Packing for Two Weeks in the U.K.

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Tomorrow I'm leaving for nearly two weeks in the UK to visit/pick up my younger brother who has been studying there. I'm going with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law (that's right, sans children - the part I'm most hesitant about) and will be making our way from London to Scotland and then back down to London for a few days.

I wanted to share a quick packing list for those of you who may be interested. Although I'm packing it all in a carry-on (mine is from Lo & Sons and I LOVE it), I feel a bit like I overpacked. However, I've had each of these pieces in mind for months and am excited to mix and match them for some easy, travel-chic outfits while I'm gone. 

I'm also bringing my Eba Tote with me - it's INCREDIBLE for travel, with a center divider, several pockets, and a cup holder in the bottom. I'll bring reading material, a smaller clutch, Keepcup, Yuhme water bottle, and other essentials in it. 

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Here's what I'm planning to wear: 

Outerwear: 

VETTA Capsule Multi-way Sweater (currently sold out) | Thrifted Camel Trench | Thought Clothing Cardigan

Tops:

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Be sure to follow along on my Instagram for updates on the trip and check back here at some point for a recap :) 

Simple Holidays With JORD Watches

*Disclosure: this post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches, but all opinions, photos, and ramblings are my own.*

It probably comes as no surprise that for most people, things don't really slow down after Thanksgiving. It's more of the proverbial calm before the Christmas storm, when people are even more busy gift buying, traveling, decorating, and spreading a general air of cheery chaos. But, if you've read any of my posts before, you probably know that it doesn't have to be like that. I'm all for simplifying the holiday season in the same way you'd simplify your closet or your social schedule, but depending on the level of chaos you're used to, it may take some intentionality. I wanted to share a few of the ways I intentionally simplify our lives around the holidays. 

1. Do A Preliminary De-Clutter

As you dust off your Christmas decorations and trim the tree, making a quick sweep around the house for clutter or things you don't use anymore will make extra space for your Christmas-y things. 

2. Make A List Of Must-Do's

Making a list of your highest priorities for the season can help make sure you get them all done and don't waste time on non-essentials.

3. Build A Holiday Capsule Wardrobe

Have you ever built a "mini-capsule" for a special season or event? The holidays are the perfect time to simplify your wardrobe and accessories and keep only the things you love around for the season. Plus, it makes getting dressed SO much easier when you have a hundred other things on your plate to worry about. 

This look is one of my favorite from my Holiday/Dressember capsule this year. The dress is my go-to LBD from Sotela (I bought mine from IMBY, one of my favorite ethical shops). The parka was a gift from my sweet hubby a few years ago. And last but not least, my all time favorite accessory — and usually the only one I have on besides my wedding ring — my Zebrawood and Emerald watch from JORD Wood Watches. It's simple, easy to wear with anything, and makes the perfect statement piece for an otherwise basic outfit. 

4. Simplify Your Gift Giving

The quickest way to simplify gifts this year is to not give any at all, but if that feels a bit scrooge-ish, there are lots of other ways to not go overboard. Gifts of time are by far my favorite. They're clutter-free, allow you to spend time with the recipient and can be literally anything from concert tickets, to a coffee date. 

5. If It Adds Stress To Your Life, Don't Do It

I've written before about how busy isn't always better, and I think the same holds especially true during the holidays. If there's a certain event you feel pressured to go to for the sake of someone else, reevaluate why you're choosing to go and know that you're not obligated to do anything that adds to your stress. For me, the fewer the events the better. 

And for a fun (and simple) holiday surprise, I've partnered with JORD to giveaway one of their gorgeous watches to ONE lucky reader. Simply follow the link below, enter your email, and wait until January 15th to see who wins! Plus, everyone who enters will be automatically emailed a $25 coupon code valid until February 28. Click here to enter or use the widget below! Good luck and happy simplifying! 

How A Dress Can Change the World || An Interview with Dressember Founder Blythe Hill + Giveaway!

You know the tightening feeling in your heart that happens when you're confronted with a huge issue that you feel you can do nothing about? The world is full of so much hurt and when faced with overwhelming numbers and statistics, it makes the influence of a single person seem minuscule in comparison. 

