and not rather a new wearer of clothes.
~Henry David Thoreau :: Walden
Exercise stuff is a common stumbling block in decluttering efforts. Abandoned stair steppers, old hockey pads, and snowboard boots are lurking in basements and garages...evidence of good intentions followed by good money.
There are physical activities that require equipment. Depending on the frequency of the undertaking, it may be a good idea to purchase that equipment...or it may be a good idea to simply rent it...kayaks, snowboards, and ice-skates used only 1-2 times per year would be good candidates for renting. There are no physical or mental space considerations, upkeep, replacement, or regret involved with rentals (well, maybe regret...but it's probably less). :) And don't hesitate to list that unused exercise equipment on craigslist...it might be just the thing someone else is looking for.
There are a lot of activities that we can do for exercise with quite a small amount of (or no) extra clothing or equipment. I love the idea of playing soccer, basketball, or volleyball as a family or group of families...all that's needed is a ball + a walk to the park. It's family time, exercise, and time spent growing friendships too. Make it a biweekly or weekly "scheduled" game + there are no team fees to pay either.
Our (the girls' + my) personal choices are walking (quickly) + yoga. Cardio, strength + flexibility building...addressed. My necessities are shoes + a yoga mat. As far as athletic wear goes, I wear leggings (I have 2 pairs that I wear for everything) in the winter. For the summer, I have two pairs of athletic shorts + two tanks.
I recently added a pack of yoga cards to my workout gear, because videos are always catching me twisting awkwardly to see the screen + not always feeling like I've gained the full benefit of a movement before moving on to the next. I really like these cards, because it is possible to lay out a personalized progression + there are suggestions for different workout objectives as well.
For arms, I do swan arms in lots of different positions. I wasn't feeling much bicep work, so I bought these resistance bands with interchangeable bands for increased resistance over time. They take up less space than barbells + I won't have to keep buying bigger ones.
After Monday's fair athletic wear post, I hope it's not too late to say that an excuse to buy new clothes or stuff is not the point of exercise. :) The lists posted here are meant to be tools available when they are needed...not promoters of wantiness or ethical justification for excessive purchasing (easier said than done, I know).
The idea here is not to recommend things to buy, but to encourage thoughtful consideration about the activities we choose to add to our lives and the things we choose to add to our homes. Time spent with our partners, kids, and friends can be a great part of exercise. Seldom used stuff need not be.
Athletic wear has gone through some changes over the years. While I don't come from a conventionally athletic family, we did hike + bike, take long walks + cross-country ski. I took tennis + swimming lessons every summer growing up, but I don't really remember having any special athletic wear, besides what we called 'tennis shoes'. I do remember my dad having a pair of high top Chuck Taylors for exercise. My sisters sported knee high tube socks with their gym shorts in the seventies (not necessarily for athletic purposes). Oversized polyester Umbros were all the rage whether one played soccer or not, when I was in high school. Somewhere along the athletic wear line cotton t-shirts gave way to wicking poly shirts, lycra + spandex added a whole new dimension of possibility in fit, and recycled plastic bottles became fleece.
Now we know that tiny plastic microfibers from that fleece shed with each and every wash. One study found these plastic microfibers in 67% of the fish studied + bound for human consumption in California. Polyester, nylon, and lycra/spandex are fabrics woven from long, thin plastic fibers (derived from crude oil). While these fabric innovations may make great performance fabrics for our workouts, they may not be so great for our health or the health of the planet in the end. These chemical compounds are hazardous in production and will be with us long after we are finished with them. Update 1/2018: Plastic fibers have been found in 83% of drinking water tested worldwide + 94% in the USA. Most of this plastic fiber escapes during the washing of synthetic clothing.
While polyester seems to be the most common fiber when it comes to athletic wear, natural fiber options are (not surprisingly) cropping back up in many ethical circles. It is difficult to replicate the elastic nature of lycra or spandex desired in much athletic clothing, so it can be tricky to find 100% natural fiber active wear. I was able to find a few options, however. It can take a little digging to find the 100% natural items even on some of the websites listed here, but it is possible. When these workout pieces have reached the end of their usefulness as clothing (and then rags), the bits of elastic could be cut out and they could be composted.
