My fashion challenge for 2019

All the things I will not buy so far this year.

This year I am really focusing on shopping my existing wardrobe and making more thoughtful purchases. I want to own just a few high quality things I really love, that are useful in my everyday life, that are cohesive as a collection. So basically, capsule wardrobes. I say it plural because it’s helpful to have different sets of clothes for different purposes.

I’ve basically had capsule wardrobes for many years now, but my style has evolved. In asking myself “who do I dress for?” I gave myself permission to never wear pencil skirts. They look terrific and make your legs look longer, but they’re not comfortable and don’t stay put. Good-bye fabrics that require dry cleaning, shoes that aren’t as comfortable or supportive as the loafers men get to wear, anything that stands between me and fully enjoying a Joey Tribbiani sandwich.

Still, I am currently loving what everyone else is loving: bright colors, prints on prints, monochromatic looks of different shades of closely related colors. Like seemingly everyone else, I also have a bad case of nineties nostalgia. Scrunchies, butterfly clips, pink paired with purple, glitter on glitter, all made of unicorns? I’m here for it. I’m also interested in silhouettes that acknowledge trends but push the boundaries of patriarchal beauty standards, and silhouettes that completely disregard the human form yet maintain function (so basically potato sacks, and no I don’t require elevating that).

Fashion should be fun and experimental. Anything unexpected or custom fit to your personality holds more interest than the fashion bandwagon everyone else mindlessly piles on to. The best outfit has a clear point of view and narrative. The best outfit is essentially a successful costume built around the singular character of you.

Over the last few years, I’ve thought a lot about how things are made and the people that make them. I’ve reacquainted myself with second hand thrift stores and have had great experiences buying direct from craftspeople. In both cases I found unique things I love that I would have never found through shopping brand name retailers online or at the mall, that were made to, like, a 1980s or prior standard of quality.

But shopping this way has been much more time consuming. You can’t buy a cohesive wardrobe that fits you pretty well this way with just a few clicks and have it arrive on your doorstep. You have to have a clear style goal in mind, know what colors you want and don’t want, visit multiple shops multiple times, be willing to pay for tailoring and accept the risk that the end result may not be quite what you wanted. You have to be willing to make mistakes, hoard more than you need, and let things that may be useful one day-that-may-never-arrive go. You have to be okay with giving up looking perfectly on-trend for looking “good enough” right now, and keep the faith that you will end up with better pieces eventually. You have to politely decline participating in the style box subscriptions your friends are obsessed with, and steel your willpower when reading style blogs or checking Instagram. Dare I say, it’s both a journey and a lifestyle because it’s so time-consuming.

When I wear an outfit that is perfectly on-trend, I get compliments all day. “That blah-blah-blah is amaaaaaazing!” Or, “I looooooove that blah-blah-blah.” Of course it feels good. When I wear an experimental outfit or something that’s comfortable, I get backward compliments like “that looks sooooooo cozy!” That’s if I’m lucky. Usually, I just become invisible, and can’t even get a pack of cigarettes. One Halloween, I watched a bouncer at a mediocre bar where most people were wearing shredded t-shirts three sizes too small tell two people dressed as Toni and Candace that the bar was closed, even though it definitely wasn’t.

If style has levels of sophistication, I’m at the point where I am ready to rely less on brands and celebrities to tell me what my style should be, and instead set off on the long and tortuous and honestly somewhat lonely journey (99.9 percent of people where I live either think mall fashion is a personal style or don’t care at all) of crafting a style that is uniquely me.

With all of this in mind, here are my 2019 sartorial purchase rules:

1. Any purchases will be handmade, pre-owned, made in the usa, or transacted locally in-person. Exceptions: technical gear.

2. Each purchase will be either something I love or truly need or both.

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All the lessons from Marie Kondo’s Netflix series “Tidying Up”

Have you watched “Tidying Up” on Netflix yet? I watched it while starting to tidy my clothes, and realized that even though I’ve read one of Marie Kondo’s books, and have attempted the KonMari method before, and had just watched the Netflix series, I couldn’t remember a lot of the critical details of the process. So I watched it again with a pen in hand and will post what I learned here in case you are embarking on your own tidying journey.

Watching people work through the process and face specific challenges that arise made it easier for me to keep going through my own home. I found one of her books very helpful for working through this process (I’ve only read one of them), but inevitably practical questions arise as you tidy that don’t fit neatly into the book’s instructions. Each episode of the Netflix series is like a case study of the theory in practice, and I learned new tips that I couldn’t recall learning from the book.

