Choosing what to wear on your elopement day is one of those really exciting decisions during wedding planning. You have SO many options to choose from and it's usually one of the items you let yourself splurge a little on. Selecting sustainable elopement attire may or may not be at the forefront of your decision. I really do think it's worth discussing.
When I was doing the research for this blog, I couldn't find a single other all-encompassing source. I wanted to create a resource that could be used for years to come. For instance, there are tons of sustainability blogs out there but when it comes to being sustainable, ethical, and eco-friendly for your wedding, crickets. This was so disappointing to me because it makes it that much harder for eloping couples like you to find the information you need to make well-educated decisions.
Table of Contents:
- What is elopement attire?
- What makes wedding clothing sustainable?
- Why does sustainable fashion matter?
- Good fabrics & bad fabrics
- Where to buy sustainable elopement dresses
- Where to buy sustainable elopement suits
WHAT IS ELOPEMENT ATTIRE?
Elopement attire is anything you will wear on your elopement day.
This could be elopement dresses, wedding dresses, suits, tux, shoes, veils, etc. There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting the best clothing for your elopement. In general, there are so many more options than with a traditional wedding. Choosing your elopement attire is much more about what you like and what you're comfortable in and less about what you think you're supposed to wear.
What to consider when choosing elopement attire:
- Can you move in it?
- Does it make sense for the season you're eloping in?
- Is it packable?
Making sure you can move in your eloping clothes is SO important. For example, you probably aren't going to want a tight corset, impossible sleeves, or a mermaid sheath. Couples who are eloping tend to explore the outdoors much more than a traditional couple would. You'll want to make sure you can comfortably do that.
Pro Tip: if you choose a long sleeve dress, double-check you can lift your arms over your head! I made this mistake with my wedding dress and had bruises by the end of the night from the sleeves.
Choosing Your Elopement Attire
You'll want to be sure you consider the season and location you're eloping in since you'll be outside. Wearing a complete ballgown won't make much sense on the top of a mountain and a long sleeve, the high-neck bodice will be sweltering on the beach in the summer. Of course, you can do WHATEVER you want to, just be conscious of it!
Whether or not you need a packable outfit will depend on the type of eloping you're doing. If you need to pack in it a backpack you'll probably want a more flexible outfit than if you're just escaping to get married in a yurt on the Oregon coast. Another thing to keep in mind for your sustainable elopement attire is making sure you can get into it by yourself. Especially if you aren't bringing anyone else along, you'll want to make sure it doesn't require 100 buttons on your back!
Learning the difference between the eco-friendly buzzwords will help you navigate your elopement attire search a bit easier. Unfortunately, there is so much green-washing in the clothing industry that it can be hard to ensure you're really choosing the right thing. By wearing ethical wedding fashion on your elopement day you'll know you're supporting the right causes!
Fair trade focuses on supporting sustainable development through a transparent supply chain. This movement is about supporting producers, living wages, workers' rights, and protecting the environment. It helps protect from market fluctuations with long-term contracts and a minimum price agreed on in advance rather than case-by-case basis. With fair trade, child labor is banned and workers' safety and health standards must be met. By protecting the environment, it helps ensure that large companies don't destroy significant natural resources in developing countries just save a few dollars. This is hugely important for the Amazon rainforest, chemical bans, water conservation, and proper disposal of waste.
Fair trade gets rid of the "survival of the fittest" mindset and instead promotes equal and sustainable business practices from top to bottom.
You can read more about fair trade from Fairtrade International.
Ethical fashion is a newer term that has popped up in the last few years. The definition is rather vague and can be interpreted in many different ways but the general idea is that ethical fashion focuses on creating a better environment for people. Ethical fashion requires brand transparency, humane wages, and safe working environments. Ethical fashion applies to all aspects of the clothing life from materials used, dyes, labor, working environments, and distribution. Generally, clothing made with an ethical mindset will last longer and be of better quality than fast fashion but is not the same thing as slow fashion.
Sustainable fashion aims to move the entire industry to socially and environmentally conscious means. Being sustainable focuses on the longevity of items, forward-thinking and predictions, and clear business practices from finances to labor to distribution to the consumer. An example of the clothing industry that needs to move to more sustainable practices is cotton which produces most of the world's fabric but also uses more than 30% of the world's insecticides and pesticides.
Buying second-hand is a bit more obvious and is simply the choice of you as the consumer to purchase second-hand clothing items either from stores like Goodwill, Platos, or Buffalo Exchange or directly from another consumer like at garage sales. Second-hand is part of the eco-conscious movement because you are giving one item a second life rather than purchasing an item from a big box store that participates in fast fashion. Second-hand items can still be produced in fast fashion, from poor working conditions, or be a part of destroying eco-systems.
Similar to second-hand, vintage items are giving an old item a new life. Generally, to be considered vintage it has to be over 25 years old, which is already the late 90s! Because fast fashion is relatively "new" many vintage items are still well-made and will last you quite a while, especially if you take care of them.
The fashion industry's carbon footprint produces over 10% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. We collect enormous amounts of textile waste in our landfills from cheap, basically disposable garments. Creating clothing takes incredible amounts of water just to create one single shirt! Not to mention the unethical working conditions created in developing counties and inhumane living conditions for animals, fast fashion is quickly destroying the earth on so many levels.
By using our consumer vote and shopping with companies who participate in a circular fashion, sustainable business practices, fair trade, and offset their emissions, we can slowly take back control of our fashion industry.
