The Moral Wardrobe: Abrazo Style Catalina Wrap

Abrazo Style Catalina Wrap, ethically produced
This post was sponsored by Abrazo Style and I was provided an item for review.

I'm in the middle of reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (I highly recommend it) and the main character, an immigrant to the US from Nigeria, points out that Americans use the word "excited" excessively. Well, I guess I'm playing into my cultural roots today because I'm awfully excited to be participating in another Abrazo Style collaboration.

I featured one of Abrazo Style's summer styles, the Lilia Dress, in June and proceeded to wear it over and over again to near constant compliments from coworkers, customers, and friends. All Abrazo Style designs are conceived of and created with the indigenous artisan communities of Oaxaca and Chiapas in Mexico. Artisans receive fair wages and access to a broader market, but it's also a good way to preserve hand embroidery traditions, which are at risk of being lost due to shifts in the market and lifestyle changes over the last several years.

Abrazo Style Catalina Wrap, ethically producedAbrazo Style Catalina Wrap, made in Mexico
Ethical Details: Catalina Wrap - c/o Abrazo Style; Top - Everlane; Jeans - old, re-dyed with indigo; Shoes - Etiko; Ring - artisan made

The Catalina Wrap Abrazo Style sent for review is one of those items I forget I really need until cold weather comes around again. It's the perfect added layering piece in both early fall, thrown on over a long sleeve top, and into the winter, layered between a sweater and coat. 

The wrap is "based on a traditional over-garment from Latin America called a 'ruana'. Two shawls are sewn together in back, leaving the front section open for wrapping in a multitude of ways." So far, I've worn the shawl in both ways shown in these photos and have received, yet again and unsurprisingly, near endless compliments. The quality and textural intricacy of Abrazo Style pieces are hard to see in their full glory in flat, digital images, but they're beautiful up close and in person. 

abrazo style artisan made catalina wrap

See the Catalina Wrap styled in two more ways by checking out sister features on The Peahen and Life Style Justice today. 


Catalina Wrap Giveaway

Would you like to style a Catalina of your own? Abrazo Style knows everyone looks great in this wrap and is offering a giveaway to readers of StyleWise, Life+Style+Justice and The Peahen. One lucky winner will be chosen on 10/28.

To Enter:

  1. Sign up for Abrazo Style's Newsletter and mailing list here by scrolling to the bottom of the page and entering your email in the subscription form. 
  2. Comment below and tell us how you would style and where you would wear your Catalina Wrap if you won.

You must do both of these things to be entered to win. Only one entry per person. Contest ends at 11:59 pm PST on 10/27. Winner will be announced the following day. Open to international readers.


The Best Way to Get Rid of Unwanted Things (Spoiler: It's Not Goodwill)

This post was written by Hannah Theisen and originally appeared on Life Style Justice.
Alternatives to Donating to Goodwill

Any aspiring minimalist or zero-waste living enthusiast will eventually run into the ethical issues with getting rid of stuff. Most of us who are on this lifestyle path haven't been minimalists or conscious consumers from birth, so how do we dispose of all the stuff we've accumulated that we don't want or need without contributing toward the environmental stress that's being placed on our planet by our massive amounts of cast off goods...

I generally don't support big thrift shops.

Only about 20% of what gets donated to those Goodwill-type stores is actually put out for sale. 

The rest is sorted and either sent to landfill or shipped overseas- and the crazy surplus of cheap American fashion in developing companies has ruined many countries' own textile/clothing industries and contributed to the lack of sustainable work. Kind of like how TOMS dumps shoes in "poor" communities and brings ruin to local shoemakers, or how we dump excess crops from the US into Haiti and put local farmers out of business. In addition, the financials and "charitable giving" of these big-box thrift stores are somewhat sketchy. Goodwill, for example, pays top executives millions per year while paying workers as little as 22 cents an hour.

Since I've been trying to avoid simply hauling bags of my no-longer-wanted stuff to a donation site at Goodwill or Salvation Army, I've had to get a bit more creative (and alot slower) as I downsize my belongings. Here are some ways that I've been able to get rid of my old "junk" in a more sustainable way:

Art Supplies: 

Many non profits and art organizations accept donations of used art supplies. I was able to recently get rid of a bunch of old card stock, half-used acrylic paints, brushes, and more by donating it to a local group that teaches free art classes to youth.


Free The Girls collects used bras to donate to a social enterprise in Mozambique where women repair and remake the undergarments and sell them in the local market. I've donated to Free The Girls several times... and will most likely continue to do so because I haven't found a better alternative and I believe very strongly in providing jobs for women leaving the sex trafficking industry. However, I am going to be honest and say that I don't love the organizations messaging and the general rescue-y vibe. In addition, I know that donating used goods to be sold in overseas markets can be quite detrimental to the local economy and apparel industry. However, I still believe that donating used bras to be refurbished and worn again is a better alternative than throwing them in the landfill. You can mail bras to Free the Girls, or see if there is a local drop off center near you. I drop mine off at a local midwifery office!


When getting rid of clothing, I go by a certain formula:
  1. Sell
  2. Give Away
  3. Repurpose
  4. Donate
  5. Trash or compost

First, I always try to sell my lightly used clothing. Not because I need to get money from my old stuff, but because my philosophy is that people place more value on stuff when it's not free, and think more carefully about whether they want something or not. For example, when I go to a clothing swap and am faced with piles of free clothes, I am far more likely to pick up something that I don't really need/won't end up wearing a lot! (Leah recommends selling on ebay or poshmark.)

