Summer Salt

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The best part of summer is undoubtedly the spontaneous day trips to explore new places with friends. Sadly, those trips were more difficult to pull off this summer due to the 9 to 5 job I’ve been working since January. But because I love summer adventures and I’m moving to another county in less than a month (!!!), I knew I had to squeeze in as many small outings with my friends and family as possible.

In my state, there’s a small town on the coast that I adore, and my best friend and I have made a habit of going down there for a day for his past two birthdays. There’s something about strolling through small, locally-owned shops on streets reminiscent of the New Orleans French Quarter that makes my heart flutter. I love the smell of the salt air, the art on the sides of buildings, and creating the perfect playlist to listen to on the ride down. It feels like summer feels – light and yellow with hints of blue, like a fond memory in photograph.

Outdoor adventures in the summer call for simple, fuss-free outfits. The summer months in Alabama are absolutely boiling, so lightweight pieces are essential. On this day, I opted for my American Apparel denim shorts that I scored on Poshmark for half the price and a simple black tank top I’ve had for so long I don’t even remember where I got it. I brought along a red corduroy shirt I picked up from a consignment shop to wear inside chilly shops and restaurants and to add some color to the outfit. Finally, my Sseko Crossover Slides are one of my favorite purchases I’ve made in a while. They’re so comfortable, versatile, and perfect for spring and summer. I’ve worn them to the beach, out and about, to a concert, and to work. I’ve had them for about three months, and I’ve definitely already gotten my money’s worth.

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What’s your go-to summer outfit?

Listen to Candy Wrappers by Summer Salt.

– Lauren

Updates | 02

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Admittedly, I’ve been rather absent on this blog for a while, and that’s because the last few weeks have been an emotional free-for-all. This year has been an incredibly stressful one in terms of figuring out what I want my future to look like and the steps I need to take to make it so. And what I decided in all of my soul searching was that following the completion of my undergraduate degree, I wanted to get my master’s. So last summer, I began the process of researching programs, compiling letters of recommendation, editing my writing sample, and studying like a maniac for the GRE. When fall rolled around, I was doing all of that plus my schoolwork for my final semester, my duties as the editor of a literary journal and president of the English honor society, my work as a research assistant to one of my professors, and trying to make the most of the time I had left with my college friends before I moved back home. And I was stressed. I am someone who experiences stress both emotionally and physically. It caused my lymph nodes to swell, my shoulders and neck to develop severe tension knots, and my anxiety to spiral. But I got my applications submitted and graduated shortly thereafter, leaving me with a few months to decompress.

Fast-forward to March when grad school admissions decisions were being sent out. Because I am someone who wants to build my career on academics, I only applied to top tier programs. In other words, I had no safety school. But my GPA, test scores, and recommenders were really good, so while I was hopeful about my applications, I wasn’t too worried about them. And then the rejections started coming in, and I was crushed. One of the things I value most in myself is my intelligence, and rejection in an academic sphere felt like a rejection of what I saw as my most vital self. I was accepted to some programs but not given as much funding as I would have liked, and in my already discouraged state of mind, I counted those acceptances as nothing but softer rejections.

I applied to five schools, and by the first week in March, I had heard back from four of them – two acceptances and two rejections. The only school I had yet to hear from was my top choice and the most prestigious program I applied to. I thought that being rejected from the lowest-ranked program I applied to meant there was no way I’d be accepted to my highest-ranked program. But y’all, I was. I received the email right as got to my desk one morning and immediately burst into tears and called my mom and cried some more.

So I’m excited to officially announce that in the fall, I’ll be moving to England to pursue a master’s degree in English literature from Oxford University! If you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you may remember that I studied abroad at Oxford one summer and that I fell in love with it. I’m so excited to be returning and that all of my stress about my future and self-doubt over my abilities have subsided for the time being.

