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Wear to Work OOTD: Outside the Lines

“I must be a mermaid. I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” -Anais Nin
Happy New Year! After months of working remotely, I went into an office for work last week. I am still getting use to maneuvering through Atlanta rush hour traffic again, but this transition also affords new opportunities to create more work place looks. I played with mixed prints and metallics, with my new favorite boots, to create the look featured in this post. It was a pretty bold choice for a first-day-in-the-office look and I want to share some reflections on fashion in the work place.

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This story begins with Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming. I finished it over the holidays and there were many parts of her journey as a young professional that were inspiring and also experiences that resonated with my own. It was also interesting to read her reflections on her personal style as the First Lady. Mrs. Obama has been photographed wearing some iconic looks and her choices in fashion were commonly praised and dissected during her tenure as the First Lady. At one point in her book, she expressed her discontent with what seemingly was an interest in her latest outfit over her intellect and the social and public health efforts she was spearheading. “It seemed that my clothes mattered more to people than anything I had to say,” she wrote in a telling revelation that resonated with some of my own fears.

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Can you relate? When I started graduate school, for example, there was a period where I considered how my usual attire, often praised for style, may influence others’ perceptions of me as a young Black woman pursuing her PhD. It didn’t help that at the time, I was attending class in a building with the fitness center, so I often passed by undergraduate students dressed in athletic attire as they fit their workouts in between classes. Ultimately, I decided to just be myself. A professor once called me her “little fashion plate” at a conference we were attending, followed by statements about how we, as women, were multifaceted. I couldn’t agree more.

This is the double edged sword that we sometimes experience as women, however, a state in which our appearances are constantly dissected and measured against unreasonable standards. On the other hand, the perception of too much concern or time spent on our appearance can be regarded as shallow. It is an unfair plight where our intellect could be overshadowed by our ‘ootd’ or where our freedom to express ourselves artistically through beauty and fashion could be diminished. A man, on the other hand, could meticulously match ties, to shirts, to shoes each day, yet no one would question his competence or achievements within his field, based on an expression of personal style.

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So, what do we do to challenge these ideologies? We push against them and make way for new ones to be realized. I, for example, accept that being creative and an analytical PhD scholar are not mutually exclusive. One of the many ways in which I express my creativity is through fashion. I accept that sharing this expression of creativity is also a part of living authentically. Although my love of fashion is just one part of me, it permeates through my different life experiences and can be used to shift our social norms.

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What does professional look like to you?

 

Outfit Details: Velvet Wrap Blazer – Anthropologie (old) | Skirt –  Purchased here|Boots – Silent D 

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The Weekend and Styling Faux Fur: What I Wore

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…which also calls for layers and warmer materials.

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season! During the winter months, I can be spotted in long cardigan sweaters and wool pea coats (princess cuts are my favorite). When I am creating a more glamorous look, I incorporate faux furs. For this post, I am sharing how I styled my faux fur coat, purchased at Zara, over the weekend with a casual every day look and a more dressed up look.

As mentioned, faux furs are an easy way to add glam to casual looks, like the look below. For this look, I paired my coat with vintage-inspired corduroys with a retro pattern and an off the shoulder ribbed sweater.  I wore this outfit on a Saturday outing visiting some of my favorite markets around the city as they hosted holiday events. I completed the look with silver metallic oxfords.

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Outfit Details: Top – Urban Outfitters (old) || Corduroys – Anthropologie || Metallic Shoes – Wanted (old, similar look here)

I wore this second look to a Sunday celebration. My shift dress is by Mata Traders, a fair trade company whose clothes are made by artisan women in India and Nepal. The dress has become a staple in my closet across seasons and different occasions. It is short sleeve and the material works well during the summer months. It can also be styled for colder months, like I achieved with this look. I created a playful look by pairing the dress again with my faux fur coat and over the knee socks. I completed the look with a pair of simple block heel black pumps.

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Outfit Details: Shift Dress – Mata Traders purchased at The Green Store|| Pumps – Anne Klein || Over the knee socks – Urban Outfitters (old)

I hope you enjoyed this post and found some ways to style your winter faux furs for casual and more formal looks.

