Lessons in Chilling

"Give a man a bro and he'll chill for a day. Teach a man to chill and he'll have bros for life." 

- Overheard in Oakland, by some guy who probably saw it on Twitter

I grew up in Southern California, where the No Bad Days ethos was strong. And even though I lived for musical theater and figured I'd end up tap dancin' my way through New York City some day, I also tried my hardest to emulate the seemingly laid-back attitude of my Cali brethren. As young as age eight, I remember trying to pass myself off as an easygoing optimist. 

"Just relax, Mom," I'd say to my frazzled mother as I threw on my tie-dye shirt and L.A. Gears, "life's a beach." Later that day, I would wrap myself up in a blanket and stare at my bedroom ceiling, contemplating the concept of infinity and the fact that we all have to die someday

In seventh grade I spent my $50 back-to-school budget on a pair of Ocean Pacific corduroy shorts and a striped surfer shirt, certain this marked the beginning of a new era for me. I was no longer the high-strung overachiever of the sixth grade; I was the chill girl, the girl with the long beachy hair. The one who skated, listened to reggae, really just carpe diem-ed the shit out of life. A few weeks later, my mom found me sobbing on the bathroom floor, wet hair scattered everywhere, after trying to give myself a Drew Barrymore bob. 

In short, I’ve never really been that good at chilling. I've always been overly-concerned with how others perceive me, and considered my clothing, activities, and career choices defining factors in my personal brand. So every time my tastes or life circumstances changed I went into a bit of a tizzy. Was it possible to love competitive cheerleading and the Cramps? Could I be a straight-A student and still smoke cloves behind the archery shed? Could I quit teaching after just three years and still support public education? Am I a sellout? Is it ok that I hated La La Land??

Given my existing neuroses, adding "mom" to the equation could have triggered a whole new identity crisis. But it didn't. 

Maybe it's just that I have less time in general, but I've barely stopped to consider what kind of mom I want to be. Neither Jon nor I have read any parenting books, and we've saved most of our questions for the pediatrician rather than asking Dr. Google. I have no philosophy on discipline, no idea how I'll react to her first bad report card, and couldn't care less at this point if she's college-bound.  

I'm just enjoying her. And it's one of the first times in my life that I truly feel in the moment. 

That's not to say that I haven't had my fair share of anxieties. I was certain for a couple of days that our building's fire alarm had rendered her hearing impaired, and I lose my shit every time Jon plays baby airplane or holds his cell phone too close to her head. I still wake up at least once a night to make sure she's breathing, and am terrified of pressing too hard on her fontanelles. 

But overall, there's a pervading calm and quietness in our days together. Parenthood forces this upon you, I think. 

I've attended enough mindfulness workshops to know that a focused mind is a peaceful mind, and I've relied on the practices of meditation, deep breathing and one-pointed attention to quell my anxiety for years. But inevitably every time life got more hectic I would slip back into my natural state of overthinking and multitasking.

Babies won't let you do that. When baby needs to eat, you stop what you're doing and sit quietly for 20 minutes. Oh, and you thought you could check your email during play time? Heck no, even at three months Avery can tell when she's not getting 100% of your attention. And then there's the whole cuteness factor, which which renders watching her make spit bubbles in her sleep infinitely more interesting than Facebook or – I don't know – taking a shower? 

It all leads to an acceptance that this is our life now. It's slower, more measured, and full of quiet magic. Over the years I'm sure Avery will teach us just as much as we teach her, and I'm grateful for this early crash course in the art of chilling.

She is a California girl, after all. 

Outfit Details: J. Crew chambray button up (very old) / Silk shorts, made by me using Burda 6797, silk and bias tape from Britex / Avery: floral jumpsuit by Splendid

 

A Ruffly Distraction: Papercut Patterns Adrift Dress

I won't sugarcoat it: the last seven weeks have been tough. I love, love, love our baby girl more than I can express, but sleep deprivation, a recovering body, and lack of daily routine (where do I work again? Who am I even??) have left me reeling. Combine that with the generally screwed up state of our country and.... well anyway, we're all feeling it. 

