Fair Fashion

How I Wear Eco Fashion is Back! Starre Vartan Mixes Vintage with B&W Freshies


One of the most popular series we’ve ever published on Eco Chick has been “How I Wear Eco Fashion,” which showcased all sorts of amazing women, from famous, to up-and-coming, to ‘sanely not seeking fame.’ All of them wore some combination of vintage, new ethical fashion, DIY, homemade, recycled, upcycled, stolen from a family member (kidding!) or otherwise planet- or people-friendly clothing. And now it’s back!

Before I get started, let me add that How I Wear Eco Fashion” (henceforth HIWEF) is now open to anyone who would like to participate. Just send along at least 3 images (or up to 15) of your fave eco outfit, a bit of a description of what you are wearing and where it came from, as well as where you like to wear that particular combination – or where you have already. You can email them to me at starre (at) eco (dash) chick (dot) com. I will publish as many as I can. Bring it!!


As I never got a chance to participate in HIWEF, this is my first entry, which is a story-full outfit (as, I believe, every ensemble should be). I took the pictures myself in my backyard in Connecticut, and I am excellently accompanied by my beautiful cat, Penelope, aka Her Greyness.

Penelope loves to play with my long necklace here, which I made from my grandmother’s old mini looking glass (I found it in her jewelry box) and simply strung on a random chain I already had.

So, you may notice my oh-so-fabulously-embroidered skirt first (as well you should). It was my grandmother’s, and if Doris Ross was good at many things, fashion was just one of them. But not just any fashion; my fiery grandma especially loved travelling and clothing from places far away from NYC where she was born-and-raised (whereas her mother—my great-grandmother—was more of a typical fashion plate, my grandma liked loose, comfortable, interesting and atypical clothing that showed of her figure. Which of course annoyed her own mother to no end and was, I’m sure, the point, until my grandma had been doing it for so long that it just became part of her style).

Collecting the waning garden goodies in my skirt, which is full enough and long enough for just such a purpose. My rings, one of which is by one of my fave brands, DLC Brooklyn (formerly Dirty Librarian Chains, and made from found vintage chains), is paired with a giant green and gold amber ring I found in Savannah seven years ago; it was created by a student from the Savannah College of Art & Design and was a total steal!

The skirt is made of a woven, thick material and is likely from the late 1960’s when Doris began her much-beloved round-the-word flying on Pan Am, which offered some crazy ticket deal to anyone with the time and predilection to planet-hop. Having piloted small planes for over 20 years at that point, my grandma was totally into it (this wonderful Pan Am ticketing scheme also helped her visit me often as a baby in Australia).


Luckily, since my grandma was the exact same size as me (from height to bra to shoes—it’s kinda crazy that I seem to have inherited her body whole!), the skirt fits like it was made for me; and since it was made for her, it kinda is. It doesn’t have tags, and I’m pretty sure she chose the fabric and had it made to her body since it’s an absolute perfect-perfect fit, from waist to length. It is a skirt that suits my body, my style and is made from a tough enough material that I can wear it regularly and for years to come without being afraid of it breaking down.


So, the million-dollar question (OK, maybe more like hundred-dollar!): WHERE is this skirt from? I can’t remember what my grandma told me! I’m wondering if it might be Indian or Pakistani, since I know she spent time in India and the Middle East in the 60’s (her pictures are unbelievable—literally of places that no longer exist!). If any of you have any thoughts, please let me know what you think; I’m not a textiles expert, though I do adore them, especially vintage versions.


The shoes are the super-sustainable Melissa’s by Vivienne Westwood, which I bought at Kaight about 3 1/2 years ago. They are still in terrific shape, and are a classic pair I wear often throughout all seasons. Here, they’re with a skirt and bare legs, but as soon as it cools off, I pair them with tights (as does Katie Holmes, if you’re into that sort of thing).

Melissa Shoes are made in Brazil in a closed-loop factory, so even though they are plastic (normally a no-no in my world)—which also makes them waterproof (great for rainy-dirty NYC streets!)—none of the nasty pollution that normally accompanies plastic production makes its way into the environment. Not to mention that these shoes last a terrifically long time, which I always consider to be a very sustainable thing.


Last, but not least, the blouse isn’t supereco; though it’s made from silk, which is a sustainable, biodegradable material, which I always hand-wash and air-dry (never dry-clean!), so the use phase of the garment is low impact. I love the big flaps on the front of the top, which means I can get away with wearing it sans bra and you can’t see anything untoward through the fabric, since it’s black.


Hopefully, this post inspires you to send some of your own pics my way – as you can see, my look is a combo of vintage, sustainable, off-the-rack and more vintage.


Starre’s Makeup:

Origins Brighter by Nature Powder in Light-Warm
Lavera Volume Mascara in Black
Zuzu Liquid Eyeliner in Black
Vapour Organic Beauty Multi Use Blush in Impulse (on lips)
Revolution Organics Freedom Glow Beauty Balm in Sunkissed (on cheeks)

Read more about Eco Chick contributors’ favorite makeup must-haves here.


Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.