Curating Closets: Swimwear

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

I don’t like much physical activities that require sole training (I’m more motivated in groups or teams) barring a single exception: swimming. In high-school, I was not athletically dedicated enough to sign up for a sport but I did get out of the required Phys Ed classes by signing up for swimming – an alternative that did not require us to compete but that entailed endless laps of different styles day in and day out. I’m not exactly a fish out of water, but do I love the pool!

Since my preferred water activity is freestyle, I like bathing suits that will assist me in a good workout without the worry of whether a bottom will have the ability to hang on. Having been traumatized in my early twenties when a massive Southern California wave tossed me around and took my swim undies with its recessing tide (true story – I had to wear my male friend’s flashy gold water polo brief which he happened to carry around in his beach bag), I am extremely picky about choosing my swim attire. I get irked when I kick off the walls of a pool and feel a slight tug on my swim wear.

Therefore, I’ve stuck with one-pieces in the last decade. As a minimalist of five years, I have only owned one suit at a time (whereas young-me owned 4-5 pairs). And while I’ve likely wasted away my best years sitting in a cover up that acts as a full bodysuit armor, I’ve also spent much of my time poolside frolicking in the waters freely, a trade-off that I have no regrets over. As I watch other girls sun-bathe on decks with lotion in hand, I am the one cannon-balling with my guy friends into the deep end. Which isn’t to say sun-bathing isn’t cool. Only that you choose the suit that fits you.

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So on to the point: When perusing for a new suit, I try to search for sustainable brands trying to mitigate a balance between creating hydrophilic attire and using environmentally-friendly fabric materials. Therein lies the rub. However, I was able to wrangle a few brands to rally behind.

Here are a few favorites.

+ Summersalt – I personally currently own a black SummerSalt one-piece (pictured throughout this post) with a classic racerback cut-out and a mesh upper half. The cut is supposed to be full coverage for the bottom half but even with my short stature, I think the cut is pretty high on the hip, exuding a big of that 80’s Baywatch style that puts this suit far away from being considered grandmotherly. It is, what I like to call, “the Little Black Dress of Swimwear”.

+ Reformation– When I was conisdering which swim suit to buy a year ago, Reformation was not only a contender but the second runner-up. I have a soft spot for vintage design. Reformation is one of the more famous companies in the slow fashion industry. Their retro styles spot high-waisted bottoms and bandeau tops, among other modern cuts. My favorite is this minimalist Brittany one-piece and readers would be happy to know that they are currently offering 30% off site-wide with free shipping around the globe.

+ Vitamin A– Vitamin A is the site for all bombshell ethical consumers. Their large selection of suits in Ecolux fabric is mostly made locally in Southern California. They also partner with a number of organizations to protect the environment (mostly marine habitats) by donating a portion of their proceeds. This is a company that believes in sustainability as much as female empowerment. Use this link to receive 25% off your next purchase.

+ Land of Women – This is for the essentialist woman. This New York based company cuts and stitches all products by a family-owned manufacturer. They offer a small collection of basics in practical cuts to simplify the shopping experience.

+ Nude – The Nude Label is another option for the minimalist who prefers bikinis in black or brown and high hip huggers. Their suits use 82% recycled polyamide without the frills or fuss. It’s a perfect stop for those shopping for intimates as well. See my review post on Intimates here.

+ Prana – Prana is my husband’s favorite source of activewear. We both own a pair of hiking pants by Prana from when we went on our honeymoon three years ago and since then, those pants has gotten us through exceptionally difficult hikes all across the world. Suffice to say, they have high-quality products, swimwear included. Bathing suits use econyl recycled nylon, however I am still not sure how I feel about the percentage of elastane still being used. Of course it isn’t the perfect solution, but their company as a whole tries their best at creating sustainable clothes.

I suppose the main point of all this though, is the importance of our planet, the preservation of marine habitat, and the taking for granted simple things such as beach access and laying out on the sand. I do miss the ocean. I can’t imagine a world where younger generations have no access to such things. Hence the importance of choosing wisely what we consume, how we consume, and which companies we support.

Looking forward to summer days by the water…

XOXO

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Curating Closets: Intimates

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

This post is in partnership with Organic Basics, a European based company focused on sustainably producing gorgeous basics for the everyday. Each item has a luxurious quality made using ethical factories with fair wages, eco-conscious packaging, and a sustainable sourcing of materials. They are the ultimate example of a company checking off all the right boxes without sacrificing beauty. 

Before you roll your eyes at me because I am talking about intimate things again, hear me out. In my defense, previous conversations regarding Giving a Crap about using Plant Paper to wipe Tushys all revolve around the subject of the restroom which is NOT what this post is about. But okay fine, it is again regarding intimates, particularly those stored in your closet and worn on your person daily.

As a blog dedicated to droning on about curating en general, I would be remiss if I skip over the article of clothing that people most oft wear. Yet underthings are not at the forefront of the conversations revolving around an ethical capsule wardrobe. In fact, searching for sustainable underwear on one’s own can be a bit of a drag since there are only a handful of companies interested in making them. After much deep diving, I have surfaced with a handful of options that I think are worthy of the slow fashion movement, but of course, first, a word.

