This is the first post in a five piece made in USA style series, featuring my beautiful friend Mary Beth. I am excited, but most of all honored that she wanted to be part of my blog. All you readers get to be excited too, seeing someone other than me strut their stuff!
Putting together the perfect outfit using only made in USA pieces is actually quite a challenge. It can be done, sure, but often one would include some well-chosen, foreign pieces as well, which is what we did for this series. For the very first and maybe my favorite made in USA outfit, we chose an orange blouse, skinny dark blue jeans, brown leather boots and sustainably-made accessories.
Let’s start with the blouse, tagged “Brenda’s” and made in USA. Mary Beth found this top at a small boutique called Willa in Rice Village, Houston, and paid about 40 dollars. (This shop happens to use reusable shopping bags too!) Fabric content: 100% polyester.
Now, you may think that polyester, a petroleum based product, would be an unusual choice to be featured in a sustainability blog of any kind. True, it’s not going to appear on any “top ten most eco-friendly fabrics lists” anytime soon, but sustainability has many faces.
Polyester is made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the same material that is used to make plastic drink bottles. The plastic bottles we offer for recycling are often reheated, turned into fibers, and eventually become the fabric we label polyester. This is an efficient, well established, quite simple recycling process, and for that reason, polyester will always be one of the materials you see most of in clothing lines featuring recycled fabrics, such as H&M’s Conscious Collection. Call it ‘the low hanging fruit of recycled garments’ if you will. It’s actually likely that the polyester clothing you own is made of partly recycled fibers, only not labeled as such.
Polyester is durable and easy to care for. Naturally, a blouse like this one, would be washed in cold water and hung to dry, eliminating the need to iron, and saving electricity by opting to not use the dryer. If Mary Beth manages to avoid a tear or a wine stain; this polyester top will last forever. That statement is true if it’s in her closet, and if it’s in landfill, so let’s go with the former. If a garment you love and already own, has the properties to last forever, a timeless design, never wears and requires little energy to maintain – am I crazy, or is that not sustainability defined?
With any polyester garment like this blouse, your chances of it being all made in USA, including raw materials, are great. We have the raw material needed (obviously) and we have the recycling abilities right here. With all the research being done on plant-based and biodegradable plastics, I am excited to see what the future holds for “green polyesters”. Maybe we’ll be putting our out-of-style poly blends in the compost some day soon – then we’ll have really eco-friendly fabric!
Continuing on, we’ve got a pair of made in USA Rag & Bone Skinny Jeans, retailing for about $198. This company is not committed to sourcing 100% in the US, but most of their denim pieces are made here of domestic fabric. The boots Mary Beth is wearing are great quality Clarks Artisans that she has had, and loved, for a few years. They’re made in Romania. The scarf we chose was a gift, it is fair-trade and made in Nepal. I love how it makes the outfit come together. (I admit, that’s something I say about all scarves, no matter the outfit. Scarves are magical accessories.)
Last but not least: handcrafted earrings, made right here in Friendswood, Texas. A friend of Mary Beth’s creates beauties such as these, as well as pendants, and sells them in her Etsy Shop – The Purple Toadstool. I cannot believe they‘re only 20 dollars! MaryBeth was actually wearing these the day I came over for our first run-thru and I was like “Those earrings are perfect, take them off, and let me look at them!” She did, and we added them to this outfit’s “polaroid”. Locally made, one of a kind, beautifully stitched and bought from a small, local vendor. I don’t like them, I love them.
For the first look, we managed to showcase durable garments that will last for years and years: polyester, denim and leather. All these materials have a large environmental foot-print, therefore using them for a long time is crucial. If not, we cannot call them sustainable. Three out of five pieces are made in USA, two of which were bought from small, local businesses.
Stay tuned for the next part of the made in USA style series, “Celebrating American Beauty”, coming next week, right here at (your favorite blog) made right (here) :)
Photographs by the wonderful Shutterluv by Ashley.