Tuesday, April 29, 2014

TOMS Haiti Artist's Collective {Sustainable Summer Style}

toms hait artist collective shoes

I have to admit that I have never been a fan of the classic Tom's shoe, aesthetically speaking, but a recent project of theirs may have changed that.  Toms has committed to create jobs through shoe production in Haiti and to help establish and support a responsible shoe industry in the country. Additionally, small batches are individually hand-painted by artists from the Haiti Artist Collective, so no two are the same.  I think they're perfect for summer, don't you?

I'm also happy to see how far Toms has come past their original one-for-one model. They partner with larger programs focused on health and education to ensure their shoes are given in tandem with other impactful programming, and have begun to focus on producing shoes in the regions where they are given,in order to support local jobs and economies.

Check out more details on their giving model here, and get into a tropical state of mind by browsing the full collection below:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sustainable Style Inspiration: Lace-up Ankle Boots {secondhand}

paul smith boots ethical fashion my fair vanity

I've been wearing out my (second-hand) Paul Smith boots lately. I can't stop, I wear them everywhere!

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4 ethical fashion vintage lace-up boots my fair vanity
Clockwise from top left: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

So, I thought I'd share a few other fun, secondhand pairs I found on Etsy, plus one new pair (bottom right) that are made in the USA by Frye boots, which means they will probably last your lifetime,  if not a few more. Another great resource is, of course, Ebay. I filter by "used" and search my favorite brands in my size, and I always find a few gems.

WEARING: secondhand top and boots, Paige Verdugo Ultra Skinny Jeans (best EVER, made in the USA). PHOTOGRAPHY: Carly Cohen - thanks, Carly!

Shop the look (fairly):

Thursday, April 24, 2014

3 Ethical, Eco-friendly Brands for Spring from "Affordable" to "Investment Piece"

Today marks the anniversary of the devastating Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1,135 workers and injured more than 2,500 people. Right now, many victims and families are still waiting for compensation for their lost wages and injuries. Aside from avoiding stores that churn out fast fashion made in factories similar to Rana Plaza, it's sometimes hard to know what you can do to help.

If you're new to My Fair Vanity, or even if you're not,  one of the best ways to start (or continue) making a positive impact with your purchases is by learning about and investing in brands that are making a conscious effort to be kind to the earth and the people on it. In other words, start to take on a "do no harm" philosophy by checking the label to see where your clothing is made, or asking questions in the store about the company's commitment to fair wages and environmental considerations in their materials sourcing. The more you ask, the more brands will see that their customers do care about the welfare of the people who make their clothes.

To get you started, I'm sharing three of my favorite ethical brands for the spring/summer season. I've also chosen them from three different price points to show that you don't necessarily have to pay big bucks to be a little more ethical.

WAYF, made in the usa, ethical fashion, my fair vanity, rachel mlinarchik
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Wayf - Affordable ($29- $69)
If you absolutely must have what is trending now, such as printed trousers and bright spring shift dresses, then choosing WAYF is a good way to do less harm. All of their pieces are made here in the USA, so you know that even if you're not going to wear those floral cropped trousers forever, you also know that no one has slaved in dangerous conditions or been paid far less than a living wage to make them. Just make sure to re-sell or recycle them when you're done. ;)

Emerson Fry on My Fair Vanity ethical fashion made in the USA
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Emerson Fry - Mid-range ($78-$200)
As Diana Elbasha of Washingtonian so flatteringly pointed out this week, I'm attracted to laid back, minimalist design, which means I love Emerson Fry's effortless staple pieces. I love even more that they are made in New York from natural fibers like hemp, silk, and cotton. Investing in timeless, well-made separates that will never go out of style is an eco-win, each and every time.

EDUN made in Africa ethical fashion
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Edun - Luxe investment pieces ($98-$3,000)
Edun was founded by Ali Hewson and Bono to promote trade in Africa, and while the brand has had its ups and downs, I think their star is on the rise now that creative director Danielle Sherman (formerly of The Row and Alexander Wang) has come on board. I loved their Fall RTW collection, and I've got my eye on a few pieces that are available right now at Barney's. This spring, 85% of the collection will be sourced in sub-Saharan Africa, and that's something I can get behind.

