Tag Archives: slow fashion

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.

*UPDATE. Storq has in 2018 ditched made in USA for MADE IN CHINA! Unacceptable. Keeping the post up because I love this outfit and post.

Pictures by Shutterluv by Ashley.

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.

The clothing is old, what’s vintage is new, a purse that is borrowed & ballet flats in blue

Second hand shopping and I don’t always get along. I get impatient and picky and normally leave empty handed. But now and again, on an odd day out, I strike gold. (Fake gold that is.) Why I keep at it? Because it’s the most eco-friendly way to add new things to my closet and I support small neighborhood businesses while doing so!

First, let me introduce my “new” flower broche. A vintage piece that I immediately fell for at the Vintage Revival boutique south of Houston. I paid $10.50. I love using a spectacular broche as the focal point on a (dull) purse!

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Vintage Broche from Vintage Revival Shop, Nassau Bay, TX

This plastic clutch was actually my grandmother’s. She got it for free with a mail-order make-up purchase, sometime in the early 2000s, and I snagged it right away. Finders keepers, you know? That goes for the broche and the clutch bag.

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Made in USA ballet flats, second hand blouse, upcycled jeans

The blouse is ALSO a “new” second hand find! Can you believe it?

This is Lucky Brand (lucky me), from who knows when, which I got for $10 at a local resale shop. I love the pattern and I love how the blue plus red threads “make” purple, allowing me to wear one of my favorite old scarves with it. Scarves always make every outfit better (logic according to Anna). This one was a gift from my mom.

The jeans are my “overhauled” old boot-cut Gap jeans that I blogged about last week, and the flats are, of course, my made in USA Oka-B’s. The BEST (and cutest) shoes for Houston’s wet weather.

Sustainable fashion at its best; garments that are old, a vintage broche that is new, a purse that is borrowed (no return date set) and of course, ballet flats in blue.

That’s how that saying goes, right? ;)

Picture credits: Shutterluv by Ashley.

How my mama took my jeans from boot-cut to straight (leg) outta Vogue

Like most travelers and globetrotters, I get inspired by the places I visit or in this case, move to. When I first moved to Houston and saw how lots of cute girls were wearing boot-cut jeans, I had this insane idea that I too could rock a pair.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with boot-cuts, Jennifer Aniston always looks great in them, but I am a skinny/straight jean Euro.

Despite knowing this, I went out and bought an unethical, cheap pair at the Gap in January 2012. (This was before I started my not made in China challenge, and Gap claimed to have an eco-friendly wash process.)

Fast forward four years. Here I was with a bad pair of jeans that had only been worn maybe ten times (over three years ago). Not only were they the wrong fit for me, but also a bit too long, too high-waisted and with time, they had gotten to be a couple sizes too big. I tried selling them at garage sales, twice, for two dollars but no one picked them up. Evidently, I was not meant to part ways with these jeans. Considering how much energy, water, pesticides and fertilizer that went into the making of them, I knew the sustainable way to move forward was to “save” them. 

Mom to the upcycling-rescue.

I asked her if she wanted to give fixing them a go; “You need to take them in and change the entire style” I said, “I need skinny/straight jeans”. She agreed to try, considering only two dollars were at stake, though assuring me she was no longer the master seamstress she was when making clothes for me and my sister growing up. I trust her though, I know she’s awesome and I’ll take my chances any day!

Here’s where we started. It’s not great.

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I put them on, took them off again, and she started by needling her way to a tighter fitting inseam, including shortening the rise about one inch (to create a lower waist). After that, she took in the outer seam, starting just below the front pockets.

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Then she had me try them on, over and over, each time she’d remove more and more fabric in the legs, making them slimmer and slimmer until I said “stop”. She also took two inches off the length.

My mom is a goddess. Here’s where we ended up: straight (leg) outta Eco-Vogue.

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This is my new favorite pair! Next time I see her I’m going to bring more clothes for her to “fix”. (Yes, I already told her.) So if someone asks me who made my clothes, I’ll say my mama did.

Looking amazing. Zero dollars spent. Minimum eco-impact.

That’s happiness in a pair of jeans.