That's how I felt when I thought about human trafficking. I've always had a heart for the issue, but when I learned about how heartbreakingly vast the problem was, it felt like there was nothing I could do to make a difference. I'm not a lawyer, I can't travel to foreign countries and pull women and children out of the reach of entrapment, I can't even donate hundreds of dollars to aid people who can. I felt hopeless. 

The facts are these: there are over 20 million people (men, women and children) in slavery around the world, and about 80% of the victims are sexually exploited. According to Equality Now, sex slavery is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. It's not just an over-seas issue either. The FBI reported that, although it's impossible to put an exact number on the amount of domestic victims, it happens all over the country (likely in your city), particularly on interstate traffic. The victims are primarily at-risk women and children, sometimes as young as 8 or 9, and can do virtually nothing to escape on their own. 

Overwhelmed? You're not alone. 

Blythe Hill, the founder of the Dressember Foundation, felt the same way, but didn't let her feeling of overwhelm stop her from doing something about it. I had the chance to speak with her a little bit about the history of Dressember, and what their goals are for this year's campaign. 

Human trafficking feels like an untouchable issue that "normal people" can make no impact on. However, Blythe Hill, the founder of the Dressember movement, believes lasting change happens one person, and one dress, at a time. Join the movement and read more about an amazing movement in our interview with Blythe.

The concept behind Dressember is simple: you commit to wearing dresses for the entire month of December. The dress acts as a "flag" and conversation starter (because, really, who is crazy enough to wear dresses in the coldest season the year?), and ultimately, as a way to raise awareness and funds for victims of sex trafficking. Dressember is aligned with A21 and the International Justice Mission and expects this year to be the biggest yet. To join, sign up here.(SL&Co. is hosting our own team and we'd love to have you on it!) 

*read till the end to enter to win the Dressember swing dress ;) 

Tell us a little bit about the backstory of Dressember and how it all started.  

BH: I came up with the idea while I was in college. I was feeling like I needed a creative outlet, but didn't have much free time. I decided to try a personal style challenge, and came up with the idea to where a dress every day for a month. The next full month was December, and I came up with the name Dressember. Since I love puns, that pretty much sealed the deal. 

Why do you think a seemingly simple idea sparked such powerful change around the world?

BH: For years, I had been looking for a way to engage in the fight against modern day slavery. I didn't have much money to give, and I wasn't pursuing a career in social work, law, psychology, or any field that seemed to connect to making a difference, so I felt powerless. When I decided to align Dressember with anti-trafficking, it came out of that long-standing desire to engage. What has been remarkable is that so many other women must have been feeling the same way-- eager to physically engage in the fight to end human trafficking-- because it has spread so much and grown so quickly. 

Many SL&Co. readers already have fairly limited wardrobes- what would you say to someone who is nervous about the thought of wearing a dress for 31 days? 

BH: Often people hear about Dressember and think they need to go buy a bunch of dresses-- you don't! You can share with friends, sisters, roommates, or consider taking on the extra challenge of wearing the same dress every day all month. I've done that for about 3 of the last 7 Dressember seasons, and I'm always surprised by how limitations stimulate creativity. If someone is nervous about wearing dresses for other reasons than wardrobe limitations, I'd encourage them to check our FAQ page-- we address cold weather, jobs that require pants, and more. 

I didn’t have much money to give, and I wasn’t pursuing a career in social work, law, psychology, or any field that seemed to connect to making a difference, so I felt powerless. When I decided to align Dressember with anti-trafficking, it came out of that long-standing desire to engage.

Besides joining in the Dressember challenge, what is something "regular people" can do to help fight human trafficking either locally or globally? 

BH: Honestly, spreading awareness about the issue is a HUGE need. People still think this doesn't happen, or that it only happens in poor countries. Slavery exists today in every major city in the world, and here in the US at truck stops, massage parlors, around every major sporting event, and more. The children of the US foster system are especially at risk-- when they run away or go missing, no one is looking for them. Traffickers target them for this reason.

