If you’re looking for sustainable dresses, you are in for a treat! We’ve rounded up some of the very best brands, covering a range of styles, sizes, and budgets. And, as always you can rest assured that the brands featured here do their part to offer more sustainable products we can actually stand behind, without holding back on the fun!
Why choose sustainable dresses over conventional brands?
Reaching for sustainable and ethical fashion is better for us and for the planet. That’s because conventional garments bring with them a slew of undesirable issues.
One such issue which recently received renewed attention is the fact that conventional clothing can be covered in harmful contaminants. Fast fashion brands like Zaful, AliExpress, and Shein were found to contain high levels of contaminants like lead. Not to mention the ubiquitous use of flame retardants and chemical dyes, even on baby clothes.
Mindfully crafted garments like sustainable dresses, t-shirts, sweaters, winter coats, winter boots, jeans, and more are available from brands who account for this stuff. They also look out for the workers involved in making their garments, and that is super important where labor issues are a major concern when it comes to clothing manufacturing.
Making clothes can also be very taxing on the environment. In addition to being a very chemical-intensive industry that has resulted in a ton of pollution; it is also very resource intensive. Just one t-shirt takes about 2,700 liters of water to be fabricated from start to finish. That’s about 713 gallons of water or the equivalent of about 2 years worth of drinking water for 1 person.
Things to look for while shopping for sustainable dresses
To avoid these unwanted practices and choose the best options available to us, we consider four important criteria: fabric and materials, ethical sourcing, corporate responsibility, and inclusivity.
Fabric and materials: here we look for sustainable fabrics with a lighter footprint from the beginning of their lifecycle to the end. Organic linen, recycled cotton, TENCEL™, modal, and hemp are some of our favorites.
Ethical sourcing: where production practices and labor is considered we look for brands who source their fabrics sustainably and are accountable for the workers involved in the making of their garments, across their supply chain. Fair wages and safe working conditions are only the tip of the iceberg but they are a great start. Certifications like ILO, Fair Labour Association, WRAP, Fair Trade, ISO 14001, SA8000, SMETA, ETI, and GOTS are great references where possible.
Corporate responsibility: brands that go the extra mile are at the top of our list. That’s why we also look for sustainable packaging, environmental initiatives and charitable works, carbon neutrality or net negative initiatives, or B corp certifications, just to name a few. This really makes shopping for more sustainable products even better.
Inclusivity: we also look for brands that embrace all sizes and bodies to make it easier for all of us to access more sustainable garments.
Our Top Recommendations for Sustainable Dresses
Here are our top picks for some of the best sustainable dresses out there. Let’s get into it!
Founded by designer Lisa J Lawrence, Lawrence Scott Atelier is a luxury Canadian brand that specializes in customized dress designs made for the modern woman. On a mission to make the perfect dress, all of their dresses are custom-made to measure so they are guaranteed to fit every figure and size. Operating at the intersection of elegance and comfort, form and function, luxury and sustainability, you can rest assured that their dresses will feel as good as they look.
Inspired by classic silhouettes you will find something for every occasion, including sustainable evening dresses. Take the Sara Dress which is perfect for all-day wear but also transitions seamlessly into evening wear. You can choose from different sleeves, hemlines, and colors, with different options depending on the design. Get some help finding the perfect dress for you by booking a virtual fitting or a design consultation.
Lawrence Scott Atelier — fabrics and materials
To make their garments the brand uses an OEKO-TEX certified organic bamboo jersey which is very soft to the touch and free from harmful chemicals and dyes. They also offer designs in a 100% organic silk charmeuse fabric which feels super soft and luxurious.
Lawrence Scott Atelier — ethical sourcing
All of their garments are painstakingly crafted just for you in Canada. The brand uses a zero-waste production process, with the help of a small production team of just 5 people. Make sure to thank Michelle, Colleen, Charlene, Shirley, and Sonja if you opt to leave a review raving about your lovely purchase.
Lawrence Scott Atelier — corporate responsibility
Offering tailor made sustainably produced dresses is where Lawrence Scott Atelier sets itself apart. This reduces the carbon footprint associated with production. But it also means less waste where overproduction is concerned. No mass production here. The Laura Set is another one of our favorite pieces in their collection. It can be worn two ways as a set, or each piece can be worn separately with different garments altogether. We absolutely love the versatility which can be found in many of their pieces. Perfect for a minimalist wardrobe. Plus all of their packaging and shipping supplies are 100% compostable.