Intimates, to me, are not meant to be frilly things. I never did understand the draw to cheap lace, or worse, itchy mesh. And whilst I believe that our homes should contain only the most beautiful things, I am also a firm believer in the practicality of certain items. I like to think that all of my clothes earn their keep, and the most hard-working of them are the ones that I most cherish.

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Organic Basics’s lite singlet and briefs are undergarments that double as pajama sets on hot summer nights.

For example, I have a beautiful blue jumper that I love to wear year round. It dresses up or down, excusing it for every occasion short of a wedding (although I’d gladly wear it to one). It’s pretty to look at, sure, but its also a utilitarian thing made of linen that moves freely with my every action, looks good wrinkled, and is reliable for even the most demanding of activities whether that be yoga or washing my car. It has a simple boyish cut and is loose-fitting, and for all these things, it is one of my most valuable articles of clothing.

I hold my undergarments to the same standard, if not more. I expect them to be versatile, comfortable, and invisible. I don’t want itchy fabrics or skivvies with too tight of a fit. I hate clasps that dig into the skin, voluminous cups that try too hard, and mostly, underwear strings. And the care routine needs to be easy on me too. I would hate to waste laundry loads washing delicates separately, worrying about whether lace would snag, or removing cups before every wash. Forget about hand washing. Despite these utilitarian requirements, I don’t want them to be ugly. They must be good enough to walk around freely on warm summer nights when I have the house to myself (almost never, but I wish). And on top of all this, I expect them to be sustainable, ethical or fair trade? I must have gone mad!

However, I can prove that it is possible for I have found a few companies and styles that fit the bill. I included some that are very precious, and some that are more financially savvy for the everyday. None of these are by any means perfect, but just a more thoughtful solution to intimates. To give you a jump start, here is my list of recommendations.

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PACT provides sustainably produced everyday options at a fair price.

+ Everlane – Everlane has a line of intimates that include bottoms, tops and bodysuits. While the functionality of the latter escapes me, I find their bottoms and tops collection to be very practical. My sister gifted me eight black and light gray bikini bottoms under my request for neutral colors in a singular style one birthday, and they have been my go-to bottoms for over a year. They have lasted weekly washes without needing to separate them from the rest of my clothes, which have made laundry day wonderfully easy for me and lighter on the environment. I have yet to observe any holes on them. They are thin enough to be invisible with most things I wear (an exception would be yoga pants), and they are very comfy. While I admire Everlane for their efforts to partner with ethical factories around the globe and providing transparency in terms of where clothes are made, my only gripe about Everlane is their lack of size inclusivity when it comes to producing clothes. But in terms of basic underwear quality, I have no qualms.

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+ Organic Basics – I had the pleasure of trying out Organic Basic’s lite singlet and briefs soft touch collection in TENCEL – a material made of wood pulp – and it is absolutely luscious. It is the prettiest piece of underwear I own. Pictured above in dusty rose, the couple is my ideal outfit for lounging around the home on hot summer days with the windows flung open and fans whirring overhead. The material is silky soft and light, while at the same time providing enough coverage  – thus freeing me to mill about, read a book on the couch, or even write from the dining desk in my drawers. This also doubles as a pajama set and while the singlet has no padding for coverage itself, I’ve worn it underneath a scrub top without people knowing any better. For the record, that’s partially thanks to my girlish frame. Still, the practicality doesn’t undermine it’s beauty. Organic Basics definitely knows what’s up. A company founded with sustainability as a whole in mind, they care about the material of a product as much as it’s design. Functionality and timelessness are both key features to having something last and Organic Basics has both down.  They work exclusively with certified factory partners (which they transparently share with their consumers) with a safe working environment free of child labor and forced labor while also paying a living wage and including employee perks such as free lunches and child care. I cannot boast about this pairing enough, and would definitely look into their SilverTech Activewear as well, which is treated with a safe, permanent bluesign approved recycled silver salt called Polygiene. For those who are wary of synthetic or recycled materials, they also have a line of undergarments in organic cotton. TheDebtist readers get 10% off Organic Basics when they use the coupon code DEBTISTOBC. 

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Organic Basics commit to plastic-free packaging, even going so far as to use recycled materials for their boxes.

+ Pact – Pact (photographed below) gifted me a number of items to try on and I have to say this brand is for the practical type who can do without the frills. Pact makes sensible underwear for busy people in an all-organic matter. They use GOTS certified organic cotton and are Fair Trade USA Factory certified. My only gripe is the individual plastic packaging that they ship their products in. I tried their Classic Racerback in black, the Modern Racerback in heather grey, and a more traditional Triangle Bra in pewter (pictured). I also tried on the High-Rise Hipster in black and the Boy Short in charcoal grey. I have to say that their products are perfect for my lifestyle. They are equally as useful at a yoga class, on a run, underneath scrubs, sweating over bread turns or running errands – which take up the majority of my time. The bras are neither constricting nor bothersome. The modern racerback is the only one with cups which provide more coverage for bigger-busted women but due to my girlish frame, I find that the cups are actually a nuisance and prefer the lighter coverage options. The modern racerback also is made for taller people and without the adjustable straps fit a bit frumpy on me. The other two bras, though, fit like a glove. The bottoms are more standard with the boy short having a thicker material than the hipster. I would like to note that my husband also sports PACT boxers and briefs and he has reported a sincere affinity with their underwear. While they aren’t the fanciful undergarments you would wear to a tea party, they definitely fit the bill for incorporating sustainable clothes into everyday wear.