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More on sustainable denim here

Ethical Fashion and I – an interview by Tomorrow Living

Last week I was lucky and honored, to be part of an amazing Ethical Fashion Profiles Series on the eco-blog Tomorrow Living!

Just like me, Aimee, the voice behind Tomorrow Living, is blogging all things eco, ethical, conscious and awesome. She decided this spring to showcase some of her favorite ethical fashion bloggers, instagrammers and fashionistas from all walks of life to demonstrate the sheer variety of “Ethical Fashion” that is out there, because conscious, green fashion is as diverse as the people who choose to wear it.

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This is me, straight from the office, in made in USA jeans and flats.

Aimee asked me some very good questions for the interview, like “What inspired you to start your blog?”, “What are your favorite ethical brands at the moment?” and “What has been the most eye opening thing about buying local, US made products?”

I was also asked what my top tip for more conscious, green and sustainable living is. That is such a relevant and great question to ask any eco-blogger! I have to share my answer here too, because I think it came out really well:

For more conscious living, the thing to do is to take a long, hard look at how you live, what you eat, what you buy and then try to answer the question of why you choose what you choose. That may sound like a difficult thing to do, but I think all change has to start with self-awareness. People tend to have a perception of themselves as “sort of green” and they honestly believe that to be true, all while eating a cheeseburger and drinking soda from a disposable Styrofoam cup after another quick shopping trip (in their SUV) to Wal-Mart & the Gap.

That said, my tip would be to sign up to follow a few eco-blogs, get a vegan recipe app (“Forks over Knives” is great!) and to follow a few zero waste instagram accounts. It’s a great way to be inspired to make better choices, create awareness and to get the latest updates on cool, ethical products, without having to do any research yourself!

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Hand-me-down earrings, old scarf and my most beloved shirt.

Another part of the deal was that I got to pick one of my favorite outfits to show off and explain why I love it and how it represents ethical and sustainable fashion.

Want to read the rest? Head on over to Tomorrow Living to read the whole interview and get all the details of my favorite outfit and why I chose it! :)

PS. You might want to check out the first post in the series too, which featured Sarah of Plum and Plaid, who is all about second-hand finds, hand-me-downs, upcycling and spectacular vintage treasures. I’ve been following her blog for a while and I was excited to read more about her and her thrifting genius! :)

Pictures by  Shutterluv by Ashley.

Here’s the Link to Tomorrow Living’s interview about made right (here).

Let’s talk about my Fair Trade underwear, shall we?

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, not knowing how to “report” on the topic of underwear I’ve bought. Not to mention how or if to include a picture of them on the blog. I do enjoy a fun shoot and a good selfie, but I have to draw the line somewhere. Modeling undies? No thanks from me and, probably, a no thanks from you!

I still have to blog about this brand though that my husband and I both love: PACT.

Anyone who gets to wear (or model for that matter) their stuff will be happy. PACT is super soft, organic, non-GMO, fair trade cotton undergarments in a variation of prints and colors. All fabrics are free from toxic dyes and pesticides.

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Just because a garment is labeled as green, sustainable, or eco-friendly does not make it so. In order to certify the organic content in their apparel and to ensure that all their clothing is made ethically and sustainably, PACT is partnered with OCS (Organic Content Standard), GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), and Fair Trade USA.

As they’re committed to making only organic clothing, it makes economic and environmental sense for PACT to manufacture where the organic cotton they use is harvested; that means India and Turkey.

You all know that I am all about shopping local, and I love supporting US manufacturing but as you can see, in this case, I’m promoting a product not made in USA! So, what’s up with that?

Well, since the clothing they make is always sweat-shop-free and child-labor-free and the work they provide, in less fortunate areas of the world, actually betters the communities and makes a positive impact on lives, I am all about it – locally made or not. True and honest fair trade is an awesome thing! 

Underwear is a “need to have” not a “want to have” in my opinion, and it is one of those items that has to be unnoticeable too; “Am I wearing undies or not?” type deal. So finding a comfy, cute AND ethically made pair is quite the score. And an important one!

PACT is ethical undies defined.

