Summer Staple: Striped Dress

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I love a good striped dress. And this is a good striped dress.

(sorry that I take only the worst mirror selfies.)

There’s something about a nice striped dress that just screams summer, right?

What I like about this dress (the Everlane Gia Mini Dress) is that it’s a heavier cotton, it does not at all feel like a traditional t-shirt dress, so it’s not clingy. I usually prefer dresses that have a defined waist, but this is very comfortable and well-made, works over navy tights in cooler weather and is good during the summer.

It’s a very casual-looking dress (although I think since it’s not a traditional t-shirt material it looks a little nicer), so when I wear it to work I throw a blazer on to make it look professional. It was one of my favorite purchases last year, so I’m pleased to say that  though no longer on the page of dresses, is (as of writing) still available in size small, medium and large on their website, so it’s probably in very low stock. Anyway, if you need a striped dress, I recommend the Gia, but I’ve linked a couple other responsibly-made striped summer dresses if the Gia isn’t your exact style:

Gia Mini Dress – Everlane, $48
Similar:
The Cotton Striped Tee Dress – Everlane, $38
Blake Short-Sleeve Dress – Amour Vert, $98 (made in USA)
Celine Swing Dress – Amour Vert, $98
Teah Dress – Amour Vert, $138

 

Feels like Summer

Maybe because it’s June (!) or maybe because the weather has been so nice, it’s just starting to feel like summer.

Ice cream for lunch from an all-you-can-eat ice cream fundraiser (we got to keep the bowls!)

Spa water is my favorite summer drink (lemon, cucumber and mint) and CHERRIES are my favorite summer snack (in the same bowl I had ice cream in earlier).

My summer isn’t going to be much of a break with my class schedule, but I am definitely trying to make the most of my weekends.

What makes you feel like summer has started?

Dressing for Extremely Warm Weather

We just got back from a short trip to Puerto Morelos, Mexico, which is about an hour south of Cancun. Two of my friends got married (!!) at a nearby resort so we just had to make the trip down.

Since my partner and I both work at non-profits, an all-inclusive resort was not really in our budget (or style), so we stayed at a nearby AirBnB that was still beachside and had a pool so we weren’t exactly roughing it.

I think in general I am a pretty good packer, and especially for how hot and humid the Mayan Riviera is, it really doesn’t make sense to feel precious about what you’re wearing because you will sweat right through it. In hindsight, I probably could have packed even less because I just ended up re-wearing sweaty t-shirts when we weren’t out on the beach, but a few pieces I brought really stood out as MVPs.

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I wore my Brass Clothing tank maxi to my friends’ wedding, which was on the beach (thankfully) with a bit of breeze. The tank maxi is jersey fabric that feels like pajamas but looks quite fancy. I tied it at the bottom so it wouldn’t get sandy during the ceremony so this picture it looks quite dorky, but it was a good weight and choice for an outdoor, tropical wedding. (My partner wore an Everlane linen shirt, which looked great and probably saved him from heatstroke, although he still felt quite near death from the heat.)

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I got this Athleta Wailea astra dress off Poshmark about a year after it came out, and boy am I glad I had it.

I wore this to my friends’ cocktail reception the day before the wedding and I believe that truly there is no better fabric for hot temperatures than featherweight stretch because it doesn’t wrinkle, is basically water resistant, quick-drying and lightweight. It’s even better when you can find it secondhand.

As for swimsuits, I brought an Albion Fit top (*that doubles as a sports bra) and a pair of old black bottoms as well as a vintage-inspired suit from Beverly Swimwear. Albion Fit is an ethically-minded fitness and swimwear company based in the US with a factory in Guatemala, and Beverly Swimwear is a one-woman operation in California with materials purchased in the USA.

I really didn’t take too many pictures, since mostly we just relaxed on the beach, read, and then found food in town to stuff our faces with, but it was a lovely trip and I totally recommend the AirBnB route if you’re thinking about going to the Yucatan!

How to Hand Wash Silk

When I started researching more ethical clothing brands, I noticed that many of them used fabrics that I always thought of as a fussy. Over the last few years, especially with athletic clothing, I’ve starting amassing more and more items that can’t go in the dryer, so I figured silk might be worth a try since I’m already dealing with so many “fussy” pieces, and especially since it’s a natural textile.

Hand washing was totally new to me though, since I’ve always been a lazy washer and would toss things in the washer anyway… but investing in a high-quality garment is pretty good motivation to take care of it as you should. And actually, hand washing is not that hard. Here’s how I do it:

First I got some Delicate Wash detergent from the Laundress, because it’s specifically designed to be good on silk. I use it for hand washing and in washing a load of delicates that are OK to go in the machine washer. Just a few drops is all you need.

For the actual washing, I place a plastic container in my bathtub and fill it halfway with cold water. Add a couple drops of the detergent, and drop in the silk shirt. Silk should not be soaked for more than a couple minutes, so I swish it around, then run the faucet over it to wash out the detergent and go on to the next shirt. I started washing my Osei Duro shirt first because it’s light, and kept the water for my Everlane shirt, which is a darker dye and does run a bit while being washed (but looks the same afterward). When rinsed, let it drip out excess water but do not wring out.

