Category Archives: Fashion

My premium crew T: It’s the cotton and the American made.

There’s nothing better than ordering something online and being pleasantly surprised by the quality, is there? So often we find ourselves in the opposite situation.

Lucky for me, buying mostly made in USA, my latest purchases have all been grand. That Tradlands’ flannel this winter, all the US-made cloth diapers for baby, and now, a green, cotton tee from American Giant.

I got this t-shirt on a bit of impulse, adding it to the cart as my husband was ordering two more of American Giant’s 100% cotton “fleece” workman’s jackets ($89). He had one and wanted another two (in other colors) simply because they fit great, work great, and look great. Though they call it fleece, which traditionally is made of polyester, these are made with a long fiber cotton that holds up during the yarning and knitting process with minimal breakage and produces a heavyweight, durable fabric. (And no plastic microfibers to worry about like with plastic fleece!)

My Premium Crew T is made from 100% slub cotton, sourced in the USA. “Slub” was originally considered a defect, caused by knotting in the yarn during the knitting process resulting in a uniquely textured look and feel. Slubs tend to be flimsy and transparent but the fabric used here is thicker than regular slub and not see-thru at all (yay!). At the same time it allows the shirt to actually be quite form fitted. I love it. It’s well made.

There’s also a surprise seam on the back that adds a bit of interest.

Made in USA high quality cotton t-shirt
Made in USA American Giant t-shirt

I envision wearing this tee with my beige blazer, black skinnies, Oka-B black flats and a necklace when I head back to work. For now, I am wearing it casually, out and about with baby. I wore it to the Overland Expo in Flagstaff a couple of weekends ago, and got some cute pictures of it.

Yes, I am holding an unsustainable one-time-use Sprite bottle (thirsty!), but I’m making up for it with my all US-made clothes and baby’s fashion is all second-hand. We did recycle that bottle at least! ;)

This comfy classic sells for $36.50 at AmericanGiant.com and they’ve got free returns! (I’m wearing a size S, I’m 5′ 8.5″, 140 lbs.)

When it comes to leather – does it really matter if it’s “American-made”?

Some readers will see this gorgeous bag and think “Oh, look at that FABULOUS, made in USA leather bag!” while, others will say, or more like grunt, “Why is a self-proclaimed environmentalist showing a leather bag on an eco-blog? Yuck!!”

Hear, hear.

Leather is not exactly an eco-friendly material (more on that later), so why am I blogging about a bag made of just that?

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Satchel: Handcrafted in Georgia. Worn well in Texas.

Easy. Because I hate seeing individual and stylish women go to Coach, Michael Kors, Fossil or Cole Haan and end up with the same Chinese-made bag everyone else has. This blog is a space of options, and when I say that I mean a space where I am trying to help consumers make better choices. Is an American-made, small business, handcrafted, locally grown leather bag a better choice than an imported Coach bag is? Absolutely!

This one is my friend Mary Beth’s and made by Satchel: three female artisans in a small Savannah, Georgia design studio, handcrafting leather goods and custom handbags. If you’re interested, you’ll have to call and place an order. Though there are some styles in their studio for sale, nothing is “ready to buy” online.

It’s always good to have an excuse to talk about leather too, isn’t it? Ever thought about what the word actually means? Us humans are good at coming up with words that distance us from what we’re actually dealing with. Kind of like how we eat “beef” not cows and “pork” not pigs. Current generations are farther removed from nature than ever before, so it makes sense that when we talk about animal skins or hides, we just call it “leather”.

Leather is the processed and polished version of the skin of the animal, the end result if you will. It’s important to remember that as a conscious consumer.

You may have run into companies that handcraft their goods in USA of Italian leather? Italian leather is known to be good quality and it has a nice ring to it, so businesses like to flaunt it, however the animal that became that “Italian leather” may have emigrated after death; it could have come from any other country, but it was processed in Italy. So, in other words, we have no idea where the hide came from (China? India?).

