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Stylin’ Sustainably at Prom

6 mins read

Shopping for prom clothes can be stressful, as finding an outfit that is both unique and affordable is a near-impossible task. Sourcing it sustainably makes this even more difficult, as inexpensive eco-friendly clothing that aligns with current trends and preferences is scarce. However, buying a sustainably-made prom outfit is important, as prom season can bring in millions of dollars for fast-fashion brands, which encourages them to continue harmful practices. Furthermore, the fashion industry is one of Earth’s largest polluters, and emits more carbon dioxide than the commercial flight and marine shipping industries combined.

Sustainable clothing retailers are those who adhere to strict standards for labor conditions, limit their greenhouse gas emissions in production and shipping, use sustainably-produced or recycled materials, limit their pollution and waste, and use recyclable packaging. In general, Good on You is an incredible site for finding sustainable vendors, and a quick Google search can also be very useful—but be wary of greenwashing! Buying new clothes is never going to be completely sustainable because that significantly contributes to waste; renting clothes or buying them secondhand is the most sustainable and affordable, especially since most second-hand vendors offer clothes in new condition. These vendors include websites such as Rent the Runway, thredUP, Depop, Poshmark, Ebay, and local stores such as The Shop and Goodwill Boutique.

The following is a selective list of stylish, sustainable, and accessible options for prom.

Note: Most of the following options cater to feminine styles. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][nectar_animated_title heading_tag=”h6″ style=”color-strip-reveal” color=”Accent-Color” text=”Bastet Noir”][/vc_column][/vc_row]Bastet Noir is an affordable store with beautiful dresses and very creative designs that you won’t find anywhere else. You can buy or rent from Bastet Noir. Their sustainability comes from on-demand production and their use of deadstock, recycled, and organic fabrics. They do not keep an inventory, rather making each piece to customers’ specifications when they order them, and are thus zero-waste. They have extreme fabric economy, and ensure that all of their fabrics are produced in environmentally-safe ways. The brand is woman-owned, and doesn’t, “believe in sizes, because every body is different and so we don’t have plus, petite or tall sections. We make clothes that fit every body type.” It also has a fund called The Woman Fund that supports single mothers, and supports numerous social causes. Click here to shop Bastet Noir. Price range for prom: $100-200[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][vc_gallery type=”flexslider_style” images=”76129,76131,76132,76133,76130″ onclick=”link_no”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][nectar_animated_title heading_tag=”h6″ style=”color-strip-reveal” color=”Accent-Color” text=”Rent the Runway”][/vc_column][/vc_row]Rent the Runway has everyone’s dream dress for a fraction of the price. The site offers hundreds of prom-worthy dresses in every imaginable silhouette, color, and pattern. Renting is sustainable in itself, replacing the need to produce millions of dresses (thus saving tons of water, energy, and materials) and reducing textile waste by diverting over a million dresses from landfills. The brand has also offset 100% of their carbon emissions from shipping, repairs all garments in order to continue to minimize waste and pollution, and are actively working towards having net zero carbon emissions. They are also a thoroughly diverse organization, from the leadership down, and ensure that their rental offerings include a diverse selection of brands. The website makes shopping easy, with filters for every possible criterion. Rentals include free backup sizes and reduced-price backup dresses. No photos because it is a large-scale compilation of brands and styles. Click here to shop Rent the Runway! Price range for prom: $30-200[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][nectar_animated_title heading_tag=”h6″ style=”color-strip-reveal” color=”Accent-Color” text=”Reformation”][/vc_column][/vc_row]This is an amazing store for new dresses, with the most options of any of the brands listed, beautiful and size-inclusive dresses in a variety of colors and prints. Their brand has four tenets of sustainability: Made Smarter, Made Better, Made for Good, and Transparency. Click here to view their extensive and digestible sustainability information. Some highlights include: using almost exclusively recycled or eco-friendly fabrics, 100% recyclable and long-lasting clothing, safe and clean dyeing and finishing practices, very limited and data-driven garment production to minimize waste, and resource-efficient, renewable-energy-driven, worker-prioritizing production practices. Overall, they treat their employees, consumers, and the Earth extremely well. Reformation provides free hemming services. Click here to shop Reformation! Price range for prom: $200-600[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][vc_gallery type=”flexslider_style” images=”76134,76135,76136,76137,76138″ onclick=”link_no”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][nectar_animated_title heading_tag=”h6″ style=”color-strip-reveal” color=”Accent-Color” text=”Loud Bodies”][/vc_column][/vc_row]Loud Bodies stands out for its diverse styles. It has options for every fashion preference, including but not limited to modest clothing, an inclusive size range, and masculine clothing. The brand prides itself on its working conditions: all employees are paid at least twice the minimum wage, and the brand aims to pay all employees thrice the minimum wage by 2024. Furthermore, Loud Bodies provides unlimited sick days and workers manufacture clothing in a comfortable house with air conditioning and refreshments. Regarding sustainability, the brand only uses organic, certified-sustainable, and recycled materials. They use no plastic in their packaging, and all paper (tags, stationery, wrapping) is made from recycled paper. They offset the carbon emissions from their shipments and do not use any animal products. Click here to shop Loud Bodies. Price range for prom: $80-200[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][vc_gallery type=”flexslider_style” images=”76139,76140,76141″ onclick=”link_no”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][nectar_animated_title heading_tag=”h6″ style=”color-strip-reveal” color=”Accent-Color” text=”ourCommonplace”][/vc_column][/vc_row]This is an online marketplace—similar to Nordstrom—that sells all the best ethical brands. ourCommonplace’s founding principles are, “giving voice to ethical and sustainable brands that also embody diversity, equity, and inclusion.” When bringing brands onto their platform, they consider ethicality and sustainability; particularly, they check for certifications, recycled materials, low environmental impact, ethical production, organic materials, no harsh chemicals, cruelty-free standards, BIPOC inclusion and celebration, and female employment and support. No photos because it is a large-scale compilation of brands and styles. Click here to shop from Our Commonplace! Price range for prom: $100-600[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][nectar_animated_title heading_tag=”h6″ style=”color-strip-reveal” color=”Accent-Color” text=”Who to Avoid”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][fancy-ul icon_type=”standard_dash” color=”Accent-Color” alignment=”left”]

  • Lucy in the Sky
  • Princess Polly
  • Fame and Partners
  • Shein
  • Nordstrom 
  • Macy’s
  • Windsor
  • Oh Polly
  • Revolve

[/fancy-ul][/vc_column][/vc_row]These are just a handful of the many brands that harm the environment. Their production processes have unsafe working conditions, treat workers unfairly, heavily emit greenhouse gases and make no effort to minimize their emissions, and harm the environment with exorbitant textile and chemical waste.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]While shopping sustainably can be difficult and expensive, I hope this list tempers some of the barriers to sustainable shopping.

Happy shopping and happy prom![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Amala Raj is a senior at M-A, and it is her second year at the Chronicle. She enjoys using journalism to explore education policy and highlight extraordinary individuals in the community. She is also a part of M-A’s Leadership-ASB, and spends her free time at the beach.

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