Monday, 22 May 2017

Quick Design: Ethical Spring Outfits!

Warm weather has finally hit Portland! It's been a long slog of a winter and I'm very happy to see the sun again! In celebration of our next week's weather forecast, I put together a few outfits using items sourced from companies that employ ethical production practices of one kind or another.

Ethical Spring Outfits

Outfit 1:
Skirt: Kopal NY: This company uses natural dyes in their production, partnering with socially responsible groups in India to build sustainable work and keep Indian textile traditions alive. 

Jacket: DL1961: made in the USA, DL1961 has found ways to reduce their water, dye, and energy use in manufacturing; they also focus on eco-friendly textiles like Tencel and ProModal.

White shirt: Fair Indigo: Fair trade company using Oeko-Tex certified dyes (regulates how chemicals can be used) and organic cotton (less chemicals = better for the earth/workers)          

Sandals: Nisolo: This company focuses on transparency, sustainability, and fair trade work by using leathers only as a by-product of the meat industry, providing above-average wages and healthcare to its workers in Peru, and publishing an impact report of their practices. I bought these to possibly wear in my upcoming wedding!

Outfit 2:
Tee: Calder Blake: Each piece from this small company is created start-to-finish (design, manufacturing, shipping) in California, with an emphasis on timeless, well-made designs that last the test of time
Skirt: Conrado: This company sources its material from deadstock (leftover fabric from other stores' clothing) and produces their items in a small family-run company.

Shoes: Veja: Widely touted as a gold standard in ethical fashion, Veja has transparent supply chain and fair trade practices, encourages eco-friendly farming practices, provides incentive for suppliers to NOT deforest their land, and uses eco-friendly materials.

Outfit 3:
Shoes: Matt + Nat: This vegan company not only avoids animal products, they incorporate recycled materials such as plastic bottles and bike tires in their products and supply their workers with a safe working environment and fair wages.

Pants: Matter: I recently listened to an interesting podcast from the owners of Matter, in which they described how they look at traditional textiles like Ikat and interpret them in a modern way. They focus on slow fashion and quality materials.

Crop Top: Groceries Apparel: This company's products are made in LA with non-toxic dyes. They have a great page explaining their product sources and focus on eliminating waste and reducing their carbon footprint.

Outfit 4:
"Love over Fear" tank: Siempre Viva: This company partners with workers in Mexico, providing business mentoring to women whose businesses then create the products for the line. They source natural, organic fibers and donate to charities. Plus, in the current political climate I think "love over fear" is a great message to send!

Shorts: DL1961: per above, better manufacturing practices = reduced environmental impact

Sandals: Frye: Made in the USA, Frye is well-known for their quality leather that can take a beating and look all the better for it.

Monday, 15 May 2017

An ethical alternative to my 10x10 capsule wardrobe!

I'm a big fan of the concept of "When you know better, do better." Recently I posted a spring capsule wardrobe incorporating new items from several mainstream stores. Since then, I watched the documentary The True Cost (it's on Netflix!), which dives into the deep and dirty world of fast fashion. Long story short, mainstream clothing stores want you to buy from them (duh), and they want you to keep buying from them (duh), so they make their clothing cheaply both in terms of cost and materials. Cheap clothing doesn't cost the company much, and it is designed to fall apart quickly so you have to buy more to replace it. To make cheap clothing, you need cheap labor and cheap materials, which leads to abuse and underpayment of workers and use of terrible chemicals and manufacturing processes that damage our world and the workers exposed to them.

