An Intro To Ethical Fashion: My Transition

This post has been a long time coming. I procrastinated on it because I wanted to make sure my words came out right- it's not a subject I take lightly. Before I sat down to write, I wanted to make sure I was 100% committed, and that I'd thoughtfully processed this topic, instead of mindlessly jumping on a bandwagon. 

I tend to do that, you know. Jump on bandwagons. I like immediacy, action, and change, so having a cause feels good to me. 

But I wanted this to be more than another cause I jump into and then abandon or forget about after a few months. So I've waited a long time to write this. 

I also do not want this to come across as pushy, judgmental, harsh, or any other negative word. I'm not saying this is the choice you need to make too. I simply want to keep you updated with my particular journey into ethical fashion and explain my motivation behind it. 

an-intro-to-slow-fashion.jpeg

The Why:

As you probably already know, last year I began the process of simplifying my wardrobe (which was very extensive) down to about 37 pieces/season. I absolutely love the concept of capsule wardrobes, that they're so customizable, and the epitome of practicality. 

But the further I dove into the "capsule community" (because, really, there is this amazing online community of women supporting each other) I kept coming across words like "fast fashion", "slow fashion", "sustainable" and "ethically made". And I was intrigued. 

In the back of my mind I (like everyone else, I think) was fully aware of the "fast fashion" industry and how it not only produces low quality clothing at an incredible rate, but also treats its workers poorly and pays them even less. In fact, women are buying 1/3 more clothes than they were in 2002, most of them from mega-retailers. According to the Huffington Post, the fashion industry is a 3 trillion dollar/year industry, but only 2% of retailers are paying/treating their workers fairly (often abusing them or making them work against their will). It's the reality, and there's no denying it. It's not that I didn't care, its that I'm so far removed from the issue that it's honestly very easy to live without thinking about it. But even though we all know this, we don't really see how we can change anything about it. I mean, the fashion industry is a looming giant that continues to grow the more we continue to buy (and I don't see that completely stopping anytime soon). 

But I also knew that there had to be more options out there and that the words I kept encountering had to mean something. So I dove in and researched brands who were committed to using sustainable materials for their clothing, being intimately involved with those who make their clothes, and won't "mass produce" an item just to make a profit. 

And guess what? I found SO MANY BRANDS committed to doing just that. I also found bloggers, entrepreneurs, fashion designers and more who have joined the "slow fashion movement" and are making a real change. Many brands are giving back to help others with the clothes they sell, and others are employing victims of human trafficking or exploitation, paying them fairly for their work and teaching them a trade. 

The How:

So after I got over my skepticism (which is how all of my internal battles begin), I realized that maybe it was possible to not participate in fast fashion, and to buy only pieces made by those committed to ethical production. So many others have done it, why couldn't I?

Money, essentially. It's pretty obvious that one of the huge perks of fast fashion is its affordability. At stores like Target and Forever 21 you can snag a dress for $20 or outfit yourself for a whole season without breaking the bank. And if you look at my past capsule wardrobes, essentially that's what I did. 

Ethically produced items are generally much more expensive, simply because they're using quality materials and paying their employees what they should. 

But I won't lie, money was my biggest obstacle to overcome. I can't afford to spend my entire paycheck on a pair of ethically made jeans, or a new handbag. And neither can most people. 

So I was intent on finding AFFORDABLE retailers that I could legitimately see myself (and others) buying from. 

Obviously, I would have to buy less. That's just par for the course with slow fashion. The pieces are great quality, so they last longer. So I can also justify spending a bit more for something that will last me 10 years as opposed to a single season. 

The Process:

So here's what I decided. 

I have stopped buying clothes from retailers who don't use ethical practices. That doesn't mean I'm selling everything I own and replacing it with ethically made items. Not only is that  an irresponsible use of resources, and not in line with my "living well with less" mantra, I can't afford it. 

My closet is already very minimal as it is, so I'm keeping the pieces I have and love and slowly filling in the gaps with ethically made or second hand* ones. 

Eventually, my ethically made pieces will outweigh the un-ethical ones, but that will be quite a long process. 

To get started, I've partnered with some amazing brands that I'm so excited to support for the reveal of my Summer capsule wardrobe (hopefully next week!) and I'll show you the exact pieces that I've bought or received recently and the ones I'm carrying over. 

*buying second hand clothes is one of the best ways to shop ethically!

Conclusion:

As counter cultural as this whole slow fashion movement is, (and really, simple living in itself is counter cultural), I think it is a worthwhile movement that will make many small changes multiply into huge ones. My plan is to put together a guide of affordable/ethical options to make it less of an overwhelming task- so stay tuned! (*UPDATE: View the list here*) 

It will be a slow process- transitioning from the old to the ethical- but one that I'm fully committed to making. 

What are your thoughts on the slow fashion movement? Do you think it's possible to avoid fast fashion? I'm dying to hear your thoughts. 

