Lori Tote Review x Nisolo


Nisolo is one of those companies that I had heard wonderful things about in passing long before I ever bought anything. I hadn’t really started exploring ethical and sustainable fashion yet, and I was still shopping mostly at Madewell and H&M. After checking Nisolo out for the first time, I immediately began saving money towards my first purchase because I was instantly obsessed! When I bought my first pair of shoes - the popular Mariella mule - it was because I had heard such positive things about their quality and durability. I absolutely loved them and wore them to death! My next purchase was a pair of Isa boots, which have been a staple in my autumn and winter shoe rotation ever since. Their pieces are a bit of investment for me so I don’t have many, but I have been extremely impressed with every purchase that I have made.


The Company

When I first started purchasing from Nisolo, it was simply because I liked their shoes. However, as I started to get more interested in slow fashion, I learned more about the story and goals behind the company, and I’m just as much a fan of their practices as I am of their products. They strive to push the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction while equally considering the producer and the planet alongside their consumer.

The company is very transparent about their process, and you can view an in-depth impact report here on their site. They insist that every worker in their supply chain receives wages above the fair trade standard, along with healthcare and a good working environment. Nisolo provides jobs for over 500 people! They own their own factory in Peru, which allows for a very hands-on approach when it comes to the working conditions and benefits they offer their employees.

Nisolo also partners with other factories that are required to meet a strict set of ethical standards, including a minimum age for all employees and above fair trade wages, healthcare, and more. They visit their factories many times throughout the year to ensure that these standards are being met. They have an extremely low turnover rate of less than 2% per year! Nisolo also partners with independent artisans who are experts at their craft, which provides steady income for producers who wouldn’t necessarily have it otherwise.

By having such strong partnerships with ethical factories, Nisolo is able to cut out middlemen such as sales reps and wholesale stockists, which also makes their product much more reasonable than many of their competitors. The products are high quality so they are still an investment, but at much less of a markup than you’d pay from other brands. While Nisolo does use leather, they only work with companies that are committed to treating their animals ethically, and they also make sure to only use leather that is a byproduct of the meat industry. Nisolo is also working to offset their carbon emissions and participates in a shoe recycling program. You can read about all the vision of Nisolo and the steps they are taking to get there here!

I am thrilled to say that I recently became an affiliate for Nisolo! It always feels like a dream come true when I’m able to partner with a company that I have supported and admired for a long time, and that is definitely the case here.

I’d been eying Nisolo’s accessory + bag collection for a little while, so when they reached out and offered to send me a Lori tote, I immediately said yes! I’ve been carrying around an old Urban Outfitters tote for years and years - I’ve had it for so long that I can’t even remember when I bought it. It’s lasted well for me over time, but it has been on its last legs for quite awhile and I just hadn’t gotten around to replacing it yet. The leather is scuffed and nicked in many places, and the inside has really taken a beating from everything I carried around.


The Lori tote was the perfect replacement bag for me! I went with the Sand nubuck because I wanted a color that would pair well with anything and everything. It’s such a beautiful, neutral caramel tone, and I love the chic, minimal look it gives the bag. One of the wonderful things about nubuck is that it ages and improves over time, and I can’t wait to see the patina that will develop on the leather over the next couple of years.



The Specs:

Dimensions: 19” x 13” x 7”

Strap Height: 9”

Made out of nubuck leather


Available in five colorways

Price: $168



My Review

I have been so happy with my tote so far! It’s the perfect combination of beauty and functionality. The most important thing to me in a tote is that it’s big enough to carry my 15-inch laptop when I’m heading to a café to do some work, and the Lori tote definitely is. The other things that I usually keep in a tote are my wallet, a book, a pen, some kind of snack, essential oils, hand sanitizer, a pack of mints, a water bottle, and a sweater or other outer layer. Everything fits inside beautifully! There’s even a little pocket at the top to hold smaller things like earbuds or lipstick.

I really appreciate the sleek, simple, no-frills design of the Lori tote. It has clean lines with just the one inner pocket and a sturdy bottom that help it stand up when set on the floor or a chair. The nubuck is lightweight but thick, so it’s very durable and will last for ages. The material is soft and pliable, making the straps comfortable against my shoulders. Nubuck is also really easy to care for - you can use a nubuck brush or eraser to remove stains, dirt, and lint, and then restore the nap afterwards.


I’ve only used my tote as a purse/laptop carrier so far, but it’s also going to make the perfect weekend bag for brief trips out of town. It’s just roomy enough to include a few staple clothing items and a cosmetics bag. I’m quite a petite person, so I also appreciate that the tote isn’t so big that it’s difficult to carry and doesn’t overwhelm my small frame.

The only thing I wish was different is that the straps aren’t quite long enough to fit over the shoulder of my bulkiest winter coat, so the bag slides down while I’m out and about on really cold days (yes, we have already had a few of those this season!). However, the straps are the perfect length when I’m wearing just a top or a lighter coat, and the velvety texture of the nubuck does help the tote stay in place. I also might appreciate a way to close the tote across the top, such as a magnetic strip or zipper. My old tote didn’t have this feature, either, so it’s not something that I miss - just something that would be nice to have while out and about.


That wraps up my thoughts on Nisolo and the Lori tote they so kindly sent me! Even though the tote was gifted, this would have been the top contender for me if I had gotten around to purchasing a replacement for my old tote - Nisolo is my go-to for quality leather goods. I hope this post was helpful for anyone who might be in the market for a tote!


Outfit Details

Lori Tote: Nisolo | Long-Sleeve Harper Tunic: Elizabeth Suzann | Pima Micro Rib Long-Sleeve Crew: Everlane | Cigarette Jean: Everlane | Clogs: No. 6 Store | Necklace: Windblown Jewelry

All opinions are my own, and this post is not sponsored by Nisolo. This post does contain affiliate links, which may give me a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support and the way it keeps my blog going!

Transitional Fall Outfits from Everlane


Most years, I feel a little bit at a loss style-wise as we transition out of the winter months into spring and summer. In Minnesota, so much of the year is spent in freezing temperatures that bundling up and living in jeans and a sweater is my ultimate comfort zone. I usually struggle lots with dressing for warmer weather and coming up with creative outfits that I feel good in! But this year, I’m feeling the opposite - it’s as if I’ve forgotten how to dress for fall. My style has evolved quite a bit over the past few years, and I think that ever-changing dynamic has contributed to my mental block about dressing for the cooler seasons this year. However, there are a few staple pieces that are easing my transition! These are all pieces that function as building blocks or basic pieces in my outfits which helps me feel a little less like a deer in the headlights of all the new seasonal options.


First up are the Cheeky Straight Jeans from Everlane. I have talked about these before and I swear by them! I spent months and months searching for the quintessential vintage jeans that were high-waisted and fitted in the waist and hips, with a touch of extra room at at the ankles for that perfect straight-legged look. I scoured thrift stores and vintage shops many, many times with no luck. I even settled for a couple of ill-fitting pairs because I wanted some so badly, only to donate them shortly afterwards because they just didn’t work on me. When Everlane released the Cheeky Straight Jean, I was so excited to try them but didn’t get my hopes up since no other straight-legged jeans had worked for me yet. Thankfully, these ones were perfect and they have become such a necessity in my closet! The fabric is 98% cotton with just a hint of stretch. The rise is high at 11” and I love the flexibility and comfort that the 2% elastane adds to the denim. They do stretch out a little bit with wear, but they always shrink straight back to their original fit and shape when washed. I loved my original Washed Black pair so much that I opted to try these in Bone, as well! It’s wonderful having a well-fitting pair of jeans in both a dark and a light color.


Cashmere Turtleneck: Everlane | Linen Clyde Vest: Elizabeth Suzann | Cheeky Straight Jean: Everlane

Paloma Mules: Nisolo | Foldover Crossbody Purse: Everlane | Leather Belt: old from Madewell - linked to similar) | Zodiac Necklace (Gifted): Mejuri


I also want to highlight Everlane’s cashmere line. I purchased my first cashmere sweater (the V-neck version) two winters ago and it’s still going strong for this upcoming year! Cashmere is a type of wool, but I have fairly sensitive skin and I don’t find Everlane’s cashmere to be itchy or uncomfortable at all. It’s extremely warm and wonderfully soft, and there are more than enough colors and cuts to fit into any closet. The sweaters are quite thin and light, which makes them really easy to tuck in fully or partially (which is how I wear them most often). They also layer very well and look great under a jumpsuit, dress, or another sweater. I do find that some pilling and wear happens in high-friction areas like the underarms and hemline, but the pills are easily removable and the majority of the fabric stays in excellent condition. I add another cashmere sweater or two to my collection each year and I never get tired of them!


Cashmere Mockneck: Everlane (discontinued and linked to similar) | Cheeky Straight Jean (Gifted): Everlane

Western Boot (Gifted): Everlane | Foldover Crossbody Purse: Everlane | Camel Coat: Vintage, linked to similar | Zodiac Necklace (Gifted): Mejuri


Another piece that I really couldn’t live without during the cooler seasons is the Pima Micro Rib Long-Sleeve Crew. I wear the short-sleeved version lots in warmer weather and own the scoop-neck tee, as well! I almost never have multiples in my closet, but I have three of these long-sleeve tees because they are such a necessity once the temps start to drop outside. The fabric is 95% pima cotton (the other 5% is elastane), which makes these tops so comfortable and soft on the skin. The ribbing makes them look a little more elevated and adds a really lovely texture to any outfit. My favorite thing about these tops is that the stretchy, ribbed fabric holds its shape extraordinarily well. I especially notice this in the sleeves; I often push my sleeves up near my elbows, which almost always results in misshapen cuffs that slip down more and more easily throughout the day. However, I can wear the Micro Rib long-sleeves multiple times without any stretching out anywhere. I like these tops enough to wear them on their own, but I wear them the most underneath other things. They’re the perfect layering piece to help get a few more wears out of summer dresses or jumpsuits, and they’re also amazing underneath sweaters. The extra layer adds more warmth and also helps to keep my skin comfortable and non-itchy. The black version is completely opaque, and while the white is a little see-through, I find that they work well with a nude bra. These tees are such a simple, basic piece, but I honestly can’t recommend them enough for autumn and winter!


Pima Micro Rib Long-Sleeve Crew: Everlane | Cheeky Straight Jean: Everlane | Western Boot (Gifted): Everlane | Leather Belt: old from Madewell - linked to similar | Zodiac Necklace (Gifted): Mejuri


Finally, I want to mention a style that is new to me but is already much-loved! I somehow made it through last winter without any black boots, and I knew that a high-quality pair was top of my wishlist for fall and winter this year. I’m honestly not sure how I managed last year because midwestern winters are so full of mud and dirt that quickly ruins lighter-colored shoes!  I was on the lookout for something that was ankle-length, sleek, and low-profile. I hate fussing around with laces and zippers on shoes, so a slip-on style was important to me. I was also ideally hoping for boots with a rubber sole for the sake of durability and weather-proofing. I was so excited to find The Western Boot! They checked every box for what I was looking for, and they’re such a unique style. I definitely don’t have anything in my closet that’s quite like them! The Western Boot features smooth, high-quality leather combined with an elastic section at the back, which makes them so easy to pull on. The have an angled heel that adds a little bit of height while remaining low enough that they’re easy to walk in, and the rubber soles are going to be perfect for trudging through rain, slush, and snow over the next six months (please note that these aren’t marketed as a water-resistant shoe - I just know they’re going to be better in the snow and rain than some of my other shoes with wooden or leather soles). The design is a nod to Americana-style cowboy boots, and while I was concerned that these wouldn’t quite fit into my closet, I absolutely love the way they look. With their square toe and sleek feel, they just make me feel cool! The leather isn’t quite as buttery-soft as the leather that Everlane uses in their Day shoe lines, so there is a little bit more of a break-in period. I’ve been wearing them for a few hours at a time each day and they ease up a little bit with each wear. The first time I wore them, they felt just a hair tight, but they have already loosened with a few more wears and will continue to as they break in more fully. I’m able to wear them with winter socks as-is, but would probably go up a half size if I wanted a roomier fit.


Pima Micro Rib Long-Sleeve Crew: Everlane | Cheeky Straight Jean: Everlane | Ila Cardigan: Paloma Wool

Western Boot (Gifted): Everlane | Leather Belt: old from Madewell - linked to similar | Zodiac Necklace (Gifted): Mejuri

Do you have any pieces that you reach for over and over in the transitional seasons?

All opinions are my own, and this post is not sponsored by any brands. It does contain some gifted items (noted) and affiliate links, which may give me a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support and the way it keeps my blog going! I fully support each of these companies.

Life Update - August 2019


It’s been a few months since I last shared a life update, and it was a pretty crazy one full of lots of big changes. 2019 has been one wild ride so far! I wanted to check back in a few months later with a less dramatic post as we slowly settle into a new season!

Back in my last update in June, Aaron was early on in his recovery from an emergency appendectomy and we had just decided to close Botany. Closing down our company was a huge decision and has led to a completely different lifestyle for us. We were used to going, going, going and never having a chance to relax or really take care of ourselves. Aaron was working 80 - 100 hours a week at the café and I was splitting my time between roughly 70 hours on my business, 15 - 20 hours working at Botany, and trying to keep on top of chores and taking care of our pets, too. We were in survival mode and were just barely scraping by. The appendicitis honestly came as a relief in some ways because it effectively closed down Botany and released us from our hectic and unhealthy lifestyle.