This, and my subsequent research on the topic, has led me to want to make better, more intentional, and more ethical purchases when adding to my wardrobe. There are a lot of ways one can define ethical fashion, and I plan to write a whole post on what I'm learning, but here are several ways in which an item could be a more ethical counterpart to fast fashion:

1. Made in the USA: reduces carbon imprint for American shoppers and ensures better regulation of working conditions
2. Sustainable materials: using natural, renewable fabrics and materials
3. Sustainable production practices: reduce the use of chemicals, dyes, water, and energy
4. Reused/recycled materials to create a new product
5. Second-hand items: give a second life to an already-created item
6. Custom/made-to-order: reduces excess material use and stores' need to get rid of items seasonally
7. Buy one/give one: Toms is famous for giving away a pair of shoes for every pair purchased, which many companies have now adopted
8. Buying less: capsule wardrobes do a great job of this--using fewer items, more
9. Transparent supply chain: understanding where your items are sourced from gives the consumer the ability to decide if the company fits your own ethics
10. Vegan: some materials, like leather, are very harmful to produce in terms of the chemicals used, plus some people do not feel animals should be killed for human use. Additionally, vegan items are more likely to be made of plant-based products (see: sustainable materials)

I thought an easy way to start would be by providing ethical alternatives to my spring capsule wardrobe. Check out my new options, and see below for why they are a more ethical alternative to my original post!
 Ethical 10x10 Spring Capsule

Here's how the pieces I selected stack up:
1. Striped bell-sleeve top: Amourt Vert, where this is from, is made in the USA with non-toxic dies, sustainable fabrics, and zero-waste practices
2. White jeans, white dress, and navy top: Patagonia and Prana are leaders in establishing transparency in their supply chain, using better production methods, employing fair trade practices, and giving back to environmental causes
3. Striped short-sleeve top: Marine Layer is a US company that creates their products with a fabric made from recycled beechwood, and some of their products support local charities
4. White blazer and metallic shorts: these are mainstream products (BCBG and JCrew) but sourced from ThredUp, a second-hand store
5. Gingham skirt: this skirt is made-to-order in the USA; the store owner buys material specifically for each item ordered, thereby reducing material waste
6. Boyfriend jeans: AG denim is a pioneer in reducing the environmental impact of their production
7. Military jacket: Synergy Organic, who makes this jacket, are a fair trade company that uses organic cotton, which has less environmental impact due to not using synthetic chemicals to grow the cotton and less water needed to make the fabric.

What do you think of my ethical alternatives?

Friday, 28 April 2017

10x10(ish) Spring Capsule Wardrobe!

Wow, this year is flying by! Between work and planning my wedding, I've been adulting pretty hard the first quarter of 2017, so I had fun doing a little online shopping this week. I picked up this pair of shorts, this dress (only $16!), and these shoes and realized they made the good start of a spring capsule wardrobe!

I originally conceived of this post as a 10x10 wardrobe challenge but kept coming up with more and more options from my ten pieces, so I hope you enjoy :)

10x10 Spring Capsule

Do you ever read fashion blogs and think to yourself, WHERE ARE YOU ACTUALLY WEARING THAT TO? So often, the outfits don't seem like real life options. So I focused on putting together outfits I'd actually wear in my real life. These first 7 are things I'd wear to work at my hospital.

10x10 Work Outfits

Outfits 1 & 2: I'm a genetic counselor, and I'd wear these two outfits to meet with patients. Although I need to dress professionally, the nature of my work means I also want to be relatable and not intimidating, so I tend do dress business casual with some fun pieces thrown in. In the first outfit, this means lots of pattern mixing--dots, stripes, and gingham, oh my! For the second outfit, the swing cut of the army jacket is unexpected, and the big gold earrings are so funky!

Outfit 3: I'd wear this to a meeting with other departments. It looks professional but still comfortable, with a pretty rose gold watch to make sure we're keeping on schedule.

Outfit 4-5: For days spent doing admin/office type work, I prefer to wear comfortable pieces that aren't too fussy but still pulled together. The drape of the shirt in outfit 4 is breezy but the pearls dress things up a bit. Outfit 5 is literally a tshirt and comfy!

Outfit 6-7: These are definitely "Casual Friday" outfits. Outfit 6 employs some fun pattern mixing and a cute bow tie on the shorts, but the blazer and wedges keep it work-appropriate (at least in my department!). The last outfit is simple with pops of red.

