Style, Naturally: Summer Rayne Oakes' Guide to Green Fashion and Beauty for Every Woman (Not Just Greenies!)

Summer Rayne Oakes (in Stella McCartney) at the launch of Style, Naturally

Summer Rayne Oakes’ own life is a study in how to make ethical choices work in the real world. She’s a model (for ecofriendly fashion labels), environmental activist, and resident expert on Discovery Channel’s Planet Green– jobs which challenge both body and mind, so she knows what busy women want (to look great while doing no harm). She delivers the goods in her first book, Style, Naturally.

Jill Danyelle, a featured ‘girl on the street’ in the book (in one of her own upcycled creations), Jill Fehrenbacher, editor of green design blog Inhabitat (with baby Petey in tow) and Bahar Shahpar, ecofashion designer (in one of her own designs), at the Style, Naturally launch party

The totally friendly (open it anywhere and start reading!) and colorful book is packed to its chubby gills (it clocks in at over 500 pages) with photos and descriptions of ecofriendly and sustainable party dresses, pants, purses and every thing else one would want to wear (so you can see exactly how un-hemp-sack-like these togs really are), and includes “where to find it” info, magazine-style so you don’t have to be an expert google searcher to track down a designer you love. Jewelry, shoes and accessories each have their own sections and a story behind why to choose ethical versions like those included.

Starre Vartan (in vintage) author of The Eco Chick Guide to Life, and Summer Rayne Oakes at the Style, Naturally book party.

Beauty products, from shampoos to sunscreen to makeup take up the second half of the book, and Summer said she tried hundreds of products before deciding what would make the cut. “I looked at overall brand practices and specific product ingredients and I only highlighted the ones that I really liked,” she says. There is also tons of information on labels, certifications, events, stores and sites for further exploration.

Michael Schwarz, writer and animal advocate, and Dan Shapely, editor at The Daily Green.

Besides being a veritable compendium of great clothes from designers known and loved (and worn!) by ecofashionistas (like Bahar Shahpar, Doie, Lara Miller, Loomstate and Alabama Chanin) there are profiles of “girls on the street” which details how savvy ladies incorporate planet-respecting choices into their wardrobes. This was my favorite part of the book, as I go for vintage, and prefer old-fashioned silhouettes and funky prints in silks, bamboos and organic wools. But it’s so fun to see how other girls work the green in, from organic- and fair-trade cotton dance-wear for conscious urban chicks to more classic cuts in super-modern (but still sustainable) silhouettes.


Sara Brancato of The Four Hundred Ecofashion showroom (right) and friend Ashley Watson (left).

All this variety is the point. As anyone who knows a thing about style can tell you, fashion is not about following trends, it’s about creating your own personal look. That’s what was on Summer ‘s mind when she dreamed up Style, Naturally: “I wrote this for any woman who cares about what she wears and how that connects to the larger world. It’s not necessarily a green guide, it’s a style guide.”

And the book itself? As green as can be. “It’s on recycled paper, [printed with] vegetable-based ink and it is 1% for the Planet to Energy Action, which is a group near and dear to me,” says Summer.

And for anyone who decries thinking about fashion and beauty in the current economic climate, Summer says the truth is that dedicating time and energy to define your own look- and doing it responsibly- will end up saving you money. “Take a look at your closet, and figure out how to make what you already have look new. Be considerate about what you buy and make the more responsible purchase.” Thinking about what we buy, assessing its impact and making long-term choices that have a smaller footprint (and actually work for our own bodies and lifestyles) will go further to mitigate the clothing and beauty industries’ wasteful ways than business as (cheaper) than usual.

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.