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I borrowed this picture from wearPACT.com. Ethical undies – happy people ;)

Browse and shop PACT here

Never REcycle when you can UPcycle (especially shoes!)

I am not entirely sure how it happened, but I accidentally tore off the flower embellishment on one of my Oka-B ballet flats while changing clothes one day. Suddenly it was lying there, alone on the floor, and all my right shoe had left was the pop-rivet. How in the world?

Remembering Oka-B’s 2 year warranty, I decided to email them and let them know of my shoe tragedy. As I had hoped, in just a hop, skip and a few hours, I got an email from them offering me a brand new pair to replace my broken sapphire blue Maris flats. Yes, please!

Now, you know that Oka-B recycles any pair of shoes that gets shipped back to them, as part of their eco-friendly and zero waste production efforts, but I was hesitant to part ways with my original pair.

Why RECYCLE when I can UPCYCLE?! Who wouldn’t want two pairs of these comfy flats in their closet? Two pairs with different decor!

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Before upcycling

Before I added passionate blogger and part-time Swedish tutor to my already full work week, I dabbled a bit with scrapbooking and arts, so naturally I still have a few craft goodies in my stash. I dug it all out knowing exactly what I wanted to use for my “new” shoes: RED GLITTERY STARS.

Though recycling is great, and I love that Oka-B does it, it does consume energy. Keeping your shoes and clothes for a long time and wearing them over and over again is the only way you get to call your closet sustainable. And in order to do that, sometimes you have to be creative, mend and fix stuff!

The stars I used are stickers, and I know they probably won’t last forever. I’ll try to keep the shoes out of the rain but if ruined stars happen, I have blue and white ones too, so I can keep fixing them and changing things up.

This little fix only took 2 minutes. AND I might actually be more fond of this style than I am of the original one… That’s my kind of DIY!

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Star-spangled, made in USA, upcycled ballet flats!

Read my original Oka-B review here

Trust me. I’m somewhat, fashionably, organic.

My sister decided to surprise me with a new statement tee a couple of weeks ago, because she is awesome and this shirt was just right for me. And I promise you can trust me – I am mostly organic.

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I admit that wine, beer, Panera Bread and other inorganic foods do make their way into my body, but I shop organics for myself and my husband, whenever there are options available made somewhat locally. Here in Texas, most veggies are from Mexico.

Studies have found that organic foods contain fewer pesticide residue and antibiotic-resistant bacteria than regular food does. But is it better for us? There are lots of reports on the internet of how organic food isn’t better, stating that studies show no difference in health or chemical levels measured in people eating organic versus people who don’t. I wonder if they were paid by big Agri to report that, because there are also studies proving the opposite, for example that video showing how a Swedish family goes 100% organic – “ekologiskt” – for a period of time and discovers most of the pesticides and toxins disappear from their bodies!

I am not sure what to believe, but my gut tells me it’s better for me.

What I do know for sure, is that organic produce is better for the farmers and the environment! Organically farmed soil has greater microbiological diversity due to crop rotation, cover crops and the use of compost instead of chemical fertilizer. They also use fewer pesticides, better targeted. Where conventional farms use 55% of the budget on pesticides and fungicides, organic farms only use 11%. These practices are great for the laborers too, as they are exposed to significantly less agrichemicals than those working on a conventional farm!

I wrote a bit about organic cotton a couple of weeks ago, in my quest to find the perfect denim, if you are interested in reading more you can do so here.

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Contrary to popular belief, using organic practices in the US does not necessarily mean a better life for the animals. For example, organic milk just happens to come from a cow that is fed organic food and lives on an organic farm. The label doesn’t mean that the cow gets to run outside, eat grass, hang out with its calf when it’s born, isn’t impregnated artificially every year to make more milk or later becomes organic hamburger meat. An organic milk cow is probably just as sad as a non-organic one. (Regulations may be different in other countries though!)

Organic does mean that fewer antibiotics are given to the animals, but I think I have to call that more of a benefit for the consumer than it is for the animals. A miserable life without antibiotics is still miserable. Good thing my new t-shirt only has veggies on it!

