Weekend Update/Ramblings

Happy February y’all! Did January feel as long for you as it did for me? It’s hard to believe that just a month ago I was in the hospital discussing with doctors about the potential for an early C-section delivery. And since then we’ve moved to a new city and I’m looking at a C-section on my actual due date. I feel so very grateful on how things have turned out thus far. The C-section is scheduled for about a month from now and sh*t’s getting real! I have a ton of appointments and education classes lined up with Kaiser, so I’m lucky to live only 5 minutes away (for the week of Feb 11 alone I have appointments scheduled on 4 out of the 5 weekdays, including a tour of labor and delivery on Valentine’s day-lol how romantic). Also recently I got my style groove back, despite feeling like an absolute whale, thanks to Rent the Runway (more about that at the bottom of this past week’s post here). I’ve come to realize, it doesn’t really matter what your shape is, there’s ways to be stylish no matter what and it’s just about having the mindset to try and care. And no it doesn’t pay to care all the time but making an effort once in awhile is a good mood booster, especially when you feel like you’re in a rut.

On the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) front, we’ve really worked to cut down on our spending despite the move and buying a couple new pieces for the new apartment. But we didn’t get much, just a shoe bench and some shelves from Wayfair. We also installed some light fixtures we got from Lowe’s and it’s made a huge difference in the space. We realized too that it’s worth spending some money on things that you use daily (like light fixtures) and save in areas that are temporary/intangible (eating out, movies, etc.). Now we’re looking into investing our savings into ETFs/mutual funds that will give us that 7% annual return (the cornerstone of FIRE). Also we recently watched this video to keep the FIRE inspo going.

Some inspiration from Instagram this week:

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I like the message and all, but then when it comes to what are some actionable steps (which I asked in the comments but didn’t get a response), I’m kind of at a loss. I guess it takes political activism but I’m not too sure where to start and voting alone is not enough. I did look up how to reduce income inequality and really it’s all about policies, changing laws and tax systems—all of which the US is currently not doing.

Some things I read this week: This post by Jess for Less is a great primer in thrifting and this article about the Kardashians makes me sad/angry (imagine if they put their power behind sustainable or ethical fashion instead of items that fuel fast fashion).

Ethical Chambray Shirt Round-up

A round-up like this is a first for me on this blog, but since it was requested by a new reader I thought “Why not?” (so Dr. Nguyen, this one’s for you! lol). But actually I found this to be a fun exercise in really flexing my ethical brand knowledge. After years of personally reviewing ethical brands and reading other blogs that review these brands, I even surprised myself with how many great brands I could talk about here. Now I normally don’t feature items I haven’t tried on myself, however these are all ethical brands that I’m either familiar with or have seen other bloggers’ reviews of them and they have all been vouched for by trustworthy sources. I’m not much of a chambray shirt person myself (or a button-down shirt kind of person in general) but if I were in the market to buy one, these are the ones I’d look at:

Everlane Review

Everlane

Duh, I have to start with what I know best. I haven’t personally tried this particular Relaxed Jean Shirt ($60) but I’ve tried a ton of other Everlane’s button-down tops and can vouch for their generally good quality (especially when it comes to their cotton and linen versions, not so much their old silk versions). This is a chambray shirt at its simplest and most classic form.

Tradlands Review
 

Tradlands

Another tried and true ethical company that gets a lot of attention in the ethical blogosphere is Tradlands and their version of the chambray shirt is called The Clare ($167). I’ve tried their items in the past and really loved the quality of their cotton button-down shirt (reviewed here). Yes the tops are pricey, but the quality is unbeatable and so is their attention to detail. Also here’s a great review of some of Tradlands tops from Andrea, one of my favorite bloggers. P.S. If you’re an XXS you can score a great used one on Slowre right now!

Power of My People Review
 

Power of My People

I haven’t personally tried this ethical Canadian brand but I’ve heard a lot of good things about them from numerous bloggers, and have been tempted get something from them myself. Their version of the chambray shirt, called The Wordsmith ($85.84), is a beautiful steel blue color though not a traditional chambray look. They also have a chambray-looking shirt called The Pillar ($139.30) that’s actually 100% linen and probably a great summer option. Though I can’t personally vouch for this brand, all these trustworthy and excellent bloggers can: Lee from Style Bee, Grechen from Grechen’s Closet, and again Andrea from Seasons+Salt.

Bridge and Burn Review
 

Bridge and Burn

I really love this ethical, small-production Oregonian brand and I’ve been a past Bridge and Burn customer so I can vouch for the quality of their items. I personally purchased a dress in this material (reviewed here) and love it for the summer. It was super lightweight, soft, yet felt durable. It’s not your traditional chambray material but this Japan-made fabric is not only of premium quality but also a fun take on the usual chambray.