Getting married is a HUGE deal and you'll feel even better about spending thousands of dollars if you know you're supporting real people and causes.
For other tips, tricks, and best practices for having a sustainable and eco-friendly elopement, head to my blog post. I dive deep into the traditions you should skip, amazing sustainable replacements, and how to protect the environment while you're exploring it.
Sometimes having the most sustainable elopement attire comes down to choosing the right fabrics. The type of fabric you choose can have a huge impact not only on the earth from its production but also on how you'll feel on your elopement day. You'll want to make sure you're selecting the right fabric for the weather at your elopement so you can be comfortable all day long AND look amazing.
Knowing which fabrics are the most sustainable will give you the knowledge you need going into a dress shop or suit fitting and telling them exactly what you want. You can avoid the back and forth and ensure you're being as eco-friendly as possible!
Natural Fibers: Organic or recycled cotton, organic hemp, organic linen, recycled polyester (rPET), bamboo*
*Bamboo is a tricky material to ensure it has been produced sustainably. It's primarily grown in China & Taiwan which adds to shipping costs but it is quickly grown, saves lots of water, and is a resilient plant. While products like bamboo linen are generally made sustainably, most other bamboo fabrics are made similarly to the way rayon is made.
Innovative Fabrics: Tencel, Pinatex, Econyl, Qmonos
Fabrics to AVOID AT ALL COSTS: Polyester, acrylic, conventional cotton, rayon, nylon
Elopement Attire for the Eco-Conscious Couple
Below I've listed some of the best companies and brands that produce eco-friendly and ethical wedding clothing. For your elopement, you can wear dresses, suits, jumpsuits, blazers, skirts, and so much more. I encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to your ethical elopement attire! Fringe jackets and boots are all the rage right now in the elopement industry. You don't just have to wear white!
Where To Buy Sustainable Elopement Dresses in Portland
Portland, Oregon is one of the most eco-friendly cities which is one of the reasons we wanted to move here! PDX is home to many ethical shops, including wedding dresses. While you're here, let's grab coffee!
- Bride's For A Cause - With stores in Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, and Sacramento full of second-hand gowns you're sure to find something you love. With each wedding dress sold, Bride's For A Cause collects for charities and gets their gowns through donations.
- Blue Sky Bridal - One of the largest bridal consignment stores in the PNW with locations in Portland and Seattle with sizes from 00-28.
- A&Be Bridal Shop - Not completely dedicated to eco-friendly gowns but offers many different styles and products from eco-conscious brands like Lia Terni & Truvelle.
- Adorned in Grace - Second-hand bridal shop with wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and formal wear!
- Lena Dress - Designed and made local here in Portland! Comfortable dresses with minimal, classic designs.
Where To Buy Sustainable Wedding Dresses Online
Second-Hand Elopement Gowns
- The Barefaced Bride - Second-hand, vintage, sustainable bridal wear
- Once Wed - Online wedding dress marketplace
- Still White - Worldwide second-hand wedding dresses
- Borrowing Magnolia - Second-hand gowns sold directly by other brides
- Rent The Runway - Online company that allows you to rent your dresses instead of buying them
Ethical Wedding Brands
- Christy Dawn - Uses deadstock materials for ready to wear wedding dresses
- Reformation - Certified Climate Neutral Company that uses low-impact materials, deadstock, and repurposed vintage clothing
- Lost In Paris - Made strictly from vintage lace and cotton and based in Sydney, Australia
- Mara Hoffman - Focuses on sustainability by using fabrics and production styles that extend the life of the of each garment
- Whimsy + Row - Designs small batched, locally made, and upcycled low-impact materials
- IndieBride - Made to order dresses from start to finish and uses or donates all cut-off fabric.
- Pure Magnolia - Based in Vancouver, Canada creating made-to-order gowns in house
- Silviyana - Made by hand gowns that aim to tell a story with pineapple leaves and hung to dry in the sun
- Leanne Marshall - Produces the majority of their gowns in-house and makes one dress at a time with biodegradable textiles and natural fibers
- Miranda Bennett Studio - Based in Austin, Texas that uses non-toxic dyes, and biodegradable fabrics and offers a garment take-back program
- Wear Your Love - Based in California and uses organic cotton, low waste, and all made in-house with an aim for comfortability and ease of wear
- Leila Hafzi - One of the first sustainable bridal brands focusing on working with local artisans and rebuilding communities
- Rita Colson - Uses vintage lace and silk for the "fashion-forward" bride
Where To Buy Sustainable Suits Online
Second-hand Elopement Suits
- Grailed - Online second-hand store for men's clothing giving a second life to suits
- The Real Real - Luxury online second-hand store participating in the circular fashion economy and going carbon neutral
Ethical Wedding Suits Brands
- Moss Bros. - Creates eco-suits made entirely out of recyclable or renewable materials
- Vegan Tailoring by King & Allen - 100% vegan suits made from bamboo or used PET bottles
- Brave Gentleman - One of the first vegan menswear brands dedicated to cruelty-free fashion and production
- Hall Madden - Custom vegan suits made from plant based linens with 8 fitting locations, including Portland!
- Opera Campi - Made to order hemp based materials for a more alternative groom looking outfit and plants two trees for every item sold
- Ministry of Supply - Uses recycled materials and renewable fibers, abides by zero waste, and is climate neutral certified
- Tact & Stone - Suits made from organic cotton and recycled polyester and participates in circular fashion and conserving water consumption
- Carpasus - Creates long-lasting shirts from organic cotton and linen and uses fair trade production companies
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