I periodically go through my clothing throughout the year and I don’t own too much to begin with, so I was surprised by how many clothing items I was okay with letting go of. Ditto for books. The KonMari method has helped me reflect on where I am now, and create space for where I’m going.

Here are all the lessons from Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” series. I hope it is a useful reference for you.

Goals

After watching the series, I tried to identify three goals of this process that apply to everyone on the show. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Have a designated spot for every item you own, which will facilitate maintaining order or tidiness;

2. Only house items that spark joy for you and your family;

3. Express gratitude for everything you have.

Philosophies that apply to the whole house

Have a clear image of the lifestyle you want to lead after you finish tidying. The clearer the better.

Ask yourself if you want to take each item into your future.

Tidying together is a great way to see if you share the same values as your partner.

Each person should be responsible for tidying their own space.

The basic process is to hold each item in your hand, ask if it sparks joy, and keep it only if it does.

If you can see what you have, you won’t buy another thinking you don’t have it and you can appreciate the things you treasure more easily.

Don’t store things in plastic bags, it looks like trash. You can use clear containers.

Put things that are used infrequently in harder to reach spaces.

Thank each item before letting it go.

Marie Kondo’s order of sorting

1. Clothing

2. Books

3. Paper

4. Komono – kitchen, bathroom, everything miscellaneous other than the other categories in this list

5. Sentimental items

While the order above is suggested and must work for a lot of people based on her experience, one person in a later episode noticed what sparks joy for them more easily with books than clothing. Given this and that the intention behind the order above appears to be to hone your sensitivity and awareness to what sparks joy in your life by starting with the types of items where it is easiest for you to recognize joy, I wonder if it makes sense to change the order of the first four categories if what sparks joy for you most clearly differs from the order above.

What is “spark joy”:

“It’s a warm and positive feeling…When you touch an item that sparks joy for you, you feel all of yourself rising.” — Marie Kondo

Greeting your house

This was done at the beginning of each tidying undertaking.

Close your eyes.

Thank it for always protecting you.

Let it know you are about to begin this process of tidying.

Picture your vision for your home. For more on this, see Marie Kondo’s gorgeous blog post on imagining your ideal lifestyle.

Tell your home your intention and hopes for it.

Purifying the space

When you feel stuck while tidying up, purify the space: open the windows, create a high vibration sound, light a candle, spray the room with fragrance, light incense, or burn sage to create smoke.

Clothing

Put all of your clothes in a pile on your bed or other surface.

Hold each item one by one.

If the item sparks joy, keep it, and put it in one pile.

If the item does not spark joy, thank it, fold it using her method, and put it in another pile to donate or discard.

If you’re not sure if an item sparks joy, ask yourself if you need it in your life going forward.

If you don’t have drawers, you can use boxes like shoe boxes temporarily to organize everything and gauge how much space you will need in furniture.

Folding clothing

“It’s important to convey your love of your clothes through your hands. Folding is not just making your clothes smaller, but an opportunity to talk to your clothes and thank them.” — Marie Kondo

The general goal of folding is to use space efficiently and allow you to see everything stored in a drawer. Marie Kondo’s process of folding generally involves folding the item into a rectangle that stands upright in a drawer.

I’m not going to go into detail on the methods of folding each item here as you can find guidance in her books or Netflix series. There are also videos and graphics online.

Neckties

Either hang or fold.

Fold in half to label, fold in half again, then roll it up. Store in a box in a drawer.

Shoes, bags, accessories

I treated all of these as sub-categories under clothing, and sorted through them after clothing but before books.

Bags:

Put similar sized bags inside each other. Keep the handles visible so you can remember it’s there.

Shoes:

Arrange shoes in a way that sparks joy, by color, shape, brand, and/or year.

Put heavy shoes on the bottom and light shoes on the top.

Books

“Books are the reflection of our thoughts and values. So by tidying books, it will show you what kind of information is important to you at this moment.” — Marie Kondo

Collect all books in a pile.

Tap them to wake them up before starting the sorting process.

Ask yourself, by having these books, will having them be beneficial to your life going forward?

Would you like to bring them with you into the future?

Paper

The trick to order with paper is to have a designated spot in the house.

There are three categories of paper

1. Pending – letters and bills

2. Important – papers you need to keep permanently like contracts or insurance forms

3. Miscellaneous – papers you refer to often like recipes or notes

How to sort paper is similar to previous categories

1. Create one pile and look at each item.

2. Aim to get rid of everything.

3. Always remove papers from envelope.

Komono

Use boxes to separate items within drawers.

