White sand, pristine beaches, summer fashion…
I kicked summer off in South Africa, visiting Johannesburg and Cape Town. There is so much to see and experience in Cape Town. The beauty of the natural landscape along with the architecture earn it the well deserved title of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
It’s the beginning of winter in South Africa during this time of year, but we were greeted by mild temperatures in the mid 60s (a stark contrast to the cold winters in most parts of the states). The weather was perfect for exploring, though the temperature at night was cooler. We also visited during the low tourism season, so the cities and sights were not over crowded.
Our adventures in Cape Town took us from the top of Table Mountain (one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World), to an intimate walking tour of Langa (the oldest township in city), and to Clifton Beach. Clifton beach is one of the most popular beaches in Cape Town. It’s a set of four beaches and number 4, where we visited, is infamously regarded as the beach to strut “toned figures and body building”. The water was a bit too cool for swimwear, but we did catch a picturesque sunset on the beach and dipped our toes into the ocean. The mountain provided a breathtaking backdrop and we were enclosed by the beautiful beach homes along Sea Point.
The beauty of Cape Town can not over shadow the recent dark history of Apartheid, however. Our trip would not be complete without a visit to Robben Island, a site where political prisoners were imprisoned under harsh conditions during Apartheid, including Nelson Mendela who spent 18 years in prison on the island. We toured the eerie island by bus and listened to a personal account from a former political prisoner who at the age of 19, was sentenced to the island for conspiracy against the South African government.
South Africa is a country I would love to visit again. In the coming weeks, I will be showcasing a few South African designers I discovered during the trip, so subscribe to my newsletter and learn about the latest in South African fashion!
Where are your summer travels taking you?
November is always a busy month for me. It is my daughter’s birth month and is also filled with annual travel for conferences in my field (I had four presentations this month in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Minneapolis, Minnesota). My presentations, though all on different topics were connected through a common thread: uplifting participatory approaches and equity in research. “Equity” is a hot topic in my field of public health, but it is more than just term to sprinkle on top of research agendas, like Salt Bae, it is a concept that can be operationalized at every stage in the research process.
Similarly, we can also embody equity and promote social ideals through our choices in fashion. While we typically think of statement pieces in fashion as dramatic and eye-catching, I believe that wardrobes should also include social statement pieces as well. For my last presentation, I wanted to embody the principles I was discussing through my outfit. For this post, I am sharing what I wore to make my social statement, including how I scored these designer pieces at lower retail prices.
My skirt is made by the ethically produced fashion brand and social enterprise, Studio 189. Studio 189 was cofounded by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah and the collection features high-end, artisan-made, and African-inspired clothing produced in Ghana using recycled and natural fibers, like organic cotton and lyocell. My skirt was made using natural indigo dyeing and clothing by Studio 189 features other traditional craftsmanship techniques, like batik dyeing. In addition to creating beautiful and well made pieces, I love that this company focusses on elevating traditional craftsmanship, creating job opportunities and skills training, as well as education.
I paired this skirt with a blouse made by one of my favorite designers, Mara Hoffman. While Mara Hoffman’s designs feature a signature celebration of patterns and colors, I was happy to find this white blouse, made from organic cotton, with this accent bow tied across the front. In 2015, Mara Hoffman committed to more sustainable practices and the brand exemplifies responsible and transparent production practices, fair trade employment, and they also use organic and recycled/regenerated materials.
I completed the look with an old pair of brown over the knee boots. I restyled the blouse and skirt below for a more casual look, by layering the top with a grey cropped sweater and platform oxfords.
As I mentioned, I purchased these designer pieces at sale prices from a website called, The Garmetory. The Garmetory has become one of my go-to sites for discovering indie designers and also exploring ethnically made clothing and accessories from boutiques across the United States and other countries as well. I sometimes find great deals on designer pieces listed at sale prices. I recommend this site for anyone looking to discover ethical brands and indie fashion designers.
I hope you enjoyed this post and learned about some new social statement pieces to incorporate into your wardrobe and where to buy them. Have a wonderful week!
Tis the season for chunky knits, layers, and textures…
I traveled to West Virginia earlier this week and the beautiful foliage I was surrounded by resembled paintings of fall trees with rich brown and deep orange hues. It was a subtle, but definitive declaration that is was finally fall. I adore fall fashion and for this post, I am sharing my fall essentials with everything you need to transition into cooler weather and where to buy it.
