A Week Of Outfits With Elim Chu
The Good Trade's Week of Outfits Series highlights women that have personally inspired us to shop and live with intention! Each woman takes her own unique approach slow fashion and demonstrates how beautifully sustainable fashion can come to life. Today we're excited to share a week of outfits from Elim Chu, a stylist & consultant!
// A B O U T E L I M //
Favorite Brand |This is one of the hardest questions to answer! I'm "new" to conscious consumerism (3 years in) and am slowly replacing pieces with sustainable/ethical brands as they wear out and where I can within my budget. What I can share are the ethical and sustainable brands I've enjoyed wearing so far:
- Poppy Barley - Designed in Canada, ethically and sustainably made leather footwear in Mexico. This brand is owned by a pair of sisters: Justine and Kendall Barber. Their journey of finding the RIGHT factory to partner with and the “next to family” relationships they've built with the people who make their footwear is inspiring and sets the bar for what's possible.
- Hetki - Designed and made in Vancouver, Canada. Last year I tried the #stylebee10x10 challenge and noticed that I really missed and wanted a sweater tunic. But I was willing to take my time to look and research for a piece that I felt good wearing AND good about the label I was supporting. Our paths crossed during this search and when I saw a sweater top in Kate's line, I half-jokingly asked if she could make it longer. Her reply: “Of course! I want to make clothes that women actually want to wear. How long do you want it?”. We’ve since worked together again on pieces that are my version of a “power suit”. Finding Kate Schreiner has also blown apart my perception that “custom” or “slow fashion” is outside of my budget.
- VEJA - I am 100% #fasterinflats so when my sneakers started to fall apart, stumbling on VEJA via Instagram was a godsend. I broke them in on a 3-day photoshoot and was very impressed with how comfortable they were. They are now approaching one year and the leather is of course worn in, but I’m embracing the wabi sabi nature of well-loved, well-worn apparel.
Second hand stores I frequent in Vancouver:
Something I’ve learned over the years as a conscious consumer is that currently, there is no “easy” answer to intentional/slow/ethical fashion. The answer is different for everyone and there are so many factors to consider, from clothing budgets to what sparks joy...my husband frames it best for me when I get too anxious: “is this the hill you want to die on?” TRYING is worth something. As someone who used to shop almost every weekend, adjusting our habits around frequency and quantity alone IS something.
My current decision making steps:
Want vs Need. This usually clears the board pretty quick.
Want, but it’s temporary. This is usually a special event scenario like a wedding or party and nothing in my closet excites me. That’s when I’ll phone a friend to borrow.
Want, #30wears and more. This is where I’ll consider what I can spend to acquire. The budget will usually dictate the source: brand new or secondhand.
Choosing brand new? I cut out convenience, choose time and effort to do the research and take it slowww. A good place for me to start sits in the question Fashion Revolution has been asking: Who made my clothes? Aces if I can answer that and if I can’t, how much unknown am I willing to accept? Looking begins local before going global and even when I think I’ve found an item, I won’t rush into it. When I bought my VEJA’s, I considered that purchase for nearly a year.
Check in. A lesson I’ve learned with time is how clothing can make me feel. I don’t need to see my reflection to know how I feel in something. While I’m shopping, the try on is necessary. If it doesn’t feel good, there’s nothing a salesperson, friend or the mirror can say to sway.
This is one of my favorite “hacks” on days I don’t feel like thinking about what to wear: go monochromatic and contrast with texture.
Every time I use this vintage Coach purse, I think of my friend Julia. She has a cream version that I coveted at first sight. Her sister owns a vintage store and I was able to get the same one, different color, through her. It’s also the perfect size for all my daily necessities and a little bit more (like a good book or my bullet journal).
Fun fact: my friend Kate made this top (+ the pants in Friday's outfit) and named the style “Teho”, Finnish for power, because these are the kinds of pieces I pull together for my version of a “power suit”.
Hetki Top | Thrifted Skirt | Vintage Purse
Loafers from existing wardrobe
I love playing “dressy” against casual pieces and the ease it offers when my schedule includes day-to-night events. Change up the shoes, top layer + bag and my outfit can be repurposed for a more formal evening vibe.
I found this silk blouse at Community Thrift in Gastown and for me, it’s THE perfect blouse: machine washable, no chest pockets, boxy fit. It’s a style I’d invest in having made in 3 more colors: grey, taupe and white. The material is also easy to wear/layer for year round wear.
A really easy styling tip for feeling more “pulled together”: try tucking in the top and/or belt the bottoms.
My friend Angela found these while thrifting in Alberta. I remember her text sharing the find, how they were too good to pass up and that they might fit me. She was totally right.
Thrifted jeans | Sweater from existing wardrobe
Loafers from existing wardrobe | Thrifted neckerchief
There’s a sweet spot for me when it comes to the length of tops. I love pullover sweatshirts and find them easy for everyday wear but sometimes they can look to casual...so I started cropping them and now I find them incredibly easy to wear as an “elevated” basic. This isn’t for everyone but if you too enjoy a raw hem, just measure and cut with a sharp pair of scissors.
I love these sneakers because I am on my feet A LOT (walking, standing on photo sets) so comfortable shoes are a must and where I’m comfortable spending a little more money. Finding ethically-made footwear that fits my aesthetic hasn’t been the easiest but it’s not impossible.
Thrifted sweatshirt | Thrifted linen pants | Thrifted Purse
This outfit is probably the best example of elevated basics that feel most “me”: a structured jacket, a top in a classic design, tailored bottoms and pointy flats, different textures in black and white.
This jacket been in my closet for over 5 years and has surpassed its #30wears. The way this jacket feels each time I put it on is why I reach for it year after year. It’s like a security blanket at this point! There are 3 zippered pockets that are large enough to hold my “can’t live without” items: smartphone, credit card, lip balm, keys. The cut allows for light layering in spring/fall but also fitted enough that I can wear as a mid-layer during the winter months. I love how I feel in this jacket so much, I had to wear it on my wedding day.