Clean Closet, Clear Conscience?

When our favorite fashion maven and animal activist, Marcia Masulla, took the plunge and went Vegan, we had to know how she was able to clear out that amazing closet of hers, replace it's contents with sustainable, cruelty-free products and still look so darn fashionable.  (Seriously, I've never seen her have a bad fashion day.)  In the first of what we hope will be a continuing guest blog series, Marcia delves into what made her decide to make this huge lifestyle change and how she's building her new sustainable wardrobe one pair of synthetic shoes at a time.
 

I have to admit that writing this blog was a bit of a struggle for me due to a lack of time and sluggish efforts from sheer laziness, amongst many other palpable excuses.  In theory, this could be the reasoning behind my lack of acquiring “Buns of Steel", learning the bass guitar, or spouting out more fluent terms than “Vive Bene” as homage to my Italian heritage.  Thank goodness for Carla and Mizzie’s gentle nudging for me to get my little blog out regardless of the firmness of my tush.

As an individual, I strive to make a positive impact and also yearn for learning experiences along the way.  Throughout the years, I have challenged myself to opening my mind to various causes and have taken the time to assist in making this world we live in a better place for all those who inhabit it.  Often times, this means you must open your eyes, ears, and soul to things you may have wished you never had to be exposed to.  Allow me to explain...
I became curious about the work that PETA was doing a couple of years ago, when I was browsing an issue of Vogue splattered with editorials filled with fur coats and accessories.  As a loyal soldier of the fashion industry for the last decade, it suddenly occurred to me that these products were the flesh of creatures that we murdered for our own vain attempts of being chic.  I shuddered at the thought of actually doing “research,” but I jumped online and typed in www.peta.org.  I figured the largest animal rights organization in the world would have precisely the information I was scouring for, right?  Did they ever…  How could I be so horrendously oblivious that many of my fashion heroes and their leggy muses support this kind of cruelty?  
I may struggle with sticking to a yoga regimen, but after months of research and a flourishing Vegetarian lifestyle, that I actually stuck to for a year, I made the life-changing choice to become a Vegan.  Yes my friends, that means no animal products whatsoever.  My closet was a massive sumptuous album for my life and I worked hard for everything that it contained.  Each piece had a story.  Goodbye beloved Frye leather motorcycle boots.  Sayonara Prada cashmere cardigan.  Adios wool Anna Sui overcoat with mink trim.  Did I mention I had to break up with a pair of vintage leather Gucci heels with tortoise shell embellishment and ALL of my purses?
How could a fashion aficionado such as myself continue to live without Louis, Marc, and Alexander?  Luckily, a loving, yet strong-willed friend dedicated an evening to Vegan-izing my closets with me.  We stacked several large boxes with layers of purses, shoes, jewelry, belts, etc.  Throughout the evening, I would wilt and start sharing romantic memories with various personal treasures and Elly would just smile and tell me that I had to keep going.  In the early hours of the next morning, our mission was complete.  I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t disclose that I cried for a bit, pouted, and was even silent as I reflected on my new lifestyle.  Boxes would soon be shipped to upscale consignment retailers throughout the country and I even brought a healthy batch of shoes to Designer Renaissance here in Nashville.  My shoe, belt, and purse collections went from Imelda Marcos to less than what most bachelor men possess. Yet, I stood there defiantly the next day and felt a surge of conviction as I challenged myself to build my style around sustainable and cruelty-free fashion. 
I’ve already decided that with my first check from the NYC based consignment store www.covetshop.com, I will treat myself to a taste of Stella McCartney.  Ms. McCartney is not only a promoter of Meat Free Mondays with her delightful father, Sir Paul, but she also leads by example with her beautiful collections that are completely cruelty-free.  Could she be more perfect?  Swooooooooon.


Reality TV star turned mogul, Kim Kardashian, also offers up shoes and purses on her newest project, www.shoedazzle.com.  You may sign up for a monthly membership that gives you access to Kim and her team of stylists who pick trendy kicks made out of synthetic and man-made materials for a set price of $39.95!  I can vouch these may be the most inexpensive shoes I have purchased in a long time, but they don’t fall short on the style meter.  Check out my most recent purchases:

  
Lastly, I must introduce you to designer and ethical advocate Elizabeth Olsen. Her Olsen Haus collection is not only socially responsible but stylish and well crafted as well.  Visit their website to learn more on the philosophy of this fantastic line.  Here are some of my must-haves for the steamy summer of fun ahead of us. I have a feeling my closet will be stocked again very soon...
Metallic and linen gladiator sandals are sophisticated yet edgy enough to be any dame’s summer staple.
These faux suede sandals are a bright, comfy, and cruelty-free option that would look fantastic with rompers, leggings, and flirty dresses.
I don’t mind being petite as long as I can slip on these woven satin gems to add a little height and sass.  Seriously, I may not eat meat any longer but I could totally eat these. Yum!

Who knows? Maybe Stella, Kim, and Elizabeth can teach the boys a thing or two about sustainable style.  If you'd like to learn more about cruelty-free consumer products, visit CaringConsumer.com and order your free 2010 Shopping Guide. 

Spending time with Marcia has truly inspired Mizzie and me to be more conscious about what we eat and what we wear.  I know I'm not ready to give up my Prada shoes, triple cream Brie or Cupcake Collection cupcakes just yet (although I have had some yummy vegan ones), but a few weeks of Meat Free Mondays have led my husband and me to make a conscious effort to not eat meat during the week.  I've also noticed myself checking labels on clothes and shoes more than I ever have before.  We owe it to ourselves and the environment to be more socially aware of where our food and other products we use and wear come from.  So thanks Marcia!  We can't wait to read what you've got for us in the coming months.




*Photos courtesy of stellamccartney.com, shoedazzle.com and olsenhaus.com.