First, here is a fall inspired #ootd.
Check out the list below of my top fall essentials.
Wrap Front Skirt
The wrap front skirt is one of my top picks for fall. It was a popular look for summer, but can also be styled with blouses, sweaters, as well as more casual tops, making it a versatile piece for fall as well. The skirt below is available through H&M’s Conscious Collection and is made from Lyocell denim. I love that Lyocell is an eco friendly, but also affordably priced, alternative material.
Balloon Sleeve Sweater
Sweaters are an inevitable stable for any fall wardrobe. The balloon sleeve is my favorite style, however, because it adds a dramatic, yet chic, accent to a traditional cable knit. The J. Crew sweater below pairs well with high waist jeans for a casual look and would also work well with patterned trousers for the work place.
Here is a sustainable option from H&M’s Conscious Collection that also provides a balloon sleeve look that is a bit more exaggerated.
I shared this look on a previous post, but leopard is a must have print on my fall list. I am particularly excited by the slip skirt interpretation of the leopard print trend.
Velvet Midi Skirt
From pants (like the pants I am wearing in this post), to blazers, and skirts – Corduroy is always on my fall list. This year, I am most looking forward to wearing cozy corduroy midi skirts, like this pick from Anthropologie by Maeve.
V -Cut Pumps or Mules
My list would be incomplete without my top pick for fall shoes. This season, my favorite style of shoes are V-Cut. Whether mules or pumps, the v-cut makes a chic and sophisticated statement. Charles & Keith has my favorite shoes in this style.
I hope you enjoyed this list of my fall essentials. Which fall look is your favorite?
There are a variety of plants, like avocados and even onions, that can be used to create organic dyes for clothing. The indigo plant been used for centuries to dye fabrics.
Last weekend, I attended an indigo dyeing workshop during the Slow Fashion Symposium in Atlanta. During the workshop, l learned all about the process of preparing indigo leaves into a usable vat for dyeing and dyed a garment using the indigo.
The instructors for my workshop grew the indigo we used themselves. After the indigo pigment is extracted from the leaves of the plant, it is used to create a liquid dye solution, or the vat.
You’ve probably observed a range of patterns on fabrics dyed using indigo. I started with a white shirt I’ve wanted to refashion because of a large permanent stain it has on one sleeve. Dyeing the shirt was a perfect alternative to discarding it. There are a variety of ways to create patterns, including wrapping and binding the fabric with bands and clips. I used clothes pins to bind the shirt and to create the square-like patterns that resulted.
After creating my pattern, I began the dyeing process by soaking my shirt in the bucket of water to make it fully porous to receive the dye. The next steps included soaking the top in the vat bucket for a few minutes and then removing the shirt from the dye, allowing it to sit for few minutes. As the shirt sits, the dye oxidizes and the color changes from a green to the blue hue. With each dip into the vat, the color becomes darker, so I repeated this process about four times until I achieved my desired shade of blue. Working with indigo is a very hands-on process. While my shirt was soaking in the vat, I gently moved it around in the bucket and massaged the dye into the fabric.
I was amazed by the beautiful blue hues and patterns created by everyone in my workshop. My own creation is below.
Working with the indigo dye was relaxing and it was also fun to transform an old top into something completely new. For this causal Friday look, I styled my shirt with high waist jeans and accessorized with green pieces, including a green beaded necklace, bucket purse, and shoes.
I hope you enjoyed learning about indigo dyes, as a natural way to dye fabrics. Thank you for reading and subscribe to my newsletter for regular updates.
See things differently.
Hello readers! I am back with the final post in my three part series on South African designers. The company featured in this post has an ethical approach to creating fashion, but also experiments with innovative uses of materials. While I saved this company for last, they are certainly not the least favorite among the South African designers I learned about this summer.
While exploring the Watershed artisan market in Cape Town, it was the stylish sunglasses and “Sustainable Gangster” tee that first caught my eye in this store. Ballo creates their handmade eyewear from recycled or upcycled wood, hemp, and African fabric materials.
You may be wondering how wood could be manipulated to make a product comfortable enough to wear as eyewear (I certainly was curious). Well, Ballo created a material they call, Eyewood. It is a combination of wood veneer offcuts, sourced from local furniture producers, bio-resin and recycled paper. The result is durable and stylish eyewear with a comfortable fit.