Pansy :: organic USA grown cotton :: sewn in California :: tops, bottoms, bras
Satva :: organic cotton :: fair trade labor (confirmed by email) :: tops, bottoms, layers, bras
Rawganique :: organic cotton tops, bottoms, bras :: elastic free options :: sweat-shop free :: men's + women's
Ibex :: some 100% merino wool pieces :: "responsibly" sourced + sewn :: men's + women's :: men's cycling :: some pieces made in the USA (Ibex went out of business...look for it secondhand)
Base Range :: organic cotton :: made in Portugal :: sweatshirts, sweatpants + tees
Noble :: organic cotton sewn + dyed in Tennessee :: sweatshirts, tees, + sweatpants :: women's + men's (used to be Victor Athletics)
Smartwool :: some 100% merino wool tops + leggings :: knit in Vietnam, so I'm not sure about the fairness of the labor conditions :: women's + men's options
Pact :: organic cotton :: fair-trade :: well-priced :: some tanks for women + some men's tees are 100% organic cotton
Patagonia :: while they are predominately making plastic fiber clothing (grr), there are a some 100% organic cotton + fair trade sewn tees + tanks to be found :: men's tees too
Jungmaven :: hemp + organic cotton tees + sweatshirts :: made in the USA :: women's + men's
United by Blue :: this top is 100% organic cotton + made in the USA
Alternative Apparel :: a couple of 100% organic cotton tops made in WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) factories
If the goal is to buy an entirely compostable garment, I would caution about the probability that these pieces are sewn with polyester thread in order to increase durability. Pansy does proclaim proudly that "everything we make can be thrown on your compost pile + become part of the earth again"! I tried to mostly avoid picturing items with zippers, snaps, elastic and grommets, because they would also not be compostable (but could be cut out before composting).
One way to avoid all of those items (choose cotton thread) would be to sew your own activewear out of organic cotton, hemp, or wool with the help of one of these sewing patterns:
Grainline Studio :: Linden sweatshirt
True Bias :: Hudson sweatpants :: for men + kids too
Fancy Tiger :: Adventure tanks
Hey June :: Sloane leggings
So Sew Easy :: leggings
Purl Bee :: City gym shorts :: for girls too
Fehr Trade :: a variety of athletic wear patterns :: some for men too
If we expand our search for fair athletic wear to include pieces that incorporate spandex, recycled fibers, and pieces simply made under fair conditions, there are a few more companies to consider. Lots of the brands above offer items that would fall into this category as well.
Conscious Clothing :: made in Michigan, organic fibers
Gaia Conceptions :: made in North Carolina :: organic fabrics, plant dyes
Free Label :: organic cotton + bamboo fibers :: made in Canada
Tasc Performance :: bamboo + organic cotton :: made in a single factory in India with 90% renewable energy
Synergy Clothing :: paying living wages :: organic cotton :: GOTS certified
From :: fair-trade :: organic cotton, merino wool :: transparent supply chains :: UK
Shift to Nature :: fair-trade :: organic fibers + bamboo :: Australia
Reprise :: tencel knit in the USA :: sewn in USA
LVR :: made in the USA :: organic + recycled fibers
Mission Workshop :: made in the USA :: some merino wool :: clothing made for active commutes :: men's + women's
Kozm :: certified b corp :: made in the USA :: some cotton + hemp :: unisex (some plastic fibers) :: men's
Patagonia :: recycled + organic fibers :: growing fair-trade collection (mostly plastic fibers)
Athleta :: currently has a collection of pieces focused on sustainability :: some fair-trade :: some natural + organic fibers (mostly plastic fibers)
Albion :: "committed to the environment :: "using earth friendly materials" :: "fair labor practices" (mostly plastic fibers)
Purusha :: made in the USA :: now no plastic fibers! (updated 2019)
Live the Process :: ethically made in the USA (mostly supplex, which is a plastic fiber)
Girlfriend Collective :: recycled fibers :: transparent (all plastic fibers)
Threads for Thought :: fair-trade :: organic cotton + recycled polyester (mostly plastic fibers)
Beyond Yoga :: designed + made in Los Angeles, CA (mostly plastic fibers)
Onzie :: mostly made in the USA :: will provide list of made in USA pieces if contacted (mostly plastic fibers)
Prana :: there is a focus on organic + sustainable fibers :: some items are fair-trade + 100% organic cotton (mostly plastic fibers)
Outer Known :: many pieces made from reclaimed fishing nets :: some fair-trade pieces :: men's (women's collection coming)
Share Hope :: leggings :: owned by a nonprofit that invests all profits into the lives of garment workers (plastic fibers)
Heroine Sport :: a lot of made in the USA pieces (mostly plastic fibers)
Nau and Icebreaker have a focus on natural fibers, but the sewing origins are not apparent from their websites. Icebreaker does state, "we go out of our way to make sure all of our sewing and finishing is undertaken in an environmentally and socially responsible manner."