Stay Warm and Have a Merry Christmas!

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A Cozy Fall #OOTD and Not Racing to the Finish Line

Welcome December! For the past few years, the month of December has been a race against time to the end of the year. It is the month I launched my blog a few years ago, the month a launched my first business, and while I was in grad school was filled with long nights over the winter break as I prepared for hitting major benchmarks in the new year (like passing my dissertation defense). While this year was filled with accomplishments, like winning awards, finishing my PhD, landing my dream job in my field, there is one goal that I have honestly made less progress on than I aimed for. This year, I am not racing to the finish line to complete it, however, and here is why.

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For most of us, our day to day activities are filled with meeting deadlines, measures that we internalize for success. For you, it may not be professional deadlines at all. How about, “Did I purchase this house by this date?”,  “Did I get married and have 2.5 children and a dog by this age?” I am a program evaluator, so I understand the immense importance of setting  SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound) objectives. As an evaluator, I also know that a margin of flexiblity is necessary. I’m realizing that I don’t always allow for flexibility with my own aspirations and personal endeavors, however. In fact, not meeting my personal deadlines absolutely pains me. This year, however, instead of racing to the finish line I am accepting that beautiful things  take time. I thought about a statement made to me my dissertation advisor when I wanted to push up my timeline to finish my Ph.D. a semester early. Essentially,  goals are important and meeting your deadlines are great, but what do you gain from moving faster than necessary to get things completed just for the sake of sticking to a deadline?

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I’ve made incredible progress in my new venture (developing my own fashion line), from completing a program on business development, to moving this idea from ideation to action, to identifying a co-operative for production. The road in launching your own business is challenging and unpredictable. It is also forcing me to slow down. I am respecting the process that comes along with creating something impactful, beautiful, and meaningful. Time is fluid and ultimately, God’s timing is always perfect.

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Perhaps, it’s the increasingly pervasive microwave mentality that leads us to applying unnecessary pressure to get everything completed quickly.  Tomorrow, or January 1st, however is another day to continue the journey. I look forward to sharing more of this journey in the coming months as I move closer to launching my first collection. What are you wrapping up before the end of the year?

Outfit Details: Sweater – Anthropologie || Blouse – The Limited (old) || Leggings – Nasty Gal (old) || Shoes – Anne Klein
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Shop Small Today for Small Business Saturday

From adding jobs, reinvesting in communities, environmental sustainability, and (my favorite) offering a selection of unique items – there are many benefits from shopping with small businesses. Some of my favorite women-owned and designed fashion brands are having sales this week. Support a small business today and regularly patronize the companies that are an essential piece to building our economy. Check out my  fashion picks for Small Business Saturday below and catch some great sales for your holiday shopping this weekend!

Love, Cortnie

I am a long-time fan of Love, Cortnie’s selection of statement handmade bags. She offers everything from her signature over-sized clutches to funky purses made with Mongolian fur. Cortnie learned to sew in her grandmother’s kitchen in 2011 and today she has made over 200 styles of purses. My go-to bag style is the clutch and the “Color Me Roll-Down Leather Statement Clutch” is my favorite – a classic piece with a twist. It’s $20 off through Tuesday!

Love, Cortnie Leather Clutch

 

Fe Noel

Every piece at  Fe Noel is feminine and beautiful. Inspired by the founder’s Caribbean roots, you will likely fall for the prints and flowy pieces like I did. The “Swallow Bralette Top” is my top pick. You won’t find the fast fashion prices with this company, so the 30% off sale is the perfect opportunity to purchase something for yourself.

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Dazey LA

I recently discovered this brand and you only need to read the background on how this company was created to be inspired. The brand features colorful pieces and art apparel designed and made in Los Angeles, California. You will find t-shirts, bomber jackets, and other garments with statements, like “Strength in Sisterhood” that align with their mission to empower women. They are having a buy 2 get 1 sale using the code “SMALLBIZBOGO”. The “Mustard Ruffle Sweater” is one of my favorites, though the “Sisterhood Bomber” is also at the top of my list.

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Sammy B

Last, but not least is Sammy B., whose label is no stranger to my blog. Samantha Black’s designs have been worn by celebrities, like Beyonce. Her statement tees are still among my favorites, along with her flounce sleeve tops. She creates magic with sleeves. Although her Black Friday sale ended, her current collection is still worth checking out for your Small Business Saturday shopping or other shopping plans in the future. My top pick from the current collection is the “Round About T-Shirt”.

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I hope you enjoyed this post and discovered some new small businesses to shop with! Are you doing any holiday shopping this weekend? Who are your favorite small business fashion brands?

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3D Printed: A Look into the Next Fashion Revolution with Designer, Danit Peleg

Imagine waking up in the morning and printing your outfit from a desktop printer to wear for the day. You come home later and need something to wear for an outing. Instead of looking through your closet, you select another design to print. Within minutes you have your evening look. With 3D printing, the idea of creating a customizable wardrobe from home may not be as far off as you imagine.

If you have ever heard of 3D printed fashion, you likely have also heard the name Danit Peleg. Danit was recognized recently by Forbes as one of Europe’s top 50 women in tech. A few years ago, she was a student studying fashion design at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel when she created her 3D printed clothing line. Technology innovations are influencing every industry, including fashion. It is, in fact, technology that allowed Danit and I to chat one October morning by video from different parts of world, as she discussed all things related to 3D printed clothing and what’s next in her career. Her background, her studio in Israel, was filled with gorgeous 3D printed tops and dresses. Danit is a new mom as well, balancing a blossoming career and motherhood, taking a moment to nurse her son as we began our interview.

So, just how did Danit get started with 3D printed fashion? She explained that as a student she loved creating fashion using technology, incorporating things like laser cutting and silk printing into her work. It was during her internship in New York where she first saw clothing constructed with industrial printers, each dress priced at about $20,000. She was inspired by that experience to create her own collection and to push the boundaries in 3D printed fashion. The result was her graduate project, the first 3D printed fashion collection entirely created from home.

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Dress by Danit Peleg, “The Birth of Venus” collection

Making Clothing using 3D Printing

I asked Danit, who is currently working on her third collection, about the process of creating 3D printed clothing. She uses Filaflex, a type of filament used in 3D printing. She holds up a piece and it looks like nothing more than a plastic tube. It is fascinating that this piece of material is used to create dresses, like pictured above. Filaflex is very flexible, but Danit believes the material will evolve and will feel more like fabric in the future. She explained that three years ago it took 300 hours to make one dress. The process has improved over time, however, due to technological advancements in the printers and now it takes about 80 hours. “I think it’s only a matter of time before it takes a few minutes to print a dress.” – Danit adds. Danit also shared that she uses multiple printers to print different parts of the garment, which allows her to print an entire garment within one day.

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Danit Peleg – “Liberty Leading the People” Collection

A Zero Waste Process

With 3D printing, every piece printed is used, “There are no left overs.” – Danit says “Every piece is meant to be something… So, when I make a dress there is zero waste”. When we donate clothing, we hope it makes it to someone in need. However, a lot of unwanted clothing ends up in landfills. Even more exciting is that all the 3D printed garments can be recycled using a special machine that works like a blender and breaks the garment down into the building material. The filaments can then be used again for another design. With 3D printing, the potential for creating and recreating using this process seem endless – It’s like having a never-ending wardrobe!

Danit also noted that she does not keep any inventory, which prevents potentially wasted products as well.

It’s Personalized and Customizable

“You can be a part of the design process and style it for yourself.” – Danit. Danit explained that it is easy to personalize the garment for every customer. She holds up one of her bomber jackets, available online, as an example and explains that customers can choose the color for the textile and for the lining (I played around with customizing my own bomber jacket in the picture below). In the future she imagines customers will be able to select the material for printing their garment as well, like cotton or wool.

