Sunday, September 29, 2013

Chunky Knit Sweaters for Fall {eco-friendly, vintage, and organic}

5 fair trade handmade chunky knit sweater

There's nothing like pulling on an oversize knit sweater on a cool fall day. I especially love when ithe temperature is low enough to wear my biggest, fuzziest sweater, but not quite cold enough that I need a jacket.

While they are definitely having a trendy moment, I'm confident that big, soft, well-made sweaters will never go out of style. I'm still on a menswear kick, so right now I've been pairing mine with rolled up boyfriend jeans and patent oxfords. The bangles I'm wearing are by Mango Tree Bangles. They're hand-carved and hand-painted, and the mango trees are only cut down when they can no longer bear fruit.

In my humble opinion, the key to pulling off a big sweater is big hair, especially if there is a turtleneck, or you risk looking like you have a teeny tiny head. In order to avoid tiny head syndrome, I usually pile my hair up in a giant, messy bun. 

3 fair trade handmade chunky knit sweater

If you don't have a giant knit sweater but are currently in the market, Etsy is a great resource. They have plenty of handmade, vintage, and even made-to-order styles.

6 fair trade handmade chunky knit sweater

The red ($40), grey ($260) and navy ($425) sweaters are all handmade from Etsy, but the fair isle patterned sweater ($175) is made under fair labor conditions by Komodo, a sustainable apparel brand based out of the U.K.  Komodo uses merino wool is from non-mulesed live stock. Their wool garments are often hand-knitted and always hand-finished.

You can stay on-trend, eco-friendly and on budget with the two vintage options below, both of which are under $40. In creamy white mohair and a navy/black mix, they provide the perfect neutral palette to pull off this easy, comfy trend. 

7 fair trade handmade chunky knit sweater

Shop more eco-friendly ways to get the look from todays post:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Eco-friendly Fall Essentials

2 my fair vanity fall essentials

Two things are pretty clear when you consider my latest guest posts for the DC EcoWomen and Sweet Lemon Magazine:

  1. I'm obsessed with oxfords, brogues, lace-ups, or whatever you prefer to call them.
  2. I'm particularly obsessed with these tortoise shell print ones by AGL
But can you blame me? Aren't they purdy? So shiny, so luxe, so ready for autumn!

If you'd like the 411 on the eco-friendly fall items I rounded up, I cordially invite you to check out the full posts, here and here.

Happy eco-shopping!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

You're Invited: Fair Trade Textile Trunk Show

2 carol cassidy fair trade hand womven scarves

I was recently invited to check out a trunk show this Wednesday hosted by an organization called Legacies of War and textile artist Carol Cassidy, and you're invited, too! 

The show is from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on September 25, with a reception and artist's talk at 6:00 p.m. Location: 2019 Q Street NW, Washington, DC.

Legacies of War is the only US based organization dedicated to raising awareness about the history of the Vietnam War-era bombing of Laos and advocating for the clearance of the hundreds of tons of our deadly unexploded ordnance (UXO) that litters Laos. 

At the trunk show, you'll be able to purchase one of-a-kind pieces by Lao artisans working under fair trade conditions and designed by renowned textile artist Carol Cassidy, who will be there to discuss her wares. Since the 1990s, Carol Cassidy and Lao Textiles have helped to reestablish the livelihood of many rural women ravaged by the Vietnam war and the leftover unexploded bombs.

If you can't join us for the trunk show tomorrow, you can still see a large body of Carol's work at the Textile Museum through October 13 as part of an exhibit called Out of Southeast Asia: Art That Sustains.

The best part: Carol Cassidy is donating 40% of the trunk show proceeds to Legacies of War.