I have to admit that this has been the hardest fair + ethical list to compile. Previously, I had depended on my two favorite companies for athletic wear, Outdoor Voices + Tracksmith. Recently, however, both have abandoned USA production in their endeavors to scale their companies. There has been no mention of prioritizing fair-trade labor. While I understand the bottom line, I want to particularly underscore our responsibility as consumers to make our voices heard as a company grows. We need to let them know that we not only like the product they are designing, but that we value the origins... + that it is important to us that our favorite companies consider farmers, garment workers, and the environment in every step of their process. My voice alone is probably not enough to sway a growing company, but many voices raised together will demand consideration.
All photos are from the brands' websites. I will link to this post on the ethical brands page, so it will be easily accessed when needed.
Sweat on, friends!
"It takes 2720 liters of water to make a t-shirt.
That's how much we normally drink over a 3 year period."
This winter I decided to just stick with a small number of pieces for the entire season rather than switching items out each month for monthly wardrobes. The 17 pieces that I wore this winter worked pretty well + did feel like enough...but I can't deny that I'm ready to move on.
What I learned has to do with preference in regards to individual pieces. I wish this sweatshirt was about a size smaller...or that that coat was a little bit longer. It feels like a small wardrobe highlights these issues more than a larger one...that each piece feels the weight of desired perfection more. A larger wardrobe does not necessarily solve this problem for me. I think that it may just spread the confusion around a bit more + make it harder to address.
Last year I noted that I would have liked to wear leggings more, so I made that happen this year. By the middle of January, I was getting a little tired of leggings. Too much of a good thing is not such a good thing apparently. :) I made bright January pants + have been wearing them as much as possible since. They have replaced the black tencel pants for the moment (which are a bit tricky to keep folded just right around the waist, being slippery tencel). I've decided that after years of wearing skinny jeans (not this winter, but in the past), my legs are ready for a little bit more freedom. My leggings aren't going anywhere, but right now I'm favoring looser pants worn with more fitted pullover sweatshirts, tees or pact tanks (as the weather warms up).
The weather lately has been sprinkling in some much warmer days, so I've been dipping into my "out of season" clothing more than anticipated. My black jumpsuit is getting a bit of wear...sometimes with a tee underneath and sometimes with a sweater over top. A couple of short-sleeved tees have come out of storage as well + that made-in-the-USA one up there was added. I'm not digging the climate implications of this weather at all, but it has kept the wardrobe feeling a bit fresher.
