Something Borrowed: Bridesmaid & Wedding Guest Dresses

This I Wear | Something Borrowed: Bridesmaid & Wedding Guest Dresses

It is the curse of the late 20s/early 30-something to have a wedding every single weekend during some months of the year. That time is now for me…or at least it was for the last few weeks. It’s been quiet here for a few reasons, but one reason is back-to-back weddings with travel required.

I have no reason to complain though. I’ve heard stories of friends and friends of friends with 10 weddings in a single year, which means all of their vacation days and disposable income goes towards celebrating others’ special days. Wedding-hopping might be fun for some, but I tend to prefer everything in moderation, including I-do’s.

I personally have been trying to wear one dress to several weddings, and I’m not alone. Fashion writer Lauren Sherman wore one dress to 10 weddings in a single year and she wrote about in the fantastic article, Say ‘Yes’ To The Dress: How To Make One Look Work For 10 Weddings. [And if you love this article, you should really sign up for her newsletter, Lauren in the Afternoon.]

But when seasons change or when you’re in the wedding, you might have trouble making something in your closet work for every event.

Lucky for me and you, I got a chance to try one dress rental option and explore another for my back-to-back weddings that helped me realize that I didn’t have to make any commitments just because someone else is celebrating theirs.

For the Bridesmaid: Union Station (formerly “Little Borrowed Dress”) is an NYC-based startup that rents made-in-NYC bridesmaid dresses. For a super affordable price, you’ll get one dress, a backup dress size, and paid shipping both ways. Plus, they’ll take care of cleaning the dress after the event for you. You and the bridal party can try on dresses in their NYC showroom or they’ll send you swatches in the mail. My amazingly go-with-the-flow super considerate girlfriend just used them for her wedding (this is only clue as to why I love this girl). By the end of the night, my dress was still looking fresh after hours of photos and dancing. My one warning though is that we all chose the “Kate”, and there was a lot of very unruly, very unexpected cleavage for those above an A-cup, even though we had tried the dresses on in person. Luckily, I don’t think Memaw noticed…

For the Wedding Guest: I had every intention of trying Rent the Runway for Wedding #2. There’s nothing really ethical about the dresses or designers they carry, but it is sustainable in the way that you borrow instead of buying a dress you’ll only wear once or twice. I spent some time exploring the dresses, but as a Rent the Runway first-timer, I realized I should have booked further in advance. The options for my size were really thin for my delivery and return dates, so I gave up and opted to dress up something I already had in my closet instead. Even though I struck out this time, I’ll keep this option in mind for future events. And perhaps in the meantime, they’ll start stocking more emerging designers and/or ethical fashion frocks (or has someone already invented that business?).

So tell me, is it wedding season for you too? I want to hear what you’re wearing to your upcoming special occasions, AND this is also the perfect occasion for you to tell us your bridesmaid dress nightmare stories in the Comments.

P.S. Summer is right around the corner. Just a quick heads up that I may be posting less frequently as I spend more time outside, and as with last year, I’ll be taking August off. Telling you now so we can all be prepared for this!

[Photos via Union Station and Rent the Runway]

Now What?

Perhaps on Sunday evening or early this week, you watched John Oliver’s segment that shared the scary cycle of fast fashion companies getting in trouble for human rights violations and the rest of us quickly forgiving and forgetting.

It is a full 17 minutes, but I hope you’ll forget about the fact that our attention spans have disappeared and stick it out for the full video.

Why? Because we have to recognize this as a significant moment. No, we didn’t do enough after the Rana Plaza factory collapse and the subsequent factory fires that led to the creation of Fashion Revolution Day whose anniversary was April 24. Just like we didn’t do enough after all the tragedies since the early 1990s caused by the pursuit of ever cheaper clothing that John highlights in this feature. But it is a significant moment when an extremely popular tv show that is only 30 minutes long gives more than half of the show over to reminding us how we (this means you and me) are letting this pattern continue.

I will say that Gap, which is the company in focus for majority of the video, is not the worst offender. Who is? Every store you’ve ever been in where you’ve exclaimed “I can’t believe how cheap this is.” Sometimes that is Gap, but it’s also Forever21, H&M, Zara, Target, Walmart, American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, Topshop, Kohl’s, Joe Fresh, and so many more.

