the moral wardrobe

The Moral Wardrobe: What I Wore on a Saturday

ethical style postethical style postethical style postethical style post
Ethical Details: High Neck Tank Top - c/o Live the Give; Blue Tank Top - thrifted; Megan Cardigan - c/o Liz Alig; Boots - thrifted; Jeans - #30wears

Not much to say other than that I really enjoyed myself a couple Saturdays ago. The weather was perfect (73 degrees), so Daniel and I ate outside, then headed to the Downtown Mall for a stroll. Later in the afternoon, we met up with some friends to bowl and eat pho, a belated celebration of my 29th birthday.

I haven't gotten a lot of use out of this Live the Give tank because the cut isn't suitable for work, but I think I can pull it off by layering a tank top under it to make it a bit more modest and cover my bra straps. I think the high cut neckline is really flattering.

In case you were wondering when I'm going to post an Everlane* denim review, I'm not, for now. The first pair I ordered was way too tight in the hips, which made it impossible to button them up. By the time I got them in the mail, everything was backordered until November.  If I can get enough store credit, I might purchase several pairs to sample when they come back into stock, but for now I'm happy with my locally purchased (and not very ethical) jeans.


P.S. Neo-nazis showed up in Charlottesville again this weekend. Fortunately, they disbursed their torch lit rally after about 15 minutes without any (physical) violence. State and local representatives are trying to figure out how to stop this from happening, but free speech and assembly laws and rather lax gun (and torch?) laws have made it very difficult to push back. Local clergy and activists were present near the synagogue during Sukkot services because police detail was, inexplicably, denied. I was out in the countryside enjoying dinner with friends at the time, so didn't hear about it until much later in the evening. I wanted to share what I know in order to correct any misinformation you may receive from national news coverage and/or twitter.

The Moral Wardrobe: Are Mom Jeans the New Corsets?

mom jeans and everlane outfit

If you have enough patience, you will find the exact thing you want at the thrift shop.

Sure, it might take three or four years, but don't let anyone convince you it's just not available. I'm being a bit facetious, obviously, because you don't always have half a decade to find the clothing item that fills a hole in your closet. But when it comes to vintage, high waist denim, there's really no replacement for the real thing, and the online vintage market is currently pricing them around $100, so I figured it was worth it to wait patiently.

These finally showed up at the shop where I work, crumpled up on the floor of the dressing room (apparently they didn't work out for that person). I figured I might as well try them on before putting them back on the rack and, lo and behold, they fit!

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Ethical Details: Top - Everlane (similar); Jeans - thrifted; Shoes - Julia Bo*

I should qualify that last statement: they fit when I'm standing up.

The thick cotton denim and total lack of stretch means these are almost intolerable to sit in, and don't even think about eating in them. I'm trying to figure out if this is an accepted part of the mom jeans experience, or if I just have a really low tolerance for things that pinch. In any case,  I guess I'll be wearing these on days when I'm standing most of the time, and totally avoiding them when I'm going out to dinner. For $4.00, my cost-per-wear will still be quite low.

In other news, I splurged on this pair of slip on shoes for my upcoming 29th birthday. Not perfectly ethical, but they are made in a regulated family factory and made to order, so less waste is produced.

The Moral Wardrobe: Feminist Frump

Ethical Details: Carmela Apron Dress - c/o Conrado; Tee - Elegantees; Sandals - Betula

Last week, my friend Catherine sent me this tongue-in-cheek post about female frumpiness as a feminist statement:

The dominant sensibility of femininity, which we will call Sexy Adult Woman (SAW), values flattering-ness, attractiveness above all else—pleasing the eye. In common parlance, “frump” is the defective result when a feminine person tries and fails to achieve SAW. Frump is not. Frump is a whole sensibility in and of itself, entirely distinct from, and in valid alternative to, SAW... 
Frump is a way of being feminine. The way of Frump is not in terms of attractiveness but in terms of freedom, comfort, and self-delight. It can be observed in objects, structures, and people of any sex, but because it was born of the machine of patriarchy and male domination as a way to shame the feminine for failing to subscribe to SAW values, it is a sensibility most fundamentally of and for the feminine.

As a teenager, I realized pretty quickly I wasn't going to win at the attractive-to-teenage-boys game. For one, I could tell it was unfair, and that a variety of factors, including family income and socialization, impacted the kind of social capital I could build based on looks. So I dressed for other girls, the girls who read Teen Vogue and appreciated a bit of eccentricity.

I embrace the sack dresses of this current age because I think they defy expectations. They say that we don't exist to please others, we exist to build our identities however we want. So tight dresses and apron dresses are both right.

Season to Season in Verry Kerry's Kimono Dress

verry kerry boho and sustainable kimono dress
This post is in partnership with Verry Kerry, who sent me items for review.

Ever since I got a kimono jacket earlier this year, I've been on the hunt for similar, drapey pieces to wear layered over simple tees.

