My husband and I will have been together ten years this fall. Ten years! A decade is mind-boggling when used as a relationship measurement. That's sooo much as my five-year-old might put it. Married six but dating ten. Still. It's much. However, six years ago, we didn't have a big wedding for a bunch of reasons. Most of all, my mother was battling cancer at the time. (She's doing great now and is in full remission!) I didn't feel deprived, though. I had worked as a bridal model at least a dozen times, so I experienced the gown and having my hair in a (painful) updo. I'd even posed for fake wedding photos with a fake groom! Also, deep down, I had never even thought about it: my father's family is French, and my mother is a hippie. Big weddings aren't a big part of French/ hippie culture, so I hadn't grown up with those wedding bell dreams, either. To top it all off: I was also conflicted about certain aspects of the wedding industry as I wrote here for Pank.
That's why, a few years ago, while walking down the street in Santa Barbara on our way to another friend's wedding, when we spotted the perfect engagement ring in a consignment boutique's window display, I realized maybe a diamond could work for me and my family's politics. I had no problem wearing a vintage ring, and I still love imagining the little old lady in a mumu that my 40s-era ring might have once belonged to. (I may or may not have named that old lady Muriel and given her my grandmother's Brooklyn accent.)
So I didn't miss not having had a wedding but ten years still does feel like something worth commemorating in some special way. That's why, while staying for free at a friend's club on the Upper East Side this past weekend, when we pushed our stroller past Cartier right there on the corner, it also felt like another solution had presented itself to us. As a Frenchwoman, non-flashy thrift is ever important in my brain, but we had saved money on a hotel in NYC and even better saved a subway ride down to the diamond district with two toddlers. However, before going in, we still did our research and we were delighted to learn that Cartier is surprisingly a VERY sustainable option! As eLuxe magazine puts it:
"...the House of Cartier is renowned for many beautiful things, but devotion to environmental sustainability is not necessarily one of them. However, it should well be."
The best part of the whole experience, though, had to be our salesman (jeweler?), Androtti. If Central Casting had been responsible for the perfect person to help us celebrate this special moment in our lives, I don't think they could have provided a better actor to play the part. Not only did he provide my Irish husband with all the champagne Ryan's Irish heart desired , but Androtti performed a sleight of hand magic trick WHILE WEARING WHITE GLOVES. Even better, when my ring was sold out in my size, he actually performed that bit at the end of a romantic comedy, where some sort of deadline comes into play: he ran to Cartier's store further downtown and hurried back with a ring that fits! (Since the store was closed for the rest of the weekend, and we were leaving on Memorial Day, we would have been out of luck otherwise!) He was affable, informative, charming, kind, and not pushy in the slightest-- my biggest fear when walking into a jewelry shop. I'm such a people pleaser I was terrified I would walk out with a ring we couldn't really afford or that I didn't really like "because it goes with your engagement ring." Instead, Androtti helped me figure out exactly what worked for me. Something delicate and pretty and not too flashy. And most of all conflict-free. It took ten years to find the right ring, but Cartier made it more than worth the wait.
Next, on a gloomy Sunday, on my French father's recommendation, we stopped by Maison Kayser, reputed to have the best, most Parisian croissants this side of the Atlantic. As someone who consumes a very low-meat, largely vegetarian diet, I live for bread. Actually, that's part of why it's taken me so long to go fully vegetarian. If you guys have any recommendation for helping me learn more about balanced, vegetarian nutrition, I'd love that! If left to my own devices, I will consume nothing but variations of bread and cheese to my heart's (but not general health's) delight. The best part of all is that our brunch was quite affordable & filling. You really have to be careful about that in NYC!! I once sat down at a café in Soho, ordered some eggs and coffee without really thinking about it and then nearly choked when I was served the check. $40!
To Cartier, I'd worn my black linen dress, which you can check out here on Instagram, but Sunday was cooler, so I donned a blue linen suit. I got a lot of surprised looks for being so dressed up on a Sunday morning (even in NYC!!), but you only celebrate ten years of marriage in one helluva romantic comedy of a weekend once*!