Many of these companies are in reputable industry organizations and have CSR departments and compliance teams. Some of them have really innovative programs for trying to improve on environmental issues. But at the end of the day, a $5 t-shirt and a $20 blouse need to cause us to raise our eyebrows and ask ourselves “but how?”.

The next step is action, but today, I hope you’ll take some time to watch the video,  notice the patterns, see the cycle, and decide whether you want to do something about it.

 

 

Transition your wardrobe from Winter to Spring (with Printable Checklist!)

This I Wear | Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring

Spring is officially here. The birds are chirping. The flowers are blooming. And you’re ready to pull out your sunglasses and sundresses and head outside. If you’re like me, you may be feeling like you never want to see a coat or scarf ever again. Seriously, never ever again. But unless you’re migrating south, you’re going to need that winter wardrobe to be in great shape next winter too.

This weekend, as I dropped off two pairs of boots to my neighborhood shoe repair for end-of-season cleaning and heel repair, I realized it’s time for the official wardrobe switch over. But I tend to forget exactly what’s required to do the switch well. Since I take a lot of time and care (and sometimes money) in selecting what goes in my closet, I want those pieces to last for several more seasons. So I figured there’s no better time than now to get organized with a good old-fashioned list to make sure I spend as much time and care in putting away last season’s clothes and accessories as I do in pulling out my old favorites from last spring/summer.

For your benefit and mine, included here are my checklists for saying “thanks and see you later” to your winter wardrobe and saying “hello” to spring. And as an added bonus, you can download a simple PDF version, so you can keep the lists handy for future reference.

*Before I leap in, just a quick note. I have a tiny NYC apartment, so I don’t have lots of space to store anything. In fact, I usually have all seasons of my wardrobe accessible year round. But taking the time to properly mend, clean and fold/hang clothes after a season (especially winter woolens!) is key to helping them last for years to come. So whether you have the luxury of being able to store away off-season clothing or you’re just moving them a little further to the back of your closet, following these steps will help your things last a lot longer.

[Download the PDF version]

This I Wear | Winter Wardrobe Checklist

[Background Image by Chelsea Francis via Unsplash]

This I Wear |

[Background Image by Morgan Sessions via Unsplash]

Ayurveda: Seeking Balance and Beauty

This I Wear | Ayurveda: Seeking Balance and Beauty

Balance may be a myth, but the stress we’re putting on our bodies is real.

Last year, I shared the beginning of my switch to natural beauty products with you. The switch was motivated by a desire to incorporate my values around sustainability and health into what I put on my skin. Yet it also coincided with my own search to find new daily self-care rituals for myself, especially at the end of a long workday. And that latter part is because I’ve realized that I have been putting myself under so much stress, that the stress is starting to show up as very real physical health issues.

From the unusual pain in my neck that I’ve had since last August to the feeling of being unable to go any further as I’m rushing the six blocks to the subway in the morning, my health issues have been seemingly inexplicable. My doctor tells me I’m perfectly healthy. And admittedly, every time I go to a doctor and tell her what’s wrong, I follow up any description of the problem with “but I think it is just stress related.”

Well, at this point, most choices I’m making about how I live my life are “stress related.”

Before doing a total life overall, I’ve started to get curious about what balance means for me right now.

Ayurveda, an ancient system of healing founded in India, offers a totally different perspective on balance. Ayurveda is about “learning how intimately your body and mind are connected, knowing what will make them work in harmony, and doing what you can to create that harmony.”* It sees balance not as an end goal – you cannot achieve it once and then always have it – but instead as a constant process of listening to our bodies and responding to its needs through the activities we choose to do, the food we choose to eat, and the lifestyle we choose to lead. Balance, in Ayurveda, looks different for each one of us and differs based on our age, the season and even the time of day.

Inspired and intrigued by this different perspective on balance, I tumbled down the Ayurveda rabbit hole. Here’s why I think I might stay for awhile.