4 carol cassidy fair trade hand womven scarves
Scarves by Carol Cassidy, photographed in the Textile Museum gift shop.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Required Reading {Dystopic Futures, Sustainable Style, and Fast Fashion in Bangladesh}

Today I'm introducing a new feature on My Fair Vanity. I'd like to take a moment each week to share what I've been reading, what inspires me, and maybe a little something I've learned that has helped me in my quest to lead a life that is kind to the earth and the people on it.

the glamourai beauty and truth editorial with maiyet
The Glamourai + Maiyet

I've been a fan of The Glamourai for many years, and it's been heartening to see creator Kelly Framel elevate the blogging platform with her meticulous, editorial approach to fashion and styling. This past week, Kelly outdid herself in a way that means a lot to me, and I think you'll appreciate it, too.

Kelly created a stunning visual landscape and populated it with three striking women to highlight Maiyet's kind, sustainable approach to luxury clothing and accessories. Maiyet is a new clothing line that partners with non-profit Nest in order to build capacity for artisan communities around the world, celebrating ideals like craftsmanship, prosperity and stability. Take the time to read through this four-part series and I promise you won't be disappointed.

margaret atwood maddaddam
Margaret Atwood's Maddadam Series

Margaret Atwood is an incredibly versatile and compelling writer, sliding easily between romance, satire, mystery, science fiction and historical fiction. In the Maddaddam series, Atwood takes our current technological advances in science and communications and proposes possible consequences that are at once bizarre and eerily plausible. Her story is set in a world in which the political and financial power of multinational corporations is ascendant and young people compete to get into the best corporate-sponsored universities. Heavy on the satire but equally heavy in her faith in the power of love and community, the series is both a scathing cultural critique and a message of hope.

The last book in the series, Maddaddam, came out just this month, so you don't have to wait to read the whole trilogy all at once. If you finish the series and you're looking for more Atwood, I'd start with either The Handmaid's Tale or Alias Grace.

bangladesh factory fire story by jason motlagh  

Under a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, journalist Jason Motlagh reports from Bangladesh on the still-flimsy factory inspections process, a toxic leather industry, and the devastating long-term effects of the Rana Plaza factory collapse. Motlagh paints a picture that stands in stark contrast to the exuberant announcements of newly signed safety agreements we've seen in the past few months from both U.S. and European retailers, and I plan to check on this project regularly.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Noonday Collection {Fair Trade Jewelry}

7 blue bib necklace noonday collection rachel mlinarchik

Noonday Collection is a fair trade jewelry company that offers a kinder alternative to the Stella + Dot business model. Noonday works with artisans in 11 countries (including the United States) to produce their line of jewelry, while also providing no-interest loans, scholarship programs, emergency assistance, and long-term trade opportunities for their partners.

Instead of importing their products from factories, the Noonday team builds relationships directly with artisans and other community-based businesses and programs, which means they work exclusively with companies and ministries who assure that their artisans are growing, learning, and benefiting from their craft. It also means they can get to know the people they work with, and so can you.
10 blue bib necklace noonday collection rachel mlinarchik

What's more, Noonday Collection empowers women here at home to earn extra income by becoming ambassadors and home sales associates for their brand. I have to say it's a tempting offer, and if I had more free time, I would jump at the chance to join forces with this beautiful, kind company.
3 blue bib necklace noonday collection rachel mlinarchik

The necklace I'm wearing today is called the Shalom necklace (care of Noonday Collection*) and it was made in Uganda from handcrafted paper beads. You can learn more about how it was made and who made it right here.

Last but certainly not least, I put together a few of my favorite pieces, but I encourage you to browse their full collection on your own. With a variety of style and colors, and prices ranging from as low as $15 up to $288 per piece, there is something for everyone.

2 fair trade jewelry blue bib necklace noonday collection rachel mlinarchik

4 blue bib necklace noonday collection rachel mlinarchik

6 blue bib necklace noonday collection rachel mlinarchik
*The Shalom necklace was gifted to me by the kind folks at Noonday Collection.

Don't forget: you can shop all of my favorite, fair items 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sporty Spice: Eco-friendly Sweatshirts for Fall

eco-friendly athletic style, fall trends, graphic sweatshirts for fall

I'm kind of loving all of the sporty, athletics-inspired options for fall, ya'll! I don't really enjoy watching sports and I find the gym intimidating, but I do love sweatshirts. Because who doesn't love sweatshirts? Especially sweatshirts that are now considered "fashion-y." This style moment may be fleeting, so I recommend we all take full advantage as quickly and comfortably as possible.