What we are looking for as conscious consumers in the USA, are key words like “native” or “domestic” hides. Some small businesses will be open about their sources and proudly promise to only use domestics. Cattle is not slaughtered for hides in USA but for cow-meat (see what I did there?), so essentially with current demand, domestic hides are a byproduct of the beef and dairy industry.

It’s hard to argue about or measure a byproduct’s impact on the environment. “Since beef is bad for the environment and its production contributes excessively to climate change, then cow skin must be also” sounds like too easy of a conclusion. Do the fashionistas consume more skin than the steak eaters left behind? No way! But, what about when animals (other than cows or cows in other countries) are raised for their skin or fur alone? Well, then we have a whole new set of ethics and environmental impact to consider. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about that.

The processing or “tanning” (what turns “skin” into “leather”) on the other hand is extremely toxic and for that reason alone; leather is indeed a bad eco-choice. No matter where it’s from.

Vegetable tanning is probably the least environmentally damaging process and you’ll see some brands promise that their leather has been tanned that way (it’s expensive though, not stable in water and can discolor over time), however 90% of hides are tanned using chrome (think Erin Brockovich!). That’s what leads to toxic rivers and polluted lands, as well as serious birth defects and cancers in countries with lax regulations, like India and China. (Make no mistake, chrome tanning is used everywhere, here too, it just pollutes a little bit less where laws are stricter!) Processing one ton of skin produces up to 80 cubic meters of waste water, with high levels of chromium, sulfides, fat and other solid wastes, and notable pathogen contamination. Producers often add pesticides to protect hides during transport as well.

Satchel grey leather handbag

Leather bags and shoes last a long time, and despite the fact that leather biodegrades faster than plastic, which is good, I don’t see either product group disappearing anytime soon. That’s why I love to take the opportunity to talk about this, present some facts that might help a reader out who is looking for a new leather bag. There are small businesses out there offering small batch, American-made styles. A bag like this one from Satchel can be yours for around $250 to $300, pretty much the same price as the imported bags sell for. (I’ll have to blog about vegan handbags soon!)

Personally my leather bag shopping days are over. I have a black one (bought in ’07), a brown one (’09) and a blue one (’13) that I am sure will last forever. New boots or leather seats in a new car? Very likely to happen in my life still. It’s a journey. We’re on our way to having mainstream plant-based, “just-as-nice” alternatives to animal leather, but the market is not quite there yet. In the meantime, I will shop locally grown, well-chosen and only when absolutely necessary.

The sweater Mary Beth is wearing, if you are wondering, is by Tea N’ Rose, from its boho-chic Orange Creek premium line. (I LOVE the elbow patches!) Tea N’ Rose is not committed to American-made clothing, though the style we are showing off is, of course, made in USA.

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This is the second post in a four post series focusing on American-made style featuring the beautiful Mary Beth in her own locally made clothes, photographed in some neat Houston locations by our friend Ashley. Check out last week’s post on a cool t-shirt HERE.

2017 American-made style starts with a statement t-shirt

With a brand new year, full of hope and promises (right?), comes a brand new opportunity for everyone (you too!) to start shopping better.

More sustainable. More locally made. Less stuff. Better quality.

And with that said, time has come to promote some new Made in USA clothes and accessories here on the blog, just like I did last winter with my five-piece made in USA styles series. You may remember the discussions we had about polyester and imported fabrics, the gorgeous Texas-made knitted earrings, and that made in USA outfit we put together.

Since my baby bump is becoming more planet-like by the hour, thankfully, my dear friend Mary Beth agreed to model and contribute to the series once again. See, this lovely lady was so inspired by this little blog of mine that she decided last year that if the fashion isn’t made in USA, it simply isn’t worth buying. The result? She’s bought ONLY American-made clothes, bags, accessories and jewelry since her last appearance on the blog. Quite impressive, isn’t it?! Getting to inspire others is WHY I BLOG, so thanks MB!

Now, let’s get down to business and talk about the first American-made garment we picked for the blog – a statement tee from Good hYOUman.

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Mary Beth in her “See you tomorrow” tee from Good hYOUman – Made in USA

I love that we’re starting with this brand because Mary Beth is such a good human.

