As a Swede in USA, it’s nice to sometimes show off my Swedishness with fashion. Not just with stripes and Euro stylishness (ha!) but with fabrics from Sweden.
Presenting this scarf; made by small business owner and Dallas-based designer Louise, whom I’ve gotten to know through blogging. It’s an infinity scarf, half Dala horses, a classic symbol of Sweden, and half stripes, my favorite thing. Both fabrics are organic and GOTS certified.
Louise normally spends her days sewing and designing children’s clothes, but it wasn’t hard to convince her to make a scarf for me.
The idea came to me when she gave us the cutest onesie for baby August, and I realized I wanted, no needed, Dala horses too. (Ok, that’s a lie. My inner consumer wanted it!) At least I won’t grow out of my scarf anytime soon, like baby will with his outfit :)
If you’re looking for well made, locally made and handmade kids’ (or maybe adult!) fashion, check out Louise on Instagram @MammaLouiseSyr or on her Facebook page (she’s got a sale going on the month of June!).
Prices vary depending on fabrics and styles. Find out more by reading my wonderful interview with Louise (from 2015) about her business here.
PS. If you’re not looking for a Swedish scarf or baby clothes, I encourage you to contact your local makers – maybe they can make you exactly what you need, or let’s say it, want. Not only working for, but also with customers, that’s the beauty of small business.
Just because our phones are manufactured by underpaid factory workers (who can never afford to own the phones they make) and imported from China doesn’t mean our cases have to be. Right?
I finally had to admit that my iPhone 5 was on its last term this winter and accept an upgrade from my employer. My phone had been sleeping spontaneously from time to time and I kept running out of storage space, even though I am very good with transferring and deleting pictures. A good thing at least, from an environmental standpoint, is that I skipped the iPhone 6 all together and went straight to the 7. Every phone upgrade takes a toll on the environment you know (mined raw materials, electronic waste, import fuels, sweatshop labor).
Now back to talking cases! Made in USA is a must; eco-friendly a need. Neither myself nor hubby wanted to have one of those full-on-plastic-armor style cases (which are possible to find US-made) but were looking for something more slim and chic.
We found Carved.
All Carved cases are handmade in Indiana by talented craftsmen and women. Reclaimed woods (like old skateboards!) or already fallen trees become the most beautiful, unique, wood cellphone cases.
A cool detail is that they’re using a clear epoxy around the wood inlay, which shows off the color of the iPhone underneath. Since I finally have the rose gold, I was delighted that I didn’t have to cover that up.
I went for the Mount Bierstadt style ($39); it reminds me of some of our trips to America’s national parks and its colors go well with my phone, while hubs went for a sleek and classic walnut back ($24) for his matte black cellphone.
Our cases were made by Carved upon order (no wasteful stock!) and shipped to us for free in 100% plastic-free packaging. Yay.
Any complaints from this eco-friendly, not made in China shopper? None! Both me and my husband love the cases we picked. (He dropped his phone on the pavement already with no damage to it, just a small, internal crack line in the case’s epoxy liner. I dropped mine last week (maneuvering the baby!) and it survived without any damage.)
It may be a bit early, but isn’t this the perfect Father’s Day (or Mother’s Day) gift? Very reasonably priced ($24 and up), made right here and both a “nice to have” and “need to have” item. You can make it even more personal by ordering a custom carve that you design yourself (using their handy online program) or you can upload your own logo or picture to have your cover be totally one of a kind. You aren’t getting that at the Apple Store, are ya?
When I wrote about and modeled my new Tradlands flannel shirt back in December, you might have noticed that my (awesome looking) glasses also appeared to be brand spanking new. You were right, they were.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been talking about American-made style here on the blog. Why? Because shopping local strengthens our economy, helps small businesses grow and is actually more environmentally friendly than importing goods from far away.
When it comes to clothes, I hope you’re starting to realize that there is an abundance of made in USA brands out there. However, although many great handmade accessories (bags, jewelry, boots) can be found, some items are harder to find than others.
One thing that came to bite me before on my “Not made in China challenge” was eyewear.
Eyeglass frames are VERY often made in China or at least, rarely made in USA. So, in order to not shop for sweatshop-made imports, I had been wearing the same old, made in China Oakleys since April 2013! My friend, who happens to co-own an optician store, told me it was time for me to up my style with a new, ethically made pair from a “just-in” designer line of frames.
