Gift ideas (best of 2019)

With the holiday season in full swing and the year nearly at its end, I’m here today to share some things that I’ve personally put to the test this year and continue to delight in using. If you don’t find something on this list that suits the person you have in mind, I encourage you to venture out on foot, discover new treasures, and then please come back here and share what you find in the comments. I recently did this and discovered a new, expertly curated, adorable bookstore in my neighborhood that reminds me of the Shop Around the Corner.

1. Organic cotton sheets, grown and sewn at home

Crisp, organic pillowcases or sheet set grown from seed, spun, and woven into sheets in America. They now offer a new color option derived from the natural color of a cotton hybrid developed by a pioneer of organic cotton and breeder of organic cotton with long staple lengths that could be woven into fabric. I can’t believe I’m only learning who Sally Fox is now. Read my review of their original sheet set here.

2. Handmade bralettes from CircleCreations

These hemp and organic cotton bralettes found on Etsy are highly breathable, comfortable, and well made with a good selection of sizes and rotating color options. Bonus, they come in cute packaging. See my review of them here (I also really like the one by HarmonicThreads, linked in that post).

Just thought this sketch was great and had to share!

3. Sony noise cancelling headphones

For anyone that frequently travels, wants to re-discover quiet while commuting on a busy street, or works next to someone that won’t stop eating chips, Sony noise cancelling headphones, WH1000XM2 or the newer M3, are a must. Unsurpassed noise cancelling capability, excellent battery life, quick charge, and sound quality, and a one-touch ability to hear ambient sound. May be on the bulky side for petites, but may be worth it! See my review here.

4. Little black bikini (top, bottom)

Great for anyone planning a getaway to a poolside location, it has long been said that a black swimsuit is the equivalent of a LBD. A black triangle bikini is a classic that looks great on a lot of different body types. After trying several swimsuits from this post, my favorite is the Maui top and Sunset Brazilian bottoms in black, designed and made in Hawaii. The bottoms run about a size small, which is great news for anyone petite. They carry several other styles on their website, and may occasionally carry styles from other brands.

This is what the marula fruit looks like, according to a photographer credited below.

5. Clean beauty moisturizers

On the cleaner beauty front, I am still happy to use both the Drunk Elephant and Biossance moisturizers I got earlier this year. I also finally found a great dupe for Drunk Elephant’s innovative (because of their unique extraction method that provides a longer shelf-life) but hella expensive marula oil made by Acure, which has upbeat, gift-worthy packaging. I haven’t been using it that long, but I am very satisfied with this product. It comes cold-pressed in an opaque white glass bottle and is lightweight, absorbs quickly, and hasn’t caused any irritation. It’s also much more affordable. I recently learned there is a fast-growing world of cleaner skincare out there, and look forward to sharing new discoveries next year that I hope will be game-changing!

What are your favorite things of the year?

Photo and image credits (in order of appearance): Shelby L. Bell, Hunter Peddicord, foundin_a_attic, Bernard DUPONT, all without modifications.

Five- to ten-free nail polishes for the holidays

After reading this Good Housekeeping article on how science has proven nail polish chemicals are absorbed from your nail bed into your body, I don’t really want to use conventional nail polish ever again. The good news is, based on reviews like this one, it looks like there are quite a few solid options out there now to the point where it doesn’t make sense to not buy safer nail polishes. In this post, I’ve looked through all the available colors of the major clean-er beauty nail polish players on my radar and highlight below the most unique holiday-inspired offerings. And they are inspiring! But first, here’s a table of the brands I looked at and the ingredients they claim to exclude. In the table, I tried to focus on brands claiming to be at least ten-free so know that there are other brands out there not mentioned in this post that are nine- or seven-free and below. Also note that some of the ingredients near the bottom of the list in the table, like lead, may not be mentioned on brand websites (and so may not be checked off in the table) because they were already excluded from nail polish formulas in the industry prior to the start of the 3+-free movement.

4formaldehyde resinxxxxxxxx
6ethyl tosylamidexxxx

10triphenyl phosphate (TPHP/TPP)xxxxxxxx



13vegan/cruelty freexxxxxx
14hydroquinone monomethyl ether (MEHQ)xx

15palm oilxx

16bismuth oxychloridex


18isobutylphenoxy epoxy resin



20made in usaxxx


# boxes checked161412111111108

Now on to the holiday round-up!