Speaking of which, this is a Mexican tee with an American-made print by David & Goliath that my sis found at Bloomingdales. How cool would it have been if the fabric was organic too? I know – a slam dunk! For these pics, I paired my new tee with an old (2013) pair of 7 for all mankind jeans, also made in Mexico actually, and my yard boots.

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Posing in the woods in a statement tee turned out to be great fun! Miss. Shutterluv scouted for locations with good light for future shoots, while I walked around cursing all the plastic waste that had been thrown away in our beautiful nature. Seems people keep forgetting to “not to mess with Texas”! All in all, a typical outing for the two of us :)

Viva organic!

Picture credits: Shutterluv by Ashley

How dirty is your denim, dear?

Oh, beloved denim. I think I speak for everyone when I say we’ve all got that one favorite pair of jeans that seems to go with most of the tops and shoes in our closets. How many pairs one has in total varies, but surely they cannot all be equal. Not in style and certainly not in environmental foot print.

It takes over 10,000 liters or 2,600 gallons of water to grow enough cotton for one pair of jeans. 2,600 GALLONS. That’s a lot of water. A scary fact in current times when climate change is causing more severe draughts and water supply, globally, is scarce.

But let’s put that amount into perspective and see what other “fun” things one can enjoy using that same amount of water:

  • Take 25 baths in a regular size bath tub
  • Eat one 16 oz. steak (believe me, in Texas this is not an unusual size)
  • Drink 44 glasses of wine
  • Or have 88 cups of coffee

I don’t know about you, but I sure enjoy a pair of skinny jeans way more than one steak! Or I would, if I ate beef. So does that mean that vegans and non-beef eaters can buy 50+ pairs of jeans per year with the same environmental impact? Nah, let’s not over-consume now, and there are still pesticides to consider.

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Environmental impact of one pair of jeans

According to our trusted source, the internet, it takes 2/3 of a pound of pesticides to produce enough conventional cotton to make one pair of jeans. Conventional cotton production accounts for 11% of the world’s pesticides and 25% of the world’s insecticides. The chemicals are harmful not only to the workers (five of the top nine pesticides used in cotton production are known carcinogens) but chemical runoff also affects surrounding ecosystems and contaminates lands and rivers. (The True Cost Movie highlights many important facts about growing cotton and its corruption; “Hello Monsanto”. If you haven’t seen that movie yet, please do.)

A better choice is organic cotton! Even if it uses the same amount of water, there are some great things to it; like no GMOs, no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, healthy soil practices, enhanced biodiversity and ethical treatment of farmers.

Google search, here I come.

The coolest denim brand I have found using only organic cotton, transparent sourcing policies and eco-friendly practices is Nudie Jeans. A Swedish company that doesn’t only live by mentioned practices, but also offers mending of old jeans at selected stores, (LA is my closest location), recycles denim and sells an all made in Europe product. Nudie buys the fabric in Turkey, the biggest producer of organic cotton in the world, and their jeans are sewn in Italy. It’s a bummer all their models are modeled by male models (that’s a lot of models!) online, but apparently many styles work for women as well. I am skeptic, but intrigued, and I can’t wait to find a retailer and try some of them on! All their other products, like tees and accessories, are fair trade or all made in Europe – they also source in Sweden (go local!).

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Nudie Jeans stores: so stylish, euro and eco.

Next, I’d like to mention Patagonia and their line of eco-friendly, fair-trade, organic jeans. (Sewn in Sri Lanka). The drawback for me is that they only come in few styles and colors. Being designed for outdoor activities, comfort and “heavier use”, I am not sure these jeans would be best paired with a blouse and heels for a night of cocktails… I really appreciate Patagonia’s commitment to long lasting quality and the environment though. Did you know that every single cotton garment they’ve made since 1996, is organic? Love that!

Eileen Fisher has earned a shout out too, as they offer an all made in USA line, with jeans made of organic cotton! I have never tried anything on by Eileen Fisher, and at first sight, it looks like more of a classic ladies brand than a modern brand, but I have been surprised before. Made in USA plus organic? I’d be a fool not to try them on next time I need jeans.

