When I first made the commitment to buy Made in USA in 2015, I stopped buying clothes. Department stores carried very little in the way of apparel made here in the states. I tried buying stuff from online retailers, but the results were more miss than hit.
I was incredibly frustrated and discouraged. When I walked into Lord & Taylor (my favorite department store), all I could see were the racks of clothing representing lost manufacturing jobs.
Buying women’s clothing is already tough — sizing, colors, style, quality, construction, fabric, etc. Trying to find what you need, that fits and looks good, and is Made in the US? Next to impossible.
After a few years of not buying clothes, my wardrobe needed some serious help. Thankfully, I work with Ginger Burr, of Total Image Consultants. She’s vegan and everything she buys for herself is vegan-friendly, so she wasn’t swayed when I said I’d like to buy Made in the US as much as possible.
She’s really, really good at what she does. She knows all the labels and designers, and understands fabrics, construction, etc. Plus, she can take one look at something on the rack and say, “No. Definitely not you.”
Not only do you save time and money working with her, but you end up wearing everything in your closet because you love each garment and each one looks fabulous on you. (Be sure to follow her on LinkedIn or other social platforms — she does these very clever Front Porch Cat Walk videos where she models outfits, jewelry, etc.)
What follows are some tips for buying Made in US clothing that I learned from working with her and on my own through trial and error – ha!
1. Visit boutiques in your area or region
Although many smaller clothing shops have gone out of business due to the pandemic, some are still thriving. Do a search for what’s available in your area, then go visit.
Ask the shop owner or sales person if they carry Made in USA clothing lines. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Due to smaller manufacturing runs, designers often sell their lines at boutiques — and the garments are very different from what you’ll find at department stores. Plus, many shop owners will happily do special orders for you if they don’t have your size or a specific color.
Some of the lines I’ve purchased, wear, and love (which are pictured in the header photo above) include:
Elliott Lauren — Sold in stores and online at Zappos; my pants say Made in US; you’ll have to do your own research if you go to the store, which is where I bought mine.
Eva Varro — Dresses, skirts, and pants; very well constructed.
Frank Lyman Design — Made in Canada
Joseph Ribkoff — Made in Canada — Love this line of clothing; I have several pieces: dresses, tops, and pants.
Kleids tops — Made in the US of imported materials.
Last Tango — Full collection of printed tops, plus dresses and bottoms.
Salaam — Love their flippy skirt!
Up! pant — Check when you buy; mine are made in the US, but the website listings say Canada.
Veronica M. — Colorful prints for your fun side.
(Note: These are all “free” links. See Full Disclosure below).
Side note: Upgrade your closet with Made in USA hangers
The hangers in the header photo are made by Bend & Hook, in Maple Grove, MN, of high strength steel coated with thermoplastic rubber. (The few with clips you see in the photo are not.) Once you buy Bend & Hook, you’ll never go back to those wide plastic hangers, which take up major space in your closet, or horrors, wire ones from the dry cleaners. 😮
Plus, nothing says luxurious like matching hangers. The difference is amazing. Check them out: www.bendandhook.com
2. Buy months ahead of when you need something
Thanks to technology and e-commerce advancements, you can find a wide variety of Made in USA clothing online, including outerwear, athletic clothing, foot wear, every day wear, wedding dresses, accessories — pretty much anything you need.
Finding the right styles, colors, sizing, etc., however, can be time consuming, and sometimes discouraging, as retailers have limited, backordered, or sold out inventory. This means, if you need a last minute party outfit, you may not find what you need.
It pays to shop early before you actually need clothes for a season. Waiting until the last minute means you panic buy (because of aforementioned backorders or items being sold out). I ended up panic buying after a few years of not buying any clothes. I needed some new things so badly, I drove to the department store and bought whatever I could find that fit. I felt terrible after — sort of like eating fast food. UGH.
Due to Ginger’s helpful advice, I’ve learned to shop ahead of time, buy things while they’re in stock, and take my time and enjoy the process. Most important, I’ve learned to have patience when I need to return items due to fit, color, etc.
One tip I’ve learned the hard way: when you order clothing online, read the paperwork that comes with your garment/s — and pay attention to the return policy. Often you’re given a set time period in which to return an item. If you miss the deadline, you’re stuck.
Another tip: Create an online account when you order; having an account makes it easy to track your purchases, as well as return things.
3. Ask for Made in USA
A couple of years ago, I was looking at winter coats at Nordstrom’s January sale. Everything, it seemed, was made in other countries.
When the sales woman came over to ask if I needed help, I said, “Yes, do you have any women’s coats made in the US?”
“Yes, we do,” she said, and led me to a rack. And that’s when I discovered Fleurette. 😍
Beautifully tailored, luxurious, and classic, Fleurette coats and jackets are made in New York. The company sources fabric from the finest heritage mills located in Italy and the USA.
A Fleurette coat will last you a lifetime. I love mine and feel beautiful whenever I wear it.
View their collection: www.fleurette.com
Although buying women’s clothing Made in the US can be tough, it can be done if you do your research, have some patience, and most important, have fun.
While not everything in my closet is made here (high quality dressy sweaters are hard to find, for example), I’ve built a good foundation. Each year I add a few more pieces. My favorite days are when my entire outfit, including shoes, is made in the US.
Even better, friends now ask, “Is what you’re wearing made in the US?” Love it.
I’m not paid nor asked to write about Made in the USA products. The above links are not affiliate links. I buy a product and use it. If I like it, I write about it and tell everyone I know about it.
I do this because my mission is to keep manufacturing jobs stateside. This mission is my way of giving back. We like to think our “small” choices won’t make a difference. They do.
Yeah Dianna – I totally am on board with you but it is a challenge. thank you for sharing your finds. I also have a Fluerette coat and love it.
Thank you, Terry – and for stopping by!
I appreciate your excellent advice. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Ginger Burr is the best and it is through her email I found you. I wouid love to receive your emails/article in the future.
Hi Nancy, Thank you! Yes, Ginger is indeed the best. I love working with her. I’ve added you to my subscriber list.
As a US based manufacturer I applaud your commitment and vision. I have worked with both Dianna and Ginger and echo their comments about buying on quality and looking at the cost of the item over the product lifetime.
Thank you, Mary — and nice to see you as well. 🙂
Such a useful article! I shared it on my Facebook page so others can benefit. Already a fan of some of the lines, I got acquainted with some new ones and feel confident that I can tweak my future shopping towards Americn brands. Besides, anything with Ginger’s “seal of approval” goes straight to the top of my list!
Thanks, Hollis! Ginger is the best!