Ziggy Stardust silver at côte

My holiday polish pick after so much deliberation that I missed their amazing one-day, half-off sale-of-thanks is no. 110, molten metal because–aside from the obvious tinsel-y holiday quality that is silver–the matte metallic references Ziggy Stardust, intentionally or not, and because non-glitter metallic silver is surprisingly neutral. Also, they just came out with special sets of three with major holiday vibes. The frustrating things about côte are that they don’t give you a full ingredient list for their polishes and some of the product descriptions say their polish is made in the usa while others don’t.

Actual Stardust, night before Christmas navy, and velvety red at LVX

If you must have your silver with glitter, see actual Stardust, or alternatively Luxe. If you’re over silver, I like Scarlet, a “multifaceted maroon shimmer,” or Sappir, a “brilliant sapphire shimmer.” If we’re talking fall, then Camo, which for some reason makes me remember 90s holograms.

Christmas to Burning Man at Habit

They say Disco channels your inner Donna Summer. I also love it because it strikes me as having this impossible unicorn quality of being equally suited for Christmas morning, New Year’s Eve, and Burning Man. Is that just the power of gold?! Too cool for gold? No candy will be missed with Roller Girl.

Sugarplum purple at Sundays

No. 21 makes sugarplums dance in my head; J. 01, a collab with The James Hotel, is a luxe, kind of eggplant-y purple. What stands out about this product is that the nail polish formula itself contains myrrh for strengthening.

Warm white and wisteria at orosa

Warm colors are hard to come by right now, warm white being the hardest of them all, but orosa delivers with Snow, the color of the glass of milk next to Santa’s cookies. Alternatively, Wisteria.

Grinchy greige at aila

The anti-holiday polish, Pffff Ugggh is the perfect accent to your waiting-in-line-to-buy-gifts-you-should-have-already-bought-but-didn’t holiday lewk. It’s also a great on-trend neutral for the rest of the year. Aila stands out to me as especially committed to clean beauty.

One-Coat Black with Flakie Holo Taco, under Glossy Taco, over Peely Base Coat, #polishmountain at HOLO TACO (five free, not sure which five)

Anyone that’s watched a few episodes of Simply Nailogical (which is everyone by now) knows that Cristine knows nail polish. Nail polish that takes forever to dry or multiple coats to achieve opacity can be a real drag (and a huge mess), and I can’t imagine anyone understanding this problem better than someone that has painted over a hundred coats of nail polish on her nails in one sitting on more than one occasion (okay, twice, but still: see one and two). Given her long relationship with peel-off base coat, I have total faith that her version will be a smash hit. One-Coat Black is quite literally one-coat black, and dries so fast that you have to really focus on what you’re doing (no catching up on VEEP or whatever) else it’s already dried before you finish painting the nail. The Holo is high quality and long overdue and layers beautifully over a dark color like One-Coat Black. Even the packaging is holo! My only complaint is that the One-Coat Black brush bristles are a little uneven, making it a bit challenging to get the polish on in a straight line across the nail. For some reason the brush bristles are not a problem with the Holo, or maybe you just can’t see it through the clear polish.

Christmas tree green at zoya

Logan looks like a forest of tiny specks of Christmas trees decked out in lights and tinsel thanks to holographic duochrome technology (don’t ask me what that means). What’s great about zoya is that they tell you if each color is warm or cool, and their formula seems to be the best in terms of ease of application based on swatching videos I watched of several brands on this list. Formulas from some of the other brands on this list appeared thinner and more runny in swatching videos. Zoya says they are the first brand to eliminate harmful ingredients, all their polishes are ten free now (see chart above), people say they are salon quality, and they definitely have the widest selection of colors. Note their Remove Plus Nail Polish Remover is “a mild acetone,” so it’s not acetone free. You have to create an account to order.

New year’s eve confetti at Jinsoon

Inspired by origami, Dotty is like merry and bright NYE party confetti in a bottle. At the time of writing, Jinsoon formulas range from 5- to 10-free; Dotty is 10-free.