Kitchen

Categorize food items – drinks, cereals, snacks, pasta, canned food. Use boxes to keep small snacks together.

Standing up Tupperware containers in the drawers allows you to see every item you have in a drawer.

The goal is to have a designated spot for everything.

Keep like items together by size.

Utilize boxes in drawers to keep like items together.

Garage

Take everything out as with clothes.

Sort them into categories as before.

Set any sentimental items aside for sorting last.

Electronics

Use small boxes to organize.

Try to stand things upright.

The goal is to store in a way you can see everything at a glance.

Christmas decorations

For Christmas decorations, you could go through them as a family.

Toys

Create a toy pile for each child and another for shared toys.

Ask each child to choose the toys that spark joy. If all spark joy, ask them to rank the toys.

Store toys by use – physical play toys, stuffed animals, etc.

Pets

Create a designated space. Divide the space by category – leashes, toys, grooming, food.

Bath

Use dividers and containers to create separate spaces for people and categories of items.

Sentimental items

Can be of many different categories.

Store items in a way that sparks joy, for example in a stylish box.

Store items upright in the box so you can see what you have.

Store accessories in smaller boxes.

Store box in a place that sparks joy.

Photographs

You must believe in your ability to know what sparks joy for you when tackling photos.

Storing them in albums as opposed to boxes makes it easier to enjoy them.

Can categorize by year or events.

Looking forward to a Season 2.

These popular $50 electric toothbrushes are similar – but different

Left: Oral B Pro 1000. Right: Phillips Sonicare 4100 Protective Clean Plaque Control. Not to scale.

My first electric toothbrush was the Oral B Pro 1000. I chose this Oral B model specifically because it was the first time I saw an electric toothbrush that looked like someone had given its design some aesthetic consideration. This thing was the candy-colored OG Apple iMac G3 of the toothbrush universe.

I talked myself into the Phillips Sonicare 4100 brush when they came out with the model that charges inside a stylish glass. “What a great, and long overdue idea,” I thought, and then I saw the retail price and the sticker shock rocketed me into a black hole of electric toothbrush research. When I emerged, I had learned that according to product specifications there really wasn’t much of a clear difference in tooth-cleaning power between the top-of-the-line latest and greatest glass-charging model and the less exciting but still easy to look at 4100 model, so I settled on the 4100 and got my own non-charging regular glass to store it in. Life hacks, amiright. At least that solves the dripping-on-counter problem.

I’ve used the Oral B Pro 1000 electric toothbrush for about a year, and the Phillips Sonicare 4100 Protective Clean Plaque Control electric toothbrush for maybe three to six months. I think they both cost about $50 when I purchased them.

I should point out that the battery of my Oral B toothbrush is probably at least six months older than the Phillips, and I’m not sure how much this effects everything because I don’t know that you’d notice the inevitable slow decline in battery power.

I consider these both mid-range products price-wise. There are both cheaper and much more expensive models within each brand.

Aesthetics

The Phillips Sonicare 4100 has cleaner lines than the Oral B Pro 1000. It simply looks nicer. It also has a black charger versus the white charger that comes with the Oral B Pro 1000. It’s a minor thing, but the Phillips Sonicare 4100 wins on style overall.

Brush design

The Phillips Sonicare 4100 has a narrower brush head design than the Oral B brush head. The Phillips brushhead is sort of oval shaped whereas the Oral B brush head is round. For a narrow or small mouth, I think the Phillips brush head can get at nooks and crannies that the round Oral B brush can’t. It’s much easier to reach the very back of the molars with the Phillips brush head than the Oral B because the Oral B brush is wider and round.

On the other hand, the round, wider Oral B brush head seems better and more efficient at cleaning along the gum line and over the surfaces of the teeth. Because the Phillips brush is narrow, I’m never totally sure I haven’t missed spots here and there. The round brush makes it easy to systematically hit every surface that it does reach.

On the other hand, the Phillips brush head is longer than the Oral B. It’s almost too long for a small mouth. You have to work hard at angling it this way and that to make sure you get everywhere, whereas the Oral B brush doesn’t feel like it necessitates this. This angling is probably another reason why I’m always wondering if I missed a spot.

The Oral B brushes come with little plastic rings that snap on to the base of the brush to make it easy to tell whose brush belongs to whom in a household. Phillips doesn’t have this feature. To be fair, a sharpie or some glitter duct tape could solve this problem, but families might appreciate this built-in feature on the Oral B.