Lay out a clean towel and place the shirt flat on top. Roll the towel (like you’re rolling a sleeping bag) to get the excess water out. Repeat if necessary.

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Lay flat to air dry.

The whole process takes … about 15 minutes? I definitely put it off and these 2 shirts have been languishing in my delicates laundry bag for about 2 weeks because I am lazy, but it is really simple.

Grana Racerback Tank

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I accumulated a lot of neon athletic clothing while I worked at Athleta after college, and as soon as I stopped working there, realized that a lot of what I had didn’t fit my lifestyle. What I do value in athletic or athleisure clothing is versatility and comfort, and my neon/high performance stuff was not making sense. So I sold a lot of it. Now I tend of wear the same things over and over, but I do pilates every morning so I do rotate through workout clothes pretty often, and a few months ago realized that I was lacking on simple workout tops. (For some reason I have plenty of bottoms? How does that happen?)

Grana is a clothing company based out of Hong Kong with a transparency model similar to Everlane. They came out with an athletic line recently, and I purchased the racerback tank because it looked like a simple and versatile piece.

So what’s so special about it?
When I received it, I was surprised at how soft it was. As you can see in the picture, the cut is pretty severe, which for me is not a big issue because I’m pretty flat chested and I don’t mind showing off a little sports bra. It’s a very simple top, so for doing pilates on a mat, that’s great for me. No bunching/scrunching and minimal adjusting. The fabric is moisture wicking and lightweight.

What’s it for?
My workouts are typically pilates and light cardio, so I’m not usually soaking my clothing with sweat. For my workouts, this is perfect, and I definitely wear it often on weekends just for chilling out.

Is it worth it?
The racerback top is $25 (and get 10% off your first purchase with this link), and though I haven’t bought any other products from their activewear line, I’m pretty enamored with this fabric and would consider buying it in another color or one of their other tops if it made sense to add another work out top to my mix. I think it’s a reasonable price for a quality product.

Running Around in Wool Runners

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So, what’s so special about them? 

Allbirds, a new, very instagram-friendly company produces shoes made of merino wool. Merino wool comes from a specific type of sheep raised in mostly Australia and New Zealand, it’s naturally super-fine (so not scratchy like old wool sweaters) and naturally odor-resistant. Merino wool as the base of a shoe means that it uses 60% less energy than the typical process to make a shoe of synthetic materials. Allbirds is a certified B-corp and the wool is ZQ-certified, so they’re paying attention and following strict guidelines for sustainability, animal welfare, and company transparency and accountability. On top of that, they’ve designed their packaging to use 40% fewer materials than typical shoe packaging. Allbirds just launched a second style, their wool loungers, in addition to the wool runners, and color options are limited to a few standards and short-term seasonal colors.

What are they for? 

So, these aren’t shoes for hard workouts (the packaging even notes that these are for everyday wear, not marathons), which is fine with my lifestyle. The loungers look similarly cute and comfortable, so depending on your style and what you plan to wear them for, I recommend checking them out.

Are they worth it? 

In my opinion – yes. I’m a big fan of the look of the shoe- clean lines, minimal distractions, and neutral colors. I purchased my pair off an ebay seller who got the wrong size and missed the return window, so their loss was my gain, and I ended up shaving off a little from Allbirds $95 price tag. These are incredibly lightweight and unbelievably soft– I’d been eyeing them for a long time but still wasn’t sure if all the hype about their comfort was true and it 100% is. It is like walking on little clouds all day. So far, I’ve been wearing them without socks in some pretty up and down spring temperatures, and the temperature regulation has been great so far.

In sum, I love these shoes and I’m so interested to see how Allbirds (or maybe other companies) incorporates natural materials into everyday items for more sustainable shopping!

 

Budgeting and Shopping for Deals on Ethical Clothing

My senior year of college, I got a part-time job at Athleta, which then became my only job after I graduated and couldn’t find a full time job for the next 8 months.  At that point, I was making slightly more than minimum wage and just covering my basic expenses, it felt like saving money was so far away. If I had leftover money, I spent it, often at Athleta (I had a 50% discount). At the time I thought that I had this limited time to buy nice clothing at an extreme discount so I was lucky to use it. I would use these things forever! I was wrong. Five years later, I don’t have a lot of those things anymore and I feel dumb for having bought stuff that I didn’t wear a lot after my brief retail salesperson career and not saved that money for something actually useful or paid down debt faster.

I know that I am an emotional shopper. I buy things when I’ve had a bad day, or when I’ve had a really good day! It’s a way to treat myself. But, I recognize that the more I do this, the less it’s an actual treat. And I know that–at least at this point–moving into a strict budget with no room for buying things that I want instead of need would also make me miserable and probably wouldn’t work in the long run. So, where’s the balance? And, if you’re eschewing brands that make $6 t-shirts in sweatshops, can you still be a savvy budget shopper?

Here are a few things I’ve learned so far:  Continue reading “Budgeting and Shopping for Deals on Ethical Clothing”