Going Deeper Than Ethical Fashion

ethical style and sustainable fashion

Ethical fashion is a wonderful, powerful, necessary force for good in our world.

Ethical fashion will always be at the center of Selflessly Styled's mission.

Ethical fashion is not enough though. 

Before you assume that I've become disillusioned with the impact or community around ethical fashion, let me assure you, I've never been more passionate or committed to it. 

When I stepped into this field, I was solely focused on the social justice aspect of fashion. I was (and am) determined to empower consumers to redirect their purchases in order to transform the industry. As I've dialogued with readers and clients, I've become keenly aware that there are aspects of "healthy fashion" that go much deeper than purchasing from ethical brands. 

We can dress "ethically" and still be insecure. 

We can purchase "ethically" and still be materialistic.

We can dress "ethically" and still be narcissistic. 

We can purchase "ethically" and still be discontent. 

Ethical fashion is just the beginning of truly transforming our relationship with clothes and with others. 

I've spent a lot of time studying and contemplating the concept of "style" recently. I offer consultations for women trying to understand their personal style because I truly believe there is immense value in wearing clothes that accurately reflect the best of who we are. However, I am a firm believer that what we wear should never ever take precedence over living life to the fullest. 

It's no easy feat learning to be intentional about style without becoming self-absorbed. But it is possible.

 

I know it's possible because I know someone who managed it her entire life.

 

My beloved Nana passed away one week ago, and as I've grieved the end of her life here on earth, I've realized that she embodied everything I hope to when it comes to personal style. 

There is so much I want to tell you about Nana, but for the sake of this post, I will focus solely on the element of her style. 

Nana's style was timeless. She lived ninety full years spanning from the Great Depression until now, and I never once saw her looking frumpy or disheveled. She had a classic look that was born from an era that still dressed for dinner and wouldn't leave the house without being put together.

However, Nana's style was not her priority. 

Nana was an adventurous and courageous soul who cared deeply about people. The fact that she dressed nicely never hindered her from embracing the messiness of a life focused on caring for others.

When I was ten, my classy crisp-white-pant-wearing Nana packed up her belongings and moved to Mexico where my family lived. Nana would walk those dusty paths with us and hold the hands of orphans with special needs. Nana welcomed every sticky hug and always extended her manicured hands in love no matter how messy the situation. 

My classy ironed-blouse-wearing Nana traveled to distant islands, rode in the backs of trucks, made friends with remote tribes and faced death after being stung by a stonefish. 

My classy jangly-jewelry-wearing Nana continued to get up and put on something nice even as her strength was failing and her world became smaller. 

Nana taught me so much about life, but something I never realized until her passing was how incredible her style was. She wasn't influenced by trends. She knew how to dress in a way that matched her vivacious confidence and she stuck with it. She wasn't vain, but she enjoyed pretty things for what they're worth. 

ethical fashion

Nana's approach to fashion has partially served as my inspiration for Selflessly Styled and I never knew it until now. You see, while Nana wasn't involved in the ethical fashion community (sweatshops didn't even exist when she was my age), Nana proved that it's possible to live an entire life dressing well without getting hung up on fashion. She focused on the truly important things and happened to look consistently chic while she did it. 

That's what I hope we can all learn to do. 

Since we live in a world that has such a messed up fashion industry, shopping ethically has to be at the foundation of our apparel purchases, but let's not stop there! Let's push deeper into the fashion revolution and embrace style without letting it control us. 

There is something magical about a woman being free to dress confidently and then being confident enough to look past herself and extend her energy towards the needs of others. 

Moving forward, I'm going to be sharing more insights on developing a truly healthy relationship to clothing as I continue to blog about ethical fashion... thanks so my muse... Nana.


In loving memory of Mary Elizabeth Courson.