review

Retrospecced | A Sustainable and Charitable Glasses Home Try-On

Retrospecced ethical, sustainable, charitable glasses home try-on warby parker stylewise-blog.com

This post is not sponsored, but Retrospecced sent try-on items free of charge, which I will be sending back after review. Since glasses are a medical item, I decided I wanted to purchase frames myself rather than request free product.

I first reached out to Retrospecced nearly two years ago, but I had purchased new glasses the year before and ultimately couldn't justify acquiring another pair just yet. 

I almost threw sustainability to the wind because I was so excited about their business model. As you probably know, there's really only one prescription glasses company marketed as "ethical," and that's Warby Parker (affiliate link). The main thing going for them is their one-for-one business model through which they donate vision care services to people in need based on their sales numbers. Charity is a good thing, but it's not always an effective long term strategy. And as I mention in this post, it can often disguise production, environmental, and labor issues in the company's supply chain. I don't know much about Warby Parker's factories, but at the very least, they're not prioritizing a more eco-friendly option.

Warby Parker (like Bonlook, where I got the pinkish glasses you'll see in three years' worth of personal style posts) produces in China using acetate, a type of plastic, in most of their frames. People need glasses - they're a medical device - and so I'm not going to tell anyone not to purchase new glasses if that's what suits their needs, but I found it puzzling that there were seemingly no alternatives in the ethical marketplace.

Why Retrospecced?

Retrospecced is the solution, at least for me. That's because they purchase used (vintage and contemporary styles) glasses from the charity, Vision Aid Overseas - who receive up to 70,000 donated glasses a week! - and offer a custom prescription service through their website. The ordering process is just like any other glasses site, but you receive a final product that is inherently more sustainable because it's secondhand.

Retrospecced explains that this arrangement works well for vision charities, because the clients they assist are in need of more than just a pair of old glasses. They need routine exams, surgery, and other comprehensive care that well-meaning donors can't provide through donated goods alone. Not to mention that cat eyes and '80s jumbo frames aren't everyone's cup of tea.

Learn more about the process here.

I'll discuss the home try-on program more below, but first, take a look at the frames I sampled, ranked from my favorite to least favorite...

Retrospecced ethical, sustainable, charitable glasses home try-on warby parker stylewise-blog.com
Retrospecced ethical, sustainable, charitable glasses home try-on warby parker stylewise-blog.com
Retrospecced ethical, sustainable, charitable glasses home try-on warby parker stylewise-blog.com
Retrospecced ethical, sustainable, charitable glasses home try-on warby parker stylewise-blog.com
Retrospecced ethical, sustainable, charitable glasses home try-on warby parker stylewise-blog.com

About the Home Try-On Program

Because each frame at Retrospecced is a one-off, they have to be a bit more cautious about what they send out for try-ons. While companies like Warby Parker will send you five free frames to try for a week before sending back, Retrospecced's program requires that you purchase the frame for try-on, make your selection, then send them back for purchase or a full refund. When you opt into the home try-on, they also offer £5 off lenses if you decide to purchase a pair.

You can learn more here.

Price Considerations

Retrospecced is based in the UK, so there are a few added costs for US-based and other international customers. Here's the cost breakdown:

  • Frame: Most frames run £29-35 ($37-45)

  • Cost of Shipping for the Home Try-On: ~$35

  • Prescription Lenses with scratch-resistant and anti-reflective coating: £45 ($58)

  • Flat Rate Shipping: £15 ($19)

Total Without Try-On:

$115       

With Try-On:

$150

Even with the exchange rate, Retrospecced glasses are roughly equivalent in price to Warby Parker and Bonlook, which makes them a competitive choice (and if you have eye insurance, you can submit your receipts for reimbursement). The hard thing is narrowing down your selection (I kind of want three pairs!).

I am really excited to be able to purchase high quality vintage frames with my prescription. As an international customer, the process is slightly more tedious, but I think it will be worth it to receive some upcycled glasses I love.

Retrospecced ethical, sustainable, charitable glasses home try-on warby parker stylewise-blog.com

Thicket: The Cast-from-Nature Earrings I Wore for a Month Straight

Thicket Jewelry cast from nature Charlottesville jewelry designer eco friendly stylewise-blog.com
This post is sponsored. Editorial direction and opinions are my own. Get 15% off Thicket items with code, STYLEWISE.

Blackberry thorn. Lemon seed. Cardamom pod. Birch bark.

No, these aren't ingredients for a tincture - they're inspiration for a collection of straight-from-nature jewelry by local designer, Becca, of Thicket Jewelry.

Becca has an MFA in Poetry, and it's evident in the attention to detail she gives to her designs before they're even cast. For one, they're made with recycled materials whenever possible. But most distinctively, they're cast from real organic materials and kept true-to-size. There is both a practicality and a delightful whimsy in this fact, this way of capturing the minute details of the natural world and solidifying them, quite literally, as keepsakes.
  Thicket Jewelry cast from nature Charlottesville jewelry designer eco friendly stylewise-blog.com
But let me tell you another story first.