After a few initial attempts to learn about Ayurveda (a dense confusing book and a few online dosha quizzes), I serendipitously ended up in class at the yoga studio I attend occasionally with the resident Ayurveda teacher who had just returned from India. Taking it as a sign but too intimidated by my total ignorance to ask her where to start, I picked up the book Essential Ayurveda by Shubhra Krishnan in the studio’s lobby, assuming that the teacher had likely picked out this book anyway. And lucky for me, it was the perfect introductory book and was such a good read that I almost missed my train stop on multiple occasions.

Since Ayurveda is a holistic healing system that relies on whole foods as “medicine,” the focus is truly on what we are putting into our bodies as nourishment, which obviously reflects in our outer beauty. When we’re functioning well on the inside, the outside glow is a natural side effect. But there are quite a lot of Ayurvedic daily “beauty” rituals – just consider oil pulling or dry skin brushing. My curiosity around how Ayurveda translates to skincare led me to Pratima Spa and Skincare, based in NYC.

As a birthday treat for myself, I tried the Ayurvedic facial, and my amazing esthetician Heidi (after I admitted I was intimidated by the products) walked me through where to start. I’ve been using the Pitta face oil twice daily after cleansing and before I add a little moisturizer on top. I’ve also been massaging post-shower with the Vata body oil, which is really lovely. If I had based my purchase on scent alone, I wouldn’t have picked these, but given how happy my skin is, I plan to stick with both. If you’re curious, you can pick up Pratima’s book Absolute Beauty (though I don’t recommend it as an introductory book) and take her dosha skincare quiz to find your dosha type and the right products for you.

And after all of this, I am still so hungry for more knowledge. It’s been really interesting also to see how it fits in with my regular yoga practice and (mostly) healthful diet.

So what does balance look like for me right now? Well, it looks like 10 minutes with the Headspace meditation app while I ride the train to work, going to bed earlier than I would like (old habits die hard!), and letting myself get up from my desk and take a break without feeling guilty for not looking busy. It looks like really luxurious evening rituals like a steamy shower followed by thoughtfully applying body oil to soothe the aches and pains. It looks like reaching for a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea instead of a caffeinated beverage. And it also looks like experimenting with new and delicious recipes that warm me from the inside out.

And most of all, it means acknowledging that only I know what my body feels like when it is in balance, and trusting my gut (rather than a perfectly normal blood test) when it says that it’s time to make some changes. Balance is not achieved in one day, but then again, it didn’t take just one day to reach this state of imbalance. But a very good place to start the healing process is simply to redefine our idea of balance to allow for constant change and even imperfection.

So tell me, what rituals keep you in balance? What are your best tips for letting go of stress?

*Krishnan, xvi.

Related No.6

This week, despite having multiple finished posts ready for your reading pleasure, I’m going to keep you in suspense just a little longer. Why? Because this week, I’m feeling a little bit more interested in being inspired than sharing. There’s something about the changing of the season that makes me feel more like listening than talking or writing. So here’s a few things that have been lighting me up lately, and I hope you’ll share what’s inspiring you in the comments.

1. Read Essential Ayurveda by Subhra Krishnan. I picked up this book at my yoga studio and it was the perfect introduction to Ayurveda. I’ll be talking more about why I loved it very soon, but why not get a head start on all of the lovely beauty and health tips about staying balanced year-round?
2. Adopt a plant. I just bought a little rosemary plant to add to my apartment’s greenery, and I have to say that buying a plant really brings out your inner optimist. Now just to find the perfect container for it…
3. Sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share! April and May are prime time for securing a farm share and getting delicious, freshly picked produce every single freaking week from summer into winter. Have no idea what I’m talking about? Read this. Then look up what’s available in your community on LocalHarvest.org.
4. Email me your career questions. I’ve been getting quite a lot of requests for career advice from many of you interested in working in sustainable fashion or a CSR department full-time. I will be putting a post together on my experience, so please email me if you’d like to make sure your question is answered.

*A little extra: Attend the book discussion of Maria Eugenia Girón with Kate Black on April 7th at the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator. The event will celebrate the launch of Girón’s new book, Sustainable Luxury and Social Entrepreneurship: Stories from the Pioneers, based on her experience in the luxury world.

Want more? Follow me on Twitter for more favorite reads and stylish finds.

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