The Oral B brush head looks like it is made entirely of plastic. The relative simplicity of the design seems comparatively more elegant. The Phillips brush head combines plastic and metal, which may make them more difficult to recycle. They look a lot more complicated than the Oral B heads (there’s some tech packed into it – see Features section below), and may be more expensive to replace. That said, perhaps they last longer? I haven’t tested this.

Sonic technology versus 3D Cleaning Action

Initially I felt like the Oral B brush resulted in a cleaner clean, but I can’t put a finger on exactly why. Phillips and Oral B seem to go about electric toothbrush-ing from two different directions. According to their websites, Phillips’ “advanced sonic technology pulses water between teeth, and its brush strokes break up plaque and sweep it away for an exceptional daily clean,” whereas Oral B’s “superior 3D Cleaning Action oscillates, rotates and pulsates to break up and remove more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush.”

I don’t know exactly what that all means in theory, but each brush feels noticeably different while brushing. The Phillips brush is quieter and seems to vibrate at a higher or faster and more intense frequency than the Oral B. The Oral B Pro 1000 feels a little clunky and toy-like or perhaps more mechanical in a side by side comparison, although I never felt that way about it before getting the Phillips. Holding them side by side, the Oral B Pro 1000 is like a prop plane, while the Phillips is the jet. Yet when it comes to cleaning one didn’t necessarily best the other, they were just different experiences.

It took some getting used to the Oral B Pro 1000 compared to using old fashioned human-powered toothbrushes. It was a little too much for a while, and I actually preferred one of the lower end Oral B models sometimes because it seemed more gentle. Over time, the Pro 1000 seemed to provide a better clean for me than the lower end Oral B electric toothbrush I tried, however, and I preferred the Pro 1000 more and more as time went on.

When I got the Phillips Sonicare 4100, again it took some getting used to even though I was no longer new to electric toothbrushes. This is saying quite a bit considering the brush is designed to increase power over the first 14 brushings, which means it doesn’t even start off full-intensity. For a long time, I preferred the Oral B Pro 1000 to the Phillips and felt like it cleaned better, but now I prefer the Phillips and feel that it gives the better clean, although I don’t like to use it every day, whereas I got to a point with the Oral B that I was using it probably once a day.

The Phillips is still too much for once a day use, even after having it for months. Could this be because there is more power over a smaller brush area?

Noise and battery life

I think the reason why I perceive the Phillips Sonicare 4100 as easier to use is because it makes less noise, feels less clunky, and the battery seems like it lasts longer between charges than the Oral B Pro 1000. I have not tested this, but I vaguely recall specifications that agree about the battery life.

Brush handle

The Oral B Pro 1000 has kind of a rubberized feel where the black color is on the handle. I guess that’s to provide solid grip. The Phillips Sonicare 4100 is hard and solid black plastic everywhere. Some people have complained in reviews that it’s too slippery, but that hasn’t been an issue for me. Both designs are good. I would say that I think toothpaste residue tends to collect on the rubber where the brush meets the handle on the Oral B model, and this isn’t really an issue for the Phillips Sonicare probably because it doesn’t have the rubber and the taper is on the brush head not the handle.

Brush head-handle interface

Oral B recommended removing the brush head after every use and rinsing everything out, if I remember correctly. If you do this, things stay pretty clean, but not perfectly flawless. Everything starts to look used after a while because that’s life.

Phillips says to wash this interface once a week with warm water in their user manual. Based on the product photos, the brush-handle interface looks so seamless on the 4100 that I was hoping you just would never have to clean those interstitial surfaces.

I was very wrong. It’s actually not that seamless in real life. There’s a small space between the head and the handle. If you don’t clean all the crevices regularly, a pretty gross, black scum-like build-up accumulates in there. It’s not hard to get rid of, but it’s not as easy to remove the brush head of the Phillips as the Oral B, which makes cleaning the brush more of a pain than with the Oral B. I think it’s not as good of a design in this regard as Oral B, which is disappointing because I actually expected this to be an improvement over the Oral B. Given that they say you only have to clean it once a week, I’d say it’s pretty on par with the Oral B because it takes more effort to remove and replace the Phillips brush head than the Oral B requires.