My love for patterned jackets took me by surprise: everything had gotten so streamlined in my closet that it felt like a block printed piece might throw a wrench in the whole thing. But I've always been a lover of color and pattern, and soft statement pieces strike that balance for me between standing out and feeling comfortable in my own skin. When Very Kerry reached out to me, I knew it was a good match.

Verry Kerry is a UK based women's clothing retailer specializing in kimono-inspired robes and dresses in stunning patterns. They use sustainable materials - like this ethically certified bamboo - and azo-free, nontoxic dyes, producing their collection in fair wage, safe, family run factories. Read more about their ethical policies in detail here.

verry kerry boho and sustainable kimono dressverry kerry boho and sustainable kimono dress
Details: Dress - c/o Verry Kerry; Sandals - Deux Mains; Hat - thrifted

Verry Kerry Sent me the Kimono Dress in Flame Lily to review. To show its versatility across seasons, I decided to style it two ways: as a simple summer dress and as an overcoat.

I like the soft, opaque fabric and the fact that this is one size fits most style, which means there's enough wiggle room for me to drape it with a belt, wear it like a sack dress, or layer it over a sweater.

verry kerry boho and sustainable kimono dressverry kerry boho and sustainable kimono dress
Details: Dress - Verry Kerry; Tee - c/o Live the Give; Boots - thrifted; Laptop Case - c/o Verry Kerry

This second look is how I originally dreamed of wearing the dress. I love this length over jeans, and the fabric belt makes a groovy scarf (though, for fear of choking myself, I'll probably tie up the ends).

The Bamboo Kimono Dress retails for £75.00, a fair investment for ethics, quality, and versatility. Let me know if you have any questions about it. I'll be featuring a couple more items from Verry Kerry later down the road.


Shop Verry Kerry here. 

Review: MATTER Sideswept Dhoti in Organic Cotton

MATTER Sideswept Dhoti Review, ethical fashion
This post was sponsored by MATTER Prints and I received a pair of Sideswept Dhoti pants to review.

I'm a Florida girl at heart and maybe I always will be. I live for long, hot, humid summer days. As I type this post, I'm sitting in my backyard enjoying 93 degree temps and drinking hot tea.

Summer means there's no need for formality, no need for constricting layers and multiple wool socks. I feel free because I don't have to cocoon myself in so much fabric. My toes get to stretch out in sandals, my shoulders can make full rotations without my pesky wool coat getting in the way. At the same time, these lethargic days make me nostalgic for all those other sunny days growing up: sleeping in then taking a dip in a cool pool, bike rides and walks through woods, family trips with my sister and I playing "news anchor and weatherman" in the back seat (my parents were always the witnesses and the foreign correspondents).

MATTER and I are a good match, because there's something special about the freedom of their clothing, linked to the past but not tethered there, intentional but never fussy, made with outdoor exploration in mind.

MATTER Sideswept Dhoti Review, ethical fashion

MATTER sent me the Sideswept Dhoti in Kangura Charcoal ($139), part of their new Organic Cotton line, to review.

Made responsibly with azo-free dyes (azo dyes, which are common in the fashion industry, have been found to be potentially carcinogenic), the pants were block printed in Jaipur and stitched in Delhi, India. One of MATTER's missions is to help their customers appreciate process and provenance, linking people like you and me to the people who developed artisan processes long ago and the people who keep them alive against all odds in a modernized world. MATTER seeks to make rural textile industries sustainable. I love this, because I think that the best work-life balance comes when we're able to stay in our own communities and work in disciplines that connect us to the beauty of humanity.
  MATTER Sideswept Dhoti Review, ethical fashionMATTER Sideswept Dhoti Review, ethical fashion

The Sideswept Dhoti is designed just like a wrap skirt, which means a single size can accommodate about 2-3 standard sizes (I'm wearing a size 1). This design means there's no need for any hardware: simply slip the tie through a slit at the waist and knot it on the other side. The fabric is draped precisely on the right side to create a pocket without any additional tailoring.

As I've mentioned before, MATTER is truly wearable art. That makes me excited, and slightly intimidated, to review their pieces. I'm so encouraged by ethical companies that innovate in this way. They ensure that the industry won't be seen as tired or crunchy.

MATTER Sideswept Dhoti Review, ethical fashion
Ethical Details: Sideswept Dhoti Pants - c/o MATTER; Sandals - Deux Mains

MATTER's organic line features a few different silhouettes and prints, which you can peruse here. They recently released two types (one, two) of dresses, too. 

I have one more post with MATTER coming up, so check back for that in a few weeks. 



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MATTER is offering 40% off shorts with code, WEEKEND40, through July 30th.

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.


Shop Soul Flower here. 

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Live The Give: Cut-to-Flatter Tops That Aid in Education

This post was sponsored by Live the Give and I received 2 items for review.

When I was a kid, I was really into school.