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Wireless and clasp-free triangle top is my go-to bra for low cut attire and comfort.
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My capsule wardrobe has low frills and neutral colors.
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These high-rise hipsters and classic racerback almost classify as a full on bodysuit.

+ Botanica Workshop – This line of underwear is for the vintage-loving, delicate type (even their brand name exudes beauty) searching for pretty pieces worthy of a higher price point. Their most gorgeous best-sellers include bras made of silk and lace, or some limited-edition, small-scale, dyed-by-hand pieces. My favorite part about the brand is their passion for minimizing waste. Recycled and second-hand supplies are used in the production of their garments, which are drafted, cut, and sewn by hand. As a company, public transportation and walking are the main modes of travel, encouraging the business to grow on a very local level. Founded in 2014, the company partners with local artisans and technicians to produce small production runs in line with the slow fashion movement. Tiny details such as these made a huge impact and it shows in their products. For those who wish to walk around freely but be fully dressed, they’ve got a line of slip dresses which I would love to try out one day. Looks absolutely dreamy. 

+Land of Women – Whereas the previous attracts the more feminine, I have to say that no one has perfected minimalism like the Land of Women. Without sacrificing luxe, their underwire are made for those looking for something other than cotton. I am not sure how ethical the Italian silk-like fabric they use is (it’s very beautiful but there is little transparency about the material itself), but they sure do know how to maximize style in minimalist cuts. Plus it’s a great resource for swimmers, too!

+ Nude – Nude is a family run factory in Valencia, Spain that ensure good working practices via a safe working environment that provides something as personal and sweet as pastries and snacks to their fairly compensated workers. Their locally manufactured organic cotton basics come in stylishly functional cuts available in nine beautiful and earthy colors. Their products also encapsulate men’s boxers, socks, and swim attire.

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A word on storage: I store my delicates in drawstring muslin bags separated by tops, bottoms, and socks. The bags are then stored in a collapsible gray bin underneath a bathroom cabinet, where I also store all of my folded clothes – which is to say, most of my clothes. The separate bags make it alright for me to toss the underwear unfolded when in a rush putting away laundry, without creating an eyesore. I used to keep all intimates in a large dresser drawer when I was in college, but I’ve found that I had a tendency to rummage through and mess with the piles so that by the end of the week, I would have to refold the entire drawer again. Sometimes, I’d spend a good few minutes looking for a sock pair. Having bags to corral like things together have helped a ton. The muslin ones that I own are ones I’ve collected throughout the years which wrapped anything from Aesop products to Mejuri jewelry.

TheDebtist may receive a small commission for purchases made using the links throughout this blog post. As always, thank you for supporting those that choose to support the workings of this space. 

Curating Closets: One Work-out Outfit

I have never been one to stick to a work-out routine long-term. I find that we train our minds to have grit with certain things, but with physical activity, I haven’t had much practice. However, with the turn of the decade, for the world but also for myself, my thirtieth birthday brought on an awareness of muscle aches, tenderness, and fatigue. Instead of dwelling on the regretful lack of physical activity in my earlier years, I decided to start setting it all straight.

Since there are only two exercises that I ever liked, swimming and yoga, I decided to sign up for an unlimited membership at CorePower. I did this a year ago and regretted my decision from a financial perspective. But I realized that without the discipline for sticking to a regular workout routine, I would not get anywhere without a financial reason to push me. Spending money is a great motivator for someone who seeks getting the most value. The last year has taught me the value of outsourcing certain things in order to get high returns. I knew it was the right choice for me.

Which brings us to the topic of work-out clothes.

Having Just One

For those curating closets, I am here to tell you that one work-out set (a top and bottom) is enough for all of your work out needs. I attend yoga classes at least FIVE TIMES a week, and I have one set. In black, of course, not that that’s a pre-requisite for all. Just for me. (Why black? I like to streamline my clothes so that it works for every season. Your color could be rainbow, and that wouldn’t matter so much as the fact that it’s a color that works for you despite changes in weather or mood. For me, black looks good whether my skin is tan or not, whether my nails are painted a bright color or nude, and just makes me feel confident and comfortable overall. Curating closets, after all, is about knowing yourself.)

Maintenance

The secret with having a singular outfit is being pro-active with keeping work-out wear clean. The yoga sessions are heated and intense, and I don’t have an anti-sweat recipe up my sleeve. Yes, I do come out of those sessions drenched. But I shower right after those sessions and in the shower, I hand wash my top and bottom and hang them to dry. I am not so good (yet!) as to attend back-to-back sessions, so my workout attire can typically hang to dry until the next day. In the morning, I take the drying towels and yoga wear and toss it in my “yoga bag” which is nothing more than a ten-year-old enlarged shoulder tote that happens to fit a water bottle, my workout attire, and a yoga towel. At the end of every week, I toss the workout set into the wash with the other clothes.

