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!

Elizabeth Stilwell wearing an ethical outfit

Elizabeth Stilwell is 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.

If you think you might recognise the name, then Elizabeth Stilwell was the designer behind this really useful ethical shopping infographic. I featured it here on Moral Fibres, and it 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 at 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.  One of my favorites is Shop Ethica.  I keep a running list 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 an 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 a 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. 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 belonging to Elizabeth Stilwell

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. Just being out on the streets, 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 it 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.  Really, 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 and TheRealReal, you can even get trendier stuff at a fraction of the cost and without its ethical burden (since it’s secondhand).

Thanks for taking part Elizabeth! 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 moralfibres@gmail.com 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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