 Shop the post:

For more ethical and eco-friendly options, follow me on Pinterest and discover each spring and summer find as soon as I do!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day: Off the Grid in Tulum, Mexico

4 tulum

I can't think of a more fitting day to share my recent eco-adventures with you than on Earth Day. Just a few weeks ago, I spent an idyllic week in Tulum, Mexico on a yoga retreat with one of my favorite teachers (and people), Carissa Ciuca of The Breathing Room, a Portland, Maine based yoga studio.

On this retreat, we truly were "off the grid," as there are no power lines in this area of Mexico, and most hotels don't even have electricity 24/7 unless they run their own generators. In our house, electricity came on at 5 p.m. and shut off around 10 or 11 pm each night, with wifi and hot water for showers running on solar chargers.


Since our house was right on the beach (as most places are), we had cool breezes day in and day out, and I never did find a restaurant that wasn't open air. From the beach to a nearby restaurant or back to the house to grab a book, there was little need for shoes, no need for stress, and certainly no need for A/C (of which there is none).

3 tulum

This was Carissa's third retreat and her second in Tulum, and she has truly mastered the art. From the healthy meals included in my package to the varied morning and evening yoga sessions; from the 90 minute massage to the mud meditation that closed the trip, I came away feeling relaxed and renewed from the inside out. I felt whole, calm, and very sad to be leaving.

5 tulum

I loved the outer spaces of the house we stayed in-- no need for indoor sinks or seating areas when the sun is so warm and the breezes so strong.

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The sun-soaked seating area outside my room.

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The view from almost anywhere on the beach was breathtaking, but the view (above) from the restaurant-hotel next door was my absolute favorite.

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As if the trip could not be made more perfect, we happened to be staying almost directly across the street from Hartwood (pictured above), which Food + Wine magazine names as one of the top 100 restaurants in the world, and for good reason. Among many highlights, I had the best grilled octopus dish I've ever had, one of the most interesting (and spicy!) cactus hors d'hoervres I've ever tasted, and incredibly fresh juices at this foodie haven. It's likely due to the fresh, local ingredients  used by owner Eric Werner, who drives hours  (and sometimes hikes) to purchase foods from neighboring farms where the simple system of agriculture used by the Maya people 6,000 years ago is still practiced. As the New York Times further explained last month:

"At Hartwood there are no stoves, no convection ovens, no deep fryers: only wood fire to cook with. The kitchen is open to the elements, an expanse of poured concrete with work tables, picnic coolers full of ice and whole fish, and baskets of fruit. All the kitchen prep is done with knives and a single appliance (a blender, powered by the restaurant’s small generator)..."

ethical fashion tulum ace and jig

The trip was truly one that I'll never forget, and I can't wait to see where Carissa will lead her next retreat. I wouldn't miss it for the world...

WEARING: Ace & Jig shirt, made under fair labor conditions in India (learn more about them HERE); Mango Tree Bangle (sustainable wood); Jeans are old, similar HERE and HERE, made in USA. PHOTOGRAPHY & STYLING by Rachel Mlinarchik and Sarah Moberg.

Shop the look:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cobblestone Runway Lookbook: Behind the Scenes

rachel mlinarchik, trina turk, loren hope, fcobblestone runway lookbook
WEARING: Perforated cape by Eva Franco, Dress by Trina Turk, and necklace by Loren Hope, all made in the USA. PHOTOGRAPHY: Alumbra Photography  STYLING: Spicy Candy DC

As you know, last week the Cobblestone Runway Lookbook debuted, and with features on the Washingtonian blog and Northern Virginia Magazine I'd say it was a smashing success!

rachel mlinarchik, trina turk, loren hope, fcobblestone runway lookbook

What's more, the folks at Zoe Boutique and Bishop Boutique were incredibly accommodating when I requested that the majority of my outfits adhere to the ethics of my blog. In fact, it was easy for them, as both stores carry an array of beautiful clothing and accessories that are handmade, and/or made in the USA.

rachel mlinarchik, trina turk, loren hope, fcobblestone runway lookbook

In fact, I was psyched to discover a few new brands that I didn't realize were made in the USA, such as Loren Hope's jewelry line and Eva Franco's apparel.

rachel mlinarchik, trina turk, loren hope, fcobblestone runway lookbook
WEARING: Trina Turk dress and Loren Hope necklace. Adorable doggy not available for purchase.