So now, let’s move forward to life these days! Aaron started a Full Stack Development program at Lambda School three weeks ago and has been loving it! As a quick summary, Lambda takes a typical four-year computer programming degree and condenses it down into a nine-month program. Aaron is in class from 10am - 7pm Monday through Friday and spends a few hours each day reviewing and studying, as well. The program is notoriously intense and difficult, but is also renowned for the large amount of knowledge it crams into such a short period of time. The hire rate of students is very high, as well. The program has been an excellent fit for Aaron’s interests and learning style, and it’s been wonderful to see him working hard towards the future and even more wonderful seeing how much he has enjoyed his studies so far.


It was definitely a bit of an adjustment to transition from spending most of our time apart - Aaron at Botany and me at home alone with our rabbit - to spending 24/7 together again, just like it was an adjustment when Botany opened! We both especially struggled before Aaron’s program started because there was so little structure in our day. I am usually very self-motivated, but having my best friend around all the time definitely made it harder for me to focus on getting work done. Now that we have the routine of school to build our schedule around, we’ve both been much more productive again and we’re feeling pretty content with where we’re at. It’s been so amazing to have weekends to do things like get brunch, have coffee together, attend church regularly, and go on fun outings like the Minnesota State Fair and the Art Institute. We’ve been attending a new Anglican church and have already felt so welcomed and loved!


While Aaron is in school, I’m still plugging away at designing! After working so many hours over the past two years, I have experienced true burnout for the first time and have been trying to take things more slowly in order to recover and heal from that. I was burnt out on everything - work, chores, and life in general. I haven’t been able to muster the energy to cook or meal plan like I used to, and Aaron has taken on over 50% of the chores. But instead of allowing guilt to settle in I’m working on just accepting where I’m at and giving myself grace and time to recover. I was also really burnt out on client work, having taken on far more clients over the last few years than is healthy for my own personal threshold. I’ve been working on my 2020 Botanical Calendar over the summer and have been feeling so revitalized by having creative autonomy on these paintings. It’s been such a relief and a joy to start finding pleasure in my work again! I’m hopeful that I’ll continue to bounce back and also that my ability to take care of our little home and family will mend and return over the next few months, as well!


I believe that I thought that I was immune to feelings of burnout because I loved everything I was doing so much. Art is my passion and has been ever since I could hold a pencil; how could I possibly tire of creating daily for my job? I adore Aaron above all things, so how could taking care of him and our home ever possibly become a burden? I spent four years as a barista before working at Botany, so being behind bar again was really exciting, especially since we were running the shop ourselves. But despite the love I held for all of these things, I have learned my lesson that burnout is inevitable for anyone who does anything too much for too long.

One major thing that has helped me begin healing over these summer months is reading! As a child, I would take regular trips to the library and check out with more books than my mother or the librarians thought was wise. Every time, I finished them all and brought them back on time! Reading has always been a form of respite and escape for me. But I wasn’t able to pick up one single book for the entire time Botany was open, and I had completely forgotten the joy of getting lost deep in a set of pages, of staying up way too late because it’s impossible to put a book down, of being content to do nothing but devour a story all weekend long. I was inspired to read again by my dear friend who started a book Instagram account, and I am so glad that I did! I’ve dashed through six books in six weeks so far and am still feeling so, so eager to pick up each new tome when I finish the one I’m on! I also can’t quite believe that I’ve actually had time to read. I sometimes almost have to pinch myself because it feels too good to be true!

Blogging + outfit planning has been another avenue that’s really helped with my mental health. I’ve loved having something to spend time on and pursue that isn’t work! It’s just for fun and there is no pressure, no strings attached, no expectation. Mostly, I really enjoy putting together outfits from what I have and doing lots of research and thoughtful planning before making my purchases. Having an Instagram account where I regularly post my outfits has forced me into being much more creative with the pieces that I own. I used to wear the same few pieces on repeat week in and week out because the only person who saw me regularly was Aaron! Posting my outfits has helped me come up with lots of different ways to combine and wear my pieces so that I don’t feel redundant. I’ve also really loved blogging because it’s helped me flex my writing muscles again. I can’t stress enough how nice it’s been to have a focus that is completely unrelated from my work, which has helped me diversify, place less stock on the success of my business, and has reminded me that there is more to who I am than my work and the being artist behind Esther Clark Co.


Finally, I’ve been taking daily two-mile walks in order to truly soak up this short summer season and get my body moving after a day of designing. We live about a five-minute drive away from one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in St. Paul, so I usually head over there and walk for as long as I can. The gorgeous old homes, beautifully landscaped yards, plentiful flowers, peace and quiet, and sunshine all combine to make my evening walks the highlight of my day! I’ve so appreciated the time to unwind and just spend some time with my thoughts.


This summer has been really rough in some ways as we’ve been reeling from everything that happened over the past few months, but it’s been glorious in other ways, as well. I’m so sad to see the warm weather leaving us and to watch the long days slowly wane and fade into winter darkness, but I’m also really looking forward to crisp, misty fall mornings, golden sunshine filtering through ochre leaves, and picking apples and the last of the late summer fruits. The change of the seasons is a truly beautiful thing, both in nature and in life. Until next time!


Spring + Summer Wear Count


Shortly after I started being more intentional about my wardrobe, I learned about the idea of a Wear Count. I first heard about it reading the Style Bee blog; Lee Vosburg has been so inspiring to me throughout my slow fashion journey and so I was really interested to give the Wear Count exercise a try!

A Wear Count is pretty self-explanatory - you just write down each item you wear throughout the course of a month and keep track of how many times you wear each piece. At the end of the month, you can look back on your log for a really clear picture of what items you wore the most and least. Designer that I am, I’ve used Adobe Illustrator for my log, haha. Writing in a notebook or using an Excel spreadsheet would be a more conventional (and more sensible) way to track this kind of information, but I spend at least 50% of every day in Illustrator so it’s just what works for me. I haven’t done a wear count every month because I don’t always like having to keep track of what I’m wearing, but I’m planning to do it at least one month of every season so I can compare and contrast! So far I’ve done Spring and Summer and there are definitely some interesting insights I’ve discovered. Listed below are some of my data and findings!



April Wear Count

26 tops

10 pants

3 dresses + jumpsuits

7 shoes

4 outerwear/accessories

50 items total

Most worn items: Babaa cardigan (7), Agolde Jeans (7), Aquatalia Boots (6), Paloma Mule (11 - linked to similar), Clyde Jacket (13)

This month, most items were only worn 1 - 4 times. There were a handful of items (cardigan, jeans, a jacket, two pairs of shoes) that got worn far more than the other pieces. I wore nine more items in April than in July, which I imagine is due to Minnesota Aprils being completely unpredictable weather-wise. This April we had beautiful, sunny 60-degree days and we also got several feet of snow at the end of the month! I was also really impressed to see that my Clyde jacket already made it almost halfway to 30 wears in one month alone!

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July Wear Count

18 tops

9 pants

7 skirts + dresses

7 shoes

41 items total

Most worn items: Woven Mules (7), Caned Sandals (5), Day Heel (5), Day Glove (8), Linen Florence Pants (4), Tank Dress (4)

In July, the only items that had a clear majority were shoes. Most items were only worn 1 - 3 times, with a couple of pieces being worn 4 times. I reached for lots less tops than I did in April, probably because layering isn’t necessary in the summer. I also wore lots more dresses and skirts this month. Another significant difference between the two months is that I was working as a barista during April, so I was doing more varied tasks than I am now that I only work from home every day. I always dressed in a sort of jeans and t-shirt ‘uniform’ for my barista shifts and often changed into a different outfit once I got home.

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One of the reasons I was interested in doing a Wear Count is because I like to keep a really lean closet and wanted to be aware of which items I don’t really use. Based on pieces that I didn’t wear at all (or much) either month, I removed five items from my closet in July. I did a partial trade of my linen Andy pants for a discontinued ES Lara top, and I used the remaining money towards a Dôen top from their recent warehouse sale. I sold two linen button-ups that had only been worn twice each since I purchased them in March. I also sold a tunic and a wrap dress and used the money towards a Reformation top that I’ve worn frequently over the summer. I haven’t missed any of the old items yet! It’s been so satisfying to see the pieces that I wasn’t reaching for go to homes where they’ll be much more worn, and also to replace them with pieces that will be a better fit for my lifestyle and closet.

I was also interested to see which items got worn during both seasons, and will be even more interested to see how many of these pieces make it into my Wear Count for all seasons of the year!


Georgia Tee - Elizabeth Suzann

Harper Tunic - Elizabeth Suzann

Petra Crop - Elizabeth Suzann

Marlena Tank (Discontinued and linked to similar) - Elizabeth Suzann

Florence Pants (Silk) - Elizabeth Suzann

Florence Pants (Linen) - Elizabeth Suzann

Andy Pants (Silk) - Elizabeth Suzann

Tilda Pants (Discontinued and linked to similar) - Elizabeth Suzann

Cheeky Straight Jean - Everlane

Box Top (linked to current seasonal version) - Tradlands

Grey Tank Dress - Not Perfect Linen

Checkered Tank - Not Perfect Linen

Paloma Mule (linked to similar) - Nisolo Shoes

Emma Clogs - Bryr Clogs

There is a very clear Elizabeth Suzann majority here which came as no surprise! I’ve loved her pieces for so long because of their quality, versatility, and simple but artistic look. It’s affirming for me to see how much my ES clothing gets worn since they are all investment pieces! I think it’s pretty clear from this that the investment is well worth it for me.

My data isn’t 100% accurate because I added new items to my closet after April that I know I would have worn lots that month if I had owned them (ie. my woven mules and Day Gloves). I also lost my Cheeky Straight Jeans for a few weeks in April (I looked all over the whole house only to finally find them tucked wayyyyy back in a dark corner of my closet, haha) and I know I would have worn those a lot more if I had known where they were!

Still, I have really enjoyed my Wear Count experience so far and am looking forward to learning more about my closet through Autumn and Winter! I’m curious to see if my total number of items jumps back up in the autumn when I need to start layering again.

Would you ever try a Wear Count? 



All opinions are my own, and this post is not sponsored by any brands. It does contain some gifted items (noted) and affiliate links, which may give me a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support and the way it keeps my blog going! I fully support each of these companies.


Summer Whites + Day Glove Review


Shades of white, cream, and ivory are my favorite colors to wear. I don’t follow the ‘no white after Labor Day’ rule and wear it year-round, but I’m especially drawn to lighter colors in the summer. This is partly because I don’t handle the heat well and love to stay cool, and also because I’m always afraid of staining my pale-colored clothing in the slushy winter months! But the top reason I’m drawn to white is because I just feel good in the color. It goes with everything and lends every outfit such an airy, light look. Unsurprisingly, many of my staple summer items are in the white to cream spectrum, and I wanted to share about my favorite new pieces this season:

The Poplin Wrap Top: Everlane | Lara Top: Reformation | Aura Short: Harly Jae | Day Gloves Flats: Everlane

First up is the Poplin Wrap Top from Everlane. I was so excited when Everlane sent me this shirt! I went with my normal 00 and found that it runs a little large, but since it’s a wrap top the sizing is more adjustable and flexible. The fabric is a 100% cotton poplin, and it is so light and breathable. The sleeves hit below the elbow, but the material is so cool and gentle on the skin that it still feels summer-appropriate. The fabric isn’t completely opaque, but there is little-to-no show-through with a light-colored bra. The sleeves flare out slightly below the elbow and are then gathered by a band at the wrist, which results in a subtle puffed sleeve look. Puffed sleeves are definitely trending right now, and I find that this top hits the perfect balance of being on-trend and practical at the same time because there isn’t too much volume in the sleeves. This will also be helpful for easy layering under a cardigan later in the year! Perhaps the best thing about wrap tops are how effortlessly stylish and versatile they are. My favorite way to wear this one is with the tie just off to one side, but it can also be tied in the back for a completely different silhouette. It’s also easy to dress this top up or down: try it styled with jeans for a casual weekend outfit, or pair it with straight trousers for an office-appropriate look.


Poplin Wrap Top: Everlane | Cheeky Straight Jean: Everlane | Day Glove: Everlane


Another piece I’ve been wearing lots this summer is the Lara top from Reformation. This was my first Reformation purchase, and I’ve been so pleased with it! I’m quite devoted to period dramas, and I’ve been re-watching Victoria over the last several weeks. I was completely taken with the necklines of Jenna Coleman’s gorgeous dresses and soft, cottony white nightgowns throughout the show. I was so inspired that I spent hours searching for a top or dress that had a similar neckline (but with a more modern twist)! I eventually landed on the Lara top, and it’s been everything I was hoping for. The neckline has a pretty, feminine ruffle, and the overall shape of the top - with it’s nearly-off-the-shoulder-sleeves and square neckline - is so dreamy and whimsical. The shape of the top highlights the collarbone area beautifully and definitely nods back to Victorian-era off-the-shoulder styles. It’s everything that is delicate and lovely and makes such a fun addition to my wardrobe, which is mostly filled with more structured, simple pieces. Finally, the fabric is so soft and comfortable, with just the right amount of stretch. This top has been a wonderful, cool summer piece when paired with shorts, and I also love it tucked into a long linen skirt or high-waisted pants!


