Part of me wants to fully embrace minimalism, to cull my wardrobe, paring it down to a handful of classic, iconic, eternally tasteful basics. To shed the clothes I never wear, to have some kind of sartorial closure, to seek purity. The hardest part of building a wardrobe, whether it is large and elaborate or small and simple, is to assemble the basics. These garments are the foundation of a wardrobe; they should be built-to-last investment pieces. The basics of a wardrobe should be comfortable. They should be thoughtfully purchased. They should be sustainable.
We have taken the guesswork out of acquiring the “basics” (bras, camis, nightgowns, socks, leggings). We found the best of the best basics from eco-conscious companies. Four out of these five companies are run by women.
Here is where to start on your quest for the basics:
The Brand: Nancy’s Gone Green. The mother-daughter team (Nancy and Mary) behind the brand operates out of Boston. All products are made from natural, organic, and recycled materials. They are manufactured almost exclusively in the United States (if producing outside the US, they adhere to Fair Labor Practices). They support local designers and list their names next to each creation. They have a helpful visual guide next to each item, denoting whether it is Fair Trade, Vegan, Organic, Sustainably-Produced, et cetera.
The Gear: This lace-trimmed bamboo chemise (vegan, organic, sustainably-produced), is pretty enough to be worn out of the house, and comfy enough to sleep in. The combination of delicate lace and sporty racerback is the perfect blend of traditional and new femininity.
The Brand: Helpsy. The goal of Helpsy, according to founder Rachel Kibbe, is to create positive social impact by using design-forward, cutting-edge fashion. Her site has a drop-down menu that allows shoppers to search for items by “Helpsy Qualities,” such as Profits to Philanthropy, Eco-Materials, Local-Material Sourcing, and Cruelty-Free, among many others.
The Gear: I love socks. I can’t sleep if my feet are cold, and I love to slide around on hardwood floors (Risky Business style). And now that fall is officially here, I am breaking out the boots. These are the perfect socks for boot-wearing, floor-sliding, and warm sleepy snuggles.
I also love the Riyka Carmen Leggings.
The Brand: Beklina, a family-owned company (a Northern California mom + two daughters) that bills itself as the first online eco-boutique. The brand features USA-made (or Fair Trade if outside the US) heirloom pieces.
The Gear: This nude slip, from John Patrick Organic, is made from “100% Cupro, a biodegradable and Okeo-Tex certified cotton fabric.” It is the perfect piece for keeping an outfit modest or work-appropriate, adding a layer for warmth, or avoiding the dreaded winter static that makes dresses adhere to tights.
I also love the Hansel Socks.
The Brand: Only Hearts. Only Hearts was founded by Helena Stuart, and all the items in the line are created in Manhattan’s Garment District. The company is also charity-partnered with some amazing organizations, like the New York City Food Bank, Modest Needs, Planned Parenthood, Maya’s Hope, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, and Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Helena works with Kaya, a former pastry chef, and the company has been thriving for 33 years.
The Gear: This blue gown is flattering enough to be worn during the day, and comfortable enough to sleep in at night. This organic cotton piece is available in six colors, but the lush blue, called “Satellite,” is my favorite. The dress was ethically made in Peru.
The Brand: Pact. The founder at Pact believes that “change starts with your underwear.” Jeff Denby started Pact after spending years in the international manufacturing business (leaving when he began to question the ethics of the industry’s environmental policies and working conditions). Pact has both a transparent manufacturing process, creates underwear for both sexes, and has a sense of humor about the products—see above!
The Gear: I love a good ombré and these tights are a subtle nod to the trend. Bonus: They are currently on sale for $12! Also available in Dove Gray.
I also love their socks, made with 100% wind power!
The best way to build your wardrobe is with intent and mindfulness, with a sense of longevity and purpose. These basics are built to last, by woman-run companies, using Earth-friendly materials. What better way to begin again?
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