Ethical Elegance: a Definition

Sep 18


This picture, a view from my cot in Maine, embodies my definition of ethical elegance, which I first wrote about here. A shawl I knit, my 12-year-old jean jacket, my Breton shirt made in Brittany. The definition may shift, develop, grow as I delve into my newest style project. I can’t wait to see what I learn in the next few months.

Ethical Elegance means maintaining a minimalist wardrobe, avoiding excess and unnecessary consumerism.

Ethical Elegance means making my own clothes using as many sustainable, organic, or up-cycled materials as I can.

Ethical Elegance means purchasing from indie makers who use as many sustainable, organic, or up-cycled materials as possible.

Ethical Elegance means purchasing from manufacturers that support workers’ rights and decent working conditions.

Ethical Elegance means mending and wearing clothing out.

Ethical Elegance means turning to vintage and used clothing before buying new.

Ethical Elegance means not settling for frumpy clothing just because it is made ethically.

I’m going to return to the definition, refine it as I understand this project more. I’d love to hear what you think defines ethical elegance–won’t you share your ideas in the comments?


  1. Ethical Elegance means think simple. Consider whether an item meets your needs and makes you happy. If not, it could serve someone else’s needs better than yours.

  2. You have been a huge inspiration for me in re-thinking my closet this year. I’m just beginning to really embrace the ethical elegance Thing — and it’s having a profound influence on my thinking (and actions). I’ll enjoy following along as you develop your ethical elegance project.

  3. I think there’s a component of fit and classic style, too. You’re looking for pieces that look good, fit well and won’t go out of style in a season or two. (me, too!)

  4. Fit is a huge issue for me. Sometimes I make a purchase, only to have hang in the closet, unworn because there is something just a bit off in the fit. Developing a discriminating eye to avoid these mistakes would be part of the definition of Ethical Elegance for me.

  5. Also, spending some money on a bit of tailoring can make all the difference in the elegance part. Or do it yourself if you have the time and the skills. I prefer to think of it as supporting a local business woman.

  6. my definition pretty much fits yours! i am s-l-o-w-l-y working toward a 100% handmade wardrobe, and i do allow for indie makers and recycled/upcycled clothes too. i do need to take your approach toward weeding out the many items i no longer wear, but keep for various reasons. i want my closet to be more lean and mean like yours!

  7. This is inspiring. I may join you. My first round of Project 333 ends in seven days, and I while I liked it… I wanted to dive deeper somehow. I think it’s the ethical component I’m after.


  1. A year of living dangerously? | A Peony For My Thoughts - […] followed up by the lovely Beverley writing about expanding her Project 333 wardrobe into a year of Ethical Elegance,…
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