Lara Top: Reformation | Easy Short: Hackwith Design House | Day Glove: Everlane


The Aura Short by Harley Jae is another ivory/white piece I can’t get enough of! I talked about these briefly in my last post about closet essentials, but I wanted to highlight them more because they’ve been in heavy rotation all summer. I purchased these in late spring because I had no shorts at all, which was definitely not going to work! I was looking for something that was easy and comfortable, something that would be a little nicer and more dressy-looking than a pair of cutoffs. I love wearing looser pants that have a high waist cinched with elastic, so I kept my eyes open for a similar silhouette for my shorts. I am so happy I went with this pair! The fabric is made of a bamboo and hemp blend that has a subtle chevron pattern. The material is so soft, and the pattern adds a beautiful texture and sheen to the design. I love the extra-high waist, wide waistband, and longer mid-thigh length. I haven’t ever owned anything quite like these shorts, and I love how they elevate any top I wear them with. They’re comfortable, classy, and help to lengthen my very short legs all at the same time.


Reversible Wrap Top: Formation Design Studio | Aura Short: Harly Jae | Day Glove: Everlane


The final piece I want to highlight in this post is the much-loved Day Glove, also from Everlane. I am not a flats kind of girl, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I owned a pair. However, I had heard nothing but rave reviews of the Day Glove since their release over a year ago, and I finally decided to give them a try. I took my time deciding on color - there are so many good options! - but finally settled on the Cream because I wanted something really low-profile. I’ve been thrilled with the color; it’s just a hint lighter than my natural skin tone and really melts into my foot for a barely-there look, which is exactly what I wanted. I ordered my usual size 6 and found that these fit perfectly across the toe area but were just slightly too long overall. I thought about sending them back and trying a half-size down for a true glove-like fit, but I was afraid they’d be too tight in the toes so I stuck with the 6. 

When I first put the Day Gloves on (immediately after pulling them out of the box, ha!), I couldn’t believe how soft the leather was. It legitimately feels like butter and started molding to my feet right away. I’ve never felt a softer leather. I was also immediately impressed with the shape of the flat. Most flats just barely cover your toes, but these come up about an inch or so above the toe area. This helps the shape of the shoe feels so much more long and elegant than a normal flat, and it’s the main style feature that won me over. I was also pleasantly surprised at how well the little side vent holes worked, keeping my feet ventilated and relatively cool even when walking for miles on a hot day.


The first day I had these, I wore them all around the house right after they arrived, took them out on errands, and finally wore them on an evening walk. We walked quite a ways, and by the time we got back to the car, my heels had some painful blisters. I was a little surprised by this because it seems like they have no break-in period for most people. However, I’m fairly sure the reason the blisters formed is because the flats are just slightly too long for me, which caused my heel to slip around a bit while walking. The blisters persisted through the next few wears, but it was nothing outside the realm of normal for breaking in leather shoes. I’m now able to wear them on long walks again and they’re almost perfectly comfortable. The soles are wonderfully padded and I genuinely feel like I’m walking in tennis shoes! Besides the blistering I had, these are some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve worn. 

There are a few of my favorite white summer pieces! I hope some of these outfits are inspiring and that my review of the Day Glove is helpful if you’ve been considering them!



All opinions are my own, and this post is not sponsored by any brands. It does contain affiliate links, which gives me a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support and the way it keeps my blog going! Two of the items in these outfits were gifted to me, but I purchased the majority of them myself and fully support each of these companies.


Closet Essentials


When I first committed to purchasing only responsibly made clothing, I was really into the idea of having a capsule wardrobe. We’ve lived on a low budget for a long time, and so my purchases have always been pretty limited. I’ve also moved almost once a year ever since I graduated from college in 2012, which led me to pursue minimalism in every area of my life because I hated packing so much! I’ve been working towards my goal of having a quality, versatile wardrobe that I truly love for about three years, so I’m now at the point where I’m starting to add a few more pieces rather than just replace items that were old, poor quality, or too trendy to last more than a season or two. Now that I know my style better I’m comfortable with starting to grow my wardrobe again. However, I do still have a small closet and it’s made up of mostly simple, classic pieces that can be mixed and matched multiple ways. A big part of the reason I’ve been able to make such a small wardrobe work over time is because I rely heavily on a selection of well-made essential pieces that I genuinely couldn’t live without. These items are the true workhorses that I wear multiple times a week and do the heavy lifting in my outfits by pairing well with anything and everything. They fit me really well and I feel fantastic wearing them, which is a big part of the reason I reach for them over and over. I thought it might be helpful to share a glimpse into my closet and give a brief overview about my most-worn items, why I love and wear them so much, and how they function in my closet. I’ll link everything at the bottom of each section!


Straight-Leg Jeans

I have two pairs of straight-leg jeans that I wear regularly throughout all four seasons. I like to have one pair in black and one in blue, and that way I know that I have a pair that will work with every single shirt I own. I used to be a die-hard skinny jean wearer, but I’ve been really gravitating towards straight-leg jeans lately. I like how they aren’t as tight or restrictive as skinny jeans, while still remaining form-fitting. This makes them a great choice for adding some shape or definition to a piece that would otherwise feel really flowy or unstructured - such as tunics, shorter dresses, or oversized tops. I also feel like the straight leg is completely classic and will always be in style, no matter what. I always choose a high-waisted jean because I have such a long torso and really short legs. I prefer a rise of at least 12 inches, which has the effect of balancing out my proportions and adding some length to my lower half. My absolute favorite straight-leg jeans are from Agolde, but the Cheeky Straight Jean from Everlane is a very close second at a more affordable price point. I’m also interested to try out the 90s Cheeky Jean from Everlane.


Tapered Pants

Another silhouette that I really love is a tapered, trouser-style pant. Tapered pants are nice to have because, once again, they work really nicely with any shape and size of top, from really loose-fitting to quite tight. They have a silhouette that’s pretty similar to a straight-leg jean, but they’re incredibly comfortable. They also look a little dressier, which is nice for an office setting or transitioning from day to night. My hands-down favorite brand for this style of trouser is Elizabeth Suzann. I really loved her Tilda style (which has been discontinued) but the Andy and Clyde pants are also favorites that are on very regular rotation in my closet. I particularly love my Andy pants in silk - the drape and texture of the fabric highlights their shape and structure so beautifully. 


Andy Trouser: Elizabeth Suzann | Clyde Work Pant: Elizabeth Suzann


Wide-leg Pants

Wide-leg pants are such a fun look! I was really nervous to wear them for the first time because they felt so different from the skinny jeans I was used to, but after picking up my first pair (the Everlane Utility Crop) I was hooked. I find that I don’t wear these quite as much as my more fitted styles because they aren’t as practical for me and sometimes get in the way. They also don’t work with every top; if I were to pair these with a looser shirt or tunic, my petite frame would quickly get lost in all the fabric. However, they’re still a style that I wear really often and they make an outfit look instantly put together and chic. I really love how polished I feel when I put them on! My go-tos are the linen or silk Florence pant from Elizabeth Suzann because they’re so comfortable as well as stylish. I also really like the more structured look of a canvas or denim wide-leg pant, like my Utility Crop pants or the Wide-Leg Chino (which I haven’t tried personally, but have heard amazing things about). I’ve also been eyeing the iconic Kamm sailor pant for years now and am hoping to save up to buy my first pair this fall!


Florence Pant: Elizabeth Suzann | Wide Leg Utility Crop Pant: Everlane | Wide-Leg Chino: Everlane | Sailor Pant: Jesse Kamm



You can’t live in the Midwest without a good pair of shorts for hot, sticky summer days! I have two pairs for this season and will look forward to adding more for future summers as I can afford them. I’ve found that my favorite shorts are pretty much the same style as my favorite pants - high-rise and fitted in the waist with an elastic waistband, and then more free in the hips and thighs for a look that has a little more volume around my legs. I like the vintage vibe of this style, and I also really appreciate the modesty of a slightly longer length. I also feel like the longer, high-waisted style helps lengthen my legs a lot! My two pairs are the Easy Short from Hackwith Design House and the Aura Short from Harley Jae. The Easy Short is so lightweight and comfortable and absolutely perfect for the hottest days. The Aura Short is made out of the most gorgeous, textured hemp fabric that gives them such a unique look, and I often reach for them when I want to feel a little bit dressier. I love having both a light and a dark pair of shorts because of all the styling options each color opens up! 


Easy Short: Hackwith Design House | Aura Short: Harley Jae


Simple Tees

Everyone needs to have a handful of good, basic tees in their wardrobe! They go with everything and can be used in every season: you can wear them on their own, layer them under a dress, or pair them with a cardigan. I always wear a tee under my sweaters in the winter, which adds an extra layer of warmth, keeps my sensitive skin from itching, and protects my sweaters, too. My favorites are almost all from Everlane; their tees are high-quality, come in a wonderful range of colors, and are so affordable. I really love the textured look of their micro-rib tees. These are my first choice to wear under dresses or jumpsuits, but I also love them on their own with a pair of pants. The ribbed fabric and longer sleeves help to elevate them from just a normal basic to a piece that’s a little more stylish and unique. I also love Everlane’s cotton crew. I haven’t been wearing this style as often as I used to since we closed Botany (which you can read about here), but when I was working barista shifts every day, these tees were definitely my work uniform. Tradlands also has amazingly soft, high-quality tees if you’re looking to invest a little more money in one that might last you a longer period of time.


Pima Micro Rib Scoop-Neck Tee: Everlane | Pima Micro Rib Crew Tee: Everlane | Cotton Crew: Everlane | Box Tee: Tradlands


Tanks + Camis

Tank tops or camis serve a similar function to tees but are more specific to the summer months. I pretty much live in a tank top + shorts or a skirt all summer long! Two of my favorite tanks are once again from Everlane: the Clean Silk Cami and the Air Cami. Both of these tank tops are long enough to tuck in but also look nice untucked for a more flowy, casual look. I also wear my Petra Crop from Elizabeth Suzann very frequently, and it’s the perfect length to wear with my many high-waisted bottoms. The linen fabric is so breathable and wonderful for summertime, but I wear my Petra throughout the cooler seasons under a cardigan, as well.


Clean Silk Cami: Everlane | Air Cami: Everlane | Petra Crop: Elizabeth Suzann



I’ve also found that it’s really important to include at least one turtleneck in my wardrobe. I love the classic alabaster option from KOTN because it’s thin enough to wear under other pieces, but is completely opaque and can also be worn on its own without any anxiety about my bra showing through. I wear my turtleneck most often under dresses and jumpsuits in the winter - I try really hard to wear as many of my pieces as I can through all four seasons of the year, and layering a turtleneck under warmer-weather pieces has been so helpful with that! I also really like the look of a turtleneck tucked into a skirt with tights, or with a good pair of high-waisted pants. 



Minnesota winters are absolutely brutal, and have been especially so the past two seasons. We’ve had foot after foot of snow from multiple blizzards, many sub-zero days, and the season has lasted from early November until late April. It’s not a stretch to say that I literally would not survive winter without warm, cozy sweaters to help block out the cold. I’ve really fallen in love with cashmere over the past few years, and I’ve purchased all of mine from Everlane. Once again, they have lots of colors and styles, and the quality for the price just can’t be beaten. My favorite styles are the turtleneck, the crew neck, and the v-neck; this covers just about every situation and creates plenty of opportunities for versatile pairings. I love cashmere because it’s so warm without the sweater needing to be really heavy or chunky. I have pretty sensitive skin and have never had a problem with irritation from these sweaters like I sometimes get from a more scratchy kind of wool. The cashmere is really soft and gentle. I also love cotton sweaters, and the Modern Fisher sweater from Tradlands gets lots of wear all through fall and winter as well as into spring. The cotton is warm and so gentle on the skin, and I love the texture of the cable-knit fisher sweater design!


Cashmere Crew: Everlane | Cashmere Turtleneck: Everlane | Cashmere V-Neck: Everlane | Fisher Sweater: Tradlands (linked to updated version)



I also wouldn’t be able to make it through winter without at least one cardigan. I like to choose cardigans in the most neutral colors to make sure they pair well with all of my tops. The natural cotton cardigan from Babáa was my favorite this past season, and I have my eye on L’envers as my next brand to try when the weather turns cold again. I love that both of these companies offer cotton as an option alongside wool so that I don’t have to worry about itchiness. I also rely on cardigans to carry me through fall and spring, so it’s really essential that they’re high-quality, long-lasting, and classic enough to wear month after month. 


Skirts, Dresses, and Jumpsuits

As much as I love pants, I also like to have a few options for a more dressy, feminine, free-flowing look. I don’t own a huge number of dresses and skirts because the styling options tend to be a bit more limited. However, I love wearing them throughout the summer because they’re so cool and breezy, and I’m learning how to style them in the colder months, as well. My favorite skirt hands-down is the linen Bel Skirt from Elizabeth Suzann, which I managed to score second-hand. However, I love it enough that I’m strongly considering adding a silk one to my closet at some point, as well. I really appreciate the midi length, the high rise, and the soft pleating in the shape from the elastic waistband. For dresses, the Georgia dress from Elizabeth Suzann is one I wear really frequently, and Everlane’s new shirtdress has been more than pulling its weight this summer, too. Another place I love to shop for dresses is Not Perfect Linen; their styles are simple, timeless, and so easy. I also love jumpsuits for their ability to be such a simple, one-and-done outfit that still looks so polished and classy. I don’t wear these as often as dresses because I don’t like using the restroom in them, but they’re a wonderful option in every other way!