Any shirt emblazoned with badassical words like "SWAG" or "Naomi Cambell" is a shirt for me. The Naomi sweatshirt is by one of my new faves, Reformation, a rockin label I discovered on Ecocult. Reformation is an environmentally sustainable fashion brand that repurposes vintage and surplus materials to create limited edition collections. Each collection is made locally in their New York and Los Angeles studios and then sold directly at their stores, so prices are pretty reasonable. It's basically an eco-friendly version of Nasty Gal. P.S. the adorable skirt the model is wearing is made of upcycled vintage leather.

The SWAG t-shirt is fairly made in the USA, with 51% of profits going towards a program that empowers young people in NYC to become leaders and change-makers in their communities. I found the shirt over on Fashioning Change, a site that provides near-exact alternatives to top brands that are not very fairly made. It's similar to what I provide here on My Fair Vanity, only I don't tell you about the naughty brands, and instead just try to quietly ignore them. ;)

The insane acid trip sweatshirt is (of course) by my new favorite insane acid trip designers, Clover Canyon, who make all of their crazy awesome items in California. THESE SHORTS ARE STILL AWESOME.

Lastly, I had to include this beautiful taupe backpack by Matt & Nat because it's not only perfectly sporty, but also very sleek and modern. In general, I'm vehemently opposed to backpacks, but if I had to wear one, I would definitely wear this one. Like all Matt & Nat products, it's vegan and the interior is made from recycled components.


In the slideshow below, I've put together even more sweatshirts for you, and each and every one is made in the USA, which will, I hope,  justify the fact that not one of them is under $100. Womp womp. But this one from American Apparel is only $40 and comes in 13 colors!

Don't forget: you can shop all of my favorite, fair items 

51% of the Proceeds Empowers Youth To Become Leaders - See more at:

  • Fairly Made & Screen Printed in the US ?
  • 51% of the Proceeds Empowers Youth To Become Leaders
  • - See more at:

  • Fairly Made & Screen Printed in the US ?
  • 51% of the Proceeds Empowers Youth To Become Leaders
  • - See more at:

    Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    Summer Faves for Summer's End

    Even though we're headed towards fall, the temperature just doesn't seem ready to drop just yet, so I thought I would pull together a few highlights from June, July and August.

    I also feel I would be remiss if I did not highlight the collaboration I did with Teeki, Capitol Movement, Aaryn West, and photographer Jason Hornick, which was the most fun summer post by far!

    Feel free to share your favorite summer look in the comments-- I'd love to see what you were wearing, especially if it was fair.

    Don't forget: you can shop all of my favorite, fair items 

    Monday, September 9, 2013

    Five New York-based Designers {brought to you by Ecocult}

    Alden Wicker is the voice behind EcoCult, a blog devoted to all things sustainable in New York City. I invited her to guest post here on My Fair Vanity so that she could share a few of her favorite New York-based brands. Enjoy!

    When did it become remarkable to find a purse, dress or shoe made in the United States?

    In the mid-twentieth century, almost all clothing was made here, and made well. The Garment District in New York City was a sparkling hub for designers, who could get their fabric, zippers, buttons and other notions at a shop, walk it right up the street to a factory employing skilled artisans, and pop in periodically to check on the quality or tweak the design.

    But starting in the sixties and seventies, production started to move overseas as large companies realized they could cut costs by employing cheaper labor. Production of clothing in the U.S. has shrunk to an estimated 5% of all clothing sold. New York City factories, facing rising rents and declining sales, have shuttered their operations. The shrinking district employs just 9,000 people in total, and has less than 270 small factories left. Keep in mind, when I say factory, you might imagine a large building, but many of these places take up just part of one floor.

    Tax breaks and incentives, re-zoning and other measures have been considered by the city to stop the bleeding. But what really might save the city is a bottom up approach from consumers demanding clothing and accessories made in the U.S.A from brands and designers, who in turn seek out American factories.

