The National Picnic Home Base Dress That Fits Me Like a (Baseball) Glove

National Picnic Home Base Dress made in usa review stylewise-blog.com
Betsy at National Picnic provided the Home Base Dress for review and sponsored this post.

Can you believe this is my third National Picnic review? (See one and two.)

It's become pretty clear to me that if you were to boil down the essence of my style, you'd just need a little National Picnic, a little Everlane, and some '90s vintage dresses and you'd be all set. One of the unanticipated benefits of being a fashion blogger is that you get to look at yourself wearing all sorts of garments and you can almost always tell when you're comfortable and when you're not. You'd think this would be obvious from a glance in a mirror, but it just isn't.

When I go back and look at myself in National Picnic, I always look happy and comfortable in my own skin.
  National Picnic Home Base Dress made in usa review stylewise-blog.com
I think that comfort stems from a few things:
  • National Picnic clothing is made with high quality, slightly thicker organic cotton and hemp fabrics with a bit of stretch, which means the clothes don't cling, pull, or bind. 
  • Betsy makes relatively simple styles but always with a detail, pattern, or cut that adds interest.
  • The clothing is casual but cut to flatter, and her shift dresses are never too tight at the hips on my pear shape.

Not to mention that National Picnic's production is small scale and traceable, with products made by a small team in Philadelphia.
  National Picnic Home Base Dress made in usa review stylewise-blog.comNational Picnic Home Base Dress made in usa review stylewise-blog.com Ethical Details: Home Base Dress - c/o National Picnic; Earrings - old; Shoes - #30wears

My Review of The Home Base Dress

The Home Base Dress is made with GOTS-certified cotton and hemp fabric with a tiny bit of stretch to hold its shape. It's cut modestly, which makes it ideal for my casual work environment, but the slightly wider neckline is a departure from a classic baseball tee silhouette, which makes it more flattering. The sleeves are made with a nubbier fabric that I really like, and finished with a fitted cuff.

I review lots of items and I try to point out the fit issues when I notice them, but this dress really fits me like a (baseball) glove and I have nothing to critique.

My typical dress size: S/M
Size ordered: S
Grade: A+

Why It Works in My Closet

The color palette is right on point for my Spring Capsule and this item looks pretty adorable over jeans, so it's really versatile.

Shop National Picnic

The Moral Wardrobe: Put a Scarf on It

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Ethical Details: Top - thrifted (similar); Sandals - Betula (similar); Scarf - thrifted; Watch - c/o The Fourth Gentlemen

I'm so glad the adorable, 1950s scarf thing is back in, because it makes every outfit look just a little more elegant. And it means that I can make an outfit I've worn in some form or the other for 2+ years look current with minimal effort.

We've had several large donations come in at the thrift shop due to the passing of a few stylish ladies. I was close to one of them, Mary, and I enjoyed feeling close with her again through the process of sorting her clothes. I never met the other woman, but she had very good taste in scarves, so I purchased three of them. Some people are turned off by the idea that they're wearing things that belonged to dead people, but I like to think a part of them can live on through the thoughtful re-wearing of their belongings. Material goods meant something to the people who collected them, and there's no reason to discount that. I honor those passed by mingling my own sense of style with theirs.

Sometimes it feels like they aren't even gone, just away for a little while.

inspiration board: May Edition, featuring Veja, Everlane, Mata Traders


Meanwhile, the gray skies persist here in Charlottesville for the foreseeable future. My SAD is fighting with me this week, but I'm determined to remain hopeful, get stuff done, and enjoy the little things.

All items are ethical, sustainable, and/or domestically sourced. Click on the images to be redirected.*
Notes: For busy days at work or couch hunting around town on a day off.
Notes: For Sunday afternoons at the winery.
Notes: For vacationing in historic towns this summer.

The Moral Wardrobe: hips don't lie

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I am "pear shaped" according to those silly women's body quizzes that compare you to different fruits. Though I know it's absurd, I generally take the body proportion rules for dressing pretty seriously. I try to wear things that "cinch at the waist and skim over hips and thighs." It's true that I look much slimmer when my proportionally larger hips and butt are hidden away, but at some point you just have to ask yourself what you're trying to achieve by adhering to superficial standards that you know are harmful.

