Business Casual Battlewear
October 30, 2020 9:22 AM   Subscribe

I will be returning to the office soon (boo), and it comes to my attention that my wardrobe is now entirely made up of holey leggings and amateur wrestling tees, which probably doesn't fit my supervisor's definition of "business casual." I'm also in the middle of a years-long conscious consumerism kick, which has made me interested in clothes that are 1) Going to last a long time and 2) Are made sustainably/by small businesses/support communities. Snowflakes inside!

Of course now that I've done a few searches for "sustainable" and "clothes," every other instagram ad is ready to sell me socks that donate money to charity and carbon-neutral backpacks etc, and I really need some help wading through the chaff. Would love recommendations, personal experiences, etc.

Me: 30 something cis-presenting female, on the cusp of plus sized (between 14-16 depending on brand), bike commuter (though open to changing at work - clothes don't have to be 100% bike friendly). In the beforetimes I have almost exclusively shopped at in-person thrift stores for clothing, both because I'm picky about fit/pattern and also because I tend to be destructive on clothes and didn't want to pay a lot for something that was going to be destroyed. It occurs to me now that maybe buying better quality in the first place will help this issue, so I'm willing to throw some money at the problem. I also tend towards a more DIY/punk aesthetic in general (I was very proud of myself a few years ago when I described my style as "Gamine Snake Plissken"), which means floaty cotton wrap dresses DO NOT CUT IT. I like cigarette pants, boatnecks, silk scarves, leather jackets and showing off my guns (the arm kind). Not against dresses, but they need to be dresses that work with boots. Also, when I say that my wardrobe is now very limited, I mean it. I need shoes, sweaters, bras, socks, workout clothes, pants - EVERY item of clothing imaginable. Open both to manufacturers and secondhand markets.

What I've Tried:
eShakti - Got a gift card here a few years ago and ordered a few dresses. Overall experience was extremely underwhelming. I paid the extra amount for a tailored cut, but either my measurements were off or their tailoring leaves a lot more space than I prefer.
Poshmark - I've done some shopping here to try and substitute the thrift experience, but don't feel like every seller is good at posting measurements and don't feel like I can return things that don't fit.
Pact - I've been happy with the all-cotton underwear, but the few tanks I bought are already getting holes after 3 months (overenthusiastic cat has helped)
Modcloth - Not sustainable? Feel weird spending money on designs I am overwhelmingly MEH about.

I do not shop on Amazon, and try to stay away from their affiliates but I'll make exceptions for small sellers that are otherwise exceptional because I get it, it's hard to escape the octopus.
posted by theweasel to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
H&M's upscale brand COS ticks a lot of your boxes. I haven't been shopping since March, so it's a bit vague now, but I feel they were bending towards improved sustainability before that.
I have clothes from them that is from right when they opened more than ten years ago, and still in perfect shape after many, many washes. Actually I just wore the very first item I bought there today, that's how I thought to post this.

I don't know how the site opens where you are, but here it looks very classic, not at all punky. But in my experience, they have a lot of quite interesting pieces in there when you start searching.
posted by mumimor at 10:04 AM on October 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Have you tried ThredUp? I'm honestly not sure about their business practices, but it's another good online "thrifting" experience (unlike Poshmark, they manage everything centrally, including measurements and returns.)
posted by mosst at 10:12 AM on October 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Have you considered Universal Standard? A lot of my work wardrobe comes from them. Their jeans are phenomenal, and their pants fit well too. They also make nice sweaters and work tops. Their clothes are on the expensive side, but they are well made and last, in my experience.
posted by Lycaste at 10:40 AM on October 30, 2020 [5 favorites]

I had a lot of luck buying a used office wear wardrobe on Offer Up/FB marketplace. The lot was so cheap, I just donated what I didn’t like, but buying used seems very sustainable and cheap to me!
posted by katypickle at 11:13 AM on October 30, 2020

Socks: Bombas and Darn Tough both come with true lifetime guarantees against even routine wear-and-tear that I've personally availed myself of. Darn Toughs are definitely the tougher, even in thin styles. Bombas however absolutely delivers on their buy one/donate one model: I've received literally thousands of their socks on behalf of a charity serving people experiencing homelessness.
posted by teremala at 11:46 AM on October 30, 2020 [4 favorites]

Some of the items made by Fat Hat Clothing might suit you. At least there are some very comfortable and long wearing basics that you can mix with other stuff. It's women-owned and the clothes are made in the USA. I've met the owner and other family members and they are good people.
posted by 6thsense at 11:46 AM on October 30, 2020

Best answer: I have built a solid wardrobe between MM La Fleur and The Real Real. The basics from MM are really high quality in my experience so far, and fit a sort of structured, simple art-director aesthetic. I really like the “bento” approach so you can try things on. The Real Real is fantastic for very high end sweaters, blazers, jackets to enhance the basics, with beautiful creative tailoring.
posted by chuke at 12:47 PM on October 30, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Agreeing with Universal Standard, I am slowly replacing my former work clothes with some of their pieces and I love them. Also Wildfang may be up your alley for at least some of the pieces you want like pants, they are an awesome company and the clothes are well made, too. You could also look at Altar, Copper Union, Union Rose, and Amelia. All of those are small local to Portland, Oregon, makers, and again, the quality of the clothes is great. I don't know that any of these lines is exactly your whole aesthetic, but I did look through their offerings before posting and I think that all of them have some pieces that you might really love, especially Altar and Copper Union. Good luck, I had fun answering your question. :)
posted by fairlynearlyready at 1:24 PM on October 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

I would look at ll bean or lands end (or some boatneck sweaters). While overall they don’t fit your style, they offer long lasting clothes and pay people real wages. Their clothes tends to be cut more generously than others (and I usually shop at old navy (size 14) which is already on the more generous end of sizing). This helps with shopping “straight” sizes
posted by raccoon409 at 1:44 PM on October 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Effie's Heart might be up your alley.

Good information about buying ethical underwear/lingerie here, with many links.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:17 PM on October 30, 2020

If you go for ThredUp, you can check out Savage Love for a promo code.
posted by kate4914 at 3:04 PM on October 30, 2020

3rding Universal Standard. The extra expense is worth it - exceptional quality, great fit.
posted by Miko at 6:58 PM on October 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Re: M.M.LaFleur -- check out the company's Polygiene®-treated clothing given your bike commute & interest in sustainability.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:05 PM on October 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have really positive things to say about Frank and Oak, a Canadian company that's doing a lot with sustainable practices. I use their Style Plan to get clothes delivered; everything has been really high quality and some of my fave pieces of my new wardrobe come from them. You might like their tanks tops for warm weather (definitely guns out!) and their commuter dress for biking.

Everlane is one of the well-known sustainable and ethical new clothing brands, often compared to Universal Standard. They lean fairly femme but there are items that seem to fit your aesthetic.
posted by librarylis at 7:16 PM on October 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Nthing Universal Standard
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:44 AM on October 31, 2020

« Older How can I hire a researcher (librarian?) for a...   |   Online free recipe sharing Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments