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.
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
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.
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
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.
Other Handmade Goods. Wallets, purses, and other handmade leather goods are abundant in Morocco. I bought a few back as gifts.
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.
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.
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)
I vacationed in Spain over the past week spending most of my time in Barcelona, but also visiting the neighboring cities of Girona, Pals, and a small town in Costa Brava. For this post, I am sharing a travel look and few of my favorite photos from my visit to these charming Spanish cities.
Although, the weather was a bit milder along the beach, the weather in Spain, for the most part, was hot. For this long travel day, I wanted to wear something light and flowy, that would work well for a day spent exploring and also for the beach. I settled on this yellow crop top and matching skirt set, purchased here, which was perfect for my day of explorations. My sunglasses were purchased at Urban Outfitters (not available online) and my sandals were a souk find in Morocco.
I received many compliments on this look as a travelled throughout the day. My first stop was Girona, a romantic city filled with stone roads and walls, where I explored medieval ruins that are centuries old.
You may recognize the Cathedral of Girona (pictured above) and the Arab Baths (Banys Àrabs), which dates back to the 12th century, from a popular television series. Girona is one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones.
A visit to Spain is not complete without time at the beach and Costa Brava, which translates to the rugged or wild coast, has some of the most breathtaking beaches in Spain. My favorite beach I visited was Sant Roc, a small beach cove with crystal clear water in Calella de Palafrugell. The views of the beach are postcard worthy and I also enjoyed the most delicious vegetarian paella at a restaurant that overlooked the beach. I ended my day trip here, laying in the sand for a bit and enjoying the sun, before travelling back to Barcelona.
I hope you enjoyed this post and seeing some of the beautiful locations I experienced in northern Spain. You can check out more of my travel looks on Instagram (@ayannainbloom). Where are your summer travels taking you?
Summer is officially here! During the summer months, crop tops and high waist shorts are staples, but this post features another style I adore and the outfit I wore to celebrate the beginning of summer.
I cannot imagine summer fashion without one shoulder tops. They have been a guilty fashion pleasure of mine since my high school days, a test of time that this style is always on trend. I appreciate the versatility of asymmetric tops. Whether styled casually, like with jeans, or dressed up with skirts and heels, they add sophistication to an outfit.
For this look, I paired my top with a blue and white wrap skirt. I chose accessories that matched the color scheme, a striped clutch and beaded necklaces (made in Ghana). I finished the look with red pumps. This outfit is perfect for a date night and the colors make it a perfect option for a fourth of July celebration as well.
I rounded up a few of my favorite one shoulder tops from the web.
What is your favorite summer style? Share your thoughts below and subscribe to my newsletter to receive regular fashion inspiration. Thank you for reading!
Outfit Details: Blouse, Skirt, and Purse from The Limited
The fashion revolution will be live.
Hello everyone! I can not believe it has been a month since my last blog post. There are a lot of exciting things happening in my life right now, including recently graduating with my doctorate degree in Public Health (Health promotion and Behavior)! It is a surreal moment. Also, Fashion Revolution Week was from April 23rd through April 29th, and it aligns with a project I am developing. For this post, I wanted to reflect on what a Fashion Revolution means for me and my work as a public health professional. It is also a great time for me to introduce myself to my new subscribers and to share an exciting project that I am developing. Read until the end to see how you can provide some input!
A bit of background information. I am a public health professional and most of my work centers on women’s health, maternal and child health, and nutrition. After a few medical mission trips to Haiti to provide medical care in the Central Plateau, I realized that while we were bringing necessary services to communities who have limited access to health care providers, without the infrastructure (health and economics), the work we were doing may not lead to meaningful progress or long term improvements within the lives of people we served.
That’s why organizations like Partners in Health are critical. They support communities, not only through charity services, but in building the infrastructure through which they can make long term impact. Income along with other social determinants are related to health. Unfortunately, income inequality continues to grow worldwide with a smaller portion of the world’s population holding the majority of wealth, thus preventing the acceleration of human development among a large portion of the population. I understand the value of charity, but I also believe that more than charity, we need to dismantle oppressive systems and recreate sustainable systems that allow for economic resilience among our most vulnerable populations. This process further requires participatory and culturally relevant approaches with stakeholders providing input at each stage of the process.
More than charity, we need to dismantle oppressive systems and recreate sustainable systems that allow for economic resilience among our most vulnerable populations.
Back to fashion. I longed to create intersections between what at first seemed like disparate passions, in public health and fashion, especially in a way that connects my love for working on issues related to women’s health and empowerment. I delved into this topic in a previous post, Shopping with Change, but seeing how companies are using fashion to create meaningful impact on the livelihoods of women around the world to me is the best of both worlds.
We know that lack of income, lack of access to resources, and poverty are issues that lead to cascading and generational challenges. Furthermore, income inequality can reinforce inequalities experienced in health, education, and work. One of the tenets for the Manifesto for a Fashion Revolution is that “Fashion lifts people out of poverty, creates thriving societies and fulfills aspiration.” When we invest in the social and economic development of women, like artisan women and other workers in the fashion industry who make our clothes, women are able to invest in the health and education of themselves and their families.
One of the tenets for the Manifesto for a Fashion Revolution is that “Fashion lifts people out of poverty, creates thriving societies and fulfills aspiration.”
I am developing a project to improve the livelihood of artisan women and would greatly appreciate your feedback! You can access my brief survey HERE.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post! Thank you for reading! Share you thoughts in the comment section below.
There is no better time than spring to declutter your space, including getting rid of unwanted clothes. What do you do with your unwanted clothes? I learned in the Netflix documentary, The True Cost, that much of the clothing donated to donation centers, although well intended, never gets reused and eventually ends up in landfills where it contributes to pollution.
So, what are some other options? For this post, I am sharing some options that can bring new life into your unwanted (or unneeded clothes), or earn you some extra cash.
Barter and Trade
There are a variety of second-hand and thrift stores, but Buffalo Exchange is one of my favorite places to take unwanted clothes, especially when I am interested in trading my pieces in exchange for new styles. I purchased the dress below, made by French Connection, for a fraction of the listing cost after bringing in clothes to sell. I recommend taking clothing here for a few reasons. First, they have a great selection of funky styles, vintage clothing, as well as, staples. Secondly, sellers receive 30% of the selling price in cash or 50% off of your in store purchase. I also like that, in place of shopping bags at check out, customers are given a token representing five cents, which is used to donate to one of three local charities selected by the customer.
In my experience, Buffalo Exchange is pretty selective in the clothing they accept, buying items in styles that are currently selling well, so clothing is less likely to sit on racks. I recommend bringing your more stylish pieces here that are in excellent condition, as well as, staples like denim. I also suggest bringing your items for the upcoming season in advance, as they typically prepare for the next season a few months before the season begins.
Not a Buffalo Exchange in your area? Check out their sale by mail program.
Resale your Retail
For gently worn items that are still in great condition, another option is to sale them online through platforms, like Poshmark. From the app, users can list their own items for sale within a few minutes by taking a photo of the item from their phone, creating a product description, and listing the selling price. Poshmark provides the shipping label for free and receives 20% of each transaction over $15 ($2.95 for items priced below $15). It is a great option for selling unwanted clothes and allows sellers to get more monetary value from their items, in comparison to second-hand stores where sellers receive a percentage of the selling price. I have a new Poshmark account and you can follow me at ayannainbloom.
Recycle your Clothing
Did you know that as part of their sustainability initiative, H&M has a program that provides customers with a percentage off of their in-store purchase when they bring in clothes to donate? H&M partners with I:Collect to separate donated items into clothing that can be sold at second-hand stores and clothing that can be recycled or reused.
Recently, Miami-based fair trade store, Nomad Tribe, implemented a clothing drive and collected donated garments that were used to launch their first collection made of 100% recycled cotton. The collection includes pieces like the jumpsuit below. They are currently collecting more donated clothing for this recycled collection. Details are available here.
A plus for these recycled clothing initiatives is that your clothing does not have to be in great condition. You can donate items that are discolored, torn, etc. and they can be repurposed into new items.
Refashioning & Upcycling Clothing
For me, this is the most fun option. Old clothes still have a lot of potential! Upcycling is taking old products, like clothes or waste products, and repurposing them into something new and useful. I’ve created shorts from old jeans and crop-tops from dresses I no longer wanted or needed. The trick here is using as much of the fabric as possible, however, so you don’t waste the rest. I’ll be sharing some refashioned clothing projects in future posts!
I hope you enjoyed this post and found some options for getting rid of your unwanted, or unneeded, clothing. Have you subscribed to my newsletter? Click on the link on the right before you leave to receive regular updates!
Thank you for stopping by! Happy spring cleaning!
My favorite month of the year is upon us. It’s my birthday month and over the weekend I threw a party to bring in my golden birthday and to celebrate successfully defending my dissertation, the last step along my journey to becoming Ph.D. Inspired by Woodstock and the hippie movement, it was a psychedelic celebration with outdoor seating, vegan food, a tie dye station, and fashion inspired by the era.
I enjoy dressing for themes because it allows me to be more creative. I’m always intrigued by costumes curated for historical pieces, like films and plays, and one of my bucket list experiences is to style an event, play, or even a film (The magic of thinking big, right?).
I wore a bohemian look to execute the party theme. I wanted my outfit to be both glamorous and casual, so I wore this maxi chiffon gown with beaded embroidery and thigh high splits (Ode to glamour!). I paired it with a velvet dark floral kimono (it’s actually a robe) and pink satin slippers to keep the look casual. It is a fun look to wear for a date night or girls’ night.
The accessories completed the bohemian aesthetic – wooden guitar earrings, a DYI flower crown, and a pearl necklace.
It was such a fun event and friends from near and far came to celebrate these milestones with me. I feel fortunate to have discovered passion and purpose at a young age and each day is a step towards fulfilling the vision. I am excited for the year ahead!
Thank you for stopping by!
I have to start off by saying that the latest Marvel comic turned film, Black Panther, lives up to all of the anticipation. I, admittedly, was just as excited about the fashion in the movie. Costume Designer, Ruth Carter, masterfully creates Afrofuturistic fashion that is regal, creative, forward thinking (yes, that was 3-D printing used to make Angela Basset’s accessories in the picture below) and draws upon rich and diverse traditions across the continent (like the hand dyeing, beadwork, African lace, and even ‘sacred geometry‘). I loved the details and the homage to tradition, as represented by the armor and the warrior red color worn by Okoye, my favorite character and a member of Wakanda’s all-female group of warriors.
Here are a few of my favorite looks from the film.
What did you wear to see Black Panther?
For the past year, my social media has become increasingly filled with posts about Black Panther and conversations describing what people planned to wear to see the film, just one representation of the shift in cultural identification and a reclaiming of historic roots across Black Americans.
Africa is and has always been a continent rich in natural resources, innovation, and creative potential and the fashion industry is no different. As you are searching for African prints and accessories to construct your look for the movie, perhaps you are also thinking of supporting African businesses and incorporating African inspired looks into your wardrobe on an ongoing basis. Here are a few brands to keep on your radar.
1. Zuvaa at Afrikrea
Afrikrea is an e-commerce site, founded by Kadry and Moulaye, that brings together a wide range of fashion, and other products, inspired by Africa. It is a great place to discover brands and designers from all around the world. The site also offers flexible payment options. I suggest doing some research on your own to find the origin of the products, however. Here are a few of my favorite looks from the site. These pieces are all made by Zuvaa.
2. MOYO by Bibi
Moyo by Bibi features luxury African inspired accessories, like the ones below, made by Kenyan artisans using traditional methods. The company, which launched in 2016, features a range of bold and vibrant accessories, including neck pieces and arm cuffs.
Loin Cloth & Ashes mixes tradition and new to create modern pieces. The company was founded in 2008 by Anissa Mpungwe, who among other accolades in the fashion industry, was the first Black woman to win the Elle Talent competition. Some of my favorite pieces from the collection are the shirt dresses, like the one featured below.
Last on the list, but not least, is Kifayath. Kifayath was founded by designer, Kifa Aoudou. As noted on their website, Kifayath “strives to showcase African talents”. The current collection features a line of pants suits, skirts, blouses, and trousers all made from 100% cotton batik in the pattern below. The ruffle skirt is my favorite, but I would wear every piece in the current collection.
I hope you enjoyed this post and found some new brands to explore! As always, thanks for stopping by!
Hello everyone! I hope February is off to a great start.
With over 850 brands, ASOS is a powerhouse in online retail. In my experience, shopping at ASOS can be like journeying through a never-ending search for treasures. There are so many options and I have been caught searching through endless pages, clicking “Next page, next page” . Can anyone else relate?
For this post, I am making your ASOS shopping experience a little easier by rounding up my favorite ASOS brands. I think you will love them just as much as I do.
#InvestInAfrica: ASOS Made in Kenya
Made in Kenya is my favorite. If you have read my previous posts, you may have noticed that I am interested in ways in which fashion intersects with my career as a public health professional and other social issues, particularly related to women and children. The ASOS Made in Kenya line is a collaboration between ASOS designers and a manufacturing unit in Kenya, SOKO, that provides people in the community with a means to obtain a livable wage through training, craftsmanship, and entrepreneurship. The women (and men) who make the clothing at SOKO receive a fair wage, which in turn, they can use to pay for educational expenses, health care, and support their families. Poverty, income, education (e.g. socioeconomic status) are social determinants of health and artisan approaches are one of my favorite ways to connect two of my passions: public health and fashion.
I wore this dress from the Made in Kenya line (found here) over the weekend. It is art in motion.
Indie Looks: ASOS White
ASOS White has an indie feel, bringing asymmetrical silhouettes and deconstructed fashion. If you are looking for accent pieces, ASOS White provides re-imagined staples. This shirt from the line was a part of a another look I wore recently. I wore the top, which is on sale right now and found here, with harem pants and pumps for a fun casual look.
