clothes rail

Your Ethical Style: Elizabeth Stilwell

ethical outfit

Elizabeth’s wearing: Silk top by Suzanne Rae / Skirt and coat secondhand from eBay / Watch by JORD and is made from wood furniture remnants / Shoes are men’s dress shoes found secondhand on Yerdle.

I’m really pleased to have Elizabeth Stilwell from ethical lifestyle blog, The Note Passer, on the blog today sharing her ethical style tips and inspirations.  New York City based Elizabeth shares a whole manner of advice for living more ethically and sustainably on her beautifully designed site.  If you haven’t visited her site before then you are most definitely in for a treat!

If you think you might recognise the name, then Elizabeth was the designer behind this really useful ethical shopping infographic that was featured here on Moral Fibres, and is also all over Pinterest!

Hi Elizabeth, can you share with us three facts about you?
1.  I’ve had glasses since the 4th grade.
2.  I taught English in China for five years.
3.  My husband and I live in a 350 square foot apartment in Manhattan.

Where are your favourite places to shop for ethical clothing?
I try to buy secondhand as much as possible.  I’ve sent in a lot of clothes to Twice for credit and use it to get new (to me) items.  I’ve also bought things from eBay and Etsy.  I shop my local secondhand stores and always go to thrift shops when I travel.

If I can’t find something used, I like to shop sites that do all of the ethical vetting for me.  Some of my favorites are Zady, Shop Ethica, and  I keep a running list here for whenever I need to shop for something.

What’s the last ethical item that you bought?
I just got a gorgeous bralette from Uye Surana.  It’s made of high-quality materials and was designed and crafted here in NYC.

ethical underwear

Is there anything secondhand or ethical that you are lusting over at the moment?
I’d love to have this organic cotton flannel robe from Coyuchi.

Do you have a top tip for shopping ethically?
Try to slow down your process.  Many retailers and brands manipulate us into thinking we’ll miss out on something if we don’t take advantage of a sale or trend.  By establishing a style that works for you (regardless of trends) and asking some questions before you buy, you can slow down that compulsion and avoid impulse buys.  I think through this series of questions and then do a lot of hunting before I actually buy something.

Is there anything you find difficult about shopping ethically?
There’s still a lot of time and effort that goes into shopping ethically.  Even if a brand is considered “ethical” I still sometimes have to ask questions like, “Do you know where your merino wool comes from and do the farmers practice mulesing?”.   I deal with this kind of thing all of the time, but it’s not a question the average consumer would even know to ask.  One of the purposes of my site is so I can pass this information on and help my readers make more informed decisions. It would be amazing if it didn’t take so much time and energy, but right now it does.

vintage shoes

Where do you get your style inspiration from?
That’s a good question.  I don’t really follow style blogs or read fashion magazines.  I think living in New York is inspiration enough; I notice a lot of styles when I’m out and mentally file them away to try myself.  For the most part though, I dress for comfort and practicality.  I recently “minimalised” my wardrobe with the help of my fashionable friend, Christina, and I’ve never felt more at ease in my clothes than I do now.  Everything I own now has a good shape and quality, neutral colors, and all goes together.  It’s a breeze to get dressed!

What is your best secondhand or ethical find ever?
A few summers ago, I was thrifting in Florida and found a pair of Liz Claiborne black velvet trousers. I didn’t realise it at the time, but they were such a great find!  I wear them so much in the winter because they are warm and look luxe while being incredibly comfortable.  I just adore the serendipity of thrifting!

What would be your ultimate thrifted find?
Like many people, I would love to find the perfect vintage leather jacket.  Still looking…


Could you tell us your top three style tricks/DIYs?
1.  Take good care of your clothes and hand wash delicate items so that they last a long time.
2.  Look for timeless shapes with interesting details to keep from looking too trendy and subsequently dated when the trend is over.
3.  If you are looking for a particular piece to add to your wardrobe, look for it secondhand first.  You can usually get better quality at a lower cost than anything you would get at a fast fashion chain.  With sites like Tradesy, Bib + Tuck, and TheRealReal, you can even get trendier stuff at a fraction of the cost and without it’s ethical burden (since it’s secondhand).

Thanks for taking part Elizabeth!  You can visit Elizabeth’s blog, and find her on Twitter, and Facebook.  New to Moral Fibres?  You can also check out the other Your Ethical Style posts!