Price range: $$$$
TAMGA Designs was born out of the need for a positive example in fashion and the desire to take action. Their garments marry style, people, and the planet for those looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Find hand-drawn prints and beautiful bohemian inspired dresses within their collection of mindfully crafted garments. One of their best selling dresses is the Ember, a crew neckline, knee length dress perfect for any occasion. Customers love the material, 100% Tencel, and how comfortable and versatile it is. Sizes range from XS-XXL and you can even shop by print using their filters.
TAMGA — fabrics and materials
Fabrics used include TENCEL, Lenzing Ecovero, European Flax Linen, and Lenzing Modal. They also use low impact dyes that are OEKO-Tex 100 certified.
TAMGA — ethical sourcing
TAMGA is transparent about its partner factories. All of their fabric partners have social and environmental certifications that are world-class in manufacturing. Through their Code of Conduct, the brand also ensures the highest social and environmental standards with every one of their primary and secondary suppliers. The code is built on conventions from the International Labour Organization (ILO), industry best practice and their own professional experience.
TAMGA — corporate responsibility
A 1% For The Planet member, all TAMGA garments are carbon neutral, since 2019. They do this by funding projects that absorb the same amount of carbon created by their garments. For packaging: unbleached and GOTS certified organic cotton tote bags, thank you cards printed on 100% recycled thank you cards, and 100% post-consumer paper by a social enterprise in Bali. Shipping envelopes are also 100% compostable and made from sustainably-sourced plants.
Price range: $$-$$$$
On a mission to revolutionize the fashion industry, co-founders Erin Houston and Emily Kenney, started Wearwell to make it easier to buy the most ethical and sustainable products while supporting the brands making a positive impact all around. To do this Wearwell focuses on digging into the details by assessing how brands define and measure their own impact. They also discuss with the brand to learn more about their production practices and environmental impact and look for third-party certifications where possible.
You will find a wide selection of styles and options, at different prices, including some sustainable party dresses if that’s what you are on the hunt for. There are lots to choose from so definitely check out their Dresses + Jumpsuits section to get right to the good stuff. Sizes range from XS-3XL. You will also find other clothing essentials, jewelry, accessories, and home products.
Wearwell — fabrics and materials
Fabrics used include organic cotton, TENCEL Lyocell, Modal, cotton, modal blend, and more. Check out the product descriptions for more details on specific pieces.
Wearwell — ethical sourcing
As part of their verification process, Wearwell looks to partner with brands whose products are artisan-made, handmade, and/or made in the USA. They also look to work with brands that produce in small batches, work with secondhand products, utilize slow fashion principles, offer made-to-order garments, use a circular model, are employee-owned, and/or employ a zero waste production system. Have a look at product descriptions for more details on individual garments.
Wearwell — corporate responsibility
Wearwell offers a secondhand program that collects gently used Wearwell clothing and accessories, giving them another home and a second life which we absolutely love. Taking accountability for what happens at the end of a garment’s lifecycle is just as important as what happens to it at the beginning of its lifecycle.
Price range: $-$$$$
SmartGlamour is another made-to-order option that we really love, this time from NYC. This is an affordable, inclusive and customizable ethical clothing line that embraces people of all shapes, sizes, heights, ages, identities, and styles and we absolutely love what they are doing.
Find plus-size clothing, petite clothing, and everything in between within their wide selection of designs that make an especially great option for fair trade summer dresses. Sizes range from XXS-15X.
SmartGlamour — fabrics and materials
Most of their fabrics are cotton-based with some spandex for comfort.
SmartGlamour — ethical sourcing
All of their garments are handmade entirely in Brooklyn, NY. And to help with sustainability almost all of their fabrics are purchased from small businesses within the city. The brand also embraces slow fashion and produces on a seasonal and annual basis rather than producing weekly like fast fashion brands do. This means a lot less waste. With that, they ensure their employees are paid fairly while working to offer more accessible products in terms of pricing, compared to most designers and boutiques. This makes them a great option for affordable sustainable dresses that are made ethically.
SmartGlamour — corporate responsibility
It is very obvious that this brand embraces inclusivity all around while doing its very best to be more sustainable and we really love that. Definitely consider SmartGlamour on the hunt for more sustainable dresses and other garments too. They also offer tops, pants, shorts, jumpsuits, bodysuits, outerwear, and more.
Price range: $-$$
OhSevenDays is a mindful womenswear label based in Istanbul, Turkey and we really love their vibe. It is simple, versatile, chic, and soft in a delightful and refreshing way. We especially loved the Tess Dress, the Willa Dress, and the Bailey Reversible Dress on our hunt for ethically sustainable dresses. You can tell these garments are well made and we generally love their aesthetic. Sizes range from XS-XL. You will also find other garments including outerwear, jumpsuits, sweatshirts, bottoms, and more.
