A Week Of Outfits With
Conscious Blogger Sara Brown
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 to slow fashion and demonstrates how beautifully sustainable fashion can come to life. Today we're excited to share a week of outfits from Sara Brown, the conscious blogger behind Petra Alexandra!
My journey with slow fashion really started when I bought my house—a single person and a mortgage meant I was on an extremely tight budget, so I said byeee to clothes shopping. I needed to get creative. I needed things to last.
In the beginning, I focused on wearing what I already had, or thrifted. If I needed to replace something, it had to be affordable—but I didn’t want to harm anyone in the process. When I was a photographer, I had worked for a conscious jewelry company where I got to know makers around the world—and that was the inspiration I needed to think more deeply about what, and who, were behind the pieces I was buying.
Luckily, the city I moved to was full of independent businesses and vintage shops. Even my cheese grater is secondhand. This transition became more than shopping ethically—it became a way to get out and explore my community.
I got to know shop owners, vintage vendors and local makers, which helped me form a network of like-minded people in a city where I knew no one. I realized months afterwards, that I hadn’t set foot into a mall since I had moved. I had saved money without even knowing it.
There’s a misconception out there that to be sustainable or ethical, you need to immediately purge your wardrobe of all fast fashion. And to that, I say: “Wait! Keep it!” The most sustainable wardrobe is the one we already own. I still love and wear the heck out of some of my old fast fashion garments. Now that I spend less on disposable clothes and household items, I can purchase something special from a conscious brand every once in a while.
I believe sustainable fashion is highly subjective and personal. What works for one person will be completely different for someone else. My personal style is a hybrid of old, vintage and consciously-made. Simple, easygoing, classic.
There’s no need to put pressure on ourselves to always look “new” or “trendy.” The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that beauty comes with confidence and comfort. (It’s easy to say, it takes a little longer to get to that place of contentment). Taking daily photos of my outfits was my way of discovering what I really love, aside from other influences. Now I get to look at my own feed for inspiration when the next season comes around, repeating favorites I haven’t worn in a while. And I tell you, it’s surprising how infrequently a full outfit is repeated!
I like to start my week off with the outfit I’ve been looking the most forward to wearing! I have a long commute—4 hours a day—to downtown Toronto. By the end of the week I’m usually pretty pooped, so I like to go in with a bang on Mondays and wear something that makes me feel like I could just take the week and own it!
Being a serial commuter has helped me discover the importance of creating sacred space and time for yourself. It takes a while to find the habits that promote peace and creative energy, but I’ve managed to nail down a routine that makes the most of this travel time. Podcasts, reading, setting aside time for my social media work, and a little bit of shut-eye.
I’ve learned that walking the 30 minutes through the city to the main train station is the best way to transition, re-set and clear my head after work. I’m usually out of the house for work from 7am until 8 or 9pm, so whatever I wear is always comfy—even if it’s more businesslike. These nude heels are a great example of how you can continue to wear your old fast fashion pieces for years, keeping them out of the landfill and giving them a nice, long life!
The spring and summer are such a joyful time for me (and my house). I arrive home at magic hour, when the sun is cresting into long golden light. My house faces west, so I get wonderful long shadows through the garden. I like to take advantage of these days, since our summers are so short, to eat my dinner outside and soak in the rays before it gets dark, listening to music and watching the robins and chickadees flit upon the fence carrying scraps to build their nests.
Today’s outfit is a vintage polka-dot dress I picked up from a vendor at the local antique mall in my neighborhood. It’s a few sizes too big for me, but I double-wrap the straps and tie it in front to give it a lovely flowing look. The shoes are also from the antique mall—woven block heels made in Italy. My purse is a charming 1970s wood-handled macramé piece which used to be my Grandma’s knitting bag.
Vintage Macrame Purse
My favourite day of the week is work-from-home-Wednesday! As a trade-off for my long commute, I get to sleep in on hump day, have a nice slow coffee and work from the second bedroom of my house. I converted it into a little home office, and there’s nothing better than a quiet day with some Lightnin’ Hopkins blues records on in the background.
I ALWAYS get dressed when I work from home. Because why not? It means I can go out after work, and I’m ready for whatever opportunities come around. Today’s outfit is a Canadian Tuxedo—if I had a uniform, this would be it! Or at least, one of the dozens of denim-on-denim variations I have in my closet. When I’m at home, I like an easy, flowy outfit that’s comfortable enough for curling up on my desk chair, but good enough to run out to town in.
Time for me to reveal something: I don’t own a TV. Sometime around April this year, I just… stopped watching shows, period. Since then, when I get home from work, I pull out a good book or my typewriter and just wing it. I used to feel exhausted thinking about reading or writing at the end of the day, but it’s become a peaceful ritual that I really look forward to when the light gets long and golden through the front window. I picked up this compact travel typewriter from the antique mall for $30 and it works like a charm! It’s so good for stream-of-consciousness writing, just being open to whatever comes out.
My secret to Friday outfits is a little casual, a little rock & roll. I can feel so out of steam and ready to sleep, but as soon as I pull out my black pieces, I’m ready to take on whatever flies my way.
Today’s outfit is unmistakable evidence of my 1990s obsession. I suppose I don’t feel like I got my kicks out while I grew up in the decade, so now I’m making the most of adulthood with a good bout of tank top + t-shirt layering. The tank and shoes are old fast fashion pieces from years ago that still get great wear.
Saturday is the day where I GET. IT. DONE. I let myself dress in whatever I feel like in the moment, and whatever’s appropriate for getting physical work done. As a single homeowner, my Saturdays are filled with anything from vacuuming, dusting, cooking and baking, to mowing the grass, shoveling the snow, changing my car tires, weeding, or painting my front steps. If I’m not camping or out of town visiting family, Saturday can be the best, most productive day.
My favorites are a t-shirt and vintage Levi’s, a little oversized. I really enjoy the slightly oversized look, since I can wear them relaxed on a weekend, or belt them to give a reeeeal 1990s mom vibe. The shirt is from a charming little basement shop called The Cave, from a vintage clothing vendor, Daddy’s Plastic. When I want to get some real work done, I put on my “The Hawk” shirt, channel all the power and prowess of a 1980s camp counselor, and get my hands dirty (…with actual dirt). The hat? Secondhand from my sister. Thank goodness for sisters!
Sundays are the day I give myself to relax or go out and explore. I visit local boutiques to chat with makers, do my cooking and baking for the week, and spend some time writing in a local coffee shop. There’s a great shop that has a gin drink called the “Ginny Weasley,” which I’ve definitely had a couple of while working away on some writing and editing on a Sunday afternoon!
I wear the same jewelry every day. Two rings are my great-grandmother’s, one is made from reclaimed gold with a small conscious diamond (from Aide Memoire), and a signet ring from Mejuri with the initial of a family name. He taught me how to paint and nurtured my poetry writing, and this ring keeps the memory of him close.
The linen tank top is sewn by a friend who has her own made-to-order brand, Hutchison. She sources linen from within Canada and creates all pieces at her own home, just a few streets down from me. This top is so great because I can wear it forwards or backwards!