The point of this post – other than to keep you updated on my goings on – is that I’m an emotional gal. And that has meant that for the past month or so, I’ve been preoccupied with feeling all of my feelings and that blogging has not been something I’ve had the desire to do. But I’m slowly coming out of the funk, so expect to see some more posts from me soon. And within a few months, I’ll be coming to you from a new location!

– Lauren

Spring Sprang Sprung

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Even though winter never really happened in Alabama this year, there’s still something magical about the transition into spring. Warmer weather and longer days yield outdoor adventures (my favorite) and reacquainting myself with my hometown after four years away at school. It’s amazing to see all the new places that have popped up since I’ve been gone, and with only a few months left before the big move, I’m trying to experience all the worthwhile and unique things this place has to offer. Lately, I’ve been really enjoying seeing movies at the independent movie theater and walking across the street to one of the two non-Starbucks coffee shops in town afterwards. The last two movies I saw there were I Am Not Your Negro and Paterson, and I highly recommend both. Now, they’re playing a documentary on Russian avant garde art, and I’m itching to go see it.

I picked up this bodysuit in the American Apparel sale, and since it doesn’t quite fit my office’s business casual dress code, I haven’t had a chance to wear it until now. Paired with an old pair of jeans, my comfiest shoes, and a backpack, it was perfect for walking around downtown, drinking coffee, and snapping photos.

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What’s your favorite thing about your hometown?

– Lauren

Milestones

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Since I started buying only ethical fashion, I’ve been accumulating ethical clothing here and there and incorporating it into my outfits with the pieces I already owned, replacing fast fashion items with ethically-made ones as needed. The result of which has been outfits made from a mix of old and new and new-to-me pieces, and the ultimate goal has been to slowly achieve a wardrobe comprised only of ethical clothing. Which is what makes this post so special for me; it’s the first post I’ve done where every single thing I’m wearing was purchased ethically. My sweater is from a consignment shop; my jeans are from a seller on Etsy; and my boots are from Poshmark.

There are so many people who think shopping ethically is out of their reach when there are so many ways to practice conscious consumerism even if you don’t have money springing from your fingertips. It may seem silly, but I’m so excited to have reached this milestone, because in a very small way, it signifies the possibility of making sustainable changes that make the world better. I’m excited to continue cultivating a conscious wardrobe and contributing to a more compassionate world.

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– Lauren

Ethical Shopping on a Budget | 03

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I recently wrote a post reflecting on my first year of cultivating ethical shopping habits, and being on a budget, I learned a lot about how to put my principles into practice in spite of my financial obstacles.  Over the past few months, I’ve been sharing my tips and tricks for being budget-savvy while sticking to your principles and supporting an important and worthwhile cause: workers rights around the world. So without further ado, here’s Part 3 of my Ethical Shopping on a Budget Series.

  1. Take it in steps. Replace your clothes on an as-needed basis. When I first switched to buying only ethical clothing, it was months before I made my first clothing purchase. In the meantime, I was a little discouraged because I felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. I couldn’t afford a complete wardrobe overall, which was what I needed to rid my closet of fast fashion brands, and I felt like maybe this lifestyle change I felt so passionately about was nothing but good intentions. When I thought about it logically, however, I recognized that for the fast fashion pieces I owned prior to making the switch, the damage had already been done and that getting rid of all of it was not only financially impractical but wasteful. What I decided to do, and what I think is the most viable option for most people, is to incorporate ethical pieces into my wardrobe on an as-needed basis. Whenever my basic white t-shirt from Target wore out, I replaced it with an ethical one from Les Sublimes. When I needed some business casual clothes for my new job, I picked up a few skirts from a consignment shop. This was not only more financially feasible but also more suited to the slow fashion mantra that less is more.
  2. Instagram is your friend. When I began to write blog posts about ethical fashion, I would try to promote those posts on Instagram using hashtags that were geared toward conscious consumerism, slow fashion, and sustainability. In using hashtags such as #haulternative or #fashionrevolution, I was able to discover so many small ethical clothing companies. In fact, the majority of brands listed on my Fair Trade Clothing Companies 1 and 2 posts were ones that I discovered through Instagram. As someone who is passionate about learning more about slow fashion and supporting small businesses, this was a win-win.
  3. Shop off-season. Though shopping secondhand is a really great way to shop ethically, there are times when you just want to treat yourself to something new, and I understand that that’s not always possible when that Reformation dress you’re eying is $200. For me, the key to shopping from ethical brands, which are understandably more expensive than fast fashion brands, is to wait until the end of the season sales. So I’ll buy winter pieces in the spring and summer and vice versa. My reasoning behind this is that seasonal pieces go on sale when the season is over, but also that brands tend to tack on an additional discount for the end of the season. For example, in Reformation’s end of the year sale, they gave a discount worth 40% off of all items, even sale items. I found a pair of pants in the sale section that were originally $150, but between the original markdown and the extra 40% off, I snagged them for about $40. What I’m getting at here is wait until the end of the season and shoot for the double sale. You’ll some really great deals on high-quality pieces that will last you a while if you do.

