Since I made the commitment to buying fair trade clothing, the majority of my shopping now happens online. In many ways, I prefer this style of shopping – it’s slower, for a start, and I enjoy the luxury of being able to try on items at home with other items I already own. That said, I don’t want to make too many poor decisions when purchasing online, since returning items not only adds up, but is not the most environmentally-friendly option.

Over the years, I’ve developed little tricks to ensure nearly all of the purchases I make are well-fitting and consistent with my personal style. One trick is to stick with classic cuts, like the dress designs from Mata Traders. Another of the simplest tricks in the book?

Stick with tried and true.

Do you know those items in your wardrobe that you reach for over and over… until they fall apart? Analyse why it is that you love that particular item: is it the colour? The cut of the neckline? The weight of the fabric? Then, when you’ve worn your much-loved item beyond repair, keep your eyes open for an ethical replacement with the same elements that made you love the original piece.

With some practice, you become really good at gravitating towards the items that just work for you, be it online or in a physical shop.

That’s how I came to choose this Amazing lace dress in berry by Mata Traders.

Back in my fast fashion days, I bought a blue lace dress with a scoop neckline, A-line skirt and three-quarter length sleeves and I just loved it. I loved how it fit me and I loved how versatile it is (I’ve worn it to weddings and to the office). However, after four years of regular wear, it’s very pilled and stretched out of shape – it is fast fashion quality, after all, and not really designed to endure the long distance run I’ve put it to.

This dress has all those elements, and more. This dress has a deep scoop at the back and pockets! And it’s made ethically. Cue happy dance. Plus it’s trans-seasonal – light enough to wear in summer and appropriate with tights in winter.

Outfit: Amazing lace dress in berry by Mata Traders for $92.00USD /
ring on thumb from Greenheart Shop / other rings from Etsy /
hair barrette from a market in Romania about nine years ago.
Ethical credentials: Dress is made at a fair trade women’s cooperative in India
by a Fair Trade Federation Member /
other items are handmade.

I was very fortunate (still pinching myself, actually) to receive this dress during my trip to the USA in October,  when I stopped in at the Mata Traders studio in Chicago with Hannah from Lifestyle: Justice. It was a dream come true for me, having long admired Mata Traders online, but never imagining having the opportunity to browse their stock in person. Hannah and I were quite the sight – like kids in an (ethical) candy store, we roamed the aisles between shelves, bubbling with excitement over the amazing collection of incredible ethical dresses and the incredible minds that make up the Mata Traders’ team – but that’s a story for another post.

This dress was one of the first that I gravitated to and I had barely unfolded it when I knew that it was the dress for me. Besides being in my cut, colour and style, the quality is really second-to-none.

On my last day in Minnesota, Hannah, Andrew and I ventured out to an apple orchard – in efforts to help me do what I described as a ‘proper fall activity’ (there were pumpkin and corn fields, too!). And, after running around wearing this dress in the orchard for the entire morning, I can confirm that it’s both very comfortable and very fun to twirl in.

Amazing lace dress in berry by Mata Traders for $92.00USD /
tights by Pact Organic for $17.99USD /
loafers by Sseko from $76.99USD (on sale!)
Ethical credentials: Dress is made at a fair trade women’s cooperative in India
by a Fair Trade Federation Member /
Pact use Fair Trade and non-GMO Cotton and no child labour /
Sseko operate with transparency with fair trade cooperatives in East Africa.

I encourage you to find a stockist or browse Mata Traders online. Read the Mata Traders story and swoon over their collection of beautiful dresses, skirts, tops, jewellery and other accessories. I am loving this dress, which is similar to the Mata dress that Hannah picked up.

A very heartfelt thank you to the team at Mata Traders for welcoming me into their studio and for making my dreams come true by so very kindly gifting me this dress.

A big thank you to the very talented Hannah from Lifestyle: Justice for snapping these photos.

Yours Fairly,




  1. January 7, 2016 / 5:54 AM

    Great post, Ashlee! Thanks for coming by, and we’re glad you had so much fun sifting through those shelves, haha!

  2. January 19, 2016 / 11:08 AM

    Thanks for sharing! This dress is beautiful. And I love your tips for a successful online & ethical shopping purchase. Looking back, my successful purchases have been when I haven’t steered too far from my favourite colours, cuts and fabrics. So it’s totally worth making these points into a shopping checklist!

    • Ashlee
      February 8, 2016 / 9:12 PM

      You’re most welcome! I’m really glad that you liked the dress and tips!

  3. January 27, 2016 / 1:06 PM

    That dress is wonderful!

    • Ashlee
      February 8, 2016 / 9:12 PM

      Isn’t it? I love it!

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