Bel Skirt: Elizabeth Suzann | Georgia Dress: Elizabeth Suzann | Cotton Weave Collarless Shirtdress: Everlane | Smock Linen Dress: Not Perfect Linen



When it comes to shoes, I have a relatively small collection. I try to make sure that I always have one pair of each of these styles: sandals, flats, mules, heels, ankle boots, taller boots, and some kind of clog. Mules and clogs are definitely my most-worn styles; I wear them on their own in the summer and with socks in the colder weather, and the fact that I can make them appropriate for all seasons is what draws me to them again and again. However, I do also really like to have a pair of flats and heels for some variety, sandals are a must for the summer, and boots are even more important for the winter months. My two favorite shoe companies are Nisolo and Everlane, and they make up the majority of my collection. I’ve also been really impressed with St. Agni and Bryr Clogs and plan to purchase more from them in future years. I purchased a pair of taller boots (currently sold out) from Aquatalia during an amazing sale last winter, and I couldn’t believe I’d managed without them before because they made styling wide-leg and cropped pants throughout the winter so, so much easier. They are the most expensive pair of shoes I own, but the fact that I wore them to death and they’re in near-perfect condition after a six-month Minnesota winter makes them completely worth it in my book.


Liria Double Strap Heel: Inné Studios | Modern Loafer: Everlane | Paris Woven Mule: St. Agni Studio | Paloma Mule: Nisolo (linked to similar)


Day Heel: Everlane | Boss Boot: Everlane | Isa Boot: Nisolo | Janine Boot (similar): Aquatalia


Emma Closed-Toe Clog: Bryr Clogs | Old School Clog: No. 6 Store


That pretty much wraps up my closet essentials! I do own a few other pieces outside of the categories listed above, but these are far and away the items that get the most use in my day-to-day looks. As I continue to grow my wardrobe, I’m looking forward to greater variety and a few more options! But this core collection of pieces has served me so well over the past three years and will continue to do so for a long time to come. I hope this is helpful to think about if you’re considering a capsule wardrobe or simply starting fresh with more quality pieces!



All opinions are my own, and this post is not sponsored by any brands. It does contain affiliate links, which gives me a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support and the way it keeps my blog going! A handful of these items were gifted to me, but I purchased the majority of them myself over years and fully support each of these companies.


Summer Staples with Everlane


After an unbearably long Minnesota winter that lasted from early November until the end of April, I am so thrilled that it’s finally summer! I always look forward to walking around outside without a coat, not to mention the longer evenings, generally sunny weather, and delicious food that Aaron cooks on the grill! However, dressing for summer isn’t always my favorite. I love layering and I’m usually a little less comfortable with lots of skin showing.


Enter Everlane and their beautiful, classic, quality pieces. I mentioned on Instagram a little while ago that I was accepted as an Everlane affiliate, and this is my first blog post written in collaboration with the brand. I’ve been a huge supporter of Everlane for years: I made my first purchase (The Street Shoe) in 2015 and Everlane has been a staple in my closet ever since! They are my go-to for denim, basic staples like t-shirts, sweaters, shoes, and even undergarments! The quality of Everlane clothing is top-notch, and they work closely with their factories to maintain a healthy environment for their workers. They are also careful to keep any negative impact on the environment as low as possible, and they are very transparent about all of their endeavors. In addition, Everlane keeps their prices very affordable, which makes the brand much more accessible than lots of slow fashion brands. You can read more about their sustainability practices here. I am so thrilled that I have the chance to be an affiliate for a brand that I have supported for so long! Two of the pieces in this post were gifted to me, and the others I purchased myself.


Let’s start out with the Cotton Weave Collarless Shirtdress, which was so kindly sent to me by Everlane. For reference, I am 5’3, and my waist is 23.5 inches, and my bust and hips are both 33 inches. I ordered a 00 in the dress and the fit is perfect; roomy, but not too loose. I can already tell that this dress is going to be something I reach for frequently this season (in fact, I’ve worn it three times since receiving it a week ago, ha!), and I’m really looking forward to styling it for fall and spring weather, as well. The whole idea behind the Cotton Weave Collarless Shirtdress is that it’s a really easy, stylish one-and-done outfit that looks polished and chic without much effort. And it definitely delivers! The dress is 100% cotton, which makes it really breathable and cool. I was a little skeptical of it working well for me in the summer because of the longer sleeves, but I wore it on a mid-80 degree day and felt comfortable all day long. The cotton is soft and textured and feels really lovely against the skin - even better than I was expecting from the photos. I would normally choose the feel of linen over cotton every time, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the cotton weave fabric. The Cotton Weave Shirtdress is available in four colors: I got navy/white mini stripe, and there’s also a plain navy, covert green (which is a gorgeous olive tone) and blue/white wide stripe.


There are a lot of things that I really love about this dress. It hits me a couple of inches above the knee, which is a wonderful length; it’s long enough that I’m not worried about flashing anyone, but it’s still short enough to help me stay cool and to give the effect of lengthening my short legs. I do want to note here that I’m quite a bit shorter than the Everlane model at 5’3,” so it does look significantly longer on me than is shown on the website.


The sleeves are Everlane’s ‘blouson’ style, meaning that they flare slightly towards the ends and are then gathered in at a tight cuff, which creates a gentle puff sleeve. They are whimsical and feminine, and I love the chic feel that they lend to the dress while still remaining practical and not overly voluminous. I initially balked a little bit at the longer sleeves because I work with my hands and generally prefer my sleeves to be either short or pushed back behind my elbows. I was skeptical of how well that would work with this dress, but they stayed out of the way really nicely whenever I needed them to. The belt is wide, so it tapers in at the knot and forms an elegant silhouette at the waist. I also really liked the simple, no-fuss collarless style. Last but not least, the dress has pockets, which is always a huge plus! They’re big enough to be practical, but are also smooth and low profile so there’s no added volume near the hips.


Everlane: Cotton Weave Collarless Shirtdress and Day Heel | Windblown Jewelry: Uplifted Necklace | Jewels & Aces: Earring Capsule


I wore this piece styled very simply because it was a warm summer day - I just added a brass necklace, earrings, and shoes and called it good, which is right in line with how the dress was designed! But I could tell immediately that it is going to be really versatile, and I’m looking forward to styling it in lots of different ways. The dress would look great un-belted for a more relaxed look, with a blazer for working in an office, over jeans on a cooler day, with a cardigan in the spring or fall, with a sweater over the top for a shirt and skirt kind of look, or even unbuttoned all the way down and used as a jacket. It can be dressed up with jewelry and a nice pair of heels, or it can be dressed down with mules or tennis shoes and a sweater.


On Friday morning, I put this on right away and wore it throughout the entire day to really see how it felt. I sometimes get tired of wearing dresses after a few hours and swap to a shirt and pants, but I didn’t feel the desire to do that at any point with this dress! I wore it to coffee with Aaron in the morning, through the entire workday in my studio, and then out again for dinner and drinks in the evening. I would have happily worn it on our usual evening walk, as well, but rain came along and canceled our plans.


The only con that I could find in the dress is that the fabric wrinkles a little bit, which is to be expected with cotton. I don’t mind a slightly rumpled look, but the cotton weave material would iron or steam very easily for a more professional, clean style. I also noticed that the dress stretched a small amount throughout the day (mostly at the tied waistband and the sleeve cuffs), but it was minor and would certainly shrink back after being washed. 


The shoes that I paired the Cotton Weave Collarless Shirtdress with are the Day Heel in natural suede, also kindly gifted to me by Everlane. I have been eyeing the Day Heel for months and months and was so excited to give this pair a try! I was really nervous about wearing such a light-colored shoe, but I’m happy to report that the pale suede held up really well throughout the day! I absolutely love the texture and look of suede, and most of my shoes are in shades of tan or brown so the lighter color really filled a hole for me. I did spill my drink on the heels on Friday night (classic), but with a little elbow grease the stain came right out and the shoes are good as new! 


I honestly haven’t worn a pair of heels in years! I’ve either worked as a barista or worked from home since 2013, so I never really saw the need to own a dressier shoe. However, in the last few months I’ve really been missing a shoe that would add instant polish to my outfit, and these fit the bill so, so well. The heel is the ideal size; it adds some height to my petite frame, but is still really easy to walk in. I’m one of those people who is driven crazy by ‘toe cleavage,’ and the toe of the Day Heel covers all of my toes no problem. I also absolutely love how easy it is to slip right into these shoes, and the loop + elastic at the back really help with that. 


The Day Heel is called the Day Heel because they’re supposed to be comfortable enough to walk in all day long, despite the fact that they’re heels. I had read a few reviews suggesting that sizing up is a good idea in this style, but I stuck with my normal size (6) because I didn’t want the shoes to slip off my feet as I walked. I originally planned to wear the Day Heel all day to see if they held up to the hype, but it felt a little pointless to have them on at my desk in my studio so I didn’t stick to that. Still, I did wear them for a good number of hours, and while I found them to be mostly comfortable, I think it’ll take a few more wears to break them in for that really perfect fit. I noticed a slight hot spot on the outer ball of my right foot, but it was only minor and I’m confident that the leather will relax and mold well to my feet over the next few wears (update: I also wore these most of the day on Sunday and already felt a significant improvement. There is a break-in phase, but it’s quick and mostly painless). My biggest concern was that the shoes would slip off at the back, and while that did happen once, I really liked the way that the gathered heel area helped them stay on. It took me a few minutes to adjust to walking in heels again (I’ve been living in mules and boots for so long), but the transition was easier than I thought and I really enjoyed how lightweight the heels felt.


I have a normal foot - neither wide nor narrow - and I found that these ran true to size. I wouldn’t mind a tiny bit more space in the toe area, but I think a larger size would mean that the heels would be more prone to slipping off my feet so I’m happy I stuck with my normal 6. I absolutely love the clean lines and simple, elegant style of the Day Heel, and I won’t be at all surprised if I end up adding the Pecan leather color to my wardrobe before too long.


I also wanted to briefly mention a couple of other Everlane items that I added to my closet for the summer weather and have been so impressed with! I went into this season with only a couple of sleeveless, warm-weather-appropriate tops, so I ordered the Air Cami and the Clean Silk Cami to fill that hole in my closet. I have been so happy that I added these pieces this year! 


Everlane: Clean Silk Cami | Elizabeth Suzann: Florence Pant | Everlane: Day Heel | Windblown Jewelry: Uplifted Necklace

Silk is one of my top favorite fabrics to wear, and The Clean Silk Cami is no exception to that rule. The fabric is smooth, light, and so flowy. I ordered the Grey-White color (size 0) and the double-lining really prevents even such a pale color from being sheer. I have used nude undergarments and there has been absolutely no show-through. I really love the simple design of the tank; the spaghetti straps are very delicate, and the scoop neck is elegant and chic. The cami is long enough to tuck in easily (my preferred way to style pretty much any top), but would also look really pretty un-tucked. I’ve only worn the Clean Silk Cami on the hottest days of the summer so far, but it would also look great under a blazer for work, and I’m sure I’ll layer it under cardigans to stretch it through into cooler seasons!


Everlane: Air Cami | Elizabeth Suzann: Florence Pant | Everlane: Day Heel | Windblown Jewelry: Uplifted Necklace

I have also been really happy with the Air Cami, which I ordered in black (XS). I am normally an XXS in Everlane tops, but I sometimes size up to an XS because of my bust. I think I could have gone with XXS here because it is designed to have a relaxed fit - I ended up sending it through the washer and dryer once and was really happy with the fit afterwards. The Air Cami is made out of a very light cotton that is slightly sheer, which once again makes it perfect for those unbearably hot summer days. The cotton is so soft and drapes beautifully, which makes this tank perfect for tucking in or leaving untucked. It has a curved hemline, which is a really nice detail that elevates the style! Since I ordered the cami in black, I haven’t had any issues with sheerness, but I might be a little concerned about that in a lighter color. The double-v neckline of the cami is such a fun detail; I am all about a dramatic back, and it also helps with keeping me cool! The straps are just wide enough for normal bra straps, but I prefer to wear a strapless option just so I don’t have to think about it at all.


All four of these pieces are going to be staples for my summer wardrobe and I’m so excited to continue wearing them throughout the course of the year! I hope that hearing my take on these items has been helpful and informative. I’m happy to answer any questions and would love to hear about your Everlane favorites in the comments below! 


All opinions are my own, and this post is not sponsored by Everlane. It does contain affiliate links, which gives me a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support! The Cotton Weave Collarless Shirtdress and the Day Heel were gifted to me.


Life Update - May 2019


I’ve been pretty sporadic about blogging lately, and I wanted to check in with a few life updates that explain my absence! May 2019 ended up being an unexpectedly crazy month for us, and I’m really hoping that things settle down from here on out for a more relaxing summer.