On the other hand, I really love being at home with my little boo. She's growing and changing by the minute (those fat little cheeks! I die!), and I even have a few hours here and there to sew while she sleeps. So let's take a moment to forget the frightening new world order and celebrate silk, cinched waists, and ruffles! Brought to you by Papercut Pattern's Adrift Dress and Avery's nap time. 

Pattern and Fit

Here’s my dirty little sewing secret: I never make muslins. Since most patterns fit me without any adjustments I get cocky, and I can't handle the idea of making a garment twice (I only have so much free time, dudes!). But I learned my lesson this time, and unfortunately I had to learn it while using some very expensive Missoni silk. 

One of the reasons I’ve been inspired to sew lately is that none of my pre-maternity clothes fit. I’m sure they will eventually, but for now I’m stuck in that awkward postpartum limbo where my bust is three times bigger, my belly still smooshy and protruding, and my shape a little foreign to me. So even though I cut the pattern a size bigger, it still ended up being way too short. I did make one other adjustment by inserting a waistband between the skirt and blouse instead of folding it under like the pattern instructs, elongating the dress by about an inch. The dress is still completely wearable with tights and a slip, but I’m kicking myself for not planning better (I'm also guessing that the pattern has a short waist to begin with, so if you’re a long-torsoed gal like me, make sure to account for that before cutting!). 

Otherwise, I give the Adrift Dress an A+. The drape is to die for, and the ruffles were actually a lot easier to assemble than I’d anticipated. That’s the magic of a well-drafted pattern!

Fabric

I found the silk at Britex a few months ago. It’s Missoni, it’s scrumptious, it's made in Italy, and it cost way too much. I realized as I was sewing that it was actually the first time I’ve worked with 100% silk, and I probably should have used a finer needle. But overall it was fairly easy to work with. 

I’m interested in learning more about silks in general — specifically, what makes this particular silk drape so well and remain nearly impervious to wrinkles? I own several 100% silk blouses, and some of them are wrinkle-resistant while others are barely wearable without creasing. Does anyone know what the difference is, terminology-wise? I’m particularly curious because I’d like to order some ethically-sourced silk online, but I’m afraid it won’t have the texture that I’m looking for. 

More sewing plans

I have no idea how long it will be until I lose the fifteen pounds I need to get back to my fighting weight. And who knows, maybe I never will. I don’t hate my postpartum body — I’m amazed by what it did — but I do need to sew or buy some new pieces to get me through the next few months. I’m planning a small capsule wardrobe that includes another solid version this dress, a Sew Over It wrap dress, a Grainline Archer, a Colette Mabel, a couple of True Bias Ogden Camis, and some Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans. Ambitious? Absolutely. But sewing is one of the few things that’s been keeping me sane lately. Well that, and Miss Cheeks over here. 

Wrap you up in love : An upcycled baby blanket for Avery

Avery Rose made her debut on December 10, 2016, with a full head of hair and an impressive lung capacity. Needless to say, Jon and I are pretty in love. 

Although I was pretty low-key for the majority of my pregnancy (blame it on the morning sickness), I may have gone a little nuts over the last twelve days. Suddenly, I’m a germaphobe who sanitizes everything and gives the side eye to other people’s sticky-handed children in the pediatric waiting room. Suddenly I can’t sleep at night, looking into Avery’s cradle every five minutes to ensure she’s still breathing. Suddenly I’m the kind of person who rush-orders baby noise blocking headphones because the building’s fire alarm went off twice. Suddenly the world is a much scarier, dirtier place than it was before. And I want to create a force field around this baby girl to protect her from all of it. 

Instead I made her a blanket. 

I found the double-gauze cotton in a seagull print at Britex (made in Japan by Kokka Fabric). Super soft and ocean-themed, it was the perfect choice for the top side of Avery's baby blanket. For the other side, I found a swath of vintage ikat fabric at the General Store in San Francisco. I love how both fabrics work together without being overly matchy, and only contain a hint of girliness. There was plenty of the ikat fabric left over, so I made a couple of pillow covers as well (pictures of the whole nursery coming soon).

I wanted to have something handmade for Avery when she arrived. Something to carry on the tradition of my mother and grandmothers, all of whom sewed blankets for their babies. I may not be able to shield our little girl from the world forever, but at least I can wrap her up in love. And even if I'm 99% more crazy than I was two weeks ago, I'm 100% content. Which is a very strange feeling indeed. 