Becca and I have known of each other for five or six years. She was a picture framer within walking distance of the coffee shop where I worked and we'd greet each other and make small talk whenever she came in to grab a drink. Later on, she worked with a fair trade company assisting with design and fabrication. Meanwhile, I was starting my job at the thrift shop.

We lost touch until I spotted her at a craft fair selling her jewelry. It was a new venture at the time, but I found it all very intriguing. I didn't buy anything that day, but my friend bought one of Becca's early earring designs and still wears them weekly. It's funny when you make connections with people and then find your paths crossing again and again, even funnier when you realize you share a similar aesthetic and ethical vision. Neither one of us was working in the sustainable fashion space five years ago. Now here we are working together.
     Thicket Jewelry cast from nature Charlottesville jewelry designer eco friendly stylewise-blog.com
Thicket Jewelry cast from nature Charlottesville jewelry designer eco friendly stylewise-blog.com
Thicket Jewelry cast from nature Charlottesville jewelry designer eco friendly stylewise-blog.com

Blackberry Thorns and Brambles

I'm wearing a mixed earring set composed of blackberry thorns and brambles cast in recycled silver. I've found the size of these ideal for everyday wear because I can sleep in them without irritation. The fine metal is also ok to wear in the shower (versus cheap metals which can turn your skin green over time). I actually opted to keep a Blackberry Thorn matching set (the other featured items are on loan for review) because I already have stick earrings. This gives me more versatility, but I love the asymmetry of the mixed set. You can purchase individual earrings for your own mixing and matching. Earrings start at $24 each.

And the title of this post is true: I wore - and am still wearing - the Blackberry Thorn earrings for over a month now. I wore them on my recent trip to Florida and they generated some fun conversation about what they were and how they were made. I appreciate items that spark conversation and come with a story, so these are really perfect for that. They make a statement without hollering at you.

Lemon Seed

The delicate pendant in the photo above is cast from a lemon seed in the same recycled silver. While I don't personally wear a lot of necklaces, I am drawn to unobtrusive pieces like this one because they don't hit you in the face when you bend over or get entangled in purse straps and seat belts. Like all of Becca's pieces, it is thoughtfully created. The Lemon Seed necklace is $98.

Final Thoughts

Thicket Jewelry doesn't need a lot of creative marketing because the pieces speak for themselves. In a sea of minimalist jewelry, this is a remarkable accomplishment.

By turning the small details of the natural world into fine art, Thicket also - at least for me - achieves something like virtue: it draws the eye to everyday miracles, diverts our gaze from the hardness of our modern lives and lets us ease into a walk through the brambles, taking footpaths carved by animals over hundreds of years and trod before by millions of tiny and large footprints. It re-enchants our world.

In a word, it's poetry. Condensed into visual haiku.

Shop Thicket with 15% off through September 9th with code, STYLEWISE

thicket recycled jewelry charlottesville virginia stylewise-blog.com

A Happy Accident: Causebox Spring Subscription Box Review

Causebox subscription box review spring 2018 stylewise-blog.com
Contains affiliate links

Welp, I pulled a Leah and accidentally purchased the Spring Causebox subscription box.

You may be asking yourself how that's possible. I subscribed to Causebox in December because I wanted to give some of the items in the box as gifts (which, by the way, worked out wonderfully. Lower cost, beautifully curated ethical gifts for all the women in my life). Then I simply forgot to unsubscribe. When I got the email that my spring Causebox was shipping soon, I decided it was better to embrace it than beat myself up about it.

And honestly, I'm really happy with it...
Causebox subscription box review spring 2018 stylewise-blog.com
If you haven't heard of Causebox, you need to. They're one of the better curated ethical subscription boxes on the market. Where GlobeIn offers more artisan made goods, Causebox offers items from slightly bigger brands that still adhere to eco and social-good standards.

The spring box contains:
  • Symbology Kimono, $105 value
  • PF Candle Co. Reed Diffuser, $22 value
  • Soko Petite Bow Earrings, $42 value
  • Bloom & Give Malabar Tea Towels, $24 value
  • Scentuals Rosehip Beauty Oil, $23.19 value
  • Juice Beauty Ultra-Natural Mascara, $24 value
  • Marylou Faure Postcard, $10 value

I've heard of the fashion brands (Symbology, Soko, and Bloom & Give) and can vouch for their ethics, but I was less familiar with the lifestyle products. After reading up on the other brands, I feel good about supporting all of them. 

My Favorites

I was excited to receive mascara, as I haven't purchased or worn mascara since last year, when I gave up makeup for Lent. This mascara lightly defines without any clumpiness or shedding. I'm looking forward to using it more to see if it continues to work for my sensitive eyes. 

The Soko bow earrings are really nice, and make a statement without standing out too much. 

But my very favorite item is the full sized Rosehip oil. It's light but still really moisturizing and it doesn't cause any irritation. I add a little into my standard, unscented lotion at night. 

Other Thoughts

The other items are beautiful and well-made, but maybe a little bit less essential to my life. The Reed diffuser has added a nice spa-like touch to my bathroom, though. We're hosting some of Daniel's family this week and they seem to like it. 