So into it, in fact, that one time, when my parents were going to let me stay home after taking me to a concert the night before, I woke up, gave my mom a lecture about the importance of attendance, and insisted that she take me in for the day even though school had started a few hours before. I think I both embarrassed and confounded her.

I was - and maybe you won't be surprised to hear this - a dedicated student and teacher's pet who spent recesses filing papers for my teachers on occasion. I couldn't help myself: I was nurtured and challenged by brilliant, thoughtful teachers who gave it their all in a system that often felt stacked against them.

I know I was lucky. Not everyone in the US has a safe, supportive, academically rigorous experience of school. When you expand that out to the world, things start to look even bleaker...

Ethical Details: High Neck Tank - c/o Live the Give; Skirt - thrifted; Necklace - c/o Bought Beautifully (old); Shoes - Mawu Lolo

Hundreds of millions of school age children are not able to attend school, whether due to gender-based prejudice, poverty, or lack of infrastructure. But education is the key to eliminating poverty:

International organizations like the U.N. agree that education is a fundamental human right, as well as the most effective way to break generational cycles of poverty. Educated citizens earn more income over their lifetime, which boosts economic growth in entire nations. War and political instability are reduced when more citizens have a quality education and can have an impact on their governments. In terms of societal benefits, education has been shown to promote gender equality and the overall wellbeing of children.  Providing a quality education for all children is among the best ways to make a difference in our world for the better. As Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

With this in mind, Najat Murillo, an elementary school teacher, founded Live the Give, a conscious clothing line for women and men with a mission to make school accessible to children around the world. 

Live the Give products are made in WRAP certified factories, which ensures that they follow a minimum standard regarding safety and labor (i.e. no child or forced labor, proper safety regulations, right to collective bargaining, etc.). While this standard can vary by country of production, it does mean that factories are regularly audited to ensure that laws are being followed, which happens few and far between across the global supply chain. Additionally, $3 from the sale of each item supports education initiatives. 

Ethical Details: Vintage Tee - c/o Live the Give; Shoes - thrifted; Necklace - c/o Nomads Clothing (old); Shoes - c/o Mawu Lolo

Live the Give sent me two styles to review: the High Neck Tank in Heather Stone and the Vintage Tee in Black

I had been anxious to try out the high neck silhouette for awhile now, and I really like the cut on this one. Drapey but still tailored, with a pretty French seam in the back, it can be dressed up or down. As a small-busted woman, I am careful about necklines. When I bend down, I generally try not to expose the world. This silhouette works really well for me because it shows off some skin without being scandalous. 

The Vintage Tee is hands-down the best fitting u-neck top I've tried, ever. It's neither too low nor too high, and feels feminine even in its simplicity. The hems are intentionally roughed up to add a bit of interest, and the cut fits close to the body without being tight. I have a lot of trouble finding basic tees that fit me well, so I'm definitely going to be a repeat shopper at Live the Give. 

Right now, Live the Give's tees are made out of standard poly/cotton blends, but Najat plans to incorporate organic and recycled fibers in the near future. 


Shop Live the Give

Free shipping in the US with code, SHIPUSA

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The Moral Wardrobe: Put a Scarf on It

ethical outfit with silk scarfethical outfit with silk scarfethical outfit with silk scarfethical outfit with silk scarf
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.

The Moral Wardrobe: Something Old, Something New

ethical and thrifted outfit with bead and reelethical and thrifted outfit with bead and reelethical and thrifted outfit with bead and reelethical and thrifted outfit with bead and reel
Ethical Details: Top - old; Cardigan - old H&M; Skirt - thrifted; Sandals - Melissa via Bead & Reel*

The best outfits combine old favorites with new staples. This top is from a conventional brand, but it's going on year 3 this season. The cardigan is at least 4 years old. And the skirt, though it's new to me, was likely produced at least 10 years ago judging by the style and size. I picked it up for $1 at my shop's end of season sale. I purchased the sandals from ethical boutique, Bead & Reel. 

The fall and winter seasons necessitate a uniform of sorts because the primary goal is warmth. On almost any day from November to March, you'll find me wearing a bright sweater layered over an Everlane tee, plus a pair of skinny jeans and boots. But then warm weather hits and it's suddenly possible to experiment with new silhouettes. It's a little overwhelming and I often end up trying out things that don't stick. 

This year, I'm trying to stay true to the colors and patterns that I know I'll wear, and limit the number of "Oh, this is fun!" items I purchase. To that end, I'm sticking with simple skirts, unfussy patterns, lots of blues and stripes, and cropped denim. Though complicated outfits can look great, I know that I'm likely to avoid anything that needs adjusting during the day. 

The Moral Wardrobe: A Denim Miracle

Everlane Top and made in USA denim Everlane Top and made in USA denim Everlane Top and made in USA denim Everlane Top and made in USA denim
Ethical Details: Top - Everlane; Jeans - Karen Kane (made in USA, similar); Belt - thrifted; Shoes - Frye (some styles made in USA)

Let me tell you about these jeans.

