What to Wear Now: 7 Hip Green Fashion Icons Share Their Secrets
TreeHugger founder Graham Hill
Feeling overwhelmed by fall fashion magazines, TV commercials swearing they're selling the next hot trend, and the sudden influx of catalogs you thought you'd canceled last fall? Cut through the style clutter with tips from these green leaders--writers, journalists, fashionistas, and beauty mavens--who've handpicked their favorite designers, items, and accessories to help you look your best. See which brands are surefire hits--and why sometimes the greenest purchase is no purchase at all.
1. Graham Hill
Favorite Green Designer: Tie between Loomstate and Nau.
Favorite Outfit: Dark (harder to stain). Classic, not too trendy (can wear in five years). Comfortable (duh). Low Maintenance (save time, money, emissions, chemicals). Colors that work with lots of other colors (own less clothing). My personal faves are Loomstate, Nau, Icebreaker, Simple, Mission Playground, Patagonia, Pact and Matuse wetsuits.
Must-Have Piece for Fall: Anything that fits the criterion above. If it's must have, I hope it's because people really actually need it. We need to move away from a disposable society where you buy clothes every season just in order to have the latest.
Essential Green Accessory: A drying rack or clothesline or anything that helps you reduce or stop using your dryer. This will make your clothes last longer and save you a bunch of money and emissions.
Favorite Individual Piece: Surf shorts or if cold, a nice Matuse wetsuit.
Style Philosophy: See above. Stuff that works well, lasts well and works with other clothing.
2. Meaghan O'NeillOccupation: Editor-in-Chief, TreeHugger.com and PlanetGreen.com Favorite Green Designer: I find myself purchasing a lot of Stewart + Brown--they have the best, long-lasting cashmere. For dress-up clothes, I absolutely love Isoude, a relatively new brand designed by Katie Brierly. Her designs are the kind you'd wear from age 20 to 80, then pass down to your granddaughter. She uses the most gorgeous textiles--true wild silks, hemp-silk blends, and domestic organic cottons and wool--and hand-dyes everything with natural dyes that she blends herself, having been taught by a master dyer. Since her studio is located in the town where I live--Newport, RI--and her clothes are handmade in nearby New Bedford, MA, I get the added bonus of counting them as local.
Photo of Meaghan O'Neill and Katie Brierly by Ian Larraga
Favorite Outfit: Since I work from home, a typical weekday outfit for me includes: Jeans. Typically -- gasp! -- Gap. I buy one pair roughly every four years and get them tailored to the season. Cozy cashmere sweater by Stewart + Brown or Loomstate hoodie. Organic cotton T-shirt. Patagonia, EMS, Loomstate -- whatever. I *have* to have bright colors popping out somewhere, so usually that's my tee. Shoes: I just scored some sweet second-hand Frye boots for only $60, and I expect those are soon-to-be-staples. If I'm running out for meeting an early evening event, I'll slip on some flats that have undoubtedly been resoled umpteen times.
Must-Have Piece for Fall: I find myself turning into more and more of a minimalist, and I rarely make time for shopping, so I doubt I'll be buying much this season. However, I'm desperate for a navy blue blazer with really good interior pockets, that, I hope, will last for 20 years!
Essential Green Accessory: Dr Bronner's Magic Hair Creme and bobby pins (to keep my hair under control)
Favorite Individual Piece: Grandma's vintage jewelry
Style Philosophy: Reduce, reuse, recycle, and resole. I'm unapologetically preppy and I like to invest in quality pieces that I truly love and that will last a long time both in terms of durability and style--whether it's a T-shirt or a winter coat. I believe that green fashion doesn't have to mean buying the latest hot designer fad. If it's only going to last one season, who cares if it's organic? Longevity, durability, and quality are the foundations of any great and green wardrobe.