Tips For Creating Your First Capsule Wardrobe

*Scoll through to get your FREE guide to simplify your closet!*

Let's get one thing out of the way before anything elseI am not a fashionista in any sense of the word. I've never been one to spend excessive amounts on clothes- in fact I'll usually wear the pieces I have into the ground before I go out and buy new things. I love thrifting and garage sale-ing. Ask my husband- he usually has to tell me to go buy new clothes. 

Don't get me wrong, I love dressing up and looking like I put effort in to myself. I love clothes and the way they individuate people and are a little bit like an art canvas that you wear around on your body. BUT clothes are not my "thing" and try as I may I'll never be the girl who has a closet full of brand name pieces that she can effortlessly pull off- to the envy of every one else in the room. Shopping- and all the options and styles out there, kind of stresses me out, honestly. BUT, despite my low-maintenance approach to clothes, I've completely fallen in love with capsule wardrobes. 

Wait, wait. What is a Capsule Wardrobe in the first place?

When I first heard about the growing trend of creating a capsule wardrobe, I was skeptical. I mean, purposely choosing to wear the same set number of pieces for a whole season seemed a little bit ridiculous and kind of needlessly "strict".

But then I read more. As you all know, simplicity and minimalism are both very important to me, as is anything that helps to put the focus onto the immediate moment and away from unimportant things.

That is kind of what capsule wardrobes aim to do. I read Unfancy, a blog by Caroline Rector who has largely spurred the movement on. She defines a capsule wardrobe as "a mini wardrobe made up of versatile pieces that you totally LOVE to wear". From there, I was hooked. I had never really thought about intentionality and clothes being compatible and the notion of capsule wardrobe completely opened my eyes to something that I think can be very healthy and beneficial.

Rector's capsules are usually around 37 pieces (EVERYTHING. Clothes, pants, dresses, shoes... except workout clothes, accessories, underwear, undershirts and special occasion clothes) that she can easily mix and match to create outfits for an entire season. Some people have even gone as extreme as creating an all seasons capsule, or limiting the number of pieces even more.

The beauty of capsule wardrobes is that they are totally customizable. If you don't like the basic, neutral look that Rector's capsules feature, include clothes that are more your style.It's the premise that stays the same: living with less in every area of life is usually a good thing. Including our clothes. It allows us to be intentional with our purchases, buying things that are not only good quality but pieces we LOVE and feel awesome in.

One day, after looking looking through my closet (which was in two separate rooms in our house for two reasons: I had WAY too many clothes, and we still haven't gotten our house organized enough) and feeling like I had nothing to wear, I knew something had to change.

How does it work? 

1 // DOWNSIZE. 

This is definitely a no brainer. The first things to go were the clothes that I haven't worn in over a year (we all know we have them...). I whittled down my closet to pieces that I couldn't part with that I would wear NOW, not in a few months or next year. I ended up getting rid of probably 75% of my clothes.

2 // DONATE OR SELL.

This is where the budget piece comes in. I had a garage sale with my mom where I sold not just clothes but other random clutter (which feels SO amazing to get rid of, trust me) and made enough to supplement my new clothes for my capsule. We donated what we didn't sell, so that it wouldn't just be sitting around in boxes creating more clutter.

I also had an Instagram "shop my closet" sale for the items that weren't garage sale material, but that I still wanted to get rid of, which helped downsize even further.

3 // PLAN. 

This was the really fun part for me. It is all about intentionality and buying exactly what you need. I did all my shopping online, since our options are rather limited here.

I used Un-Fancy's free wardrobe planner, which was super helpful. I definitely recommend it if you're considering starting a capsule! I planned out exactly what I wanted my wardrobe to look like, what colors I wanted, what styles, what pieces I've always dreamed of having but never wanted to spend the money on.....

4 // SHOP

I created a secret Pinterest board for all the items I was considering, to keep them all organized. Then, when I'd found everything I needed, I bought them!

That was definitely the most money I'd spent on clothes in one sitting since high school- and it felt great because it wasn't a spur of the moment purchase. I knew that I would actually wear what I was buying and it wouldn't just sit in my closet two months later collecting dust. I bought things that were high quality and a little bit more expensive, because I knew that I couldn't just make impulse purchases whenever I felt like it.

5 // WEAR IT

I'm still waiting on a few of my packages to come in, but once they all get here, I will share my full capsule with you all! It ended up being WAY smaller than Rector's which surprised me.

Stay tuned for my next post at the beginning of next month where I'll share my capsule AND tips on how to make it work for people who don't have excuses to "dress-up" a lot. You know, those of us who work from home and live in yoga pants and t-shirts. Yep. That's who I am.

Have you heard of capsule wardrobes?  What are your initial reactions to creating one?