For the last several years, I've been on a somewhat noncommittal hunt for ethical jeans that actually fit my body type. I have wide hips and a relatively narrow waist and it seems like all the "cool" small, ethical brands make jeans for straighter figures. For that reason, I've tended to fall back on American Eagle jeans despite their less-than-stellar production standards, justifying it by purchasing dark wash, mid-rise styles that I can wear for years.

The only problem is that American Eagle's quality has gone waaay down since the last time I bought jeans there. So I went on a frantic hunt around the mall looking for an alternative. On a whim, I walked through Belk, checking the labels of a half a dozen jeans before I came across these, by Karen Kane. Produced in the USA out of imported fabrics, they're not the pinnacle of sustainability, but at least they check off one my boxes.

This was the only pair left, not my typical size, and listed as $89.00. I tried them on anyway and they fit. I worked up the nerve to throw down nearly $100 at the checkout counter (I can spend a hundred bucks no problem online, but I have trouble facing that price tag in person), but then the clerk said, "Your total comes to $25.00." Suppressing my surprise and childlike glee, I paid up.

Sometimes you reluctantly make the better choice and the Heavens open up and reward you for it.

Know Why It's Better: Fibre Athletics Pursuit Top

Fibre Athletics Ethical and Eco-Friendly Activewear Fibre Athletics Ethical and Eco-Friendly Activewear
This post was sponsored by Fibre Athletics and I received an item for review.

There are those of us who buy things because we like them. 

And then there are those of us who obsessively Google search, compare items, make charts, email companies, and check and double check for ethical standards.

In case you can't figure it out, I'm the definitely the latter. Which is why I'm am as happy as a kid on Christmas morning reading the product listings at Scroll down to "How It's Made" on each product page and you'll discover a treasure trove of detailed information about the product, from textiles sourcing to certifications to manufacturing.
  Fibre Athletics Ethical and Eco-Friendly ActivewearFibre Athletics Ethical and Eco-Friendly Activewear
Ethical Details: Pursuit Top - c/o Fibre Athletics; Everywhere Jacket - c/o Fibre Athletics; Leggings - Soul Flower Stirrup Yoga Pants; High Tops - Etiko

The Fibre Athletics Pursuit Top is made of rPET certified recycled polyester (sourced from water bottles) produced in facilities that are verified to pay and treat workers well. It's then treated with Chitosante, a nature-sourced, environmentally friendly product (made from crustaceans and the cell walls of fungi!) that adds durability and longevity to athletic wear. It also meets the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification, which ensures that dyes used are low-impact, non-reactive, use fewer resources, and are safe on human skin.

The top is cut and sewn in a fair-trade certified factory in Chicago.
  Fibre Athletics Ethical and Eco-Friendly Activewear

Why I Like It

Like the Everywhere Jacket, the Pursuit Top ($70) is cut extraordinarily well, skimming the body's curves without constricting movement. The raglan sleeves are cut a little loose for freedom of movement (constricted shoulders are my biggest pet peeve when it comes to clothing) and the back zipper pocket lets you go hands-free. I like to go on walks and I often have trouble finding a pocket large enough for my phone and keys, but this one has ample space for both. I've been blown away by all of the American-made goods I've reviewed on StyleWise, and this is no exception. 

I'm wearing the Nova Red color here. It's almost fluorescent red with an orange undertone and I like it a lot. I used to have an aversion to pinks and reds, but they've become my favorite shades recently. I like the way they play against my henna red hair. 


Get 10% off your purchase at Fibre Athletics with code, stylewise10.

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Heads Up: Fibre Athletics will be hosting a celebration and fundraiser to assist in the production of new products on April 21st in Chicago. Click here to learn more and purchase tickets.

Mawu Lolo Sandals: Comfort, Value & Ethics

Mawu Lolo SuborSubor Sandals fair trade reviewMawu Lolo SuborSubor Sandals fair trade review
This post was sponsored by Mawu Lolo and I received an item for review.

Being picky about footwear is a matter of health for me.

Last year, I was diagnosed with Raynaud's Disease, a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood to the extremities. As a result, my toes show signs of tissue damage and hypothermia after very limited contact with cold conditions (even air conditioning), which means I need footwear that is appropriately warm in cold weather and doesn't constrict blood flow.

You might be wondering what this has to do with sandals.

I love the look of ankle-wrap sandals and flats, but I realized last spring that my ribbon sandals and ankle-wrap flats were tightening around my ankle with continued wear, resulting in numbness and discomfort in my feet. Sadly, I had to let them go. I thought I'd never be able to achieve the elegant look of an ankle-wrap again - though I knew different strap configurations existed out there, I couldn't find a fair trade version.

But then I discovered Mawu Lolo's SuborSubor Sandal.