Do you want to share your ethical style with Moral Fibres readers?  Whatever your age, sex, size, style, budget or location I’d love to feature you to show that ethical fashion is for everyone!  Get in touch via to take part in Your Ethical Style!  There are no barriers to taking part – you don’t have to be a blogger to be featured!


all images c/o Elizabeth Stilwell

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    teacup travels house

    Visit: Teacup Travels House

    teacup travels house

    If you’ve got small children then chances are you’ve heard of the newest CBeebies programme: Teacup Travels.  My three year old is hooked – she shouts “Great Aunt Lizzie” every time it’s on!

    We were watching the first episode of Teacup Travels together and I recognised the location of Great Aunt Lizzie’s house as being in Edinburgh.  Last week my daughter and I were running errands in Edinburgh, and as a treat I popped over to the house with her.  She was so excited, bless her, and hasn’t stopped talking about it ever since!

    If you live near Edinburgh, or are planning a trip to Edinburgh any time soon (perhaps over Easter?) then your kid will adore a visit to Teacup Travels house!  The house couldn’t be easier to find – it’s in Princes Street Gardens, just below Princes Street (the main street in Edinburgh).

    teacup travels

    To access the house, go down the steps that lead into the garden from The Mound – opposite the Scottish National Gallery.  You’ll go past the big floral cuckoo clock, which when it’s all planted up, is always fun to look at with kids!  The house is then tucked in the bottom corner of the garden closest to the steps that you just came down (you can see the steps in the top photo) – you can’t miss it!

    If you’ve got a buggy or pram you’ll have to go down quite a steep ramp that is accessed from Princes Street, opposite the Frederick Street junction.  Just look for a large statue of a horse mounted soldier (the Royal Scots Greys statue) and you’ll find the ramp!

    You can’t actually get inside the Teacup Travels House (also known as the Gingerbread House, or officially the West Gardener’s Cottage) – it appears to be some sort of office – but just being able to look at the house and peer into the gardens proved pretty exciting for my little girl!

    Once you’re in the Gardens it’s a fun place to spot squirrels, have a picnic, or visit the play park at the opposite end of the the Gardens.  There you can get a cup of coffee, some lunch or some ice-cream and your little ones can run around the play park!  We spend a lot of time there!

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      books for allotments

      Our Favourite Allotment Books

      You know sometimes when it’s really wet and windy outside, maybe sleeting a bit, and the last thing you want to do is go outside, but you feel a bit guilty that you’re not working on your allotment/garden?  Well, on those days we curl up on the sofa with a nice cup of tea (or hot chocolate if we’re feeling a bit decadent) and get stuck into our favourite allotment books and magazines.

      We have quite a few allotment books and magazines that we’re drawing inspiration from and I thought it might be useful if I share some of our favourites:

      Our Favourite Allotment Books

      Homegrown Revolution by James Wong

      james wong homegrown revolutions

      James Wong’s Homegrown Revolution (affiliate link)

      My partner is obsessed (obsessed!) with this book.  He bought it two years ago and it’s rarely far from his side!  James Wong provides advice on plants that you can eat that you might not have known were edible such as hostas, dahlias and day lilies, and more.  It’s essentially permaculture, although James doesn’t refer to it as permaculture in the book, and the aim is for you to have a pretty and productive kitchen garden.  Consequently we’re planning on planting a load of hostas (apparently great in stir fry!).

      allotment books

      Permaculture Magazine

      permaculture magazine

      Permaculture Magazine

      My partner subscribes to Permaculture Magazine, and he says it’s an incredibly useful resource.  The design isn’t the greatest, and sometimes they veer a bit too far into the hippie side of thing for his liking, but he gets excited every month when the postman pops it through our letterbox, and has garnered a load of ideas and inspiration from it.  By the time he’s finished reading it it’s always very well thumbed, with pages marked for future reference!

      permaculture resources

      Organic Gardening The No Dig Way by Charles Dowding

      Charles Dowding’s Organic Gardening The No Dig Way (affiliate link)

      Another dog-eared long standing favourite, Charles Dowding explains the concept and ideas behind no-dig gardening and it’s practical applications.  My partner is a convert to this method of gardening – once you start reading the book you realise that it makes good sense not to dig the soil and let nature take it’s course.  We’ve accidentally misplaced this one for now, so no photos am afraid, but it is pretty good!  So good he even gets in Permaculture Magazine (see the front cover of the above photo!!).

      Any other favourite allotment books?  Do share!

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