Hello, Fall Fashion

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Goodbye, summer. Hello, fall. The weather has already taken quite the turn in Minneapolis. My neighbor’s maple tree has already lost all but maybe eight leaves, I have packed up all my shorts and sandals, and my parka has already made an appearance twice since we last spoke. Oh, the humanity!

I may not be emotionally (or sartorially) prepared for winter, but with a little self-steeling and some cozy layers, I think I can make this autumn thing work.

I’m launching a fun change today on my blog – rather than only using Better World Shopper to grade my purchases, as I have for about a year now, I am expanding my outfit posts to take a wider look at the role each piece plays in the eco-chic lifestyle I am building. Better World Shopper is an excellent way to kickstart smarter shopping by supporting businesses that do better by the world, and the book and app really changed the way I vote with my dollars. Since it’s literally a one-man show at BWS, there is no way he can evaluate every single retailer or update it every year as companies do better – or worse.

Moving forward, I’ll be calling out the eco-chic qualities of each piece in my outfit. In addition to some favorites that earned positive grades from Better World Shopper, such as Nordstrom, H&M and J.Crew, you have probably noticed I wear a lot of Zara and ASOS. Both of those companies have great mission statements and often provide options like organic cotton or vintage pieces. Also, for example, H&M has made leaps and bounds over the past couple of years with their dedication to sustainability, and I’m sure their rank has improved since BWS’ last edition. On the flip side, despite the supposed A- grade, I refuse to support American Apparel based on their highly questionable treatment of models.

I want to support the larger brands that are working to make a difference and share their successes, since those are the most accessible retailers for everyone to shop. I also want to do more to support and promote independent retailers with sound business practices.

And I want to do this without compromising my style or its accessibility.

Read more about my updated approach to see how I shop and where I shop, and learn about how you can make a difference with your dollar, too.

Outfit details while shopping to make a difference:

What I Wore Where I Bought It Eco-Chic Qualities
Gray pea coat H&M; similar here via ASOS Wool, Large Brand on a Sustainable Path
Black faux leather jogger pants H&M; great Nordstrom option here Vegan Leather, Large Brand on a Sustainable Path
White cropped sleeveless sweater Zara, a couple seasons ago; beautiful winter option from Ann Taylor here Wear Another Year, Large Brand on a Sustainable Path
Flax patent heels Cole Haan via Nordstrom Rack Large Brand on a Sustainable Path
Full-finger ring H&M; cool ASOS option here Large Brand on a Sustainable Path
Wide-band pavé ring Nordstrom Rack, years ago; identical here via Nordstrom Wear Another Year, Large Brand on a Sustainable Path
Wide sterling silver ring Independent artisan at the Minnesota State Fair Independent Retailer, Handmade, Made in the USA
Black faux leather handbag Zara, last season; pretty ASOS option here Vegan Leather, Wear Another Year, Large Brand on a Sustainable Path
CZ stud earrings Nordstrom Rack; identical here via Nordstrom Large Brand on a Sustainable Path
Warm lip color Mineral Fusion, sheer moisture lip tint in “Blush” via Whole Foods Cruelty-Free Beauty, Large Brand on a Sustainable Path

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Looking forward to more eco-chic fashion fun!

Xo, Sarah

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Layered Deco Necklaces

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This outfit of everyday essentials is exactly what the start to my autumn needed. Last week, we had a bit of a cold snap, which was a shock to my California’d system. I was not ready for highs in the low 50s – and don’t know if I really will be (#endlesssummer) – but temperatures quickly rose again for this muggy photo shoot near one of my favorite lakes in the Twin Cities. I am excited for fall colors to explode into their annual symphony of the season and can’t wait to take a weekend trip “up north” to Duluth, where my husband and I spent our honeymoon. The deciduous’ color palette along the northern lakes is a thing to behold.

We’re building a closet room in our new house, something I never would have dreamed of before, and I can’t wait to expand my wardrobe just a bit more. This is partly in preparation for the cold weather to come, and partly because I actually think many of you would be surprised to see how few clothes I have in my closet. Pretty much what you see on my blog is the extent of what I wear, since I don’t buy things on a lark without a clear idea of how it will pair with just about everything else I own. Not only does that keep my consumerism in check with a more eco-friendly approach, it makes dressing easier. Post-college, I just shopped by what looked good at the store, which trends had inspired me, the mood I was in that day – which led to a wardrobe full of one-off outfits purchased at retailers I now avoid. I cringe to think of the waste I created. Now that I have a clearer vision of my style and understand more about ethical retailers, I am looking forward to having more than five shirts/four jeans/two jackets I rotate regularly, et cetera.