If mentioned styles don’t work – don’t give up your eco-fight just yet. Do a search of your own for organic jeans and see if you find something you like better. If not, here are some other ways to make a positive eco-difference when it comes to denim:

  • Only buy jeans you are 100% awesome-looking in. Don’t jump on temporary denim trends.
  • Wear them in and wear them out. Mend them if they need mending. Repurpose the fabric for something else if they are beyond saving.
  • Support locally made and buy your pair from a small, local vendor. If you can’t avoid pesticides in the process of making your jeans, at least pump some money back into your local community.
  • Look for awesome pairs at resale shops and thrift stores. If you want many variations of jeans, or brands you know are bad for the environment, this is the way to buy them.
  • Honestly, you don’t need to wash them very often. And never, ever, like ever, throw them in the dryer. Wash cold and hang dry.

Good luck :)

Dang! You look hot in those jeans!

Every mama needs a mumu (The finale of my made in USA style series!)

This is the fifth and last piece of my Made in USA style series, featuring American made apparel and my beautiful friend Mary Beth.

We’re ending with a garment Mary Beth swears is the perfect mom-on-the-go piece: a tunic from Show me your Mumu.

The reason for its awesomeness? She can dress it down with boots, tights and a cardigan when hanging out with the kids or dress it up with skinny jeans, jewelry and heels for a dinner out on the town. It is indeed a good thing that this tunic is versatile and gets worn a lot – the price tag is $106 (unless you find a good sale, like Mary Beth did!)

The name, Show me your Mumu, is a reflection of the spark and the creativity of this brand. And just like Mary Beth finds her tunic (or “mu” as they call it) incredibly versatile, the brand seems to agree, writing on their website: “We sometimes wear our same Mu for 48 hours – to work, dancing at night, over a bikini, to weekend brunch and then to bed.”

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Label and close up of Mumu’s “Baby Buds” tunic – a gorge floral

Show me your Mumu is made in the gorge USA – as they proudly state on their labels and website – in a downtown Los Angeles location. But like always with an online “Made in USA” claim, we need to check for ourselves if the fabric is imported or not, and in this case it is. That’s a bit disappointing considering the hefty price tag, that the fabric is polyester (which we certainly can make here) and proud proclamation of its “gorge” origin.

What we have here friends, is a classic example of online “tags” not following the FTC established rules for garment tagging. Looking at Mumu’s website; the exact tunic Mary Beth is wearing is listed as “Made in USA” while the tag in the actual garment states “Made in USA of imported fabric and components”. Online shopping will get you!

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Speaking of shopping, for a busy mom like Mary Beth, digging thru piles of clothes at Nordstrom Rack or Marshall’s, isn’t her preferred way to buy “Made in USA”. We both find great deals there, sure, but I can’t deny it can be time consuming, and time is precious when you have two little (very active!) ones to mind. Instead, she has a more straight forward way.

It’s simple. She shops in small, locally owned boutiques and asks the clerk as soon as she enters the store, if they sell any made in USA brands! Then adjusts her browsing-action accordingly. This is an especially great technique when travelling; as it helps her stay local to where she is, and often leads to discovering new, exciting brands.

Another way to shop made in USA without too much time and effort, she says, is to use styling companies, such as Stitch Fix, where you can specify exactly what styles you are looking for. In this case, that’d be only US-made garments.

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Mary Beth has paired the Sherman Tunic (in Latte Crisp) with made in USA tights ($17) from Express.

Mary Beth’s “On Target” arrow necklace is another beautifully hand painted, American piece from The Gleeful Peacock jewelry makers ($32). The striped hoodie is also made stateside (~$60) by Bobeau Collection. This brand has an online shop, featuring as many imported garments as it does American-made (so check the details), and can also be found at department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom.

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That’s the last outfit of the series, folks!

A huge thank you to Mary Beth, for being such an awesome and truly gorge model! I happen to know that since we shot these pictures, she has bought a new USA-made, eco-friendly t-shirt and a handmade handbag, so I will do my best to convince her to model them both for the blog this spring!

And a big thank you to Shutterluv by Ashley for shooting all these outfits!

What’s your favorite made in USA brand or garment? Share with me!