Brushing modes

Both of these brushes as far as I know only have one operating mode. The Oral B pulses to let you know when to move to the next quadrant of your mouth. At the end of the time allotted for the fourth quadrant, there are extra pulses to signal the end of brushing time, but it keeps running until you turn it off. I think after the 2-minute brush time, it will just restart the cycle. If you hit the power button in the middle of the 2-minute cycle, it will pause the cycle and continue if you hit the button again within a certain amount of time (I forget what the exact interval is), otherwise after that time is exceeded it will start from the beginning of the cycle when you hit the power button. So it resets itself after a while. I really liked this feature, and always felt like it kept me on track to brush optimally while avoiding over-brushing. The time per quadrant always felt exactly right. They really dialed it in.

The Phillips brush also pulses at the end of the time allotted for each quadrant, has a different pulse to signal the end of brushing time, and allows pauses, but it shuts off automatically after 2 minutes. I don’t know why, but 2 minutes is never enough while using this brush. I’m going to attribute that to the brush head design. The fact that it shuts off automatically is inconvenient as I have to turn it back on. If anything, this feature should be moved over to the Oral B.

Features

The Phillips Sonicare 4100 has one more feature than the Oral B Pro 1000, but overall they are pretty much the same feature-wise. They are:

EasyStart: gently increases the power over the first 14 brushings to help you get used to brushing the the Phillips Sonicare; feature can be deactivated.

Pressure sensor: vibration changes if you’re using too much pressure; feature can be deactivated.

Brush head replacement reminder: BrushSync technology tracks brush head wear as a function of pressure and time spent brushing to determine the optimal time to change the brush head. The brush head replacement reminder light on the handle lights up amber to signal it’s time to replace the brush head. Feature can be deactivated.

The Oral B Pro 1000 has a pressure sensor as well, although I’m not sure if it can be deactivated, and you’re instructed to replace the brush when the bristles start losing their color, a possibly less high-tech but seemingly equally effective approach. I don’t think the Oral B has an equivalent feature to EasyStart, but it also isn’t as critical in my opinion since it isn’t as “intense” (not sure how else to describe it) as the Phillips.

Thoughts:

The pressure sensor might be helpful for people new to electric toothbrushes.

The Phillips features can be deactivated, but it isn’t very easy to tell if they’re activated or deactivated because, with the exception of the brush head replacement reminder which has a light indicator, you never know whether you’re starting at activated or deactivated.

I haven’t really used any of these features, except possibly EasyStart on the Phillips brush, but again, I’m not totally sure if it was activated or deactivated this whole time.

Final thoughts

Electric toothbrushes do seem to do a better job at removing plaque than manual brushing, however, sometimes I prefer to manual brush, especially with the Phillips.

Both products seem pretty comparable, in my opinion. Either is better than none at all.

If you have a narrow or small mouth, I would probably recommend the Phillips Sonicare 4100 over the Oral B Pro 1000 because of the brush heads.

If you were also new to electric toothbrushes, I would probably recommend considering paying a little more to have different intensity modes so perhaps you could start off with a lower intensity.

If that option was out of your budget, I might recommend starting with a lower end model that has fewer brush strokes or rotations per minute or something. Definitely the lower end Oral B model I tried felt gentler, but I’m not sure if the Phillips product line is like this or not.

I’m not an expert so you should definitely talk with your dentist about your concerns before using any electric toothbrush.

I’m curious how the top-of-the-line models of each brand compare to these mid-range ones, and to each other. I’m also curious how the different brush head options change the user experience.

Please let me know in the comments what your experience with electric toothbrushes has been.

Oral B brush head comparison chart here.

Phillips Sonicare brush heads here.

Oral B electric toothbrushes here.

Phillips Sonicare electric toothbrushes here.

All the fun Spring 19 Aerie bikinis work best for light/clear warm undertones

American Eagle Aerie spring 2019 swimwear is barbie inspired in pink, lavender purple, stripes, and nineties prints.
Left column: Aerie Ribbed Bandeau Bikini Top, Cheekier Bikini Bottom.
Center column: Aerie Triangle Bikini Top, Ribbed Bikini Bottom, Scoop Bikini Top, Cheekier Bikini Bottom.
Right column: same cuts as previous.

Well, maybe not all of them, just the ones that are out right now.

New year, new bikini. It’s never too early to start looking if you’re going to need one later in the year. I learned this lesson last year when I started my search in mid-July. All the best styles and colors were long gone.

Where are the leg warmers and butterfly hair clips when you need them? How about silver fanny packs? Wait, what? They’re basically just considered belts now? Okay, how about this holographic silver one?