Meet STATE Optical. Luxury eyewear, handcrafted in Chicago, Illinois.
As I am writing this, there are 18 styles for optical frames and six different sunglass frames to chose from. All styles are named after the streets of the Windy City and come in four different colors.
I am wearing the Ravenswood frame in Granite, and do I need to mention how trendy they make me look? (These are the kind of frames an aspiring writer should be wearing! I feel very editorial.) The color of the frame is modern yet subtle and goes well with all my clothes.
“Named for the Ravenswood Land Company who originally planned the area around the thoroughfare as Chicago’s first suburb, Ravenswood Ave is now home to art centers, non-profits, some of the best pizza in the city, brewhouses, you name it. This style evokes the same vibe, worldly yet laid back.”
I’ve had my frames for about two months, and so far I LOVE them.
I am especially impressed by the fact that I haven’t felt them get “looser” over time. Anyone who wears glasses knows that the most annoying thing about it is to constantly correct them, push them up the nose, because they loosen and become too big with wear. STATE uses a unique German designed and manufactured custom hinge, with a nylon sleeve around the screw that allows a locking effect which should prevent the temples from loosening over time. Judging by my own experience it definitely seems to be working.
Founded in 2014, STATE Optical Co., in their own words, “Is a brand fueled by an intrinsic motivation to accomplish the improbable and blaze its own path despite evidence that “it can’t be done”. Of course, referring to the idea that manufacturing in the United States is an impossible feat.
Well, they, like so many other wonderful, small business brands I promote and love, are proving that indeed it CAN be done – with great success, better materials, more advanced techniques, superior craftsmanship and elevated attention to detail.
Handmade in USA is here to stay.
Check out STATE and their story at StateOptical.com and find a retailer near you. I got mine at Optical Edge, Houston, TX. Frames are $300+.
Note: Prescription lenses are readily available Made in USA! Just ask your optician before she cuts them for you, to make sure.
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!!”
Leather is not exactly an eco-friendly material (more on that later), so why am I blogging about a bag made of just that?
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, in many cases the livestock owner gets paid more for the skin than any other part of the animal. What does that mean for the argument? And, 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, don’t we?
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.
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.
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.
I don’t know about you, but mascara and eyeliner make my life a little bit more beautiful. On average, I use eye make-up six days a week, typically skipping it on either Saturday or Sunday, depending on our plans.
By chance, when reading another sustainability blog, I stumbled across exactly what I was looking for. The solution to my waste problem: organic cotton, reusable eye make-up remover pads by Skin Deep Naturals. Where’s the purchase button?
As I am on a mission to shop local, I asked the company about origin, and I can confirm that these pads are American-made of fabric milled in the USA!
Now, let’s look at some of the benefits of the reusable rounds (I’ll be using acronym SDN), compared to conventional ones (like what you’d pick up at Target or ULTA).
SDN are made of organic cotton, where conventional ones are normally not. Organic cotton means fewer pesticides, fertilizers, happier soil and happier farmers. Overall, a better choice.
SDN don’t create any landfill waste, which means less methane emissions.
SDN saves energy. I’m not going to estimate how much energy it takes to wash the rounds in the washing machine. I mean, I just throw them in with the rest of the load. I’ve been washing them warm, hot, or in sanitize mode, depending on what else I am washing. The conventional rounds take a lot of energy to produce as the cotton is grown, harvested, formed and packaged for use in a disposable product.
SDN saves plastic! The store-bought rounds come in a plastic tube, whereas SDN came in a recycled cardboard envelope without any additional packaging. If you, like me, use make-up an average of six days a week, amounting to 312 cotton rounds used per year. 312 rounds not bought, means at least three plastic tubes saved, as they are packaged 100 rounds per tube normally. Every time you say no to one-time-use plastic you are helping the environment and making oil-moguls miss out on making another buck. This is a GREAT cause folks.
By buying SDN you are supporting a local, small, eco-friendly business.
SDN saves you money! Conventional cotton rounds cost between $1.50 and 4 dollars for a tube of 100, depending on the brand and quality. Let’s use $2.50 as the price for this comparison. SDN cost me $12 for eight rounds – that’s more than enough to sustain me between washes – versus a yearly cost of $7.80 for regular ones. Now, if you keep your SDN rounds longer than a year and half (which seems VERY likely), you’re starting to save money every time you wipe that junk off your face. Keep them for five years; you’ve saved almost 30 dollars. Ok, that’s not a fortune, but it proves a point that eco-friendly products can benefit both the environment and your wallet.