    And there has been a groundswell lately of support for well-made, beautiful clothing from American artisans, especially given the tragic factory collapse in Bangladesh. I know you’re here because you are one of those conscious consumers, so here are some of my favorite brands and designers manufacturing less than two miles away from my apartment in NYC:

    allison parris, made in new york, eco-friendly party dressses

    Allison Parris
    Parris’ designs are the opposite of crunchy! She makes sparkly, feathery and all-around adorable cocktail dresses and skirts for the girly girl. For a long time, she kept it to herself that many of her dresses uses recycled PET for the netting, because she wanted girls to buy them just because they’re pretty. Of course, she has everything made right in the Garment District.

    carrie parry, silk shirts made in the USA

    With ladylike polka blouses, sunny yellow shirt dresses and classic skirts, CARRIE PARRY’s fashions will stay in your closet for years. She took top honors in The Green Fashion Competition during Amsterdam Fashion Week and the Ethical Fashion Forum's 2011 Innovation U.S.A. Award. CARRIE PARRY is produced in the New York garment district, sourcing environmentally conscious materials and textiles which support artisanal communities worldwide.

    4a Cala Ossidiana
    These va-va-voom bathing suits are designed and created in New York, and they are some of the most creative swimwear designs I’ve ever seen. Intricately woven straps, mess cutouts and even layering (who knew you could layer) bathing suits come together in sophisticated patterns that would at as home in the south of Italy as in Miami.

    feral childe, made in New York, made in the USA

    Feral Childe
    Imagined by a duo of designers working out of California and Brooklyn, Feral Childe’s designs are imaginative and at the same time refined. They choose fabrics that are natural, sustainable, organic, upcycled or surplus, and use low-impact dying processes. They proudly manufacture in the New York Garment District.

    h. fredriksson, made in the USA, made in the New York garment district
    The Swedish designer Helen Fredriksson lives and works in Brooklyn, where she comes up with her dark and sophisticated Nordic designs. She makes mindful fabric choices, choosing natural textiles. I’m especially smitten with her high-waisted, silk trousers.

    Friday, September 6, 2013

    Game Day Style Inspiration {Vintage Football Jerseys}

    football season, vintage redskins t-shirts, game day style, my fair vanity

    Like it or not, football season has begun! It is my strongly held conviction that sports should provide no excuse for abandoning your personal style or your personal code of ethics. It's fun to wear an official jersey from your favorite team, but most of them are made in factories in far flung locales under questionable or totally unknown worker conditions. Instead, why not wear a vintage or gently used jersey?

    I'm not the biggest football fan around, but when I sat down at Old Glory in Georgetown to have a few beers and watch the first Redskins game of the season with my friend Sarah, I wanted to be supportive of her major #HTTR spirit. So, I donned one of my favorite vintage t-shirts in the burgundy and yellow colors the Skins, and got ready to cheer. The slouchy boyfriend jeans I wore with it are Lucky Brand, and proudly made in the USA (similar here).

    Just in case you don't have a vintage t-shirt that works, I've rounded up a few of my favorite vintage football tees from Etsy:

    game day style, vintage redskins t-shirt, my fair vanity football season fashion, vintage steelers t-shirts, my fair vanity football season, fashion, vintage dallas cowboys t-shirts, my fair vanity
    7 football season fashion vintage t-shirts my fair vanity 5 football season fashion vintage t-shirts my fair vanity 4 football season fashion vintage t-shirts my fair vanity

    6 football season fashion vintage t-shirts my fair vanity 3 football season fashion vintage t-shirts my fair vanity 8 football season fashion vintage t-shirts my fair vanity

    football season, vintage redskins t-shirts, game day style, my fair vanity

    Don't forget you can shop all of my favorite, fair items 

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

    Georgetown Strolls, Patent Oxfords, and Fall Transitions

    8 AGL brogues oxfords fall transitions

    I took a stroll to Georgetown this past weekend with two of my best friends, and one was a pair of shoes (similar here, and on sale). Despite the super warm weather, I have had these puppies on repeat for a month straight and can see no end in sight.

