Curating Closets: Ethical Activewear with Girlfriend Collective

As you know from this post, I only use one outfit for my workout routines. When this post was written, I was doing yoga five times a week and wore the exact same top and bottom to every class. To simplify my life further, after class ended, I would wash my clothes in the shower and hang-dry them so that they’d be fresh and ready the next day.

The pants have been with me since my early twenties, a capri cut from Forever 21 when I was still penny-pinching dollars from my retail gig. It’s safe to say that I was due for a new pair of leggings. I honestly didn’t mind the old pair (there’s a sense of comfort in the way they sit perfectly molded on your hips) and it wasn’t like I was willing to drop a lot of money on a new one. But when my sister wanted to gift me something, I knew that ten years of exercise in the same pant meant that perhaps it was time for a new one.

I had researched the perfect, sustainable, ethical legging option and landed on Girlfriend Collective as my choice (although Organic Basics was a close second). Transparency was the company’s prerogative while making active wear with a high-end fit and feel.

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Less waste is the goal. Their compressive leggings and bras are made from 25 and 11 recycled bottles respectively (“because plastic bottles look better on you than in the ocean”). The LITE leggings are 83% recycled fishing nets and waste. If you wish to purchase tees and tanks, you will be happy to hear that they are 100% cupro, a delicate fiber made from waste left behind by the cotton industry.

The yarn itself is made in a zero-waste, zero-emission facility in Japan, then constructed at a SA8000-certified factory in Hanoi. To be as transparent as possible, all their recycled fabric is Standard 100 as certified by Oeko-tex. As an eco-conscious brand, they use only 100% recycled and recyclable packaging. In fact, when my sister presented her gift to me, she brought it in its original packaging unwrapped, just the way I like it. The leggings were inside a reusable pouch that was placed in a large brown paper envelope embossed with “Girlfriend Collective” in gold print. “I know how you find wrapping paper wasteful, so here you go,” she said with a big old grin on her face. That, alone, was a great gift.

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The verdict? Fantastic compressive leggings! I am 5’1″ and 97 pounds and purchased the black color with a 23″ inseam. It goes right to my ankle. (I love that they have three length options because that is the most difficult part about pants for shorties like myself).

The compression is strong enough that it keeps me warm on cooler days and 6am runs. I ran in it for the first time and three miles were a breeze. Since I’ve always worn capris, I was worried that the ankle length would be too warm for running but it was not. The material of the legging is on the thicker side, but I tend to run cold anyway.

The waistline goes pretty high (above my belly button) without any bunching. I am a huge fan of high-rise in general and did not notice the pants ride up at all. In fact, it stayed put throughout my entire run! Despite being a gangly stick figure, there was no extra material anywhere. Their size guide was fairly accurate, however, it leans towards the smaller side and if you are unsure, I would order a size up. Lastly, there’s a pocket on the back where I can keep a key if need be.

It’s a beautiful pant for both yoga and running. I think it’s also as good for everyday lounge wear. I can see myself wearing these pants out during the weekends paired with some AllBirds or Tevas, T-shirt tucked in or a sweater half-tucked. This would complete any coffee shop outfit, or any stay-at-home mandate. I would highly recommend.

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To learn more about their sustainability, this page is worth checking out, and girlfriend, GC is worth getting behind.

Other alternative options I came across are listed below.

