More Sustainable Trend List, Fall 2023

As I prepare to turn 35, I’ve been looking back on the last 15 years of my personal style and breathing a sigh of relief. It really is true that you kind of settle into yourself as you age.

Leah stands in front of white siding wearing a navy sweater, midi skirt, and Birkenstock clogs - More Sustainable Trend List

Fitting In

When I turned 30, people said that I would start to have a better, more secure sense of who I was and what I wanted out of life. While that certainly happened vocationally – that’s around the time I started seminary – it didn’t immediately happen with my wardrobe.

I think my fashion development reverted a bit because I went to grad school with a whole bunch of people in their early 20s. They are thoughtful people and lovely friends. But, having just graduated from undergrad, they were still a lot more fixated on keeping up with trends than I was.

I felt like I got influenced a bit to stay relevant, even if that meant being a little impractical.

Add to that the natural weight gain of your early 30s, a pandemic, a cross-country move, and adjusting to a completely new career and you’ve got a recipe for personal style chaos.

Calling is Chaotic

Living into my vocation as a priest has upended all the protective layers and old patterns in my life.

I can’t do the work of ministry without being brutally honest with myself about my insecurities, repressions, needs, and health. It has taken a lot of work to break myself open, and the work will continue.

But that breaking open has also allowed me to embrace my whole self: my flaws, my silly and serious preferences, my passions, my misgivings, and my needs.

It has helped me love myself, even as it has exposed the things that are hard to love.

Personal Style Meets Trends

And, on the level of personal style (which, of course, is only a little thing), it has let me loosen up and be honest about what I like. And embrace what I like, even if it’s redundant or old-fashioned or unflattering in some sense.

When I put together these yearly fall style posts, I can see that my style is remarkably consistent. Especially when it comes to fall clothing. I like jewel tones, tend to stick to solid colors, prefer a classic shoe in earthy shades, and straddle the line between preppy/menswear and understated femme.

This year, the trends that resonate with my ongoing personal style are:

  • Preppy/Heritage
  • Ballet Core
  • 90s Minimalism

These styles are already abundant in my closet. The trick is to balance them so I don’t feel like I’m wearing a costume.

My more sustainable trend list for this fall is…

This post contains affiliate links and I may make a commission on purchases should you choose to shop through them, at no additional cost to you.

waist down product shot of dark wash jeans - More Sustainable Trend List

Dark Wash Balloon Jeans

Target’s Universal Thread Denim is a perfect fit for me nearly every time. Their balloon silhouette works on my curvy frame. They have that 90s mom jean look with a flattering taper near the ankle. These jeans are fair trade and OEKO-TEX 100 certified.

Shop the Balloon Jeans

man wearing a natural color irish fisherman sweater

“Rory Gilmore” Sweaters

It is very funny to me that everyone keeps referring to the classic Fisherman Sweater as the Rory Gilmore sweater. Yes, she wore it in an episode or two of the show, but she’s certainly not the reason it’s iconic. Anyways, I have a thrifted one, but they’re easy to find on Ebay! Look up Aran, Irish, Cableknit, or Fisherman keywords. Novica has nice ones, too.

Shop Sweaters on Ebay

overhead view of Bass Weejuns penny loafers in Wine - More Sustainable Trend List

Penny Loafers

Bass Weejuns are the classic penny loafer. They come in a lot of colors and are still made with sturdy leather, unlike so many of the plastic ones you can find from fast fashion retailers this season. The wine color will never go out of style. I got mine on Ebay.

Shop Bass Weejuns

Leah stands next to white siding wearing a navy cashmere sweater and leopard print maxi skirt with Birkenstock clogs

Long Skirts

My Sunday work outfit needs to have a very specific set of features. Not a lot of bulk because it’s worn under vestments. Coordinates with a clergy shirt. Has pockets. Fits the relative formality of church. A streamlined midi or maxi skirt works great. This style isn’t “ethical,” per se, but it’s EcoCult-approved for a low toxin supply chain.

Shop the Skirt

ballet style maryjanes from vivaia - More Sustainable Trend List

Square Toe Ballet Flats

I am a shoe person, so of course I’m going to share another pair. These square toe ballet-inspired Mary Janes are made with recycled plastic and plant-based materials. They come in 6 colors.

Shop Vivaia Flats

What are your picks this season?

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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  1. I really admire what you said about being brutally honest with yourself. As someone who also works full-time in ministry, I don’t always see this happening with leaders to the detriment of themselves, and their communities. It’s inspiring to hear of another person engaging in brutal honest internal work. Also, love your style. 🙂 I’m also someone who loves to creatively express myself through my clothes, and now that I’m 45, I’ve entered into another shift of reexamining what my style is, what to keep and what to move out of.

    1. I worked under a supervisor who was spiraling out under the pressure of everyone’s expectations. While it wasn’t a great work environment, it taught me very quickly that I can’t let that happen to me or I won’t survive the life of ministry! I am so grateful for this journey even though it’s so hard a lot of the time. Blessings to you and your ministry.

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