How to Establish a Bedtime Routine (and why it's so important)

*DISCLAIMER: This post has been sponsored by Collective Bias inc. and it's advertisers, but all opinions are original and my own. #CollectiveBias #NaturalGoodness * 

When E was around 6 months or so we quickly learned the importance of establishing a good bedtime routine. She was not  a good sleeper. She would wake 3-4 times a night for the first 6 or 7 months- until we sleep trained her, and then off an on due to moving several times and lots of schedule changes.

This definitely made for a tired mama- the kind of thing where you dream about having a full night of sleep. You know how it goes.

Eventually I started doing some research, to see if this was "normal" and if there was anything I could do to fix it. I found lots of various sleep training methods and (of course) millions of opinions on everything. (I can discuss what we did for "sleep training" in a different post if anyone thinks that would be helpful!) But there was one common thread throughout most of what I found- creating a solid nighttime routine.

Kids NEED repetition. It helps them feel secure and safe to explore within those boundaries. Setting a loose schedule for Evie every night helped her know what to expect next and got her thinking about going to sleep before we put her in her crib.

Here's what we did: (and still do to this day- though she is a MUCH better sleeper now).

*Note: This can/will look different for every family! There is no right way to do this....I'm just providing an example of what worked for us.*

-Talk about bedtime before its bedtime. This was huge for E who does not do well if we spring things on her. Preparing her an hour or so before (after dinner usually) really helped her cooperate.

- Set a routine and stick to it. Obviously, there are nights when you break the routine, and we are definitely flexible, but at first it is important to be consistent.

- Be patient. If you have a "problem sleeper" like I did, things won't change overnight (literally...). Remembering that they're learning a new skill, so to speak, will help you be more patient when things aren't progressing as fast as you wish.

Now that E is almost 2, things look a little bit differently at night, but we still follow the same guidelines as when she was learning the routine. Here is what an average night looks like in our house:

7:30

// Bath-time and brushing teeth: this is usually after we've all eaten dinner and had time to play and be crazy for a while.

Evie LOVES brushing her teeth. As with all products I use, it's important to me that I use a toothpaste I trust. I need to know that if she eats it like candy (not really, but she loves the taste of it) she will be ok. I use Tom's of Maine®'s all natural children's toothpaste in strawberry for E (they also have a fluoride-free version for babies up to 24 months). There are no dyes, flavors or fragrances in these products, so I'm not worried about letting her brush her own teeth. I picked mine up at Walmart and I'm loving it so far! 

 If you're interested in trying Tom's of Maine® for your kids, they will be hosting demos in select Walmarts on September 19th- lots of free samples and coupons.

8:00// Wind down and read stories: during this time we keep talking about bed time and *maybe* let her watch one episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Then we let her pick which book she wants to read and who gets to read it to her.

 Lot's of snuggles and pacifier stealing happens during this time. Also, I can't get over Mara's face in this photo....

Goodnight Moon has been her favorite since she was tiny.

8:30 // Go upstairs to bed. Either Aj or I will talk her up to bed, sing her songs and rub her back (she's SO snuggly...) then tell her it's time for sleeping and let her pass out.

That's how we do it at our house. It's pretty simple so far, since Mara isn't big enough to participate yet.

I'm curious, how do those of you with kids do bedtime at your house? I'd love tips for keeping two kids on the same schedule!

Tips to Prepare Your Toddler for a New Sibling

It could be mistaken that by publishing a post on a certain topic, I consider myself an expert in said topic. That couldn't be further from the truth- especially today. Though my toddler is going to have a new sibling any day, I don't feel like I've done everything I can to prepare her. It hasn't even been my main focus, honestly.

Which gives me all the more reason to write this post. I know lots of mommies who either have multiple children or are getting ready to add another. So in hopes that it will provide a little bit of insight for the newbies (like myself) and that the seasoned pros would chime in with their advice- I wanted to open up the conversation.

 Preparing to have your second child is a COMPLETELY different story than your first. I feel much less worried about the "what-ifs" in pregnancy and much more confident in my abilities to birth and take care of a newborn. It's when Evie comes in that I get a little nervous. Up until now she has been my one and only focus (besides AJ and the house and the blog and what we're going to eat and.....you know what I mean...). I've been able to give her my undivided attention whenever she needed it. When she cried I was right there. When she wanted a banana, I gave her the banana.

But now, as I'm literally days from introducing her to her sister, I'm wondering if I should have been more intentional with preparing her. She's almost 19 months old, so the scope of what she can understand is limited. I'm pretty sure she thinks my belly

is

the actual baby at this point...

Given my limited experience on the issue, I asked some of my friends who have done this before for advice. And I got some gems that I've been applying at home (and plan on applying once baby arrives), but I wanted to also share them here in case they'll be helpful to any of you!

1//

Talk about babies in a positive way.