For this outfit, I mixed some of my old fast-fashion stuff from years ago with some new-to-me pieces from my latest Etsy purchase. My striped top has been in my closet for years and will remain there until it’s coming apart at the seams. These jeans are my new favorite clothing item. I picked them up from a vintage shop on Etsy, and I’ve been wearing them non-stop. There’s a possibility that I’ll be moving to Paris in September, and if I do, I think this outfit might become my uniform of sorts. It’s very stereotypically Parisian, don’t you think?

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How do you shop ethically on a budget?

– Lauren

Check out Parts 1 and 2!

 

Good Things

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Skincare | Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack. I’m a sucker for face masks, so when I placed my first Glossier order last month, I had to get one. I opted for the Mega Greens Galaxy Pack, and holy moly it makes my skin so soft. I can’t wait to try the Moisturizing Moon Mask.

Haircare | Lush BIG Shampoo. I’ve had quite the shampoo debacle over the past few months. I haven’t been able to find one that works for my hair and isn’t filled with massive amounts of harmful chemicals, packaged in ridiculous amounts of plastic, or produced using unethical standards. The first Lush in my state opened up recently, and even though it’s an hour and a half away from me, I took a trip up there to see what I could find in the way of shampoo. The girl at the store recommended BIG to me, and I love it. It’s made with sea salt, which is really fun, and keeps my hair voluminous and oil free.

Music | Volcano Choir. I love how music attaches itself to specific moments in my life. When I listen to Volcano Choir, I think of my freshman year of college when I shared a dorm room on campus with three other girls and how we would go to the record store on cold Saturdays and get orange cake and coffee from our favorite German bakery afterwards. I bought this record on one such Saturday, and it fills me with nostalgia whenever I put it on.

Podcasts | Stuff You Should Know. Now that I have my first big girl job, I’m having to get used to sitting at a desk and staring at a computer for eight hours a day, which is a lot easier said than done. However, I’ve discovered that listening to podcasts while I work is the secret to making the time go by. Stuff You Should Know has become my go-to podcast since I started my job. The premise is that the show’s hosts pick a topic – anything from pacifism to Alexander Hamilton to poop – research the heck out of it, and talk about what they learned.

Essential Oil | Young Living Purification. I recently got a diffuser, and I’ve been loving coming home at the end of the day and diffusing my favorite essential oils. Currently, I’m loving Young Living’s Purification oil. It’s a blend of citronella, rosemary, lemongrass, tea tree, lavandin, and myrtle, and it smells so good.

Food | Sunday Suppers. I’ve had this cookbook for a while, but I’ve recently discovered some new recipes in it that have become new favorites. My favorites at the moment have been the shakshuka and the challah. And food aside, the book itself is an aesthetic dream. I highly, highly recommend.

