The Other Side of Your Underwear

By Ellie Bryant ’12

Goodwill is a great place to find fashionable items without spending too much money. Image courtesy of

This one time I was walking through Prothro and I realized fashion is more than clothes and tall heels. In reality, what can I say about fashion that I haven’t already said? I’ve even covered zombie apocalypses, kids. Fashion is seasonal and not weekly; therefore, writing about it weekly is like beating an asthmatic horse that’s dying with a really long stick. It may wheeze and kick a little, but ultimately someone has to find a bulldozer. Fact. Most of you probably shop at Goodwill anyway. Which can totes be awesome because there is nothing like a little vintage Urban Outfitters-esque style without paying upwards of eighty dollars. Stewart knows when I’m talking about her.

Non-profit fashion may seem like a phrase that is contradictory in so many ways, but I’m moving away from dictating what you can wear to informing you about the world. It’s all part of my plan. There are subliminal messages here. Everyone has heard about Toms, an organization that sells super high priced shoes with the justification that the sale of their items will benefit shoeless children in underdeveloped countries. Toms does have some cool styles and they are expanding their types of shoes sold, but it’s fifty dollars for a canvas foot wrap. Jussayin’, save the children ya’ll.

Satara enables underprivileged women to learn entrepreneurial skills. Image courtesy of

The Dutch company Satara is taking a whole new approach not only to sustainable business practices, but also to empowerment of women in India. This is the closest fashion gets to fair trade. The Satara Foundation not only trains women in how to make clothing, but also provides them with entrepreneurial resources and education. The Satara Foundation was founded with the hope of achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. These include the eradication of poverty and promotion of gender equality. The founder of Satara has a really long and unpronounceable name because she’s Dutch. Moniek van Erven created Satara while she was working for a bank in micro-financing.  The idea is that by giving these women who usually only have rudimentary sewing skills the education and skills to perform a job they otherwise couldn’t, they become empowered in their community and are paid fair wages to start their own jobs and eventually facilitate independence from the foundation.

The problem with clothes that are made through fair trade is that (just like buying organic food) the price tags go up to a level that the majority of college students have no way to buy regularly. There are a few other notable companies who engage in fair trade fashion, including the Autonomie Project and Indigenous Designs. In conclusion, though you may not have enough money to shop there, non-profits and companies that encourage equal employment and pay are out there. I guess it beats thinking about the kid who had to superglue his fingers back on after making your Nikes…I still run in them.

Cut-off shorts are an easy way to upcycle old jeans. Image courtesy of

Speaking of sustainable clothing choices…I mostly hate mashups of words: Jeggings, for example. Terrible word. The term Upcycled clothing is another one that kind of sketches me out. Regardless of the fashion world’s lack of word creativity, Upcycled clothing is what’s up and you can do it yourself. Technically, Upcycling is a fancy word for taking old clothing and updating it to be something you can wear: thrift store shoppers unite. This could be as simple as cutting off jeans to as complicated as making a dress out of multiple old sweaters. Roll with it. The problem with upcycled pieces if you don’t do it yourself is that they tend to be pricey as well. A cool place to hunt for Upcycled anything is Check it out. Totally addictive.

Note to the campus–just because it is spring doesn’t mean you can start wearing camel toe-inspiring clothes such as sizes that no longer fit you after the winter hibernation process. Also, stop pairing light clothes with dark bras. It went out in the nineties for a reason, and a peekaboo bra strap can be much more encouraging than broadcasting exactly what you are wearing all the time. When sunbathing on the dell, wear some sunscreen please. Looking like a leatherback turtle at thirty is not hot. Fact. Take advantage of the weather and get outside, go for a walk or brave the lake. Keep wearing cool clothes that make me happy and inspire me to rant in my next not-so-educational or hippiefied article. GO!

Contact Ellie Bryant at with any questions or comments.

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