Channeling some major 90s Barbie pink-inspired vibes here, these swimwear colors all look to be best for light or clear warm undertones based on the product photos. What do you think? I think others could pull it off, but it will most flatter those that are light or clear and warm.

Previously I’ve been impressed with the quality of material and construction of American Eagle’s Aerie suits. They keep the price point affordable and have smaller sizes available.

Note to XXS petites, I noticed this size is often online only.

Sweater time

dec-18-sweaters

Clockwise, from top left: Gap Girls Textured-Knit Cardigan Sweater, Gap Girls Chenille Cardigan Sweater, Banana Republic Petite Washable Merino Wool Crew-Neck Sweater, J.Crew Mockneck center cable-knit sweater.

Recently I read that J.Crew has or had a “Rule of Three” for their employees. In other words, one or two pieces – say a dress or a top with pants – did not an outfit make. It’s the third item that completes a look. Maybe that third item is a pair of statement shoes, a fun necklace, a scarf, a couple of jackets or a sweater. Maybe one day vests will make a come-back. The eighties did. It could happen.

Layering is the point, and the Rule of Three is one simple way to accomplish that goal without overthinking it (J.Crew’s oft-cited stylist Gayle shared a lot of others a few years ago in this post). One of the earliest style tips I ever received was to invest in a basic cardigan, and the Rule of Three was the reason why. Now I’m of the opinion that one can never own too many sweaters, jackets, and blazers, as you can throw a good one over or under almost everything and be ready for anything. I’m specifically thinking of Carrie running to Miranda on New Year’s Eve in her PJs, and now all I want to do is listen to Patricia Field.

Here are four sweaters I really like right now, all machine washable but not all petite.

Gap Girls Textured-Knit Cardigan Sweater

I have a vintage sweater so similar to this. Love the oversized faux tortoise shell buttons, and cropped hits-at-hip length.

What people have said:

Meh it’s still cute

I’m a petite framed woman and bought this in an XXL. The fit is great, my only complaint is that the photo quality makes the confetti accent yarns look a little more colorful than it actually is. Uniqlo kids has a similar cardigan out right now (but in 3 other colors) that I held off on buying because I ordered this one. Looks like I may have to get one through them after all.

Fabulous!

So soft and cozy! I’m very petite and purchased to wear to work, chose an xxl and it fits great, relaxed fit but not sloppy. However, it is NOT 100% cotton as in description: 60% cotton, 20% acrylic, 20% polyester.

Gap Girls Chenille Cardigan Sweater

Chenille sweaters are so soft and cozy, and often have a nice sheen to the fibers that feels festive. The deep navy color of this one is beautiful for the holidays, but could also be styled year round.

What people have said:

Very pretty and warm!

Fits great- runs a little big. Warm and cuddly and looks fantastic.

Perfect Cozy Sweater

This fits really well on my 4’8″ daughter with a bit of room for growth but not sloppy at all. I purchased a large. It is super soft and cozy. I may purchase the same sweater in the pink color.

Beautiful fall sweater

Lovely and soft chenille. The pockets tempt me to put my hands inside them. It’s so warm, and you can feel the hug of the sweater immediately. It’s a little large in the shoulders, and the arm length, but as a petite woman who bought this in XXL, I’m happy with the fit as it’s better than a little too short. Get this sweater!

Perfect pink chenille cardigan for adults too!

Purchased for myself – the XXL fit like a slightly oversize boyfriend cardigan on me (5’3″, 32DD) – the length just covered my rear. The color is a great neutral pink and the chenille reminds me of a throw – it’s that soft. I like the tortoise buttons but do wish the pockets were somewhat larger (for my adult hands, LOL!). The fabric is very stretchy – I was able to layer a long sleeve tee comfortably under my sweater – usually wear a women’s XS in Gap sweaters. Since the sweater has dropped shoulders, I didn’t look like I had on a girl’s sweater (no pulling across shoulders as an adult I have broader shoulders than a girl or steen). The sleeves fell below my wrists which is perfect. Would give it 5 stars but I have not washed it yet – the garment label says to hand wash but I don’t have time or patience for that – hopefully a delicate machine wash will be okay.

Incredibly soft

I’ve been looking so long for THE right chenille cardigan. This one is if. Not to thick, right shade of color, POCKETS, and not too long! I’m 5’ 1” and this is perfection in XXL. I even got one for my oldest daughter so we could match!

Ripped on first wearing

My daughter LOVED this – so soft and cozy. She wore it once and it got a massive rip under the arm along the seam.

