Eco-friendly styles are in
By Heidi Rehak
Even if the color isn't your most flattering, the benefits of a "green" wardrobe are countless. You can save the earth, save the animals and save yourself from being left out of a very of-the-moment trend. Whatever you call it - "Natural," "Green," "Organic" - eco-friendly is a style with staying power.
You can give your closet a conscience, yet still embrace the latest fashion. While manufacturer labels bearing the declaration "synthetic," "acrylic" or "polyester" once elicited gasps of horror from discriminate shoppers, now microfibers composed of those very elements top everyone's must-have list for stylish wardrobing.
As mysterious as they sound, "microfibers" are just that: synthetic, ultra-fine fibers. The virtue of these tiny filaments is that they produce a fabric that is much more soft and supple than that spun with larger filaments.
You're hard-pressed today to find a department store not proudly displaying scores of styles - clothing, shoes and accessories - made of the enviro-friendly microfiber. Saks Fifth Avenue, for example, features microfiber fashions from designers such as David Dart, Ellen Tracy and Dana Buchman. From top designers to discount outlets, this new material is certain to have shelf life.
Other eco-friendly fabrics include the ever-popular stretchy combination of Spandex, nylon and cotton, and Tencel, manufactured from natural wood pulp but made to look like silk, feel like cotton and be wrinkle-resistant. The Women's Department at Nordstrom is featuring fall lines that include Tencel jumpers and warm-up suits.
For the earthier dresser, let us not forget about simple, organic cotton - a surefire, timeless classic and a natural, cruelty-free way to go. For years, Making it Big has proudly manufactured a terrific line of natural fiber clothing in plus- and super-sizes, and their Fall/Winter collection is no exception.
And while oodles of clothes and shoes made from hemp are popping up on the racks these days, they're rarely found in plus sizes. Watch for that to change.
Turning your wardrobe into a peaceable kingdom is as simple as checking labels before you buy. According to the folks at GreenCulture.com, always be on the lookout for clothing made with recycled materials, human-made materials and synthetic fibers. They also recommend avoiding too many articles of clothing that require dry cleaning, since the strong chemicals used in this process have been linked to illnesses in mammals by the Environmental Protection Agency.
To develop a closet with a conscience, incorporate wardrobe pieces that are made from the following:
Organic cotton: Grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, pesticides and exfoliants, it is usually whitened with hydrogen peroxide instead of harmful chlorine bleach.
Hemp: A renewable plant resource that requires very little irrigation and no pesticides or herbicides during cultivation.
Water-based adhesives: This glue agent eliminates the toxic fumes from solvent-based glues typically used in footwear manufacturing.
Virgin wool: Sheep are raised with sustainable agriculture methods, and the wool is minimally processed and free of chemical treatments.
Tencel: A fiber made from the wood pulp of trees that are grown and replaced on specialized farms. Unlike most cellulosic fabrics, it is produced using recyclable, earth-friendly solvents.
Microfiber: Takes many forms, including blending with polyester, wool, modacrylic or acyclic fibers. End uses include outerwear, lining in footwear, accessories and home furnishing.
Chlorenol: Used in athletic and hiking shoes, this new material is perforated for breathability, will stretch around the foot with the same give as leather and is machine washable.
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