Ethical Gifts for Women

I'm a total dork when it comes to Christmas. I love the decorations, the music, the hot toddies, even the egg nog (I know, I'm gross). But I'll admit I've become a little lax over the years when it comes to gift-giving. Jon and I are pretty inconsistent about giving each other presents (Christmas or otherwise), and my family dropped the expectation long ago. I actually like it this way; it makes the gifts we do give and receive that much more special. So when putting together my shopping guides this year, I chose items that not only give back and have a good story, but also exude good quality and construction. These gifts are meant to feel special, and to show the people in your life how much they mean to you.

Note: Asterisk indicates an affiliate link. 


14k Gold Filled Hair Accessories

$68 - 188

Available at ByBoe

There's just something so elegant about a hair pin — every time I wear one I feel like I'm in an episode of Downton Abby. This pin and hair jewel by ByBoe are made in New York City by individual artisans using recycled and ethically sourced sterling silver and 14kt gold filled from US factories.


Brass and Bone Plane Ring

$68.00

Available at Nisolo

Last year ethical shoe company Nisolo launched a jewelry line, and I can't get enough of their gorgeous creations. This ring is handmade in Kenya with upcycled brass and bone by artisans who are offered beyond fair trade wages, extensive benefits, and a healthy working environment.


Martina Low-Rise Briefs

$25.00

Available at Naja

Not only are Naja underwear, bras, and swimsuits cute as all get-out, they're also made by single mothers and female head of households who are paid above market wages. Sweathop free and all about empowering women, Naja is one of my favorite lingerie lines. 


BABY ALPACA SCARF

$125.00

Available at Cuyana

Through their Lean Closet initiative, Cuyana encourages women to buy "fewer, better things" and reduce their overall consumption. Production-wise, they develop close relationships with artisans around the world rather than outsourcing cheap labor. This baby alpaca scarf is crafted in Peru, and will serve as a wardrobe staple for years to come. 


Ceramic Ring Trays

$32.00 each

Available at Amour Vert

These pretty little ceramic dishes are handmade in Kansas City, Missouri by The Object Enthusiast. Finished in a variety of glazes with 22k gold lustre details, they're perfect for displaying rings and other treasures.  


MM. Lafleur Bento Box

$50 - 1,000

Avilable at MM. Lafleur

Finding ethical professional clothing can be a frustrating and time-consuming, but MM. Lafleur makes it easy with their Bento Boxes. Each box contains a selection of sustainable, American-made wardrobe staples that are personalized based on a quick style survey.  You can send the workin' gal in your life a gift card with increments up to $1,000, which will come with a note from her stylist that explains the Bento process. 


Cosmetic Case Set (vegan)

$80.00

Avilable at Angela Roi *

Angela Roi creates beautiful, cruelty- and sweatshop-free handbags and accessories. Handmade in Korea using  vegan leather, the Elle Cosmetic case perfect for those who want to avoid animal products.


The Birdie Watch

$525.00

Available at Shinola

This one is definitely a splurge, but well worth it if you can swing the price tag. A few years ago, Jon gave me the Birdie watch for Christmas, and it continues to be one of my most valued possessions. Elegant, well-designed, and just straight up cool, Shinola products are all made in Detroit, Michigan, with the mission of bringing jobs back to the USA. 


MORE GIFT GUIDES FOR WomEN

Need more ideas? Check out these gift guides from other ethical bloggers: 

LEOTIE LOVELY - 9 Eco + Ethical Gift Ideas for Women

LIFE + STYLE + JUSTICE - Ethical Gifts for Her

SARAH LAUGHED - Ethical Gift Guide for Her

MORAL FIBRES - Ethical Gift Guide #1

VALERIE KEINSLEY - Simplified Gift Guide: for Her

INTO-MIND - 12 Thoughtful books about style, ethical fashion and building a better, simpler wardrobe

Maternity Style | The Waiting Game

Pink Coat 2.jpg

Maternity leave pre-baby is kind of like vacation. Except I'm still pregnant. And I can't drink. And I get to sit around and wonder when, exactly, I'll be launched into several hours of intense pain. So really not like vacation at all. 

