Sustainable Style Selections from Elyse Holladay
The style coach with a profound approach to shopping and dressing recommends books, clothes and more
By Riley Reed
Elyse Holladay photographs by Riley Reed
Austin style coach Elyse Holladay’s practice is focused on transforming women’s relationship to clothes through intentionality, accountability and healthy shopping habits. The goal is to feel great about what one wears, based on how it looks but also on how it’s made and where it comes from.
“Clothing may be superficial—on the surface of our bodies, literally—but it touches every aspect of our complex lives,” Holladay said in Tribeza’s Spring Style issue. “Clothing relates to our bodies through body image, fitness and health, gender expression. It relates us to the earth due to overconsumption, waste, pollution and human rights issues in the [fashion] industry.”
Her philosophy seeks to uncover a deeper connection to the garments we put on our bodies, which takes a wholistic approach that includes learning, shopping and dressing. Holladay, who turned to styling after working in the fields of engineering, product management and design, shared a selection of clothes, accessories, books and more to give us a closer look at how she styles with sustainability in mind.
As a style coach, the first thing I have my clients do is start tracking what they actually wear, not what they’re daydreaming about wearing. This self-awareness helps us quit shopping impulsively and start getting clear on what we really like best.
Kotn is one of the rare brands that has a focus on both sustainability (the impact on the Earth) and on ethics and human rights. Kotn directly supports the lives of cotton farmers and their children in Egypt and makes perfectly simple and high-quality cotton pieces. In Austin’s mild winter, their classic turtleneck is just the right weight for daily wear.
Style can be fun—but as women, our appearance matters more than just the desire to be pretty or wear cute clothes. Beauty Sick is an incredible analysis of the beauty standards and cultural pressures impact us. We’re in a culture that often reduces women’s worth to their appearance—and it’s making us sick. Understanding how this happens, and what it looks like in our own life, is the first step to healing our own relationship with clothes and our bodies.
Gina Stovall, the designer and owner of Two Days Off, was a climate-change scientist in her past life. She created TDO, a carbon neutral brand, to make thoughtful clothes that will last in your wardrobe for years. Linen, a natural fiber that is wonderfully breathable in hot climates, is a no-brainer: it’s sustainable and comfortable in the summer.
AYR is a small, woman-owned brand in Austin that makes incredible, quality basics that are reliable, year-round pieces. Their focus on small production runs rather than mass-producing hundreds of styles makes them a go-to for me.
It wouldn’t be a sustainable fashion list without local Austin designer Miranda Bennett. Her luxurious dresses come in a myriad of colors and fabrics and are the kind of breezy, easy dress that I always want to reach for when it’s 100-plus degrees in the summer. If you’re trying to be more sustainable, owning pieces that are more versatile is an easy way to buy less, and you can wear these styles anywhere from a formal event to a patio dinner.
Sotela is a size-, race-, gender- and age-inclusive clothing company, and their handmade pieces are designed for fluctuating bodies. When the average woman is a size 16 (which, it’s worth noting, is equivalent to a 1950’s size 8), making clothes in a range of sizes and in shapes that allow for our changing, natural bodies is the epitome of sustainable fashion.
Freda Salvador is not just a celeb fan favorite, it’s one of the few shoe brands whose quality lives up to the price tag. Her shoes are shockingly comfortable for walking and all-day wear – and ethically made, too.
An important way to be more sustainable in your own style is to buy that one right thing – not five just okay versions. Getting a piece custom made to your specifications and size makes you much more likely to wear it – and love it – for longer.
Machete’s eco-conscious acetate jewelry is non-petroleum based – unlike most others. Her lovely and lightweight hoop earrings are a fun way to add some color, without weighing down your ears or the planet.
This is a must-read deep-dive into the hidden costs of fast fashion. Cline delves into how cheap clothes became the norm, both from the industry side and the consumer side. If you want to be more sustainable but feel like sustainably made clothes are too expensive, you have to read this book.