Outfit details while shopping to make a difference:

WHAT I WORE BRAND GRADE
White organic cotton tank top Zara, last season, eyeing this short-sleeved tee and this 3/4-sleeved tee for fall C
High-waist, wide-leg jersey pants ASOS, so comfy-chic you won’t believe C
Oversized sunglasses Dior via Nordstrom B+
Deco necklace with brown tones H&M, in-store C
Bib gemstone necklace with brown tones H&M, in-store C
Burgundy handbag Michael Kors, old, love this smaller Zara bag and this fab work tote option C (for alt)
Black and gold sandals Mix No. 6, old, adore this beautiful, handmade option by Ancient Greek Sandals B (for alt)
Berry lip gloss e.l.f Essential EX-tra Lip Gloss in “Michael” B

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I think I’ve mastered shopping big box stores in the most ethical way possible, with plenty of “B” and “C” grades from Better World Shopper. My staples, Zara, Nordstrom, ASOS and especially H&M have made an admirable effort to provide a better option to the masses. Now I’m looking to venture more into smaller retailers and independent shops. There are some beautiful options (many found thanks to Instagram hashtags!) that I am very excited to try.

Let’s get pumped for some self-justified shopping and the subsequent new outfits! ;)

Xo, Sarah

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Endless Summer

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It’s been a hot minute and I have so much to share with you guys. True to #getitgirl form, I have fit more than is humanly possible into the past… well, forever. I am probably part robot.

It feels like paradise
The world is closing in
It feels so right
I start to fantasize
‘Bout what we’re getting in
Cuz now you’re mine
This is our time

– Cascada, “Endless Summer”

We got some tough family news in July that made us take a hard look at things. Four years ago, we moved to California with empty pockets and big dreams. Both my husband and I built ourselves fulfilling careers in that amount of time, which especially wouldn’t have panned out that way for me had we stayed in Minnesota. Now that I have the ability to work remotely from anywhere in the world and Dave has such a strong reputation, moving back to Minnesota started making more and more sense. We’d be nearby family for both the good and the not-so-good events, be able to afford to own a home in one of the nation’s top school districts, and of course, we can’t forget that Minnesota does not charge sales tax on clothing or food (haaaay).

After growing up in Minnesota, we were very, very hesitant to return to the land of 9-month winters for that very reason. Frostbite and black ice are not my jam. Dave and I agreed to install remote starters in our cars if it got to our breaking point and realized we’d have a 9% “savings” on warmer clothing purchases thanks to the lack of sales tax.

This move also meant, gloriously, returning to “real” summer. Many stretches of days well into the 80s, with incredible sunsets every night. Long hours at the city pool, pretending this really is an endless summer. The Great Minnesota Get-Together, punctuated by too many sweet treats, salty snacks and miles walked in sandals.

Outfit details while shopping to make a difference:

WHAT I WORE BRAND GRADE
Black crop top H&M (from this summer, identical here from ASOS and love this ASOS turtleneck crop for fall) C
Oversized army pants Zara, from summer sale, love these Milly paper bag trousers from Nordstrom C
Black heels Calvin Klein via Nordstrom Rack B+
Oversized sunglasses ASOS – on sale, hurry! C
Black faux leather handbag Zara, sold out, cute ASOS option here C
Men’s watch Borrowed from husband about five years ago and claimed it :) A

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We made the move at the end of August and maximized the few weeks of summer we managed to extract. Now that this is the last day of my favorite season, I wanted to share the last outfit we photographed in San Francisco and prepare to take the leap into Minneapolis style.

Darling, won’t you hold my hand?

Xo, Sarah

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Summertime Office Eco-Chic

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Simple, layered outfits are key for Northern California summers. Mother Nature can easily span 20° in one day herself, and add the extremes of frigid-A/C-conference-room and after-meeting-hot-parked-car, and you can easily go from loving your outfit to hating it in the span of a few seconds. Layers allow effortless temperature management, and look oh-so-chic no matter the weather!

This H&M blouse and its sister version in black have been on heavy rotation in my wardrobe. Not only are they made from 70% post-consumer recycled content, they are cut to fit with a perfectly loose flutter. I really hope their CONSCIOUS collection stays in stores, and that other retailers follow suit! Have you seen ASOS’ Green Room Eco Edit? Pretty neat.

Outfit details while shopping to make a difference:

WHAT I WORE BRAND GRADE
Snakeskin print top H&M CONSCIOUS, made from 70% recycled content A
Faux leather shorts Zara, old, similar here via ASOS C
Frayed duster jacket Vintage Dolce & Gabbana via Encore in Burlingame A
Black heels Calvin Klein via Nordstrom Rack B+
Round sunglasses Old, love these by Karl Lagerfeld via ASOS C (for alt.)
White handbag Zara, sold out, similar here via ASOS C
Stone pendant necklace Gift from husband, love this Etsy version made from recycled metal A (for alt.)

