Unsponsored Pyne & Smith Linen Dress Review

Pyne & Smith have been on my radar a long time since they’re an ethical fashion blogger favorite. If you’ve been reading ethical style blogs for a bit, I’m sure you’ve come across them already. But I took my time getting to them since A) I already purchased way too many linen items last year (mosty Elizabeth Suzann and Only Child) and B) Their cute linen dresses weren’t really my style. But when Salina had a promo code that gave me a 10% discount and she donated her commission to charity, I decided it was the best time to give them a try. And as much as I wanted to get some linen overalls, the $248 price was a bit out of the range I was looking to spend. So a happy medium was this long sleeved no.12 dress in black linen for $165 that could be dressed up or down.

Pyne & Smith Review

{Wearing: Pyne & Smith no.12 dress, Martiniano Glove Shoes (reviewed here), Acne Studios Musubi Bag (reviewed here)}

First a little background on the company if you’re not familiar: they make all their linen clothing in Southern California from European flax (grown in Belgium and France, and milled in Lithuania). Joanna is the founder and designer behind the brand, and she even answers all the emails sent to the company! You can read more about her and the brand here.

Now about the dress. I ordered it in the medium size after taking a look at the measurements here. I would normally be a size small but I decided to be a bit more cautious and order a size up post-pregnancy. I started ordering a size bigger than my normal because I’ve come to grips that I’m not the same size that I was and that’s ok! And if I ever shrink back to my pre-baby weight, then this dress can easily accommodate that since there’s a tie at the back so I can cinch it smaller. And even in the medium, I find that the 42” length (only 0.5” longer than the small) is perfect for my 5’4” height. It’s not quite midi, but it hits below the knees (a true midi length would look quite dowdy I think). I also love the length of the sleeves, since it hits at a really flattering area of the arm. I also ordered this dress since I can unbutton it easily from the front to breastfeed (it’s a tad tight when trying to take off one arm while leaving the other side on but it’s definitely doable).

As for the linen quality, it’s superb! The actual weight of the linen is 200gsm which makes it slightly thicker than weight of the other Lithuanian slow fashion brands like LinenFox and NotPerfectLinen, but less thick than the linen used by Elizabeth Suzann and Only Child. You can see how they all compare in this ethical linen review post here, which I updated with the addition of Pyne & Smith. They don’t have the thickest linen but sometimes you want more of a midweight than a heavyweight linen (especially if it’s hot).

As much as I love the dress though, I was a bit disappointed when trying to unbutton the buttons to breastfeed I found that several of the buttonholes weren’t properly sewed. So the buttons would snag, which is especially aggravating when trying to quickly breastfeed a wailing baby. For an investment piece like this I would expect it to me impeccably made. But who knows, it might just be a one off with the specific maker of my dress. And overall I really do love the style, the ease of the dress, and the quality of the linen.

The Problem With Ethical Sneakers

What’s the problem with ethical sneakers? Other than how to style them without looking like an 80’s office worker ala Melanie Griffith in Working Girl?

The inspo for those Everlane sneakers

The inspo for those Everlane sneakers

Actually that’s a problem I have with all sneakers but that’s a post for another time.

No, the problem with ethical sneakers is that they’re usually made by ethical companies with comparatively little experience in the sneaker-making business and that they’re usually made with natural rubber.

Let’s tackle the natural rubber issue first. I get why ethical companies like using natural rubber: because it’s not virgin plastic. Rubber is an organic material made from the sap of rubber trees and thus is biodegradable in its purest form. It’s the original elastic polymer before plastics came along. But the problem with rubber when its used for the soles of shoes is that it’s heavy, stiff, and makes for a clunky uncomfortable sneaker. This is true with the Veja sneakers (reviewed here) as well as Everlane’s sneakers.

But take this with a grain of salt because I’m an ex-runner so I expect my sneakers to be cushiony and lightweight—truly something that I can work out in. If you’re okay with skater type of shoes, then you might not mind a heavy stiff shoe with no cushiony support.

Also as an ex-runner I believe in the research and development that sneaker companies put into their shoes. And that’s why I have issues with ethical companies with little or no experience making sneakers, especially if people start working out in them. If you’re going to be putting miles on your sneakers, either by running, walking, or even jumping around, you want to be sure that those shoes were made for that. So even though sneaker companies may be using virgin plastic like no tomorrow, at least your legs and feet stand a good chance of being protected from injury (and sorry if it came down to my legs or the environment, I’d choose my legs each time). I would not recommend working out in either Veja or Everlane sneakers since they’re not made for that. Oh and please don’t hike in them either (at least not a serious hike—get dedicated hiking shoes for that and your future ankles will thank you).

Of course, if you're just wearing sneakers for light walking and as a fashion statement then wearing ethical sneakers is totally fine. In which case maybe you can give me some pointers on how to style them without looking like I’ll be changing shoes at the office.

P.S. So my solution for adding sneakers to an ethical closet? Buy them secondhand from a store like Crossroads or Buffalo Exchange. The shoes you find in those kinds of stores are usually still in great condition and have lots of mileage left on them. Plus I always wear socks with my sneakers so it’s less gross to me to buy athletic shoes used (but smell the inside of the shoe first—sounds gross but it’s a must).

P.P.S I also read this article, which I found through Grechen, and it highlights the difference between an ethical fashion brand’s (Everlane’s) approach to sneakers and a sneaker brand’s (Adidas’) approach to a more ethical shoe. If I were to buy one, I would go with the big shoe brand with their large R&D budget. Now if only Adidas could use recycled plastic and then make a recyclable shoe. Maybe someday, though it feels like it’s a little too late for this technology already.