Often, when picturing a New Years Eve outfit, we might think of buying a new sparkly mini dresses or glitzy statement heels. But in addition to the laundry list of issues with fast fashion (unethical, unsustainable, and sexist just to name a few), many of these shiny party pieces are made using environmentally hazardous glitter, or embellishments sewn on by exploited labor.
But I’m here to shout from the rooftops that this does *not* mean you have to sacrifice your values or style for your year-end soiree.
There are many ways to celebrate the New Year, but no matter where you’re headed on December 31st, this Ethical Fashion NYE Guide is full of ideas of how you can create looks that will leave a lasting impression.
This guide features “alternative” approaches to finding your special outfit, whether you’re planning well in advance or looking for a last minute New Year’s Eve outfit. And, it features brands with beautiful ethical and eco-minded party dresses, evening wear, and jewelry.
Note: this guide includes affiliate links, which means we will earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these select links, which helps us to continue to run this site!
Shop Your Closet
A new year doesn’t have to mean a new dress! Take another look through your closet and see if you have a special something you can rock when the clock strikes midnight.
Get creative and find new outfit combinations or be a proud outfit repeater and wear a classic combo that you know will make you feel confident, sexy, or just comfy!
Here are some resources:
Alyssa Beltempo’s YouTube Channel
Listen to this podcast episode with Alyssa on how we can get more creative with our style while consuming less
Alyssa also offers virtual styling services!
Listen to this podcast episode with Stylebook founder Jess Atkins for plenty of tips on how to wear your clothes in your closet more
Can’t seem to find the right piece in your existing wardrobe? Take a look at the pre-loved market. Check out local thrift stores and consignment shops, or browse one of these online options:
Designer & Vintage Fashion
The RealReal: authenticated designer consignment; based in the US
Vestiaire Collective: global marketplace for pre-owned luxury and designer fashion
Thrilling: sells inventory from 600 vintage shops (where are 95% woman- and/or BIPOC-owned)
Farfetch Pre-Owned: designer fashion retailer with a pre-owned arm
Fashionphile: designer and luxury bags and accessories
What Goes Around Comes Around: designer and luxury bags and accessories
Secondarie: search engine to easily browse several secondhand marketplaces at once
ThredUP: massive online secondhand retailer based in the U.S.
Poshmark: peer-to-peer secondhand fashion platform
Vinted: also a peer-to-peer platform
Depop: another peer-to-peer platform, but skews younger and trendier
Swap (or Borrow) Before You Shop
Party dresses and formalwear are especially great pieces to swap, borrow, or rent.
If you have friends or family members with similar sizes as you, see if you can swap or borrow one of their party pieces for your New Year’s Eve celebrations.
You can also check out an online swapping platform like Swap Society (US) or Nuw (UK). Check out this post for more on clothing swaps.
Another option is to rent your special occasion dress. Generally, a peer-to-peer rental platform is a more sustainable model. Some options include ByRotation, Tulerie, and Wardrobe.
Sustainable Dresses and Jumpsuits
Not able to shop your closet, swap, or find what you need secondhand? Here are some conscious formal and eveningwear brands to check out.
This minimalist slow fashion brand creates timeless designs made with exceptional quality from sustainably-sourced materials like recycled cashmere and organic linen. Eileen Fisher has been a sustainable fashion innovator as one of the first labels to have an in-house take-back and resale program (+ fabric upcycling program for unsellable pieces). The brand also prioritizes ethical production and fair working conditions.
ourCommonplace is a WOC-owned conscious fashion & lifestyle marketplace with a curated selection of beauty, home, and fashion brands, including sustainable formalwear brands like Bastet Noir and Lahive.
Use code CONSCIOUS10 for 10% off at ourCommonplace!
This size-inclusive slow fashion brand offers dresses in sizes XXS-10XL, plus offers custom sizes at no additional charge. You’ll find both fitted and flowy dresses made from materials like Tencel and organic cotton.
French for green love, Amour Vert utilizes eco materials like Tencel and Curpro in their collections. They also recently launched a resale program, called ReAmour, so you will be able to find pre-loved pieces on their site soon too.
This designer has made huge changes and continues to work towards more responsible production. The designer label has shifted (and is still in progress of shifting) towards eco-conscious materials such as recycled polyester, ECONYL®, and GOTS certified organic cotton. Mara Hoffman is also committed to responsible manufacturing, and knowing exactly the source of her garments.
A vocal advocate for sustainability, Stella McCartney is bringing sustainable fashion to the high-end fashion world. The designer doesn’t just incorporate eco-conscious practices into her own label but also promotes eco fashion to a broader audience through interviews and other media.
Check out this guide for more ethical & sustainable formal wear brands!
Jewelry and Accessories
ABLE is an ethical fashion label committed to true transparency — the brand is leading an initiative pushing the fashion industry to publish their lowest wages. The brand has beautiful handmade jewelry as well as bags, shoes, and apparel.
WOC-owned sustainable jewelry label using recycled metal, post-consumer secondhand gems, and upcycled pearls and abalone. The brand also offsets emissions from shipping and has a metal recycling program to ensure that jewelry made from metals (which are among the most recyclable materials) actually do stay in the loop!
This online conscious marketplace has a vast selection of fair trade and eco-friendly recycled jewelry from several brands. Find rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings at a range of price points too.
Pin this post to reference it later:
Check out this guide for more conscious jewelry brands
Check out this one for sustainable vegan bags (or this one)