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The past few weeks of work have been demanding, and I’m really looking forward to taking some time off for the Fourth of July. Friday maybe feels a mite bit closer knowing it will include some BBQ and bubbly.

Xo, Sarah

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Melted Red Lipstick

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This floaty Zara top is one of those things I can’t stop wearing. It’s become one of those situations in which one may attempt to invent scenarios that make it totally ok to wear it five days in a row. Did I mention you can just throw it in the washing machine? So good.

This lipstick is next-level good, too – not only is Too Faced cruelty-free, it’s also made in the US and the quality is luxuriously refined. “Melted” is in the title, but it’s more of “melded” into my beauty routine.

My handbag is also a recent Zara find. The style is clearly, shall we say, “inspired” by Prada, but the fact that it’s faux leather has me ok with the resemblance. My quest to live eco-chic has me seriously considering going leather-free with purchases of new items. I know I’ll only be purchasing faux leather jackets, but handbags and shoes have me wavering, since I have noticed a stark difference in quality and comfort. Stay tuned for further developments on my philosophies here.

Stella McCartney has a gorgeous line of accessories that are entirely leather-free, and is the only major designer to do so. I have my eye on the new quilted Falabella, but that is a faux leather handbag that – rightfully so – requires a bit more penny-pinching before purchase compared to this $80 Zara find. It’s also a major frustration for me that, at 5’11”, I wear a true size 11 shoe, which is not an Italian 41, where many designers cap their lines – Stella included. If I can find some faux leather shoes that fit and have impressive quality, you can bet your gumdrop buttons I’ll be singing it from the rooftops.

Outfit details while shopping to make a difference:

WHAT I WORE BRAND GRADE
Pleated cream tunic Zara (now on sale!) C
Faux leather leggings Old, gorgeous Helmut Lang option here and inexpensive ASOS option here C (for alt.)
Message-in-a-bottle necklace Old, this Etsy option is so sweet A (for alt.)
Oversized sunglasses Dior via Nordstrom B+
Flax heels Old, adore these Stella McCartney sandals A (for alt.)
Neutral handbag Zara (really into the shape and the vegan leather) C
Cream infinity bracelet Banana Republic, old, cute Etsy version here B+ (A for alt.)
Red lipstick Too Faced “Melted” in “Melted Ruby” A

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Here’s to tackling this week with style and poise! Sending you a caffeinated wink from across the internet. ;)

Xo, Sarah

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Date Night Jeans

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I wore this for a super romantic date night to Chipotle and IKEA. We’ve been so busy between work and our recent move, so we are taking what we can get! Oh, and don’t worry, I didn’t walk a million-mile, DIY furniture warehouse in heels. The glam factor of flaxen pumps was just a fun touch to make dinner feel a little more fancy.

We are so close to being done with decorating our new place. This past weekend, I finished our master closet, which finally got our clothes off the floor from their “sorted” stacks [read: agitating piles with wrinkles and disorder] and into beautiful shelves. Can you hear the ethereal chorus coming from the ultra pure white walls?

Outfit details while shopping to make a difference:

WHAT I WORE BRAND GRADE
Cream long-sleeve top Zara, old, similar J.Crew here C
Light “boy” jeans Zara C
Black faux leather moto Old, chic Zara version I’m eyeing C (for alt.)
Oversized sunglasses Dior via Nordstrom B+
Flax heels Old, adore these Stella McCartney sandals C (for alt.)
Gold “loveyou” necklace Etsy, sold out A
Black flap handbag J.Crew, purchased last year on sale C

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Once we cool it on the home update purchases (#somuchlandscaping #somuchpaint #somuchIKEAassembly), I’m really looking forward to getting a new faux leather jacket and flax heels. Mine are well worn and almost four years old, and I wear them so much that I don’t want to be caught without a replacement once they inevitably fall apart. I would love to get the gorgeous Stella McCartney’s Kappor sandals. I just saw an article on Harper’s Bazaar about fashion “gateway” purchases. As much as I love fashion, don’t let me go too far down the rabbit hole! ;)

Xo, Sarah

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’90s Gone Chic

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Lately, I can’t get enough of these high-waist, semi-destroyed jeans. They are extremely comfortable – almost like wearing my lazy-day leggings – but they have ten times the cool factor compared to anything else in my closet this comfy.

My favorite part about this outfit, though, is that my top is made from organic cotton and I bought it from Zara for only $9.90. Companies that make ethical fashion accessible and attractive are exactly what I like to see.