The pieces below are also favorites from the ASOS White collection.
Occasion Wear: Fame and Partners
Formal occasion? Bespoke fashion retailer, Fame and Partners, has a collection of dresses specifically curated for ASOS. The dress below is one of my favorites from the current collection available on ASOS, just in time for Valentine’s Day. For a lower price point, I also recommend Paper Dolls.
What are your favorite brands to shop at ASOS? Thank you for stopping by! Have a great weekend!
Happy New Year! The end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 were filled with academic writing and deadlines because this is my last semester of graduate school. This is my first post of the year and it feels great to be reunited with my blog.
A trip to Miami over the long weekend for a wedding was perfect timing to escape the frigid temperatures in Atlanta. For this post I am sharing a few looks I put together for this trip. It was a fun vacation to dress for because I, like most of the U.S., have been clothed in layers out of necessity for the last few weeks.
Look 1 – Travel Day
I like to travel in comfort and style so I wore these floral joggers from Sudara (found here). Sudara’s collection of lounge-wear and casual pieces are made by women in India who have either escaped human trafficking, or are at high risk of trafficking. In purchasing from the company you are directly helping to provide women with a sustainable income and “empowering them to live in freedom”. I paired the joggers with an off the shoulder crop top (old). Crop and old the shoulder tops were a running theme for the weekend.
Look 2 – Art Deco
Art Deco Weekend is an annual cultural festival along Ocean Drive with everything from live entertainment to a retro fashion show. We caught the Classic Car show. I wore these cropped camouflage pants (found here). They have a high waist and a flattering fit. I paired the pants with a black tank (I cut it into a crop top) and a long duster sweater (similar look here). I completed the look with a pop of pink. These satin pink slippers were a $9 steal I found recently at a Macy’s sale.
Look 3 – Winter Wedding Guest Attire
Shopping for winter weddings can be tricky, especially in a city like Miami where the temperatures are still pretty warm during the winter months. The dress code, if provided, is key to determining the formality of your attire. For winter weddings, I like darker hues and textures. For the cocktail wedding attire, I wore a charcoal off the shoulder dress with crochet lace (found here). My color scheme was pink and gray, so all of my accessories were pink, including a pink choker, pink jeweled earrings, and pink sandals (found here). The clear heel on the sandals was a nice accent.
Look 4 – Wynwood Fashion and Art
This is my favorite look and the weather, low 70s during the day, was perfect for this outfit. I stopped for a photo op at Versace’s old house before visiting the Wynwood Wall Murals. Wynwood is a nice break from South Beach with stores like Nomad Tribe, a store with artisan made apparel and goods, in addition to, art galleries, and a variety of breweries. My top and bottom are both from J. Crew. I wore this black and white off the shoulder shirt (found here) paired with a teal ruffle skirt (found here).
I hope your year is off to an amazing start! Thank you for stopping by! Stay warm 🙂
My posts often feature a mix of new and old items from my closet or multiple ways to style different pieces. With all of the shopping deals and statements on what we need to buy for stylish holiday attire, I decided to create a list for holiday outfit ideas with pieces you probably already have in your closet.
But first, a holiday-inspired look…
Perfect for holiday gatherings, I started with this high-waist pencil skirt when putting this look together. I’ve had this skirt for at least four years! The sequin details, signature during the holiday season, are a mix of pastel pink, gray, and light blue colors. I paired it with a pink over-sized off-the-shoulder sweatshirt by H&M Conscious (found here).
A chunky sweater or an over-sized sweatshirt paired with a straight or full skirt is a subtle contrast that still creates a very feminine look.
I wore color block pumps, also old, which accented the pink color scheme I used throughout this look. Finally, I accessorized with a pearl necklace and pompom earrings, found here.
Here are a few things you may have in your closet that will create festive holiday looks and a few looks for inspiration.
- Black full midi skirt
- Red Sweatshirt or cable knit sweater
- Black high-waist pencil skirt
- Faux fur shawl or vest
- Plaid shirt (love this idea with a full, mid-length tulle skirt) or skirt
- Leopard Print – pumps, flats, or top
- Festive heels
- Anything with sequin!
Thanks for stopping by! If you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to receive regular updates on new posts.
Enjoy the holiday season!
- Disengaging in all social media activity after 8pm daily (Have you ever found yourself scrolling through social media on a restless night?).
- Avoiding checking social media within the first hour of waking up (Am I the only one who scrolls though their social media feed as part of their morning routine? I enjoy prayer and meditation in the morning and I look forward to filling my morning with more time engaging in these activities without digital distractions.)
- Limiting the number of times I check social media pages per day AND the overall amount of time spent on social media each day.
- Avoiding the use of my phone during holiday events with family and friends.
- Implementing a digital free day.