Avoiding Decision Fatigue

One of the best things about having a curated closet is the avoidance of decision fatigue. Our brains require energy to make decisions and it is not proportional to the size of the decision. This means that making little decisions is just as taxing for our brain as making larger, life-altering decisions. To save brain power for the important stuff, I avoid having to choose for the smaller things in life, yoga attire included. Imagine how much stress and energy it takes to decide which outfit works well for you today while you are rushing to make class. My timelines are always filled with to-do’s, so it isn’t worth wasting time and energy on the mundane. Plus, I guarantee you’ll enter yoga class with a clearer mind, ready to accept all the benefits that the class has to offer, instead of fretting about whether you made the right outfit choice.

Easier Organization

I have met many girls who struggle with organizing their workout wear. Intricate straps make it difficult to hang and bulky to fold. Silky leggings slip right off the hanger. Drives a neatnik quite mad.  It helps to choose workout wear that skips all of that. For me, I have a T strap top with no inside bra cups to lose in the wash. It has an empress style body to hide the fact that I just engulfed a burger prior to class. The bottom of the top has a cinch that can tighten around my hips, for yoga inversions that tend to be unsuccessful. The leggings are cropped right underneath my knee caps, with enough coverage for the winter and enough air flow for the summer. The pants are fairly light, with a drawstring around the waist and no pockets.

Instead of trying to hang my slippery workout wear, I fold my clothes into tiny squares and toss in the bag. The bag hangs on a hanger in our bathroom, making it easily accessible when I’m ready to dash out the door and keeping it off the floor. The hanger is on a rod next to the shower, where I wash the clothes. When wet, the clothes hang on a shower curtain rod to drip into a tub until dry. The next morning they are dry enough to toss into the bag, which helps control clutter, and eliminating the need to search for them later on.

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Accessories

I have only a few accessories for yoga. The first is a Maduka yoga mat which is inside a yoga mat bag that stays in the back of my car at all times. Inside this yoga mat bag is a yoga mat cleaner and a lock for the locker room. Additionally, in the cold winter months, I wear a white Eileen Fisher sweater. This sweater is dedicated to yoga only. I don’t wear this sweater for other occasions, and it stays inside the same bag as my workout clothes. I do not change the sweater I wear to yoga either. It is always the same (see “decision fatigue” above). Lastly, I have one yoga towel that I lay over my mat. This yoga towel is also folded inside the bag that holds my clothes. I lay this towel over my yoga mat, and also hand wash the towel with my clothes. I use this same towel to dry myself off after my showers, too. Then it gets hung up to dry on the shower rod, just like everything else.

Having a routine helps me focus on the yoga itself. It makes gym-going a calm and easy experience. For anyone looking to curate their closet, I would highly recommend trying this! If you already own a ton of workout wear, I wouldn’t get rid of them right away. Pick one and see if its an outfit that jives with you. See if you can do without the others. When you’re ready to finally pull the trigger and slim your closet down even more, donate!

I’d love to hear some of your curating closet tips! Leave a comment and say hello.

Praise for Elizabeth Suzann and Size Inclusivity

Elizabeth Suzann has been a great model for me. I was initially attracted to her work via another blogger’s partnership. When I saw her timeless collection and her ethically sourced fabrics, I fell in love completely. Her commitment to sustainable practices while prioritizing their employees is something all companies should aspire to. Of course, the price point reflects the quality, and I have not yet pulled the trigger on making such a purchase. But since I am human, I have drooled over the images that I’ve found online and I occasionally browse the site for new products.

Recently, I visited her site and was shocked to see that half of all of the models were plus-sized women. I recognized it right away as a means to be inclusive and to change the “ideal” imagery that the fashion industry continually shoves down our throats. The impossibility of everyone being extremely tall, slender and leggy is not new news, especially for a five-foot Asian female such as myself.

So my initial thought was, “Hurrah!”

However, as I continued to scan the shop, I got more and more annoyed at the images of tall, plus-sized women. I could not imagine or see just how these pieces would fit me. I could not relate or get a good idea as to how the products fit. I thought to myself, “How absolutely frustrating this is. They hardly put up child-like figures online and I’ve already had to learn how to adjust for my short height when I look at tall elegant swans. Now I have to learn how to imagine the clothes on myself using an even farther frame of reference?”

And then it hit me.

How must these women feel, when the fashion world makes them invisible? How could THEY ever imagine how clothes would fit on them after seeing stick figures? If I cannot imagine how clothes would fall on me, how can the opposite be true? These plus-sized women have had to deal with this issue their whole lives! Talk about annoying.

By the way, do you know that the average American size is 16 or 18?! But we’ve got size DOUBLE ZERO models on the cover of every magazine!

I haven’t lived with this same problem all my life, but let me tell you how it felt to live with it for five minutes.

The shopping experience becomes very depressing. Emotions associated with shopping include frustration, anger, and pain. It feels almost hopeless to get to an understanding about the articles of clothing I am looking at. There is a self-esteem cost associated with the inability to relate.

