12 Garment Year // Month One: Mules!

While we are three months into the new year, I am at the very beginning of my year of ethical shopping. Today’s post is dedicated to reflecting on + recapping month one of my 12 Garment Year — where I set out to purchase only one (ethically and/or sustainably made) garment per month for a whole year. Let’s start with the emotional and behavioral responses to this project, and then I’ll dish on what I purchased for the month of March. 🙂

As someone who has long felt justified (sometimes flat out triumphant) in purchasing items that are on sale, it has been an adjustment to consider clothing items that are not only full price, but ethical full price (aka SPENDY). My fast fashion wired brain would quietly calculate how many on-sale items I could get for just one pricey ethical item. Is it worth it?

I can confidently say, only one month in, that yes, it is worth it. I had this mentality before that if things were on sale and barely made a dent in my wallet, they didn’t *really* count. (Silly, I know.) With this project, I’m forced to face my purchases head on. They count, all right. It’s a simple shift, but I’ve instantly begun to feel lighter and freer about my purchasing habits. No more surfing sales, pressured by retailers who have banners touting “2 more hours!” until the sale ends. Nobody needs that shit.

Instead, I read about the shop’s ethical policies, how they are creating sustainable processes. I’m interested in where their factories are, and I have an entire month to research and imagine how each item I buy will fit my style and my existing wardrobe. The process is sloooooowed down, like it should be. It’s too easy to get into a state of frantic online shopping — and as Drake says: “How you gonna click up after your mistakes?”

The question of “How do I know what I need?” has been repeatedly surfacing. After all, I’m allowing myself only twelve items this entire year. Cue twinges of anxiety as the seasons shift. How is it that I’m 30 years old, but every time the seasons shift, I feel like I don’t have the right clothes? RETAIL MESSAGING. It’s not that we don’t have the right clothes, it’s just that TRENDS make us feel like we must constantly morph to match the latest look. Part of what makes this project so scary and therefore SO GOOD is that it breaks this cycle wide open. Retail messaging be damned. I can’t be swayed by what I’m being told I want. I’m laser focused on what will best suit my lifestyle and my long-term aesthetic. To help me with this part, I’ve created a closet inventory worksheet, which I will share as its own blog post — stay tuned!

MONTH 1: Fortress of Inca Adra Mules

Okay, onto my first month’s purchase! After much deliberation, research and Instagram sleuthing, I decided on a pair of gorgeous slides from Fortress of Inca. I really admire Fortress of Inca’s beliefs and how transparent they are. This shopping experience was notably different as soon as I opened the box, which said:

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Whoa. So shopping can feel wholesome and good? Yeah, apparently. So contrary to the guilt/ick of fast fashion. At the risk of sounding overly emotional, reading the rest of Fortress of Inca’s packaging made me want to cry (mostly because, how sad that this isn’t the industry norm).

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These babies appealed to me because they are the perfect style to dress up or down (helpful for me since I am dressier at work), and they can be worn Spring through Fall — plus, you can’t beat the ease of a slip-on shoe. While the leather is really stiff at first, wearing them around the house for a few days pretty much does the trick in softening up the toe box (don’t I sound fancy).

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I wore these during a business trip to California a couple of weeks ago and they were marvelous. I basically STRESS-tested them on a full day of travel and work (with heavy backpack). Wanna hear something crazy? I even wore ’em with some cute polka dot socks (ya know, for the plane) and they still looked cute! I’m totally in love with how effortlessly chic these shoes are. Truth be told, I could probably spend this whole 12-month project buying one shoe per month. Great shoes make such a statement. 🙂

One thing’s for sure, my first ethical purchase has gotten things started on the right foot (heh). Now, if it would only stop raining in Seattle so I could wear these every damn day.

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Have you made any ethical purchases? I’d love to know your experiences!

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