Conclusion

All in all, I'm thrilled with this box. Each item is something I can use and I'm particularly happy to have been introduced to Juice Beauty and Scentuals.

I would recommend Causebox if you're looking to sample artisan goods at a lower price point or if you want to purchase a premium gift.

You can purchase the Spring box on the site now

Review: Soul Flower's Evocative New Flow Collection

affordable and ethical yoga clothing and exercise gear, soul flower affordable and ethical yoga clothing and exercise gear, soul flower This post was monetarily supported by Soul Flower and I received items for review. All opinions are my own.

When I hear the word flow I envision a spring fed stream - its water chiming over rocks - set low in a forest with glimmers of sunlight peeking in through the canopy above. 


This image encapsulates peace for me. That fissure where cool, clear water comes up from a dark, hidden underground, reminding me that the unknown doesn't need to be feared, that the earth is verdant and God called it good, that I'm another tiny mammal set in a big world, overjoyed at a watering hole and plants that provide good food and sunlight that warms my rattled bones. Flow is the paradoxically majestic and simple fact of being alive, and feeling that alive-ness in your core.

Soul Flower's new Flow collection is fittingly named. I wore two pieces from the collection at a weekend retreat nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and they felt right at home.



affordable and ethical yoga clothing and exercise gear, soul flowerecofriendly and ethical yoga clothing

The Flow Collection consists of a simple cardigan, wide leg pants, and a layering skirt intended to add ease to your everyday activities, whether it's yoga, dance, lounging, or sitting down and writing a blog post. Soul Flower's pieces are made fairly with organic cotton (with a bit of stretch for longevity) and low impact dyes, so they tick all the boxes for me.

They sent me the roll top pants and layering skirt to review...

Flowy Pants in Gray, Size Medium | $56

I love the dramatic silhouette of these pants. The cotton is a bit thicker than your typical lounge/yoga pants, which means they're totally opaque and feel more supportive around the midsection. I like the color blocking, too. These are a really good fit in a size Medium. The pants do tend to wrinkle at the widest part of the leg, which could be fixed with some ironing, but for most leisure activities, that doesn't pose a problem.

These are really the ideal work-from-home pants. I'm prone to folding my legs up under me while I work, so leggings that feel tight at the knee aren't the best option. The wide leg on these means they won't constrict blood flow to my extremities.

Grade: A+


Ruched Mini Skirt, Size Medium | $36

This mini skirt is intended as both a layering option and a standalone piece, but my big butt made that an impossibility. Admittedly, I don't have the "standard" body type for yoga clothing. But the skirt is still a great option for me, because I'm always a bit nervous about wearing leggings as pants, even in an exercise setting. As a modesty layer, this works great, and makes me feel more at ease in my body. It fits tight enough to not be cumbersome, but doesn't feel restrictive.

I'm wearing the skirt over Soul Flower's Stirrup Leggings, which I reviewed here.

Grade: A

You can purchase items from the Flow Collection in three different color stories and there are screen printed versions, as well. See the full collection on the New Arrivals page.
  ecofriendly and ethical yoga clothing

I see Soul Flower as one of the best values out there when it comes to fair trade, organic clothing. The price point is where it should be and the clothing is of really high quality. That can be quite difficult to find in a market that is still working to define its standards and its marketing strategy. You can read more on Soul Flower's ethics here.

Read my previous review here.

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Shop Soul Flower here. 


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Macrame Is Back: Hand Up Global Goods' Bracelets for Social Change

fair trade macrame hand up global goods
This is a paid collaboration with HandUp Global Goods and I received product for review. 

A couple of months ago, after eating dinner with a friend at a shopping center near my house, I took a quick drive across the parking lot and meandered into a craft store. I carefully selected hemp cording and faux turquoise beads, crossing my fingers that my muscle memory would help me do what I had suddenly decided I needed to do: make macrame bracelets.

As a child and young teenager, I was quite the expert at the rope knotting technique known as macrame. I'd hook the end of the string onto one of my toes and hunch over for hours, weaving precise patterns and methodically adding beads until I had achieved the ideal bracelet, anklet, or choker. It was something that was easy to start and allowed for both creativity and skill development with each new bracelet.

Well, macrame is back. And no one in the fair trade industry is doing it better than HandUp Global Goods

fair trade macrame hand up global goodsfair trade macrame hand up global goods

HandUp Global Goods is a social enterprise that employs young men transitioning out of orphanages in Haiti. In addition to providing short term income, HandUp's programs offer financial literacy, vocational training, and spiritual support with a goal to build strong, confident leaders who can build sustainable infrastructure in their own communities. HandUp stands in as a partner to women-focused social enterprises, ensuring that disadvantaged men aren't left behind by broken systems.