Here are the links to the other four posts (incase you missed one):

  1. The one about poly-blends: A made in USA outfit (might include polyester)
  2. The one with an all USA made outfit: Celebrating American Beauty
  3. The one about labels: What’s with all this Imported Fabric?
  4. The one about jewlery: Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I’ve got

 

NOTE: After this post was published, Show me your mumu has started to produce more garments at international production sites (China, Vietnam). Check the labels. Unfortunately this “Made in USA company” may have deserted their original patriotism.

Made in USA style series part 3: What’s with all the imported fabrics?

This is the third post in a five piece made in USA style series, featuring pictures of my beautiful friend Mary Beth.

This week, Mary Beth is modeling her Paige Denim Verdugo Ankle skinny jeans and a Splendid jacket, both made in USA of imported fabric. And with that, time has come to talk about labeling and imported materials.

Clothes made here of imported fabrics. (Picture by Shutterluv by Ashley)
Clothes made here of imported fabrics. (Picture by Shutterluv by Ashley)

The Made in USA tag means that the product is “all or virtually all” made in the United States. That is, the product should contain none or negligible foreign content. When we are talking about clothes; buttons, a zipper or a tag may be imported but the label will still read, and rightfully so according to the law, “Made in USA”.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states that the label must indicate if a product contains imported materials (if non negligible). The label may identify the country of origin of the imported materials, but it doesn’t have to. Which means that it may say, “Made in USA of imported fabric” or “Knitted in USA of imported yarn” – two very common tags. This disclosure must appear as a single statement, without separating the “Made in USA” and “imported” references. Take note that this rule does not apply to online shops, which means that something can be listed as “Made in USA” on a webpage when in fact the actual tag of the garment reads “Made in USA of imported fabric”.

For certain fabric products like sheets, towels, comforters, handkerchiefs, scarves, napkins and other “flat” goods, the FTC requires identification of the country where the fabric was made. As you can see, clothes do not fall under that category of products, thus it is impossible for us consumers to find out where the fabrics of our clothes came from. With the current market my bets are on China and India.

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Both brands following the guidelines set by the FTC for labeling, when it comes to imported fabrics.

It can be expensive for American companies to buy domestic materials because even though we make great quality fabrics and denim here, supply is limited. Organic materials, like organic cotton, even more so.  In order to make it “affordable” to buy American fabric, large bulk orders must be placed up front. Something large companies like Splendid, Paige and True Religion certainly are able to do, yet they import many of their fabrics. What’s their excuse?

A small business on the other hand, might not be able to afford US-made fabric. I imagine it must be a hard decision for someone who wants to go ‘all local’, but realizes it might break their small clothing line, especially in a start-up phase. If imported fabric allows someone to start a small business and employ locally, is it not worthy of support and encouragement?

The majority of large American brands outsource all the manufacturing of their clothes, shoes and bags to China and/or other Asian countries solely to make more profits, therefore if a company is at least committed to stitching it all together or manufacturing parts of their products here, surely that is better than nothing at all. Very often when committed to American manufacturing, the company will also have a sustainable sourcing agreement or guideline in place. Take a minute and check online and make sure the brand you’re eyeing at least has a policy in place for labor practices and environmental protection before you shop (not that that is a guarantee of any kind).

My personal goal is to not buy garments made of imported fabrics, just because I cannot trace how and where the fabrics were made. But it happens – this challenge of mine isn’t exactly easy. It is likely that the imported fabrics come from China, are made by someone working 14 hours a day for minimum pay, in a factory fueled by dirty energy, where leftover dyes and toxic chemicals pollute nearby lands. The very conditions I am against. If the material is 100% organic, fair-trade spun or made from hemp or bamboo, I’d make an exception! Organic cotton plantations, for example, bring good jobs, fair wages and healthy soils to the developing countries.

There’s no “correct” way to approach this, I feel. If I was considering our local economy and healthy manufacturing sector only, I’d lean towards accepting imported fabrics if the garment was sewn here. But in terms of planet sustainability and ethical manufacturing – what’s the point of shopping local and fair if most of the item acquired is imported and with that: UNTRACEBLE?

How do you feel about imported fabrics?

