Sustainable Office Clothes for Women
Ah, office clothes. For some reason, the U.S. has decided that the key to looking “professional” is shrouding ourselves in polyester blends and calling it a day.
The kind of work clothes we associate with the corporate world were historically made with natural fibers. Think materials like cotton, silk, and fine wool.
But when I sat down to try to find some decent clothing for my “business casual” internship, there was hardly a natural fiber in sight. I was also trying to build a wardrobe on a very small budget, which made the task feel insurmountable.
This post is intended to provide options for sustainable office clothes for women that bridge the gap between sustainability and affordability.
While I am in agreement with most sustainable bloggers that truly sustainable goods must be biodegradable and small batch, I have also adopted a personal ethic that what I do in the world and what I buy in the world can balance each other out in terms of ethics. While I may not be able to buy a custom pair of pants right now, I can use what I can afford to do good work in the world.
With that in mind, the following options are natural-fiber based, sustainable, and/or ethical; made with high quality fabrics and finishings (that will hold up over time); and priced at under $150 a piece.
I understand that this will not be affordable for everyone. Indeed, it is not strictly affordable for me. This guide is meant to do the heavy lifting of finding the brands so that you can add to your wardrobe when necessary.
I suggest shopping secondhand as often as possible, and don’t feel bad about supplementing with the occasional non-ethical item when you need it.
This post contains affiliate links
17 Brands That Offer Sustainable Office Clothes for Women
1 | American Giant
American Giant produces their collection ethically in the US, with a priority on natural fibers when possible. Their No-BS pants are made with a custom-developed ponte fabric and fit tested on 65 women. See my review here.
2 | People Tree
Fair trade, organic cotton and linen separates with classic lines and wearable colorways.
Sizes UK 8-16
3 | Amour Vert
Soft, sustainable fibers and classic, feminine lines inspired by vintage clothing.
4 | Everlane
Everlane has drawn ire (my ire, in fact), but the fact remains that they offer a nice range of business casual attire, with an increasing amount of items made with recycled or organic fibers, and traceable (if not totally transparent) factories.
5 | Eileen Fisher
A classic for a reason, Eileen Fisher has been making organic, ethical clothes for working women for decades.
6 | Universal Standard
With an emphasis on size accessibility, Universal Standard has a social mission and nice selection of work basics, though not all items are made with sustainable fibers.
7 | Tradlands
With a focus on high quality, natural fiber button-up blouses, sweaters, and more, Tradlands offers traditional menswear tailoring with a modern, feminine twist.
9 | Symbology Clothing
Specializing in hand block-printed fabrics in soft, feminine shapes.
10 | Brass Clothing
Brass makes classic, easy-to-wear work clothes intended to work toward slow fashion’s goal of “fewer, better things.”
11 | Maven Women
Dedicated to women’s rights, restorative justice, and fair trade principles. Makes business-appropriate attire.
12 | Grammar NYC
Home of fashion-forward, crisp white shirts designed sustainably and ethically.
13 | Ode to Sunday
Minimalist and modern, work appropriate tops, pants, and dresses in linen and other natural fibers.
14 | VETTA Capsule
VETTA produces capsule collections made to mix and match seamlessly. Made in USA with sustainable materials.
15 | Nisolo
Minimalist, ethical leather shoes and accessories in classic, business-appropriate cuts.
16 | Ponto Footwear
Made with renewable and compostable materials, Ponto makes a supremely comfortable unisex oxford.
For more shoe suggestions, see my post here: Sustainable + Comfortable Shoes For Service Workers
17 | Sela Designs
Add some simple, lightweight jewelry to your outfit. Sela Designs’ donates all proceeds to charity.
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.
Wednesday 20th of May 2020
I find the Vetta capsule really appealing--I haven't ordered from them personally (using what I have is the ultimate minimalist platform for now. Sometimes, it's enough to just "shop" my closet and RETHINK what I own and how it can be paired in a more professional way. Good luck!
Wednesday 20th of May 2020
I can't believe I forgot about them! Yes, I really like their silhouettes and capsules. I started the job Monday and am realizing that I do have some things - like work appropriate dresses - I can make use out of, but I'm still struggling when it comes to appropriate shoes and pants. The good news is that once I have a critical mass of items, I can wear them for future internships and jobs.