Mawu Lolo SuborSubor Sandals fair trade reviewMawu Lolo SuborSubor Sandals fair trade reviewMawu Lolo SuborSubor Sandals fair trade review
Ethical Details: Tunic - c/o Victoria Road; Jeans - Eileen Fisher; Bag - c/o Greenheart Shop; Cardigan - Everlane; SuborSubor Sandals - c/o Mawu Lolo

The Mawu Lolo SuborSubor sandal is made by Ghanaian artisans out of hand-loomed fabric and local materials. The leather ankle strap is delicate, and shaped to look like a typical ankle-wrap, but a secure grommet on each side ensures that it's fastened at the preferred tightness without constricting more as you walk. This means my foot is secure, but I can keep the strap loose enough to maintain proper blood flow.

I'm wearing the Brown Multicolor version, which contains brown, cream, black, and a few pops of color, making these perfect for every outfit. The footbed is soft and lightly padded throughout and the sole is made of a sturdy, skid-resistant material.

The best part? These sandals retail for $34.99. Don't be fooled by fair trade companies that tell you that ethically produced items have to cost hundreds of dollars. Costs will vary based on country of production and materials sourcing, but it doesn't mean that all ethical goods must be cost prohibitive.

Case in point: I recently learned about a fair trade huarache sandal brand that buys their shoes from artisans for under $12 bucks and retails them for over $90! That means the bulk of the price is paid to the American owner rather than the person who made the shoe. We need more accountability in profit sharing, so I'm pleased to see that Mawu Lolo prices fairly.

Mawu Lolo SuborSubor Sandals fair trade review

Mawu Lolo works on a fair trade partnership model, selling artisan products in the American market and returning profits to Ghanaian artisans in a profit-sharing loop that allows the program to sustain itself while providing fair wages to Ghanaian employees.

Mawu Lolo is actually the commerce branch of a larger initiative to provide education to children and vocational training to their mothers, who learn employable skills and are provided sewing machines so that they have a continued source of income. Sandal making is a related skill that allows artisans to have access to an additional source of sustainable income. In a country where over 40% of the population lives in extreme poverty, sustainable and responsible infrastructure is absolutely essential.

Mawu Lolo currently carries a small collection of sandals for women and men, including a unisex slide and a few styles of flip flops.

Fair trade. Fair value. Real comfort.

I couldn't be more pleased with these sandals, or what they support.


Shop Mawu Lolo here. 

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Photos by my sister, Jennifer Nichole Wells

Soul Flower Makes the Leggings I've Been Looking For + Giveaway

Soul Flower Yoga Pants Giveaway Soul Flower Made in USA Yoga Pants Review This post was sponsored by Soul Flower and I was provided an item for review. Scroll down for a giveaway!

I have a high tolerance for impractical garments, but when it comes to everyday essentials, I am as scrutinizing as a mean girl.

My t-shirts, socks, and leggings need to be particularly sturdy, because they're bound to be worn and washed again and again. My Everlane tees and J. Crew socks (not ethical, but high quality) are going strong 2 and 3 years in, but my ancient Old Navy leggings - purchased before I fully embraced ethical fashion - are definitely worse for the wear.

When it came to finding a replacement, I didn't want to settle. The old pairs are semi-sheer, too short, and cut a bit too low to be flattering at the waist. I knew I wanted to replace them with a high waist, thick, organic cotton pair that covered more of my ankle and wouldn't ride up. That's a lot to ask from a pair of stretchy pants, so it took my awhile to find what I was looking for:

Soul Flower Organic Cotton Stirrup Yoga Pants

Soul Flower Made in USA Yoga Pants Review Ethical Details: Top - A Beautiful Refuge; Legging Pants - c/o Soul Flower; Scarf - Synergy Organic Clothing; Fitbit - refurbished via ebay; Sandals - c/o Mawu LoloSoul Flower Made in USA Yoga Pants Review

Don't let the name fool you: Soul Flower's made in USA, low-impact dyed, organic yoga pants are super versatile. I wore stirrup pants as a kid in the early '90s and had been itching for another pair, because they stay put. They'll go perfectly with boots and high cut flats, because I can tuck them in and they won't ride up my ankle like other leggings. The thick stretch cotton means I can wear them as pants without exposing myself, or simply keep warm when I'm wearing them as a cold-weather layering piece.

As seen in these photos, the stirrup piece is sewn on like a cuff, so you can easily pull it up your leg and wear these like a regular pair of leggings depending on the activity and footwear choice. Every detail was carefully planned, from the wide waistband to the contoured reverse seams that snake down the front and the back of the legs.

I honestly did not expect to love a pair of leggings this much, but here we are. The quality is immediately apparent, and that makes me feel respected as a customer.

  Soul Flower Eco-Friendly and Ethical Leggings ReviewSoul Flower Eco-Friendly and Ethical Leggings Review

Soul Flower specializes in affordable, eco-friendly clothing for hippies, yogis, and people who like to wear comfortable clothes. They carry a range of original screen-printed tops, leggings, and accessories, as well as ethically-made jewelry from like-minded brands.