We shot at the Morrison House (below), a member of the Kimpton family, one of my favorite boutique hotel chains, and at Jackson 20 (above), famous in Old Town for their "yappy hour,"  where you can bring your pup to enjoy the open air while you enjoy excellent drink specials.

rachel mlinarchik, trina turk, loren hope, fcobblestone runway lookbook

8 rachel mlinarchik in trina turk loren hope for cobblestone runway lookbook

This is by far my favorite behind-the-scenes shot. Britta was a little bit of a diva, and was done with the photo shoot about one minute after it began.

Last but not least, in addition to the dresses you see above, I put together a collection of my favorites from the made in the USA brands that were featured. Shop them all below by clicking on the arrow buttons:

The Cobblestone Runway Lookbook was produced by:
Bishop BoutiqueZoe Boutiquethe dog parkSugar House Day Spa & Salon with help from US! The Morrison House hotelJackson 20Hotel Monaco, Suzanne from Bronzed Berry organic mobile spray tanning

Models: Tammy from A Loyal love, Wendy from Old Town Home, Rachel from My Fair Vanity & Bryarly from Everything That Flickers

Puppy Models: Lulu, Britta, Merci Faye, Haro WHO IS UP FOR ADOPTION AS WELL as Darling!

Photography by:
Susannah from Alumbra Photography

Design & Layout by:
Bryarly from everything that flickers

Styling by:
Spicy Candy DC

The project was made possible by support from the Alexandria Marketing Fund.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cobblestone Runway: A Weekend in Old Town

I had the great pleasure of being included in a new lookbook headed up by Old Town Alexandria's Bishop Boutique a few weeks ago. They partnered with several local businesses and bloggers to produce the first issue of Cobblestone Runway: A Weekend in Old Town, and I'm so grateful to have been a part of it! Tune in later this week for behind the scenes details about what I'm wearing, where it's made, and more.

Spoiler alert: Bishop Boutique and Zoe Boutique were kind of enough to ensure I'm wearing lots of made in the USA goodness in each shot. I even discovered a few new, fair brands that I can't wait to share with you, but for now, please read, share, and let me know what you think of the lookbook!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Behind the Scenes & Favorite Looks from #styledbyshellbcheri {Ethical Spring Style Inspiration}

9 styledbyshellbcheri dc blogger style my fair vanity

Last week, I shared the outfit that Shell B Cheri styled for me as part of her "rediscover a difficult item in your closet project." Remember? The Dad Jeans?

Well, I was not alone in this project, and all of these beautiful women participated, too! It was an honor to be a part of such a thoughtful, ethical endeavor, and I feel lucky to have spent time with each one of these kind, stylin' ladies.

The Gang (above)
Top Row: Meaghan of District Sparkle / Trish of Fashion According to the Menu / Krystin of Be Loud, Be You  / Vivi of Heart Print Style  Natalie of The Fashionably Broke / Michelle of Eat Style Play / Waverly of Pich and Roor / Tammy of A Loyal Love
Bottom Row: Erin of Currently Coveting / Elle of Elle Choi / Alicia of River City Chic / Yours truly / Alissa of Feeling Good Style / Carmen of Compact Closet

styledbyshellbcheri dc blogger style my fair vanity

We shot on location at Georgetown's Malmaison, and after fortifying ourselves with lattes and croissants, we were trooped outside to be lined up and photographed by Ashley Lettich, although many of the behind-the-scenes shots (such as the one below) were snagged by blogger Julien of it's Julien.

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3 styledbyshellbcheri dc blogger style my fair vanity

These are the three ladies who made it all happen (again captured by Julien): our photographer, Ashley of Ashley in DC, Ms. Shell B Cheri herself, and Waverly of Pich and Roor, who is wearing one of my favorite looks, a vintage dress that she hand-dyed herself from a blah beige color, with a thrifted belt and clutch, no less! Crafty, economical, and stunningly beautiful, that one. And she styled a few of the looks for the project as well!

7 styledbyshellbcheri dc blogger style my fair vanity

Krystin of Be Loud Be You was (of course) wearing my favorite look of the day. Vintage coat over thrifted Lanvin dress. She found a Lanvin dress for $10. Seriously, she really did.  This is only one reason of many that Krystin is kind of my hero.