I do have one tip: wash them before your first use, as they tend to lint a little bit before they’ve had their first go-around in the machine.
Sold on this product yet, ladies? Maybe you want some organic facial cloths or reusable diaper wipes too? This is the time to wipe disposable wipes off the table!
(You might be wondering how this purchase fits in with my 2016 shopping challenge? Well, these rounds were my only purchase in February! So far, I have spent $36 this year on two eco-friendly items, one per month, as planned. Yay.)
This is the first post in a five piece made in USA style series, featuring my beautiful friend Mary Beth. I am excited, but most of all honored that she wanted to be part of my blog. All you readers get to be excited too, seeing someone other than me strut their stuff!
Putting together the perfect outfit using only made in USA pieces is actually quite a challenge. It can be done, sure, but often one would include some well-chosen, foreign pieces as well, which is what we did for this series. For the very first and maybe my favorite made in USA outfit, we chose an orange blouse, skinny dark blue jeans, brown leather boots and sustainably-made accessories.
Let’s start with the blouse, tagged “Brenda’s” and made in USA. Mary Beth found this top at a small boutique called Willa in Rice Village, Houston, and paid about 40 dollars. (This shop happens to use reusable shopping bags too!) Fabric content: 100% polyester.
Now, you may think that polyester, a petroleum based product, would be an unusual choice to be featured in a sustainability blog of any kind. True, it’s not going to appear on any “top ten most eco-friendly fabrics lists” anytime soon, but sustainability has many faces.
Polyester is made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the same material that is used to make plastic drink bottles. The plastic bottles we offer for recycling are often reheated, turned into fibers, and eventually become the fabric we label polyester. This is an efficient, well established, quite simple recycling process, and for that reason, polyester will always be one of the materials you see most of in clothing lines featuring recycled fabrics, such as H&M’s Conscious Collection. Call it ‘the low hanging fruit of recycled garments’ if you will. It’s actually likely that the polyester clothing you own is made of partly recycled fibers, only not labeled as such.
Polyester is durable and easy to care for. Naturally, a blouse like this one, would be washed in cold water and hung to dry, eliminating the need to iron, and saving electricity by opting to not use the dryer. If Mary Beth manages to avoid a tear or a wine stain; this polyester top will last forever. That statement is true if it’s in her closet, and if it’s in landfill, so let’s go with the former. If a garment you love and already own, has the properties to last forever, a timeless design, never wears and requires little energy to maintain – am I crazy, or is that not sustainability defined?
With any polyester garment like this blouse, your chances of it being all made in USA, including raw materials, are great. We have the raw material needed (obviously) and we have the recycling abilities right here. With all the research being done on plant-based and biodegradable plastics, I am excited to see what the future holds for “green polyesters”. Maybe we’ll be putting our out-of-style poly blends in the compost some day soon – then we’ll have really eco-friendly fabric!
Continuing on, we’ve got a pair of made in USA Rag & Bone Skinny Jeans, retailing for about $198. This company is not committed to sourcing 100% in the US, but most of their denim pieces are made here of domestic fabric. The boots Mary Beth is wearing are great quality Clarks Artisans that she has had, and loved, for a few years. They’re made in Romania. The scarf we chose was a gift, it is fair-trade and made in Nepal. I love how it makes the outfit come together. (I admit, that’s something I say about all scarves, no matter the outfit. Scarves are magical accessories.)
Last but not least: handcrafted earrings, made right here in Friendswood, Texas. A friend of Mary Beth’s creates beauties such as these, as well as pendants, and sells them in her Etsy Shop – The Purple Toadstool. I cannot believe they‘re only 20 dollars! MaryBeth was actually wearing these the day I came over for our first run-thru and I was like “Those earrings are perfect, take them off, and let me look at them!” She did, and we added them to this outfit’s “polaroid”. Locally made, one of a kind, beautifully stitched and bought from a small, local vendor. I don’t like them, I love them.