Outfit details while shopping to make a difference:

WHAT I WORE BRAND GRADE
White organic cotton tank Zara C
Black high-waist denim ASOS C
Spiky silver necklace Old, beautiful, handmade option here via Etsy A (for alt.)
Cateye sunglasses Old, similar ASOS here and here C (for alt.)
Nude lace-up sandals Old, similar here – love Ted Baker’s ethical statement here C (for alt.)
White handbag Zara, get it before it’s discontinued! C

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The scenery in our new neighborhood is amazing. I mean, look at the background here! Just gorgeous. Walking the sidewalks with Coco and Chanel feels like a treat.

We are settling into the house, and the puppies love having our own space, rather than shared walls on every side. I feel like we had a great stroke of luck in finding this rental and I never want to let it go! We’re in the “final touches” stage after figuring out a layout that works, and I am so excited to have it looking good. A peaceful, pretty home centers me. :)

Xo, Sarah

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Dolce & Gabbana

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All things lace have had my attention the past few months and I am so glad I finally jumped on board with this dress. The fabric detail and cut are so spectacular I keep wanting to wear it every day. Luckily, blogging more has inadvertently encouraged me to get more creative with my closet and stop cycling through the same outfits for client meetings. No more playing the game of, “Did I wear this to our last meeting or was that a different client?” Ha!

This vintage Dolce & Gabbana jacket is one of the best purchases I have ever made. It elevates every outfit and is so versatile. Now that we live near a number of fantastic vintage shops, I can’t wait to incorporate more of these beautifully ethical finds into my wardrobe.

Outfit details while shopping to make a difference:

WHAT I WORE BRAND GRADE
Black jacket Vintage Dolce & Gabbana (also like this one on sale) A
Lace dress Zara C
Black infinity bracelet Banana Republic (old, cute Etsy option here and recycled metal here) A (for alt.)
Round sunglasses Old, love these from ASOS and still want these Prada via Nordstrom B+
Nude heels Old and very worn so saving up – maybe these vegan Stella McCartney pumps or some amazing Jimmy Choos? C
Black tote Coach (old), love this one from Ann Taylor C

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We’re building out our new master closet this weekend – and I’ll be dreaming of stocking it with pretty much the entire Dolce & Gabbana collection.

I’m also expanding my business soon and can’t wait to dive into things! Biz dev and renos? Let’s do this. #getitgirl

Xo, Sarah

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Snake Print Pencil Skirt

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Finding outfits that express your personal style but still feel like they go with the flow of my clients’ offices can be tricky. Enter: layering. A floaty, cropped tank paired with a chic, statement pencil skirt, and I’m in love.

Walking Coco and Chanel is one of my favorite things to do, especially at the end of the work day because by then, their puppy energy is beginning to wear off and we can focus more on exploring our new neighborhood rather than burning off steam. This often results in a lot of practice with “drop it,” haha.

Outfit details while shopping to make a difference:

WHAT I WORE BRAND GRADE
Floaty crop top Zara (sold out, very similar) C
Snake print pencil skirt Ann Taylor (sold out, love this one or this ASOS option) C
Encrusted necklace Zara (similar via Nordstrom) C
Reflective sunglasses H&M (old, similar ASOS here and here) C
Black heels Calvin Klein via Nordstrom Rack (fab Cole Haan here and here) B+
White handbag Zara, get it before it’s discontinued! C

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After learning about Ann Taylor’s work to support women’s rights and ethical business with their “Responsibly Ann” initiative, I was smitten with the brand. Supporting brands that make it easy to look good and do good is what this is all about.

Xo, Sarah

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Black Outfit, Green Fashion

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Organic cotton top and pants with 60% recycled content? Yes, please. This comfortable outfit was perfect for a day of packing up our old place just before the big move.

Incorporating ethical shopping into my everyday living has been a challenge, but a worthy one. Little by little, I’ve been able to find my new favorite brands and stores and am learning where to look to find what I need. This outfit is a great showcase of that, and the growing trend of more transparency in corporate ethics and the increasing availability of eco-friendly options.

Outfit details while shopping to make a difference:

WHAT I WORE BRAND GRADE
Organic cotton tank top Zara, only $9.90 C
60%-recycled-content pants H&M Conscious, only $19.99 C
Pavé links bracelet Old Baublebar, cute Etsy option here to support small biz A (for alt.)
Infinity bracelet Banana Republic, love this Etsy option made with recycled metal B+
Gold “love you” necklace Gift from my husband via Etsy (sold out), similar here via Nordstrom A
Red nail polish Mineral Fusion in Crimson Clay via Whole Foods A

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(Get 20% off these ASOS options with code WEBEGRILLIN)

Finds like these makes me feel like I am making a difference. I am currently building a page to make it easy to find favorite stores and will be sharing one of my most challenging projects soon: the switch to eco-friendly, cruelty-free, luxurious beauty products.

It shouldn’t be difficult to make ethical shopping choices – we all face plenty of hard decisions in life anyway. Let’s support the brands and retailers who are doing their best to be good to the world.

Xo, Sarah

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