A good capsule wardrobe allows for items to seamlessly fit into your non-work life too, as demonstrated below:

10x10 Play Outfits

Outfit 1: Since I have weddings on the brain, I'd wear this to an engagement party.

Outfit two: This would be a cute outfit for those days when you go straight from running errands to out with friends.

Outfit three: Brunch is big in Portland, and this dress with the shirt tossed over, unbuttoned, and tied at the waist would be so cute!

Outfit four: But the reality is that most of my brunches are not of the little white dress variety--more like the 'hungover and don't want to cook breakfast' persuasion. For that scenario, this outfit is perfect--dark glasses, comfy kicks, and a fedora to mask your unwashed hair ;)

Outfit 5: I'd wear this to an outdoor concert.

Outfit 6: This would be a fun date night outfit!

Outfit 7: July isn't really 'spring' but how cute would this be for a fourth of July party?! Love that watermelon clutch.

Outfit 8: This is the outfit I'd be most likely to wear to happy hour with friends.

So tell me: which items are you most likely to add to your own closet? I'm strongly eyeing up that swing jacket and soft striped buttonup! 

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Whimsy in Today's Climate

The last several months have been rough for me. I've become much more active politically since November, devoting a lot of time and mental/emotional energy to learning about how I can best support ideas and people that are currently under attack. In addition, my job has been very busy and stressful since November and on top of it all we're planning our wedding.

Long story short, all of these fears and stressors culminated in me feeling very defeated on Friday, so I went on media blackout, poured myself a glass of wine, and started online window shopping (I rarely buy things, but the act of mindlessly browsing is relaxing to me). I started noticing that all of the items that caught my eye had youthful, whimsical elements--which seems like an appropriate counter-reaction to the heavy, hard adult topics that have been on my mind lately.

I started thinking about how despite how bleak things looked that Friday afternoon, there's still a lot of beauty in the world. Perhaps it's privileged and naive to say this, but maybe incorporating some oversize earrings, a punchy marbelized skirt, or fun bunny shoes will help serve as a daily reminder of that beauty. If you're of that mindset, see below :)

Colorful/ Color-phobic

A lot of my picks tended to fall into one of three themes: youthful motifs, like polka dots, baby animals, or gingham; amped-up color like fuchsia and marbelized prints; and oversized themes like big chunky earrings and exaggerated ruffles. I also picked items that were a fun twist on classic pieces, like a scalloped collar on a white button-up or big, artsy floral prints on an otherwise staid work dress.

Some of the items are clearly not work-appropriate (hot low-cut maxi dress, looking at you!), but I think many of the items I picked could easily be incorporated into your work week as well as your weekend:

Youthful Motifs

Given the high-stress atmosphere at work, lately I've been alllllllll about the comfort dressing. What's better than a fun printed pair of pants paired with comfortable wedge loafers, a snuggly sweater, and oversized abstract-shaped earrings?

Then, for the weekend, pull out those bunny sneakers (!!!), pair them with a baseball tee and gingham shorts, and head on your way to do some volunteering. 

Amped-Up Color

As someone who dresses primarily in black and white, this fun fuchsia skirt popped out at me and I couldn't resist pairing it with those gorgeous earrings! I kept it work-appropriate with a standard-issue black turtleneck and heels.

For play, this beautiful marble-print skirt paired well with Annie Costello Brown's beautiful chunky earrings (I'm obsesssssssed with her work!). I kept things relaxed with a wrap top that allows a pretty lace bralette to peak through, plus some easy slip-on sneakers. 

Oversize It!

Lastly, I put together an outfit that's a study in scale. The diminutive scallop collar of the white buttonup contrasts well with the heavy bib of the dress. They both pair nicely with the oversized beaded earrings, with chunky sandals to balance everything out. 

For my final pick, I gravitated toward this fun dress with an exaggerated ruffle. The black ruffled heels give a nod to the dress, then I added more fun ACB earrings and graphic sunglasses to round out the outfit. 

So tell me: have you noticed any shifts in what you wear, where you go to destress, etc in the recent months? How are you practicing self-care while still staying engaged?