This feels like a no brainer- but even if you're referring to the baby as "your tummy", it's important that your child has a positive association with it. I've been reading lots of books about babies and becoming a big sister with E, and I hope it will help when the actual baby gets here!

2//

Start making them wait.

I read this tip somewhere and it's stuck with me ever since. When there's only one baby, it's easy to give them what they need/want immediately. I've started telling E that I'll get her something once I finish what I'm doing, or that she can go outside once she finishes eating...etc. Again, this is basically common sense, but I think it's important to be intentional to minimize the shock to them as much as possible.

3//

Get them on a good schedule.

This has been the one I'm freaking out about the most. Evie hasn't been the greatest sleeper and I worried for a long time that I wouldn't be able to handle a newborn

and

Evie waking up at night. Luckily, she has been sleeping through the night and going down super easily for most of my pregnancy, but if you haven't gotten #1 on a solid sleep schedule, now would be the time to do it!

(The rest of the tips are for AFTER baby comes- which I found super helpful and will definitely be using).

4//

Schedule a special "sleep-over" for when you go into labor.

Whether it's with one of your parents, a sibling or close friend, figuring out what to do with your kiddo once you go into labor that won't make them feel neglected is important. Maybe do a few practice nights, if they're up for it.

5//

Give them something special to give the new baby (or a special present from the baby to them).

I can't decide if Evie is too young for this or not- but I think it's an awesome idea to ease the shock of seeing mommy holding another baby.

6//

Have a designated activity for them to do during feedings.

This one was awesome for me to hear from several of my friends. One momma told me she set up a snack station for her older child right next to where she nursed the new baby. Someone also told me they got a doll for their child to feed while they fed the baby- both super solid ideas!

7//

Go with the flow and don't worry when you can't handle everything at once.

This is for the moms, not the kids, but I need to hear it so I'm sharing it! There will be times when both kids are crying and you can't cater to all their needs at once. That's fine. Take a breath and decide which need it most important. You got this.

To those who have done this before, what advice can you offer us first-time-second-time moms? 

Intentional Living: When All the Props are Pulled


Once again, this isn't the post I had planned to write today. Sometimes inspiration has her own plans. In fact, I'm sitting here re-writing it after I accidentally deleted the entire (finished) post right before I tried to publish it. It's one of those Fridays, guys. But I'm excited enough about what inspired me that I'm going to hopefully get it done today!

I had planned to share my "June Goals" with you all (more for my own accountability and inability to get anything done without a physical list...) but as riveting as that sounds, I hope this post will strike a few chords with someone as well.

Speaking of things not going as planned, that is ironically the very topic I was writing about right before I erased it from my hard drive. Maybe I needed to learn the lesson one more time before I shared it with anyone...

But before all of that, as I was brainstorming my list of goals for the month, I came across this quote I shared on Facebook two years ago today (thanks Timehop app...) -


It is a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand. It stops us from taking anything for granted. It has taught me a lot about living in the immediate moment. I'm somehow managing to live one day, one hour at a time. I have to. ~Madeleine L'Engle

I immediately stopped, slightly overwhelmed and taken right back to where I was two years ago. You see, two years ago today I was around three months pregnant with little E. Very few people knew about it at this point- we were waiting to tell people, afraid of negative reactions. But AJ and I knew. I won't share the whole story here, because I've already done that here and here. I will say that this period of my life felt very much like all the props had fallen out from under me.

Getting pregnant wasn't exactly on my to-do list at that point in my life. But there we were- dealing with the unexpected, like so many situations in life. As Madeleine L'Engle, one of my very favorite authors, so wisely says, these phases reveal what is rock and what is sand in your life. AJ and I both learned that certain people would stand beside you while others slid away like sand under our feet. The rocks kept us going; kept us hoping.

AJ was one of my strongest rocks in this time, one I took for granted often. Unplanned pregnancy is hard for both people- he could have ran from the responsibility of parenthood. But he stayed. And made sure that I knew he would.

Another thing I blog frequently about is living intentionally. I didn't know it at the time, because everything seemed almost like a blur, rushing by me without giving me time to process, but I had to choose to face every day. Despite the excitement and joy of having a baby, there was a lot of doubt and regret. Living intentionally became a reality to me, not just an inspirational phrase. These phases in our life are short, but when you're in the thick place, the unplanned, it feels like an eternity. Making the choice not to run but to embrace is everything.

Like Madeleine says, somehow we find a way to live day to day. We have to.

Maybe all the props are pulled out from under you now. Maybe you're in the thick, unexpected place. To you I would say, hold on, my friend. Find a rock and cling to it- letting the sand, the unimportant, slip by. Live each day, especially the ones you don't want to face, with intention and remember that it is good to have the props pulled. Whether you're facing a life altering phase or you just deleted all of your hard work, choose to live "in the immediate moment", knowing how you respond will shape the moments to come.

Simply,

Liv