I've been working on the nursery and putting together ethical gift guides to pass the time (due date is tomorrow), and figured I should capture a few more maternity style pictures before I officially deflate. I especially wanted to get some shots of this coat, because it's been a godsend since the temperature dropped a few weeks ago. By this point, none of my regular coats fit, so I bought this dusty rose cashmere coat by Theory (I found it on sale at Bloomie's... phew!). I'm so glad that relaxed, oversized silhouettes are in this season, as it made finding  maternity-appropriate winter wear much easier. And the color is a bit of a head-turner; I get compliments on it every time I wear it out.  It makes me feel like a fancy East Coast lady-about-town. 

All I need is a Shih Tzu with a diamond-studded collar.

All I need is a Shih Tzu with a diamond-studded collar.

...But is it Ethical?

Much like BCBG, Theory isn't a brand that I would promote as particularly ethical (you can read Project Just's review of their parent company here). But their clothing is incredibly well-made with an emphasis on classic/timeless silhouettes, so they'll do when I can't find an ethical or secondhand version of what I'm looking for. The dress, by Susana Monaco, is made in the USA (similar here). 

Pink Coat 5.jpg

We'll see how much more blogging I get through before our new friend arrives, but au revoir for now darlings! 

Outfit Details: Theory 'Clairene New Divide' Wool & Cashmere Coat  / Susana Monaco dress (made in USA; similar here) / Woven leather platform sandals (thrifted) / TOMS Luisa sunglasses (one-for-one)

Ethical Gifts for Dudes

Malin + Goetz deodorant and face serum

Malin + Goetz deodorant and face serum

In California, we refer to pretty much everyone as "dude" (as in, "Dude, the 101 is a parking lot," or "Dude, I can't believe Clinton scored a 2.5 million lead in the popular vote and we still have to let Trump be president. Bummer."). So while this ethical gift guide is aimed toward the brothers, fathers, uncles, and grandpas in your life, it's really appropriate for anyone who appreciates stylish, functional gear that's good for people and the planet. 


Glade Beanie

$29.00

Available at Patagonia

Patagonia has been killing it on the sustainability front lately, growing its offering of Fair Trade Certified products significantly in 2015 and continuing to reduce the environmental impact of its supply chain. Made from a 96% recycled polyester/4% spandex blend, this beanie is comfortable and built to last.


Konia Parka

$143.00

Available at Aloha Beach Club

On our last trip to San Diego, we stumbled upon Aloha Beach Club's flagship store in north Park. I was impressed by the company's selection of well-made mens ware and commitment to ethical manufacturing, with many of their products made in the USA. The Konia Parka, for example, is made in Hawaii from a water resistant cotton polyester poplin. 


Topo Roverpack

$139.00

Available at Marine Layer

Made in Colorado, this rucksack by Topo Designs combines contemporary functionality with timeless design (I love that it looks like something my dad would have taken on a hike in the eighties). Includes a lined interior, laptop sleeve, zip pockets, and camera cube.


Malin + Goetz Gift Set

$45.00 - $150.00

Available at Malin + Goetz

My husband and I are both big fans of Malin + Goetz products (Jon is basically unable to function without their pomade). The brand combines tried-and-true natural ingredients with modern-day technology to create effective, amazing smelling products that won't irritate skin (anyone who's tried making a "natural" cinnamon mud mask knows that nature in its raw form can actually destroy your skin, but that's another story). Malin + Goetz emphasizes local sourcing and sustainability, and never tests on animals. 


Durango Dopp Kit

$88.00

Available at Nisolo

Nisolo is another one of my favorite ethical shoes and accessories, with commitment to above-fair trade wages, benefits, and a healthy working environment for the artisans who make their products. This dopp kit (or toiletry bag for those of you (me) who were unfamiliar with the term) is handmade with ethically-sourced, vegetable tanned leather in Leon, Mexico. 