  • Prana– Mike and I bought Prana hiking pants when we got married in preparation for a honeymoon filled with hikes in New Zealand. To this day, more than three years later, we wear the exact same hiking pants on every trip we take. We’ve hiked Banff, Juneau, New Zealand, Germany, and so much more. I absolutely love those pants and it has seen us through some very tough treks. I’ve fallen on slippery jagged rocks or walked through prickly reeds without incident. Prana is a company extremely dedicated to creating sustainable clothing. From farm to factory to your closet, you can rest assured that they have thought of a way to reduce the impact of their clothing on the environment. Their social responsibility initiatives include using Fair-Trade certified materials, overseeing the supply chain, complying with the Fair Labor Association and creating a movement for Positive Change. Their eco-conscious acts include choosing organic cotton, recycled wool, responsible down, and bluesign-approved products. They are currently having a sale this weekend until the 22nd of June – up to 60% OFF.
  • Everlane– The thing I can give to Everlane is their dedication to transparency. They have made ethical clothing affordable and mainstream, which is something I can get behind. And they publish the costs into making each item of clothing – extra work most companies aren’t willing to do. My one gripe with Everlane is a sizing issue. I am 5 feet 1 inch and 96 pounds, and I find most of their sizing too small which goes to say that the brand doesn’t help with the body shaming culture that exists in the fashion industry. While I can appreciate that there are now sizes that fit me, I would be willing to forego that pleasure and wear over-sized tees if it means a person my size doesn’t feel the need to size up to a medium and a person closer to normal size doesn’t feel the pressures of a slim world.
  • Organic Basics – Organic Basics makes the most luxurious products. I have written about their Intimates collection previously, but am happy to include them here as a a source for ethically made active wear. Not only are their practices clean, their products are some of the most gorgeous things. Their active collection features SilverTECH which is a Polygiene fabric made from recycled plastics in GOTS and SA8000 certified factories. TheDebtist readers receive an additional 10% OFF using the discount code DEBTISTOBC. 
  • Outdoor Voices – This company has designed their products with longevity and circularity in mind. Their prioritization of raw materials (both in packaging and in fabrics) has greatly reduced their environmental impact. But their dedication does not stop there. Additional initiatives help to reduce their company’s impact, including running a stipend-based carless commuter program, incorporating sustainable design elements in new builds, such as recycled rubber flooring, launching partnerships with WWF, The Nature Conservancy, and CHOOOSE to generate funds for and drive education around sustainability, conservation and carbon offsetting, and eliminating single-use plastics from all community events. For all these reasons, I would recommend trying their active wear.
  • Patagonia – Patagonia has been at the forefront of sustainable active wear for many years. They sell everything from camping gear to winter sports clothing. Their products are easily accessible through REI.
  •  Groceries Apparel – Lastly, I just recently came across this brand and do not know much about it except that they boast tracing the source of a product from seed to factory. They only use 100% GMO-free, Pesticide & Herbicide-free, Recycled & Fair-traded Ingredients. Additionally, they are supporting family farms, localized manufacturing, living wages, and Monsanto-free post-consumer ingredients. I am curious to try their leggings, although they make non-active wear, too.

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Play Pretend: Memorial Day Weekend Staycation

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

I once posted a guide to staycations less than a year ago and I find that post to be excruciatingly relevant as Memorial Day Weekend nears. I doubt many of us will be jet-setting across the globe with our families, but at the same time I would gander that many of us are tired of hunkering down at home. The trick to any staycation, of course, is to rid the self of routine. Anything that you would do on a normal weekend should be shoved under a rug, if only for the holiday weekend.

Now staycations don’t just marvelously appear out of thin air. The most successful ones require meticulous planning, should a simple chore meander its way to make a ruinous weekend. I like to plan a few activities throughout. Not so many that we can’t remain fluid, but enough to avoid the sinking feeling that all this is was a wasted holiday.

Everything you need to create a delicious weekend – as if you haven’t had enough practice this quarantine season – below.

A few tips, if I may.

  • Get dressed for the occasion. Even if it means you will be in your home all day long, I really do feel that getting dressed will make this time more special. Put on some earrings and shoes. Wear a nice dress if weather permits. Remember the days when you were a child playing dress-up? It’s the first step to playing pretend.
  • Start the day setting the tone at home. Draw back the curtains, fling open the windows, light a candle. Make the bed by straightening the sheets and fluffing the pillows. These are the first few things I do to make the home feel like someplace I want to be.
  • Plan time outdoors. I know this may seem a bit anti-staycation but in all honesty, cooping up all day isn’t the best thing for any of us these days. Even if it means stepping out on your tiny-home balcony in order to breathe fresh air and get some sunshine. I like to wear my bathing suit and lay out on fake grass. You may prefer to sit in a swing and drink white wine.
  • Set the table. Let’s face it. We are all probably eating at home. But instead of cooking up Top Ramen like we always do, why not spruce up the event? Perhaps a cheese board of your creation in the afternoon. A farmer’s market fruit bowl. Freshly baked scones for tea time. Support a local restaurant that you’ve been wanting to try for AGES. Order delivery and set the table. Pull out all the stops. Linens, your best china, and candlesticks. Set the mood for something more special than TV dinners.
  • Add a spa-like quality to rest. Some vacations are for adventure. Others are meant for reset. Since the former is inaccessible to many of us at the moment, I’d like to propose a relaxing staycation for all. Forget the flower petals on the bed. That will only result in more clean-up. Keep it simple. Put on silky pajamas, soak feet in herbal water, crank up the essential oil diffuser. Turn on slow jams and dim the lights.

For those wishing to spruce up the weekend with a bout of shopping, here are a few sales going on for which my readers can receive discounts.

Looking for new shoes? From now until the end of the month, readers get an additional 20% off all sale styles from Nisolo with the code MDWDEBTIST . For those looking forward to decluttering rather than shop, send your unwanted but still usable shoes to Nisolo and save $40 credit for a later date. 

Preparing to lounge in your underwear all Memorial Weekend long? TheDebtist readers get 15% from Organic Basics using the code DEBTISTOBC. This weekend only, get free international shipping using code GLOBAL. Check out my reviews of other sources for Intimates in this post

Planning to spend the weekend outdoors? Right now, Prana has 25-30% off select styles until the 25th of May. If you’d preferOutdoor Voices, here is a code that gives $20 to you, $20 to me. 

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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