This company, based out in LA (of course) is all about delivering high quality basics, giving back to the community and manufacturing ALL its products in the United States of America.

They’ve got tanks, tees, sweatshirts and sports bras for women; beanies, short- and long sleeved shirts for men and onesies and tops for the kiddos. Most tees are cotton/modal blends or 100% cotton which make for great eco-friendly picks. They do have some polyester mixes as well, but it’s all stated clearly on the website so you can easily manage your choice of fabric. Transparency is how we like it.

They can be found in smaller boutiques all over the USA (check out the store locator) and of course you can shop on online at GoodhYOUman.com – domestic shipping is free!

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T-shirts sell for $40 to $48, and sweatshirts are in the $60 to $85 range.

Go check out Good hYOUman and come back and see us soon as I’ve got more Made in USA fashion posts coming! This is the first post in a four post series focusing on American-made style, all featuring the beautiful Mary Beth in her own locally made clothes, photographed in some neat Houston locations by our lovely friend Ashley.

My Tradlands flannel shirt: American craftsmanship at its best

I’ve bought something VERY special.

And no, it’s not maternity wear.

I decided early on in my pregnancy to limit buying maternity clothes as much as possible and instead try to master pregnancy style using pretty much only my regular clothes and a few, versatile, basic hand-me-downs (thanks sis!). It’s worked out pretty well so far, and with that, left room in the budget for other clothes.

Christina El Moussa (of HGTV’s Flip or Flop) has been my number one pregnancy style inspiration. While she was pregnant with their second kid last year, she kept rocking outfits that fit her growing belly, showed it off even, but was never centered around it. One of my favorite looks of hers was the open plaid shirt, white top, boots and skinny jeans.

Time has come to introduce my new (lovely) flannel.

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Made in the USA by a small company called Tradlands.

I am not often at a loss for words (blogger!), but when I first tried this shirt on at home (after it came in the mail) all I could say was “wow”. Followed by some more wows. Since I started the challenge almost three years ago, I haven’t encountered any American-made clothes as nice as this. This is the most beautifully crafted garment you can imagine. The flannel is thick and 100% cotton. The seams are flawless and the colors are vibrant and deep.

The shirt fits just like I was hoping it would. Of course I can’t button it over the bump, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to ;). Going by Tradlands’ online size guide, I’d be an XS which also matches the size of most button-up shirts I have in my closet. And here’s something amazing: my arms are monkey-style and rarely does an XS shirt have sleeves long enough for me, but this one does. Another wow.

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Tradlands offers a wide range of women’s button-up shirts, everything from dress shirts for the office to heavier outdoor flannels like mine. They’ve also got some gorgeous sweaters. Many styles are made from organic cotton!

This amazing shirt sells for $167 online. I had a coupon code and ended up paying only $142 (free shipping and returns!). I almost regret using the coupon now. Had I known the excellence in craftsmanship, I would have been more than willing to pay full price to support the company. That’s what this challenge is all about after all, spending my money where it makes a difference.

This is an investment piece. A garment to keep forever. And the last thing I am buying myself in 2016. Ending on a high note!

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Tradlands’ “Tailgate” Flannel, 100% cotton, Made in USA

In case you were wondering; the boots are old, the top and the skinny jeans are hand-me-downs from my sister. The jeans are actually made in USA too by AG Jeans!

The AMAZING glasses? Yes, they’re made right here and blog post coming soon!

Pics by Miss Shutterluv of course.

Celebrating the season: Finally fall (bump) fashion!

It’s November! Finally some resemblance of fall in Houston. Actually, that’s a lie, it’s hot as hell but the calendar says November and with that it’s officially scarf season, my favorite one by far.

On my quest for sustainable maternity fashion, I went second hand shopping in Greenville, SC when we visited the region about a month ago, and found a pair of maternity jeans ($12) and this cotton-rayon mix dress. Perfect for cooler weather.

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Yes, it’s another straight line dress with stripes (you know that’s my thing!). It is one size up from what I’d normally wear, so I have some room, but there ain’t nothing maternity about it. Generally speaking, I want to be able to wear the clothes I invest in again and again, why not also the ones I buy while pregnant?

