Outfit + December thoughts

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I never know if I love or hate December. I love the snow dusting the trees and the twinkle lights and the togetherness, but I hate the mad-rush-to-the-finish when it comes to work and obligations, the way I somehow am always still shopping for gifts at the last minute and when I have to scrape the ice off my windshield.

I’m actively trying to be a bit more mindful and live more slowly this December. To take a step back and enjoy the small things. To cook some recipes I’ve wanted to try, to walk through the stores just to see the holiday decorations. It’s hard for me, and I think it’s annoying the people who are used to me always being available and always getting things done quickly. But I just feel like it is so, so necessary for my well-being as this year comes to a close.

It has been a crazy year for me. I was so sick in the beginning, to the point where some days I couldn’t even get out of bed. That feeling was slowly replaced with gratitude for my family and friends and joy for my wedding – the best, most meaningful day of my tiny life – and a whole host of other things. It has been a year of heavy emotions.

Whether we care about fashion or not, we can’t deny that our clothes are entwined with who we are and how we see ourselves. As much as my closet journey is about my clothes, it also has a lot more to do with how I feel about myself and how I want to live my life (that is, with a lot less stress and a lot more presence). It’s a response to how I’ve felt this year, a rebellion from always trying to live up to what I think other people want me to be, and a welcoming of simplicity. I’ve never been more aware of the power of how we present ourselves to the world and what we choose to adorn ourselves with.

My goals for December, leading from all of this, are as follows:

  1. To try three new recipes – progress is slow, but I already picked a soup recipe for this weekend! I just want to be in the moment in my cozy home.
  2. To go to bed before midnight during weeknights – doing mostly okay at this.
  3. To simplify my gift giving – success! Tried not to overthink it and just buy the things that struck me as beautiful or practical.
  4. To not look at my phone when Matt is talking to me – admittedly, need to do better here.
  5. To not allow people to rush me to do things faster than I feel I can do them – doing okay, could probably be a bit more assertive. But trying not to beat myself up over it.

In other news, here is an outfit I put together that I really like. Not thinking of my clothing as disposable has me finding new ways to pair things and pulling older items out of the depths of my wardrobe. I honestly forgot this long sleeved shirt existed before I started cleaning my closet.

It has been so much easier than I thought to start wearing older pieces again, especially now that I care more about how I feel in an outfit, rather than what everyone else thinks about how I might look. I also really love this knit top, even though when I bought it (on Poshmark) I didn’t realize it was quite so cropped with such low armholes…but I actually love it on!

I think in general, my outfits also feel better when my hair is done (as in, not in a topknot), and especially when I blow it out – but I just find it so time consuming and exhausting! Any tips? Helpful tutorials to get better at drying my hair?

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Long sleeved tee, J.Crew, old; Sweater, Zara, thrifted; Jeans, Abercrombie & Fitch, old; Belt, Madewell, purchased this year; Boots, Softwalk, purchased this year in Norway when I packed inappropriately for the weather (ha!); Gold and Black Diamond Pin, Vrai & Oro, last year’s Black Friday piece (I actually won it, which was cool); Watch, Berg + Betts, purchased this year. 

How are you ending your year? Using it as a time to tie up the loose ends, or slowing down and embracing a little bit of the chaos? (They’re both okay).

Review: Komuso Design The Shift necklace

I recently added Komuso Design’s The Shift necklace to my jewelry collection, which I’ve had my eye on for some time. You can learn more about Komuso Design’s story here.

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The Shift is a piece of dual-purpose jewelry, which not only looks beautiful but also helps the wearer manage anxiety and stress.

Komuso claims that when you exhale through The Shift, it slows your breath down – quieting your mind, lowering your heart rate, relaxing your muscles and improving your focus. It’s ideal for those who want to be more present and mindful.

As someone who struggles with anxiety, the claims piqued my interest. I also liked that the necklace was made in the USA and thought the design was gorgeous.

But I was curious – did it actually work?

How to Shift:

  • Inhale. Take a slow breath in through your nose and become aware of your thoughts.
  • Exhale. For ten seconds, exhale through The Shift. The Shift slows your breath down, allowing you to relax.
  • Restore. Bring your mind back to the present.
  • Repeat. Repeat as necessary.

My experience:

The Komuso Design shopping experience was great. I had my necklace in only three days, and it was packaged really nicely in a box, dust bag and with instructions on how to Shift.

The necklace itself is gorgeous. I chose the 14k gold option. It features a small Komuso logo and KOMUSO along the breath entry point. It also reads “stillness” in Japanese.

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I was so excited that I had to immediately try exhaling through it. I was surprised to see just how much my breath slowed down; it was actually a pretty strange sensation.

I wore it to work the next day and got a lot of compliments and questions about it (“Is it a whistle?”) so it’s fun that this is a bit of a conversation piece. One of my coworkers ordered one after she saw mine, and my best friend liked it so much that she asked if I would consider getting her one as a Christmas gift!