In terms of what I'll be letting go + putting on my shopping list for next cold season: my brown boots are probably on the to go list. They have served me well for a good long time, but have felt a bit disheveled lately + a tripping incident scuffed them both (+ my knee) quite a bit too. I will clean them up + try to make them look as good as possible before donating them. I'll be looking for some new boots + maybe an oversized pullover sweater next autumn...and I've already made another pair of colorful pants. :)
This little jacket is a just-for-fun, use-it-up make. The main fabric is fabric leftover from my cream jumpsuit that I dyed indigo a while ago (the fabric, not the jumpsuit). The block print band is from a well-loved + well-worn top. The pockets are the best parts cut from a threadbare dishtowel. I just liked how they all looked together. It's kind of fun to realize that each of these fabrics was dyed with indigo at different times, by different people, with different results. No appropriately colored thread meant that navy embroidery floss was employed for hemming + attaching the pockets.
I used a vintage robe pattern, cut the length at a point I liked, + left the sleeves off. The side seams were each cut in about an inch, since I imagined wearing this piece open rather than tied closed + didn't need so much width.
Perfectly patchy? :)
What a treat this is! When I first saw Heather's blog, I knew I wanted to work up the courage to ask if she'd be willing to share bit about her approach to her wardrobe here. In the past few months, I feel like I've gotten to know Heather a bit better, both through her blog + through our correspondence. We have a lot in common, + I feel so privileged to call her friend! I can identify with so much of what Heather writes here, and I love her unique + thoughtful approach to creating a fair wardrobe. Enjoy!!
Please tell us a bit about yourself and what makes you you. :)
I am thirty-two and a stay-at-home, work-at-home wife and mother of two daughters, ages five and two. I have a blog called Cedar & Bloom, where I write on a variety of interests centered around themes of minimalism and slow living. I also work as a nanny, caring for a sweet baby girl, in my home two days a week. I live in the Rocky Mountains and I wear a lot of grey! I love silk and linen.
I've always loved art and making things, and for the past year I've been working on developing some bag designs, to make and sell. This has been a slow process, as I usually only have the time and energy for creative work on the weekends. Yet, keeping creative projects in the works keeps me grounded, as so much of my time is devoted to motherhood. I'm grateful for constructive diversions that I can pursue when my husband is available to take over.
In crafting my bags, I make an effort to source materials that are ethically produced and eco-friendly, hoping to create something worthy of Fairdare standards!
How do you see and approach fair in your closet?
I think of fair as providing a living wage to the people who are constructing our clothes. I also see fair as taking into consideration the impact that excessive clothing production is having on the planet that we all share. I don't have a perfect, fair wardrobe, but I'm making an effort to be thoughtful with my purchases, moving forward. The Fairdare has inspired me so much!
This year, my approach is to thrift first for things I need and to buy ethically-made for a few special pieces, as the budget allows. As I've looked over my budget from last year and considered my financial priorities for this year, I've determined that if I thrift for most things, I can probably afford to purchase three or four ethically made items, if I find pieces that I feel will add value to my small wardrobe and work hard for me.
Does less play a role in your closet?
Yes. I've never owned mountains of clothing at once, but I think part of the reason for that is that, ever since high school, I've always been quite efficient at purging. I definitely remember spending a lot of time at T.J.Maxx and Marshall's in my late teens and early twenties and I also remember some of the crazy things I came home with that didn't have much staying power. Even though my closet was never anywhere near packed, I'm sure a lot of things were in and out too quickly.
Now, I'm attempting to think twice before throwing a t-shirt into a Goodwill bag; maybe I can get one more year out of it before buying something new. Maybe, even if I won't reach for that item when going out with a friend, it can still fulfill a need in my daily, messy, mothering life. I like to think that it makes a difference every time we can extend the life of an item in our own closet.
Also, one of the topics I write about on my blog is the Ten-Item Wardrobe. I've been using this concept, which I learned about from Jennifer L. Scott's TEDx Talk, for about two and a half years. You select ten core items for your wardrobe, give or take a few, and then additional items, like layering items and t-shirts, are counted as extras. The idea is to keep extras minimal, as well. I've found this to be an easy way for me to organize and minimize shopping. The goal is to only shop two or three times a year, to replace items as necessary. I've found that having a specific number of items to shop for is a helpful tool for keeping perspective. It reduces overwhelm in the face of countless purchase possibilities!
