If you had to guess, how much of 2021 will be spent in sweatpants?
The pandemic will wane perhaps, but we will hold dear those elastic waistbands. Even widely available vaccines will not maneuver us back into pencil skirts or fitted slacks.
Sometime last year, when I was in a cycle of wearing the same loungewear for days and nights on end, I decided to shop online for new sweats and tees. I wanted comfortable things that were not synthetic workout clothes. I stumbled upon Good On You, a website offering reviews and ratings of clothing manufacturers around the world, grading them on sustainability and their impact on the earth’s environment. Their ratings (based on treatment of employees, manufacturing processes, and materials used) are easy to understand, and you can also study various topics related to the clothing industry, such as this explainer on material choices.
I decided to make my way through a few of the highly rated vendors who offer easy-to-wear items. Compared to shopping at a larger retailer, these vendors offer far fewer styles, with muted neutral tones and solids mostly. On the positive side, many of these sellers have an impressively wide range of sizes, and use minimal, even compostable, packaging to ship their products. Ultimately these products are not cheap, though, and if you generally shop at Target or Old Navy the price difference might be too significant. If you are a fan of Lululemon or Athleta, however, the pricing is not too far off, and I would encourage you to give one of these companies a try. Read ahead for more details.
The Classic T Shirt Company offers, you guessed it, classic t-shirts. They have both men’s and women’s styles, and I purchased the Womens Long Sleeve V Neck in dark gray for $58. It’s a sturdy, heavyweight cotton that holds up well in washing. However, the cut of the shirt wasn’t great for me as a petite woman. The XS size fit me in length for the arms and torso, but the sleeves were soooooo tight, from the shoulder all the way to the wrist. I’m not sure I would reorder again, because of the fit.
Franc, a company based in Canada, offers a nice selection of t-shirts, joggers and cardigans. I ordered the Scoopneck Tank Top $49 CAD/$39 USD, and the Crewneck Sweatshirt for $69 CAD/$55 USD. I also paid $14 CAD/$11 USD in shipping because I didn’t meet the threshold of $125 for free shipping. The tank is a nice soft, stretchy fabric, and the sweatshirt is super cozy with a nice gathered sleeve. I would reorder from this site as long as I could find enough items to meet the threshold for free shipping.
Mate the Label, one of my favorites that I came across, offers comfortable clothing that is a bit more fashion forward. I purchased a graphic tee $68, a graphic sweatshirt $112, a white cotton v-neck tee $64, and a pair of black joggers $128. Both t-shirts were super soft and comfortable, and the white v-neck tee is probably my favorite white t-shirt right now. It is lightweight enough to be a nice underlayer, but with just enough heft to stand up to washing. It’s also very generous in length and wide across my tummy, which is great for a middle aged bod like mine. But $64 for a t-shirt is a lot, I agree. If you can afford to buy one as a treat, I say go for it. But also keep checking to see if any of their t-shirts go on sale.
The graphic cotton terry sweatshirt is nice, and I like the slightly wider collar that shows off a bit of collarbone. But the material is cotton terry, so just know that it has that “nubbier” texture of terry against your skin. If you are sensitive, you may not want to choose that particular material from Mate.
My most favorite are the joggers, though. I wear them several times a week, and so the $128 price seems a bit more palatable. They are a nice thick cotton, so you don’t feel like you are wearing pajamas when you venture out, and I love the seaming down the legs. It’s just a nice little extra touch that gives normal sweats a bit of style. I kind of wish the white waistband tie wasn’t so obvious but that’s a minor complaint.
If the pricing from Mate is a little too high, try visiting the website once in a while and see if you can find an item on sale. That would be a great way to try the brand. I will definitely order again from this site (I’m already eyeing a linen jumpsuit for the summer).
Girlfriend Collective is another brand with a “great” rating from Good On You, and has a similar vibe to Mate the Label. However, they have a strong focus on using recycled materials in their clothing, and have slightly lower price points.
I bought a matching set of a jogger ($68) and a hoodie ($68), a v-neck tee ($32), and a separate classic jogger ($78). The matching hoodie and jogger (the style is called “R&R”) are of a thin, svelte material made from recycled plastic plus spandex, which is surprisingly soft and feels amazing against your skin.
I really like the v-neck tee, since it’s a generous cut and would fit a lot of different body types. I only wish it was a little longer in the torso, since it rides up a bit and shows more midsection than I would like, but admittedly I have a weirdly long torso in relation to the rest of my height.
The classic jogger from Girlfriend is also great, although I slightly prefer the joggers from Mate (because of that seaming). But the best part of these Girlfriend joggers is that the tie-string is on the interior of the waistband. Love that.
I’m impressed with the amount of recycled material that goes into this brand’s clothing, and I think the price point is fairly accessible. The selection isn’t as varied as Mate, but I would happily reorder again the next time I need a pair of sweats or another t-shirt.
As much as I thought I would stick to North American brands, I could not resist ordering from this European brand based in Slovenia called Mila.vert. It was this sweater that totally grabbed my attention. Even with the shipping charge of 19 Euros, this €185 (or $220) felt like a fair value for this uniquely patterned, knit cotton sweater. And I really love this green color. The relaxed fit of the sweater makes it very accessible to a lot of different body shapes, too.
The company “makes to order” so it is a slightly longer delivery time, but completely worth the wait. I only have had one other experience with another “made to order” company, and the Mila.vert purchase was a much better experience by far. I can’t wait to make my next purchase… if only it were fall, I would be buying this coat right away.
I hope this inspires you to give one or more of these brands a chance. Also, I highly recommend signing up for the Good On You newsletter. I don’t love receiving a lot of marketing mail, but their articles have a lot of informative and educational information.
Have you purchased anything from these companies before? Or do you have your own favorite sustainable clothing recommendations to share? Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Would love to hear from you. 🖤
all opinions are my own, and all products were paid for out of my own pocket.