I used The Shift periodically throughout the day (fortunately my desk is a bit secluded, because I think I might feel a little weird breathing through my necklace in front of people? Not decided on that yet). It definitely helped me to manage my breathing, and I see how this is a great piece for meditation, as well.

What sealed the deal for me in enthusiastically recommending this piece, though, is the fact that I missed it on the one day I didn’t wear it. I was having a super stressful day and thought, “Ugh, I wish I had worn The Shift today.” So for me, that shows it has had a noticeable affect on my mindfulness and anxiety management.

I’m looking forward to using this in a more purposeful way (such as through meditation or yoga) beyond just wearing it in my daily life. I’ve found it to be a really meaningful and practical addition to my jewelry collection – a stunning little pause button on life.

The Shift is available in 14k gold, slate, rose gold and sterling silver.

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Luxury goods and conscious fashion

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Have had this post in my brain for a loooong time, because I knew it would be difficult to write.

One of my fashion weaknesses has been designer handbags. I know- not so in line with the rest of my closet philosophy. But, I’ve got to be honest about this particular closet failing, otherwise I’m a total conscious-fashion-hypocrite who talks a lot about the topic without stopping to be critical of my own consumerism.

I own two designer bags, a Chanel wallet on a chain and a Bottega Veneta shoulder bag/ hobo, as well as a Chanel wallet (though the wallet was not purchased new). I love them so much and use them, well, nearly every day. But learning more about conscious fashion had me wondering about the production of these bags, and if conscious fashion and luxury goods coexist in any way. Does the craftsmanship lend designer goods to being acceptable in a conscious wardrobe? Or are the exorbitant prices and production methods problematic? And how guilty should I feel for carrying these bags?

Chanel prides itself on quality goods and preserving craftsmanship. However, it doesn’t disclose much information about its supply chain or sustainability goals (outside of the suppliers it has purchased in recent years). The brand does not share a public list of suppliers, and scored only a 1% in the 2017 Fashion Revolution Fashion Transparency Index. Brands scoring between 0 & 1% disclose nothing at all or few policies – mostly related to hiring practices or local community engagement.

In this same report, Bottega Veneta scored a 28. A score between 28 and 30 means brands are much more likely to be publishing detailed information about their policies, procedures, social and environmental goals, as well as supplier assessment and remediation qualities. When it comes to policies and commitments, Bottega Veneta scores a 78. However, they scored extremely low in traceability and spotlight issues (meaning their commitment to topics such as a living wage, collective bargaining and circular or innovative processes).

So, I’m not feeling great about my Bottega Veneta, but am feeling a lot better about it than my Chanel bag. I also like how the Bottega Veneta headquarters is LEED certified and that they are committed to the process and craftsmanship behind their intrecciato pattern.

Beyond all the questions about sourcing, I found this article from The Fashion Law to be really eye-opening. We are so out of touch with what our clothes should cost, that we don’t seem to find it odd that a shirt could cost $4 or a bag could cost $2,000. We are so detached from what it actually takes to make our clothes. And I’m learning that neither of those prices are right. I mean, did you know that $100 is the loosely agreed-upon minimum of how much denim should reasonably cost in order to avoid unethical and inhumane manufacturing practices? And let’s be honest with ourselves – how often do we really spend $100 on a pair of jeans?

All in all, I think everything I’ve learned has killed my love for designer bags. A $2,000 bag might be good quality – but it’s also way, way overpriced. I feel good about the fact that I use these bags every day, and intend for them to be heirloom pieces, but that doesn’t mean that the cost and potential mistreatment of workers is justified. They also may not fall apart like a fast-fashion item, but are they really any better quality than an ethically made leather bag? Most likely, no.

And I have to confront that reality in my closet and my shopping habits.

Were any of your favorite brands included in the index? Has it changed how you think about them?

Conscious brand to know: Pamut Apparel

I was first introduced to Pamut Apparel on Instagram, and am so glad to have discovered the brand.

Pamut believes in sustainable fashion that has a positive impact on the community. They support environmental and social causes, encouraging people to #wearwhatyoubelieve.

Pamut’s clothing is made of 100% organic cotton, and garments are produced fairly in North Carolina. Not to mention, Kat, the founder of Pamut, is absolutely lovely, and the clothing is so well-made and gorgeous! While I love that the designs are unique and support a variety of causes, it’s the quality that’s without a doubt my favorite thing about the brand.

When I received my first Pamut pieces in the mail, I could feel the difference in the clothing compared to other cotton pieces I own from mass-market brands. The stitching is flawless, and the material felt substantial in my hands.

Get the scoop: Pamut Apparel Elliot Wrap Top

I cannot say enough good things about the Elliot Wrap Top. I love the material so much – organic cotton drapes so nicely and is still lightweight. Plus, this can be worn either tied as a wrap top, or open as a casual jacket. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it as a jacket with the ties showing, but it truly does look great either way and I don’t think the ties distract from the overall appearance. In fact, I actually think I prefer it as a jacket, as the vee is a little too low on me when worn as a wrap top (I’m 5’3″ for reference), and I did have to wear a camisole with it. But, it is nice how the wrap top is dressier and the jacket is more casual. A functional piece.