Do you have a favorite outfit that just makes you feel like you?
I feel the most like myself in clothing that is modest and comfortable. I love a t-shirt and jeans. Right now, I also love a pair of black, wide-leg, linen pants I have, paired with my favorite black, silk shirt. I feel put together and artsy in that outfit—and really, really comfortable.
Do you struggle with any part of buying fair?
The last couple of years I didn't thrift much, because I find it stressful to try to shop with my daughters running around and I feel guilty when I go out by myself just to shop. However, this year I have a pretty small, focused list of things I feel I need for spring and summer. It should be manageable.
In regard to buying new, I struggle in that I can really fall for beautiful design and marketing with an ethical angle. I only read a couple of blogs that market ethical fashion as a portion of their content, but that exposure is enough to, at times, make me want more than I can afford. I have to often remind myself to live in gratitude and be thankful for everything I have.
Do you have any goals or next steps you'd like to take in your own fair fashion future?
Yes! I really want to learn how to sew clothes, so I can make my own natural-fiber clothing at a fraction of the cost of buying newly-made, fair-trade pieces. Like I mentioned above, I've been learning to construct handbags and I've quilted, but I've never finished any clothes. A lot of the styles I've been drawn to lately actually appear to be really simple to make: simple lines and non-form fitting. I really should buy a pattern or two and give it a try!
Thank you so much, Heather! This is amazing! I so appreciate the time + effort that when into making this post, and I appreciate your generosity in sharing your thoughts with us in this space. Your photos alone elevate this space..not to mention your inspiring words! The internal struggle to focus on gratitude rather than desire is so often mine as well. Your dedication to thinking through your yearly list of needs + budget is something I truly admire. I hope you sew some clothing, and...I cannot wait to see more of your bags!! :) Please do visit Heather at Cedar & Bloom as well as at her lovely instagram page.
This year when it comes to purchasing, I am trying to stay focused only on necessary replacements. The hope is that this focus will facilitate both keeping spending minimal + keeping things minimal in our space. We have enough...but sometimes things do wear out.
I often make new lists of fair items to share here in my own quest for replacements. The fair intimates post was no different. I've been on the hunt for replacements in this department for a while. As with most things fair, fair intimates are a bit pricey...no packs of 6 for $10. This need has been on my mind for quite a while now, but I don't want to spend a whole lot all at once...so I finally decided to purchase just one now. Over time I can build my collection.
I love that Pansy makes their pieces in the California out of USA grown, organic cotton. Such a little statement with such a huge impact! I already own one pair of Pansy, so I know the sizing. The shape is just what I'm looking for... + this color, I mean...sunshine!
Kitchen towels are another thing I need to replace. I have two at the moment + it's just not really cutting it. Again, the cost of buying two or three at once is kind of a big hit to my budget, so I decided to just purchase one now.
I know that I love Jenny Pennywood towels. Her prints are my favorites + anything else would (to me) just feel like settling. Towels make a statement in my minimal kitchen, so I like what I like. I love supporting Jen Garrido's creative work as a maker + artist, so adding another one of her towels to my little collection creates no guilt.
Just like supporting local, organic growers when buying our food at the farmer's market... supporting independent makers is a great way to ensure that our dollars are supporting people doing good work + local economies...rather than supporting faceless corporations. Every dollar is a vote...and I vote for organic cotton, fair wages, creativity, and independent thought.
There are some talented makers out there sharing sewing patterns with those of us who sew. Evidence of their understanding as sewists + as women (these designers just all happen to be women) who wear clothes is all over their work. It is nice to find patterns designed for women with real life bodies. If I find a designer who happens to be shaped similarly to me, I know I've found a real treasure. Independent pattern makers' efforts are greatly appreciated + I'm proud to support them.
