Journey in Minimalism: Brand Breakdown
I have been wanting to share where I love to shop on this journey to minimalism. I've rated these brands on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the best. These ratings are solely based on my own experiences and opinions.
Alabama Chanin: 1
Having a few specialty "splurge" pieces is great when you can find contemporary classics! Alabama Chanin clothing is hand-sewn and uniquely designed (she's famous for her reverse applique). I love Natalie's work because it's very individualistic yet provides you with simple silhouettes and comfy fabrics. Her pieces are easy to wear but still make a statement. Currently budgeting for an a-line dress, tunic, sweater and top, which I think will make a solid foundation for the rest of my wardrobe.
This is a company I can confidently and wholeheartedly stand behind. Tradlands is one of my favorite domestic (and ethical) brands out there, because their quality lives up to their philosophy, one hundred and ten percent. This is extremely rare to find. Not only that, but they make clothes normal people can actually wear on a daily basis. I love having a few tailored, collared tops in my wardrobe at all times. No awkwardly oversized dolman shirts or pajama pants here--Tradlands is all about making classic menswear for women. As they say, "Designed for her, inspired by him."
Right now, their main focus is oxford shirts, though they've done henleys before and are now offering shirtdresses, short sleeve shirts, and tote bags. I'm loving the new variety and can't wait to see where Sadie (the founder) takes things next. Tradlands is definitely what you'd call pricey, but I can confirm their shirts are well worth the investment. You can literally feel the quality, in the material, the construction-- oh, and those buttons. I can't get over the sturdy buttons. The shirts hold their shape well, no frayed and wonky seams or worn out elbows, even after frequent washes! I only own one shirt so far (these are pieces you have to save up for) but it's the best shirt I own. Highly recommend.
Alternative Apparel: 1
I've always been a fan of Alternative, and am so happy they've been delving into the work-appropriate attire arena more and more lately. The older I get, the less trendy I find my style, so their easy to wear designs are right up my alley. The quality is great, the materials are safely sourced, and the styles are comfy and classic. The prices are also reasonable, which is a big plus in my book! They're my go-to for stylish t-shirts, which works for my daily uniform rotation of t-shirt, cardigan, jeans and clogs.
Everlane used to be my number one go-to, but over the past two years, their designs have inched more towards the overly trendy 90's look of the moment, instead of the classic workwear they originally began with (think lots of tailored, dressy oxfords). Now, they frequently design pieces with dolman sleeves, high-low hems, cropped hems, and super boxy fits, in both shirts and pants. Everything looks modular and somehow sloppy to me, and I just can't get on board with that.
However, I do still have a few of their more original pieces: one dressy silk oxford blouse, navy poplin button tank, a denim shirtdress, and a v-neck brown cashmere sweater (I don't recommend their t-shirts however; they are thin and don't hold up well in the wash). I feel like these are items I can wear on a daily basis without feeling like I have a costume on--and no drop shoulders, oversized boxy fits, or weird hems in sight!
I'm holding out hope that they'll transition back to their roots eventually, but I still rank them high on my list because of their awesome ethics, transparency, and price point.
Although there is definite markup in this brand, their clothing is beautiful, effortless, and of high quality. From what I can tell, their ethics are fairly sound. I'm still investigating though, so be sure to do your own research, too. They claim to work with good factories and this may be part of the reason their clothing is pretty expensive; Poetry is all about long term pieces.
I love their silhouettes, natural fabrics and dye colors. Although not every item is practical for my wardrobe style, it's fun to just browse. I like to source a lot of my dressier basics from Poetry, or special blouses. Their designs are airy, feminine and simple: I like to call it "garden ballet."
Wear Pact: 1
My only qualm with the brand is that they don't offer more clothing! Having started as an undergarment & loungewear brand, Pact mostly sells leggings and t-shirts. But the quality and beauty of these simple pieces is impeccable. I have never felt softer cotton in my life. Their leggings are as smooth as silk, the t-shirts are sturdy and the fabric isn't thin and cheap to the touch. I also have a pocket dress from Pact that is easy to wear for work or just as a nice summer dress. Again, the softest thing. I love that they not only use organic, natural materials, but they are also fair-trade and employ workers for good wages.
This is a brand you cannot go wrong with. Seriously.
Thred Up: 2
Sometimes, a girl just wants a fun top--but if it doesn't fit into my typical uniform, I'll look to ThredUp for options. Shopping thrift, vintage or secondhand is a wonderful idea for a minimalist, eco-friendly wardrobe. You can still enjoy a few trendy items this way without a) breaking your budget, or b) contributing to additional production waste, or c) supporting sweatshops. It's a win-win! I still try to shop responsibly and only buy items I think I'll wear for many seasons, but it takes some of the 'perfectionist' pressure off when you can get great deals and feel good getting them through thrifting. I'm more likely to take a risk on a specialty clothing item this way.
This is a brand that has long been acknowledged as a leader in sustainable textile manufacturing. Their clothing is mostly outdoor/sport attire, but sometimes you can find a few everyday pieces. If you need activewear, coats, or outdoor gear in general, Patagonia is the place to go. Some of their items are pricey, but for god reason--their ethics are well represented.
When I do shop in "normal" stores (which is rare these days and I'm trying to completely eliminate it), I gravitate towards styles from J. Jill, Anthropologie, and J.Crew. It's difficult to try to ignore the temptation to buy something when I go shopping with friends at places like T.J. Maxx and Target, but I have to exercise self control for my own good. It doesn't make me feel great when I purchase from these stores, and it doesn't make the environment or workers feel good, either.
So there you have it--a few of my favorite personal style brands. I'll keep updating this over time to include things like accessories, bags, sportswear, and more. What are some of your favorite minimalist/quality/ethical brands? Please share!