Living with these affirmations could be detrimental to the human psyche.

Elizabeth Suzann’s embracing of different sized women is refreshing. Other sustainable companies should take stock – Everlane I am looking at you. If you are going to change the fashion industry, why only make sustainable clothing for skinny people?! In order to make ethical fashion and slow fashion a thing, we need to include everyone.

Elizabeth Suzann has made it possible to shop responsibly for more women out there in this one act. She has sizes in short, regular, and tall, ranging from XXS to 3XL.

That’s something to be proud of.

This post was not sponsored by Elizabeth Suzann. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Ethical Marketplace at Nisolo + BOGO (Buy One Get One FREE) Code

This post is written in collaboration with Nisolo. It contains affiliate links from which TheDebtist may receive a commission. Thank you for supporting companies who support this blog.

When it comes to holiday shopping, I favor stopping at ethical marketplaces over shopping malls. I first met Nisolo at an ethical marketplace in LA, and I am proud to say that they have since then created a place of their own, and virtually no less! Curated with goods from other companies that I support, including local PFCandleCo and KrochetKids, this marketplace is a perfect one-stop shop for people looking to spend their money intentionally.

It is important to be mindful of the companies we support. The way we spend our dollars is a vote towards the future we want to see. Our consumption will shape the way industries proceed in the future. And while it would be wrong to place all the weight on our shoulders (the companies themselves must be willing to put in the work), we are not completely helpless in steering tomorrow.

There is a saying that if you pull someone’s cuticle, the whole body will move.

In the same way, small actions can create larger impact.

Of course, I understand that ethical and sustainable shopping may not always be accessible to frugalists such as myself. As a way to promote their ethical marketplace, and Nisolo themselves, we are hosting a BOGO offer (that’s right, Buy One, Get One FREE) on select Nisolo styles and ethical market products. Enter code GoodTidings at checkout and receive an item of equal or lesser value from the approved list for free.

Below, a couple of gift pairings to serve as ideas.

  1. For the casual type, this practical olive green James oxford, and a matching canvas tote.

2. For the cook, this linen apron and worldly cookbook.

3. For the traveler, a pair of sunnies and a durable backpack.

4. For the one who likes to sit fireside, a whiskey glass and a cocktail mix.

5. For the Type A party-goer who always has to match, this heeled shoe and a leather bag.

6. For the simple one, a pair of wool socks and Krochet Kids beanie.

7. Lastly, for the one who wants a habit change, a portable bamboo utensil kit and a replacementfor cling wrap.

Shopping for women? Head here. Mens? Right this way.

Getting to Know: Gina Stovall of Two Days Off

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Gina Stovall is a climate scientist and the founder of the ethical clothing line Two Days Off. Her move from New York City to Los Angeles catapulted a series of changes that had her pursuing a slower, more intentional life, one which involves a balanced mesh between her practical implementation of climate solutions and her creative love for sewing. Below, we chat about her career(s), her thoughts on sustainability, a hobby-turned-side-hustle, her love for coffee and plant life, and mindful living, in general.

Sooooo, may we start at the beginning? Could you give our readers a little synopsis about who you are and what you do, in case they are not yet familiar?

Absolutely! I am Gina, and I am the founder and designer behind Two Days Off, an environmentally conscious clothing line. I am originally from NYC but relocated to Los Angeles with my partner a year and a half ago; shortly thereafter I founded my Two Days Off. My professional background is in geology and I build a career conducting climate change solutions and working with cities on implementing climate solutions. My concern for sustainability and their societal implications led to my personal interest in  intentional and mindful living, minimalism, and conscious capitalism which I talk a lot about on my personal instagram. All of these interests and values are interwoven into Two Days Off.

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Meet Gina Stovall. 

Out of curiosity, how has being a climate scientist influenced the way you consume and purchase things? 

I never saw consumption as a bad thing. As a scientist you learn that it is all about maintaining a balance within a system. The issue with climate change and environmental degradation is that we humans over-consume the planets resources, and do so at astonishing rates. I use to get anxiety thinking that I can’t consume anything if I want to help get humanity out of this mess, but that is unrealistic in the society we live in. Instead I just look with a critical eye first if I really need something or think it will bring significant value to my life. Then I consider how long it will last. Is it well made and can be used and passed down, or will I have to throw it out at some point. Next I consider the materials it is made out of. Will they biodegrade? Did someone destroy a habitat to make this? And finally I think of the embodied energy it takes to produce it and try to find a second hand option so I am not creating additional demand for a product that may exist already. I know if seems like a lot to consider, because it is! I think most people are “trained” to buy the cheapest, most readily available and well marketed option, but it is going to take a lot of people being a lot more considerate and pushing companies to produce products that are smarter for our species to survive the climate crisis. 

I love the way you approach this. It seems to me that you have a very positive outlook on one’s ability to have an impact in preserving our environment. I, too, am a firm believer that our individual, everyday choices can make a difference. Would you mind sharing some of your best life hacks regarding a lifestyle of less waste. 