First of all, it’s wedding season! Wedding season is always my busiest time of year. I spend a lot of time designing invitations for autumn weddings as well as day-of items for summer brides, usually with some logo and branding design thrown in to switch things up a bit! I’m probably going to sound like a horrible stationer when I say this, but wedding season is hands down my least favorite time of the year as far as work goes. I really look forward to shipping out orders and calendars during the holiday season and I also love working with brands throughout the year! But I get stressed and anxious easily and I also have a chronic disease that requires me to get plenty of rest, so wedding season - with all its due dates and many projects - isn’t really my cup of tea.


In a very unexpected turn of events, Aaron also got appendicitis early in May. It was such a weird experience and I still feel like it didn’t really happen to us, ha! It all started with some light abdominal pain on Aaron’s left side while he was doing yard work early in the evening. He came in shortly afterwards and tried to soothe the pain for awhile before noticing that it had migrated over to his right side. I wasn’t too worried initially, but when he sat down to dinner and only ate two tiny slices of pizza, I started to get concerned. A short while later he started getting chills, and when we checked he had a low-grade fever. We still didn’t really think it was appendicitis because his pain wasn’t the excruciating kind that you always hear horror stories about, but since he had several of the classic symptoms he decided to go to the ER at around 11pm. Poor Aaron wasn’t seen until nearly 4 in the morning, but at that point he was tested and told he had signs of appendicitis. After that, we stayed in a shared room with lots of very ill elderly men and nurses until about 9am, when we were wheeled upstairs for his surgery preparation. He finally went in for his procedure around 10:30am, and I sat watching his operation number on an electronic board for the next hour. It was such a strange experience, watching his progress through the surgery the same way I’ve watched for flight arrivals and departures on the electronic board at the airport. After speaking with the surgeon and hearing that everything had gone well, I made a quick trip home to freshen up and grab a few things, and I made it back to the hospital just in time to see Aaron starting to come out of his anesthetic. 


We arrived back home around 4pm and settled in for the recovery period. The first night was pretty rough - lots of pain, poor sleep quality for both of us, and trying to manage symptoms with various heat pads, ice packs, and meds - but things really started looking up after that. Aaron had to stay on the couch most of the time for about a week, and then we started to slowly venture out for short walks and trips.


Nine days later, Aaron was able to open Botany up again. The coffee shop was staffed by just him and me from March onwards, so his surgery meant that the shop had to close down completely. Aaron worked half days for his first weekend back and opened up for full hours shortly afterwards. However, being closed for eight days was a huge blow to a business as young and small as Botany was, and we knew we needed to seriously consider the future of the company.


Aaron and I have both put so much into Botany, and we really clung to the idea of keeping it open through most of his recovery period. You can read more about the plans for and origins of the company here! Honestly, though, both of us knew the minute he got his diagnosis that the surgery + full recovery time of 4 - 6 weeks was almost certainly going to mean the end of the company. We debated back and forth and decided to give staying open a shot for just a few days before reality set in and we had to accept the truth. Botany is now closed, and May 27, 2019 was our last day of business.


While we were both devastated at the thought of closing initially, it’s definitely had its benefits. The whole time Botany was open, Aaron was working roughly 80 - 100 hours a week. He would wake at 5 - 5:30am, leave for work at 6, and usually didn’t arrive home until around 8pm. After getting home, there were always emails, orders, and other back-end business matters for him to attend to. We got to spend roughly 30 minutes to one hour together a few days a week. For several months, that was his schedule all seven days of the week. We eventually decided to be closed on Tuesdays in order to give him a day off and also to give us some time together, which was a huge relief. 


While Aaron was working his intense Botany schedule, I was working 70 - 80 hours a week myself, and also tackled taking care of two pets and keeping our house clean, errands run, meals planned, and groceries bought. I worked at Botany over lunch every day so that Aaron could sit down and eat, and I also worked a few hours a day on weekends during our busiest times. We would close down the shop together a couple of times a week (those were what we considered our dates for awhile) and we would sometimes stay for a longer night of deep cleaning and/or miscellaneous cafe duties. I also felt the pressure (induced by our bills, not at all put on me by Aaron) to take on much more client work than I would normally do in order to provide financially for us through the Botany years. In the past two years, I’ve completed fifty-one invitation suites and forty-six branding projects - as well as creating paintings for two calendars and releasing new webshop products - and I would ideally like to be doing about half of that.


Needless to say, we knew that we couldn’t keep up that pace forever. I started feeling it before Aaron did. I’ve historically been a pretty happy and positive person, but I’ve always appreciated a slow pace and thrived off of plenty of time to rest and relax. I like to keep semi-busy, but a schedule that allowed for nothing but work wasn’t sustainable for me and I knew it. I knew that something needed to change when I started noticing signs of hopelessness and depression in my normally chipper and positive personality. I found myself unable to complete basic chores or cook for us because I was just too mentally exhausted, and it was very difficult to get out of bed in the morning to face the day. Anxiety is something that’s always hovering close to the surface for my personality type (INFJ, 6w5 if you’re into personality tests), but it went out of control in the past few months and I was quickly becoming a slave to my fears and worries. 


So when we got the news about the appendicitis, we knew it was time. Even in the one week that Aaron was home and recovering, I noticed a huge improvement in my mood and mental health. Aaron is extremely resilient both mentally and physically, but our hectic life was starting to take its toll on him, too. When he went back to work, we both expected him to be thrilled and love being back in the shop. The reality was that he didn’t enjoy being there at all, was overwhelmed by negativity, and just wanted to be back at home. When it’s all said and done, we’re so grateful for the appendicitis because it really took the decision out of our hands and forced us off in a new direction.


So what’s next for us? Aaron is going to school for full stack development, and we’re really excited to see what’s in store. His program starts in just over a month, so he has some time to rest and recuperate prior to the start of school. It’s an intensive nine-month program, but we’re used to being under pressure! :) We haven’t been able to go on vacation since before Botany opened, so we might try to take a short trip somewhere before our next MN-bound phase of life during the school term. I’m going to continue designing and probably won’t be able to drop back on my workload while Aaron is in school, but having him around the house makes a huge difference and he’ll be more free to help me with business-related issues and chores. We are also going to have weekends free for the first time in our relationship! We met as baristas, and the other jobs we’ve had over the years (for me: being a florist and decorating cakes, for Aaron: working in an Amazon fulfillment center) have required weekends, as well. This past Saturday - Sunday was our first weekend off in well over two years, excepting the week while Aaron was recovering from surgery - which doesn’t really count in my book. I’m so excited for the chance to make weekends special through simple things like regular church attendance, trips to new cafes and restaurants, and long walks! We are also looking forward to being able invest in friendships again!


We have both been so, so grateful for the experience of Botany, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We both love coffee so much and I’m inexpressibly proud of my husband for putting everything on the line and pursuing his dream whole-heartedly. I genuinely believe that we both gave the shop 110% for the entire two years, and I’m so glad we didn’t hold back. I know that I will look back on this time of our life as a very special and unique season, and I’m eternally grateful for that. I’m also so thankful for the ways our marriage was strengthened! We knew going into the endeavor that the stress and time commitment required were inevitably going to put a strain on our relationship, and while there were definite low points and hard times, our experiences ultimately brought us closer together. We’ve both had times in our marriage so far that have required periods of self-sacrifice for the other person, and it’s usually one spouse sacrificing for the other for awhile before circumstances change and it flips, so the other person has the chance to sacrifice. My most tangible period of sacrificial love for Aaron has definitely been getting through Botany, and I have felt so fulfilled by and grateful for the opportunity to love him and support him in this time. I know this sounds so cheesy, but being his wife has been the most amazing opportunity of my life so far and I was so, so thrilled to have the chance to be his support system through Botany. In our 4.5 years of marriage, we have dealt with financial strain, living in three states, chronic illness, eight different jobs, surgery, the loss of an important friendship, three new pets and one pet death, buying and slowly renovating our first house, the start of two businesses, and the end of Botany. It’s been a crazy ride, but I am so thankful for what we’ve experienced and I believe that it will help us make it through whatever tough times are to come in our future.


I wrote an Instagram post on the day Botany closed for good, and I feel that the words I said then were the most accurate since I was in the midst of feeling all of those emotions very keenly. I’ll end my post by repeating those words:

“Today was the end of an era for Aaron and I. Since we met in 2012, I’ve known of his dream to open a coffee shop. Since we started dating in 2013, I’ve entered whole-heartedly into that dream with him. It’s been a part of our relationship and our future goals since even before our first official date. We dreamed and planned and worked towards it for years, finally opening up in July of 2017. Now, due to the long recovery time from his appendectomy, we knew it was time to close. It feels like losing an old friend, like saying goodbye to a piece of Aaron’s and my relationship. It’s going to take a long time to adjust. It is truly a grieving process. Yet amidst all of the sadness and emotional exhaustion I’ve experienced this week, I am also relieved and hopeful. Opening Botany was the hardest and most demanding thing either of us has ever done, and we are looking forward to a more balanced and healthy lifestyle. I’m excited to see what is next for us, and most of all, I am excited that I get to experience whatever is coming with Aaron. I’m more proud than I can express of Aaron, how he literally gave everything he had to his dream, and of all that he accomplished.”


Photos of Aaron and I by Emilie Anne Szabo.


Button-Up Three Ways


This is my first outfit post and I’m both excited and a little nervous to share it with you! I decided to keep things simple and classic with a button-up and several different ways I’ve been wearing mine so far this spring. 

I haven’t really enjoyed wearing button-ups in the past, for some reason, but something changed this year and now I can’t get enough of them! I absolutely love how versatile they are, and a good button-up is such a classic piece that won’t get old or go out of style. The top in these photos is the first one I got this season, and since then I’ve purchased three more button-ups to fill the gap that I had in my closet for basic, go-with-anything tops.

The button-up I chose for this post is the Box Top in Emerald Bamboo by Tradlands. I am an affiliate with Tradlands and they are the first company that reached out to work with me, so they hold a really special place in my heart! Tradlands specializes in high-quality, well-made basics that are menswear-inspired and will stand the test of time. They are a small team of four amazing women, which speaks to me even more, as I also run a small business with a very small staff! They are committed to sustainability and ethical practices, which you can read more about here.

The Box Top fits so well in my closet and definitely embodies everything that Tradlands stands for. The fit is spot-on! Tradlands uses eight buttons to eliminate gaping or poor fit in the bust which I really value. There is also a really lovely curved hem that adds so much interest to the shape of this top. Bamboo isn’t a fabric that I’ve tried before, but I’ve been so happy with it; it’s so soft and comfortable, and it drapes beautifully. I also love the rich, deep green Emerald color! I’m all about neutrals, but this top is the perfect pop of color in my wardrobe. It’s brighter and richer than anything else I own, but it’s still neutral enough that it works well with most of my bottoms and cardigans and I still feel comfortable in it! Now, let’s look at some different ways to style the Box Top.

Loose and untucked.

The first way that I styled this top is the simplest. I wanted to highlight the lovely drape of the fabric and also the unique hem! The curved hemline makes the un-tucked look so much more flattering and prevented me from feeling frumpy, even though the fit of the top is a little oversized. I paired the top with my favorite black skinny jeans and a pair of woven mules and could have been good to go. However, I chose to add a sculptural pair of statement earrings and braid my hair to add a little more interest to the simple way I styled this! I felt really artsy in this outfit, and I love how simple and easy to throw on it is! I felt put together but still casual, and the look was so comfortable. I’d wear this outfit for just about any casual occasion!


Everlane: Cigarette Jean | St. Agni: Woven Paris Mules in Almond | Shop Indio: Kelsie Earrings


Tucked into a skirt with a v-neck.

I wanted to get a little more creative with styling my Box top, so I tried unbuttoning the top three buttons and opening the collar, so that the lapels lay flat against my collarbone and shoulders instead of staying up around my neck. I haven’t styled button-ups this way before, and while it wouldn’t work with every neckline (i.e. a Peter Pan style collar), I really love the look with this top! The soft bamboo fabric helps the collar lie flat, and it stayed in place well while I was taking photos. For a slightly dressier and more summer-appropriate look, I paired the top with my linen Bel skirt from Elizabeth Suzann. I love the contrast of the textured flax linen with the smooth, deep green of the top! The high-waisted skirt also adds length and height to my petite figure. I opted to wear tan-colored clogs for footwear to tie in with my skirt and then added a simple, delicate gold necklace to complete the look. This is a dressier way to style the button-up, and I’d be most likely to wear it on a date with Aaron or to dinner with friends or family.

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Elizabeth Suzann: Bel Skirt | Bryr Clogs: Emma Closed-Toe in Bone Nubuck | Mejuri: Zodiac Necklace (gifted)


Tied at the waist.

My final way of styling the Box Top was also new to me, although I’ve seen many others wear their button-ups this way! I have been loving the look of button-ups being tied at the waist, and I knew this would be the perfect top to try the style out with for the first time. Because of the drape and flow of the fabric, the tie was relaxed and rested easily against my waist, rather than getting in the way or being in danger of falling out. I feel most comfortable when I’m not showing too much skin, so I intentionally kept the hemline of the top at a place where it overlapped with my waistband. I also chose to button the top buttons instead of going with more of a v-neck look, just in case the hemline did ride up and show my stomach at some point! I wanted to accentuate my waist with this look, so I paired the top with a floaty pair of silk Florence pants. Honestly, this outfit really felt like wearing pajamas even though it looks fairly dressy, which is always a win! I really wanted the beauty of each of elegant, well-made piece to speak for itself, so I finished everything off simply with my St. Agni mules and left it at that. This look could work for just about anything - it’s easily comfortable enough for running errands or working from home, but is dressy enough for dinner, drinks, or meetings!