Krystin doesn't call herself a sustainable or ethical fashion blogger, but I sure do! This girl rocks vintage and thrifted gems in almost every post, and she always looks like she just stepped out of an editorial lookbook (as you can see). She's fierce, she's a Mom, she can sew and alter her own clothes, and I find her to be endlessly inspiring. If you haven't checked out her blog, start here, or here... it doesn't really matter where. It's all beautiful and you will just keep clicking and clicking, I promise.

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I also really loved this look that Shell B put together for Tammy of A Loyal Love. It's so fresh and modern, so perfectly spring, and just so damn cool, like Tammy. She said she'd purchased the wooly vest a while ago and aside from pairing it with a bandeau top in summer, could not figure out how she would wear it even though she loved it. This is why projects like Shell B's are so wonderful! Our closets are full of possibility and we often just need just a teensy nudge or shake-up, and boom, insta-wardrobe refresh with no need to shop.

13 styledbyshellbcheri dc blogger style my fair vanity

The last look that really stood out to me was Natalie of The Fashionably Broke's overalls. She has a great story bc in styling her tricky overalls, Shell B also pulled out a studded green blouse that Natalie loved but often allowed to languish in the darkness of her closet.  I love the clean, bright colors and the white wedge heels. I would never have thought to pair them with overalls in a million years but somehow they just look right.

Shell B is a very talented young woman, and I'm so grateful to have been a part of her vision. She's moving to Nashville very soon, I hear, and I'm sure she'll be taking the city by storm!

 Do you have a difficult to style item in your closet that you love and can't part with? What is it? 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sustainable Style: Vintage Levis, Polished Blazer {#StyledbyShellBCheri}

rachel mlinarchik my fair vanity 5

Just a few short weeks ago, stylist and blogger Shell B Cheri* waltzed into my apartment to give me a little closet refresh, and I'm so glad that she did. I was participating in a project she was working on with several other bloggers, in which we each chose an item from our closets that we loved but rarely wore so that she could help us style it.

But you guys, she did so much more. For my difficult-to-style items, I had chosen a well-cut creme blazer given to me as a Christmas gift by one of my bestest friends, as well as a vintage beaded bag that I'd worn for New Year's and never really picked up again. I loved them both but was intimidated by the creme and wanted a more casual way to wear a beaded bag during the day.

rachel mlinarchik my fair vanity 2

Well, Ms. Cheri dove into my closet and after pulling out almost everything I owned (ok maybe half), she unearthed a completely unexpected item: a pair of beat-up vintage Levis that had been my father's. I'd worn them in 9th grade with combat boots (yuuuuup), but simply carried them with me ever since then, unable to bring myself to donate them or sell them, but not actually wearing them.

Since my father passed away in 2004, I've held on tightly to the little pieces of him that I have: his old t-shirts, or his 70s jeans that I loved to wear in jr. high.   When Shelby whipped out these jeans from the depths of my jeans pile, she was shocked that I never wore them, and I was just so, so happy to see them, and a little teary.

rachel mlinarchik my fair vanity 6

When I wore my rad new outfit to the group photo-shoot at Malmaison in Georgetown, several fellow bloggers asked if I had destroyed/distressed the jeans myself or if they "came that way." When I explained that they were my father's, and that he had so artfully "distressed" them by mowing the grass, changing the car battery, and doing various other outside chores in them, I laughed to myself (and at myself) for not realizing what a gem had hiding in my closet! Move over boyfriend jeans, these are Dad Jeans, and they are AUTHENTIC.

There really is nothing like having someone else help you to shop your closet. Aside from the fact that getting more wear and re-styling the clothes you already own is much more eco-friendly than buying new ones, it's super fun, economical, and inspiring. If you have a friend whose style you admire, ask him/her to come over one day for a glass of wine and some style advice. Just as Shelby had us do, pick a few items that you can't let go of but also don't really wear, and let the magic happen.

STYLING by Shell B Cheri  /  PHOTOGRAPHY by Ashley Lettich  / WEARING vintage Levis, bag, gifted blazer, and eco-friendly white t-shirt by Alternative Apparel.

*To see more of Shell B Cheri's handiwork, check out #styledbyshellbcheri on Twitter and IG.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eco-friendly Party Dresses for Spring

2 spring florals
  1. Black Halo, made in the USA, $375
  2. Lela Rose, made in the USA, $40 from Rent the Runway
  3. Vintage from Etsy seller Maeven, $98
  4. Wayf, made in the USA, $58
As spring galas and events get underway, it's time to start thinking florals and party dresses, amiright?