I paid $22 for the dress, and I swear it looks brand new. Great deal!

To me, sustainable fashion is using what’s in my closet as much and as long as possible, avoiding at all costs garments going to landfill. Especially ones that still look great. Did you know that by wearing a piece of clothing 50 times instead of five (the fast fashion average), you reduce carbon emissions by 400 percent per year, per garment?

So, I’m wearing my new dress with my (also) new, made in USA maternity tights from Storq.com and pre-challenge (unethically made) favorites from my ever so modest closet. Namely, my very favorite fall scarf (DSW 2012) that goes with everything, a bag my husband bought me (Coach 2012) and impulse purchased booties (Steve Madden 2009). If it’s already in my closet, I make sure I rock it. Bump or no bump!

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I don’t normally use filters on pictures but I figured Houston could use a little extra fall spirit created by one. And I happen to think little eco-baby on the way looks really cute in this light :)

How are you showing off what’s already in your closet this fall?

Pics by Shutterluv.

Growing belly, shrinking closet (planning ahead and making do)

Because I am always looking for a reason not to shop, I decided that in order to buy as few maternity outfits as possible, I had to start by going through my closet to see what items I already had that could possibly work for a while, or come along for most of the baby-baking ride.

What I’ve learned so far is that although a pair of maternity jeans is needed, many pieces of clothing in my closet actually work! Any loose fitting, jersey or stretchy tops still fit and since I’ve always preferred soft dresses with straight lines (no specific waist line), I was happy to discover that I actually have quite a few that will help me look super cute and put together this fall (fingers crossed). I just needed one little thing to rock some of these dresses in the office.

Tights!

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Made in USA, eco-friendly, small business, black tights to be more exact. How lucky am I that the perfect pair happened to be just a google search away?

Introducing Storq. A California based maternity-wear brand that makes simple, no-squeeze basics and intimates for all growing bellies and changing bodies.

Each piece is made in USA; more specifically, it’s knitted, dyed, cut and sewn in Los Angeles, all within a 10-mile radius. All labels are screen printed using PVC-free, water-based ink and are sewn flat or printed on the fabric so nothing irritates the skin.

Many Storq products, just like the tights ($60), are made of 95% lenzing modal, a CO2-neutral fiber that comes from sustainably harvested Austrian beech wood forests and 5% spandex for stretch. (I recently promoted modal in my guide to eco-friendly fabrics too.)

My new tights are unbelievably soft and luxurious! They can be worn pulled up, over the belly, or folded down to sit at the hip. Houston is still kind of hot so I am wearing them low.

They’re meant to work for growing bodies, all nine months, and although I haven’t quite “grown into” my tights yet, they never slide down or become uncomfortable. It is a solid design, made by women who know how maternity wear should fit and function.

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Since I was already buying the tights online I decided to throw in a nursing bra while I was at it. I figured I might not run into many planet-friendly, made in USA, soft, no underwire bras, so I better strike when I see one. It stretches and is super comfy, just like the tights. Actually, I can’t find a reason why not all women, pregnant or not, wouldn’t love this bra! ($42)

I’m still counting these two items as my one new thing purchased in October. ONE SET of undergarments. See? ;)

A little eco-bonus is that Storq knows how annoying is it for women to invest in a temporary pregnancy wardrobe, therefore they have partnered with a recycling company, 2ReWear, to help us recycle anything we can’t give to a friend or use again. All we have to do is contact them and mail our things.

Check them out at Storq.com

Ps. The tunic I’m wearing has become my favorite bump-friendly dress. Believe it or not, I bought it in 2004! The shoes are US-made Oka-Bs and the tote is also US-made from Seltzer Goods.

Pictures by Shutterluv by Ashley.

New scarf, leftover fabric: A beautiful (birthday) combination

My husband got me this beautiful scarf for my birthday. A little bird had told him that I really, really wanted it. (Guess who!).