Each Soul Flower product adheres to a set of clearly labeled values, incorporating organic and recycled fibers, sustainable hemp, domestic production, low impact dyes, repurposed textiles, fair trade standards, and more. They're a testament to the fact that something can be made responsibly without costing $200. Most items in the Soul Flower line fall in the $25-60 range. The Stirrup Eco-Friendly Yoga Pants retail for $62.00.


Win a pair of Soul Flower's Stirrup Yoga Pants!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to US readers only. Contest begins midnight 3/7/17 and ends Wednesday, 3/15/17 at midnight. Additional entry on Instagram. No purchase necessary.

Additional entry on Instagram!

Photos by my sister, Jennifer Nichole Wells

Love Justly Wrap Skirt: A Little Mod, A Lotta Fair

Love Justly and Dsenyo Fair Trade Skirt Review
This post was sponsored by Love Justly and I received an item for review.

It's Spring! 

Just kidding. Charlottesville is having a difficult time with winter this year. Last weekend, highs were in the 60s and 70s. As much as I appreciate a good bare-legged day, I worry that this weather that teeter-totters between hot and cold is a sign of climate change, an omen of strange and irreversible weather patterns that will become even less predictable as the years pass. The poor daffodils can't decide whether to bloom or die of frost bite.

Love Justly and Dsenyo Fair Trade Skirt Review Ethical Details: Top - Everlane; Dsenyo Knee-Length Wrap Skirt - c/o Love Justly; Boots - Po-zu; Moon Phases Necklace - c/o Ember Boutique

Still, I'm relieved the weather was warm for a few hours because it meant I could style this Dsenyo Wrap Skirt from Love Justly the way I'd imagined instead of having to cover up.

I was drawn to this print because it feels very mod, and the flare of the skirt reinforces the vintage design. Styled with high boots and simple accessories, I think I've found the balance between honoring the vintage motif and keeping the look current and wearable. Plus, the skirt is one size fits most, so I can wear it a little lower on my hips for more of a drop-waist effect and keep on wearing it if my weight fluctuates.
  Love Justly and Dsenyo Fair Trade Skirt Review

Dsenyo (the word is derived from the Spanish word Diseño, which means "design") works with fair trade artisan co-ops to produce their line of clothing made with traditional textiles. The Wrap Skirt was produced at the Vipambi Women's Group in Malawi. As members of the Fair Trade Federation, they are beholden to rigorous fair trade standards, and offer 3-4 times the minimum wage, or the equivalent of a teacher's salary in Malawi. Additionally, they offer free skills training that participants can take with them if they want to broaden their workload or develop their own businesses.

Dsenyo is committed to environmental sustainability, as well, using low impact dyes and natural materials, and composting and recycling whenever possible. Read more here.

Love Justly offers this and other products from Dsenyo at a reduced price as a part of their outlet business model. You can get the Wrap Skirt in your choice of 2 colors for $24.99.


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Ember Boutique: Nature and Nostalgia + A Giveaway

Ember Boutique Ethical and Sustainable Cold Shoulder Top
This post was sponsored by Ember Boutique and I was offered products for review.

As much as I love my basics, a departure from plain t-shirts feels really good, particularly when it's a shoulder-baring top and the weather is unseasonably warm. 

When spring blows in, I become almost unbearably nostalgic for all the spring seasons that have come before. I feel hopeful, ready to start fresh, and suddenly confident that I can be exactly who I want to be.

It's funny how slight changes in climate or location can shift your perspective. It reminds me that we're animals after all, tied to our environment no matter how much we try to partition it off. It's important, I think, that we continually remind ourselves of that and extend it out to its logical end. If we are inextricably connected to "the wild," how can we continue to pollute and degrade the natural world and the people in it through our lifestyle habits? The false dichotomy between "civilization" and "nature" allows us to push corruption to the side, but ignoring it doesn't make it go away.
  Ember Boutique Ethical and Sustainable Cold Shoulder TopEmber Boutique Ethical and Sustainable Cold Shoulder Top

Ember Boutique gets it. 

Owner, Jamie, curates pieces that put the planet and people first because she recognizes their mutuality. Ember Boutique blends pieces from established brands, artisans, and boutique companies with secondhand finds. It's a mix I'm particularly fond of, not just because it's very much my personal wardrobe philosophy, but because I actually thought about opening a similar store a few years back.

