Style Wise | Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Sustainability


sale alert: Sseko Designs

fair trade shoes sale at sseko designs, a company that empowers women,

Sseko Designs is offering 20% off sitewide with code, bemerry. Their stuff is pricey because it's ethically produced and high quality, so this weekend is a good opportunity to buy yourself some ribbon sandals or a tote bag. I wore my ribbon sandals almost every day last summer!

To shop other fair sales, check out Let's Be Fair's ultimate guide here.

the moral wardrobe: black friday

everlane ryan pocket tee with vintage skirt personal style post on
everlane ryan pocket tee with vintage skirt personal style post on
SAD winter time outfit post on
Ethical Details: Top - Everlane*; Skirt - vintage (thrifted!); Leggings - old

After two terrible winters, I'm convinced I have seasonal affective disorder. And I don't say that flippantly, like someone saying they're "sooo OCD." The depression was numbing by the end of last winter; I was so deeply absorbed in the sadness that I'd forgotten my potential for joy. But as soon as the sun started shining and the days grew longer, I found myself laughing raucously, skipping, enjoying life again. It was a happy time, but I never forgot that feeling of sadness-for-no-reason and I never stopped worrying about the winter to come. Well, that winter is here and I'm desperately trying to hold onto the happiness, but I'm already getting restless. I'm already grimacing at myself in the mirror and sleeping in too late. 

Speaking of grimacing, please just don't do Black Friday. The good deals at big box stores, for the most part, are right in retailers' profit margin comfort zones. Sure, you may get an item at the lowest price you'll find it all season, but you're really just succumbing to retail theater. Let's stick it to the man and shop Fair Tuesday instead. 

*Everlane is using today's profits to build a better recreation space for on-site workers at their China factory. Items aren't reduced, but you can do a bit more good if you shop there today. 

brand: PACT Apparel

pact fair trade apparel for men and women on

This post contains an affiliate link

Fair trade sometimes gets a bad rap stylistically because designs tend to pull from indigenous craft traditions that, when separated from their context, come off as a bit hippie. I've come to appreciate the stories and people behind fair trade products. And, since they have given me permission to enjoy their products, I don't have to feel ill at ease about dressing in or embracing traditions that don't come from my own heritage (cultural appropriation is a tricky subject here, so I'd appreciate your input, too).

But sometimes I just want a simple tee to wear with my batik print skirt. And where do I even start looking for fair trade socks?

PACT Apparel believes in organic, sweatshop free, small scale production. They specialize in simple basics, from underwear to hoodies, that manage to be both contemporary and timeless. What's more: they're offering 40% off the entire site until December 1. They also sell these at my local Whole Foods, so if you prefer to see them in person, see if your local Whole Foods stocks them!

pact fair trade apparel for men and women on

If your family gives each other socks for Christmas, it might be a good time to shop. 

pact fair trade apparel for men and women on

snow day


Items pictured: Ten Thousand Villages neck warmer, gloves, and gray hat; People Tree checked sweater; Krochet Kids teal hat, circle scarf, and sweatshirt; Sseko Designs gray and white scarf

Winter is coming! I no longer watch Game of Thrones because I found it both disturbing and misogynistic, but alas, winter is coming. With a winter storm watch in effect beginning this evening, I have to face the grim truth that the cold is here and it's not going away anytime soon. Fortunately, fair trade companies are awfully good at making lovely winter knitwear and cold weather accessories.

On an unrelated note, I really love my job. Sometimes I find it overwhelming, but it never stops feeling like meaningful work. I've got great volunteers, great customers, and I get to work at my favorite place in the world: a thrift shop. I valued my coffee shop job, but it's nice to take on more responsibility. When I moved here two years ago, I said I wanted to work in retail or at a non-profit and now I'm doing both! I'm surprised and relieved that I found something I truly enjoy.

the moral wardrobe: practically summer

Ethical Details: Top - vintage; Cardigan - thrifted; Earrings - Mata Traders; Shoes - old

You guys, it's practically summer outside today. Woo hoo! High of 71. They're predicting snow for Wednesday, so I've got to savor this while I can.

I've got one day of work tomorrow, followed by various reunions. I hope to visit with a friend from high school early in the week before heading to my father-in-law's wife's parents' house for Thanksgiving. Hope you're also on your way to a festive week.

UVA, Greek Life, and Institutionalized Inequality

uva rotunda at

On Wednesday, Rolling Stone (the article is quite disturbing, so proceed with caution) published an exposé on the gang rape of an undergraduate student by fraternity members at the University of Virginia.

Then the sh*t hit the fan: the frat house involved was vandalized on Wednesday night, professors organized protests, students organized a slutwalk, and the President released several (mostly inadequately forceful) statements before finally shutting down Greek activities for the remainder of the fall semester.

