So, You Want to Build a Conscious Closet?


]( the past two years I have battled my closet and my irresponsible shopping habits.

In doing so, I have decided to only purchase clothing if I know it was made without slave labor. It has been a challenging but rewarding experience transitioning my closet to a totally conscious one. One thing I’ve learned throughout this process is that it takes time. And patience. And money. So one of the mantra’s I have adopted in my closet clean-out over the past two years is to buy better not more. That has served me well.

I get quite a few questions from women about how they can start their own transition to a more ethical closet. So as we start the new year, I thought I’d share some of my favorite core pieces and how I choose to add a piece to my closet.

First of all, I don’t have a large, endless clothing budget, so I have to buy smart. When I make purchases I always ask myself these questions:

  • Will this dress/sweater/top/etc. bring me joy?

  • How versatile is it?

  • How do I care for it?

  • Can this piece transition from cooler weather to warmer weather?

  • Can I layer it and wear it different ways?

  • What is the fabric like?

  • Is it durable?

And most importantly:

  • How was it made?

  • Who made it?

  • Where did the fabric come from?

static1.squarespace-1Once I’ve gathered as much information as I can about the potential purchase, I think about how it will fit in with other items in my closet. Cleaning out your closet is a long process. So give yourself patience!

Here are a few pieces that have been core for me in re-building my conscious closet. My hope is it will kickstart you on your own conscious closets journey and give you a good foundation from which to grow.


I love a good well made dark jean that can be worn a million different ways (The Paige Denim, Hoxton Ankle Peg Jeans in Barnett)

Black Pants:

Black pants are a must to change up your look and they can be fancy or casual depending on what you pair with it (Imogene+Willie, Elizabeth Jean in Black)

Cozy Sweater:

I’m all about kimonos and cardigans (Elizabeth Suzann kimono) (Gap Cable Knit Cardigan)

Cool Dress:

Again, look for a dress that you can wear multiple ways, like over jeans, or a button down, or with a sweater or blazer (Loup black dress)

A Good Button Down:

(Everlane white poplin) Always a great easy piece to keep in your closet

Something with stripes:

(Everlane stripe boxy tee) To keep you on trend

Cool Shoes:

(Modern Vice Blue Suede Handlers) Because I dress very simply and monochromatic, I love a cool shoe. And the comfier the better.

static1.squarespaceThese are pieces that I consistently love and come back to. They form the basis of my closet and most everything I purchase now works with these main items.

Lastly, if you are a fashionista on a budget, check out or eBay for awesome finds at a much cheaper price. I do a lot of my conscious shopping at thrift stores. And lookout for sales! I got my modern vice booties (pictured above) for half price!

I wish you all the best in 2016 and can’t wait to see the conscious closets transitions you make this year. Share them with me on social media at #consciousclosets.

Photos by Brian Tropiano 

johanna tropiano

Johanna Tropiano

Founder at The Mend Project