*The comedy part of our romantic getaway came into play as, fantasy aside, in reality we were juggling the world's orneriest two-year-old the whole weekend while trying to have a good time and pretend there wasn't a background of wails and constant demands for... bread and cheese of one variation or another. Definitely my son!
Weird looks for being overdressed on a Sunday aside, I loved wearing this blue linen suit! It was comfortable but still chic, and did you know linen is a great sustainable option even if you're not shopping from a sustainable designer? Unless dyed, it's 100% biodegradable. (Not too worried about that aspect as I'll be wearing this suit until it's rags.) Also, it requires far less water to manufacture than is required for cotton. It might be prone to more wrinkling, but, again, I find when the cut is so chic, I don't mind the wrinkles! We ran into Carrie-Ann Moss, and she definitely checked the suit out! Romantic comedy complete!
I pinned some linen options below! Do you own any linen pieces for summer? What are your favorite brands? I also just discovered the brand La Causa! I'll be posting about them to my Instagram @IsabellaDavidVintage or use my code "isabaiae20" for 20% off a linen piece of your choice at Baiae here.
My linen suit is available from Revolve here.
My vintage Chanel bag is from Tradesy. Similar here.
My sandals are old. Similar vegan pair available here from Beyond Skin.
Use code "Flash25" for an additional 25% off!!
A couple weeks back, I did a round up here of some of the lifestyle changes I made this past Earth Month. My focus was overall a change in mindset. I had encountered the idea of a zero waste challenge on a fellow blogger's page but doing the same didn't feel practicable for me, at least not with my current responsibilities.
Two toddlers. Three animals. A household of mayhem, etc.
However, that same day, maybe inspired by some of what I'd read, it occurred to me to try an alternative to all those wads of paper towels for picking up our home's infinite balls of animal fur & trails of toddler crumbs. I tried the dustbuster instead. A true lightbulb moment. (Sad or not to say.) It was a small change but an incredibly easy one. Still, it made a big impact on the amount of waste my family created that day. I began to wonder if there were other small ways to reduce our family's waste that simply required conscious thought processes before I unconsciously reached for instantly disposable items. You can read my fellow blogger's much more intense adventure (which I think she ought to turn into a book) here.
While part 1 of my own zero waste experiment focused on the mindset change, part 2 is more about the inexpensive purchases that have helped make waste reduction practicable.
Here are some of my favorite eco purchases that have proven to be inexpensive, easy ways to reduce our family's waste! Plus, they're purtyier than their evil, single-use step-cousins.... win, win! (Sorry I have fairy tales on the mind. I just watched the Royal Wedding on CNN. I find Meghan Markle's humanitarian work (not to mention fashion sense) so inspiring! I promise to control myself and remain very serious-minded for the rest of this very serious post.) Ahem, here, in no particular order, are 5 life-changing eco products that will help you feel like you are saving the world:
1. Reusable Dryer Balls $9.98
These are so cute I hang them on the outside of our laundry closet's door rather than tucking them away as I did with our Bounce dryer sheets. Plus, they're hypoallergenic, smell great, and work perfectly well. I've been using the same ball since I bought the bag, so I think my $9 and my bag of reusable dryer balls will go quite a long way. Here's a link to the $9 ones I bought on Amazon.
2. Reusable Cotton Pads $15.98
A couple months ago, I discovered the eco brand Glossier, and I've been hooked on this magical toner ever since. That also means I've been using and discarding cotton pads every night. It didn't even occur to me how wasteful I was being. A very simple switch it is indeed to begin using washable cotton pads. An added bonus is that they feel softer on the face, more like a facial at a spa! The ones I like also come with this washable laundry bag, although I'm using the little bag for storing the pads as organization is more important than laundry sorting, which I have to do anyway.
3. Reusable Metal Straws $9.99
We use so many straws in our house! Since we've made the switch to metal straws, we've definitely cut back, although it's annoying that so many so-called green places send their drinks with straws or the ways straws come with juiceboxes. We've also used paper straws, which at least have the virtue of disintegrating. Still, it feels good to do something. After all...
"Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day. To understand just how many straws 500 million really is, this would fill over 125 school buses with straws every day. That's 46,400 school buses every year! Americans use these disposable utensils at an average rate of 1.6 straws per person per day."
4. Reusable Utensils Travel Packet $9.99
This kind of falls under the same rubric of reusable straws except a zero-waste friend of mine made an excellent point: why not make a little packet that you take with you everywhere? I already try to remember my reusable bottles and cups, but why not try to bring my own reusable spoon, fork, straw, and napkin all tucked up together? Even if I don't remember all the time, (which I don't sadly) the times I do remember will help me start to cut back on really useless kinds of waste. I've just begun doing this. So far, I've remembered zero times, but that's how I was with my cups too at first, and now I almost always have a cup or bottle with me. The trick there for me was to purchase bottles and cups I really like. On that note, I really like this handy, bamboo travel set for $9.99 or this cool reusable lunchbox set with a bamboo carving board for $24.99 if you pack your own lunches every day.
5. Reusable Tampons $15.95- $29.14
I also listed these in part 1 of this blog series, but I can't stress enough how easy these are to use and what a game-changer they have proven to be in my life and the life of many women. According to the Guardian...
"The average woman uses roughly 11,000 tampons in her lifetime. The time it takes for a tampon or pad to degrade in a landfill is centuries longer than the lifespan of the woman who used it, particularly when wrapped in a plastic wrapper or bag. In addition, the process of manufacturing these products – turning wood pulp into soft, cotton-like fibres – is both resource- and chemical-intensive."
Even though half the population deals with their period every month, there's still a taboo that keeps us from talking about it. The feminine hygeine industry therefore thrives even though there's a cheaper, safer, easier, WAY more eco option available out there: diva cups. Or Luna Cups or Goddess Cups or whichever brand works for you. Just be sure to get an undyed one. Some of the dyed ones are tested on animals. I hope that doesn't make me sound wacky to mention, although I don't really mind sounding wacky. This is why: I could not be a more ordinary woman. I'm a stay-at-home mother who loves Starbucks and shopping. I'm happily married, and we even have one boy and one girl. I love Target, and I have been known to rip a romance novel read in the bath. What I'm saying is: I'm exactly the type of totally ordinary, basic woman who needs to be speaking out. So here goes.
Ladies, GO GET YOURSELVES A DIVA CUP. It is not gross or weird. The environmental savings are huge, but so are the savings on your wallet. It will also make your life infinitely easier. No more leaks. You can sleep through the night if you have a heavier flow. Most of all, it's just common sense: if you wouldn't stick a tampon in your mouth and suck on it because of all the chemicals, WHY would you put a gross, chemical lollipop in your vagina?
I personally love the Diva Cup, but I've heard friends say they prefer other brands like Luna Cup.
Next up for my family is cutting back on paper towel use. A friend recommended we try Norwex Cleaning Cloths. They retail between $14.95- $24.95. These are all easy, inexpensive changes, but I don't want to pretend it's all easy. Paying attention to our waste also brought home the limitations on any real changes we can make. Our worst waste is from food containers, and there's not much we can do about that. Real change is going to have to be institutional. Renée's post does an utterly amazing job delving into the more difficult work necessary to make more lasting changes. I think what I've tried to emphasize is so much of this is simply a change of habit. And these aren't centuries-old habits that we'll have to break! They came about only two generations ago when production values changed. Our great-grandparents and maybe even grandparents did not live like this, and we shouldn't be, either.
I'd love to keep the conversation going below! What are some ways you've learned to cut back on foolish waste in your own lives? (Please no one say "by not wasting time reading this blog!" haha. That said, I've been working very hard at improving this blog the past few weeks, but I always value feedback! Thanks!)
In the outfit above, I'm wearing:
a secondhand Anthropologie skirt. Similar here.
An old Missguided gingham top. Similar here.
A reusable basket from Robertson's Florist. Similar here.
Soludos espadrilles. Available here.