When someone is violently sexually assaulted and told by her peers (and potentially by the administration) that it's not okay to report it, there is no easy fix because the blame doesn't fall on one person. The particular students involved must be held accountable, but so should the fraternities, sororities, administration, local police force, and the (far less tangible) culture at large. 30% of UVA students are members of Greek organizations and a significant number of undergraduates attend frat parties as their primary source of socializing on the weekends. Students here may study hard, but they party harder, and many of them come from money and privilege that shelter them from significant repercussions. This extreme entitlement paired with Type A perfectionism and reputation above all else has created a perfect storm for persistent, unpunished sexual violence. Greek life is inherently, fundamentally discriminatory and exclusionary; the system preys on the lonely, desperate, and inexperienced. And, though the administration may know something needs to change, they are limited either by pride or by fear of legal action. As a result, they are part of the problem.

My experience with undergraduate students here is that they're often ill equipped to properly respond to violence or injustice in the lives of their friends and peers. They seem to lack a sense of self-reflection and independence that would allow them to speak up when it's necessary. To add insult to injury, their support networks are often superficial and therefore unable to withstand the type of vulnerability that comes with admitting you or a friend has been harassed or assaulted. Though I'm sure emotionally mature, justice-oriented undergraduates exist here, they don't exist in large enough numbers to change the culture.

But I believe the culture can change. I believe it is my responsibility to listen to the concerns of the undergraduates I interact with on a regular basis and to help them find a way to take a stand against unjust sorority codes, biased administrators, and the implicit expectations of the rape culture that exists here. I believe that change means more than just talking things out until we feel better, and I know we have to work together - and risk being disliked - for real and lasting progress to be made. The important thing is that we don't just allow news like this to blow over. We don't get to forget it. We must remember: for the sake of assault survivors and for the sake of prevention. No one should live in the hopelessness of feeling that their trauma has gone or will go unnoticed.

Update 11/24: Students, faculty, and community members have started a group called Alliance for Social Change. If you live in the area and are interested in participating in local events, feel free to like the page. You can also sign a petition to permanently suspend Phi Kappa Psi from UVA's campus. Personally, I believe that it would better to suspend all Greek programs on a temporary basis during which the university can dramatically restructure them (e.g. require them to move to on-campus housing, change policies, make rush more inclusive, affirmative action, etc.). I don't know that a permanent removal of one fraternity will change things long term.

Fair Trade Federation Holiday Guide

Happy Tuesday. I'm currently steeped in Holiday-related work duties and haven't had much time to prepare posts, so it's the perfect time to share a fair trade gift guide! I really love the Fair Trade Federation's standards and organizational structure.

My picks are the Starfish Project necklace and the Eternal Threads gloves.

Bangladesh Garment Workers Memorial Quilt

Last night, the Virginia Arts of the Book Center sponsored a one night exhibition of the Triangle Fire and Bangladesh Garment Workers Memorial Quilts. I wasn't able to attend since I had plans to see my friend's play, but I still wanted to mention it here.

The quilts were designed by Robin Berson, a labor rights activist associated with the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition based in New York. Before the 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh that killed 1,133 people, The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 was the deadliest factory disaster in the history of the industry. The owners of the Manhattan-based building were indicted for manslaughter, but were acquitted. The incident is responsible for improving safety standards in New York and in the country at large. The Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition was formed in the years leading up to the 100 year anniversary of the tragedy and works to promote universal worker dignity and safety. The Bangladesh Garment Workers Quilt commemorates the lives lost in the Rana Plaza collapse and the Tazreen fire.

The handmade quilts serve as a moving reminder that we are all connected by the stitches that make our garments. We are all responsible for worker safety.

For more information about the Rana Plaza disaster, read my article for Relevant.

The Moral Wardrobe: Everlane

everlane outfit with military jacket and skinny jeans on
everlane outfit with military jacket and skinny jeans on
everlane tee and j crew elephant necklace on
Ethical Details: Top - Everlane; Jacket - secondhand via Thredup; Loafers - vintage

I actually bought a few Everlane items several months ago, but due to their very particular fit preferences, which tend to be somewhat slouchy and over-sized, I had trouble determining my size and ended up returning my order. But I never stopped loving the company. They pursue radical transparency, which means that they provide detailed information about their design, production, and pricing processes. Plus, their online only model means that they can price higher quality merchandise at more affordable prices. This time around I ran into a few fit and quality control issues, but they resolved it immediately and had two representatives follow up with me as soon as I submitted my return request. 

I wore this outfit to take a walk around the neighborhood. I let the beautiful trees outfitted in fall colors persuade me to take untrod paths and stumbled upon an old church only a couple blocks from my house! It's been remarkably warm and sunlit around here; I'm thankful for the chance to go without several layers for a few more days. 

virginia in the fall on

warby parker home try-on

warby parker glasses review on

It's about time for a new pair of glasses, so I went ahead and ordered a free home try-on from online glasses company, Warby Parker. While not strictly fair trade (there's not a lot said about production standards), they work with non-profits to help sustain vision care programs in developing countries rather than merely giving some free stuff to people in need. It's actually rather thoughtful; you can read more about it here.

I really just wanted to try on the clear acrylic frames, so I let them fill the rest of the box up for me. The top left image is me with the glasses I already own. I organized the rest from worst to best (starting from the top middle image). I'm pretty sure you'll agree with me on the order.

