The Little Black Sustainable Dress

The little Black dress has been a wardrobe essential since Coco Chanel introduced her plain black dresses in 1926.
Little black dress

The little black sustainable dress could be one of the most sustainable items in your wardrobe. One dress for all occasions. Dress it up or down, layer it, accessorize it, or wear it is on its own. It’s simplicity and versatility help to make it sustainable. 

What makes a dress sustainable and ethical?

To be considered ‘sustainable’, a garment should be eco-friendly, ethically made, durable and easy to obtain. Complex supply chains can make assessing sustainability difficult. The word sustainable gets thrown about a lot, and with no exact definition it’s easy to brand your company sustainable without being fully committed to transparent and ethical manufacturing and processes.


How can you tell if a dress is sustainable?

Research the brand and their ethics, a lot of brands will splash the words sustainable and eco friendly all over their products. But a good way to cut through the greenwashing, is to look for ethical objectives and corresponding reports. An ethical brand will be transparent and hold themselves accountable, they will usually be monitoring their activities, set targets and publish reports on achievements.

You could also examine the material the dress is made from. Is it made from natural plant based fibres such as organic cotton, hemp or flax (linen). Certain wools can also be sustainable. There are other semi synthetic fibres such as viscose and bamboo which can be marketed as sustainable, however in reality the process of converting the raw materials into fibres can be very energy intensive and use a lot of toxic chemicals. 

Fibre recycling

While on the surface fibre recycling may divert from unsustainability of using virgin fibres, there is still the question of how much energy and resource goes into the collecting, sorting and recycling of the old fibres. WRAP investigated with a report assessing the economic and sustainable viability of fibre recycling. They concluded that while some fibre recycling may be financially viable, the findings are limited by the relative immaturity of the processes and lack of information from developers on costs.

For more detailed information about clothing material go climate have a good summary.

However, everyone is busy and research takes time. The website does some of the work for you in assessing a brand’s environmental impact. They rate brands on a 3 point system having looked at the way they treat people, planet, and animals. They use data from company reporting and robust third party indices as the basis for their scores.

The easiest way to find a sustainable little black dress is to buy second hand. There are lots of places you can buy quality second hand clothing, local online groups and of course ebay and thrift shops. Give it a go you may find it easier than you think.

If you are going to buy new, look for ethical fashion retailers. Find classic pieces that are well made with eco friendly fabrics who pay a fair price to their manufacturers. Try to build a capsule wardrobe where items are easily mixed and matched. Sustainable fashion is attainable; you just need to look in the right place.

We recommned People Tree. They are a member of the WFTO guarantee system and use a high proportion of eco friendly materials. People Tree are dedicated to complying with principals of fair trade, fair wages, good working conditions, transparency, environmental best practice and gender equality.

3 Sustainable little black dresses from People Tree

Melanie Wrap Dress is made from 95% organic cotton and 5% elastane.

Melanie Black sustainable wrap dress

Pari Shirt Dress is made from 98% organic certified cotton and 2% elastane.

Pari black sustainable shirt dress

Valencia Dress is made from 95% organic fair trade certified cotton and 5% elastane.

Valencia black sustainable midi dress

For more sustainable fashion tips click here.

Rainforest Trust

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