, and I wear the bejeezus out of them. (The fanny of a pair of Eileen Fisher wool pants I bought in 1989 for $109 finally failed. There was no fabric left for mending. These pants were worn 3 times a week for 6 months our of the year. For almost 30 years. That’s ethical.) I’m currently wearing a pair of Gramicci shorts that are about 20 years old, and a circa 1993 J Crew tank (and the reissue isn’t the same 100%cotton).

    • Karin
      June 22, 2018 / 1:28 pm


      And I love the example of clothing that you’ve had for many years. I have a few pieces that were my parents when they were younger and I love the story behind them.

  6. June 20, 2018 / 9:19 pm

    I’m thankful for brands like Everlane and Grana that are more affordable, and really like Poshmark! I’ve gotten great items secondhand for a great deal.

    • Karin
      June 22, 2018 / 1:28 pm

      I am as well Rebecca! It makes purchasing ethically a lot more doable for the average person.

  7. Meg
    June 21, 2018 / 8:39 am


    I appreciate this a lot, because I’ve been in a lot of ethical/wellness -based communities throughout the years, and what burns me out in them and keeps me from going back to websites to find inspiration is the holier-than-thou, “I’m the best person because I have this one little segment of my life nailed perfectly and you don’t!” mentality. I see it more in commenters than bloggers these day (i.e. ethical trolls lol), but it legit drives me nuts. I understand when someone really cares that it’s easy to set a hardline stance, and by all means, set that for oneself (even though, like you say, Karin, it’s not going to confer human value on one to do that)! But it’s not doing anything to the overall goal of getting humanity/the planet to a better place together to use that rigid bar/judgement against people dipping their toes in, who want some ideas and support, and are likely working within limited means or have a body that’s harder to purchase clothing for (super slender or super big or super short or super tall).

    I’ve never sensed this from you, Karin, so I keep on coming back. 🙂

    Budget-conscious options for more-ethically-produced items, outside of thrifting which is always awesome, for those asking:
    – Eileen Fisher, when it goes on sale through Nordstrom, can often be had for 50% off or more, and has extended sizes. I’ve grabbed a couple pieces and think the quality and fit is great (I’m short and curvy, and they have petites in a range of sizes).
    – Nordstrom also does pop-ins with more-sustainable brands from time-to-time (like Amour Vert, Everlane, etc.), so you can try multiple sizes with free shipping and returns. Super helpful for those of us with hard-to-clothe bodies!
    – Everlane has free shipping on 2 or more items, and I find their prices to be quite good, especially when considering the longevity of the items. I can usually get the fit right using their item measurements. Their linen tanks I love are $28. I know Gap on sale or Old Navy or Target would be cheaper, but these look good after endless washes and wears. Old Gap items used to, too, but it’s like they’re giving up lately, and I hate paying for something only to have an item arrive with an unsewn seam (!!!) or bust after the first wear. I paid $58 for a linen Everlane dress I love and wear almost every weekend, after the half-price Loft one ($45 on sale) fell apart after one wash and wear. Everlane’s cotton knitwear (tees, sweatshirts, etc.) is also reasonably-priced and super durable (wash it, dry it, it’s fine and somehow always looks new). These are good kid- and pet-friendly options: they have survived jelly, puke, mud from toads, pet hair, an incontinent kitty and dog, the whole nine yards. They have a decent size range, and I know some are sized out here (lack of petites and talls on many items, size range doesn’t go that high), but if you aren’t, it’s an option!
    – If you have the time and equipment, me-made is a fun option, and can be budget-friendly, depending on the supplies. I’m a mid-range knitter and am working on sweater #2, but have made kids’ toys, scarves, couch throws, and other items without being particularly great at it. 🙂 I’m going to learn crochet this summer to make a straw hat. I don’t have kiddos, but do have a demanding “full time plus” job, so these projects happen slowwwwwwly. 🙂

    I’m trying to make better choices, across the board, as often as I can. I love that some bloggers really work to nurture this. I really want to work on thrifting more and starting to sew again. So if anyone has sources of good, eco-friendly, sustainable fabric (will totally be checking my Goodwill for this, too!) that’s reasonably priced, I’d love to hear them!

    Thanks for the discussion, Karin and everyone!!!

    • Karin
      June 22, 2018 / 1:32 pm

      Yes I’ve noticed that as well Meg. It’s almost like there is a competitiveness aspect to it… a one up manship if you will. But thankfully I’ve never had an issue with that attitude in my commentors or readers, and I am thankful that we can have positive interactions here at Truncation. And thank you for a great list of options! Although I would add that if someone really couldn’t make Everlane prices work, Gap and Old Navy are a fairly good alternative as they are one of the “better” fast fashion companies. Check out Organic Fabric Company! Gaby curates some great fabric!

      • Meg
        June 22, 2018 / 6:36 pm

        Thanks so much for the fabric recommendation! I will totally check them out. And it’s wonderful to hear that Old Navy and Gap are upping their game! Three cheers for positive steps from large retailers!

        • Karin
          July 10, 2018 / 3:57 pm

          Your welcome Meg!

  8. Cora
    June 22, 2018 / 1:50 pm

    I still shop at Gap, Old Navy, Loft but I changed my mindset with purchases overall. Before I buy anything I ask myself if I’ll wear it 30 times. (A trick I read from an ethical instagrammer.) It means multiple things: will it still be “in style” in 30 wears, will I wear I willingly wear it 30 times, will the quality hold up for 30 wears, what I’d the cost per wear if I wear it 30 times? Pausing to think about those things significantly decreases the flash purchases and makes me focus on clothes that look good, feel good and will wear well over time. I’ve also made it a habit to look at consignment stores and poshmark before I make a new purchase. I don’t think I’ll ever have the money for high end ethical brands, but doing it my way works too.

    • Karin
      July 10, 2018 / 3:56 pm

      I think that’s a great way to go about it. I think even some people who purchase from high end ethical brands can ask those same questions.

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