3D Printed Bomber by Danit Peleg

Using an app called Nettelo, customers can take two pictures of themselves, from which Danit is able to obtain their measurements for a dress, shirt, or whatever design is purchased. The result is a perfectly tailored garment to fit your specific measurements,

Benefits, Challenges and the Future of Fashion through the 3D Lens

Additional Benefits

Danit described other benefits, which include the elimination of the shipping process, including the monetary and environmental costs, as well as, shipping time. “With this technology, we don’t need to ship garments from one side of the world to the other side.”Danit. She also explained that for fast fashion companies like, H&M and Zara, for example, 3D printed designs could be used to reduce excess inventory. “They are producing these huge amounts of clothing that sometimes people don’t want to buy” – Danit. She explains that by using 3D printed designs, companies would be able to see exactly how many downloads they have for a piece of clothing.

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Dress by Danit Peleg,  “Liberty Leading the People” Collection

Challenges

When asked about the challenges in making this technology more accessible and mainstream in the fashion industry, Danit responded, “I think the biggest change will be when we have more diversity in the materials [used for 3D printed fashion]”. She also said that more education is needed on what 3D printing is, the benefits of using this type of technology, and how to use it. In the future, she predicts that 3D printers will be as common as microwaves. “Everyone will have them in their house and they will know exactly what to do with them” -Danit.

Danit also noted that printers should be faster and cheaper, which can cost up to $3000. The material on the other hand is not that expensive and will cost about $30-$40 for a dress, for example. Still, the most expensive aspect, she adds, is the time it takes to print.

A Look to the Future

Danit believes traditional ways of purchasing clothing (e.g. at clothing stores) will not disappear completely, but 3D printing will provide another way to buy and produce fashion. “Everything in our life is becoming digital and it’s only a matter of time before it happens with fashion a well.”– Danit explains.

I was interested in hearing Danit’s thoughts on how 3D printing might shift the jobs in the fashion industry, since a large portion of jobs in this industry are currently held by the individuals who make the clothing. Danit described that 3D printing could be a part of the fashion revolution, reducing the burden on employees, so many of whom aren’t paid fair wages and/or work in potentially hazardous environments. “The clothes we buy are so cheap and the people who make them are miserable… I think [3D printing] could be a good alternative.”

So, what is next for Danit?

When asked about her next steps, Danit replied “…Continuing in creating my vision into reality”. A few things in store include experimenting with new 3D printers to explore their benefits and limitations, creating new filaments, combining colors in textiles, and also uploading her designs so people can download them.

I appreciate Danit’s openness in sharing her process as well. In addition to providing workshops and talks for companies, like Adidas, Danit is now offering a course where she teaches everything thing she learned in three years about 3D printed fashion over the course of three days. During the course, which she describes as “3D printed fashion for beginners”, participants learn about the benefits of using 3D printing technology, the different types of technology that can be used, materials for creating 3D printed clothing, and an introduction to 3D modeling. Participants in the course also create 3D printed textile swatches and receive digital copies of Danit’s designs to practice with. The next course takes place November 27th-29th!

Danit Peleg is a visionary in fashion and our conversation was quite inspirational, so I will end with this quote:

“Your only limitation is your imagination when it comes to 3D printing.” – Danit

To learn more about her upcoming 3DP online course and to sign up, visit the link here. Visit her website where you can subscribe to her newsletter to stay update on the latest news.

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Conscious Parenting and Conscious Consumerism: Children’s Clothing Brands to Explore

A short time ago, I posted an excerpt on my Instagram account from “The Conscious Parent” by psychologist, Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D. So much of the information in this book resonated with me and transformed some views I had on parenting, even in what seems to be mundane experiences. For example, I let my 10 year old dress herself and I encourage her to feel free to express herself through fashion, as in other areas.  Providing this liberty doesn’t mean that I don’t shop for her clothes when she is not with me and there are still rules to dressing (e.g. age appropriateness and cleanliness). It means releasing my desire to be so controlling over her “image” and also understanding that excepting her way of self expression through fashion is part of excepting who she is and encouraging her to express herself freely.

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This story is just one example of how parenting ideologies translate to decision-making. Like other values we hold, parenting consciously or mindfully relates to other aspects of our lives, like the types products we purchase for our children, including the clothing we buy. Here are a few children’s clothing brands to add to your list for conscious consumerism.