TV Show | A Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix Series. This show has been getting mixed reviews amongst my friends, but I absolutely loved it. I read these books when I was in elementary school, and admittedly, I was a little skeptical about Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, but I think he did a really good job. The style reminds me of a Wes Anderson film, which doesn’t hurt my feelings one bit.

Article | Am I Annoying? This article by Man Repeller really resonated with me. I have social anxiety and I’m very much a people-pleaser, so I’m frequently worried that I come across as annoying in school, work, or social situations. This article made several really great, non-cliche points about why we shouldn’t worry about seeming annoying to others.

Art | Tommy Ingberg Surreal Photo Art. I love surrealist art, so when I stumbled upon these surrealist photographs, I fell in love. The photos encapsulate the spirit of surrealism really well. They look like a Magritte painting come to life.

Activity | Ceramics. This past semester, I had an open space in my schedule. Most college seniors in that position would have been thrilled to have a light schedule for their final semester, but because I am the overachiever that I am, I decided to use that opportunity to take a class in something that interested me. So I took a class in ceramics, which was so fun. I’m not master potter by any means – in fact all of my mugs are incredibly asymmetrical – but it’s so satisfying to drink my morning coffee out of a mug I made myself.

What have you been loving lately?

– Lauren

Fair Trade Clothing Companies | 02

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Although most of the shopping I do is secondhand, I’m always on the lookout for ethical clothing brands. As someone who made the switch to ethical fashion fairly recently, I know how intimidating it can be to scour the internet for clothing brands who hold themselves accountable for the wellbeing of their workers and the planet. I’ve accumulated quite a list of ethical clothing brands since I made the switch, and I’ve decided to publish it in the hopes that my doing so can make your ethical fashion journey just a little bit easier.

One thing I’ve discovered about ethical shopping over the past year is that it’s a great way to support small businesses. The conscious consumerism movement is gaining more and more momentum, and the market for fairly sourced and ethically produced goods is growing. The result is that many ethical clothing brands, including many of the ones listed below, are startups and small businesses. Supporting small businesses matters because if we give our money to small businesses rather than large fast fashion brands, those fast fashion brands lose a bit of their autonomy in the global fashion market. So shop small!

All the shops are hyperlinked, so all you have to do is click the shop name to go straight to their website. Also, every shop with an asterisk beside the name has options for anyone who’s looking for some male attire. And be sure to check out Part 1!

Clothing

American Apparel*

Arcana New York

Armed Angels*

Bead and Reel

the bloomerie

Boheme Goods

elborne

Fifth Dimension Clothing

Free Label

Indigo Apparel

Jann n June

The Keep Boutique*

LOZENA

modt*

Myrtle

Plantfaced*

prAna*

Shwe | The Wearable Library

SiiZU

Skall Studio

Swellas*

Synergy Organic Clothing

Vintage Style Me

Activewear

Armed Angels

Bead and Reel

Girlfriend Collective

Indigo Apparel

Mitscoots Outfitters*

Naja

Renegades of Chic

Synergy Organic Clothing

Swimwear

LIAR

Myrtle

Naja

Denim

Double Eleven*

Undies/Socks/Jammies

Hanky Panky

The Keep Boutique

Myrtle

Naja

Shoes

Alice + Whittles

Bead and Reel

Myrtle

VEJA*

Bags

Alicia San Marcos

American Nomad

Bead and Reel

Hipsters for Sisters

Johnny Fly*

The Keep Boutique*

Myrtle

prAna*

Renegades of Chic

The Tote Project

Jewelry/Accessories

American Nomad

Bead and Reel

Indigo Apparel

Johnny Fly*

The Keep Boutique*

Mayan Colour

Miss Green Fashion

Myrtle

Renegades of Chic

Synergy Organic Clothing

Vai-Ko*

Home Goods

American Nomad

Boheme Goods

Myrtle

Odessa and Sons

Renegades of Chic

Children’s Clothing

Bead and Reel

the bloomerie

Boheme Goods

Odessa and Sons*

VEJA*

Disclaimer: I haven’t partnered with any of these shops to write this post. I’m just passionate about promoting brands that do good things and treat their workers and our planet well.