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Wrap top: Pamut Apparel // Gray tee: old – T.J. Maxx? // Jeans: Zara, thrifted // Boots: Vince Camuto // Necklace: Komuso Design // Bag: Sezane

Get the scoop: Pamut Apparel Wyatt Tee

I was a little confused about how the Wyatt tee could fit a size 2-10, since I’m a somewhat small human (ha!), so I was curious to receive it in the mail. Much to my surprise – and happiness! – it fit beautifully and wasn’t cut too low in the armpits, which was a big concern for me when ordering it. I prefer it tucked in, though it looked nice over leggings as well (but a bit too casual for how I’d typically dress). This particular tee supports one of Pamut’s core causes – racial equality and unity. I love the pinky swear design, it’s both chic and meaningful.

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Pamut Wyatt Tee Outtake

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Tee: Pamut Apparel // Jeans: Madewell // Boots: Sam Edelman, thrifted // Bandana: Madewell

Overall, Pamut Apparel is definitely a brand to know – they care about the environment, the community and make gorgeous, quality clothes.

I’d love to know what Pamut piece you like best! Check out their website and let me know in the comments.

For 15% off your Pamut Apparel purchase, use code KELLIEHAYDEN15. 🙂

Closet staple: Cuyana ribbed open-back sweater

I recently wrote about Cuyana and this sweater, but wanted to make a dedicated post to it because I think it’s a great addition to any closet.

It’s a blend of Italian merino wool and cashmere, and is available in ecru, gray, or black. I went with the ecru when I ordered it – since my closet is mostly black, I decided to mix it up!

The split, geometric back makes it great for dressing up or down. I wear it with a tank top or t-shirt underneath for the office, and without layers in the evening. It’s a great transitional piece since the open back prevents it from being too heavy, though it is definitely warm enough for our New England winters!

I also love the gold button detail on the back, it’s simple but elegant.

The price was definitely a splurge for me (eeek!), but I’ve already worn it several times and know I’ll continue to do so – it’s a classic piece.

What also made the difference when I was deciding whether or not to purchase it is that it isn’t dry clean only, as a lot of beautiful sweaters tend to be. It feels a lot more wearable and functional knowing I can gently wash it at home (and dry clean only if I really feel like I need to, or if it gets stained).

I feel as though I’m getting a lot better at asking myself the right questions before making purchases – like what I can mix this piece with (but does it stand well on it’s own)? and acknowledging that I’ve owned way too many dry-clean only pieces in the past, sacrificing functionality for beauty. Spending a little more on clothing has also forced me to ask myself, “How much do I really need and/or want this?” before adding something to my closet.

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Cuyana Ribbed Sweater Folded

Cuyana Ribbed Sweater Knit

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Sweater: Cuyana // Jeans: Zara, thrifted // Boots: Sam Edelman, thrifted

 

 

Defining my closet’s color palette

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Have been thinking a lot lately about color palettes. I’ve been feeling really inspired by photos of minimalist closets, and have also come to the realization that while I have a lot of amazing clothes, they aren’t necessarily interchangeable in all the ways I’d like them to be.

I find that I still have too many tops or sweaters where I might go to wear it, and then think to myself “Oh but, X item is dirty and that’s what I need to wear it with.”

First, I acknowledge that this probably isn’t entirely true- I need to make more effort to find new and different ways to wear my clothes. But, I also think it is a good indicator that moving forward, I should purchase my garments with color in mind so I don’t keep ending up with patterned pants that only go with THAT ONE pink top (or whatever the case may be). This is not permission for me to go out and start buying a bunch of things to adhere to my color scheme, but it is an exercise in awareness.

The core colors were easy. If I take an inventory of my closet, the majority of my clothes are black, camel, gray and white. I feel best in them and they mix and match well –  a no-brainer!

For my accent colors, blush was also a no-brainer. I have a few light pink clothes, and it’s my favorite color (besides black, that is). It’s my go-to for when I need to wear something more feminine. Rust isn’t a color I wear often, but I have a couple of pieces and I like how unexpected it is, and how well it pairs with my core colors. My last accent color was a hard choice, though. Navy (and similar shades of blue) work well with my other colors, and I have a lot of navy clothing already. I did consider using emerald instead because I think it’s a flattering color for me, but I asked myself how often would I really wear it (besides my emerald coat). I guess I could always make changes later if this doesn’t work out for me?

For the patterns – all stripes, all the time. I always regret it when I buy something polka dot or floral, anyway. I also love plaid and flannel, but didn’t include it because it’s so seasonal (I have just one or two flannel/check/windowpane pattern shirts).

Do you have a palette for your wardrobe? What colors do you find you wear the most?