ABLE Review
 

ABLE

If you’re looking for a short-sleeved version then look no further than ABLE’s (note: this referral link is for $20 off) classic chambray shirt called the Pilar Popover ($98) made in Mexico. I haven’t yet tried this brand though they’ve been on my radar for quite some time now and I’ve been itching to get something from them (I probably will this year, but since I’m on my one-new-item-only-per-month resolution, it’s probably going to be later in the year). I love that this company focuses on creating jobs for women in developing countries and their products are pretty classic as well. Some bloggers that have reviewed them include Caroline from Un-Fancy, Lee from Style Bee and Andrea from Seasons+Salt.

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kowtow

If you’re looking for another untraditional take on the chambray shirt then kowtow has a really sleek looking black version for sale on their site right now ($109). Kowtow is an ethical brand I heard of through Grechen of Grechen’s closet and they’re a bit more obscure though upscale. You can also find their stuff on ASOS or on the Garmentory. They like to use high-quality organic materials and are very transparent about their production practices in other countries (mostly India). I can’t wait to add a kowtow piece to my wardrobe this year (like this dress or this dress) but probably post pregnancy!


Anyway I hope you enjoyed my first ever round-up. I know I enjoyed the challenge. I kind of felt like someone’s online ethical style consultant/online personal shopper. If you guys don’t have the time or just don’t want to do the research about an ethical option for an item, I’m open to suggestions for more round-ups! Just leave a comment below or let me know on Insta :)

Weekend Update/Ramblings

It’s been 1 week since the move and we’re still living in boxes but otherwise I feel good. I love our new apartment and how cozy it feels. Also our new location is fairly convenient and I can walk to a lot of places if I wanted to. I look forward to exploring my neighborhood more this year! Also another aspect of apartment living that I’ve noticed recently is the whole elevator vibe thing, which is new to me since I haven’t lived in an apartment complex in a long time nor in one this big. As an introvert I would rather not see anyone in the elevator, but even a brief pleasant exchange, a smile or hello with your apartment mates in the elevator can really lift the spirit. While being in an elevator with unfriendly or unhappy people can also send out a negative or heavy vibe (which I most likely encounter during the hours of 6-7pm from tired people coming back from work). What interesting social creatures we humans are, lol.

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Anyway as you can see this is going to be more of a rambling post than anything. So please excuse me while I ramble on about Everlane’s texture cotton cardigan (aka the babaa knock-off). When I first saw this in their Coming Soon preview I was like “uh-oh, this is going to conflict with my new year’s resolution of only 1 new closet item at the end of the month.” Because of course who wouldn’t want the cheaper version of the cardigan that every ethical closet blogger has? But after reading Karen’s review, I’m not so sure I would have loved it. First of all it is 27% nylon (so over a quarter of it is made of plastic—I guess Everlane’s promise of no new virgin plastic in their products really is going into effect 2021 and they’re in no rush to make changes just yet), which I know is to keep the costs down and would help retain the sweater’s shape when using cheap cotton. But it is an inferior product to the 100% premium cotton babaa knits made with consciously harvested spanish cotton. Also at the end of its life, the babaa one is fully biodegradable since even the buttons are made of recycled cotton fiber, while you know that the over-quarter-plastic Everlane one will not fully biodegrade). Anyway I’ve been lucky enough to try the babaa cardigan before (thank you West Coast Craft) and I can attest to the quality of these really heavy cotton knits.

I can see how an item like this gives Everlane a “fast-fashion” reputation because right now they seem pretty Zara-like when it comes to this cardigan. And yes even though the styling looks the same, the cardigans themselves don’t look the same (the Everlane one looks flimsier and thinner). It seems to me that the whole point of buying ethically is to buy less but better (consume slowly and consciously), but this cardigan is just a substitute for those who want the look of the trend. If you really were going to consume ethically, then wouldn’t saving up all your pennies to buy the one coveted cardigan you’ve always wanted and that you’ll treasure forever be the way to go? You know the babaa sweater is not going to be in the donation pile anytime soon. But I get it, not everyone can spend several hundred dollars on one item of clothing (especially if its a trend or if they don’t know it will suit them). Also I can see the merit of the Everlane sweater being thinner so less bulky than the babaa one (I personally passed on the babaa at the time because I thought it was too bulky). Well it seems a bit of a gray area to me but I do expect to see this cardigan pop up more on Insta and other blogs and for it to be sold out in a month. Also if it weren’t for my resolution I know I would have tried this out to review so who am I to judge?

P.S. I found this post about the ethics behind purchasing fast fashion secondhand and liked some of the issues it raises. What do you think: is it ok to buy secondhand fast fashion?