For the first look, we managed to showcase durable garments that will last for years and years: polyester, denim and leather. All these materials have a large environmental foot-print, therefore using them for a long time is crucial. If not, we cannot call them sustainable. Three out of five pieces are made in USA, two of which were bought from small, local businesses.
Stay tuned for the next part of the made in USA style series, “Celebrating American Beauty”, coming next week, right here at (your favorite blog) made right (here) :)
It’s finally fall, my favorite Houston season. And even though I love that crisp feeling in the morning, it is that time of year when my hands get really dry due to the colder, dryer air. It’s time for some beauty on the blog!
What you put on your body, goes in your body, right?!
Introducing the Booda Butter daily moisturizer. Handmade in Washington State with lots of love, this butter doesn’t contain anything I can’t pronounce. It’s simply made of organic shea butter, certified organic and unrefined coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil and Fair Trade organic cocoa butter – delicious! It is, as you can see from the list of ingredients, vegan and cruelty free. I imagine it is also extremely low waste thru production, since it is 100% plant based (compost!) and made in small batches with raw ingredients. All this goodness is wrapped up in a reusable tin can.
Personally, the butter is a little bit too rich for me, in order to use it on my entire body. So, that’s why I use it as my luxury, super soft and smoothing hand cream. Mmm, smells like chocolate cake in here! My first can has lasted forever by now; it takes a very little amount of butter to give my hands a quick spa day.
Booda Organics also offers all-in-one soap bars (which fit inside the old butter tin cans for storage), and lip-balm (I actually use my butter on my lips sometimes too). The source of water used in the soap process is filtered from a nearby spring, and leaves no residue of chemicals, chlorine or fluoride in the finished product.
This is beauty simplified, honest and safe. For all of us challenged in the d-i-y department; this is pure bliss.
I need to write some more about the navy blue ballerina flats I added to the LookBook last week. Why? Because they are quite special!
The reason I got new shoes in the first place, is that I finally came to terms with the fact that my old, navy blue Keds really had to be demoted to yard shoes & CVS runs (sob, sob), and with that leaving an opening in the hallway for new, blue shoes. I wear a lot of blue to the office, navy and dark blues are my favorites and I love pairing dark blue jeans with blue flats.
I saw a picture on twitter of an Oka-B Lilly ballet flat and thought, “Wow, how can those cute, made in USA, ballerinas only be 45 dollars?” I had to investigate.
As it turns out, there’s more to this brand than meets the eye. First, all the shoes are actually made of plastic, which is fully recyclable. If you are not comfortable putting your shoes in the recycling bin when you’ve worn them out; send them back to Oka-B and they’ll recycle them for you. Second, they’re all made in Georgia by a team that stands by their product enough to offer a two year warranty. Warranty on shoes? That’s awesome! There are women’s flats, wedges and sandals in a variety of styles and colors to choose from.
Five minutes into surfing their website, I found that Oka-B is the daughter company of Okabashi shoes, who go by the same concept of made right here, vegan, recyclable, ergonomic, easy clean shoes, but offers another set of styles; including flip flops, sandals and clogs for men and women. Both Oka-B’s and Okabashi’s manufacturing process is virtually waste-free since scrap material is recycled into new products. It’s local manufacturing combined with zero waste; made in USA at its finest!
Now, last, but most definitely, not least; let’s talk about the box in which my “Sapphire with Navy Knit Flower” ballet flats came.
Oh, goodness. It is quite possibly the most beautiful shoe box I have ever seen! I paid 35 dollars for my shoes (I found a 10 dollar coupon code on okabashi.com – yay) and that included this magnificent box.
Shoes fit true to size and they are comfy! The fact that they’re plastic happens to be a great bonus for someone living in monsoon land, also known as Houston, Texas.
In a few years, after I have reused, reused and enjoyed, should they get worn out; I will definitely recycle them! The box on the other hand, is staying with me. For EVER.
I know I don’t put a lot of kids stuff on the blog, simply because I very rarely shop for kids or babies. I am also a firm believer that parents make sure their kids have what they need, so I doubt I need to get them anything for that reason; no random kids’ presents from me coming your way!