Next week, sustainability vs. jewelry is on the agenda, so check back in!

Read more about labeling at ftc.gov.

Anna’s adventures in thrifting: From fuzzies to the perfect vintage dress

Resale apparel scares me. And I know I shouldn’t admit that because I’m an eco-girl who knows that buying previously owned clothes (instead of new) helps our environment. In my head, I am a cool thrifter, one that finds awesome deals, colorful items and makes them work. But that never really happens.

Last Saturday, I woke up in a go-get-them mood and decided to check out a resale shop and a farmers’ market on the other side of the lake, I hadn’t been to yet. Full of optimism and actually craving a bit of shopping (see this happens to everyone, also the low consumption folks :)) – I started at the resale shop:

  • Man, it’s unorganized in here.
  • Wow, that’s a bad print. Who bought that to begin with?
  • Ooops, I stepped on that purse. Hope no one saw me.
  • There goes all my inspiration. Bye, bye.
  • That cardigan is actually cute! But oh, it comes with a fuzzies-party.

Is it just me? Or is this a reflection of what is happening here? Would it be too much to ask that the store be tidy? That there’s a minimum acceptance level for the clothes they take in?

This happens to me over and over, and I don’t like it. People who live in ‘trendier’ areas of the country, or of this city for that matter, must have better luck thrifting than I do. I must not be the type of shopper the resale places are targeting, I may be too inside of the box for this. Or is it as simple as me being a spoiled shopper? (Hey, don’t answer that!)

I left the resale shop and went to the farmers’ market. To my surprise, in a strip mall located right by the market, I spotted a small “antiques” sign in front of a shop called Vintage Revival. Intrigued, I went in, browsed, and immediately said to myself; “I want to buy everything in here”.

Miraculously, when one goes from “resale” to “vintage”, the whole setting changes. The boutique was organized, cozy and smelled nice. Items gathered together – went together, and were set up in proper arrangements. Jewelry, clothes, deco, art, locally handmade soaps and creams, artisan crafts, and old photographs covered the place.  The few dresses they had, hanging inside of an antique closet, looked like they were taken from a Mad Man set. Which one must be mine!?

With earrings I "inherited" from my mom on right... and headband on the left.
With earrings I “inherited” from my mom (right) &  the original headband (left).

I decided that a round neckline, sleeveless vintage dress with orange and yellow flowers was the perfect choice for me. I tried it on and though the fit was not 100% perfect, I just loved it so much already that I had to take it home. The storeowner believed it was a custom-made dress from the 60’s and she was so happy I wanted it. It also came with a matching headband (which needed a few stitches at home to get back to its previous glory). There are no labels what so ever inside this dress, so not only previously owned, but also, most likely, made in America, handmade with love and one of a kind. Thus this dress hit the spot on all shopping rules, not forgetting “support small business”. Price tag? 15 American dollars. Oh, the excitement! (Of course I had my reusable bag with me, and recycled the paper receipt.)

This dress will we worn to work – dressed down with a cardigan – or worn in Mad Man style for parties, costume parties and around the house when I feel like being vintage-glam. Back when I lived closer to my grandma, I used to scavenge her closet all the time for hidden gems from the old days. Re-discovering my love for vintage made for a great, successful shopping excursion.

My Mad Men dress with my cigarette free hand.
My *NEW* Mad Men dress and a cigarette free hand. The pose seemed appropriate.

I will not give up on resale just yet. I will keep looking, checking, browsing and visiting the thrift stores, hoping that one day a gorgeous outfit will appear – fuzzies free.

I must overcome my resale fear, and frankly, my own judgmentalness. 2016 might be the year I will do just that. I’ll keep you (blog) posted :)

Celebrating fall with a layered look for my LuLaRoe skirt

I love November. While many cities are already moving on to winter wear, Houston finally cools down, opening the door for our fall pieces to come out and be worn comfortably. To me, there’s just something magic about layering and adding wool to the mix, probably because Houston weather doesn’t allow it very often.

About a month ago I bought my first LuLaRoe piece, a pencil skirt, at a friend’s pop-up boutique. At first I didn’t know how I wanted to wear it. Digging through my very modest closet, here’s what I put together to celebrate fall, the cooler winds and this American made skirt.