Ballo started in 2013 with eyewear, but has expanded over the years to offer other unisex goods, which are made locally to support job creation. Here are my favorites from their slow fashion collection.
Ballo makes jewelry as well, like the wood and African print earrings I purchased below. Unfortunately, the wood earrings are not yet available online, but the other items in this post are available for purchase on their website.
I hope you have enjoyed this series on South African fashion and discovered some new designers to add to your wardrobe. It is the end of summer in the states and I’ll be sharing my fall staples, including a few new indie designers with ethical clothing lines.
Walking through The Watershed in Cape Town and spotting this boutique was love at first sight.
From the vibrant colors and prints to the fitted bodice and full skirt, it was as if the designer had masterfully created the perfect all-occasion summer dress. The Nama Collection was at the top of my purchase list during my trip to South Africa and is the featured brand for Part II of my South African Fashion series.
The Nama Collection was created by Ugandan born and South Africa-based fashion designer and model, Patricia Namayirira. Namayirira combines African fabrics with modern designs to develop her collection, which includes a range of pieces from dresses to shorts and pants sets. Her design style embraces the growing movement to honor tradition and authenticity while moving into modern aesthetics. Her pieces are not only stunning, but are made with ethnically sourced fabrics from across the continent of Africa.
This dress is cut in one of my favorite styles for dresses. The neckline is flattering and the silhouette creates a regal daytime look. It is appropriate attire for a variety of occasions, including both casual and slightly formal daytime outings. For the work place, try pairing it with a cardigan or summer linen blazer to create a business casual look.
If you ever visit Cape Town, do not leave without spending at least a few hours exploring The Watershed artisan market at the V&A Waterfront. Be sure to stop by the Nama Collection boutique, which is located inside the market. You can also shop the Nama Collection online.
I hope you enjoyed discovering another talented fashion designer in South Africa. Stay tuned for the third part of my South African Fashion Series!
DIY fashion meets function this summer…
Bow front tops are a perfect pick for summer festivals and even to find some relief during summer heat waves. Did you know that you can easily transform your long sleeve button down top into a DIY front bow top? For this style hack post, I am sharing how to easily create a bow front top, along with sharing my favorite visor hats from around the web. Put these two pieces together to create a festive summer look.
To create your own bow front top, start with any loose fitting button down shirt.
- Drape the unbuttoned top off your shoulders
- Grasp the bottom of the shirt and begin to tie the ends of the shirt together.
- Pull the tie tightly until it creates a look similar to triangle cups, like in the picture below.
4. Once you achieve the desired shape, finish tying the bow tie to secure the top.
5. If the top has extra ties, like the shirt in this post, pull the ties around your waist and tie them in the front to create another accent.
I completed this look with my straw visor, purchased here. A straw sun visor is one of my summer essentials. I rounded up my favorite summer straw sun visors from around the web and here are my top picks.
I hope you enjoyed this post and learned some new ways to style your tops for summer! Subscribe to my newsletter to receive regular fashion and style inspiration.
It has been some years since I traded my household and skin care products in for all natural products. It was a lifestyle decision to consciously mirror my physical environment to the internal environment I maintained through my plant-based diet. I also knew that we can be exposed to environmental toxicants through our every day products that can have harmful effects on our health, the environment, and lead to disease and illness over time. Since then, I’ve kept my skin care routine pretty simple, but I still enjoy exploring all natural skin care products. Continuing with my summer South Africa series, I purchased a few skin care products during my visit and for this post I am sharing my experience with these products so far.
Rain is a South African, certified fair trade company that produces all natural, handmade beauty and body products that are created with indigenous plant extracts. We visited their store in Cape Town, which was filled with a range of products that were both beautifully made and fragrant. For years, I have primarily used grapeseed oil as my go-to skin care product for moisturizing, but I highly recommend the body butter bars at Rain. The body butter bars are made in a variety of fun shapes, like the sea shell pictured below. The one I selected smells deliciously sweet and aromatic, is soothing and moisturizing, and can be smoothed directly onto wet or dry skin. I brought a few other products back as gifts as well, including their artisan-made glycerin soaps, and organic scented sachets for home fragrance.