Anyway, I came across this amazing lady snooping around some of the pages I follow on Facebook, who has her own sewing workshop in Dallas, “MammaLouise sews”. I immediately contacted her and asked if I could feature her custom-made kids clothes on the blog; and she said yes! This small company of only one dedicated seamstress (Louise) stands for all the things I love in “not fast fashion”; eco-friendly, sustainably made, custom and great quality. Here’s what she had to say:
How did you start your business and why? *** When I was about 10 years old I had a wonderful teacher in textiles, who inspired me a lot. She taught me all the basics of sewing, and when I got my first baby 4 years ago my interest for sewing came back. When he was almost 1 year old, I bought a new overlock sewing machine, which quickly became my best friend! In the beginning I just made hats, bibs and pants, but when my second baby arrived 2 years ago I started to make everything. Now my kids only wear my own designs and it’s so fun!
These two kiddos of yours – Are they the inspiration for your collections? *** YES! I want to make cute clothes that they can play around in and I test every single design on them first. My idea is that the customer chooses everything how they’d like it, and I “only” stitch it all together. In that way each item is unique and hopefully I end up with a satisfied customer.
Where do you buy your fabrics and how do you decide which ones to use?*** Most of the fabrics I have are from Sweden and Europe. I also let my customers design their own fabric (if it’s possible to get it printed) if they place an order with me to make clothes from that same fabric. I have a lot of custom fabrics that I have designed and printed, which are unique for MammaLouise. The custom fabrics are GOTS-certified.
What does it mean that fabrics are OEKO-TEX® (like you mention on your webpage) or GOTS-certified?*** OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 is an independent test and certification system for all types of textiles tested for harmful substances – from threads and fabrics to the ready-to-use items that you can buy in the shops.
Only textile products that contain a minimum of 70% organic fibers can become GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified. All chemical inputs such as dyestuffs and auxiliaries used must meet certain environmental and toxicological criteria. The choice of accessories is limited in accordance with ecological aspects as well.
These standards really mean that the fabrics are safe for the little ones and eco-friendly.
Your adorable baby clothes are made to order: how does it work and what’s the waiting time?*** It depends on how much I have to do and how big of an order you place, but I try to be ready to ship within one week.
What’s your favorite thing to make?*** Hard question! Since I have two little boys; I like to make dresses in very pink or girly colors. But, I LOVE what I do, so everything is fun to make!
What are some of your own favorite eco-friendly brands for children’s clothes and accessories?*** Everything that is eco-friendly is GREAT but since my kids only use clothes made by me, I don’t have any favorite brands except my own; MammaLouise :)
If you are interested in having some custom clothes made for your babies; contact Louise directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out (and LIKE) her Facebook page for more cute pictures and information! She just needs to know what size and what you like, and you can work it out from there. Super convenient!
Prices range from $15 to about $40 dollars depending on what you are looking for. That is so affordable! Isn’t it amazing how a place like Carters or Target will charge almost the same for a bulk order, non-organic, made in China or Vietnam outfit? Imagine the profits they make! Here’s an opportunity to instead, get something very special with that unique European flare (we all want!), without breaking the bank. Yay.
Today, it has been 6 years since my beautiful sister got married to her handsome husband. It was the most gorgeous, sunny day. And though it’s a day we will always remember (naturally) this story is really about when we went shopping for her wedding dress. See, I am taking a break from my eco-blogging (sort of) today to instead write a little something for her.
Like so many times before; we had been saving and planning for our “New York sister get away”, for a while. We’d been taking notes on which coffee shops to try, which Broadway show to see and had been trying to find out where in the world the Manolo Blahnik store really was (It’s so hard to find!). However, the really exciting part about this trip was that we were going to shop for a wedding dress for my sis and a maid of honor dress for me!
It was May of 2009, wedding set for September 19th; we had plenty of time and plenty of optimism to find that perfect dress. The only question was; where do we begin?
It looked so easy on Sex and the City, but for two sisters in the city, not so much. We had no idea where to go. We figured you can’t just show up at Vera Wang like Charlotte (who can afford it!?) and we didn’t even know the names of any wedding dress stores. Strolling down 5th avenue and looking up at the second floor windows with gowns on pale mannequins wasn’t helping either; we didn’t even understand how to get into those places.
We decided to just start at the department stores; they have wedding sections! They do (I think) but none that you just walk into. We looked around the party dress departments for white, long dresses at Macy’s, Saks, Bloomingdales and even Bergdorf’s (I remember it was super fancy and sterile in there). Sales assistants we ran into, and told what we were doing, kept telling us how late in the game we were. “September? Oh wow, you better hurry!” What? We had four months, surely they must be mistaken!
