How expensive an ethical wardrobe is? (2019-2)

Money is the typical contention point of ethical fashion, because price is, of course, fast fashion’s forte. And once we have accepted that 5€ t-shirts are possible, how do you convince people that it has to be 30€ at least? The fact that most online pushers of sustainable fashion either make it, distribute it or receive it for free to review it plug it in doesn’t help either. Even more, it is common to tell people to vote with their euros which is so class-biased and so insidious if you just stop and think about it…

So to be the change you want to be in the world tell where at least my money goes while following my list of priorities in wardrobe detoxing, here you have my little money reports of
The first half of 2017,
The second half of 2017,
the first half of 2018,
the second half of 2018, and
the first half of 2019.

This post is about the last six months, July to December 2019. You have the full list and the total below, followed by more details ordering the purchases from most euros spent to least.

2019 was a good year in the Spendingtown… my total for wearables acquired in 2019 is 182.50€: two new pairs of reasonably sustainable sneakers, and hosiery. The rest of the money has been spend on skill acquisition and craft materials. I am very pleased with myself…


Learning to sew, 48 hours: 468€.

I have decided to finally start separating sewing and embroidery spending from dressing/garments spending from 2020, as they do not align perfectly: the learning part is not really the same as acquiring garments and part of my notions and embroidery thread money would have to be counted as gifts to others. Anyways, sewing classes is my big somewhat garment-related spending category of 2019.

It will continue in 2020. Opció Taller is home, and I still have so much to learn. An expense I didn’t make in these six months as it was a gift is my sewing machine:


Embroidery thread from Wallapop: 35€.

I bought embroidery thread for the second time. As I did in June, I found a bundle deal on Wallapop, and have been embroidering with it since then. Embroidery will certainly be a thing in 2020 too but so far I don’t have thread buying plans.


Calzedonia hosiery: 19.80 + 12.95 = 32.75€.

After my disappointment with Swedish Stockings (see me ranting at length here), I just turned to the made-in-Italy high street hosiery. At least these are more affordable while equally disappointing, and don’t require additional packages to be sent across Europe. The soft kind that like – a mysterious 60% viscose, 28% poly, 7% cashmere and 5% elastane mix – just keeps wearing out and ripping exactly like the expensive ones from Swedish Stockings which, as far as material mixes go, were a very similar 52% Viscose, 34% Polyamid, 10% Cashmere, 4% Elastane.

In these six months I have bought 5 pairs of knee-highs and a pair of tights. My mom bought me three other pairs before that (September in Latvia, d-oh!)… and they just keep ripping and being ugly. I don’t think that these will carry me through the sock season. Sad. There is still no optimal good hosiery options on my radar… suggestions are welcome!


Sewing notions: 13.40€.

These have been some basic notions: a couple of spools of thread, a zipper, and a thread-cutter (the pink plastic bird thing that allows me to fly without scissors). I’m buying notions as I go, it’s working fine.

The most fun notions acquisition, however, lately was a haul + extra gifts from my mom’s old sewing supplies. Yep, lots of beautiful colors of 100% cotton made-in-Finland sewing thread, a thimble, and third-generation-in-this-family embroidery scissors. Yay for timeless family vintage!

An additional point on money I haven’t spent is that, despite having been sewing learning to sew since March 2018, I am yet to purchase fabric. Fabrics just come my way mysteriously and abundantly. My first ever stash was a hand-me-down from Julie. My first dress was made from Carmen’s stash. I have been doing mostly fixes and little scrap projects otherwise, so there has actually been no need for it… Yes, ‘no need’ in this case meant controlling the I-can-make-things-now-excitement. But it has worked out very well. As I don’t go to shops to browse clothes (the last time I had that urge was in September 2018), I also don’t go to fabric stores to browse fabrics.

And this summer my grandma suddenly revealed that she has kept all my mom’s old sewing stash (she stopped sewing in 1995) and her own collection of random fabrics she has been saving at least since late 1980s, including some weird synthetics and some solid cottons. So now I might never have the opportunity to actually buy fabric. Only a part of my grandma’s stash:


I am very content with my 2019 fashion and textiles spending. I also have enjoyed several valuable gifts in this category that I’m working on fully accepting. In a culture where people spending money on things to give to you is the norm, I might as well specifically ask for certain gifts. And everybody’s happy!

As for 2020, I hope to keep it up this way: only the truly necessary purchases, trying to balance the practicality, locality, price, and sustainability. Yeah, a tall order, I know, that’s why I try to avoid purchases in general, none of them are truly optimal. Swaps (see you next week!) and hand-me-downs for the win… not having any money involved helps to reduce most sunken cost bias, you are left only with sentimental guilt.

How has your fashion spending been last year? What do you spend money on and what do you prefer to try find for free/cheapest possible? Are you acquiring new and formally sustainable garments or go second-hand even if it’s fast fashion second-hand? Have you tried shopping bans or similar strategies to reduce your spending? What do you think about the relationship between sustainable fashion and money?

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