Fashion Friday: Ethical Accessories to Pair with your Dress

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There’s a famous quote by Otto von Bismarck that says, “There are two things you don’t want to see being made- sausage and legislation.”

Personally, I have never seen either being made and I can guess I do not want to. Similarly, as I learn more about slave labor and harsh working conditions, there are everyday products I consume that I would not want to see being made due to a high possibility of slavery being involved.

In one day, I can consume a banana, coffee, tea, and wear something made with cotton. These items, specifically, have a high chance of being produced or picked by slave labor.

This December, advocates across the world will wear a dress every day for one month to support anti-trafficking organizations. Many of these advocates will purchase a dress from the Dressember collection (my favorite is the Sierra!), visit secondhand stores, or swap dresses with friends. Even though finding enough dresses and creative ways to wear them is a challenge, finding fair trade accessories to accompany your dresses is a challenge all it’s own

As I plan my outfits out for Dressember (it is never too early), I also think about the accessories I plan to wear and how they were made. If I am going to participate in a campaign that stands for the dignity of all people, it must be through more than just a dress. This all-encompassing mindset will help you and I engage in new and exciting ways because while not everyone will want to wear a dress, everyone can choose to buy products that are fair trade.

To find the perfect accessories for your dresses, here are some of my favorite places to find fair trade items.

Better Way Imports (BWI)  

BWI recognized that large amounts of aid to poor countries were absorbed by corrupt governments, contributing to poverty and oppression. BWI thought there had to be a better way to help people. They support the poor by providing jobs and allowing permanent solutions to alleviate poverty and oppression. They demand high-quality products, fair trading with employees, and sustainable business practices to provide relief for women from trafficking.

BWI sells many fashionable and fairly traded jewelry, blankets, and bags. My personal favorite is the scarf collection, coming in different styles: pop, urban chic, elegance, check, sophisticated, and weekender. Check out the online catalog.

Sole Rebels

Sole Rebels markets fair-trade and sustainable footwear, handcrafted by Ethiopian artisans. They are the world’s only World Fair Trade Organization Fair Trade footwear brand. Additionally, their shoes are made from recycled tire soles and organic fabrics. One fascinating aspect about Sole Rebels is the 10 principles of Fair Trade they follow.

I have a pair of Sole Rebel sandals and love them. However, I might have to check out some of their best-seller styles for winter. You can find them here.  

Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages established in 1946, has provided $140 million of sustainable income for over 20,000 makers who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. It was started by one woman selling textiles from the trunk of her car and now works in 30 countries.

I’m just a woman trying to help other women.” Edna Ruth Blyer

They provide the space for people to have opportunities that, otherwise, would not be available. Their hope is that one day, all artisans in developing countries will earn a fair wage, be treated with dignity and respect, and be able to live a life of quality. 

In addition to providing jewelry and accessories, they offer fair trade personal items, office supplies, housewares, games, and collectibles! For those Dressember advocates living in a cold climate, Ten Thousand Villages offers fair trade hats, scarves, and mittens! You can find them here

Other great ethical stores with accessories include:

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About the Author

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Kaitlyn Wanta is about to graduate college and face the real world. After learning how to stay warm in a dress during Wisconsin's winter, she is excited to hear and share the stories of fellow Dressember advocates. Her bucket list includes riding in a hot air balloon, finishing a cookbook by making all the recipes, and catching a fish larger than herself.