So today I'm wearing a pair of jeans that most definitely wouldn't be allowed in my What Not To Wear post-makeover wardrobe. Screw it! I like 'em. I like the mid-rise and the straight, cropped leg. I feel like a cool '90s woman who has just discovered feminism and feels that she can achieve anything, starting with tackling androgynous denim trends.
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These jeans weren't sourced ethically, I'm afraid. I've mentioned it before on Instagram, but I have had 0 luck finding good quality, long lasting jeans on the ethical market that fit. For that reason, I make sure I look for conventional denim with a comfortable rise, good seaming, and thicker material that will last me for years. I haven't bought new denim for a couple of years and my last purchases are still going strong. It's one way I ensure that I'm still being thoughtful even in less than ideal circumstances.

krochet kids outfit Ethical Details (contains affiliate links): Tee - Krochet Kids; Shoes - Sseko Designs via MadeFAIR

What compromises do you make when it comes to building an ethical, meaningful closet? Is there a particular type of item you haven't been able to find on the ethical market?

Let's share our resources and see if maybe we can't find it after all. 

the moral wardrobe: Gaia Couture Shabazi Top + Renee Dress

gaia couture shabazi top

The awesome women of Gaia Couture sent me a couple sustainable garments to review. As noted in Monday's interview, Gaia Couture founder Joy Martinello believes strongly in promoting companies and clothing that adhere to strict eco and labor guidelines. Each product listing on the site has an Eco Scorecard with detailed information about production and sourcing so that customers can know exactly what they're getting. 

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eco-friendly fashion blogger
Outfit One: Top - Shabazi c/o Gaia Couture; Sandals - thrifted; Earrings - handmade by Hannah Naomi

This Shabazi Top is the coolest thing I've ever worn. I tried it on and strutted out into the living room to show Daniel (who didn't really care that much), then kept strutting right out the door to take photos. The draping is original and flattering, and the sash can be worn up as a cowl or kept long and loose. This top is made of a sustainable bamboo/spandex blend and is made in Canada under fair trade guidelines.

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Outfit Two: Dress - Renee c/o Gaia Couture; Necklace: Common Thread Refugee Co-op (Charlottesville);  Belt - swapped; Sandals - Betula 

The Renee Dress is a fun twist on black and white stripes, with free form marks that look like they've been dry-brushed onto the fabric. It's lightweight and extremely soft, curve hugging, and an appropriate length for every day wear. It's made of a bamboo/spandex blend and manufactured under fair trade guidelines in China. 

The Shabazi Top retails for $78.00 and the Renee Dress retails for $68.00 on the Gaia Couture website. Though both items are just outside my comfort zone price-wise, the size charts were spot on and the Shabazi Top in particular is definitely worth the money. 

inspiration: fair trade florals

florals by stylewiseblog featuring fitted dresses

Featured Items (clockwise from left): Nomads Summer Halter Dress, Mata Traders Primrose Dress, Reformation Peony DressEthica Elysees Dress, Ash & Rose Cherry Blossom Dress

I had settled into a nice minimal wardrobe, content with my Everlane tees and dark wash jeans. But, one day not long ago, the trees in the median of a nearby street suddenly bloomed dazzling pink and now I just want to wear bright florals to chase the last bit of winter away. 

Solid colors have their place - and they're essential building blocks if you're someone inclined to prints - but it's a season for pattern and I'm so excited to dress a bit more feminine after being on a menswear kick for the past few seasons. In reality, I'll be depending on thrifting and accessorizing for floral accents. I don't think I can justify overturning my wardrobe (or my budget) to make way for half a dozen new dresses.

Oh, and by the way, I'm using the Style Wise facebook page to post interesting articles and fair trade sales. There's a lot of interesting stuff happening in the world of retail right now.

the moral wardrobe: evening light

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sseko designs sandals
evening light
Ethical Details: Top - Ash & Rose; Cardigan - Seamly.co; Sandals - Sseko Designs; Earrings - Mata Traders

Ah, warm evening light. I love the glow of early evening and the shadow filigree it creates on every surface. 

I've really overbooked myself over the past couple weeks and the madness doesn't end until May, so I've been struggling to keep up with everything and maintain sanity. I've resorted to using my planner again; I hope jotting things down will keep me from waking up in a panic over meetings and appointments several times a night.


P.S. Don't forget to enter the Ecouture giveaway!

the moral wardrobe: springtime with Ecouture by Lund

It's Ecouture week! Today I'm sharing a personal style post featuring Ecouture's Twist Dress in Petrol. This is the second post in a three part series, concluding with a giveaway, so check back! Read the interview here.


ecouture by lund

What glorious weather we've had! Daniel and I spent Sunday afternoon on the patio at the Downtown Mall drinking fair trade, organic coffee and reading books. I got my hands on an advanced copy of Rachel Held Evan's Searching for Sunday and I'm really enjoying it. 