How much have Dressember participants raised in the past? Do you have a new goal for this year's campaign?

BH: In three years, thousands of women have raised over $1.5 million. We hope to raise $1.5 million this year alone!

When you're not inspiring people around the world to put a stop to human trafficking, what do you enjoy doing?

BH: Haha-- that makes me sound so magnanimous! Honestly, I'm just a normal person-- I love binge watching netflix (currently re-watching Gilmore Girls), reading, crafting, and cooking (shout out to Blue Apron for making cooking less intimidating for me)! 

Now for the giveaway!

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Blythe was sweet enough to offer a FREE Dressember dress from their collaboration with Elegantees to one lucky SL&Co. reader (it's the one pictured- I'm obsessed, SO soft and versatile). Enter here:

Never underestimate the power of simply using your voice. Together we CAN stop human trafficking. Join our team here!

5 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Clothes

Did you know that the average fast fashion article of clothing is designed to fall apart after only five washes and wears? Clothing giants like Forever 21 and H&M make their money off of cheaply producing clothes that aren't designed to last and selling a lot of them. They're also designed to go out of style within a week after you buy, but that's a story for a different day...

Ethical fashion brands, on the other hand, design their pieces to last. The only problem is, you have to take care of them, to ensure they live the fullest life they were designed to. If you've been shopping with more intention and adding investment pieces into your closet, it's so important to know how to properly care for them. 

No matter where you shop, a few basic tips for prolonging the life of your clothes will save you lots of money in the long run, and make sure the closet-staples you've fallen in love with stay in the same shape they were when you bought them. 

You clothes don't have to fit the "five washes and wears" rule that the producers design them to. Learn how to invest in quality pieces AND care for them properly with these five simple tips.

1. Wash Less

If you're used to wearing something for a few hours and then tossing it in the dirty clothes hamper to be washed, you're probably in the majority. However, most clothes (especially denim) can last FOREVER between washes. Unless something is really dirty, or stinks, you should be able to get at least 3 wears out of it before washing. 

2. Hang To Dry

Dryers are convenient, but at a price to our clothes. While most labels say "tumble dry low", if you have the space, hang dry as much as you can. Not only is it much more eco-friendly, it will preserve the feel, shape, and fabric of your clothes much longer. And, as a rule of thumb, NEVER dry your delicates in the dryer. 

3. Buy Versatile Pieces

Everyone has those pieces that you can only wear a certain way. The shirt that only goes with a certain skirt....you know what I'm talking about. When you buy pieces that are more versatile, meaning they can be worn in multiple different ways and with multiple different outfits, it allows you to extend the use of the item and save money in the long run. The Sotela Shift dress from IMBY is one of my FAVORITE versatile pieces.

4. Don't Let Stains Set

If you spill something on your clothes (it happens), don't let it set or dry. Clean it up as soon as you can, and use a natural stain remover to get the job done before adding any harsh chemicals to the fabric. 

5. Know Your Style

If you're in the habit of buying things you don't wear often, getting to know your personal style will be one of the hugest favors your do yourself and your wallet. Not only will you feel better in the clothes you buy, you'll invest in pieces that you love and naturally want to take care of. It really is a win/win. 

If you're not sure how to define your personal style, sign up to receive updates on our course launch which will give you every thing you need to create a wardrobe you love. 

The 24 Hour Outfit: Introducing PonyBabe

One of my favorite things about slow fashion is that there are real people behind the brands. It's not some shiny corporation, with a hierarchy of employees and suppliers. More often than not, ethical brands are a "one man show" (or, one woman show, even better!) or a small team of designers and suppliers. The owners truly live and breathe slow fashion, putting their heart and soul into a cause they believe so strongly in. And I think that's something so worth supporting. 

Earlier this week, I was privileged to "meet" Rachel Ferbach (I put quotations around "meet" because I'm not sure if everyone just assumes we meet people online these days or not...), the owner and founder of PonyBabe, a newly launched ethical, American made, fashion line focusing on comfort and versatility (both huge pluses in the capsule wardrobe world!). 