I am very optimistic about our future. Peace activist, author and president of the SGI Daisaku Ikeda has said “Hope is a decision… even in the face of the severe crises confronting humanity today, I cannot side with the advocates of apocalypse. We can best negotiate the challenges we face when guided by hope, not when motivated by fear.” I completely agree. Humankind has immense potential. We already have all the technologies to solve the climate crisis, all that is left is to harness the will to implement them fast enough. My biggest hack on living a lower-waste lifestyle is to engage on the issues politically. It’s our policies and regulations that help drive forward the biggest impact and make it easier for us as consumer to have access to low waste-products. All the work shouldn’t be on the purchaser and the power we hold is to make our lawmakers hold companies accountable. Then I say vote with your dollar. Don’t support companies that are okay with sending you a bunch of plastic waste when there are great sustainable options out there for example. Two Days Off is a tiny business in the early stages and yet to turn a profit, but I have found a way to send eco-friendly packaging and use natural and recycled materials so big companies should too. And finally, reconsider if you really need something and buy only what you decided you do need or really want. Lastly, for the things you don’t want anymore, never throw them out. Repurpose, recycle, donate, et cetera. 

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Eco-friendly packaging of Two Days Off.

While all of this is great, I can see how it can seem a bit overwhelming to someone just looking to start a journey of less waste. I was hoping to probe your mind on the importance of grace when it comes to sustainable living.

I love that you used the term grace, because that is precisely what we need to have with each other and ourselves when trying to live sustainably. If people are policing one another it will discourage more from making the small steps we need to overcome the environmental and social crisis we face. Success will be everyone imperfectly trying to be sustainable, not a handful of people doing it perfectly.

Let’s talk about Two Days Off! From where did the inspiration come? Was it born directly from your line of scientific work, or was it mostly a creative outlet that required exploring? Perhaps a marriage of both?

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“I have been sewing since I was a teen.”

I have been sewing since I was a teen. I’ve always loved designing and playing with textiles so in that sense Two Days Off is a creative outlet. But my desire to create a business out of my hobby came a few years ago when I started learning about the fashion industry and fast fashion in particular. I had very little insight into the massive contribution to climate change fashion played, nor did I understand that most of the clothes I was purchasing came from the hands of garment workers working in unsafe and at times violent factories. I took making my clothes more seriously in 2016 and started to share it online. Over time and with the urging of friends I realized there may be a space in the slow fashion market for me. The slow fashion community is small and not everyone had the time or interest in making their own clothes so I wanted to contribute to the list of sustainable options out there and help shift the industry in my own way. I make all of my pieces from deadstock, essentially recycled, fabric here in LA. I take a lot of time designing and constructing pieces that are durable and hopefully timeless. I try to minimize waste, and any textile waste I produce gets recycled. 

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Dead-stock sourced fabrics turned into timeless pieces.

I have seen your clothing line and am absolutely in L.O.V.E. with the minimalist styles and stream-lined cuts. I, myself, own the Olivia top in white and the Suki crop top in Slate Blue. I love the versatility of both! As a person who tries to make getting dressed as simple a process as possible, do tell, what are your ideal criteria when it comes to your own clothing choices, and how does that translate into the pieces that you choose to make?

Thank you so much! I, too, want getting dressed to be simple, fast, and fun. I want to feel polished and even a bit elegant, but know that I will be comfortable all day. If I don’t notice my clothes except when I look in the mirror then I know that I am comfortable. I design clothes made from natural fibers that I know will breathe well, feel good on the skin, and last for years. I spend a lot of time sourcing my deadstock fabrics because it’s all about the handfeel, color and print for me. And lastly, I like to design silhouettes that are beautiful, unfussy, and all about the quiet details like a pocket here or a subtle neck line that hits at the perfect place. 

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Minimalist approach to getting dressed.

You and I are very similar in that we have science-related professions by day and passion-driven projects by night/weekend/every other free moment possible. As a dentist-turned-baker who happens to write on the side, I often get questioned how my lifestyle could possibly reflect slow-living. And yet, it does. I often say that slow-living isn’t so much what we DO, but rather, HOW we do it. Would you like to share your perspective on how, despite a busy schedule, slow-living is still the lifestyle that you embody? 

I think that your perspective is spot on for me too. When I lived in New York City I worked full time but had all my weekends and evenings and despite that I always felt on the go and busy. Since moving to LA and starting my business and working full time, sure I always have a lot to do, but I also have the balance of going to the beach and resting my mind or taking an evening to be inspired. I am not about rapid growth with my business, I want to do things true to my values and that takes time. I am growing slowly and enjoying the process. That’s how I live my life now, slowly and despite doing a lot I still think this is the mentality of slow living.

I see that you share the same affinity for indoor plants and coffee making as I do. What is your favorite plant and coffee drink (to make at home or order to-go on a busy day)?

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Coffee and plants fueling a side-hustle.

My favorite coffee drink right now is a flat white! I love the frothy texture of the milk and am still working on getting that same quality of froth at home. Favorite plant is very very hard. I love all of my plant babies so much. But if I have to choose, I would have to say my monstera deliciosa because mine has had a major growth spurt recently after having a really rough winter. I finally found a spot in the house she just loves and I just love letting her take up as much space as she can (something I am learning to do more of!).