Though I'm a Christian, I am very careful to ask about the specific types of "spiritual support" offered through faith-based social enterprises. Our cultural biases and colonialist history as Americans can create a lot of tension - and do a great deal of harm - if we aren't careful to enter developing economies with humility and a listening ear. The team at HandUp Global Goods was more than willing to answer all my questions, and made it clear to me that 1. employees are under the spiritual guidance of a local pastor rather than an outsider and 2. HandUp's curriculum is based in the universal tenets of Christianity and is not affiliated with a particular denomination. This shows me that they are willing to engage their faith in the least harmful way while remaining within their tradition.
  fair trade macrame hand up global goodsfair trade macrame hand up global goods

And, of course, the products themselves are so much fun. HandUp sent me their classic Akolad Encased Bracelet and a pair of the Pearl Macrame Earrings to review. They're each made of thin, strong cording and high quality beads, and the attention to detail is notable. The bracelets would look great in a big stack on your wrist, but my preference is to go old school, and buy a whole bunch to give out as friendship bracelets. They remind me of long summer breaks spent swimming, reading, and irritating my little sister.

That those beautiful, sun-filled memories can be conjured up from these simple but precise pieces is an indication of their connection to loving human handiwork. My hope is that programs like the one offered through HandUp Global Goods can make things a little more beautiful and sun-filled for everyone.

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Shop HandUp Global Goods.


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Host A Handmade, Fair Trade Picnic with GlobeIn's Picnic Box

GlobeIn Picnic Box Review, ethical subscription box This is a part of a paid collaboration with GlobeIn and I received a Picnic Box for review.

Picnics are the best. 


I was looking for a thoughtful or profound way to start this post, but the nice thing about picnics is that they really don't require much in the way of profundity to be a success, so I decided a clear, uncluttered assertion was appropriate. Picnics are about enjoying the simple pleasures of warm breezes, green grass, and friendship. It only makes sense to seek out similarly meaningful picnic tools that contribute to the well being rather than the exploitation of the makers.

I had been wanting to find a suitable picnic blanket to bring to wineries and local summer festivals, and GlobeIn's themed Picnic Box provided that plus a handful of other picnic essentials to help make packing up and seizing the day easy.
  GlobeIn Picnic Box Review, ethical subscription boxGlobeIn Picnic Box Review, ethical subscription box
Pickled Okra not included (:

GlobeIn's Picnic Box contains items that were produced ethically and with eco-friendly practices.

The picnic blanket was produced by artisans at Peace Handicrafts in Cambodia, where workers are provided a living wage, safe working environment, and job training. The top layer is cotton plaid and the base layer is made with upcycled, waterproof bags to ensure that you stay dry even if the ground is damp. In rainy Virginia, this is a must.

The simple wood cutting board was produced by an artisan-owned co-op in India; the cup was hand painted by artisan, Dilshad Hussain, at his shop and produced in partnership with fair trade organization, Noah's Ark; and the bottle basket was handwoven from locally sourced palm leaves by indigenous artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico. You can learn more about the producers here.

I took my box to a friend's house for a picnic for one (she was leaving just as I got there, unfortunately). It gave me a chance to use each item and test its functionality. The cutting board is perfect for a sampling of cheese or fruit and the bottle basket will hold either a bottle of sparkling water or wine, whichever you prefer (here in Virginia wine country, we'll probably use it for wine most of the time). The metal cup is a good partner to the metal cup I already own and the hand painted finish is impeccable, but it would make more sense if they'd provided two cups (you can buy extra cups individually here).
 GlobeIn Picnic Box Review, ethical subscription boxGlobeIn Picnic Box Review, ethical subscription box

If you're already fully prepared for a picnic, GlobeIn sells other monthly Artisan Box subscriptions like this one and individual products from their artisan partners (I purchased wool dryer balls and soap nuts from them in the past).

What I particularly like about GlobeIn is their dedication to attractive, well curated fair trade products that make sense for everyday use. So often, fair trade marketplaces are full of gift-y items that are great around the Holidays but don't otherwise make sense for my lifestyle. GlobeIn sells the kind of stuff that will be used and enjoyed over and over again.

I'm partnering with GlobeIn over the next couple of months to review two other boxes, which will give me a sense of the way their subscription service works. Stay tuned for those, and let me know if you have any questions. In the meantime, you can check out the Picnic Box's 5-star reviews.

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Get $10 off your first 3-month GlobeIn Artisan Box Subscription with code, STYLEWISE.


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Everlane Review: Ribbed Wool Cashmere Crew

Everlane Ribbed Wool-Cashmere Crew Review
Everlane Ribbed Wool-Cashmere Crew Review
Everlane Ribbed Wool-Cashmere Crew Review
Everlane Ribbed Wool-Cashmere Crew Review

Everlane Review

I had some store credit, so I went ahead and splurged on Everlane's

Ribbed Wool-Cashmere Crew

in Charcoal. I liked the deep side slits that imply a cropped fit without sacrificing warmth around my midsection. It's difficult to wear a standard crew neck sweater with dresses, so I was hoping this one would provide the right amount of swingy-ness to look intentional layered over dresses this Dressember.

The Verdict?

I like it a lot! In fact, I might like it more than the standard Cashmere. It's a very thick, dense wool that keeps out cold wind and keeps me toasty warm. So far, the quality seems good and I'm not noticing any pilling.