Evolution Swim Trunks

$95.00

Available at Outerknown

So no, swim trunks are not an appropriate December gift for a large swath of the northern hemisphere. But! It never hurts to prepare the dude(s) in your life for next summer, and these trunks by eco-conscious brand Outerknown are the perfect way to do it. Made from reclaimed fishing nets and other waste products with a commitment to sustainability


More Gift Guides for Men

Need more ideas? Check out these gift guides from other ethical bloggers: 

LEOTIE LOVELY - 9 Eco + Ethical Gift Ideas for Men

VALERIE KEINSLEY - Simplified Gift Guide for Him

LIFE + STYLE + JUSTICE - Ethical Gifts for Him

THE GOOD TRADE - Gifts that Give Back (for Men)

Palihouse Santa Monica and a Reformation Dress

A quick stay at Palihouse

Whenever we travel, I make it my personal mission to stay at the quirkiest, most Wes Andersonian hotel I can find. In Paris, it was the Grande Pigalle in all of its nostalgic glory – spiral staircases, brass room keys, and pineapple door knockers included. In London, it was the Ace Hotel (a little less intimate, but quirky nonetheless). And when planning a recent babymoon/ bday getaway to Santa Monica, I stumbled upon Palihouse

Formerly the Embassy Hotel Apartments, Palihouse has been housing design-minded travelers like myself since 1927. I imagine it’s been gutted a few times over the years, but the original Moorish/ Mediterranean influences and intricate ornamentation remain intact. The interior decor has a mountain lodge-meets-Old-Hollywood feel, with kitschy details like pink velvet ottomans, dip-dyed wood furniture, and antlers over the bed. The ambiance of a place is just as important to me as what we do/see/eat, and Palihouse has atmosphere in spades. We didn't have to do much – it was vacation enough to just sit back, look around, and soak it all in.

Palihouse 6.jpg

It's Maternity if I say it is

I’ve been meaning to post about this Reformation dress for a while, so we took advantage of the gorgeous courtyard and overcast skies to shoot a few pictures. I bought the Mattie dress dress back in June, hoping that the wrap style would accommodate the bump throughout my pregnancy. For the most part, it has. It’s grown significantly shorter as the months go by, but I still think it looks pretty good, considering it wasn't actually designed for a pregnant body. I've worn it to every fancy occasion this summer and fall, including my own baby shower. And true to form, it's made in the USA from 100% viscose, a synthetic fabric made from biodegradable plant fibers. I love Reformation with a passion unmatched (well, at least when it comes to dresses), and I'd be stoked if they ever decided to create a maternity line.

Back to Reality

It was a lovely weekend of ocean air, family, fancy vegan food, and a visit to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Now I'm back at work for another two weeks until, well... shit gets real. I can't wait to welcome this little bug into the world (and drink wine again, in that order).

Outfit Details:  Reformation Mattie Dress in Hibiscus / Madewell denim jacket (old; similar US-made version here)/ Woven leather platform sandals (thrifted) / Kayu Andrea Clutch (responsibly handcrafted by women in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia)

Just Call Me Big Red

It’s week 34, and I’m feeling positively large and in charge. While I was able to get away with wearing some non-maternity pieces for a while, I’m relegated to knits and spandex these days. Thank goodness for this Ingrid & Isobel tank dress, which I’ve basically been living in for the last month. It’s soft and cozy, while making me feel comfortably compressed (is that why babies like being swaddled?). And, lest we forget the purpose of this blog, it’s also made in the USA.

The scarf is by Marine Layer, a San Francisco-based brand that I absolutely adore. The company manufactures most of their clothing in the United States, while sourcing more technical styles like raincoats and accessories overseas. Like Everlane, they closely monitor the factories they work with to ensure fair and ethical working conditions.

I love their laid-back aesthetic, and I can’t wait to get my hands on their Jackie Denim Skirt once I have a waist again (I mean it has my name written all over it, riiiiiight?).

And then there’s the coat. This, along with the camel-colored version I have in the same style, was a compromise in terms of ethics. BCBG certainly isn’t a pioneer in the ethical fashion space (although they do have a vague corporate responsibility statement like everyone else), but I’ve always found their clothing to be exceptionally well made. Every BCBG piece I own has held up for years (including the dress that I’m wearing in almost every Facebook picture from 2015). So I know that when I make a purchase from them I can adhere to the “30 wears” principle. Ideally, a garment will be ethically produced and well-made, but as I’ve mentioned before that’s not always the case. Ultimately, I want to ensure that the things I buy will stay in my closet for years to come.