Do you have any references (books, articles, or podcasts) that you would recommend for those wishing to learn more about environmental solutions?

Yes! the books Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (I liked the audio book because it was so long!) and Goodbye, Things but Fumio Sasaki totally changed how I perceive my material possessions. And Drawdown by Paul Hawken is excellent to get a feel for what the solutions to climate change are so you can spread the word and advocate for them! I also love Simple Matters by Erin Boyle, she has a blog that inspires me to live more sustainably and her book is packed with solutions and lifestyle hacks.

Simple Matters is one of my favorite books. Erin Boyle is just amazing, and her book is part of what helped me be, not only okay, but absolutely in LOVE with a life of less. Last question: Where to next? 

That’s a big question, I am one of those people with a pharmacy receipt-long list of next projects but immediately I have one major and ambitious priority. I want to make Two Days Off circular and share more of the process behind that. I am thinking about creative ways to handle waste and consider every aspect of my products, cradle to grave. 

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For those interested in Two Days Off clothing, may I be the first to say that her articles of clothing are so very versatile and comfortable. For those curious about how the styles fit a 5’1″ petite 30 year old, see how I styled them on my trip to Seattle, WA. I would highly recommend them and I’ve got my sights on Indya dress next! The first four photos in this post were captured by Summer Blues Collective, and the last four were captured by Two Days Off.

Curating Closets: Socially Conscious Scrubs with FIGS

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote about how having a capsule wardrobe for work saves me money AND time. However, as of late, my luck has made a turn for the better. Over the course of the past few months, I was given an opportunity to seize a position at an office three blocks away from my house. Although it required a pay cut and involved busier hours, I took the job for two reasons. Firstly, the office primarily serves the under-served in our community, which more aligned with my intention in becoming a dentist in the first place. And secondly, the commute meant that I could nix using my car all together and substitute a ten-minute walk in order to save on gas money and cut emissions. Hurrah hurrah!

With the new position also came the ability to trade in my professional clothing and white coat for scrubs and sneaks. Prior to the transition, I only owned two pairs of scrubs, which I usually wear in IV sedation – days when looking professional didn’t matter and when I needed to focus my concentration on more important things such as monitoring screens and breathing. Both pairs were remnants of the seven that we were required to buy in dental school. Being a frugalist, not to mention dead broke at the end of my four year schooling, I sold the other five pairs to students in grades below me when I graduated. I have alternated between these two pairs for the last two and a half years, and they are still high functioning, but with the new position, it was hard to get through a week without having to do laundry twice mid-week. Two pairs would suffice in the weeks when I only worked four days, but five day weeks led an awkward amount of laundry. In the name of simplifying, I thought I should own another pair.

I used my birthday as a means to get a pair of FIGS scrubs, which seems to be all the rage these days. Although I’ve been at this new office for the past few months, I didn’t jump the gun and buy them myself. At nearly $50 a piece, it wasn’t something that I could justify. However, they are well known for their modern and sleek cuts, as well as their stretchy, breathable fabrics. In fact, they seem to be disrupting the scrubs industry by providing medical professionals scrubs “that take care of them as much as they take care of their patients”. Advertised as scrubs that can follow any busy medical professional’s lifestyle, I was at first attracted by the versatility of many of the scrub fits. I liked that they were chic enough to wear out after a long day of work, and that they offered pants that one can wear to a yoga class before or after a shift. After receiving a pair for my birthday, I could not agree more with the reviews.

The fabric is extremely breathable, and very flexible, which works wonders for someone who is always on the run. I feel comfortable meeting someone for an interview for the blog, then going to yoga class, then heading to work, and still going to grab dinner afterwards. The styles are very versatile. I chose a trendier Mandarin cut for the top paired with a basic core pant for the bottoms. The pants are a petite size and is the perfect length for a five foot one inch thirty year old. I stepped out of my black and gray comfort zone and chose a Caribbean Blue color, which dresses it up some. Part of me wishes I would have chosen a neutral pair so that future FIGS scrubs could mix and match with different pant styles and tops, but the other part of myself reminds me that we mustn’t own things that we do not love.

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Part of what attracted me to FIGS is their effort in being a socially conscious brand. They commit to being a part of Threads for Threads initiative. Thus far, they report having donated hundreds of thousands of scrubs to medical professionals in need spread between thirty-five countries in the course of two years. Some medical professionals perform surgeries and save lives in their jean and T-shirts and have never had access to scrubs before. FIGS is trying to change that. But their efforts don’t stop there. Currently, they are matching donations toward the Human Rights Campaign all of June on behalf of Pride month.

There are a few things that I didn’t like about FIGS. First, they could have an improved transparency regarding materials and scrub production. Secondly, I’d prefer the branding to have a little more humility. Flippant embroideries that equate saving lives to not being big deals make serious matters trivial, which I think is neither fair to the patient nor the practitioner. Although medical professionals do great work, they must be amazing humans without the need to wear shirts telling the world that they think just as highly of themselves. Humility is part of what makes a doctor great, and the brand fails to reflect that.