As with all my sweaters, I plan on washing very sparingly, if at all, to ensure that it doesn't stretch or shrink.

I ordered my standard size small in this and the fit is perfect. I'm a sucker for dark gray, too, so the color suits my wardrobe well. If they had a light blue version, similar to the one from

Siizu

, I would have considered that, too.

The Ribbed Wool-Cashmere Crew retails for $98 and is made in Everlane's Fujian, China factory, which you can

learn more about here

. I do wish that Everlane would be transparent about their textiles sourcing, but I know several people have asked them about this directly, so hopefully they will start listening.

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Shop Everlane here.

What's In My Bag? feat. FashionABLE's Tigist Crossbody

FashionABLE product review

This post contains a few affiliate links

What's in my bag?


FashionABLE gave me this beautiful raw leather Tigist crossbody to review and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to do one of those time-tested "What's in my bag" posts. 

On a typical day, I carry my keys, a tin of altoids (peppermint is great for bad breath, but it's also useful for relieving stomach aches), a little zip pouch with spare change and tinted lip balm (mine is from Purse & Clutch), my iPhone 5C (I purchased it used from Newegg), and a card pouch containing way too many used-up gift cards and loyalty cards (I got it from a local store a couple years ago, but it's not fair trade).

FashionABLE Tigist Leather Crossbody in PewterEthical outfit with Sseko Designs and FashionABLEFashionABLE Tigist Crossbody review Ethical Details: Top - thrifted; Sandals - Sseko Designs; Tigist Crossbody Bag in Pewter - c/o FashionABLE

I'm really satisfied with the quality of the Tigist Crossbody. The leather is cut thick for durability (reminds me of Coach's 1980s-90s saddlebag line), there are ample pockets and a snap closure, and the color is quite versatile. If I could change one thing, I would make the strap adjustable. I have a feeling this strap was measured for someone with a larger bust (I mean, and props to that woman) or maybe someone a bit taller, but it falls a little low on my hip.

FashionABLE's bags are made under fair trade guidelines in Ethiopia. The leather is sourced from the small scale meat industry there. A note on leather: while I believe for ethical and environmental reasons that it behooves us (pun intended) to reduce our meat consumption, I don't have a problem with using leather products that are a byproduct of small, sustainable meat industries. This interview helped solidify my thinking on that point. The Tigist Crossbody retails for $138.00, right in that stretch zone that is worth it if you follow the #30wears guidelines. I hope to get at least a decade of use out of this - it feels like it will last that long - so it should even out.

On an unrelated note, I feel like I FINALLY know what my personal style is and what suits me. It's completely liberating. I thought I would be tempted by all of the Labor Day sales I posted, but I was able to narrow it down to just a few things that I know I'll wear and love.

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Review: Nourish Organic Night Cream + Recovery Serum


100% USDA Organic Skincare


A few weeks ago, I received an email from Nourish Organic asking me if I'd like to sample two of their products. I'm always on the hunt for organic, ethically sourced skincare that won't irritate my skin, so I happily said yes. They sent me their Restorative Night Cream and Overnight Recovery Serum, valued at $25.00 each, to try. All Nourish Organic products are 100% organic, packaged in at least 25% post-consumer recycled content, and cruelty free. Their factory uses renewable energy and their warehouse is underground to reduce utilities waste.

I've been using both products for about two weeks now and I'm happy to say there's been minimal irritation and evident results...

Nourish Organic Skincare serum review
The first thing I noticed about both products (besides their lovely package design) was their heavenly fragrance, comprised of essential oils and other organic fragrances. Since my skin is quite sensitive, I generally shy away from scented products, so it felt like a spa-like indulgence to breathe in the floral and citrus fragrance as I gently layered the serum and moisturizer on my face.

I can feel the potency of these products as soon as they're applied, so I've done my best to adapt my routine to the path of least irritation.

Restorative Night Cream


The night cream is primarily comprised of aloe and shea butter, so the consistency is relatively thin while being quite moisturizing. Since using this product, I have seen a reduction in flaky skin and fine lines around my eyes. I don't need to exfoliate as often throughout the week and I haven't seen an increase in acne or irritation.

My Grade: A

Overnight Recovery Serum


The serum is a blend of safflower, argan, evening primrose, jasmine, sweet orange, avocado, and pomegranate seed oils. The fragrance is really lovely and the application is smooth (I generally use two pumps). I have to be careful with essential oils because their potency often irritates my skin, so I apply this over, rather than under, the moisturizer, because it feels like the small barrier of moisturizer reduces irritation, and I only use it every other day. Paired with the night cream, I have noticed a reduction in fine lines and flakiness. I apply a little more in areas that tend toward extra dryness. I have noticed minor irritation and have had some trouble keeping the serum from migrating to my eye area - it stings if it gets in my eyes. I also avoid using serum in the morning because the oil tends to smudge my mascara.

My Grade: B

Keep in mind that these are personal preferences based on my particularly sensitive skin. I am really impressed with the products overall and think they're priced fairly competitively for their market.