OhSevenDays — fabrics and materials
Their sustainable staples are made from deadstock fabrics.
OhSevenDays — ethical sourcing
The label was actually born after founder Megan Mummery stumbled across a small district of Istanbul selling off-cut fabric rolls leftover from large garment manufacturers. So their garments are essentially slow fashion made from fast fashion leftovers, and we absolutely love that considering the mounds of waste generated by the garment industry. You can really tell in some of their pieces too, in the very best way.
All of their garments are made in Istanbul by their partner manufacturing facility which they ensure is fully audited, employing fair trade practices, and offering good working conditions to workers. The factory is also a member of the ethical trade membership organization Sedex which makes sure businesses improve their social and environmental performance and working conditions throughout the supply chain.
OhSevenDays — corporate responsibility
They also offer the option to buy garments with small imperfections rather than throwing them away or incinerating them. Check out their Zero Waste Misfit program for that.
Price range: $$$$
VETTA focuses on creating mini capsule wardrobes. That’s right! Entire capsules with outfit ideas at the ready! These capsules are made up of five versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched for a month's worth of outfits! They offer the option to buy the entire capsule or to just go with individual pieces. In their words “Our versatile designs can be worn multiple ways and everything mixes + matches. Getting dressed has never been so easy.” We definitely agree!
One of their best-selling products is a blazer dress which can be a blazer, a dress, and a vest, all in one. It is elegant and well made, and works for both casual and dressy looks, with either the addition of a pair of heels or maybe a t-shirt instead. Shop their Edgy Capsule for that and lots more. Sizes range from XS-XL.
VETTA — fabrics and materials
Most of their garments are made from TENCEL, organic cotton, and deadstock fabric but do check product descriptions for details on specific garments. They also make sure to account for buttons and elastics which are mostly made in the USA.
VETTA — ethical sourcing
VETTA is transparent about where its garments are made. Their woven clothing is made in a family-run factory in NYC, where they make it a point to visit often. Their sweaters are knitted by a partner factory based in Los Angeles. It is audited annually for social and environmental compliance - and gets most of its power from solar energy. They offer the option to take a look at their factories on their website.
VETTA — corporate responsibility
For packaging, VETTA uses 100% recycled materials for their poly bags, inserts, and packing slips, and for their boxes: recycled and FSC certified materials.
Price range: $$$$
7. Christy Dawn
Christy Dawn aims to live and work in harmony with nature and is committed to practices that reflect this. Their garments are feminine and down-to-earth which feels very much in alignment with these values. One of their best sellers is The Scarlett Dress; a simple staple piece made up of a tailored bodice, a pleated skirt, and short butterfly sleeves. Customers rave about the fit and its soft feel. We love the way it looks and it is available in lots of different colors and patterns. Sizes range from XS-XL.
Christy Dawn — fabrics and materials
To make their garments the brand sources “deadstock” fabric. See their Deadstock Collection for that. They also offer a collection made from organic cotton, dyed using natural or organic dyes.
Christy Dawn — ethical sourcing
Christy Dawn produces its garments with the help of some of the most talented dressmakers in LA, making sure to use construction methods that are designed to last, for high-quality products. They’ve started a Farm-to-Closet initiative to source organic cotton grown using regenerative practices in partnership with Oshadi, in India.
Christy Dawn — corporate responsibility
We love the fact that Christy Dawn is working to source regenerative cotton from regenerative farms. This makes perfect sense where deadstock fabric may not always be available. Regenerative farming practices are also even better for the environment because they replenish the ecosystems they work from, and that’s one step toward greater sustainability.
Price range: $$$$
A final word on sustainable dresses
It’s really wonderful what happens when brands care about the products they are producing and the people who are wearing them. For us, it means a lot more to love about our garments and we are eternally grateful for the wonderful work these brands are doing to make this possible for us.
If you are not finding what you are looking for, especially for an affordable fair trade dress, consider looking through some secondhand online stores. Buying secondhand is the best thing to do for the planet and we’ve found thrift stores to be home to some of the most wonderful, unexpected gems.
You may also want to check out some sustainable basics and some of the best sustainable sweatpants and don’t forget to drop by the brand directory, your one stop shop for all sustainable living essentials.
Link to other fashion blogs and structure it the same way as all the fashion articles. 🙂