Birthdays are awesome. Especially so if you are on a one item per month shopping challenge, since a well chosen gift just doubled your monthly fun. (That’s me.)

Now, this scarf is very special. Not only is the New York designer who made it committed to American manufacturing, but most garments Tabii Just offers is sewn from scrap fabrics. Yes!  The most beautiful discarded yardage from American mills and designers that would otherwise end up in landfill (or maybe once in a blue moon be recycled/downcycled). A great way to reduce a garment’s carbon footprint!

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Due to the fact that fabrics are “leftovers”, quantities of some styles are limited and the exact fabric content is not always known. The most common threads made locally are rayon, polyester and conventionally grown cotton, so one or more of those most likely. I actually shot Tabii an email and asked, and the owner replied that my scarf is some sort of rayon blend. The ball hem is “new” and made ethically by artisans in Mexico.

As we’re talking about a piece of clothing made from scrap material, the rayon’s biggest eco-issue in this case becomes the microfibers released when washing, but I don’t really wash my scarfs a whole lot ;)

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Another way Tabii Just is focusing on zero waste is by making patterns and designs with minimal scrap and cut-outs. And of course, a scarf is actually the ultimate zero waste item since, well, it’s basically just a square of fabric!

I am super excited to spend colder fall and winter days in this scarf. Happy birthday to me indeed.

Tabii Just is a member of the Made in America Movement.

Red, white and blue (sunny harbor dress!)

We’re mid-way through September, and although temperatures are cooling off, Houston still allows us to wear dresses. And that’s pretty lucky for me, considering I have a brand new one!

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Via 74 dress with Oka-B ballet flats – made right here

Have you heard of Via 74 before?

It’s an online shopping site with ONLY made in USA garments from which I got my new dress! The clothes are not only stitched together here, the actual fabrics are made in USA as well. Via 74 source from different trustworthy wholesellers and you don’t know exactly what the what the brand label will say (other than made in USA) until the garment shows up at your doorstep. This mix of sources adds up to quite a versatile collection.

For me, being not just a “support local” consumer but also an eco-woman, I always want to know the contents of the fabric too, and at Via 74 it’s listed loudly and clearly for each item.

That’s how I came to decide on exactly this dress (there are so many!) for myself. It’s made of 95% modal (and 5% spandex) which is an eco-friendly choice made from beech wood. There were lots of pretty dresses that I liked, but since they were made of polyester or rayon they weren’t for me. Transparency online is so awesome.

This dress was on sale for 3o-something dollars, but I ended up paying only 22 after rebates. And on top of that, shipping was free! What!

I’m very excited about this.

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Via 74 is a member of the Made in America Movement; they are committed to American made goods and honest domestic sourcing. Check them out here (you won’t believe their colorful selection :)).

Pics by Shutterluv.

A four step guide to choosing the eco-friendly fabrics of your life!

My sister suggested a long time ago that I write something about fabrics. She asked: When it comes to shopping planet-friendly, which fabrics should I go for?

Here’s what I’ve come up with, based on internet research, articles I’ve read and some personal eco ideas that make sense to me :)

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Step 1: Go for natural fibers

Post shared on eco-gites.blogspot.com and skipthebag.blogspot.com/

Local is the new black (pair of shoes)

Yes. I bought myself another pair. A black pair for upcoming fall fashion.

In my defense, I did go through the entire list of Made in USA shoe brands on The USA Love List and did a google search before I committed to a yet another pair of Oka-bs.

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Made in USA “Janey” flats from Oka-b. Love.

The truth is there is just no beating the price ($45), the origin (made in Georgia, USA) and the comfort of these ballet flats!

The fact that they’ll recycle the shoes for me when (or if!) I’m ever done with them, just makes me feel so much better too.

This beautiful pair of flats are the Janey style in licorice (with grey pendant) and I am proud to say they were my one and only purchase in July. I’m rocking the 12 months – 12 items challenge.

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New ballet flats with my LuLaRoe (made in USA of imported fabric) skirt. Oh, and a plant.

To learn more about this company, read my other Oka-B posts: The first one. The second one.