The packaging: My samples were packaged in a cardboard box. The plastic containers were each packaged in small, cardboard display boxes. Nourish is committed to using at least 25% post-consumer recycled content in their packaging, though I can't say which parts were recycled.

I'm thinking about trying the deodorant in Lavender Mint.

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Shop Nourish Organic here. 


the moral wardrobe: Malia Designs' Spring Bag Collection

ethical outfit Malia Designs crossbody
Sometimes things just work out perfectly. One cold winter day, I was sitting in front of my computer pondering what type of handbag I wanted for spring and where in the world I would find it. I knew I wanted something large enough for my planner and a book, with lots of organizational pockets in a fairly neutral print. Plus, it needed to be a crossbody (I only use crossbodies). A few days later, I got an email from Lucia at Malia Designs asking me if I'd like to collaborate with them on a post about their spring line!

Malia Designs is a well established fair trade handbag company. The artisans and producers they work with in Cambodia - primarily marginalized or at-risk women - are paid a living wage and provided a safe working environment. Read more about one of their artisan partners here. Additionally, all materials are sourced locally, which is more sustainable and benefits the local economy. A portion of proceeds are donated to Damnok Toek, an anti-trafficking rehabilitation and resource center that primarily serves child survivors of sex trafficking.
  Malia Designs Pleated Crossbody reviewethical outfit with Malia Designs
That's all well and good, of course, but a product needs to suit your lifestyle and your personal taste, too. The cotton canvas Pleated Crossbody in Canary (part of the Khmer Collection) is sturdy, beautiful, and comfortable. I've always loved gray and yellow together, and the screen printed leaf print feels like spring without overdoing it.

It's such a luxury to be able to fit a lot in my bag after carrying a tiny purse around all winter (though there are benefits to carrying virtually nothing around, too). That being said, it's still a manageable, everyday size that transitions well, whether I'm going out to dinner or stuffing a day's worth of work into my bag. At $50.00, it's a reasonably priced option if you're in the market for a new purse this season.
  Malia Designs Fair Trade HandbagsEthical Details: Dress - secondhand; Sandals - Sseko Designs*; Earrings - Hannah Naomi; Pleated Crossbody Purse - c/o Malia Designs

I've been toting around the Pleated Crossbody for the past week and I've already gotten a lot of compliments on it. Plus, now that I have room for my planner, I'm not forgetting everything anymore (it was getting pretty bad - someone showed up at my house last week for a meeting and I asked them what they were doing here!).

Here's to warm weather, remembered meetings, and ethical handbags.

I'll be giving away this bag and more later this week, so make sure you're following me on Instagram!


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Shop Malia Designs here. Follow along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

review: the LoveGoodly February Box delivers natural, healthy goods to your door

lovegoodly box review
This post contains affiliate links.

I discovered LoveGoodly by chance late last year and was immediately intrigued by their subscription box concept. Subscription boxes are the thing right now, but not all of them are created equal. And while I like the idea of some of the fair trade clothing and accessories boxes, I knew I wouldn't find as much value in them since I'm fairly literate about my options in that category.

But I am in the process of finding more sustainable health and home goods, especially as the market rapidly expands, and the LoveGoodly box offers full size products at a 50% discount. Plus, a portion of proceeds from this month's box goes to support the charity, Cure Cervical Cancer.

lovegoodly february box review

I sampled the February box using a discount code provided in exchange for review.

Here's what's inside:

  • Purely Elizabeth Apple Currant Muesli, $6 value:
    • I had no idea what muesli was before I received this, so I hunted around to make sure it didn't need any special preparation. Muesli is a glorified granola/oatmeal that can be used as cereal, granola, or hot porridge. I like mixing it with Greek yogurt. I'm really enjoying this, but I don't think I'd spend $6.00 on it. I might make my own blend. 
    • Available for purchase here.
  • May Yeung Infinity Bracelet, $40 value:
    • This bracelet makes me go Ehh (shrugs shoulders). It's fair trade with a sterling silver charm and is really quite lovely, but it's just not my thing. 
  • skinnyskinny Basil & Mint Soap, $12 value:
    • Sadly, this soap contains palm oil, which is easy enough to avoid for the sake of rainforest conservation. The plus side is that it smells great; I dig the bright, herbal blend.
  • Cellar Door Tahitian Grapefruit Vanilla Travel Tin, $10 value:
    • I LOVE this candle. It smells like a beachside vacation, so it's a nice pick-me-up on cold days when I'm stuck indoors. I would definitely repurchase. Cruelty free, fair trade, made in USA.
    • Full size available here.
  • LVX x LOVEGOODLY True LOVE Red Nail Polish, $18 value:
    • A saturated, classic red, this is a good staple, plus its toxin free, cruelty free, and creates a nice, glossy finish. I would repurchase this, too. 
    • Available for purchase here.