Balancing on a tree while showing off the outfit, was actually a great idea. Nailed it.
Balancing on a tree while showing off the outfit, was actually a great idea. Nailed it.

Shirt: One of my few H&M garments. This 2013 denim shirt screams Texas to me, yet it is made in Turkey (of course it’s imported – it’s H&M – but not China!). The embroidery and the tone of blue denim are unusual choices for me, but I like this shirt a lot. I normally wear it with black skinnies and a huge scarf. To me, it dresses down the skirt really nicely.

Scarf: I bought this marvelous scarf in 2004. Two girlfriends and I were vacationing in Spain and I bought this scarf, a pair of Diesel jeans and a Replay sweater at a very fancy shop. I was a student and couldn’t afford any of it really, but I was in a phase of “shopping cool brands is my life” so I guess it made sense at the time (?). I sold the jeans and the sweater many years ago, but the scarf has survived 5 moves (and four countries). It has a tag inside, but I don’t know where or by whom it was made. I actually love that it looks homemade! I wish I had made it. (Remove the tag, pretend I did?!)

Skirt: That’s my new, made in USA, 32 dollar, LuLaRoe skirt! Man, it is slim, but in a good way, and I like it. If I had a fancier work place, I’d love to wear it with a blouse and jacket, really dress it up. Right now, fall layers in warm colors are just what I feel like wearing with this skirt.

Socks: My mom got me these wool socks, a looong time ago. We’re likely talking late 90’s (don’t judge). Must say, they still look great.

Boots: My Ecco leather booties, made in Portugal. I bought them in 2013 on a Sunday morning outing with my husband. We’d actually gone out that day to specifically look for boots for me and my cold toes. I’d been in sustainable mode, ‘surviving’ wearing loafers and sneakers for quite a while, but realized my defeat early December (Burr, 32F outside) so we went shopping.

I can actually tag this outfit as “nothing made in China”. Yet, this time, it’s a coincidence.

My closet size may be modest, and some of my clothes have been with me for a while now. But things you love last, and even if the fashion industry is trying their best to make me believe I need a new wardrobe every season, I actually kind of love mixing and matching my old with my new. It’s good for the environment and it’s good for my economy. I think that’s what we label as ECO x 2.

My friend Ashley took these pictures, and we both love how that red scarf pops against the green of the woods.
My friend Ashley took these pictures, and we both love how that red scarf pops against the green of the woods.
She snapped this one before we had the reflector set up, and I love the darkness. That scarf is A M A Z I N G.
She snapped this one before we had the reflector set up, and I love the darkness. That scarf is A M A Z I N G.

[LINK to LuLaRoe] [LINK to Ashley’s Photography page]

A Fashionista can’t do this – lucky I’m not one

Almost 6 months into the challenge and it probably goes without saying that I haven’t bought a lot of clothes this year. Yes, stylewise I am at a standstill.

I’ve been looking for cute, ethical garments, but most of the things I liked were off limits. It’s very frustrating to find that the high dollar stores (Anthropology) and the low dollar ones (H&M) all sell clothes from the same places; China, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

More specifically, good looking Made in USA clothes are even harder to find!

Eileen Fisher has a made in USA line, and of course American Apparel is all made in USA, but unfortunately for me, neither brand is really my style. I did discover that you can search on Nordstrom.com after Made in USA and a bunch of things come up. Don’t check out the women’s ballet flats section though – utterly depressing… but lots of lovely dresses and active wear. And as far as I understand, you can return items at a store near you.

As stylish + USA seems somewhat impossible, I surrendered and got some Tory Burch flats and wedges made in Brazil recently. I looked at matching bracelets but they were all made in China. So what happened to all the leftover leather from the Brazilian shoe factory? It wasn’t enough to make bracelets?

I’ll have to accept that I’ll be a bit untrendy summer of 2014 (“that’s so 2013!”). Maybe I’ll get my groove back and find some cute things in the fall. I just need some extra energy, prepare for failure, hope for success, plan to spend a whole weekend shopping and read a gazillion tags…

I can do this!