Banana Republic Petite Washable Merino Wool Crew-Neck Sweater

Machine washable 100 percent merino wool in a classic silhouette and petite sizing, which a lot of people are loving. In my opinion, the merino is soft and not itchy at all, but on the thinner side, which makes it good for layering under. The turtleneck version runs true to size, if a bit small, but the sleeves and body length hit at the right places. It was a lot more fitted than the product photo. One reviewer commented that fit varied by color. Let me know about the fit of other styles and colors in the comments below if you can. See all available machine washable merino styles here.

J.Crew Mockneck center cable-knit sweater

Cotton, no petite sizing run available or product reviews, but great fall color options and silhouette if you can fit into it. Length 24″.

Review: goddess garden spf 30 everyday mineral sunscreen

GG_Everday_6oz_Tube_rgb_website

Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for following along here.

As retailer websites continue to crash, and mall traffic continues to gridlock, I’d like to talk about something mundane and irrelevant to it all. Sunscreen.

Every year as I sit down to write my New Year’s resolutions, I find myself on the Environmental Working Group’s website looking at their sunscreen ratings. It used to be you’d go to your nearest drugstore, and pick the cheapest tube off the brightly lit shelf. Then we learned that a lot of the chemicals in sunscreen ironically are linked to cancer or some other toxic and miserable consequence. I started to look for mineral, physical block sunscreens sans chemicals, and discovered that these often used thick and heavy nut oil grease to bind the oxides to your skin. And this makes a lot of these products very greasy, sometimes itchy, and always rather unpleasant. A lot of people didn’t like these products because they’d make you look like an eighteenth century geisha, which was never the goal. Inevitably, I’d return back to the drug store staples and cross my fingers.

Then I discovered brands like Shiseido and Coola, higher-end brands that some people swear by. They cost more and smell a lot better and have cuter packaging, but often still rely on the same industry standard active ingredients that drugstore products use: avobenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene (octinoxate is one of two chemicals banned in sunscreens in Hawaii by 2021, the other is oxybenzone). If titanium or zinc oxide were a component, they’d always be in the minority. Although they were much more wearable than drugstore products, I couldn’t justify the cost. (Now I see both of these brands offer mineral based products, and that is interesting. Please let me know if you’ve tried them what you think in the comments.) One thing that still bothers me about Shiseido is the persistent inclusion of dimethicone, parabens, and the preservative BHT.

But guys, drugstore products are getting better! I’ve finally finished a whole travel sized tube of goddess garden organics (they lowercase their brand name) Everyday SPF 30 sunscreen. The packaging is the same as pictured above. Active ingredients are Titanium Dioxide 6.4%, Zinc Oxide 6.0%. EWG scores this as a 1, which is the most benign rating.

I love the travel size packaging, which conveniently allows you to try the product without making a huge commitment (also great for travel). The best thing about this product to me is the low EWG score, and if that is the most important thing to you, this is the least greasy wholly mineral sunscreen I’ve found so far. It smells nice, but for me is still too greasy, and does make your skin noticeably white. I think it is too heavy a product for everyday use if you are indoors most of the day, say working in an office environment. For outdoor use, you need to constantly reapply if you’re sweating or in the water, but it doesn’t seem to sting the eyes. I still would burn using this product, probably because the stated water resistance is only 40 minutes, which isn’t very long, and I wasn’t able to reapply every 40 minutes. I wouldn’t recommend this product as a high intensity sport sunscreen or for ocean use for this reason (it doesn’t seem to stay put well in water). If you are doing land based sports where you can easily reapply often, it may be okay.

If you are thinking, wouldn’t it be great if there were a mineral sunscreen in a convenient spray can? Think again! I tried the Alba Botanica Herbal Fresh Spray Refreshing Mineral Sunscreen SPF 35, and it literally sprayed thick, white, greasy sunscreen out in clumps that were impossible to rub in. Do not buy this product unless you want to be covered in a paint splattering of white sunscreen spots! I’ve refused to purchase any mineral spray products since. The technology is not there yet.

What’s your go-to sunscreen? Do you have more than one? Does it contain octinoxate or oxybenzone?

 

Review: Lucky Brand Made In L.A. Lucky Pins High Rise Jean In Stark

7W14062_410_9Made in L.A. Lucky Pins High-Rise Jean in Stark, made in Los Angeles from some of the last denim woven at the historic Cone Mills in Greensboro, North Carolina, dyed by Stoney Creek Colors from indigo grown in Nashville, Tennessee.