BeyaMade Clothes

With sizes like 12-18 months, 18-24 months, and so on, parents are constantly purchasing clothes to keep up with the rapidly growing bodies of younger children. BeyaMade, designed by a former fashion fashion designer, came up with a solution to reduce textile waste and also save parents money by designing clothes that expand as children grow over time. It is a pretty genius idea. You simply order the clothes in the size your child is currently wearing and the clothing can be expanded as your child grows, through the design which incorporates functional drawstrings and hems. The pinstripe jumpsuit below, for example, can be expanded for up to six seasons.

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Photo by BeyaMade

Indi

As stated on their website, Indi was started “as a way to offer beautiful clothes for our little ones that represent the values we stand for—and the world we want them to grow up in.” The garments are made using natural indigo dyeing techniques, so it is definitely a brand to explore when you are looking for blue hues and also for your bohemian child fashion looks. The company also invests 20% of the product costs into their artisan communities.

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Photo by Indi

Imps & Elfs

Imps & Elfs  is a baby, toddler, and children’s clothing brand that was among the first brands to join Made By. The products are produced by workers who are paid a fair wage and work in safe environmental conditions. Also of note, the products by Imps & Elfs are free from harmful chemicals, including pesticides and hormone disruptors like flame retardants and phthalates. Their complete “Restricted Substance List” document is  available on their website. I love the intentionality they describe in creating a brand of clothing for children, with children-appropriate silhouettes, chic designs, and accents to showcase their personality. There is also a unisex collection.

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Photo by Imps & Elfs

 

All of the brands in this post feature clothing created with care for the earth and/or care for the children that are wearing them, while maintaining stylish and trendy fashion. One of my goals in parenting is to create a safe and healthy environment in which my daughter can grow and thrive, including the products she’s exposed to in our home environment. Have you ever considered how chemicals in clothing or other products can affect children’s health? Children’s Environmental Health Day is this week. You can learn more about how every day toxicant, or chemical, exposure relates to health and simple tips for reducing exposure through this project.

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Spice up Your Fall Wardrobe with Leopard Print

It is officially fall! Even as a lover of all prints, leopard print remains my favorite print to wear. It’s another versatile statement piece that is playful and can create a fun look, but can also be appropriate  for the work place. You can incorporate leopard print into every aspect of your outfit, from dresses and tops to shoes and coats. For this post, I am sharing my favorite leopard print pieces from around the web right now. First, a few looks that show how I’ve styled leopard print in the past.

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Photo by Kristin Fields

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Here are a few of my favorite leopard print looks out right now and tips on how to style them.

 

Leopard Print Flats 

If I am not wearing a loafer, my preferred style of flats is a pointed toe. Roxy is an eco-friendly, sustainable company that creates their shoes from 100% post-consumer plastic water bottles. So far, they’ve repurposed over 16 million water bottles to create their products. Customers rave about about the comfort of these shoes as well. Who knew recycled plastic could be so soft? This shoe is made for every day wear, so pair it with your slacks or jeans. It will also add a nice accent to a casual dress.

Rothys Leopard Print flats

Leopard Print Pencil Skirt

Leopard Print Pencil Skirt

Push the envelope a little in this leopard print pencil skirt by J. Crew. It’s on my fall fashion wish list. This high waist pencil skirt will look great with a black, red, white, or brown top (as pictured). Style it for the work place with a blouse or sweater, simple black or brown pumps, and pearls for a classic look.

 

Faux Fur Coat

H&M Faux Fur Coat

I’ve seen a variety of leopard coats this season, but this faux fur coat by H&M is one of my favorites. The print is gorgeous. Wear it with jeans and a t-shirt to add some glam to a casual look or wear it with cocktail attire for a more formal occasion.

 

Velvet, Leopard Print Blazer

Velvet Leopard Print Blazer

There is something about velvet that is so luxurious. My last pick is a perfect combination of fall prints and fall fabrics. Another look by J. Crew, this velvet blazer will pair wonderfully with jeans and strappy black sandals for an evening girl’s night or date night look.