I happened upon Kafui Naturals during a visit to the Friday evening Bay Harbor Market in Cape Town. The line features all natural products, ranging from hair care products to facial cleansers and butters. Most of the products are vegan as well. I was also happy to support the small local business, which was created by Kafui Awoonor. I have been using the face oil for over a month now and I can not say enough positive things about it. From the fragrance to the use of some of my favorite oils, like grapeseed, moringa, and jojoba oil, it is definitely a product that has been added to my skin care routine. The ideal of putting oils on your face may seem counterproductive to achieving a clear complexion and blemish free skin, especially if you have oily skin, but dry oils are light, absorb quickly, and are filled with numerous essential fatty acids. This face oil uses a combination of dry and wet oils, so it does not leave your skin feeling greasy or weighed down. It comes in a 7 ounce bottle, but just a few drops are enough to cover your entire face.
Last, but not least is Africology, South Africa’s leading spa brand. Africology uses natural and organic ingredients to create a range of products . The lip balm was a hit with my daughter, as I am always searching for non-toxic lip balm and lip gloss options for her. A unique addition to their list of skin care ingredients is the combination of the African potato and Rooibos. Rooibos is a South African shrub that is commonly served as a delicious, earthy tasting red tea. Rooibos is high in antioxidants, which limit the production of free radicals. It is also high in zinc, which among other properties, is anti-inflammatory. Both of these factors make it an ideal ingredient to add to skin care products.
I emphasized that all of the brands I shared use natural ingredients and are free of harmful chemicals, but they are also all eco-friendly and cruelty free as well. I hope you enjoyed this post and found a few new skin care products and ingredients to try that are better for you and our planet.
It is the first day of summer in the states and what better way to kick off the summer season than with a hot new series on South African designers. I’m excited to share everything over the next few weeks, from accessories to dresses and even a few all natural skin care products.
If you ever visit Cape Town, you must visit The Watershed. It’s a market near the V&A Waterfront with over 150 shops featuring locally designed products, many of which are handmade and ethically produced. It is the perfect stop to pick up unique gifts to bring home as well as items for yourself.
My shorts are by Trip Clothing & Accessories, a brand in Cape Town that creates locally handmade items, including clothing and purses. Using materials that are also sourced locally, their clothing features bold African prints in contemporary designs. The brand produces items in limited quantities, which creates an exclusive shopping experience as well. If travelling to South Africa is not in your plans for the near future, I would visit their online store if you are looking for some funky printed shorts and halter sets, which are perfect to wear to summer festivals.
I purchased a matching halter cropped top (not featured) to wear with the shorts. For this look, however, I paired the shorts with a black cropped top, purchased here.
My bag was also made by a high end fashion designer in South Africa, Dr. Pachanga. The purse, which can also convert into a back pack, has vegan leather and gold accented wax print. I love the unique styles of his bags, which come in variety of shapes and incorporate a mixture of textures and prints. Each style in Dr. Pachanga’s line is also produced in limited quantities and the bags are named after women in his life. Carine, named after the designer’s sister, is quickly becoming my favorite bag to carry.
I hope you enjoyed these items and designers as much as I do! Wishing you an adventurous start to the summer. Stay tuned for more beautiful styles and talented designers from South Africa.
Hello and Happy Friday!
If you’ve been shopping this spring, you have likely noticed a favorite color of mine throughout your favorite stores: green. Olive green, in particular, and other earth tones are staples this season evoking a sense of ease and calm through your wardrobe as we usher in the second half of 2019. While you may be hesitant to wear brighter greens, like emerald, this earthy tone of green is a more subtle but equally beautiful hue to incorporate.
A monochromatic look
I created this monochromatic look with two different shades of green. Monochromatic outfits, in which you build your look from one hue, can create a sleek and striking appearance. Monochromatic looks can also include incorporating different textures, patterns, or shades. For this look, I opted to play on different shades of this earthy green tone and wore a fitted top with a paper bag waist trouser.
Olive green, and other earth tones, compliment each other masterfully. I completed my look with dark brown platform sandals (purchased years ago). Gold and grey hues would also work well. I accessorized with a grey bow headband. If dressing for the work place look, I recommend adding a blazer to create a more professional look. I wore this look to work with a peplum blazer (not pictured).
Finally, last month was earth month and the end of April marked the 6th edition of Fashion Revolution Week. The ethically created and eco-friendly pieces in this post are an ode to creating fashion that honors the health and well-being of the people who make our clothes, as well as, the environment.
What is your favorite color to wear for spring?