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Overall, I couldn’t be more happy with the quality of the products. I practically live in scrubs these days. It’s nice to wear an outfit that are as comfortable as loungewear without looking like pajamas. Plus, I still retain the mantra of having a capsule wardrobe, or in this case, a uniform of sorts, in an effort to simplify my life even further so that I can get to the doing quicker. While I think a pair of FIGS for every working day would be useful, this single one partnered with my two older pairs will suffice. In an effort to curate my closet, I stray away from excessive additions of any one item. I would highly recommend these scrubs to any colleague in the medical profession, while challenging FIGS and other scrub companies to increase transparency and source materials more ethically.

 

Curating Closets: Buying the Funky, Old, and Unloved

I have always been a proponent of finding beauty in the unwanted. To a fault. It goes hand-in-hand with my tendency to be a voice for the unheard, a lover of the unloved, et cetera. With this comes a weakness for all things old, musty-smelling, faded, and used. If you’d like to glam the imagery up some, you could call it ‘vintage’. The list includes books with yellowing pages, wooden furniture with chips and nicks, and thick, woolly sweaters amidst retro clothing racks. So this past weekend, when one of my favorite coffee spots, Daydream Surfshop, announced a 40% off Sale on all items, with part of the proceeds being donated to Planned Parenthood (see last post), I knew I was going with the intention to support, and, well, purchase.

Reconciling with Stepping Outside the System

So how does one who keeps a minimalist closet allow for a vintage item? I will admit that these pieces don’t neatly fall into the SYSTEM typically established by a ‘minimalist’ (referring to black and white color schemes and streamlined shapes), but there is still an intentionality about them. Let me remind that first and foremost, minimalism is defined by the owner, and the term does not equate to having as few items as possible. It boils down to being mindful of what you allow to take space in your life. That being said, I find that a few unique pieces that fall outside of your system add character and, dare I say, F-U-N, to one’s clothing line. Sure, too many such pieces could cause a disconnect with your outfits, and would impede the wearability of said piece which may limit its use, but a handful of funk never hurt anyone. Plus, if you love it, you love it. There are minimalists whose closets are filled with articles of clothing in every color of the rainbow, yet daily use of said pieces make it a successfully curated closet. The goal of any clothing curator is this: let no piece go forgotten, or unworn, for a long period of time. In other words, let no piece be left unloved.

Buying Something Broken

The thing about buying vintage, or just plain used, is the fact that someone else loved that item before you. Which means, it probably suffered from daily wear (or at least, that’s the hope). When I was perusing through the clothing racks, I was drawn towards a few items, including chunky cable-knit sweaters (it WAS a rainy day in May, after all), Levi’s denim, and white linens with the occasional crochet. All of which happened to have a defect — a stain on some white sweater, a rip in the jeans, a snag in the wool or fine lace. Every item had a mark that seemed to scream to the world, “I’ve been around since the ’80s!”

At first, I was hesitant to purchase. As a frugalist, where I spend my money really matters, and buying broken things seemed very anti-frugalist, yes? But as a person, I also believe that our purchasing power is a statement, a vote cast towards the future we want to see, and choosing to buy used and broken meant preventing yet one more thing to enter the land-fill, meant loving something that most people don’t, and meant being just a tad less focused on vanity. I went through a number of items with strong consideration for each, and rationalized the purchase of ONE piece with the help of Mr. Debtist. ONE because I am still curating, after all! I ended up choosing a thick wool sweater that made me want to isolate myself in a wood cabin in the middle of winter, with a mug of coffee, a bread oven, and a book. Mayhaps I’m not as ready for the summer as I once thought… This particular sweater had a hole near the bottom where I could stick two thumbs through. Due to its knitted nature, I knew it would be irreparable and that gentle care would forever be granted. The purchase was made to support a rad local coffee shop, to stand as a vote for an individual’s right to have a say about how to treat their own bodies, to be an effort to create a closed loop system when it comes to fashion, and to remind myself that a snag in a sweater, and any consequent judgement caused by it, is irrelevant to its worth. 

Standing Up for the Unloved

I walked out of the shop wearing my new (old) thick, cable-knit sweater on my back, and headed to my parents house for the rest of the one day off. When we arrived, my mom commented on the “nice” sweater as she went in for her customary hug hello. I proceeded to tell her that I had just gotten it that day from a vintage store, and as she pulled away, she asked me aghast, “You mean it’s USED?! EW!” Instead of being offended (long gone are the days when anything my mom says would offend me), I used it as an opportunity to talk about the importance (to me) of trying to create a more sustainable fashion industry. I started to show her the hole, wherein she interrupted and reprimanded me for foolishly buying something so ‘unfixable’. To which I suggested, perhaps, it does not need fixing.

I wasn’t commenting in order to start an argument or to defend my pride. Instead, I like to use these moments to start conversations. Standing up for the unloved is a hard thing to do, especially when your “life decisions” are being judged as questionable, usually by people whose opinions you most value. But I find it very easy to stand rooted in the confidence that every action I take is right by me. That’s all we can ever do. So, although my mom didn’t seem convinced that the sweater rightly belonged anywhere other than the next dumpster, she did hear me and my stance, stopped her berating and moved on to happier things.