Dress for yourself: Chic and Cruelty-Free

Our society has always been obsessed with skin – showing it and suppressing it. Years ago Vogue wrote articles about looking feminine and matronly in long skirts and shoulder-covering blouses. In America, at least, it wasn’t until the 60s that barely-there fashions became a societal norm. Hemlines became shorter, midriffs got draftier, and with women’s rights came a liberation to dress and act how we wanted without male approval. It was an amazing time that led to fun fashion trends that skill inspire designers today. Now, I am all for empowering women and living in a manner that pleases you, but what if what pleases you is against society norms?

I’m talking about dressing modestly, or rather the act of not baring all in barely-there’s. I’m not talking about being covered head to toe, as some women choose to do (which is totally fine and drool-worthy as many IG women have proven), but modesty in the sense that your shorts don’t show more bum than otherwise. The mere mention of “modesty” however, tends to bring word associations with untrendy, matronly, business-like, body shaming, or dull, boring outfits.

Classy is the new oppression

In today’s world, modesty seems to be something negative. It’s a restriction schools force upon young girls, with measured hemline inspections and unreasonable dress codes. It’s what women over a certain age have because fashion magazines and Hollywood have portrayed women over 45 as a different breed than their younger selves. Modesty is a conservative style that corporate America tells women in the workplace they still need to have to be taken seriously and get ahead. It’s a dying dress-style that designers shy away from due to popular demand and a desire to push the [style] envelope. It’s not classy, not chic, not modest – it’s an oppressive box females have to step into before they can go home, unwind and wear what they really want to.

This is extremely disappointing, both in a sense of what our society tells young girls and boys is sexy and that it became increasingly more difficult to find stylish, classy clothing choices in many designer brands. I struggled for years to find the balance between looking chic and feminine without everyone being able to look at everything I had to display. Even if you’re perfectly comfortable showing some skin, there are days you may want to be less covered without feeling like you’re bumming it.

Then retro was born. Finally! Vintage fashion styles became more available. Designers popped up with boutiques and online stores selling styles that left more to the imagination and still kept it appealing. The only problem? Many of these looks cost a small fortune or used textiles so cruely created that what should be a beautiful blouse was tainted by the uncompassionate way it was made. So despite a glimpse of hope, many of us that care about elegance, ethics and affordability were left by the wayside still – forever stuck in weekend mode or relying on basic b*tch basics to get us through. (Who doesn’t love a great pair of leggings, though? Am I right?)

The Turning Point

Then a few years ago the fashion world woke up. Buzzwords like “modern vintage”, “ethical”, “sustainable”, “midi”, “eco-friendly” and (yes, dare I say) vegan started popping up. Feux is in and fur is slowly dying (again). Big name brands started listening to ladies like us and started carrying options that offer a broader range of styles in materials and prices the average woman would be content with.

That’s when I stopped looking at the fashion industry as the enemy. I got over my glass half empty mindset and started realising that the power of purchase spoke louder than anything. So I shopped around. Much to my friends’ chagrin, I Pinned the ever loving daylights out of styles I liked on Pinterest to get an idea of what I was looking for and where to find it (finally). I discovered ethical and cruelty-free fashion brands that don’t break the bank – even entire online stores dedicated to that classy chic style I adore.

So while I’m still very disappointed in the connotations and expectations we’re teaching the next generation – I dress for me and I let my dollar help sway the demand of the industry. I still bum it on a lazy Sunday morning in my favorite boyfriend sweater and leggings, but I shop smarter for clothing I love and that aligns with my morals. I feel sexy and chic instead of plain or old-fashioned (while still being fiarly “modest”). And I want to help others that may be in the same boat. So this is my first post on Hearts & Style!

My name is April and I am on a mission to help others live more ethically, elegantly, and affordably. I hope to inspire you as much as to assure you that you can have it all and look dang good at the same time. This blog is a personal look into my style, lifestyle, travel, food love, cute photos of my pets and more. I dress for me, and I hope by putting it on the Internet, I can inspire you to do the same.

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