The DC Ecowomen have their 10th Anniversary Gala coming up on April 24, and as a guest blogger, I've put together a guide for them on how to dress to impress the eco-friendly way.  From Rent the Runway to Etsy to Nordstrom, the options are endless, and I hope you'll stop by to see the full post.

At the very least, I encourage you to click over to my Pinterest collection of eco-friendly party dresses to see dozens and dozens of ethical options for your own special spring event, whether it's a wedding or an Easter brunch.

Shop the post:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Eco-friendly Beach Essentials

eco-friendly beach essentials mara hoffman one piece ethical fashion
  1. Mara Hoffman one-piece patterned suit is made in the USA, $256
  2. Fleurs de Soleil Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 for Face and Body is vegan, paraben-free and made with 75% organic ingredients. 
  3. Baobab and banana fiber beach tote is fair trade and hand woven from natural fibers, available from Drifting Arrows.
  4. Shwood sunglasses are handmade from discarded wood in Portland, Oregon. 
  5. Striped 100% cotton beach towel is handmade and fair trade, available from Drifting Arrows

Although spring has only just recently sprung, I've already got sun and sand on my mind. Why? First of all, I am obsessed with this Mara Hoffman one piece swimsuit. I've never been a one piece type, but there are so many great options out there now that I think I could become one.  I also like that they become a shirt when you throw on shorts or jeans.

The second reason I've got the beach on my mind is that I'm headed out to Tulum tomorrow to participate in a yoga retreat with my best girlfriends!

There will be several posts lined up for you this week while I'm gone, including the big reveal for a project I recently worked on with a dozen (or more?) other bloggers, headed up by stylist extraordinaire Ms. Shellby Cheri. The outfit she styled for me will go live on Wednesday, but for now, check out how she helped Carlis from Spicy Candy DC style her badass printed overalls three ways.

Now, let's get back to those beach essentials. I've found so, so many beautiful swimsuits that are made in the USA, eco-friendly post-sun skin products, and fair trade towels that I recommend visiting my pinterest collection to see them all-- these are just the highlights!

2 eco-friendly beach essentials mara hoffman one piece ethical fashion

  1. One piece bathing suit is made in the USA by Anonyme, available from Drifting Arrows.
  2. Cotton towel is fair trade and handmade, available from Drifting Arrows.
  3. Golden tote is handwoven and fair trade, available from Drifting Arrows, which is apparently my new favorite store in the whole world.
  4. This all-purpose beauty balm from One Love Organics is perfect for summer sunning bc the pure, cold-pressed plant oils, rich mango butter, and three super-critical extracts break down dirt and makeup, cleansing your skin without stripping its natural protective layer. 
  5. Cover-up is fair trade from Lemlem, $198 from Shopbop.

Shop more ethical options below, or visit my pinterest page for the full (and always growing) collection of eco-friendly, sustainable essentials for this summer!

Lastly, if you can handle the sun-soaked images, please do follow along with me on Instagram @MyFairVanity to see how the yoga beach adventure goes!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Preppy Summer Prints from Alice and Trixie {Made in the USA}

This week I had the pleasure of working on a project with some fellow bloggers and local boutiques in Old Town Alexandria (be on the lookout for #cobblestonerunwaylookbook previews and behind the scenes shots on IG and Twitter). As part of the styling sessions for the lookbook, I was delighted to discover Alice and Trixie at local shop Zoe Boutique.

Alice and Trixie made in the USA ethical fashion perfect summer dresses print month

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They have a variety of juicy, fruity prints for the preppier set. Do some of these look reminiscent of Tory Burch? Yes, yes they do.  Which means you can choose "made in the USA" over "made in China," and still get the same clean, fresh look. Sounds like a fair deal to me!

2 Alice and Trixie made in the USA ethical fashion perfect summer dresses print month
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While Alice and Trixie's focus is clearly on prints (sometimes super trippy and wild ones), I liked their edgier, simpler separates and black cut-out dresses. I know, you're shocked. And that trim on the dress? Faux. The skirt? Faux. I'm diggin it.

Shop more Alice and Trixie HERE, and below, or pop into Zoe Boutique in Old Town if you're a local!

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