Category Archives: Reviews

How to Avoid Toxic Nail Polish

This post will be short and sweet. If you are like me, you try to avoid unnecessary chemicals coming in contact with your life as much as possible. Small changes to daily use products like shampoo, laundry detergent, lip balm, and hand soap can add up to make a big difference in the quantity of chemicals that your body has to process.

One of the largest offenders of hash chemicals in the beauty world is nail polish. Most nail polishes contain hormone-disrupting chemicals, including triphenyl phosphate, or TPP, which has been found in breast milk! (See full article from Huffington Post here).

But alas! There’s good news. well+Good, one of my favorite sites for all things related to healthy living, has just published their list of the Top 25 “5-Free” Nail Polishes. I will admit, as a resident of small town Indiana, I’ve only heard of (or have had access to) 2 of these 25 brands. But never fear, that’s what online shopping is for!

A “5-Free” nail polish is free from Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin and Camphor. 

Butter Jaffa

I’ve personally tried one of these brands, Butter London, which I’ve found works very well! The label on the bottle says that Butter is a “3 Free” nail polish, so maybe it’s not the best option, but it’s all I can buy in town. A bottle typically costs $15, but if you’re clever you can sometimes find a bottle at TJMaxx for $4.50!

I really like Butter nail polish overall. It definitely takes two layers, but I have found that it dries very fast. Butter nail polish also does not have a harsh smell, which I appreciate. typically my nails chip within 24 hours after painting, but with Butter I’ve gotten then to last up to 4 days without a single chip!

Butter Bumster

Minimize your daily contact with harmful chemicals for a healthier you!

How to Shop for Sustainable Fashion

We all want to be better. Look better, act better, eat better. But when it comes to fashion, American’s rarely think about what it means to dress better.

In this context, I am not using the word better to mean more designer brands, or clothing that fits well.

To me, “dress better” means:

  • Buy clothing with minimal environmental impact.
  • Buy from brands that give back in some way.
  • Shop from manufacturers who have a humanitarian supply chain.
  • Consume Less.
  • Re use more.
  • Love every item.

For those of you who want a better understanding of what I’m talking about, watch this piece about Fast Fashion by John Oliver on HBO’s Last Week Tonight:

“In 2013 American’s purchased on average 64 items per person.”

-John Oliver

So instead of buying 64 non-sustainable, cheaply made clothing items that won’t last, maybe this year you decide to limit your purchases to 24 items and to get all of them either second-hand, or from sustainable companies. That’s still two items a month! And instead of items that fall apart after 6 months, buying sustainable also means higher quality. These are things that can last a decade!

Brands that I love:

Tonlé –  This is an amazing brand! They make “Zero-waste fashion” by salvaging large quantities of scrap fabric and turning it into sell-able, beautiful, fashion. This is how all clothing should be made!

Swedish Stockings –  Yes even stockings/tights can be purchased from a sustainable source. On average these cost $20/pair which is comparable to brands such as Banana Republic.

Nisolo –  This is an amazing shoe brand that hand crafts leather shoes at a very reasonable price. Nisolo is committed to using local resources for their shoes, and every single shoe is made by hand. Price range: $90 – $250 on average for a pair of shoes. Nisolo means “Not Alone”. This brand is a constant reminder that our daily choices can impact others.

Pact – My lovely boyfriend Pact Socksbought me some boot socks from this company for the holidays. Pact makes socks, underwear, undershirts, camisoles, pajamas, leggings, and baby clothes from organic cotton! They have tons of styles, and even have socks for flats! Their motto – “We make clothes that don’t hurt people”. I’d compare prices to Express and The Limited, but the quality is much much better. No child labor, no sweatshops, no pesticides; shopping here is a no-brainier.

Pact Image

Cuyana – This isn’t the first time I’ve raved about Cuyana. I have purchased two tote bags from Cuyana and am so impressed with the company and the quality. For leather accessories there is no better brand out there. Every item is carefully crafted and look and feel way better than standard designer bags. A large tote costs about $160 and trust me, it’ll be softer leather than any tote you’ve felt from any brand at the mall. I’ve adopted Cuyana’s motto as my personal motto: Fewer, Better Things.