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Elizabeth Suzann: Florence Pants | St. Agni: Woven Paris Mules in Almond


I hope you enjoyed this post, and that you might have been encouraged to try wearing a button-up top in a new or creative way! 

All opinions are my own, and this post is not sponsored by Tradlands. It does contain an affiliate link, which gives me small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support! The Box Top in Emerald Bamboo was gifted to me, but I have also purchased items from Tradlands on my own and fully support the company and their ethics!


Criteria I Use When Purchasing Clothes


When I first started working towards a more curated, ethically built wardrobe, my initial step was to purge my closet of everything that I didn’t wear on a regular basis. While the amount of clothing I had was never completely out of control, I did have quite a lot, and there were tons of pieces that I was never wearing! It felt so good to clean everything out. I was able to get my entire closet down to about 30 pieces (excluding shoes) for all four seasons of the year.


For a while, I was really proud of that number. I loved the idea of a capsule wardrobe, and since we used to live on an extremely low budget, it worked out really well for our lifestyle. However, unsurprisingly, I started to feel pretty limited after about a year of having my wardrobe that small. We very much get all four seasons in Minnesota, so making that number of pieces stretch through all different weathers was definitely a challenge! By this time, I felt pretty comfortable in what my style was and which items I would reach for again and again, so I was confident in being able to build up my wardrobe again with pieces that I truly loved and would get plenty of wear out of.


Georgia Tee: Elizabeth Suzann | Riley Crop Jean: Agolde | Maxine Crop: Elizabeth Suzann (not currently available) | Straight Leg Crop Pant: Everlane | Bralette: Botanica Workshop | Earrings: Shop Indio | Circle Clip and Slim Clip: Machete


I thought it might be fun to share a list of criteria that I look for when purchasing clothing, which helps to ensure that each piece in my closet will be worth the money that I spend on it. I definitely don’t stick to this perfectly all the time, but it’s been so helpful for me to have guidelines to use when I shop! This keeps me in check so that I’m not impulse-buying or spending money on things that will just sit in the back of my closet month after month. Here are the top things I look for in each piece I buy:


Sheer Blouse: vintage, second-hand | Marlena Tank: Elizabeth Suzann (not currently available) | Tilda Pant: Elizabeth Suzann (discontinued and linked to replacement style) | Linen Tee: Not Perfect Linen
Riley Crop Jean: Agolde | Circle Clip: Machete | Zodiac Necklace: Mejuri (gifted)


Practicality. My biggest clothing pet peeve is having sleeves or hems that get in the way, so making sure that tops can tuck easily is high on my priority list. I also stick to shirts that are either short-sleeved or have a sleeve that can roll up easily! I credit this to the fact that I’m always either a) writing and drawing at my desk, so fluffy or buttoned sleeves really get in the way or b) working at Botany, which calls for lots of dishwashing, hand-washing, and working with ingredients. I’ve learned over the past year or so that if I can’t easily keep the sleeves of a top out of the way, it gets almost no wear. I’ve learned that unique, flowy pieces like wrap tops don’t get worn as much, which is kind of sad! I love the way these tops look, but the bottom line is that I want something that’s really easy to throw on in the morning and will then stay in place throughout the day. I always find myself fussing with the neckline and the tie with wrap tops, and I’ll often take them off in the late afternoon and replace them with a tee or cozy sweater. I don’t wear jumpsuits often (also sad!) because I absolutely hate the hassle of using the restroom when wearing one! For pants, the ones that are easiest to slip into are the ones that get the most wear. If I have to shimmy too much or deal with lots of zippers or buttons, it just feels too complicated for me.


A developed color palette. I love neutrals in every area of my life, and clothing is definitely included in that! When one’s closet is small, it helps so much to make sure that pretty much all the pieces go together well so that you can mix and match multiple ways, resulting in the ability to build more outfits from fewer pieces. My base palette is black, white/cream, grey, camel/oatmeal, brown, and denim. I do add in a few colors here and there (mostly rust/copper, olive green, and navy) but even those stay on the neutral side because that’s just what I feel at home in!


Comfort. This is always a major factor in making sure something gets worn a lot! We all feel good in different things, but for me it has a lot to do with fabric and cut. I’ve always felt most comfortable when I dress modestly, so I’ve learned that if something has a really low neckline or is too tight I probably won’t wear it. I much prefer tops that have a looser fit, and I love tucking them in with high-rise pants for definition. Linen is my favorite fabric to wear, and I also love tencel, silk, and denim. 


Classic style + versatility. I want each piece in my wardrobe to last for years, so I try to stick to classic styles that I won’t tire of quickly or that I won’t desert at the end of a season. This results in a lot of my pieces being simple, but that works really well with my point about practicality! As I mentioned above, I like to be able to wear each different item with multiple other pieces in my closet, so versatility is also really important. I used to feel the pressure to really keep up with each trend that developed throughout the years, but I feel like I make purchases with much more thoughtfulness knowing that I’ll be keeping each item I buy around for a long time!


Rise/Inseam. I only ever purchase high-waisted pants! I can’t remember the last time I bought mid-rise bottoms. I don’t like it when my back (or heaven forbid, my bum) sticks out while I bend over, and I also hate when my stomach shows when I raise up my arms to reach for something. I have a long torso and short legs, and so I prefer a really high rise (12+ inches). I love the leg-lengthening effect that high-waisted pants have! Anything that isn’t high-waisted would stay at the back of my closet 100% of the time. I also prefer cropped pants that hit right at the top of my ankle boots or show a little ankle with flats or heels! I’m petite at 5’3,” so a regular inseam is usually too long and the bottom hem requires rolling up. I don’t like the extra bulk that a roll adds to my silhouette, so cropped is the way to go! For skirts and dresses, I favor a midi length that won’t be too short when I bend or cause me to flash everyone if it gets too windy. I always go for a high rise in skirts, as well.


Plaid Top: second-hand | Andy Trouser: Elizabeth Suzann | Mara Jumpsuite: Elizabeth Suzann (discontinued, new style in progress) | Cashmere Turtleneck: Everlane | Circle Clip: Machete | Zodiac Necklace: Mejuri (gifted)


The rule that I make the most exceptions to out of these is only buying practical items that I know I’ll wear really frequently! I love all of those pieces and they truly are what I reach for day in and day out. But sometimes, I just want something pretty or unique! I have three wrap tops, a couple of pieces with flowy or puffed sleeves, and a handful of jumpsuits because it’s so nice to mix things up a bit and wear a more interesting item sometimes. When I buy these pieces, I just have to make sure that I really, really love them in order to make them worth the money I spend. Decorative pieces also tend to be the most expensive, so I have to think really carefully before committing! I usually think about these for weeks to months before finally making the purchase. I prefer the majority of items in my closet to be ones that I’ll wear many times over, but in my mind, the truly special ones that don’t get worn as often do pull their weight, as well. They may not get worn as frequently, but as long as they stick around for a long time, it’s totally worth it to have a handful of pieces that only get pulled out for special occasions!


I’m doing a wear count for the month of April in order to learn even more about which pieces I choose over and over again! I don’t expect this exercise to completely revolutionize the way I see my closet, but I’m excited to see which pieces I wear the most and which ones take more of a backseat!


Cardigan: Babaà | Boyfriend Shirt: Vetta Capsule | Straight Leg Crop Pant: Everlane | Slim Clip: Machete


Those are some criteria that work really well for me and curating my closet! If you have any tried and true methods for choosing clothes that work year after year, I would love to hear about them!


Starting Out


At the end of 2018, I was feeling so burned out and tired. I absolutely love my job and I feel so grateful daily that I work for myself! However, the combination of me working from home and Aaron working 90+ hours a week away from home had led me into a habit of just working, working, working all the time. By December, I had done 50% more work than the previous year, and I could not figure out what to do with myself when I wasn’t working. I took a couple of weeks off between Christmas and New Years and realized how much I needed to reset. I couldn’t stand the thought of going back to work after my holiday, and that is not the way I want to feel towards the job that is also my greatest passion!

So I decided that it was time to invest more in other interests/hobbies again. I wanted a focus outside of my work and a couple of dedicated activities I could spend time on to intentionally draw me away from my bad work habits! My two other favorite things are fashion and baking, so I started a new ‘lifestyle’ Instagram account to document those things. I found it so refreshing and enjoyable to be on social media just for fun, with no pressure to talk about my products or appear professional before my audience. 


I had already been really into slow fashion since I started my journey a few years back, but actively engaging with others who share the same interest and discovering new brands drew me in even more! I found myself waking with more energy and looking forward to picking out outfits to play around with and share. I was so encouraged every time a follower reached out to me for sizing, fabric, or color advice because it felt like I was able to play a tiny part in helping others explore the very same passion that I have been. I also started blogging again - very casually, and just because I enjoyed it. When I first settled on the idea of starting my own business, I originally thought that lifestyle blogging was the way I wanted to go because I love writing, photography, and reading other peoples’ blogs! I changed direction pretty quickly because drawing and painting has always been my absolute favorite thing, but I still really loved writing those few blog posts early on in our marriage. I wanted to return to that to share more about my favorite brands, our home, and new recipes I tried.

However, over the last few months, I’ve also really struggled with feelings of self-consciousness and doubt, and that’s mostly what I want to talk about today. My fears were - as they so often are - rooted in what other people would think of me. I worried that the people following my business would feel like I was stepping out of my lane and (in some cases) into theirs. I worried that people would wonder why I was trying to start this other thing since I’m already pursuing my passion for art through my job. Why would I need to explore another avenue? Would people think that I was prideful or full of myself because I was posting so many photos of my outfits? Would my friends and acquaintances worry that I was becoming shallow and vacuous? I worried that I looked foolish. I worried that I would appear un-original and uncreative. I wanted to share my thoughts and perspective on slow fashion and on different brands I tried, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be saying anything different or adding any value to what’s already being said. I worried that people would find my outfit posts annoying. I worried about what people would think of my blog - everyone has a blog these days, and I was afraid that people would roll their eyes and think I thought too much of myself when I started sharing my ideas and experiences in that way.


I’ve also struggled with where to take this interest of mine. I started investing more in fashion for fun with the intention of it being a low-stress, enjoyable distraction from the hectic pace of the rest of my life. On the other hand, ethical and sustainable clothing isn’t cheap and we live on a very average income. I started feeling guilty about spending our money on my clothes and taking what could be put towards savings (or something for Aaron) and using it on myself, instead. I am always very intentional about my purchases, but there’s no doubt that my shopping has increased since I started to focus more on fashion. Now that I follow more brands, I see more beautiful new pieces every day, which is highly tempting! I also feel pressure to not repeat my outfits as often since I don’t want my posts to be redundant, which makes shopping for new and fun pieces more appealing. 

I started wondering if I should try to make something more out of my Instagram account or my blog - maybe I should start using hashtags to increase my following and seem more ‘legitimate,’ with the end goal of being able to receive gifted items from brands. Then I wouldn’t have to spend as much of our money on this hobby of mine. Or, if it became something more than a hobby, it would be easier to justify spending the money.

What it all comes down to, though, is that I started my account and sporadic blogging for fun - as a way to de-stress, not to add more complication to our already crazy lives. I started it because I wanted to do something that I enjoy, and that’s how I want to continue. I don’t want to be swimming in my own fears about what other people think of me or let that rule my actions. I don’t want to let anxiety about the opinion of others take away the joy and excitement I felt about investing in a passion.


There is an attitude in our country these days that encourages people to monetize their passions. It’s almost like there is an expectation that when someone has a hobby, the next step will be to turn it into some sort of business or side-hustle. I’ve heard this talked about more and more lately, and it’s really gotten me thinking. I think it’s wonderful that people are able to pursue their passions and work for themselves (as I have done), but I also don’t think we should all have that as an expectation. I think I have been feeling that pressure to monetize my interest in slow fashion, but there is no need, and I don’t want that to take the fun out of what I’m doing.

I also think it’s really important to note that - because ethical/sustainable fashion often has such a high price point - it often seems unattainable for the average person. So many style bloggers/Instagrammers receive gifted items or do sponsored content, and that is a big part of the reason that they have the wardrobes they do. And don’t get me wrong - I don’t have any problem with people accepting ads, gifts, or sponsored items in moderation! I know that’s a part of many peoples’ business models which also benefits clothing companies. However, I have always wanted my slow fashion journey to be very relatable, and in order to keep it that way I need to purchase the majority of my wardrobe myself. So far, I have accepted two gifted items, both from the same wonderful small company. Everything else I own has been either purchased by me or given to me by a family member. I’m proud of the fact that I can speak from a place of experience when it comes to shopping ethically on a budget, because that’s how my whole wardrobe has been built and that’s how it will continue to be built.