What is your favorite look? Don’t forget to subscribe for regular updates and more fall fashion!

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Fair-Trade, Indie Fashion: Music in Motion

The end of summer in Atlanta is marked by several annual music festivals. One event I look forward to attending every year is the One Music Fest, a two-day outdoor music festival that features hip-hop, alternative rock and soul, Reggae, and a variety of other music genres. Past performing artists include The Internet, Janelle Monae, and SZA and this year’s headliners included Miguel, H.E.R., Big Sean, and Nas. The fashion scene at these types of festivals is usually bursting with creativity, and for this post, I am sharing the fun festival look I wore to the event.

I fell in love with this quirky piano pleated skirt at first sight. It is made by Samantha Pleet, a Brooklyn-based independent fashion label, whose garments are produced using natural materials at fair trade factories abroad, in addition to, a women owned factory in NYC.IMG_2491

Since the skirt is a statement piece and focal point of this look, I styled the rest of my outfit simply.

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My earrings were handmade in Atlanta by a local artist and reminded me of the musical symbol, a treble clef. I added a pop of color to my black and white color scheme with my multi-colored beaded necklace and pink sandals. I completed the look with retro and aviator-inspired sunglasses.

IMG_2468 (2)IMG_2508 (2)IMG_2502 (3)The piano skirt is a perfect look for a music festival and also a reminder to myself to always walk to the beat of my own music.

Love this look and want to discover more indie fashion? Subscribe to my newsletter and receive regular updates and style inspiration. You can also check out the fall collection by Samantha Pleet here.

 

Outfit Details: Skirt by Samantha Pleet (found here) || Top: Urban Outfitters (similar look here) || Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters (found here)

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Empowering Women Through Fashion: Shop with ABLE

If there is any Labor Day sale worth shopping, it is one that continues to support and empower the population that makes up the majority of the fashion industry workers, yet bears the burnt of economic inequality experienced worldwide and within the fashion industry, itself: Women. From ABLE:  “Fashion employs over 60 million people around the world, and 98% of them are not paid wages that meet their basic needs.” ABLE is working to bring change to the fashion industry by investing in the women that make their products and providing livable wages, fair treatment, and safe working conditions.

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Photo by Fancycrave.com on Pexels.com

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to speak with Jen Milam, Director of Merchandise Planning at ABLE, and we discussed how ABLE was started and what it takes to run and sustain this type of social enterprise. With origins in Ethiopia that began with artisan-made scarves, ABLE now employs workers in Ethiopia, Mexico, and Peru to make their products. ABLE has expanded over the years from scarves to offer other products including clothing, bags, accessories and shoes. They aspire to be a one-stop-shop where people can buy everything ethically. When asked about their biggest challenges in running this type of social enterprise, Jen noted that “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it”. However, at the end of the day their goal is to make a difference and that is exactly what this company is doing. As for aspiring social entrepreneurs who wish to work with artisans in other countries, Jen offered the following advice: “Believe that you can do well by doing good. You can be successful in business by doing good”.

The ABLE collections are filled with wardrobe staples. Here are my top picks currently at ABLE, including my picks from the Labor Day sale.

Merly Wash Jean Jacket

Merly Wash Jean Jacket (Photo by ABLE at livefashionable.com)

The perfect denim jacket should be a part of everyone’s wardrobe essentials. Made in Mexico, I love that the Merly Wash denim jacket has a vintage feel and is versatile enough for casual or dressed-up looks.

Mirella Circle Bag

Mirella Circle Bag (Photo by ABLE at livefashionable.com)

Circle bags are among my favorite at the moment, and the Mirella Circle Bag is on trend with its shape and the deep red color makes this purse perfect for fall.  It’s also a part of the Labor Day sale.

Galaxy Earrings

Galaxy Earrings (Photo by ABLE at livefashionable.com)

ABLE has a beautiful collection of jewelry that is handmade in Nashville. They offer a personalized collection of jewelry as well. The Galaxy Earrings, pictured above, are my favorite and they are available in gold, silver, and rose gold.