For those of you who are on a budget (like me), check out my Ethical Shopping on a Budget Parts 1 and 2 to see my tips for buying cheap clothes without supporting fast fashion.

What’s your favorite fair trade company?

– Lauren

The Young Vinyl

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Over the past month or so, American Apparel has become one of my favorite places to shop. Previously, I had thought it too expensive for my student budget and never really gave it a fair chance. But that was before I discovered their amazing sales, particularly the factory store section of the website. One day, I had gotten it into my mind that I really needed a vinyl skirt, so I scoured the internet for fair trade, vintage, or secondhand options. The only thing I found that matched my vision perfectly was this light pink, a-line skirt from the American Apparel factory store, and I was shocked that it was only $20 (now $15). I ordered it immediately, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite pieces of clothing I own. The structured a-line is incredibly flattering, and it’s a style that looks good on everyone, because it cinches at the smallest part of your waist and creates an hourglass shape. The flattering shape combined with the vintage feel of the vinyl is exactly the unique sort of piece I aim for with my personal style and was impossible for me to pass up.

After finding this skirt for such a good price, I skimmed the American Apparel website and discovered that everything is incredibly well priced for a fair-trade, sweatshop-free company, and their sales are really good as well. I picked up a few more items during their end of the year sale, so look out for those in future posts.

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What’s your favorite fair trade clothing company?

– Lauren

My Ethical Fashion Journey: A Year in Review

IMG_3298It’s hard to believe that I started my ethical fashion journey a little over a year ago. Last December when I was on break from college, I watched The True Cost documentary, and it completely changed my outlook on how I shop. Before, though it seems silly, I had never considered that my clothes were made by actual people, and after watching the documentary, doing some additional reading, and learning about the conditions under which my clothes were made, I couldn’t continue to give my money to companies that exploited their workers and denied them living wages. It became very clear to me that by giving these companies my money, I was directly contributing to a system that treats real life people as though they don’t matter so that a few people at the top can profit. And that’s not to mention the havoc the fast fashion industry wreaks on the environment. So I swore off fast fashion brands, which I soon learned comprised essentially all major fashion retailers, and made the switch to ethical, fair trade brands and shopping secondhand. My experience so far has been extremely educational, sometimes trial and error, but overall positive. I’ve learned a lot over the past year, and I want to share my experience partly in the hopes that it will help anyone who’s undertaking a similar lifestyle change and partly to get any advice, feedback, or encouraging words you have for me as I continue to make changes to my consumption habits.

Here are some of my thoughts after one year of conscious consumerism. Buckle up, because this is going to be a long one.

  • The first thing I did after deciding to become a more conscious consumer was begin researching the ethics of various clothing brands and compiling a list of the ones whose ethics I agreed with. In my experience, the clothing companies that are truly invested in the well-being of their workers are forthright about it. They make it a very obvious part of their branding, and you don’t have to go searching on obscure sections of their websites to find information regarding their factories.

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  • One major change I made was shopping less. I was never someone who was constantly shopping and buying clothes, but I did tend to treat myself to a clothing purchase from time to time. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with occasionally treating yourself, but over the past year, instead of treating myself with clothes or material goods, I decided to treat myself with experiences and forego unnecessary clothing purchases. Instead, I tried to wear what I already owned in new and interesting ways, and I borrowed from friends. The result was that I consumed a great deal less and actually saved money despite the fact that fair trade clothing is more expensive than fast fashion brands. I think the monetary aspect of shopping ethically is what inhibits many people from making the switch from fast fashion (it was a concern of mine, too), but over the past year, I’ve realized that it is absolutely possible for many people to maintain these ideals while on a rather small budget. (Shameless plug: check out my Ethical Shopping on a Budget Parts 1 and 2).

