Where to Find Sustainable Workwear
Ah, workwear. For some reason, America has decided that the key to looking “professional” is shrouding ourselves in polyester blends and calling it a day.
Obviously, workwear was historically – and high end items still are – made with 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 workwear 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, 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
Brands That Offer Sustainable Workwear
1. People Tree
Fair trade, organic cotton and linen separates with classic lines and wearable colorways. Sizes UK 8-16.
2. Amour Vert
Soft, sustainable fibers and classic, feminine lines inspired by vintage clothing. Sizes XS-XL.
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. Sizes XS-XL.
A classic for a reason, Eileen Fisher has been making organic, ethical clothes for working women for decades. Sizes XS-3X.
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. Sizes 00-40.
With a focus on high quality, natural fiber button-up blouses, sweaters, and more, Tradlands offers traditional menswear tailoring with a modern, feminine twist. Sizes XXS-3XL.
Streamlined and refined cotton basics made with Egyptian cotton with responsible sourcing and production.
Specializing in hand block-printed fabrics in soft, feminine shapes. Sizes XS-3X.
Brass makes classic, easy-to-wear work clothes intended to work toward slow fashion’s goal of “fewer, better things.” Sizes XXS-3X.
10. Maven Women
Dedicated to women’s rights, restorative justice, and fair trade principles. Makes business-appropriate attire. Sizes XS-XL.
11. Grammar NYC
Home of fashion-forward, crisp white shirts designed sustainably and ethically. Sizes 0-14.
12. Ode to Sunday
Minimalist and modern, work appropriate tops, pants, and dresses in linen and other natural fibers. Sizes XS-XL.
13. MATTER Prints
MATTER carries business-appropriate items like blazers, skirts, and jumpsuits in not-so-traditional prints. Woven cotton is soft and more flexible than traditional workwear. Flexible sizing.
Minimalist, ethical leather shoes and accessories in classic, business-appropriate cuts.
For more shoe suggestions, see my post here: Sustainable + Comfortable Shoes For Service Workers
15. Sela Designs
Add some simple, lightweight jewelry to your outfit. Sela Designs’ donates all proceeds to charity.