Rosario Jumpsuit

Rosario Jumpsuit (Photo by ABLE at livefashionable.com)

“Made from mini-jacquard jersey crepe, this fabric contains a combination of plain and satin yarns, creating the most luxurious fabric.”  – ABLE. I ordered the Rosario Jumpsuit today. This jumpsuit is also a part of the Labor Day sale and is another versatile staple that can be styled casually and also dressed up for more formal occasions.

I hope you are enjoying your Labor Day! Receive an additional 15% off of sale items at ABLE when you shop today with the code “LABORDAY15”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Playful Puff Sleeves by Petersyn

If there is one trend that I love with no signs of fading out soon, it is exaggerated sleeves. From ruffles, to bells, to puffs – I believe that fashion should be fun and creative. For this post, I am featuring a chic look that incorporates puff sleeves from an indie label I recently discovered. It is appropriate for the work place, so get ready to add some flare to your work place uniform.

Puff Sleeve Close View

The top is made by Petersyn, an indie label based in New York, whose designs are inspired by the “European travels of the “All-American Girl””. The Petersyn collection embodies beautiful silhouettes with a polished flare. I like that this top adds excitement and playfulness to the otherwise mundane white button down shirt. I purchased the blouse from a boutique in my home town of Cincinnati, Ohio, which features new and emerging designers. Since items in this store are stocked in limited quantities, you are likely to find items that will not see anywhere else.

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I paired the blouse with a pair of poplin tie waist pants, which created a very polished look. I kept it neutral with my accessories, my circle woven bag and simple flat sandals, both from my trip to Morocco.

Puff Sleeve and Pants Profile

Share your thoughts on this look below. Don’t forget to subscribe for regular updates!

Outfit Details: Blouse – Zadle White Shirt by Petersyn || Pants – H&M (old), Similar look here || Purse – Similar look here

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Thrift Like a Pro!

Shopping at a thrift store is like going on a treasure hunt and I have found some gems during my thrifting adventures. I shop at thrift stores, in addition to shopping at chain stores and boutiques, because I enjoy finding unique items for a great deal. For this post, I am sharing my tips on getting the most out of your thrifting experience, including what to buy and the best times to shop.

When to Shop

The earlier the better is my motto when it comes to thrift shopping. Second-hand stores, like Buffalo Exchange, place new items out daily. However, in my experience, it is best to shop earlier in the day before the racks have been rummaged through by customers. Earlier during the week is usually better as well, when the racks are newly stocked after the weekend influx.

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Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

What I Buy at Thrift Stores

Two words: Occasion Wear. Consider the number of times you’ve worn that wedding guest dress. Unfortunately, people tend to wear dresses purchased for special occasions only a few times before they end up in the section of their closet with all of the clothes that haven’t been worn in years. Fortunately for thrift shopping, this means that when purchasing occasion wear you are likely to find dresses and other formal wear next to new. For example, I spent days searching for the perfect graduation dress without success. I couldn’t find anything I liked and everything looked the same. I decided to look in some thrift stores and found the dress below at a fraction of the cost for dresses in other stores I frequent. It was completely different from everything I was finding in stores and online as well, so thrift stores are also great for finding unique items.

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On the other hand, I do not typically purchase t-shirts at thrift stores. It has to be a pretty special find for me to buy it. T-shirts show signs of wear over time and it is easy to find brand new quality t-shirts at a low cost. Sweaters, however, hold up nicely, as well as, jackets/blazers, so these are items I look for in thrift stores as well.

How to Save More

Be sure to bring your unwanted clothes. Stores that allow you to sell your clothes will offer a higher trade-in value for your clothes than they offer in cash (For example, you may be offered 30% of the selling price for your items in cash, versus 50% of the selling price when you are applying the credit towards an in-store purchase). This is the perfect opportunity to clean out our closet (See previous post on spring cleaning your wardrobe). Finally, something along the lines of a broken zipper is an easy fix, so don’t count minor repairs out. In fact, let the store clerk know about the issue and you will more than likely be offered an additional discount for that item.

