Subliminal Style
Effortless. Authentic. Professional.

Catching Rae

Sharing Thrift Stories with Sustainable Daisy

Karen Housel, Creator of

Karen Housel, Creator of

When today's featured fashionista first told me she runs an "ecofashion" blog, I was immediately intrigued - her cheerful and buoyant look didn't quite compute with an industry I'd come to fear as both Extra Expensive and Extra Serious. Luckily, I soon learned that Karen Housel is out to flout those stereotypes with Sustainable Daisy. Not only is she a bonafide Scientist helping keep California safe from hazardous waste (yes, science is her actual job - how cool is that?), but she's also a huge advocate of sustainability through thrift shopping ... which just happens to be one of my favorite pass-times in the known universe. Game on!

For our subsequent meeting, we met up at the Council Thrift Shop on Santa Monica Boulevard, and Karen's outfit encapsulated her website and her mission perfectly. Her floral Betsey Johnson dress and adorable vintage patent-striped booties demonstrate just how easy, playful, and genuine ecofashion can really be. During our interview, Karen spoke on the sartorial freedom achieved through thrift shopping:

I like to embrace who I am with my clothing and I love wearing things that are bright and cheerful--pieces like my floral romper with flared sleeves, or my neon orange blazer are silly things that look great but also make me happy inside. When I rock these pieces, I feel confident and brave for looking different from everyone else. I think the fact that these pieces were worn by someone before gives me a sense of relief in a weird way. Picking up something funky for a few bucks at a thrift store is less intimidating than buying a risky outfit full-price at a department store. There's less pressure to make the outfit work, and ironically that has given me a confidence to wear crazy things. When I choose to wear things out of the mold and it makes me feel like I'm embracing my truest self. I'm a sweet, colorful person and my wardrobe reflects that.

I will enthusiastically add that I never got the impression that sustainability dictated or restricted her look - which I figure is the key to... well, the sustainability of sustainable fashion. If the clothes get in the way of your look instead of supporting it, then what's the point, right? 

And thrift shopping doesn't only work for casual weekend sundresses. The vest that Karen is wearing in the title photo was purchased at Council Thrift right before my very eyes along with a killer turquoise bracelet you can see below.  And now that consignment and resell sites have popped up online, Karen nabs great preowned career wear as well:



I dress down when I come to work--I'll make my outfits boxy and less colorful. I tend to ditch the arched shoes and put my hair in buns, and rarely wear makeup. I've noticed that I severely desexualize myself. Perhaps it's the huge age gap in my company (I'm the first person they've hired in 10 years), and my want to be taken seriously. On the weekends or after work I'm excited to kick off the slacks and put on a flowy dress. I've picked up a few classy blazers and pretty shift dresses to help me feel great and be taken seriously in a male-dominated industry. I'm working on finding a happy medium. Luckily online shops like ThredUP have helped me score a few workplace friendly outfits that make me feel like I'm representing a true version of myself.

If you've ever been curious about sustainable living, ecofashion, or just thrift shopping for the fun of it, definitely click on over to Sustainable Daisy and follow Karen's blog. You'll find tons of joyful outfit ideas, DIY tips, and reviews of brands that use eco-friendly production strategies like sustainable dyes.

"There's a lot of 'no' in the world already," Karen tells me at one point - but I assure you that she makes it a point to offer real-world, positive, accessible solutions to the question of environmentally friendly dressing. 

Now excuse me while my husband and I hit the swap meets!