Since this is a post about five- to ten-free nail polish, I didn’t mention water-based polishes. Water-based polishes tend to be even safer than solvent based polishes. Brands to check out include Suncoat, Honeybee Gardens, and Piggy Paint. You can also make your own nail polish with suspending nail polish base and micas.

Image credit: Mike Sandells, without modifications.

What petite reviewers are saying about Athleta work/travel pants

Athleta is making stylish versatile pants that reviewers like for work, travelling, and even for the great outdoors or the gym. Their petite sizing now runs from size 0 to 14. The styles below are all a nylon/lycra/spandex blend and machine washable. That’s the upside. Potential downsides some reviewers have mentioned include the dreaded bagging out after one wear, that swish-swish sound that nylon sometimes makes, and no petite size chart on their website. While we are on the subject of pants, did you know there is an annual Freedom From Pants ride in Minneapolis? Also in Minneapolis, a man freezing pants into sculpture.

If you are curious about what nylon is, check out this post, near the bottom where there is a link to a video from 1949 that explains how nylon and rayon are made, and this video on the history of nylon, a material dating back to the 1930s.

Stellar Trouser

The Stellar Trouser in petite sizing has a 26 inch inseam according to the product description. Reviewers like the fabric, which they say is great for travel. No back pockets, front closure, two front and two side stash pockets (like phone pockets on leggings).

★★★★ · 10 months ago  

I absolutely love these pants. But I have 1 complaint. I bought a size 0 and needed it hemmed because the petite sizes do not offer a 0 [editor’s note: they do now, but they still don’t have the 00P size anymore]. A 2 is the smallest size available for petite. I tried the 2 petite and length was great but width was way too big. Please, Athleta, offer petites in your smallest width. For reference I am 5’2 and 95 lbs. But I am loving my hemmed size 0 pants.

★★★★ · 7 months ago  

I’m 5’, 103 lbs, athletic build, and I purchased these in a size 2p. The pants are well made, the fabric is beautiful, and they are so comfortable. My only complaint is that I wish they came in a 0p. I found that the pants stretch out throughout the day and end up looking kind of baggy on me. Athleta, please make more petite pants in a size 0!

★★★★★ · 8 months ago  

I’m 5’3 and 130 lbs. I bought these pants in black, size 2 petite. The fit and length are perfect. The zipper at the ankle helps make it look less like gym clothing but I love these pants because they are super comfortable and passable for office attire.

Stellar Crop Trouser

The Stellar Crop Trouser in petite sizing has a 24 inch inseam according to the product description and is an online only item. Reviewers like the fabric, which they say is good for outdoors and work. No back pockets, front closure, two front and two side stash pockets.

★★★★★ · 4 months ago  

I’m 5’2” 105 pounds and I bought the 2 petite and it fits wonderfully. Has a real put together feel/ fabric is very nice soft durable even though they’re not trousers but can definitely be dressed up with a nice blazer or a sweater or even a T-shirt. I will look forward to traveling in these athletic style pants.

★★★★★ · 6 months ago  

I’m 5’, 110lbs, ordered Petite 4 and they are lovely! So comfy! I ordered black and can easily wear for outdoor adventures and to work! Love! Order if you are on the fence! Worth $!

★★★★ · 6 months ago  

I’m 5’4”, 120 lbs and bought a size 2. The pants are soft and completely wrinkle resistant. The material is thin almost like running pants. The cut and placement of the front pockets are a little odd/different being more in front than side. Just takes some getting used to.

Wander Slim Ankle Pant

Petite inseam 25.5 inches, one back pocket, no side front pockets, side zip closure.

★★★★★ · a month ago  

These are awesome! Super comfortable and great for both work and home. I’m 5′, 105 lbs and the 2 petite fit perfectly. They were a little snug when I first put them on, but they relax after wearing it for a bit.

★★★★★ · 9 days ago  

I am 5’3″ and 130lbs. I bought a 4P and they are perfect. Dress them up for work or simply to run errands. Love these pants!

Photo credits: Lenny DiFranza.

Some major 90s fashion moments explained

Finally, we have answers.

Also, Olivia Newton John still fits into that black outfit from Grease.

Image credit: enki22.