I wanted to write this from a place of transparency and honesty, in hopes that I can encourage other people going through similar feelings of self-consciousness, doubt, or anxiety. I had to talk all this through at length, both with a dear friend and with my husband, before sorting all of the negative voices out from the truths of why I’ve started doing what I’m doing. If we could all simply be ourselves and honestly live out our thoughts and passions, it would be so freeing! This is my first small step in that direction. I don’t know exactly where this is going or where it’s going to end up, but I’m ready to pursue it without letting doubts and anxiety being the loudest voices in my head (so cheesy, but true!). I’m going to end this with a quote that my friend shared with me that was really encouraging:

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

- C.S. Lewis 


Slow Fashion on a Budget

There are a lot of people who feel that sustainable fashion isn’t possible for them because the cost can be so high, so I wanted to share about how it works for me! I have only ever been gifted one item from a brand, and all my other slow fashion pieces have been bought by me or given by a family member. 


I’ve always been on a tight budget for clothes, from the time that I had to slowly save up my allowance as a teenager to when I was a struggling barista to when my business was brand new to now. Aaron is currently not earning much since he just opened a brick-and-mortar business. My business has grown over the past year, and we’re just now beginning to make an income that’s considered ‘average’ for the city of St. Paul (and let’s be real - I freelance, so that could change at any time!). But prior to the second half of 2018, our shared income was far below average, and my slow fashion journey started while our funds were at their lowest. Here are the top ways I’ve been able to afford the wardrobe I have: 

1) It takes time. I started investing in ethical and sustainable pieces three years ago. I still have a couple of pieces from Madewell, and everything else is made by small, sustainable, mostly women-owned businesses. But it’s taken me a full three years to get here! Because each item I buy is quite expensive, it takes careful planning and saving before making each purchase. This is one of the things I love about slow fashion: how carefully it makes you consider each item of clothing you choose.


2) I buy less and it lasts longer. As I mentioned in my last post, I used to impulse shop constantly and there were plenty of items in my wardrobe that I only wore a handful of times - or that fell apart after a couple of wears. The things I bought were cheap, but I bought them often. Now, I spend a lot more per item, but the number of things in my closet is drastically decreased. I have just over 50 pieces in total for all seasons. Since each piece is versatile and pairs with multiple items in my closet, I’m rarely bored and still feel like I have lots of options to choose from! That “I-have-a-full-closet-but-nothing-to-wear” feeling hasn’t been an issue for me in a long time. Each piece has also been made to last, and almost every single item I’ve bought in the past three years is still in great condition.

3) Creating a list for each season. I always make a loose list in my head at the beginning of each season change of which pieces I want to buy and then save for those. The list is usually very short - just three-ish items for each season - which keeps costs down. If I think carefully enough about the things I might need or want, I truly love the pieces I buy and feel content throughout the season.

4) Mix and match between lower-cost basics and higher-cost pieces. Elizabeth Suzann is my number one example of a more expensive brand I adore whose clothes are very functional, but also more special/more interesting than my most basic basics (some other examples of these brands are Only Child, Hackwith Design, etc). I buy my plain tees, jeans, sweaters, and most shoes from more affordable brands like Everlane. As another example, I am itching to buy some beautiful knits from Lauren Manoogian and L’Envers and I would also love to add to my one Babaa cardigan, but those items are expensive enough that I can only buy one per winter season. To fill in the gaps, I love purchasing from bigger companies that are still transparent and producing a high quality product, and that really helps balance out my costs.


5) Sample sales are amazing! As I just mentioned, I prefer to plan out my purchases. Sample sales are the exception to that rule because you can save so much money. At my first sample sale (Hackwith Design), I bought a pair of wide-leg pants for $25. I was able to save hundreds of dollars by purchasing items from the Elizabeth Suzann email sample sale over the winter. I also recently got an Only Child Tierra dress for 50% off from their latest sample sale. Everlane’s Choose What You Pay events are wonderful, too. Regular, non-sample sales are rare in the small business world, but when they happen, I sometimes take advantage of those, as well. For example, I picked up a pair of Aquatalia boots just before Christmas that were originally $400. I could never have afforded them full price, but they were running a 40% off sale that brought the price down lots! They were still an expensive purchase for me, but they’ve already been worth it because I’ve hardly worn anything else this winter and they are still in wonderful condition. I also want to mention that I try to avoid purchasing for the sake of a good deal (so tempting, but for me that often leads to impulsive purchases). I love sample sales because they enable people like me with average or low budgets to purchase clothing we many not otherwise be able to afford while still supporting amazing companies.

6) Gifts. Many of my ES items are gifts from my husband or my parents and most of the rest are bought with Christmas or birthday money. I always send my family several clothing items I love and have them choose from between those. That way there’s still a fun element of surprise, and the gifter also knows that I’m going to love what they get me. If I feel like asking for a piece of expensive clothing is too much, I like to ask for money gifts or gift cards, instead, and then I can pool those towards one piece of clothing.

7) Buying second-hand. Part of sustainable/ethical fashion is purchasing from brands who make new clothes in a way that is respectful towards its workers and the environment, but another part is buying second-hand. Shopping vintage, trading with friends, and purchasing from second-hand clothing Instagram accounts or places like Poshmark are all great ways to purchase clothing sustainably. I have gotten a couple of my favorite pieces from Instagram closet sales, and I also have a beautiful pair of shoes from a local vintage shop in Minneapolis. Thrifting is another wonderful way to shop, but I honestly haven’t had much personal experience with it since beginning my slow fashion journey, simply because we are so busy. Running two more-than-full-time businesses has meant that I don’t have much time, to the point that I’m even forced to have our groceries delivered - and thrifting is definitely time-consuming. Right now, online shopping is my jam because it saves so much time, but in the future I certainly plan to purchase more second-hand. 


I also want to add that this is my own way of doing things, and I don’t want to come across as judgmental of those who do things differently. This is what works for me and isn’t necessarily what works for everyone! I wanted to share in hopes that this could been helpful on some level, but I am far from an expert and I have so much to learn! 

Finally, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite brands below. There are so many more brands to add to this list, but these are the ones that I have purchased from so far!

Elizabeth Suzann - my personal favorite for special, beautiful silk or linen pieces 

Hackwith Design - gorgeous pieces in many lovely fabrics and colors

Only Child - more beautiful linen, tencel, and silk

Everlane - basics, undergarments, shoes, denim, cashmere

KOTN - high quality basics

Corinne Collection - the softest, coziest clothing

Vetta Capsule - unique, versatile capsule pieces

Jenny C. Brooks - gorgeous linen dresses

Open Air Museum - beautifully unique, artful clothing

Dallas Daws Designs - beautiful linen and silk crepe pieces

Winsome Goods - lovely, intentional clothing

Babaa - beautiful knits

Tradlands - high-quality staples

Paloma Wool - sweaters and statement pieces

Pansy - undergarments

Pact - socks

Hansel from Basel - socks and tights

Swedish Stockings - tights

Nisolo - shoes

Bryr Clogs - shoes

No. 6 Store - shoes

Aquatalia - shoes

Because linen is my favorite material ever:

Simply Grey 

Kid Philosophy

Not Perfect Linen

Son de Flor

And on my wishlist:

St. Agni

Agolde Denim

Jesse Kamm

Lauren Manoogian



Formation Design 

Eli & Barry

Lauren Winter

Two Fold Clothing


…..And many more! :)

All opinions are my own, and this post is not sponsored by any brands. It does contain some affiliate links, which may give me a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support and the way it keeps my blog going! I fully support each of these companies.

My Journey into Sustainable and Ethical Fashion

I’ve always been interested in fashion. It’s one of those things that I pursue effortlessly; I don’t have to convince myself to go shopping or spend time exploring the world of clothes because it’s always pure joy and pleasure! I’m far from an expert on sustainable/ethical fashion, but I have developed such a passion for it and really wanted to share my journey so far. It started out as something that I was casually interested in, and I’ve gotten more and more engaged over the past few years. I finally started an Instagram account dedicated towards fashion/lifestyle a couple of months ago as a way to encourage me to spend time on hobbies and interests other than my business (I’m a real workaholic), and I’ve become even more passionate about the sustainable fashion movement since then. I’m not a great researcher, so I know I have a lot left to learn, and I look forward to diving deeper into sustainability as time goes on. For now, I’ll just share my experience and how slow fashion works with my lifestyle!

I come from a family that didn’t have much money. My father is a seminary professor and my mom stayed home with us, so their income was very small. My parents were happy to purchase us clothing if we genuinely needed it (preferably from somewhere reasonable like the thrift store or Walmart), but any “fun” items or brand new pieces from expensive brands were my responsibility. I was quiet, shy, and awkward, so - desperate to fit in - I would purchase things I didn’t even like from the clearance section of the ‘cool’ stores like American Eagle and Hollister. As long as I had something name brand, it was good enough for me! 

When I left high school and started going to college, my style changed, unsurprisingly. I started to enjoy thrifting and soon went through what my friends called my “grandma phase.” I bought massively oversized sweaters, frilly blouses, and anything I could find with floral print. When I could afford it, I would buy new things from Pac Sun and Target, filling my arms with more clothes than I could easily carry and spending hours in front of the mirror in the dressing room.

Shopping was something that I did really frequently. If I was bored or didn’t want to be at home, I would shop. If I was upset and needed cheering up, I would shop. If I wanted to celebrate something, I would shop. There was even a time when I went shopping at least once every week because I had fallen for a boy and was desperate to try and look as pretty as I could. I would take any excuse, and my closet and dresser were full to bursting. And yet, I still often felt like I didn’t have anything to wear.

When my husband, Aaron, and I got married, things changed quite a bit. We share a bank account, and so suddenly all the money that I had spent on clothes wasn’t really just “mine” anymore. We were both baristas, so funds were low, and I became much more aware of my unhealthy spending habits. Although Aaron never made me feel bad in the least, I felt self-conscious and guilty when I spent too much, especially because Aaron made more money than I did.

My first ethical + sustainable fashion item was a pair of street shoes from Everlane. I had seen them on a big fashion blogger’s account and was totally obsessed. I asked for them for my birthday from Aaron, and I was so thrilled when he got them for me! I can’t remember how much they cost, but they were by far the most expensive item I had ever owned. I didn’t know anything about Everlane at the time, though, and had never even heard of ethical fashion. I just loved the way the shoes looked and had my heart set on them.

The coveted Street Shoes!

The coveted Street Shoes!

Heavily decked out in H&M

Heavily decked out in H&M

Shortly after we got married, we moved to Michigan and I was even more tested in my shopping habits. We grew up in Sioux Falls, SD, a small city without much variety in clothing stores. But in Grand Rapids, there was a Forever 21 and an H&M, and I was totally hooked. I felt so accomplished when I was able to go get multiple items for $10, and it was so tempting to be so close to those stores! We still had really limited income (Aaron was barista-ing and I was working part-time as a florist while I started my business), but I lived for the instant gratification that came from impluse-buying a cheap shirt or dress. Everything in the below photos is H&M or Urban Outfitters.

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My feelings towards fashion started taking a slow turn when we moved again nearly three years ago, this time to the Twin Cities. My business was small but alive and I was pretty invested in growing my Instagram to bring in clients, and I had started finding ethical and sustainable brands through the app. We were still making very little money (Aaron was now working part-time for his parents’ orchard and I was just scraping by working full-time as a freelancer), so we still had to be very careful about spending. My first small step in the ethical fashion direction was a purchase of Madewell jeans. They were on clearance and I bought them with my birthday money; if I remember correctly, I spent around $60, and it seemed like so much. I remember telling Aaron that I wanted to slowly replace the cheap, low-quality items in my closet with better-made pieces like the jeans I had just bought. I felt like it was impossible at the time because we had so little money to spare, but I knew that if I put my mind to it and saved carefully, I would be able to achieve my goal over time.

Fast forward a few months and I had discovered Elizabeth Suzann. Needless to say, I was completely obsessed. I was totally drawn in by the values of the company and the beauty and quality of the clothing. I should also mention that I had moved at least once a year since graduating from college (a total of seven moves, two of them cross-country) and had become something of a minimalist because I so hated carting boxes from new apartment to new apartment. I had started routinely purging my wardrobe of anything I hadn’t worn in months because I just didn’t want the extra stuff cluttering up my space. This was another reason that Elizabeth Suzann clothes appealed to me so much: every piece in her collection looked good together and there were so many ways to style, mix, and match each versatile item. She encouraged building a wardrobe in a way that I had never considered before by being able to pair pieces together multiple ways, which resulted in owning fewer items.

That Christmas, I received money as a gift from several family members, and I knew at once that I wanted to spend it on an item or two from Elizabeth Suzann. I deliberated for days over which pieces to buy because I was so determined to make the right choice. I had never spent anywhere near that much money on clothes before, and I wanted to be completely certain that I would wear them for years and years. 

When my purchase arrived a few weeks later, I was over the moon! I had chosen a pair of Tilda pants in black midweight linen and a Marlena tank in ivory raw silk. I wore those pieces constantly over the next year. The tank is still thriving as a staple in my closet, but I wore the pants so much that they developed huge holes in the butt, ha! I still can’t quit them, though - they are my lounge pants that I wear at home and when I do chores. They are the most comfortable item of clothing I have ever owned.

I was completely changed by that first purchase from Elizabeth Suzann. It was a totally new feeling for me to have fallen so hard for not only what a company makes but how a company functions, to think for days before committing to my purchase, and then to be willing to wait for weeks to receive the pieces instead of being able to bring them home from the store immediately. I felt so content and so fulfilled! I knew - even though I was still slightly in shock at the amount of money I had spent - that my purchase had been a wise one. 