Everlane – This brand is all about Radical Transparency. So much in fact that the order page for every item comes with a Transparent Pricing guide that shoes you exactly how much each step of the process cost to make the garment.

Everlane - Transparent Pricing

Everlane is also transparent about their manufacturers. By partnering with small manufacturing shops around the world, and working closely with the owners of each shop, Everlane guarantees that the laborers who sew their clothes and farm their cotton  are paid a fair wage and have safe working conditions.

For the holidays I bought three items from Everlane for my boyfriend: a cotton t-shit, a cotton long sleeve button down shirt, and a leather belt. All three items were wonderful quality and the fit is impeccable. My friend Theresa purchased two of their silk sleeveless button ups and we couldn’t believe the quality of the fabric. It’s the thickest, softest silk that I’ve ever touched!

 

To learn more about  Consuming Less and Loving Everything You Own, check out my previous posts on living with a Capsule Wardrobe.

In the next post: I’ll reveal a way to re-use clothing that probably don’t know exists.

Stitch Fix #3 – A Farewell Message

I received my third and final Stitch Fix “Fix” and I don’t think I’ll receive a fourth. It seems that the usefulness of using Stitch Fix has a lot to do with your lifestyle. If you are s busy mom that never has time to even glance in the direction of a clothing store to shop for yourself, Stitch Fix might be a huge aide to your hectic world. For me, it was a fun but unnecessary service that definitely was not a need in my life.

If you scroll back to my first post about Stitch Fix you’ll find a long rant about the appeal of Sustainable Fashion. It seems just bad luck for the Stitch Fix brand that I happened to find the Slow Fashion movement the exact same week that I found Stitch Fix. Unfortunately Stitch Fix does not offer (as far as I could tell) any sustainable brands. They do offer a few Made in USA items, but that’s about it. Furthermore Stitch Fix has its own brands (41 Hawthorne, Kut from Kloth, etc) which might be adding to the fast fashion issue.

Despite having these opinions, I decided to order a third fix, mostly because my friend Theresa had signed up and I had a $25 credit to use. Let’s see what they sent.

Item 1: Hanko Buffalo Plaid Vest – Pixley – $58Stitch Fix #3 - 1

This item is probably an easy “yes” for most consumers but I’m just not a fan of vests. My arms get cold!

Item 2: Dean Skinny Jean – Just Black – $78Stitch Fix #3 - 2

I liked the color and style of these pants, and I did specifically ask for colored skinny jeans, but unfortunately to justify adding them to my limited capsule wardrobe they needed to be one size larger.

Item 3: Joana Turtle Neck Pullover Sweater – RD Style – $98Stitch Fix #3 - 3

I would have kept this sweater if the neck had been anything but a cowl. I already have a cowl sweater in my Fall and Winter capsules, and keeping with the “fewer better things” lifestyle I can’t justify buying another one, especially from a non sustainable brand.

Item 4: Londyn Knit Peacoat Jacket – 41Hawthorn – $68Stitch Fix #3 - 4

This coat is a Stitch Fix brand and the fabric quality was terrible. It was not warm enough to be called a “peacoat”. Honestly this garment pisses me off and is the epitome of fast fashion in my opinion.

Item 5: Vance Henley Blouse – 41Hawhorne – $68Stitch Fix #3 - 5

The good news: I asked for a colored blouse and I got one. The bad news: I gave color examples that are appropriate for winter, such as emerald or burgundy, and instead got cobalt blue. I already own a blouse almost identical to this and it’s in my summer capsule where it belongs. Oh and did I mention IT HAD A STAIN!!!
I was pleased by the packaging on Fix #3. I also had the same stylist as Fix #2 which made me happy. I think unfortunately that the stylist got my style wrong. Although I do like conservative clothing due to my professional workplace setting, I still want to look my age: 28. Often times the teams she’d send were things that I could see my mom wearing more so than myself.

And with that I say so long and fair well Stitch Fix. You were fun for a little while but ultimately not a service that fits with my lifestyle.

