I’ve now worn the same dress 24 days in a row. Seventy-six more days to go until I reach 100 days!
For day 21, I borrowed a dressing room to use the full-length mirror for a selfie. I had a haircut at the galleria (the pic is the before) and I stepped in and took a selfie. It surprised a curious but not unkind store clerk, who was intrigued to learn about the challenge.
The grey jumpsuit for Day 24 is not a bunchy look. I forgot to button the shirt first so it would lay flat and there was something in my pocket.
Why I’m Wearing Wool&
A few days ago, prompted by a reader, I decided to research more about the Wool& brand. I’m wearing their dress for the challenge, and in writing about it, I am spotlighting if not promoting it. (I am NOT paid by Wooland and not an affiliate or influencer of any kind.)
Going through the About section and navigation bar, I didn’t find much info on the website. I reached out by email and then social media, and a community manager directed me to some data and a company rep is following up with more.
Whatever I do find out, the brand is certainly doing a better job at sustainability than I am. I’ve become a realist. And I know I really like consuming fashion, and I can’t force myself into an ascetic life of fifteen somber, sensible, and trend-agnostic garments. I can fast, but not forever.
I know that the challenge is a promotion to drive sales. But that’s ok. This challenge has made me think more carefully about my consumption of fashion and other material goods and apply a make-do-and-mend mentality.
Can I Become an Incrementally Better Human?
I’m leaning into the idea of incrementality. Incrementally, I can make better choices. If I want to indulge in some of this season’s trends, how can I do the least harm?
I have bought some fall trends, but I’ve purchased them secondhand and in more classic colors (black, brown, grey, blue) instead of seasonal prints. I’ve also opted for sustainable options like closed-loop fabrics that are mostly biodegradable (i.e. organic cotton or linen) or infinitely recyclable.
Adhering to my rule of 14 has also been helpful. Anything I buy, I have to be able to wear it at least 14 times and it needs to go with other garments I own. It’s possible that 14 wears aren’t nearly enough, but it’s a start. It means I need to gravitate towards clothing items and fabrics that are more durable, classic, and versatile. My rule of 14 filters out a lot of lower-quality garments and single-purpose ones too. (I mean how many occasions are there to don a taffeta ball gown?)
There are no brands that I’m avoiding. There are a lot of blogs that call out the biggest sinners, dividing brands into good vs bad. It reminds me of labeling foods good or bad and how that thought approach has always been unhelpful and created cycles of overindulgence and guilt. A dietician once advised me that it’s all about balance and that there’s room in a healthy diet for anything and everything.
How to Style the Clara with Shein
I like that dietician’s blended approach, and by such logic, there’s room for Shein and Romwe in a sustainable closet. If you can and do wear the garment at least 14 times, it’s not a throwaway. I’ve purchased SHEIN clothes for my kids before (controversial) that were decent quality. Admittedly, we didn’t get in 14 wears but that’s because they outgrew them too quickly.
SHEIN does create a lot of fashion waste and encourages overconsumption. But honestly, a lot of “green” ethical brands do that too. The websites tell you to consume minimally and make it last, yet they send 10 to 20 emails a month telling you to buy more. The brand that emails me the most aggressively is a slow fashion brand that boasts its mission is not to create cute “future trash”. It doesn’t add up.
I’m not signaling out one “sustainable” brand in particular, because dozens of them do this. And heirloom quality brands for kids seem adept at using social media to create hype and add fuel to the frenzy. (Not to mention how these “ethical” brands all offer Klarna and Afterpay, services that do not encourage slow, thoughtful consumerism.)
My point is that a “green” brand is not a panacea for fast fashion and overconsumption. And we shouldn’t automatically vilify fast fashion and worship the cult of sustainability.
Ethical consumerism is hard. It’s hard for consumers constantly bombarded with imagery and text messages and buy sell trade. And it’s hard for brands who want to be responsible but need to stay in business and give consumers what they want.
Telling a fast fashion-addicted culture “Shame on you for wearing SHEIN” is not helpful. Especially when it’s generally more affluent consumers chiding low-income ones. Anyone can virtuously demonize Shein whilst drinking Chianti in a virgin wool sweater.
So I enjoy that other Wool& challenge participants wrangle with these issues too. They have different approaches (and foibles) when it comes to green living. And everyone has to find their own approach when it comes to sustainability in a way that’s sustainable to them.
The pics shared in the group are a great reflection of this. When I admire their pics and ask them where they got the accompanying skirt or belt, SHEIN is a common reply.