Ames in Whiskey Tortoise: 

These have the remarkable quality of making me look cross-eyed. They're also gigantic. No.

Ainsworth in Walnut Tortoise:

Not bad, but kind of gigantic. They swallow my face.

Burke in Tennessee Whiskey:

Just so BIG. Why!? I like the fade effect, though.

Marshall in Rum Cherry:

I would really like these if they didn't angle down on the ends. The line is a bit too '80s for my taste.

Coley in Crystal:

I really like these, but then again, they're the reason I ordered the home try-on. They fit the angle and shape of my face well and draw attention to my eyes instead of my glasses. They fit a bit too tight at the temples, however, so they may be a no go.

Overall, my Warby Parker home try-on was, um, an interesting experience. Better luck next time, I guess.

blog navigation

You may have already poked around my blog, but just in case you haven't, I wanted to let you know about a few features available via the navigation bar at the top of the page. For information regarding the purpose of this blog and to learn a bit more about me, check out the About page. For a list (and links) of ethical retailers, click on Brands. To view posts by category, simply click on Essays, Reviews, or Personal Style

If you haven't gotten the chance to add me to your blog reader, I encourage you to follow me on Bloglovin' using the button below. In my opinion, it's one of the better readers and it'll recommend new blogs based on the ones you already follow so you'll never run out of blogs to check out. 

the moral wardrobe: winter weight

vintage outfit for winter and other ethical outfits on
vintage outfit for winter and other ethical outfits on
vintage outfit for winter and other ethical outfits on
Outfit Details: Top - vintage; Skirt - thrifted; Socks - J. Crew; Boots - old Target

As a former Floridian, I wasn't really convinced that I'd need actual winter garments to withstand the colder months. But after just barely getting through two Charlottesville winters (which I hear are pretty mild by nearly everyone's standards), I'm a believer in seasonal attire! I've stocked up on sweaters and thick socks and recently added this wool blend skirt to the mix. It's nice to feel warm with minimal effort!

This is one of those outfits that really feels like me. Everything's comfortable and fits well. It's a bit of a vintage silhouette with modern print mixing and fairly edgy boots. Eclectic and well made.

sunday inspiration.

Untitled #330

Sources (clockwise from top left): Unknown, Lolly in the Sky, Sseko Designs, Unknown, American ApparelMillay Vintage

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review: The Body Shop

the body shop review, my favorite skincare products

I have extremely sensitive, combination skin with a tendency to get acne around my chin. I had this idea that by the time I hit 26, my skin would finally be perfect, but sadly that dream has not yet become a reality. I'd switched back to a benzoyl peroxide wash over the summer, but built up an intolerance to it really quickly this time around and decided to find a new line of products to try.

I ended up on The Body Shop's website after doing a search for "fair trade skincare." The Body Shop is not entirely fair trade, but they do source several fair trade ingredients for their formulations and they're also cruelty free (you can read more about their values here). If you've looked for fair trade skin products, you know that producers and consumers alike have a difficult time tracing their ingredients. The Body Shop may not currently be the solution, but I appreciate that they're trying.

And I really love their stuff!

I purchased:

the body shop review, my favorite skincare products

I've been using their products since late August and still really enjoy them. The mascara had a fairly short shelf life (it's already gone goopy), but it didn't irritate my sensitive eyes like most mascaras.

On a typical day, I use the All-In-One Face Base alone, but if my skin's looking splotchy or I've got a special event, I'll layer it over the bb creme, which wears as a light-medium weight foundation. I also love the tinted lip balm; it's become my go-to item when my lips feel dry. For my skin tone, I found that Tone 02 works best in the powder and 01 works best in the creme.

I also bought their Banana Conditioner and it's the bomb! My hair is super soft now.

I was not compensated in any way to write this review.

the moral wardrobe: loafer love

loafers and thrifted cashmere cardigan on
mata traders earrings and vintage loafers on
mata traders earrings and vintage loafers on

Outfit Details: Cardigan - thrifted; Shirt - made in USA via Marshall's; Jeans - AE; Loafers - vintage via etsy; Earrings - Mata Traders

I lost my beloved loafers to a day of muddy slush after a heavy snow last winter. I'd been on the lookout for a pair that filled the loafer-shaped hole in my heart and I think I finally found them (after trying on a dozen or more pair). I've been wearing these vintage loafers ever since they arrived in the mail.

These are my new skinny-but-not-too-skinny jeans. It's amazing how much better one feels when one's not suffocating in ill-fitting jeans!

my jewelry collection

minimalist jewelry collection on

In middle school, I decided I should only wear one piece of jewelry at a time and I still believe less is more. I don't wear a lot of jewelry, but I have a fairly large collection of pieces that get their moment to shine periodically.

j crew elephant charm necklace
butterfly wing necklace

My current favorites include gold and brass items, geometric designs, and the occasional animal-inspired piece. The locket necklace above has a real, sustainably harvested butterfly wing fragment inside.