Stitch Fix #2 and Thoughts from Friends on their Fixes

Just as the first, my secondIMG_1594 Stitch Fix arrived right on time in a beautifully wrapped package gleaming with promise and excitement. I had asked my stylist for a specific item this time around; a pair of mid-rise skinny jeans.
Here are the items I received in my second Fix:

Item 1:   Kamile Jersey Ruched Detail Dress – Gilli – $54

This item fit well, but I felt like it was too dowdy. This is the second time I’ve received a dress from Stitch Fix and felt like it was “too old” for my taste.

Item 2:   Mariska Side Split Knit Top – RD Style – $48

This item is a tunic sweater with long slits up either side. I loved the fabric and color, but the fit was slightly too slouchy for me.

Item 3:   Edgewater Knit Top – Loveappella – $48

This shirt was soft and fit well, but the price seemed high for a casual 3/4 sleeve cotton tee.

Item 4:   Dayna Skinny Jean – Kut From Kloth – $88

Mid-rise black skinny jeans, just like I asked for! Well, almost. See more below!

Item 5:   Marvin Jacket – Sanctuary – $138

This was the WORST item of this fix. It’s an outerwear coat that’s straight cut. The fabric was cotton, so not even close to being weatherproof. The collar and sleeves looked like the same style as on letter man jackets. Weird… The lack of a lapel also seemed odd to me. This was a total stitch fix fail.

What did I keep?

Well, although I was hoping for skinny BLUE jeans, I fell in love with the Kut from Kloth black skinny jeans that I received in my fix. I’ve been wearing them for over a month now (no not every single day…) and they are wonderful. Definitely mid-rise like I asked and the fit is perfect. The fabric feels thick which is how I like my skinnys.

Being silly modeling off my new black skinny jeans and 3/4 sleeve tee from Stitch Fix.
Being silly modeling off my new black skinny jeans and 3/4 sleeve tee from Stitch Fix.

I also kept Item #3. I hemmed and hawed on this item for the entire 3 days until my return package was due back in the mail. The shirt fits great and is super soft, but I was hesitant that it’s not special enough to warrant A) the $45 price and B) a coveted spot in my fall capsule (See Capsule Wardrobe: Narrowing Down the Options). In the end I kept it.

To recap, I kept 1 item from my first Stitch Fix and two items from my second. I’ll receive at least one more “Fix” before deciding whether or not to continue this service. Stay posted!

If you’d like to try Stitch Fix, click here!

 

A note from Kimberly:

“A few weeks ago I received my second Stitch Fix and was shocked with what I found. Normally each box is nicely packaged. All of the clothes are neatly folded and wrapped in a piece of tissue paper with a little Stitch Fix label. My last box was completely disheveled. It literally looked like the person who packaged it tried on the items and then threw them into the box. One of the shirts was even inside out!

–> Kimberly contacted Stitch Fix and let them know about the issue and her third box came with an apology note from her new stylist. Obviously no company wants to be represented in this way, but sometimes employees are disgruntled. If you ever have an experience similar to Kimberly’s post a message below. I’m curious to see just how often this happens.

Stitch Fix #1 and a Message About Our Consumer Nation

The purpose of this post is two-fold: 1) To continue my journey into a life of “Fewer, Better Things”* and 2) To review my experience with the company Stitch Fix.

*The motto I’ve adopted from the amazingly socially reliable company Cuyana

I recently watched a movie on Netflix called The True Cost. The True Cost is a documentary uncovering the truth about the wasteful and harmful nature of the fashion industry. The “Fast Fashion” industry is the #2 polluting industry globally, second only to petroleum.

If you’re not convinced yet that buying 50 things on Black Friday is directly impacting our world in a very serious way, here are a few statistics that might pique your interest in learning more:

  • Fashion’s engine is powered by an estimated 40 million garment workers, most of whom make less than $1 per day.
  • The average American disposes of 80 lbs of clothing each year.
  • Fast fashion clothes are full of toxin chemicals including LEAD! (read more here)
  • Cotton farming is responsible for 2.6% of the world’s water use.
  • An estimated 17 to 20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment and an estimated 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used throughout the world to turn raw materials into textiles. 