3. Olivia ZaleskiPhoto via Fortune Occupation: Business news anchor, reporter and interviewer focused on environmental issues Favorite Green Designer: I love the work of designers Deborah Lindquist and Stella Mccartney, but to be honest have never actually bought any of their pieces--they're super expensive! I appreciate them from afar--on runway models or in the pages of magazines--but prefer to buy secondhand from thrift stores and ebay. Last spring, I did splurge on Theory's 2008 organic cotton capsule line: two organic cotton pants suits and a beautiful trench coat. I'm still paying for it, but worth the investment as I wear them all the time. Favorite Outfit: Blue shirt-dress from Theory. I love the way navy blue looks on camera so I wear it for all my big interviews. Seen here interviewing George Soros. No, it's not made from organic cotton, bamboo or seaweed . . . but I did buy it second hand off eBay. I even used the eBay advanced search option to bid within 100 miles of my zip code. I feel lucky to have found this piece within a few minutes of my apartment.
Must-Have Piece for Fall: I don't really buy "trend" or "must-have pieces." I try to buy classic items that never go out of style so I can wear them year after year.
Essential Green Accessory: Reusable bag key chain from Reisenthel. I feel naked without it.
Favorite Individual Piece: The jeans I've had since college. They're not exactly "green" per se, but they've stopped me from buying other jeans. That's quite eco, right?
Style Philosophy: Granting an existing item a second lease on life. Instead of purchasing brand new, taking what I already have and sprucing it. I've been learning to sew and have an excellent tailor who takes old items and fixes them up for me. Have a stain on the top of that dress? No problem, turn it into a skirt! Pants old and frayed? Cut into cute little shorts! I love "renovating" my clothing. It's not only a great way to save money and be super "green," but is also a creative challenge.
4. Spirit DemersonOccupation: President/Founder of green luxury beauty and lifestyle boutique, Spirit Beauty Lounge Favorite Green Designer: I don't have a favorite designer but the eco-fashion boutique Kaight is a favorite starting point. Also in NYC, I recommend Samples for (eco)mpassion, a carbon-neutral sample sale where everything is like, 60% off. A portion of the proceeds go to a different charity every month and they plant a tree for every sale! Favorite Outfit: My favorite green pieces right now are these 7 for All Mankind Organic Jeans, these carbon-neutral and cruelty-free Cri de Coeur Felicity Boots (amazing company, killer boots) and Melissa shoes, and this entire outfit from Sublet.
Must-Have Piece for Fall: No question, the one must-have item is a leather motorcycle jacket but leather is an environmental nightmare! The thought of how much havoc this trend is going to wreak is almost sickening. This is one item I definitely want to buy vintage/used or go with a non-leather fabric like wool or canvas, in a motorcycle style. Either would be cooler or cuter anyway! [For fall beauty,] we just got a peek at Priti's new matte 3-Free nail colors for fall. Oleaster is my new favorite.
Essential Green Accessory: Alex and Ani's Expandable Wire Bangles made from recycled metals, are a style magic weapon. You can add them to something as simple as jeans and a tank top for instant, easy glam. And go organic where it counts! Hanky Panky's organic undies are super comfortable, panty line-free and made in the USA!
Favorite Individual Piece: I discovered Bonbon Oiseau's vintage Parisienne-chic jewelry at the Brooklyn Flea this summer. We are launching the line at Spirit Beauty Lounge this month. This necklace is my new staple.
Style Philosophy: Buy quality, make it last, and accessorize! A lot of eco-fashion still tends to be too casual for my taste so when I can't buy organic clothes by green designers, I believe that shopping smart and accessorizing is the next best thing. Part of being an eco-shopper is just buying less. If you think of a statement necklace, for example, the same way you think of a blouse, you can greatly expand your wardrobe for years, without buying more clothing. I try to buy clothes that are versatile and made extremely well, in high-quality fabrics. I would much rather spend $300 on a pair of beautifully well-made pants than buy a $50 pair every year. Cheap clothes always cost more in the end. Don't be afraid to spend on something you know is worth it.