Before, my cycle had been to choose one item of clothing at a time without thinking of how it really fit in my closet or how it worked with my other pieces. I was proud when I got things for a steal, and since they were so cheap, it really didn’t matter to me if I only wore them once or twice or if they fell apart immediately.

Now, I was much more invested in each purchase. I thought long and hard before committing to an item, making sure it was something that I would like not only for a couple of weeks but until it fell apart. I wanted to buy quality that would last for years instead of weeks or months. I also started thinking about where my dollars were going. Were they supporting huge, fast-fashion chains that paid their workers a pittance and were only concerned with their own profit and keeping their prices low? Or were they supporting other small businesses who were committed to treating their workers fairly and also caring for our planet well?

Not Perfect Linen  dress,  KOTN  turtleneck

Not Perfect Linen dress, KOTN turtleneck

I decided to commit to a completely ethically and sustainably made wardrobe shortly after making that first ES purchase. I knew that I wouldn’t always have the money to buy expensive pieces and I knew it would take lots of time, but I was determined to make it work nonetheless! 

Hackwith Design  kimono and Madewell jeans + boots

Hackwith Design kimono and Madewell jeans + boots

There are a lot of reasons I love buying ethically and sustainably. I first started because I felt so guilty supporting brands that don’t treat their workers well and that cause so much pollution. I know that my own shopping habits don’t even begin to make a dent in the grand scheme of things, but I still want to do what I can.

The longer I’ve owned a business, the more I’ve also become passionate about supporting other small businesses. It means so much to me that I’m able to do what I love for a living, and every single bride, small business, or person who purchases stationery, branding work, or art prints from me literally makes my whole world. It means so much to me that people are willing to support me, and therefore it’s a great joy to be able to support others who are in the same position as me.

I genuinely love the feeling of intentional purchasing. It feels so good to open my closet each day and know that I love and wear everything inside on a regular basis. Nothing beats the feeling of receiving a long-awaited package in the mail and finally being able to wear and style what’s inside. It’s so fulfilling, and it makes me so happy to know that the pieces I bought three years ago at the very beginning of my slow fashion journey are still pieces I love now.

This is getting long, so I’ll call it a day for now! I’ve been working on a list of tips for how to make slow fashion work on a budget, which I will be sharing soon. To be continued! :)

Editorial in Tuscany

Overseas styled shoots are always a blast to work on. I used to love traveling, but since Aaron and I both started our own businesses, we aren't free to leave our Saint Paul home very often. I also have a crippling fear of flying, so we're pretty limited when we do go places. Putting together stationery for European shoots and pouring through the photos from said shoots is currently the closest I get to traveling!


When Josie Derrick approached me about being a part of an Italian shoot she had planned for the summer, I didn't have to think twice. Josie is the sweetest person, not to mention the fact that she is such a talented photographer! And Italy always makes for the dreamiest photos.


However, this shoot was more than just a fun opportunity to make some pretty photos with a fantastic group of vendors. Josie had studied abroad in Italy and made some wonderful memories there, so there was a lot of emotion and authentic story behind the concept. Josie had also done some papermaking while in Italy, and she sent me some of the pieces she still had to use for the stationery! The beautiful, translucent place card paper is made my Josie, as are the pieces the love poem and the illustration are on. The paper is so gorgeous, and it really elevated the stationery, as well as making it so personal and unique for our project. I was so honored to use Josie's paper, and it really made this shoot special for me!


I hope you enjoy looking through these photos as much as I did. I can't get enough of the soft, dappled Italian light, the earthy colors, or the dreamy villa! Working on shoots like these keep me going. They keep me creatively inspired, help me come up with new ideas, and remind me that what I get to do for a living is so meaningful. Thanks again, Josie, for asking me to be a part of this!


Photographer: Josie Derrick / Film Lab: PhotoVision Prints / Stylist + Planner: NKT Events / Floral Designer: Jardin Divers / Dress Designers: Sibo Designs, London and Lace Bridal / Rentals: Preludio Divisione Noleggio / Accessories: Sibo Designs / Venue: Villa Montanare / Cake Designer: Tuscan Wedding Cakes / Hair & Make-up Artist: Manola Spaziani MUA / Talent: Samuele Fontetrosciani & Daphne Eisblume / Jewelry: Susie Saltzman / Stationery / Calligraphy: Esther Clark Co / Suit & Men’s Accessories: Stefanoricci Official / Linens & Ribbons: Seidenband / Ring Box: The Mrs Box / Shoes: Bella Belle Shoes

Collaboration with Gaston Luga

Aaron and I lead a very busy lifestyle. We each have our own business, and both are under two years old; that means plowing pretty much every spare minute straight back into our companies as we work to get them established.


Since we opened Botany Coffee last July, I’ve spent nearly every afternoon there! It’s the most time I get to see Aaron in a day, and it’s also the perfect environment for me to buckle down and get some work done. Whether my to-do list is full of emails, blogging, or working on a new design, I always know that I will have an extra measure of focus while I’m out at a café without the distractions of home to sidetrack me. This comes with its own set of problems, however - since my tasks are so varied, I often have to bring multiple things to Botany with me, and my purse isn’t big enough to hold everything I need.

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When Gaston Luga reached out to me with the possibility of a partnership, I knew their product was perfect for me! Gaston Luga creates high-quality, ethically made backpacks that are both beautiful and functional. Their bag is the perfect thing for carting all of my work items between my home office and my second “office”at Botany. 


The bag is just big enough to hold everything I need - my laptop, charging cords, sketchbook, and pens/pencils - without being so big that I’m tempted to include items that I won't use! Gaston Luga backpacks are made with high-quality canvas and vegan leather; I’ve been working towards a wardrobe made up of 100% ethically and sustainably made pieces for the past year and a half, so I’m proud to add this bag to my collection!


If you’re in search of a high-quality, beautiful, minimal backpack, look no further. I’m in love with my black Pråper backpack from Gaston Luga! You can get 15% off a bag of your own with code clarkco15. 


This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Gaston Luga. All photos and opinions are my own.

Thoughts on Squarespace

When I first started my business, I knew that I needed a website. I have heard of businesses that function well without them, but for the end goal I had I knew that a site would be essential. I was pretty intimidated by the thought of trying to find the prefect platform! I am far from computer-savvy, and I'm much more artistic than I am practical. My husband is the one who is gifted at figuring things out through trial and error/Google research - not me! I did my research and found a few top contenders for sites that were supposed to be simple, user-friendly, and aesthetically pleasing.


The platform I decided to try first was Squarespace. I started off as a lifestyle blog (which you can still see if you go way back in my archives...haha!) but quickly changed direction as I realized that my line of work should be in art and design. Squarespace had provided the perfect platform for my blog: a simple, clean, beautiful layout, places for an about page and contact page as well as for the blog content, and a very easy back-end system that was perfect for my lack of computer knowledge! 

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Later on, Squarespace also provided the perfect platform for my illustration and calligraphy work. I kept my about page and my blog, but added portfolio pages as well as a webshop. I was so glad I didn't have to worry about changing platforms when my business changed direction! Since then, I have added more pages to my webshop, increased my number of portfolio pages, and have started using Squarespace as my client proofing platform. I'm still thrilled that it's all easy enough for me to figure out! 


From my very humble beginnings as a lifestyle blogger to my current design business, Squarespace has been the perfect platform for my website! I have loved using it for different purposes as my business has grown and expanded, and I can't wait to see how else I will use it in the future!

If you want to try Squarespace for yourself, use coupon code ESTHERCLARK to get 10% off your first site!

This post has been a sponsored collaboration between myself and Squarespace. All text and opinions are my own.

Ethereal Late Spring Collaboration

Working with local vendors is always such a pleasure, and none more than when said vendors are also an incredibly kind and talented bunch of women! When I first moved to Minnesota, I was a little bit nervous about meeting vendors in the wedding industry. I am shy and introverted, and my business was still very new. Moving to a much larger city than I had ever lived in before was intimidating, and the thought of making friends was even more so! Thankfully, I met some amazing people very quickly, and I've loved building relationships with them since! 


One of these women - the first I met - is Shasta Bell, who does calligraphy as well as botanically dyed ribbon. Her warm personality and kind smile immediately made me feel welcome in the Minneapolis wedding industry. She told me about some of her favorite vendors to work with, Ashley Fox and Amanda Nippoldt being two of them. Amanda is an amazing film photographer, and Ashley does the dreamiest and most ethereal floral arrangements. Ashley often sets up styled vignettes and photoshoots in her lovely studio, and when she asked me to create a suite for one such shoot, I was thrilled!


The shoot was going to have lots of focus on texture, and Ashley told me lots about the model she would be working with, whose look was very whimsical and other-worldly. I immediately started thinking about how I could incorporate that mood into the invitation suite. I chose a selection of several handmade papers and small, minimal typeface for the main elements of the suite. Ashley requested graphite calligraphy - which is such a beautiful texture, especially on handmade paper! - and I also created a pencil sketch of an iris to incorporate the graphite texture more fully. I finished everything off with thin black twine, vintage stamps, and a lovely gold wax seal.


As you can see, Ashley's floral arrangements for the shoot are completely breathtaking, as is the model! The lovely Heather Trachsel created a perfect makeup look for the shoot, and ribbon dyed by Shasta and ceramics from The Foundry finished everything off perfectly. Amanda captured everything so well, and the end result is such a light, ethereal, and organic shoot full of delicate late-spring flowers. 


I loved collaborating on this shoot with such a fun group of women, and I even got to attend it, which hardly ever happens! Keep up the good work, ladies; you are all a pleasure to know and I am thrilled that I get to work alongside you! 


Photography: Amanda Nippoldt / Florals: Ashley Fox Designs / Model: Ignite Models / Makeup: Heather Trachsel / Table Settings: The Foundry Home Goods / Ribbon: Shasta Bell

Italian Chiaroscuro

The concept of "chiaroscuro" in renaissance art is the study of light and darkness, the contrast between brightness and shade and the affect they have on shapes and forms. I first heard of chiaroscuro in my college Painting I class, where we studied the masters who used this concept frequently in their work. My favorite of these masters was Caravaggio; he captured chiaroscuro perfectly and I spent hours pouring over and trying to recreate the effect in my own paintings. 

Louise of Taylor and Porter was inspired to use the concept of chiaroscuro in a bridal fashion shoot in Italy over the summer, and the result is a completely stunning set of photos that capture the brilliance of the Italian light perfectly. The venue was a gorgeous villa full of lavish paintings and beautiful carvings. There are old-world detailed everywhere, and the setting is positively dripping with history and grace!

Lacy Geary, who styled and designed the shoot, chose two dresses that worked wonderfully with the concept of light and shadow; one dress sparkles and shimmers in the light, casting soft dapples of its own on the walls and floor of the villa. The other gown is delicate and lacy, and seems to melt into the model's skin when the sun hits it just so.

The flowers are lavish and bold, and I love how Siloh Floral combined deep burgundy tones and dark greens with soft peach and lavender blooms. The installation is wild and organic; it looks like it's been growing from the walls of the villa for years!

When creating the paper for the shoot, I let myself be inspired by the architecture of the villa and the lavish nature of the artwork that was created during the height of the use of chiaroscuro. I used handmade paper with rich texture and wild deckled edges and chose soft, earthy tones for the color palette. The illustration at the top of the main invitation is derived from an ornate golden frame in the Renaissance section of the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The architectural sketch underneath the ring is a portion of arches and windows inside the villa.

Each time I look through these photos, I find something new to look at and dwell on. I am so inspired by the way Louise captured such historic beauty in a bold and modern way. The crumbling stone and soft, earthy plaster are so ancient, and yet each photo is fresh and innovative. I'm so thrilled that my work was able to be a small part of this incredible shoot!

Photography: Taylor & Porter / Design + Styling: Lacy Geary / Floral Design: Siloh Floral Artistry / Dresses: Inbal Dror and Ersa Atelier  via Morgan Davies Bridal / Hair and Makeup: Elena Cameranesi / Ribbon: Silk and Willow / Rings: Susie Saltzman / Calligraphy & Paper Goods: Esther Clark / Model: Daphne via 4 Upper Models

Molly & Ben

Molly and Ben had the most gorgeous wedding day! I started talking with Molly about her invitations in January, and I could tell immediately that her plans were going to take shape into something incredible. 

Molly's dress is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen, and fit so well with the elegant and modern choice of venue, the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The wedding was the perfect blend of soft, romantic florals, classical European sculpture and paintings, and ivy-filled courtyards.

When designing Molly's invitations, I wanted to keep things simple, but also modern and classic. Molly wanted everything to be written in calligraphy - which is such a gorgeous look! - and loved the texture of deckle-edged handmade paper. We went with a color scheme of mostly white with touches of grey, and used subtle details like a hand-embossed border, thin white twine, and a blank vellum cover page to add layers and depth. I finished everything off with shiny gold envelope addressing and a white wax seal. Molly's vision of white on white took the invitations in such a lovely direction!

Molly also wanted a seating chart and numbered place cards. In keeping with the aesthetic of the invitations, we chose handmade paper and grey calligraphy for everything. Molly wanted each place card to be tied to the back of the chairs for visibility, which was very unique and pretty. The seating chart is one of my favorites, with all those lines of calligraphy, and is the only element of the stationery where illustration is included.