So what does all of this pollution and inhumane labor get us? A closet full of cheap clothes and pockets stuffed full of cash for the few fashion executives. So is it worth it? As part of my journey into defining and wearing a Capsule Wardrobe I cut down extremely on my fashion purchases. The first item that I bought was an amazing tote bag from a wonderfully sustainable company, Cuyana. I never realized that spending $160 on one bag could feel so good, but knowing that I put my money where my mouth is when it comes to buying clothing from responsible companies was outstanding.

Check out this list of companies that have been rated among the top by EthicalConsumer.com.

Links to a few of my favorite sustainable brands:

Now let’s talk about Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix #1 (8/5/15)Here it is in all it’s glory! If you haven’t heard of Stitch Fix and want to learn more, check it out here.

Prior to scheduling this fix, I filled out the lengthy style guide (which was very fun). I even included a specific note to my stylist regarding what I wanted to see in my first fix. I specifically asked for a black blaze, and not to include pants, shorts, or skirts. Not only did my stylist, Amber, follow the instructions to a T, she also included a My note from Amber, the stylistlovely message regarding the items she chose and why. I created a Pinterest board filled with fashion pins to help Amber understand my style. I highly recommend doing this. Amber even mentioned in her note that it was helpful 🙂Style Cards

The fix also comes with a “style card” for each item which shows you how to mix and match it with items in your closet to have a stylish put together look. So let’s take a look at the items I received.

Fix #1: My First 5 ItemsItem 1) Adrianna Circle Bib Necklace, by Zad, $34.00

Item 2) Dita Sleeveless Ponte Dress, by 41Hawthorne, $68.00

Item 3) Corinna Striped Dolman Top, by Market & Spruce, $48.00

Item 4) Kaylie Solid French Terry Blazer, by Tart, $128.00

Item 5) Liffey Button Down Top, by Skies are Blue, $58.00

After trying all of the pieces on, and mixing and matching with items in my summer capsule, I decided to only keep one thing; Item 3. I was also very close to keeping Item 2, and probably would of if it had been a brighter color.

I was also disappointed that 3 of the 5 pieces were Stitch Fix specific brands (41Hawthorne, Market & Spruce, Skies are Blue); meaning not something you can buy somewhere else. This wouldn’t bother me if they had a sustainability or eco-friendly statement on their website about their brands, but until I see that it makes me like this a tad less, but I still want to try it a few more times. This method of having handpicked items delivered to me should compliment the Capsule Wardrobe lifestyle well. It’s especially useful since I live in a smaller town without access to non “big box” clothing stores.

Pros: Everything fit, I’d score this a 7/10 for my style (not bad for the first try), a few items were very nice quality

Cons: Next time I will specify no jewelry, does not offer sustainable brands (that I’m aware of)

My take home message:

Stitch Fix, please add some sustainable brands to your lineup. I’d happily pay $30 more per item if I knew they came from companies dedicated to ending the “fast fashion” epidemic.

Zady Brand Manifesto
Zady Brand Manifesto

Reveal by Calvin Klein Influenster VoxBox Review

Recently I was asked to try a new cologne by Calvin Klein called Reveal as part of an Influenster product campaign.  Although the sample I received is for the Reveal for Men, I decided to test it on both myself and my boyfriend.  I should note that Calvin Klein also has a Reveal for Women fragrance but I have yet to smell that one.

Mail's Here!
Mail’s Here!

 

This Vox “box” was really more of an envelope.  Anytime that I receive something from Influenster I get excited and eagerly check the mail every day and then immediately take a selfie. It’s basic, but oh well!

 

 

 

The RevealMore package included the following as shown above:

1) Small sample of Reveal for Men by Calvin KleinTime to Test Reveal by Calvin Klein

2) One small credit card holder from Calvin Klein

3) One informational post card with the VoxBox instructions and the Calvin Klein ad for Reveal.

So How Did It Smell?