I read somewhere once that jeans are the most profitable garment in retail fashion. Or something like that. Don’t quote me. Denim fashion moves surprisingly fast nowadays for what started as a utilitarian garment designed with durability in mind for those doing real work, by which I mean, work that is really hard, like mining. Fast forward to the nineteen-nineties, rises seriously dropped. Denim became stretchier, and thinner. Bagging out after half a day of wear crept up on us after the turn of the century, an unresolved issue we all tolerated for way too long. And when every conceivable poly-spandex-cotton blend was tried, we moved on to mid-rise, and then rediscovered high-rise. Once I had mostly given up hope of ever seeing it again, one-hundred percent cotton denim made a come-back.

Yet most of the one-hundred percent cotton jeans I’ve seen are constructed of thinner material, often highly distressed, and are not weighty or durable enough to withstand actual physical labor. They are a far cry from their origin. The same is true of blended denim fabrics, which is what almost every pair of jeans I pick up is, a polyester blend comparatively lacking in breathability. Levi’s are perhaps the most iconic and well-known American denim still made today, although no longer in America, and more often than not, no longer pure cotton. Try as I might, I have never found a pair of Levi’s small enough to fit properly, vintage or otherwise. They just do not make jeans in petite sizes.

Lucky Brand does not specifically cater to petites either. They don’t market petite sizing. Yet I’ve noticed that some items they make here and there run small enough to work on a petite frame. Generally, this fills a void in petite mall fashion since most affordable brands catering to petites make conservative office attire. Specifically, this sizing fluke holds true for the Made in L.A. Lucky Pins High Rise Jean in Stark wash, offering petites everywhere a rare opportunity to purchase a truly American denim product off the rack that fits.

Lucky Brand’s Made in L.A. Lucky Pins High Rise Jean in Stark wash is a hidden gem for several reasons. These jeans are well-made in Los Angeles of a HIGH QUALITY (emphasis earned) medium to heavy weight (depending on your definition) high cotton content denim fabric (ninety-nine percent cotton, one percent spandex; no polyester, nylon, rayon, or recycled plastic water bottles) that is manufactured and dyed in the U.S. According to the Lucky Brand website, the fabric was made by Cone Mills in Greensboro, North Carolina, which has since sadly closed, and dyed by Stoney Creek Colors with plant-derived indigo grown in Nashville. There is a small bit of distressing (see product page photos or lead photo above), but it is minor. Aside from the imported trim (the labels?), this is easily one of the most American items I have ever seen made in modern times.

This pair of jeans makes all other jeans look like tattered old rags destined for the garbage. This is the kind of pant that Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard had in mind when he created his Stand-up Short. This is the kind of quality that America was once known for that fast-fashion has obliterated. The decidedly classic fit that will stand the test of time ensures this product will stay off the radar of trendy mainstream fashion blogs everywhere.

Fit is described on the product page as “High-rise, slim fit, with a tapered leg.” For me, the fit is Ralph Lauren on his horse ranch, and I love the utility of it and its nod to humble Americana. Since the brand’s size chart is lacking in detail, size 25 measures as follows, laying flat:

13.5 in across waist

17 in across hip

11 in front rise

13 in back rise

25.5 in inseam

One reviewer commented that this style runs narrow in the hip. I agree that compared to other brands, the hip may run slightly narrow. The shorter inseam is the result of a cropped design. Both of these factors may work in favor of someone that is petite and slim searching for a full length jean. Since the leg is cut straighter than a skinny style jean, there were no issues with the knee hitting at the wrong place for me. The fit is very flattering as a looser style. It may not work for someone more curvy without sizing up and tailoring the waist down, assuming you can size up enough to accommodate your hips.

If you are looking for a looser, slouchy, boyfriend jean style fit, I recommend sticking with the regular version of whatever size you normally take in petite. If you are looking for a snug and fitted jean, I recommend trying one size down. The fabric gives a little if you keep following the care label (machine wash delicate, line dry), so if it starts to get too baggy for my liking I will tighten it up in the dryer on low heat, delicate cycle.

An absolutely rare convergence of every detail I look for in denim fulfilled and delivered at too reasonable a price, this is a holy grail product for me that deserves to be right up there next to the original L.L. Bean boot and Tabasco sauce. Grab your pair now because the mill is closed and jeans of this quality may never be available again in our lifetime.

There is also a destroyed, lighter colored denim wash called Wilkins, which is the same fabric content of ninety-nine percent cotton, one percent spandex. View all L.A.-made items here.

What is your go-to pair of jeans?