Second, I'll give away anything that my friends or family want. Thankfully I have two sisters who wear similar sizes! Sometimes this step is first, if I'm getting rid of a piece that I know a certain friend would like or fit into well.

Third, I try to repurpose. If an item isn't sellable or easy to give away, most likely it's a bit ratty. I tear old cotton tees into rags, make headbands from old shirts, and have even made cloth napkins from some of Andrew's old button downs.

Fourth is donation. This, of course, is only for things in good condition, and only as a last resort if I haven't been able to give them away, sell them, or repurpose them. When I do donate, I donate to a small local thrift and vintage shop rather than Goodwill.

Fifth is Trash. Thankfully I don't have to use this option very often, but occasionally some of Andrew's work shirts will be so torn up, filled with holes, and covered with glue that they aren't salvageable for any purpose. Anything that's 100% natural fiber gets composted, a few things do find their way to the trash can...


Read more tips at Life Style Justice.


Warm Woolen Things: Sustainable + Ethical Wool and Alpaca Clothing

This post was written by Summer Edwards and originally appeared on Tortoise and Lady Grey.

For warmth in the colder months, nothing beats the warmth of wool, and it is also a good sustainable textile to include in your wardrobe. Not all wool is made equal though, on the sustainability stakes nor on the ethics.

Generally, if the wool comes from small artisanal farms, traditional farming methods, or certified organic farms, these are the best ways to ensure that your wool stacks up the best on ethical and sustainability scales. 

Alpaca is generally more sustainable than wool, and more likely to be ethically raised than wool from sheep. But there are many wool options that are genuinely ethical and sustainable.

Of course, if you are vegan, you may prefer not to wear wool at all. But I have a vegan friend who keeps rescued battery hens among many other things on her farm, and she also knits with wool she combs from her cashmere goats. There are ways to choose wool that is cruelty-free too. For a full understanding of the considerations in relation to wool, you can read the textile review of ethics and sustainability of wool, or check out the Guide to Sustainable Textiles.

Here in Australia we are in our second month of Spring, yet the cold has come back so fiercely that there is even snow on the mountains surrounding Canberra. Considering that this happens only occasionally in Winter, this says lot about the wild weather that is happening. (Year-by-year the effects of climate change are becoming more pronounced.) So I am still thinking about winter woollies, even though we should be heading into summer. In the northern hemisphere, now is a good time to assess your wardrobe and plan ahead for winter.

If you are in need of some new winter warmth for your wardrobe, here are some of my favourite options, along with a few other woolen goodies that I’ve found:

Ethical and Sustainable Wool Fall Shopping List
  1. Zig-zag Clutch by People Tree, Fair-trade certified and made with wool and handsewn glass beading. On sale too!
  2. Wool & The Gang DIY Grey Snood Kit, this is one for the slow fashion DIY enthusiasts. But it is also a perfect beginner project, if you want to give slow fashion DIY a try. The kit comes with chunky wool, which is quick to knit, as well as the knitting needles that you need for the project and all instructions. Perfect project to learn to knit with. Other kits by Wool & The Gang can be found on ASOS
  3. Wool Coat by Zady the perfect winter essential for colder climates. Timeless style that will last, in my favourite neutral colour- black. An investment that will probably give you 20 years of wear.
  4. ASOS Made in Kenya Hooded Throw on Coat is made by the SOKO Kenya factory. Based in the Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary in Kenya, it provides ethical, sustainable jobs in one of Kenya’s poorest districts. This provides sustainable livelihoods in an area where poverty drives high rates of wildlife poaching and prostitution. Other Made in Kenya goods can be found on ASOS
  5. Beth Jumper in Grey by People Tree, handknitted and Fair-trade certified. On sale too!
  6. Aida Cardigan in Red by People Tree, hand-knitted and fair-trade certified
  7. Turtle Neck Sweater by Zady, another winter essential that is worth the investment
  8. Men’s Alapaca Sweater by Zady, great winter officewear for the men in your life, made with beautiful Alpaca wool from Peru, the natural habitat of alapacas where this textile has been used for thousands of years. The colour is also natural, so no dying involved at all. And the wool is spun in a facility in Peru which is powered by solar panels
  9. Esme Wool Cream Jumper by People Tree, Fairtrade-certified and hand-knitted from a wool and banana fibre blend. On sale too!
  10. Wool & the Gang DIY Pompom Beanie Kit another one for the slow fashion DIY enthusiasts and beginners alike. The kit comes with wool, wooden knitting needles and instructions. Perfect project to learn to knit with. Other kits by Wool & The Gang can be found on ASOS
  11. Lightweight Alpaca Sweater by Zady, made with lovely sustainable Alpaca wool rom Peru, the natural habitat of alapacas where this textile has been used for thousands of years. The colour is also natural, so no dying involved at all. And the wool is spun in a facility in Peru which is powered by solar panels
  12. Hand-knitted Bear Hat by People Tree, fair-trade certified. Another much like the panda mittens. I wouldn’t wear it myself, but my little ones would probably enjoy it if I did. Perhaps one for the dress up box. On sale too!
  13. Hand-knitted panda mittens by People Tree, fair-trade certified. Cuteness overload. They certainly aren’t for everyone, but they would make a great gift for little ones in your life. On sale too!

Check out Summer's Guide to Sustainable Textiles!