Her first first collection is called The 24 Hour Outfit — four pieces with virtually endless possibilities. You can shop her collection here, or pledge to fund her Kickstarter campaign, which, as of now, is nearly half way there!

I was lucky enough to chat with Rachel a little bit about her background and future goals for PonyBabe. Here's what she had to say: 

Can you give us a quick peek into the backstory behind Pony Babe? How did your passion for ethical fashion begin? 

After studying fine arts and photography in college, I took a left turn and embarked on what became a 10+ year journey of studying, training, and practicing as a body-oriented therapist.  I went to massage therapy school, earned a graduate degree in Expressive Arts Psychotherapy, and became a dedicated yogi and meditator.  After a deeply challenging position as a therapist for children with Autism came to a close, I decided that I wanted to take some time off, reconnect with my creativity, and focus my energy on something a bit less emotionally intense.  PonyBabe came about as a response to my need to create something special, and my desire to help women feel more comfortable in their day-to-day lives.  

My interest in ethical fashion has grown over the years in a parallel line to my commitment to living a healthy, meaningful, ethical life. Caring about the origins of my food and beauty products came first, and as I began to think more about the impact of my purchases on the environment, economy, and the people involved - it was a natural progression to also begin choosing my wardrobe based on these values, too.  

As a designer and entrepreneur, I bring these values with me, and PonyBabe is a way to make my small contribution to the betterment of our world.

Your 24 Hour Outfit includes four pieces that can be combined in many different ways. Why did you choose to create the pieces you did for your first collection? 

The 24 Hour Outfit was inspired by an old pair of hand-me-down harem pants that I wore constantly until they fell apart.  They were the perfect yoga pants, the perfect office casual pants, and the perfect throw-'em-on-under-a-dress pants.  When they were totally past their sell-by date, I got the idea to design something similar, with some improvements, and the 24 Hour Outfit grew from there.  Basically, I wanted to create a set of clothing that I would be able to wear for all my daily activities.  I'm really into being ultra comfy all the time, and I don't want to have to change my clothes when I go from one thing to the next... so having pants, a base layer (the tank top), a top layer (the cardigan) and a multipurpose wrap pretty much solved that problem! I chose a racerback for the tank because I wanted to make sure there wouldn't be problems with straps falling down.  

You're very transparent about where your materials are sourced and where your clothing is made, why do you believe this is important?

I believe in transparency because I also believe in non-competition, honesty, and self-responsibility.  I want my community to know that I have worked hard to find ethically-made materials, and that PonyBabe's "behind the scenes" activity is aligned with its public claims. It's important for people to think about where the things they buy come from, and how consumerism has the potential to either harm or help.  I'd like to contribute to that conversation by being straightforward about how and why I'm running my label ethically.

I also want to share better production options with designers who might be looking for them but not know where to start.  Working toward a healthier world doesn't happen in isolation, and I feel that committing to transparency is a way for me to say that I'm not in this just for my own selfish gain.

Can you tell us a little bit about your dreams for the future of PonyBabe?

I'd love to see PonyBabe grow into a modestly sized business that can support me in my life goals - I'd like to have a small piece of land one day, with a cozy home, a movement studio, and an office/design space.  I'd be so happy to have this project lead me there. 

On a more practical note, my goal for the line over the next two years is to grow my customer base large enough to support the use of GOTS certified organic cotton and other specialty sustainable textiles.  These fabrics are very expensive, and out of my reach right now.  I'm also very excited to develop my own color stories, and to do vegetable-based natural dyeing... the logistics of which were not manageable for the 24 Hour Outfit.

And, just for fun, and as an avid coffee lover, I have to ask: what's in your mug every morning? 

Well, this is one area where our passions diverge! I am a no-caffeine gal, so my mornings usually start with a big mug of herbal tea. I tend toward ginger, chamomile, or spicy home-blended chai. Yerba Mate is a once-in-awhile treat.  


Go follow along, support, and snag your very own 24 Hour Outfit. I'm truly so excited for the contribution PonyBabe will bring to the ethical fashion world.