How to switch from fast to slow fashion, part 2

This is part 2 of a series to help you switch from fast to slow fashion. Every journey looks different. My goal is to gently guide you through the process that worked for me. You can find part 1 here & part 3 here.

Since you are here I think you already know what fast fashion is and alternatively understand slow fashion. If you need a refresher, there’s an entire post about it here. In a nutshell, ethical, slow fashion is clothing made with care for the people involved in the process from the farmers who grow the cotton to the garment workers who sew final garments. There are also sustainability components and several other nuanced details. My focus is primarily on the human factor of fashion.

ethical fashion where to start
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

If you read, part one of this series you read my first step – Start by Stopping. I strongly advise you start your ethical, slow fashion journey there. Once you’ve stopped shopping and evaluated your wardrobe, you are ready to start building a foundation of high-quality basics.


I can’t say it enough, high-quality basics are the best way to start building a slow fashion wardrobe you love. Basics are not boring, especially when you find well-made pieces that fit you well & you feel good in. This is exactly where I started my switch from fast to slow fashion.

Cora Earrings White tee, Cardigan, Belt, Jeans (similar), Shoes (similar)

What are basics?

Maybe you are wondering what are the basics? What do I actually need? While this list can look slightly different for everyone, basics are pieces that can easily be mixed and matched to make several outfits. Keep in mind that you probably already have some basic pieces and you do not need to rush out to purchase everything. Work with what you have. Slowly add pieces as your budget allows. Here’s my list of essential basics:

switch fast to slow fashion wardrobe basics foundation to start

Remember, this list can vary depending on lifestyle. If you never wear non-denim pants don’t buy them. If you live in a warm climate, skip the sweaters & add another dress. For a blouse choose a style you love – button up, tunic, peasant top or whatever works for you.

Start Small

You have to start small. Remember you are switching from fast to slow fashion to do things differently, be more intentional with your purchases & find a new normal. It’s OK to wear the same pants multiple times a week or the same 5 outfits to work on repeat.

You might discover more creative outfit ideas + try things you otherwise would not have. Even better, you should end up wearing things you love everyday.

The point of this list is not to box you in, but give you a place to start. There is freedom here to do what works for you. It helps to have a guide for the journey and I’m not going to leave you here without giving you resources.

Buy Secondhand

The most sustainable option for slow fashion purchases is buying secondhand, especially for pieces you need but don’t wear very often. Have a short summer or winter season where you live? Don’t buy a ton of pieces. Challenge yourself to try a small capsule wardrobe during those seasons and see how many outfits you can make from them.

I enjoy thrifting at local thrift and consignment shops, but when I can’t do it in person I consider ThredUp, Poshmark & eBay. Buy, sell, trade and Buy Nothing Facebook groups are also a great resource for getting clothing sustainably. You could host a clothing swap with friends.

RESOURCES: My favorite ethical brands

I have tried several ethical, slow fashion companies on my journey. I’ve bought many things and sent many back! Finding what worked for me took time. Here’s my shortlist of go-to brands, but you can find a complete list (including every type of clothing) of my favorite ethical brands here:

Tees / Tanks / Dress / Cardigan:

American Giant is one of my go-to sustainable fashion companies for basic tees & tanks, athletic wear, joggers, sweatshirts (the best) and even socks. Their quality is outstanding. Use code SELA for 20% off your first purchase.

ABLE Clothing has a full line of everything from basic tees to dresses, shoes and denim. ABLE is a sustainable slow fashion company that is raising the bar for transparency and sustainability in the fashion industry. Use code ASHLEIGH15 for 15% off your purchase.

Fair Indigo is one of my favorite slow fashion companies for basic tees. You can read a full (unpaid) review of their tees here. They also have some great tanks, dresses & cardigans. Use the code 22SELA for 15% off any purchase.

Tradlands has amazing, high quality pieces worth saving up for. Use code ASHBECKER15 for 15% off your first purchase.

PACT is also a budget friendly sustainable fashion company that has organic cotton basics (use code ASHBECKER20 for 20% off any purchase).

Blouses / Button Up Shirts

Thom Kelly has incredible quality tops made from sustainable fabrics. When I wear Thom Kelly I feel like I’m wearing a luxury item. Use code ASHLEIGH15 for 15% off any purchase.

Other favorites: Tradlands, Lev Apparel & ABLE Clothing.


American Giant makes the best quality sweatshirts, from heavy weight hoodies to lightweight french terry crewnecks. I’ve never returned one. Use code SELA for 20% off your first purchase.

LA Relaxed makes eco friendly loungewear with sustainable fabrics and dies. I love their Dream Fleece & Well Worn collections. Use code ASHLEIGH20 for 20% off any purchase.

Thom Kelly is also great for sweatshirts. They make just a few styles of tops, but they do it very well. Use code ASHLEIGH15 for 15% off.

Others for a more casual/traditional sweatshirt are PACT & Tradlands.


I only wear cotton sweaters as I’m allergic to animal fibers. My absolute favorite sweaters are from Tradlands, a slow fashion, sustainable company. Their quality is the best I’ve worn. Three years after my first purchase it’s still my favorite sweater & looks like new. Use code ASHBECKER15 for 15% off your first purchase.

ABLE Clothing also has a great line of sweaters. They come out with new colors and styles each season.


Speaking of ABLE, I love their jeans. They are ethically and sustainably made, which is quite a feat. ABLE publishes all of their lowest wages, plus has an outside company audit their facilities & production to make sure everything they are doing is truly ethical. I think of ABLE as the ethical, better version of Madewell.

Other favorite jeans: Warp + Weft has really great thick denim that has a nice amount of stretch, but they don’t get baggy. They also carry kids jeans my boys really like.

loungewear outfits for moms legging pants
Cora Earrings Zoe Necklace Sweater Button Up Ponte Pants Boots Bag


In full transparency: I don’t wear non-denim pants more than once per week. Because of that, I only have a few pairs: chinos, linen & ponte (American Giant has the BEST. Read my review here).

Great pant options: Vetta Capsule & ABLE Clothing

I had a good experience with chinos from Everlane, but have since stopped purchasing from them due to many reports of greenwashing (they are not as ethical as they claim to be). You can easily find them secondhand on Poshmark.

More often than not, I have thrifted pants locally. This is the most sustainable option.

Joggers / Lounge Pants

I have written an entire post about my favorite joggers and NO BS ponte pants from American Giant. I’ve never found better quality or comfort. I have their everyday joggers too and they are amazing.

basics ethical fashion how to resources
Hope Earrings Dress Shoes

Dresses / Skirts

I mentioned Fair Indigo above for dresses. Other great options: PACT (tee shirt dress pictured), ABLE Clothing, & Lev Apparel.

My favorite skirts are from Elegantees & ByTavi, both made by women rescued from sex trafficking.

Denim or Military Jacket

ABLE Clothing knows how to do denim so well! I have this denim jacket & it’s incredibly soft. I’ve been eyeing this military jacket.

How to switch from Fast to Slow Fashion

This process of switching from fast to slow fashion is a long journey. Remember that. I have been building my ethical wardrobe for 7 years. After I stopped shopping (step 1), I made a list of basic items (step 2) and built a small wardrobe I loved (step 3). I learned to wear quality pieces all the time and not save them for special occasions. Fewer better became my motto. I figured out how to add punches of my personality through adding accessories to my basics.

You can find PART THREE of this series here.

If you have questions about anything related to ethical fashion feel free to comment here, send me a message on Instagram or email me.

*some of the links in this post are affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from these links I earn a small commission to cover the cost of running this blog & help raise awareness for social justice issues.

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