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Dress Vegan for Success

The following article was written by Leigh-Anne Dennison.

One of your goals for 2012 may be to dress for the job you want (not just the one you have)—either dressing to impress in your own office or looking sharp for that upcoming job interview.

In the world of work apparel, wool and silk tend to be two of the biggest fabric challenges to a vegan wardrobe, while leather and suede dominate a vast array of professional footwear. But seeking to improve your fiscal or other circumstances doesn’t mean selling out your principles. You may just need to shop a little more, be aware of which retailers stock vegan clothing and accessories, and learn more about synthetic materials that can look just as professional and pulled together as animal-based fabrics.

Nothing Suits Him Like a Suit

In lieu of wool (or wool-blend) suits, look for cotton or linen. Cotton-poly blends are another option, and today’s versions are definitely not your parent’s polyester suits. Rather than silk, check out the ravishing feel and drape of rayon (also called “viscose”) for dresses and blouses. Men, try a satin necktie as a suitable substitute for silk.

When it comes to pounding the pavement, women may have an easier time finding pleather or faux-suede shoes, but there are stylish, non-animal options for men out there if you look for them.

Classic or Casual—Suits Me Just Fine

Not only has the quality of plant-based and synthetic fabrics improved, the style and cuts of these wardrobe staples have also become more sophisticated over the years. Designers and manufacturers have dramatically improved how they use them as well as how often they incorporate them into clothing lines. In addition to being cruelty-free, many of these fabrics can also handle business travel with minimal to no wrinkling—and they’re often more affordable than their wool, silk, cashmere, mohair, angora, or other animal-derived counterparts.

Relaxed or “business casual” dress codes these days also mean that cotton khakis or chinos are acceptable for men most days of the week, and ladies can show a little more flair with more feminine dresses, skirts, and slightly funkier shoes and accessories (a little attitude isn’t a bad thing).

A Look that Suits You

At the end of the day (or really at the beginning, I guess), while it may take a little more time and research to put together, you can create a killer look for the office while keeping kindness a staple in your work wardrobe.

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  • MarySpirit says:

    Two places that have great shoes that are Vegan are Alternative Outfitters and Chinese Laundry. DSW has a great selection too. I just try to read the labels inside the shoes and do my best. I think every effort we make to buy cruelty free is a victory. I don’t look for perfection, I work towards progress.

  • Sophie says:

    Don’t give up on vegan shoes! Aldo (stores and website) has several work-appropriate vegan styles in large sizes (I wear 9 1/2). As noted in the post there are also vegan options at Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW). Other great shoe websites about which you probably already know are: MooShoes, Olsenhaus, Cri de Coeur, Bourgeois Boheme, Cow Jones Industrials, Pangea (,–and many have free shipping/returns if you are freaked about online shoe buying. It’s easy and it’s basically a must for the vegan shoe-wearer.

  • NaturesBounty says:

    No change is easy until we are fully committed to lessening the horrendous conditions these innocent animals are subjected to, continually ill-treating them as commodities to be used and abused whether it be for our desire for flesh or fashion. Two books everyone should read ‘Why we love dogs, eat pigs and wear cows’, which is based on ‘specieism’, if you want to free yourself of centuries of cultural conditioning. ‘The World Peace Diet’ will answer how our complete irreverence for our animal friends is having a wreaking havoc on our health, society, food supply, the environment and our precious planet. Join in with the growing number of people worldwide awakening to a higher consciousness with respect for all life and leading compassionate, ethical and environment friendly lives.

  • mangolover says:

    hey same here! I know what you mean! Fake leather shoes are uncomfortable. Gawd, i wish they could just make the animals go through less pain, and be less cruel with animals. I mean, they shouldn’t have to need to kill/torture the sheep just for their wool! Don’t they just take the wool off during the summer when they’re hot?! This is so annoying. I don’t want to be cruel, but i can’t go vegan either. I’d have to take supplements for the nutrients i’m missing from not eating meat. Eating meat is not a bad thing actually, it’s just the way people treat the animals and kill them that’s creepy. Have you read the Omnivore’s Dilemma?

  • trying says:

    after having no animal products in my closets for almost 10 years, i started buying wool. i was super upset about it, but cannot find enough vegan clothes that are appropriate. as a plus sized girl (veg for almost 20 years, there are fat vegs too!), and needing to wear long sleeves (no 3/4 styles), and a couple other things – the options are limited to basically nil. i HATE that i have wool, but cant find a way around it. i am probably going to get leather shoes too – so many of the vegan shoes are awful. i wish it was easier to be kinder to animals!!!