Inside an Ethical Wardrobe: Summer 2018

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My summer wardrobe is, admittedly, about double the size it needs to be, at about 50 pieces not counting shoes. But that’s because I can’t bear to part with the vintage dresses, the cropped blouses, and the swingy beach cover ups. I may never wear them, but give me the right occasion and they’ll suddenly become the most practical things I own.

I’ve made my peace with this. I am not a minimalist. Clothing holds nostalgic, romantic, and aesthetic value for me beyond its practicality. I hold onto things gleaned from the thrift shop after a volunteer has died. I keep graphic tees because I like reading the graphics. I store away shoes I wore when I first met Daniel. This, for me, is not materialism. This is a material culture that references shared humanity and reminds me of love and loss. Things are a beautiful part of life.

Maybe I should write a whole essay on this? For now, I’ll just share with you the things I’ve worn over and over (and over) again in the high heat of summer. I still have and wear a lot of the pieces I featured last summer, but some of them, due to poor fit and my fluctuating weight, were donated.

This is what I’m living in this summer…

Old J Crew Tissue Tee, OESH Shoes | Thrifted Tank Top, Tonle Cropped Pants, Deux Main Sandals | Hackwith Design Jacket, Thrifted Kick Flares, Nisolo Huaraches

Everlane V-necks and Crew Necks

I bought my first Everlane tee in 2014 and only just last month did I retire it to my pajama drawer. They last and last, and the fit is perfect for me (though I often size up in the crew neck for a looser fit through the body).


Everlane Linen Tee

The drapiness of lightweight linen is super flattering, and I love the muted green/taupe color.


Old J Crew Tissue Tees

Light, breathable tees that flatter even though they have a high crew neck cut.


Everlane Striped Tee, Thrifted Wide Leg Crops & Silver Sandals | Thrifted Tank, Everlane Pants; Deux Mains Sandals | Everlane Tee, Thrifted Denim | MATTER Prints Top, Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants, Secondhand TEVAs

Elizabeth Suzann Linen Clyde Pants

The surprise winner of my closet. The perfect weight for summer and the big pockets are helpful at work.


Everlane Easy Chino

Admittedly, I bought these because I had some store credit to burn through, but the weight and style is perfect for very hot weather. These and the Clydes are the only pants I’m willing to wear in full sun.


Thrifted Wide Leg Cropped Jeans

Groovy Ralph Laurens circa 2003 or so.


Thrifted & Cropped Kick Flare Jeans

Never underestimate the power of scissors. They turned a pair of awkwardly short jeans into cool high waters.


Abrazo Style Dress | Vintage Dress from Low Vintage (local) | Everlane Linen Tee, Vintage Skirt, TEVAs

Thrifted ’90s Dresses

I can’t resist those perfect ’90s floral prints, the soft rayon and cotton fabrics, or the v-cut waist seams.


Abrazo Style Dress

I’ve had this dress for two years and the lightweight chambray and beautiful, three dimensional hand embroidery keeps me coming back.

Secondhand Gingham Sundress (not shown)

An impulse buy after my photoshoot with Darling Boutique, the cost per wear on this dress I paid 20-something for is well into single digits.


Thrifted Birkenstocks | Deux Mains Sandals | Thrifted TEVA Flatforms | Thrifted TEVA Premier Sandals

Thrifted Birkenstocks

These came into the shop where I work and had barely been worn. I LOVE them because they have the soft footbed and I wear them 3+ times a week.


Secondhand TEVA Universal Premier Sandals

So comfy and perfect, these compete with the Birkenstocks for most wears.


Secondhand TEVA Flatform Sandals

LOVE these. I’ve been pinning pictures of TEVA flatforms for at least a year and have wanted a pair of flatforms for almost a decade. I finally found my perfect pair, secondhand of course.


Thrifted Silver Sandals

Another thrift shop find, these are by Mephisto and are quite supportive, not to mention shiny.


Deux Mains Slide Sandals

I bought these last summer and still wear them all the time, especially when I’m hanging out in the backyard in the evening.


Wardrobe Thoughts

This has been a really easy season for me, getting-dressed wise. Daria’s Wonder Wardrobe course helped me push past some of my fears around cohesive wardrobe building/capsuling and make smarter choices. That freed me up to finally buy things I’ve wanted for years and years but thought would be “impractical,” like the TEVA flatforms I’ve worn almost every day since I got them a couple weeks ago.

I’ve also decided to do a little less hand-wringing over making the perfect choice, because there are no perfect choices. I’m trying to stay true to my values and my personal style with a strong emphasis on lightening the mental load. Surprisingly, this has probably made me a more sustainable shopper because I’m making fewer purchases overall and often choosing secondhand.


As you can see, a significant portion of my everyday wardrobe was thrifted or purchased secondhand from a consignment shop or online retailer. If you want to hear my reasons for that, check out this post.

Never underestimate the power of secondhand shopping. If you’re not near a good thrift or consignment shop, I recommend these online retailers:

Enter specific search terms to find exactly what you’re looking for.

See other Inside an Ethical Wardrobe posts here

Leah Wise

Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.

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