We realized quickly that midtown and 5th weren’t working out for us. So the day after; new area and new spirit. Let’s go SoHo. And yes, that’s where it all came together, in a little bridal studio called Nicole Miller. Two tourists walk in on a day when no one had booked a fitting, and one awesome consultant (with seriously big hair!) let us in without an appointment! She must have fallen for our hopeful-and-lost-non-locals-look, and figured she had to help us out.
My sister was looking for a fitted, simple gown with a mermaid feel to it; which is basically all of Nicole Miller’s dresses. She tried a few, one after another; they all fit her perfectly (she has the perfect shape for dresses). They were all priced around 700-1200 dollars, which was right in line with what she could and wanted to spend.
In less than an hour she had decided on her dress, not really any alterations needed (of course – perfect shape); form-fitted, mermaid feel, in an off-white, metal threaded fabric. Priced at 800 dollars, and made right there in New York City.
What a high! How did that work out so quickly?! Her wedding dress packed up nicely in a paper bag, not too heavy to carry around on her shoulder, so we took it to lunch – isn’t that amazing?
We had a great lunch, we were so excited, and we talked about the Manolos she was about to buy to match the dress and what the heck the maid of honor was going to wear (me!).
My sister hadn’t decided what color she wanted on me. The wedding wasn’t all planned out yet, but she knew she wanted it to feel like a fall wedding with warm reds, oranges and earth colors. We continued to explore SoHo, and randomly found Foravi.
We didn’t know what they might have, but as if it was meant to be, they had two Nicole Miller dresses in the same fabric as my sister’s wedding dress! One red, one earthy green; one size 4, one size 6. I could squeeze myself in to the red 4 (the fabric is very stretchy and hugging), but it was just too tight and the color was too sexy. The green dress fit perfectly and had the right cut, length, feeling and color for the upcoming fall wedding. It was 400 dollars, and as you guessed, made in New York! Sold!
There you have it. Two out-of-towners, went to the fashion capital of the world, without a plan or any appointments, and came home with the perfect pair of dresses. We sure proved those sales assistants wrong! How lucky were we to find matching, made right there wedding fashion?
And; yes, we found the Manolo Blahnik boutique finally, and my sister got her white satin, open toe, rhinestone-buckle, Sedarby pumps. Price tag; same as her dress (yes, really!) I was lucky enough to have bedazzled (60 dollar) shoes at home, matching her style of shoes and my new dress.
Foravi is still in business and still focusing on providing hand-crafted, responsibly-produced, and aesthetically powerful clothes.
Nicole Miller still makes wedding dresses in New York City, and they are still reasonably priced. Don’t count on getting in to the SoHo studio without an appointment though! (Unless you know how to pull off the hopeful-and-lost-non-locals-look, and even so, it’s a gamble…;))
The girls may not have been locally made, but the dresses sure were. I love that every garment we buy has a story, and it starts long before we get to wear it for the first time. We have the power to decide what kind of stories the clothes we buy should have, from cradle to grave, not just from purchase to grave. And I love the story of these two dresses.
To my sister – the best sis and the most beautiful bride I have ever seen. Thanks for always letting me be part of your stories, and of your clothes’ stories too. Happy anniversary!!
Baby Ella is not only beautiful, chubby and the happiest baby I know, she is also an expert poser. Posing in her “Pug Life onesie” that is, which auntie got her for Christmas. Why Pug Life? See, her mom’s got a pug. (A pug that is most definitely enjoying less attention since baby Ella made the scene in late July).
It might have been the case, that Ella’s mom really wanted something different Christmas morning, like a made in China binky with an animal attached. Sorry, I only give Anna-proof gifts (her words – not mine). So as you probably know, there is something in it for me (and our economy) to go with a pug life outfit instead.
Morado Designs, out of Vermont, make handmade baby gifts using US-sourced organic cotton and simple, colorful prints. Looking to shop online, quite a few styles are sold out (like all of their baby blankets), so the strategy would be to get what you want, when you see it. I also fell for the adorable box, no need for gift wraps.
Supporting companies that make things right, that is how I roll, and it makes it so much easier to be me when I find some things that are cute as hell, just like Ella deserves. Yay.