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I wore Ecouture's Twist Dress in Petrol the whole day and it was perfect. It's made of organic cotton-jersey that feels almost like silk, plus it's feminine without being revealing and long enough to be comfortable for all day wear (mini dresses are too constricting). 

The silhouette feels like a departure from my usual style - maybe because it highlights parts of my body I'm not used to highlighting - but I felt confident in it and got a lot of compliments throughout the day. This dress perfectly embodies founder Johanne Helger Lund's statement from Monday's interview: "I think it is possible to be feminine AND a powerful woman at the same time!" 

I don't often associate feminine silhouettes with empowerment, but feminism is about freedom, so why not embrace the things that make you feel confident?

springtime with Ecouture by Lund
Ethical Details: Twist Dress in Petrol - c/o Ecouture by Lund; Cardigan - thrifted; Earrings: handmade in USA via Ash & Rose; Bike Shorts (not shown) - American Apparel

I'm crossing my fingers that cold days are gone for now. I'm much more productive when the weather is nice and we've got tons of work to do at the shop since it's nearly time for the seasonal clothing switch-over. I get to spend this weekend massively reorganizing the clothing racks with my awesome volunteer team.

sharing life


Style Wise is an offshoot of my personal blog, Leah Wise: a journal. I wanted a place to develop a community of sustainability and ethics minded individuals working through our consumerism together. And, while I think it's worked to some extent, I got so caught up in keeping this space cohesive that it developed into something that's not quite intimate enough to generate lasting impressions.

My small business mentors told me in our last meeting that I am an important part of my brand and that I need to let people know not just where I stand but who I am. So I'm thinking about sharing more of my life here. You know, just day to day things, like what I do in my spare time, what events I attend, what's making me excited or melancholy or reflective. My desire to buy fair trade stems from a much larger story about how I see and interact with the world, so it makes sense let you in.

I'll start now. I spent a half hour walking around the neighborhood taking pictures of flowering trees this afternoon. At one house with a perfect front yard and low-hanging blooms, I spotted a bright blue jay at the feeder. I stood quietly and watched it for awhile until it flew away. I'm spending the rest of the day indoors with the door open doing inventory for Platinum & Rust (oh, joy) while Daniel sits at his chair and grades papers. It's shaping up to be a simple, happy day.

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the moral wardrobe: snow white

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The trees are blooming white. So glad I dyed my hair to match. A simple need for change would have been enough, but I'm actually modeling for a local fashion show in a couple of weeks and my dramatic new 'do was a part of the process. I don't think I would have gone this blonde without a push, but I'm really enjoying the transformation. We'll see how much of a hassle the upkeep is over the next few months.

I thought I'd venture out for photos this evening because it was just too nice to stay indoors and I want to enjoy the flowering tree before it drops its buds for summer green leaves.

Ethical choices are bolded below. Retailers taking steps to become more ethical are bolded in gray.

  • Dress - made in USA

  • Belt - Gap

  • Sandals - thrifted

  • Earrings - secondhand via local consignment shop (hooray for gift certificates!)

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spring favorites


springfaves by fracturedradiance featuring leather bags

Charlottesville had its first taste of spring last week and now I'm totally and completely over winter. I've been enjoying watching wildlife reemerge and birds take flight, flocks zig-zagging across the sky hypnotically. I can't stop looking up.

If I had an unlimited wardrobe budget, I'd update my closet with:

  1. Everlane U-neck tee in Pine

  2. Bookhou Day Bag in Bure

  3. Dogeared L ring

  4. Orla Kiely for People Tree Collar Dress

  5. TOMS Black Woven Correa Sandals

  6. Everlane Sandals

But alas, I'll be thrifting or not shopping at all. It's tax season after all.
*Click the styleboard to view product sources.

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sunday styleboard

spring fashion styleboard
sources (clockwise from top left): unknown; 6pm; recent settlers on flickr; Adored Vintage; thetimeisgrey

A few recent favorites: thick strap sandals, flatform shoes from France, a chunky knit blanket, a beautiful 1970s dress, and the composition of thetimeisgrey's outfit photo.

I'm savoring the beautiful weather we've been having in Charlottesville because I know it won't last long. But spring will come eventually and I'll go outside with bare legs and it will be wonderful.

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people tree spring/summer lookbook

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People Tree just released its Spring/Summer interactive lookbook. I love everything in the Orla Kiely collaboration. The best part is that it's all fair trade and most cotton products are organic. Take a look by clicking here or on the screenshots above (all images clipped from People Tree lookbook).

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