For a Man: My boyfriend said “I like it. I’d wear it. It wasn’t too strong”.   Maybe not a very through review, but it makes sense.  I certainly liked the way that this scent smelled on him.

For a Woman:  I wore this fragrance for two days.  It definitely reminded me of a manly smell, but it wasn’t so powerful that I felt like that one smelly guy in the office that nobody wants to walk behind.  Overall I’d say this is a very wearable cologne for women if you are into the muskier, manlier smells.

 

If you would like to joint the Influenster nation and get free products to review, follow this link.

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Butter London Nail Polish

Jaffa - Butter London 

 

If you look closely at the bottom of the nail polish bottle, you’ll see the words “3 Free Nail Lacquer”, but what does that mean?  I added a picture of the back of the bottle that explains that “3 Free” products are free from:

  • Dibutyl Phthalate
  • Toulene
  • Formaldehyde

Butter Jaffa

About 5 years ago I started to change out all of my cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, even laundry detergent and dish soap with product that use less synthetic chemicals.  My purge ended at my nail polish caboodle however.  At the time I didn’t know that less-chemically-harsh products existed for nails.  Now, at $15 a bottle I’m not going to run out and restock my entire nail polish collection, but I have been trying to slowly use up the toxic polishes and replace with “3 Free” and “5 Free” products like Butter.

PRO TIP!!!  Check out your local TJ Maxx or Marshalls for Butter nail polish.  I found 4 bottles (yes, only 4) at my local store for $5 each!  That’s 66% off the normal sticker price at Sephora or boutique stores. 
Butter Bumster

PROs: It dries quickly, the applicator brush is smaller which makes getting close to the cuticle easier, and the bottle shape makes for easy storage.  Plus the bottles are large and contain a lot of polish.

CONs: The price (yeesh!) and you can’t get away with just one coat.  You also must apply a top coat because the polish isn’t especially shiny by itself.

Let me know if you have any questions about Butter.  Not sure if you can afford a bottle for yourself?  Why not buy it as a gift for a friend and then invite yourself over for a manicure 🙂

 

VS Sport Bra and Knockout Crop

Are you in the market for some new performance athletic gear?  I just found out that Victoria’s Secret launched their new line of athletic wear.  Since its VS they obviously have a huge line of sports bras.  If there is one thing that VS does well, its supporting our lady parts.

My main physical activities are yoga (heated and non-heated) and walking/light jogging.  Below are my reviews on some of the new items from VS and how they perform for these activities.

The items I will be reviewing are:

The Incredible VS Sports Bra

The Knockout Mid-Rise Crop

Let’s talk about the Incredible Sport Bra first.  These are the performance details listed from the VS website:

♥  Maximum support

 Breathable padding with wicking liner to keep you extra dry

 Concealed wire for cushioned support
Padded straps and bonded, seamless technology that eliminates irritation

 Super-soft elastic band for comfort & movement
Cushioned, adjustable back closure

 Body-Wick keeps you cool & dry

Perfect for running, boxing and cardio

Of these claims, I absolutely agree with the claims indicated by a pink heart.  I do find that the T-strap design makes getting this bad boy on and off a little difficult.  I guess that’s part of the design.  If you’re bashful about your decolletage I do not recommend this bra.  It is definitely made to support your buxom and also to show your curves.

Ok time for the Knockout Crop.  The website boasts:

♥  Smooth seams for total comfort

 Medium rise with second skin fit and lined, reinforced gusset

 Hidden drawstring waist and hidden waistband pocket

♥  17″ inseam

 Body-Wick keeps you cool and dry

 Nylon performance fabric with four-way stretch

 Machine wash. Tumble dry.

As you can see this crop definitely is a total KNOCKOUT!  I agree with all of the website claims.  As an avid yoga pants/capri wearer (literally every day after work) these are great.  The mid-rise is very comfortable and flattering.  They are expensive at ~$60, but get them when you have a coupon and you will be pleased.  Plus that price isn’t bad compared to other performance wear brands that wick away sweat.

 


I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are my own.  This post permits contest entry.