Fall 2020 Sustainable Style Inspiration

sustainable fashion fall 2020 style inspiration
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Maroon / Red / Taupe / Green / Monochrome / Polka Dot / Caramel Boots / Brown Boots / Quilty Jeans / Sneakers / Boots -> My Fall/Winter Pinterest Board

Fall 2020 Sustainable Style Inspiration

Every August, at the first hint of fall – in this case, a rainy 66 degree day on Sunday – I get a hankering to put together some fall style inspiration. But this year is different, because instead of sauntering down the halls of seminary or strutting down the sidewalk, I will (mostly) be sitting at a desk in a corner of my bedroom doing Zoom school.

In a way, that’s a good thing. While it’s not good for my social life, mental health, or holistic learning, it does mean that I have very few reasons to justify shopping for new goods. Normally a jeans person, I rarely get a hankering to put on denim when I’m not leaving the house. Normally a shoe collector, I’ve been wearing one pair of shoes at a time all summer, first a pair of All Birds for work and now a cheap pair of foam sandals.

Over the course of the pandemic, I have learned in a more acute way that I function best when my life adheres to a strict rhythm. Over the summer, that was my chaplaincy internship. In the fall, that will be virtual school.

Right now, it’s planning for school, even though there’s less to plan for than normal. So I wanted to make an inspiration board anyway, both as a way to see what I’m drawn to and to compare that to where I was last year. It reminds me that I am still a person who exists in time. I am not in limbo or on hold. My life is happening, now. Even though things continue to feel strange.

Last Year’s Inspiration

Last year’s post contained some remarkable similarities to this year’s post, including monochromatic looks, pops of red, and classic boots. It also had some off-kilter elements. This year, I’m focused more on the feeling of certain garments, like (secondhand) cashmere sweaters, warm boots, and comfy sneakers.

Wardrobe Elements

  • Colors: True Blue, Rose, Taupe, Mossy Green, White, Deep Brown
  • Textures: Cashmere, Cotton, Supple Leather, Stretch Denim
  • Accents: White Boots, “Dad” Sneakers, Bright Bag

What I Already Own

I already own most of what I “need” to make these looks happen. My sweaters are in good shape, a mixture of secondhand and ethical-ish purchases stored under-bed for the summer. I prioritize natural fabrics rather than acrylics. I have a handful of denim that still fits me, certainly enough to get by during a fall spent mostly in my apartment.

What I’m Buying

Buying maybe three things tops:

  • Already purchased some secondhand FILA sneakers that I think will be comfy to walk in and relatively warm
  • White boots, the elusive white boots
  • Insulated Brown Boots, because the boots I own offer very little warmth, and I anticipate way more socially distanced outdoor time this season

What I’m Donating

I recently donated 5 bags of accumulated clothing, shoes, and accessories, some of which I had originally planned to sell online before I realized how tedious it would be. I gained some weight over the last year – still working out how I feel about that – but I needed to get rid of a lot of ill-fitting things as a result. After my ankle injury and working on my feet all summer, I have no patience for uncomfortable shoes anymore. So those had to go, too.

Prioritizing Sustainability

Sustainability this season, for me, is mostly about buying secondhand. To be honest, I have become very disenchanted with “ethical” fashion. It started when Everlane fell from grace (this was a big blow for me) and continues with sustainability fundamentalism in the ethical fashion community.

While I think we all need to hold our ground when it comes to upholding baseline ethical criteria, it seems particularly harmful to tell people they’re not being ethical for not meeting 16 “ethical” bullet points on a list when people are jobless, without health insurance, fear for their health, and have no sense of what the future holds. I see this happen over and over again even on my limited Instagram feed, and it just makes me feel like the gulf between ethics and accessibility is ever-widening.

I know for myself that I simply have no interest in buying some random linen feed bag dress for $300 from a company that meets all of the ethical fashion community’s rubrics when I don’t even know what my next year is going to look like. Phew! Sorry, that got weirdly serious. But anyway, I plan to spend more time on Ebay these days.

What are your fashion influences and priorities this season?

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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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