All in all, I was a little disappointed in this box. I would only repurchase the candle and the nail polish. Still, I enjoyed experiencing muesli for the first time. I was hoping for a facial care product like I've seen in previous boxes, but I'm really thrilled that I was introduced to Cellar Door candles. 

lovegoodly review
Left to Right: Cellar Door Candle at teatime; Muesli with Yogurt; The candle canister on Valentine's Day

Some products that came in this box are available for individual ordering at the LoveGoodly shop.

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Get $5 off your LOVEGOODLY purchase of $25+ with code, LOVESHOP5.



the moral wardrobe: FashionABLE's new customizABLE line

personal style post dusty rose sweaterfashionable customizable horizon necklace
This post contains affiliate links.

I recently purchased* the Horizon Necklace from FashionABLE's new CustomizABLE line. The launch couldn't have come at a better time with the Holiday season on the horizon. The line - along with all of FashionABLE's offerings - is ethically sourced and ethically produced in Nashville, Tennessee.

personal style space dyed cardiganj crew warehouse sale sweater
Ethical Details: Top - J. Crew Warehouse sale; Cardigan - thrifted; Boots & Jeans - past season; Necklace - FashionABLE

The interface is really convenient and you get to see a sample of the finished product before making your purchase, though I should note that the sample image for this particular piece shows 4 beads on each side and I only received 3. I kind of like this version better, but that's something to keep in mind since it costs an extra $5.00. The stamping option, however, is free, so take advantage of it if you can think of a meaningful word or name to add.



I chose to add the word Wise to my pendant because it's my last name and a trait I aspire to. I didn't realize until I was wearing it around my neck while reading an article on The Toast about changing your last name when you get married (well, more about making fun of the idea of women changing their names when they get married) how "traditional' I may come across for having chosen "my husband's" last name as a focal point of the piece. I've gotten a lot of flak for "bowing to the patriarchy" and changing my name when I got married and I've struggled to adequately express why it doesn't make me the very worst feminist. Because I'm a loud and proud feminist and I don't mind that I changed my name. It doesn't make me feel inferior. It doesn't destroy years of feminist work, contrary to the gut reaction of many I've encountered. This isn't a make or break thing.

thrifted outfit

Yes, I made a choice that aligns itself with the patriarchy. But not every decision is political. We have to live in a world with fluid and ever evolving gender norms, expectations, and definitions and we can't possibly all navigate them the same way. So fellow feminists: I'm terribly sorry if you feel like I've shunned our great movement, but I'm not going to take it back. And it's not your business to tell me I made a mistake.

End rant.

Thanks for reading and check out FashionABLE's CustomizABLE Line!


*FashionABLE provided a discount code in exchange for a review.

review: Fouta Towels from Education and More



I heard about Fouta towels a few months ago on another ethical living blog and I was intrigued. Made out of woven cotton, the fabric reminds me of what I'd typically find in a scarf or lightweight throw. But according to Karen at Education and More, who kindly gave me a towel to review, the Fouta (or Hammam) style towel has been around for a long time in Mediterranean countries (it is most recognizable as the towel of Turkish baths) and is wildly popular in Europe right now. And I mean, if the Europeans think it's the bomb, I guess it's worth a try.



I gave the towel a wash and dry before using it to soften up the fibers and get the wrinkles out. It's a huge piece of fabric that feels luxurious compared to a standard towel.

I quickly found out that the large size lends to its effectiveness. The fabric is super absorbent, but it's very thin compared to a standard terry towel, so the added area is essential to dry off your whole body. There was a bit of a learning curve, as I realized I needed to shuffle around the towel as soon as a section soaked through to ensure a thorough drying-off. It took a few extra pats to get the water in my hair all sopped up, but it did work!



The real benefit is that the thin fabric and larger surface area means it dries super quickly and requires far less time in the dryer, which is great for the environment and my utility bill. I'm anxious to see how I feel about it with continued use. I think it would be a great alternative to a standard towel when traveling because it takes up less space, dries quickly, and can be used as a wrap, picnic blanket, and towel. I plan on styling it in an outfit in the next few weeks to give you all a better idea of its multiple uses.

Education and More's fouta towels are handmade by women under fair trade guidelines. Education and More's mission is to support the education and well being of children by providing sustainable employment for their mothers and local educational support.

Have you tried a fouta towel? What did you think?

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Shop Fouta Towels from Education and More here.
See my previous post on Education and More here.

giveaway: $50 Liz Alig gift card [Ended]

liz alig giveaway and review
recycled tshirt liz alig
liz alig robyn top
Ethical Details: Robyn Shirt - c/o Liz Alig; Shorts - thrifted; Earrings - handmade by Hannah Naomi; Glasses - Warby Parker

This shirt was made from recycled t-shirts, just like the Ada skirt I reviewed Monday. Check out that post for more about fair trade brand, Liz Alig

Liz Alig is offering a $50 gift card to one Style Wise reader. To enter:
  1. Follow @liz_alig on instagram.
  2. Comment below with your instagram username for entry verification. 

The giveaway will run from Wednesday, July 22nd to 12:00 am EST, Monday, August 3rd. Open to international readers.