1. It Can Be
I think most of us with even a modicum of interest in the slow fashion world know about Reformation now (both the dresses pictured above are from Reformation and are both are secondhand), so I'll leave these pictures here, because the proof is in the pudding and Reformation dresses celebrate my curves like no other brand. Reformation can be pricy, which leads me to my next point, but first, something else I love about Reformation is their push not only to sell vintage clothes on their own site but the way they partnered with DePop to sell their OWN CLOTHES secondhand on another site. They're really the rare company whose ethics and aesthetics match up. (Quoting journalist Rosalind Jana in that last line.)
2. Sustainable Fashion is Expensive
Image care of Pretty Little Fawn by Courtney Halverson
Not only are there a plethora of secondhand options from the very cheap on eBay or Depop to the pricier ones on Tradesy or treasures to be found in carefully curate vintage shops, but there now exist more and more mid-price retailers like Sézane, who go out of their way to craft high quality pieces at pretty affordable prices considering. (My Sézane and Rouje embroidered blouses that come in at around $115 are as nice as Ulla Johnson, which retails for more like $300.)
People Tree UK and Everlane are two other retailers in the same midway to expensive price range, and Everlane has even run "name your own price" sales! I think paying about $100 for a dress isn't too crazy, once you start factoring in what it costs to make cloth ethically and to treat the person making the actual dress just as ethically as the cloth. Not to mention that special care is reflected in the splendid quality of the garment. My sustainably made clothes are genuinely my nicer clothes, no two ways about it. I am not such a good person that I would reach for them as often as I do over more expensive (but probably thrifted tbh) clothes if they weren't!
3. Sustainable Fashion Is Minimalistic/ Boring
Kate Arnell Wearing a People Tree Dress. Click on the image to visit People Tree's blog.
I do think minimalism and sustainability go hand in hand, but there are different ways to approach the minimalist philosophy. For my part, I appreciated the idea that we should value collections that bring value to our lives but eschew a mindset that mindlessly collects objects which you don't actually need or want. While I do have an enormous collection of vintage and thrifted pieces with some new designer brands thrown in and a growing presence of sustainably made pieces, I still consider myself a minimalist, because I try hard not to waste money or energy on thing I don't need or want or that don't bring me as much immense joy as I feel when I immerse myself in my collection of clothes or books. My clothes closet, which is currently housed in my office, is such a special space that the entire family, barring the dog, likes to go in there and nap or rest!
4. Sustainable Fashion Is A Fad
Check out the gorgeous Natalie Kay (above) if you want an expert take on the current state of sustainable fashion affairs. You can follow her here or on Instagram @sustainablychic.
There's a great piece at Mochni arguing that one day (soon) sustainable fashion will one day simply be called "fashion". It makes three strong excellent points about why. You can read it here.
5. Sustainable Fashion Can't Catch On
On Instagram @dearlybethany spent 365 days showcasing fair fashion outfits that managed to be minimalist, chic, and still very pretty. Check her out for some fashionably sustainable inspiration!
Before I bought my last pair of jeans, a pair of Levi's famous wedgie icon jeans with an unfinished hem, I researched the company, and I was SO excited to discover that such a big company is making such big changes! You can read more about that here.
It's happening, folks!!!! I don't know about you, but I find it thrilling to be part of a brighter future for our children and our planet.
What are some of your favorite sustainable brands? Do you like thrifting or does the thought turn you off? What bothers you about it? Is it the fact clothes are pre-owned or is it the hunt that dissuades you?
In both pictures (of me) above, I'm wearing:
A secondhand, two-piece Reformation dress from Tradesy and an apron Reformation dress from Tradesy (while sitting outside the Reformation store no less! The cheek, ha!)
My Louis Vuitton tote was also gently pre-loved from Tradesy.
I pinned some similar cute two pieces below or follow me on Pinterest @IsabellaDavidVintage.
A Gottex hat from Bloomingdales available here .
Wearing an older pair Rebecca Minkoff espadrilles.
There are some gorgeous, handcrafted ones from Spain available on Amazon here.
I also love delicate ones from Sézane here.
A Slow Fashion Diary