Ethical Fashion and the Burlap-Sack-Evaluation

Over the weekend, Matt and I attended the wedding of one of his good friends from college. It was an absolutely beautiful, classic and elegant wedding held at a venue overlooking the Hudson River.

I realized too late that it was also black-tie optional. Oops.

So, instead of going through Rent the Runway, my typical wedding attire solution, I went with the other ethical fashion solution – wear what I’ve got.

I wore the Terra jumpsuit from Amour Vert, which I had purchased a bit ago in the hopes of bringing it on some of my travels, but I didn’t receive it in time. It worked out well for the wedding, because it is made of sleek modal and has a classic silhouette. I accessorized with my Chanel wallet on a chain (okay, not ethical – I TOLD you guys I used to be a shopaholic! At least I use it a lot?) and Halston Heritage shoes (okay, okay, I KNOW. But wearing what you already have is ethical and responsible, too.)

At the wedding, we were exchanging the usual pleasantries with some of Matt’s friends, they asked me what I do, and so on. And of course Matt chimes in – “She also writes an ethical fashion blog!”

Once it’s out there, people have a lot of questions.

But before they have questions, they give you the up-and-down that says, “But you don’t look like you’re wearing a burlap sack.”


I fondly refer to this as the Burlap-Sack-Evaluation.

I think this also happens to me a lot because I live on the East Coast, but not in New York City, so ethical fashion hasn’t really caught on as much in my stomping grounds as it has in other places.

“Really? So like…what are you wearing right now?” They ask.

“Oh well, I’m wearing just some older things from my closet, and this jumpsuit from Amour Vert is made of modal, which is a semi-synthetic rayon made from wood cellulose, and it is relatively environmentally friendly, though some brands can’t trace the origins of their modal fibers very well, but yeah…” trailing off as I sip my “Blushing Bride.”

If the ethical fashion aesthetic means one thing to some of us in the community, it means something totally different to the outside world. When people learn I write about responsible fashion, it seems like they expect me to show up everywhere in shapeless garments and Birkenstocks. And there is nothing wrong with that look, which I actually really like. But ethical fashion has evolved so much, and most people don’t even realize it!

This is partially because it involves wearing what you already own (as we all know), but also because the designers in this field are doing amazing things to create stylish and interesting pieces.

And this is what inspires me to continue to be a “style blogger.” At times I feel like it is frivolous (like when I have to take photos of myself), but then I remember there are so many people out there who don’t yet recognize the importance and appeal of responsible fashion.

Once they find out the majority of my clothes are ethically made – and look good! – they become so interested in the topic, and ask a lot of really thoughtful questions – particularly about their misconception that most of our clothing is made by machines these days. (It isn’t – if you didn’t know! Our clothing is made by human hands.)

That Burlap-Sack-Evaluation always makes me proud to be a walking advocate for ethical style. I love to see the moment when people realize how cool it is to dress ethically.

Do you get any interesting reactions when you share your love of ethical fashion with people? Have you experienced the Burlap-Sack-Evaluation? 🙂





  1. I love this, and YES I totally understand the awkwardness of feeling like you need to explain yourself when people learn about your blog. For me, it’s more like “wait, you have a fashion blog? Then why aren’t you more…fashionable?” It’s a real “oh my god, Karen, you can’t just ask people why they’re not fashionable” feeling. I’m not the most stylish of style bloggers, but I always try really hard to get over my sheepishness and just own it. I kind of enjoy explaining to people that even us unfashionable people are allowed to write about our relationship with our wardrobes and that our opinions still matter even if we don’t fit the blogger aesthetic.

    • YESSSS. I mean, I think you’re fashionable, obviously, but I totally get that people often expect something more than minimal style when they hear the words “fashion blogger.” I feel like I should own my blog more and tell people about it (since usually I wait for someone else to bring it up) because it ultimately does end up being an interesting conversation. After all the awkwardness. 🙂

  2. Yes! It’s still so surprising that a lot of people haven’t heard of ethical fashion at all!
    I recently told a colleague I was hoping my made-to-order swimwear would arrive before a holiday and I was only buying ethically-made anything, so she helpfully suggested I buy a $5 one on sale from Myer.. Hmmm?
    Keep the conversation going! 🙂

    Sophie |

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