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  • I’ve learned to think of the clothing I buy in terms of long-term investment. Whereas before, I would have scoffed at paying $40 for a basic white t-shirt, now I welcome paying a bit more if it means that the shirt was produced ethically, was sustainably sourced, and is of a higher quality that will last me for years. And by buying less, it becomes more feasible to make these investment purchases from ethical brands.

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  • For the most part, I’ve managed to abstain from buying anything made in a sweatshop, but I have had a few slip ups. Two of which were unanticipated purchases of necessity, where I was in pinch while traveling and didn’t have the time to order something online. The other time was a mistake. I was under the impression that the item I was purchasing was produced ethically, only to realize when it arrived that that was not the case. Those slip ups taught me to be prepared for all weather scenarios when traveling and to be more selective when choosing my sources for determining whether or not a company is fair trade.

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  • I’ve had a hard time with shoes. Shopping for clothes has been pretty easy. Fair trade clothing companies are a good deal more expensive than fast fashion brands, but I’ve always been good at waiting for things to go on sale and finding a deal. I’m also really into shopping vintage and secondhand clothing. What I haven’t been so good at is finding fair trade shoes that I can afford.

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  • Most of the shopping I’ve done in the past year has been secondhand. Like I said earlier, I enjoy finding ways to incorporate vintage pieces into my wardrobe. But shopping secondhand is often hit or miss and requires some vision. I’ve really enjoyed the creative challenge that shopping secondhand presents. Aside from some end of the year sales (which are a great time to stock up on clothing from ethical brands), all of the shopping I did this year was secondhand. I love that shopping at thrift stores, vintage shops, or online markets like Etsy or Poshmark allows me to cultivate a unique wardrobe that isn’t full of mass-produced items. It allows my personal style to shine through in a way that fast fashion doesn’t.

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Overall, this first year of conscious consumerism has been incredibly informative. When I first undertook this lifestyle change, I was worried that I would feel in some way deprived by my decision to swear off fast fashion and that sticking to these principles would require much discipline even though I believed it was the right thing to do. But that hasn’t been the case for me. Sure, this change required that I redefine what I consider to be a need and make more informed decisions on how to satisfy that need, but I never once felt the urge to revert to my old shopping habits.  Even in the moments when I felt discouraged by the apathy practiced by the fashion industry towards actual human lives or by a system that encourages the ignorance of the consumer in order to make sales, I felt more strongly the need for change and the importance of sticking to my ideals.

I’ve grown to feel more strongly that the world does not exist to accommodate my harmful and wasteful habits and that mindfulness regarding my consumption is essential. This past year has inspired me to make similar changes to the amount of plastic I use and throw away, the ingredients in my bath and cleaning products, and the contents of the food that I eat. Essentially, our stewardship of the earth and compassion towards the people in it has the power to bring about social and environmental justice, and I want to be a part of that.

Leave a comment telling me your tips and tricks for cultivating an ethical lifestyle.

– Lauren

 

Tybee

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My favorite time to go to the beach is during non-peak seasons when the weather is cooler and the beaches are empty. No need for a swimsuit and no fighting against a crowd of people. When I was in Savannah a few weeks ago, I took a day trip with my best friend to Tybee Island, one of my favorite beaches, and spent the afternoon walking along the water as the tide receded. There was something magical about having the place to ourselves. I’ve said for a while that after I finish school and work for a while, I want to move to a small coastal town and open a bookstore/cafe in a seafront cottage. Those daydreams are easy to picture on a day like that one, when the beach is empty and a cold wind is coming off of the waves.

But for the time being, I took in the calming solitude and crashing waves and guarded myself against the chill with my new bomber-sweater combo that I picked up at Civvies, the same vintage shop from my last post, and it served me well as we danced around, snapped some photos, and lounged in the sand.

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– Lauren