But Ember goes beyond being a responsible company. Their mission encourages women to trust their gut and appreciate the stunning but often overlooked beauty of the world:

The Ember woman has a joyful curiosity of the world around her. Fashion isn't a rigid set of rules and trends to apply to herself on a seasonal basis. She relies on her intuition in all facets of her life, which naturally carries over into what she chooses to wear every day. These decisions are influenced by the outline of trees against the sky, the sound of a brush on canvas, and the way different fabrics respond to her own movements. She recognizes the cyclical nature of life, and knows that even a garment has a life span. From concept to creation to purchase and wear, each piece she chooses is infused with the spirit of the earth and hands that made it. She lives with intention, compassion, and fearless self expression.
  Ember Boutique Fair Trade Giveaway Ethical Details: Organic Cold Shoulder Floral Top - c/o Ember Boutique; Denim - old; Pouch - c/o Love Mert; Sandals - Melissa via Bead & Reel; Moon Phases Necklace - c/o Ember Boutique

Ember's Organic Cold Shoulder Top was made out of sustainable tencel and organic cotton in California. I like it because it achieves the off the shoulder look that continues to be a popular - not to mention universally flattering - silhouette, but with a bit of extra support thanks to spaghetti straps. It also looks great layered over a black turtleneck or crew neck tee if you need to adjust for weather or dress code.

Jamie also sent the Farrah B. Moon Phases necklace, hand carved on an adjustable chain. I have worn it 5 days in a row because it's simple while also feeling special, and the bronze tone goes with everything.


Enter to Win the Organic Cold Shoulder Floral Top!

Win this top in the size of your choice (a $58 value), courtesy of Ember Boutique. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

+ Get an extra entry on Instagram

Contest ends at 11:59 pm EST on 3/1/17. Must be 18 years old or older to enter. Open to US readers only.


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Everlane Review: Soft Cotton Square Cardigan

Everlane Soft Cotton Square Cardigan Review, size XS

I recently purchased the Everlane Soft Cotton Square Cardigan as part of my spring update.

I previously owned two black cardigans, both thrifted, but one was too formal for my wardrobe and the other had a hole in the back that was irreparable due to the open weave design. I liked the idea of a cropped, slightly oversized cardigan to wear with skirts and higher waisted jeans (at this point, pretty much all of my jeans are mid or high rise).

Everlane Soft Cotton Square Cardigan Review, size XS
Everlane Soft Cotton Square Cardigan Review, size XS

Ethical Details: Sweater- Everlane; Top - via Ash & Rose; Denim - vintage, thrifted; Necklace - c/o Ember Boutique; Shoes - purchased in Austin

Everlane Soft Cotton Square Cardigan Review, size XS

The Verdict

Color: Washed Black

Size: XS

I purchased this for both the silhouette and the fabric. The thick cotton is durable and more suitable for transitional spring weather than my cashmere collection. I'm satisfied with the washed black color, sleeve length, and overall silhouette.

As expected, this item is quite oversized. I'd guessed that looking at the model, so I ordered an XS, a size down from my usual size (I also get an XS in the U-Necks). The Cotton Square Cardigan is just as expected, so I'm happy.

Shop Everlane here.

Fibre Athletics: Ethical Activewear for Every Lifestyle

This post was sponsored by Fibre Athletics and I was provided an item for review.

For Athletes and Non-Athletes alike...

It seems to me that there's a false dichotomy between those who "exercise" and those who do not. Sure, you have people who get up to run 6 miles at 5 am and those who prefer to sleep in, but by categorizing certain people as the "type who exercise," I think we run the risk of discounting the physical labor of those who don't exercise as a hobby.

This may be verging into heavy territory, but some people don't have the means, the time, or the energy to lace up their running shoes, put on their exercise gear, and get going. Case in point: I used to work a 40 hour/week manual labor job. The company implemented a policy whereby you could get a discount on your health insurance if you walked around the complex during lunchtime. The customer service folks, who spent the day in chairs, were gung-ho about it and went on their merry way. Those of us who'd already been standing in one place or running around the warehouse for 5 hours, however, needed the lunch break to rest.

We were exercising the whole time, but our labor didn't count when it mattered.
Ethical Details: Everywhere Jacket - c/o Fibre Athletics; Denim - old, redyed; Sneakers - AllBirds

My point is that we should recognize and celebrate movement, no matter what it looks like, whether it's scheduled or not. It can look different for each of us and that's ok.

Fibre Athletics offers versatile athletic apparel that a range of "athletes" can take advantage of. Take, for instance, the product description for the Everywhere Jacket:

WHEN TO WEAR IT : Biking the streets, cozying up on the plane ride, being a boss, hitting up yoga, walking the dog, happy hour at the local spot, morning hikes, movies in the park…or on the couch, late night jogs, traversing new cities, and perusing the internet at your favorite café.

The crew at Fibre Athletics gets that clothes should be inclusive and versatile. This generous ethos expands to their production standards, as well. They have specific commitments to fair trade labor standards, upcycled and sustainable textile sourcing, low impact dyes, and innovative design. Learn more here.

The Everywhere Jacket was made from start to finish in the US using US-grown and milled cotton fleece. Currently, you can order it in sizes Small to Extra Large, though do note that sizing runs slightly small (I have a 34" bust and wear a Medium). Given its impeccable design (the contoured seams are beautiful), partially adjustable hood, and fabric quality, the $180.00 price tag is well worth it (worth saving up for).