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Follow Liz Alig on twitterinstagram, and facebook. Check out the Fall '15 line, too.

ethical review bonanza: summer edition

reviews


I've purchased a fairly high volume of new ethical goods recently thanks to a combination of an awesome ebay gift card and site sales. I thought I'd review them all in one fell swoop to give you an idea of what did and didn't work for me.

1. Fair Indigo Organic Sleeveless Shirt Dress  


This looked a little big out of the bag, but I washed and dried it and now it fits really well. My coworkers liked it, too. It hits right at the knee and you can unbutton the lower buttons if you want to make it a little more vacation ready. Fair trade, organic.

2. Fair Indigo Organic Scoop Neck T-shirt  


Heavyweight, soft pima cotton with a bit of stretch. I like the dimensions on this, but the small fits a little big. I kept it anyway, because I think the length and arm holes would be too cropped in a size smaller. The fabric is really high quality, too, so I think it'll be a closet staple for a long time. Fair trade, organic.

3. Pact V-neck Tee  


I love the white and navy stripes, but this felt too tight at the hips and the v dipped too low on my small chest (didn't want to expose myself!). I returned it, but if you have a straighter frame (and maybe bigger boobs), this might be awesome on you. Fair trade, organic.

4. The Body Shop Colour Crush Eyeshadow in Mon Cherry  


I love this eyeshadow. It leans a bit pink on my skin, but it contrasts beautifully with my hazel-brown eyes without being in-your-face. Slight shimmer. Uses community fair trade Marula oil.

5. The Body Shop Aloe Protective Serum  


I have used this sparingly so far, but the good news is that I haven't had an allergic reaction! I have really sensitive skin, particularly under my eyes, so that's really saying something. The serum adds a bit of moisture and smooths out and brightens my skin immediately upon application. I'd recommend layering this over your regular moisturizer because it's not quite strong enough to do it alone. Uses community fair trade aloe and Soya oil.

6. Oliberte Hirari Booties  


I ordered these two sizes up from my normal size (I typically wear a US 7 and I got a EU 40 in these). They're comfy and beautiful and have a great sole. I got mine on ebay, but they're currently available at the link I provided. Fair trade.

7. Synergy Organic Clothing High-Low Peacock Skirt  


I'd wanted this skirt ever since I saw it all over Floyd Fest last summer. I got mine in a pretty plum color in one size smaller than normal (a size small) and it fits great. The lightweight, stretch cotton is comfortable and the front length hits at the knee, which makes it more versatile than most high-low skirts in my opinion. Fair trade, organic.


All in all, some pretty good experiences! I've been working to replace everyday basics this summer as my old things deteriorate and pill. I feel confident that the things I ended up keeping will stand the test of time, which is such an important part of the ethical shopping process.

Amani ya Juu: Olive Branch Spoon Set

amani ya juu

I'd snooped around Amani ya Juu's site long before they reached out to me a few weeks ago to tell me they enjoyed Style Wise. They use vibrant Kitenge textiles in a lot of their clothing and I love a good print. When Emily over at Amani asked me if I'd like to review something for the blog, however, I decided to go full on practical and get myself a serving spoon set. 

Daniel and I, despite being grownups for awhile now, had never bothered to go out and purchase anything suitable for serving salads and we'd been forcing our poor dinner guests to clumsily grip together two regular pieces of silverware all this time. The multi-colored grain and rich smell of olivewood makes this Olive Branch Spoon Set really special (and decidedly more impressive than tiny forks for serving salad).

olive branch spoon set

Amani ya Juu, which means "peace from above" in Swahili, is a faith based sewing and resource center that seeks to provide a place of peace and restoration to their employees, primarily women escaping war and political turmoil. Their network extends to 6 countries. They're also a member of the Fair Trade Federation, which ensures that their business practices are just and transparent. 

olive branch spoon set

I asked Emily to clarify a few things about the process:

How do women get involved in the Amani program?

Women get involved in many ways. It's often by word of mouth from a neighbor, friend, or family member who has been through the program. Sometimes they are referred to us from other organizations who provide some sort of immediate assistance but not jobs or training. We have a waiting list, and when there is space in our program, a woman comes in and interviews. The interview isn't necessarily based upon skill, in fact - usually it is based upon need.

Your program has several locations. Are women employed at each location? How is the organization organized?

Yes, women are employed at each Amani location (and a handful of men, too!). The largest has close to 100 (Kenya) and the smallest has 16 (Uganda) 
Many women working at our oldest and largest center in Kenya are refugees from other countries hoping to return home. As women returned to their homelands, they often carry Amani with them. For some, encountering peace at Amani has left such an impression that they developed a vision for an Amani in their home community. Through these women, Amani has established a presence of peace in five African nations. As Amani has grown from one location to a network of centers, each Amani center is locally registered and independently managed with support from an international leadership team.  
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If you're anxious to learn more about Amani ya Juu and maybe get your hands on your own set of serving spoons (or a new skirt or bag), make sure to check back Monday for another post + a giveaway! 


Visit Amani ya Juu on facebook, instagram, and twitter.