Long ago, I was asked who my favorite independent sewing pattern designers (for clothing) were and I took the long route to answer that question. I focused on one designer at a time + went a little more in depth with each one. With the challenge I've set for myself to sew my clothing this year...I thought it might be nice to have all of these amazing designers in one place. In case they might be helpful to anyone else, here we are (in alphabetical order):
Alabama Chanin :: unique techniques for hand sewing knits :: patterns in books + online *
Amie Comme Marie :: women's, men's, + children's :: french :: france
Amy Butler :: clothing + bags :: in books + online *
Anna Allen :: clothing
Anna Maria Horner :: clothing + bags :: in books + online *
April Rhodes :: versatile, simple dresses *
Assembly Line :: patterns for women :: designed in sweden
Blue Prints :: creative shapes for women
Cali Faye :: women + girls
Christine Haynes :: dresses + a coat *
Citronille :: sweet shapes for women, girls, + teens :: some patterns in french :: france*
Closet Case :: women's, including jeans, swimwear, + outerwear *
Colette :: vintage inspired shapes for women + a few for men :: patterns in book + online *
Common Stitch :: women's :: austrailia
Deer & Doe :: pretty shapes for women :: france
DP Studio :: interesting shapes
Elbe Textiles :: pattern often without gender :: designed in new zealand*
Ensemble :: patterns for women
Fancy Tiger :: versatile basics *
French Navy :: patterns for women :: designed in south africa
Grainline :: versatile basics :: clothing + bags *
Half Moon Atelier :: women's
Helen's Closet :: clothing for women :: broad size range :: designed in canada
I am patterns :: simple french shapes (patterns in French + English)
Japanese pattern books :: shop on etsy :: many translated to English :: Japan *
Made by Rae :: women's + children's *
Maker's Atelier :: women's :: patterns in book + online :: UK *
Marilla Walker :: women's :: UK *
Megan Nielson :: women's, including maternity + girls' :: Australia
Making magazine :: beautiful magazine full of inspiring craft patterns
Merchant & Mills :: women's, men's, + girls :: patterns in books + online :: UK *
Named :: women's :: Finland
Noodlehead :: bags :: patterns in book + online *
Oliver + S / Liesl + Co :: children's + women's :: patterns in books + online *
Papercut :: women's :: New Zealand
Paper Theory :: patterns for women :: designed in england
Pattern Fantastique :: women's :: australia
Pauline Alice :: women's :: Europe
Peppermint :: beautiful magazine offering some free sewing patterns
Purl Bee :: women's + children :: most patterns free *
République du Chiffon :: women's + children's :: French :: France
Salme :: women's
Schnittchen :: pattern for women + children :: plus sizes too :: designed in germany :: offered in german, english + french
Seamwork :: by Colette :: patterns to sew in 3 hours or less :: women + a few for men
Sew House Seven :: women's *
Sew Liberated :: women's + children's including nursing friendly :: in books + online *
Sew Over It :: women's paper + PDF :: UK
Sew DIY :: women's *
Sonya Phillip :: women's basics :: plus sizing too *
Tessuti :: women's :: Australia
Thread Theory :: mostly men's patterns + a couple women's :: Canada
Tilly and the Buttons :: women's :: patterns in book + online :: UK
True Bias :: women's + kids + one for men *
Untitled Thoughts :: feminine shapes for women
Verb for Keeping Warm :: women's (+ book on natural dying)
Victory Patterns :: women's :: patterns in book + online :: Canada
Vintage patterns :: try Etsy or Ebay :: great for patterns through the decades *
Wear Lemonade :: women's :: patterns in French :: France
Wiksten :: women's + children's :: patterns in book + online *
* = patterns I've personally made
There are many more talented designers, but these are my personal favorites. I've listed the countries where these patterns are designed (as I've noticed them not being designed in the USA) as a way to know that they may be more (or less) local to where one lives. Most of the patterns are available as PDF patterns (printable at home) as well, so location need not be a deterrent.
I'll put the link to this post along with the link to the fair fabrics post (which I'll add to over time) on the ethical brands page for easy access. :) This page will be updated periodically. Also...find an updated list of plus-sized patterns here.
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time