In addition to high production standards, Fibre Athletics supports a few key nonprofits: The Eden Projects, which provides job training and plants trees in deforested regions, and CARA, which assists homeless and impoverished individuals in job preparation and retention.

I'm so happy to be able to support domestic companies that are deeply committed to ethics at every step of their supply chain.


Fibre Athletics is currently offering a sale! Take more than $40 off the Everywhere Jacket for a limited time.

Shop the Sale here. 

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Love Mert: Carry Your Heart on Your Pouch

Love Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day gift
This post was sponsored by Love Mert and I received an item for review. 

Love is in the air...

I was a shy kid who didn't date, at all really. I gave out the obligatory Valentine's Day cards in elementary school and daydreamed about the boys I liked professing their love for me through middle school. That never happened, so by high school I was sort of burnt out on Valentine's Day. Without the romance, it's just an awkward, brooding, excruciating 24 hours.

Junior year, I decided to make a change. I wrapped up little chocolates in colorful tissue paper pouches and gave them to friends and classmates. I put them in the choir cubbies, too. I started singing with the "Singing Valentines," delivering Doo-wop love songs to kids in the middle of their classes. I started spreading the love, and it made Valentine's Day feel like something joyous and generous for the first time.
  Love Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day giftLove Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day gift

It would be easy, and valid, to say that Valentine's Day is just a commercial holiday, a way to sell overpriced candy and flowers to suckers who can't see through manipulative advertising. But by turning it into a broad celebration of love in all its forms, I think it can be a powerful reminder that #lovetrumpshate.

Love Mert designer, Melissa, is spreading the love this season with her collection of Love pouches and purses made from salvaged and vintage materials in the USA. 

The Love Mert collection combines artistry and attention to detail with responsible sourcing, so base materials are local, upcycled, or deadstock. As a lover of secondhand and vintage fashion, I appreciate how well the mission of Love Mert aligns with my own. The Love Mert collection is comprised of creative new designs by an American designer, but also utilizes forgotten materials. It's sustainable in every way because it ties the secondhand market to the artisan market. Plus, by using upcycled leather, the end consumer can rest assured that their purchase did not contribute to animal cruelty. Learn more about Melissa's inspiration and design here.
  Love Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day gift
Ethical Details: Hat - Vintage via Low in Charlottesville; Sweater - Everlane; Jeans - old, redyed; Boots - Po-Zu; Necklace - Hands Producing Hope; Love Pouch in Brushed Gold/Gold - c/o Love MertLove Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day gift

I paired the Love Pouch in Brushed Gold/Gold with a seed necklace by Hands Producing Hope and a lovely little 1960s hat I picked up at a local vintage store. I don't dress up very often these days, but I think that the hot pink sweater paired with vintage-inspired accessories makes for a Valentine's Day appropriate look without all the fuss.

The Love Mert pouch comes in several colors and retails for $32.00. If you're looking for a purse instead, Melissa makes Love Bags, too! You can see all the colors by going to the Handbags category of the site.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day (or Galentines Day)? What are your traditions?


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The Moral Wardrobe: Love Justly Kimono Jacket

love justly fair trade kimono jacket
This post was sponsored by Love Justly and I received an item for review. I have an ongoing partnership with Love Justly, so stay tuned for more.

When I was a teenager, someone told me I dressed like a "middle school art teacher." At the shop where I work, people ask me if I'm an artist because I dress like one. I don't know if that's supposed to be a compliment, but I always take it as one. I wouldn't say I'm an artist in the traditional sense, but I do like putting together outfits. Curation and color sense are components of art, right?

Regardless of where I fit into the "artist" spectrum, I certainly do appreciate art in many forms. It's safe to say that half the reason I'm intrigued by the fair trade movement is because it puts art and artisanship front and center.
  love justly fair trade kimono jacketlove justly fair trade kimono jacket

This kimono-inspired piece by Symbology, for instance, was block printed using traditional techniques in Rajasthan, India. Symbology pays a living wage to their employees in India and the West Bank with the specific goal of preserving traditional craftsmanship while making modern, wearable silhouettes.

I like the soft, flowing cotton rayon and the sheen of the peacock feathers. It makes an all black, Steve Jobs-appropriate outfit turn into something that maybe an awesome middle school art teacher would wear!
  love justly fair trade kimono jacket
Ethical Details: Kimono Jacket - c/o Love Justly; Sweater, Boots, and Jeans - thrifted; Turtleneck - Everlane

Since Love Justly partners with ethical brands to offer discounts on past-season and overstock products, you can snag the Symbology Kimono Jacket in a number of colors for $38.49. One of the best features of the site is that you can shop by brand, so if you really like the look of a particular product, you can see similar items quite easily and learn some background about the company while you're at it. 

Brand awareness has been so important for me when trying to shop ethically, so I appreciate that Love Justly offers itself as a resource for discovering brands. Even though it's an outlet site, it doesn't try to disguise labels, which means if you really like the look of something, you can scope out this season's offerings easily.


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