    Last week, I promised to tell you more about Attilio Giusti Leombruni (AGL) shoes. Featuring them here represents a small change in the "rules" of My Fair Vanity, and it's one that I've been considering for some time.

    6 AGL brogues oxfords fall transitions

    7 AGL brogues oxfords fall transitions

    All AGL shoes are manufactured in Italy and for three generations, the business has been a family affair. Although I prefer to feature brands that are made in the USA or fair trade, I strongly believe that choosing goods with high quality construction that are sourced from a country with fair labor laws can also be a sustainable consumer choice. When you buy a pair of shoes that are made to last decades or even a lifetime, you're guaranteeing your purchase won't end up in a landfill after a brief stint at the thrift store, as cheaply made pieces from fast fashion chains so often do.

    From the moment I slipped these shoes on in the store, I could tell they were impeccably constructed, and like my Pikolinos sandals, these shoes haven't given me one single blister or red mark no matter how long I wear them. Instead, they feel like I've been wearing them for years, and I love knowing I can easily wear them through fall and winter. While I've paired them with a soft pink linen t-shirt and white jeans here, I can't wait to pair them with camel trousers and cream sweaters when colder days roll in.

    5 AGL brogues oxfords fall transitions

    2 AGL brogues oxfords fall transitions

    Below, you can shop my favorite Attilio Giusti Leombruni (AGL) oxfords and smoking slippers for fall from Nordstrom:

    Photography by Victoria Corkhill, who I'm very glad to have back from her round-the-world summer excursions!

    Don't forget: you can shop all of my favorite, fair items 

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

    Sustainable Fall Selections from SNOBSWAP

    7 snobswap sustainable picks copy

    SNOBSWAP is a an online space where customers can shop or swap.  Anytime you shop at your favorite online consignment site, you're making an eco-friendly choice to reuse and recycle, but in this round-up I'm highlighting a few of my SNOBSWAP favorites for fall that are not only second-hand, but "fair," so purchasing any of these items is basically like earning double eco-points. ;)

    The boots, coat, bag and heels pictured are vegan and made by Stella McCartney, a company that makes extensive efforts to be eco-friendly and sustainable. Stella McCartney herself is a strict vegetarian that never uses leather or fur in her designs, but she also takes a more holistic approach, stating that "sustainability isn’t just one thing, it isn’t just organic cotton – it’s organic cotton, plus wind energy, plus not using PVC, plus thousands of other little steps that eventually make a more sustainable company." Her philosophy is reflected in the fact that all Stella McCartney stores, offices and studios in the UK are powered by wind energy that is provided by Ecotricity, a company that invests the money its customers spend on electricity into clean forms of power like wind.  Outside the UK, the brand uses renewable energy to power their stores and offices whenever possible.

    8 snobswap sustainable picks copy copy

    I'm also pleased to share that the bodycon black dress is made by Proenza Schouler, the black lace dress is by Shoshanna, the gold sequin number is by Nanette Lepore, all of which manufacture most of their dresses in the good ole' USA. While it's certainly patriotic to buy goods that are made in America (you are supporting American jobs!), it also guarantees that your item isn't traveling overseas to get to you, and that the people who made it are being paid at least a minimum wage in a space that is regulated by U.S. safety codes. There are fewer and fewer designers who choose to keep their manufacturing processes stateside, and even those labels mix in some "imported" tags with the ones that say made in the USA, so I try to support the designers who are making an effort, like the ones above.

    One of the best things you can do whenever you're shopping in a physical store is to politely ask the manager to direct you to any brands or items that are made in the USA, fair trade, or that incorporate sustainable materials. Even if they don't know, you've planted a seed by asking the question, and they might think twice about how they decide to stock the next season of inventory. I call it "activist shopping," and I encourage you to try it out.

    Happy shopping!

    Don't forget: you can shop all of my favorite, fair items 

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