What tips do you have for shopping at thrift stores? Share them below. Happy Thrifting!

 

Outfit Details|| Both dresses featured in this post were purchased at Buffalo Exchange in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

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Marrakesh, Morocco – What to Buy and Tips for Shopping the Souks

Morocco has been on my travel list for a while now and a flight to Marrakesh, Morocco is just a few hours from Barcelona. While I was in Spain, I could not pass up the opportunity to see Morocco as well. I enjoyed every moment of my time in Morocco – getting lost in the old Medina, drinking endless amounts of mint tea, hiking the Atlas mountains, enjoying a relaxing spa treatment at a hammam, going on a camel ride, and of course, shopping in the souks.

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The souks are the outdoor markets in Morocco, featuring all types of Moroccan crafts, goods, foods, and spices. One of the many things I love about travelling abroad is shopping for unique items to bring back home. I make it a point to buy items that I cannot easily find at home, especially hand-made artisan goods, and items that represent the culture of the place I’m visiting. For this post, I am sharing my favorite items brought back from Morocco and some simple tips for shopping the souks.

What to Buy

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Rattan and Other Woven Bags. I always find unique bags abroad and purchasing a purse was at the top of my list. These bags are super trendy right now, but I absolutely love them. I had the opportunity to watch a woman making the bags by hand in the souks.

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Moroccan sandals. You can get unbelievable prices on hand-made sandals in Morocco. The sandals are comfortable and well-made. I actually hiked on the Atlas Mountains in these shoes

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Berber scarf. I bought this shawl from a Berber Village while touring the Atlas Mountains. I was happy to make this purchase because it supported a co-operative of women from one of the neighboring Berber villages. Although my dress in Morocco was modest, it is also helpful to have a scarf handy when visiting the Mosques.

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Other Handmade Goods. Wallets, purses, and other handmade leather goods are abundant in Morocco. I bought a few back as gifts.

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The process for making argan oil

Argan Oil. How could I travel to Morocco without purchasing authentic Moroccan argan oil? Argan is a more expensive oil and after watching the process to make it, both in Marrakech and during a visit to a cooperative where women make and sell the oil, I understand why.  In Morocco, you can purchase the oil made for cooking or for cosmetic use. I am excited to add this to my skin and hair care routine. There are a lot of places selling “argan oil”. We bought ours from a specialty shop that sold argan products and spices, which I recommend.

3 Tips for Shopping in the Souks

1. Take it slow. 

My first full day in Marrakech was spent exploring the souks in the Medina. I initially booked a tour to explore the souks with a guide, but it was cancelled.  As luck would have it, I befriended another traveller and we explored the souks together. It was nice to get acclimated to the area and become familiar with the different parts of the souks. Have some fresh juice in the square and try the foods (like the delicious olives). There is a lot to take in, so take it slow.

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Olive Souk in Marrakech

2. Have a Plan

Between the calls from shopkeepers, the amount of people, and the shear volume of items, the souks can also be overwhelming. A little preparation goes a long way, so do some research and decide what types of items you are most interested in finding. It is helpful to ask your hostess, if you are staying in a riad in the medina, for advice on where to purchase those items as well. I also met a few Moroccans who let me know how much I should pay for different items.

3. Never Settle for the First Price

…or second, or third. Though you do want to pay a fair price, bartering, like in many other parts of the world is welcomed and expected. Have a price in mind that you want to spend on the item and don’t be swayed to increase it. Though I badly wanted a rattan bag, it wasn’t until my last day in Marrakech that I purchased one because the prices were above my limit. Even during that last exchange, I walked away several times before the shopkeeper agreed on my final price. So, say “No. Thank you.” and walk away if you have to. You can’t be too eager to purchase when shopping in the souks.

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Jemaa el-Fnaa Square in the Old Medina

If you have never visited Morocco, I hope you have an opportunity to experience this magical place one day. You can see more of my summer travels on Instagram, @ayannainbloom.

Thank you for stopping by!

 

Outfit Details: Dress: Nasty Gal || Purse: H&M (old) || Sandals: Purchased in Morocco (featured in Post)