What I Wore | Viscose & The Transparency of Eileen Fisher

minimalist outfit eileen fisher

I rarely manage to snap a photo of my work outfit in the daylight – since I leave the house before the sun is up and I don’t get back until after it’s set – but last night I suffered from extreme insomnia, which means we didn’t get up early to go to the gym, which means I had an opportunity to turn a crappy, sleep-deprived morning into a well-lit outfit shoot for the blog. So, please, enjoy these bright images that do not contain even a suggestion of artificial lighting or office toilets in the background, and know that while I may look dewy and awake, it is all a beautiful lie brought to you by my mediocre photo editing skills.

Anyway, I like this sleek little outfit, but I am lamenting the slow death of this skirt. The elastic waist band is getting too stretched out to sit comfortably at my natural waist, so the skirt is starting to look too big on me. A younger, more resigned Renée would have accepted this fate and continued to wear the skirt even with the poor fit, but the older, wiser, Fashion Blogger Renée knows that fit is everything when it comes to looking and feeling good in your clothes, and so the skirt must go.

Don’t get me wrong, this skirt has lived a good life and I have loved it. I bought it second hand on Poshmark earlier this spring for $13, and I have worn it dozens of times since then (I even tried, and failed, to wear it for an entire week straight shortly after purchasing it). It’s Eileen Fisher. It’s comfortable, classic, and seasonless. But it is dying, and I won’t be able to wear it for much longer.

Thinking about that got me thinking about replacing it. A black skirt is a critical piece in my capsule wardrobe. Should I look for the same one? What is this thing even made out of, anyway? I checked the label.

Viscose.

What the heck is that?

I had a hunch that viscose was a synthetic material, so, knowing that Eileen Fisher is a company that prides itself on sustainability, I did a quick Google search on “viscose Eileen Fisher” and what turned up was something that I thought you would all find to be interesting.

Viscose, I learned, is a semi-synthetic material. It is made from cellulose, which is sourced from trees, but it undergoes intensive chemical processing to transform it into the weavable fabrics that become our clothing. According to the Eileen Fisher website, the following concerns are associated with viscose:

  • “Forestry: Wood sources are not always traceable, particularly if the fiber does not come from a responsible mill.
  • Chemistry: Viscose fiber is not processed in a closed loop, so new chemicals are continually required. Its production is much more energy and chemically intensive than Tencel® or lyocell.
  • Worker health: The solvent used is highly toxic. When pulp is turned into fiber, workers must wear respiratory masks to protect against airborne carbon disulfide; hazardous wastewater requires careful treatment.”

Eileen Fisher used viscose in its garments for quite some time, but is now committed to phasing the fabric out to use it minimally, sourcing it sustainably when possible, and constructing new designs in the more environmentally friendly viscose alternative, Tencel®. This presents some challenges, as the website notes, because viscose has properties that allow it to be made into all sorts of different textured fabrics, while Tencel® has more of a cotton-like feel.

It was heartening to see a fashion giant like Eileen Fisher post this information so transparently in a world where supply chains for big brands are normally very opaque. I’m not sure where it leaves me in terms of replacing my skirt, but I hope it leaves you with a stronger curiosity about what your clothing is made of, and what the companies you buy from are willing to tell you about it.

minimalist outfit eileen fisher
wearing Everlane Cotton Turtleneck Tee ($22, size XS), Eileen Fisher Skirt (thrifted, similar here), floral booties (old), Dooney & Bourke handbag (vintage).

What I’m Reading:

I’m still finishing up Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover by Sarah MacLean, and I also just started Rosewater by Tade Thompson. I downloaded this as an audiobook (well, technically my husband did, but we share an Audible subscription so whatever) and I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I think that hearing it narrated by Bayo Gbadamosi really enriches the experience of this novel as a truly African work of science fiction (a continent not typically centered in the genre), but on the other hand, it is science fiction, and full of science-fictiony words and phrases that are sometimes easier to understand when read on the page than when listened to. Either way, I think it’s going to be a great book.

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4 thoughts on “What I Wore | Viscose & The Transparency of Eileen Fisher

  1. Such a great skirt! Have you considered replacing the elastic? I don’t know how it’s sewn in, but you might be able to just unpick a little of the waistband to get it out and put fresh, new elastic in.
    Also, the hair is looking great and you look so confident!

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  2. Seconding replacing the elastic! It would be a very quick and easy fix. If you don’t want to DIY it, you can just take it to a tailor and they should be able to do it for cheap. So much better for the environment than buying a new skirt, too, no matter how eco-friendly the fibers.

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  3. Hi Renee, thank you for sharing all that you do! I appreciate your insight and content. I got an email from Slowre today and she has an Eileen Fisher skirt that appears to be the same one you have – I realize you might not want the same exact thing, but wanted to share just in case you didn’t see it.

    I also love the hair and appreciate your post about makeup. I recently went from very warm to much cooler tones in my hair and have had the same conversation with myself about makeup and the colors I wear in clothing, too!
    https://slowre.com/collections/frontpage/products/eileen-fisher-pencil-skirt-petite-petite

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