February 28, 2017

Ethical Brand Spotlight: Encircled

Photo Credit: Encircled.ca

Perhaps you've recently discovered that the current mainstream fashion and retail industry doesn't quite float your boat. The idea that you are one pawn (amongst millions) in the chess game of fashion doesn't sit well, and it shouldn't. 

Most of us have a set of values that we live by; these are different for each person and will depend on many factors. In general, we as consumers don't want to be taken advantage of, we don't want to spend money on items that don't last. We want to buy high quality clothing for a reasonable price, right? Unfortunately, what we're getting when we shop the "high street" (affordable, big-box clothing retailers) is usually trend-based, season-specific clothing which is not made to last longer than a few years at best. The reality is; we usually get tired of the item long before it falls apart. 

What is the answer? Well one solution to this problem is to research brands before buying, making sure that their brand values match our own. Over the next few months I will be posting about brands I have come across in order to highlight them for their forward-thinking, innovative, and sustainable tendencies. (These posts are not sponsored, they are my own opinions and all photos and information have been used with the permission of each brand.)


They call you Wanderluster, a world-traveller, a free-spirit. Encircled is a brand with a vision for its customer. To be able to travel the world with only a carry-on in tow; nothing to hold you back or delay you from your next inevitable adventure. They're on a mission to help you pack lighter and do more with less. (source: encircled.ca)

This company offers "full-circle" fashion; which they describe as fashion that is better for our planet, that benefits the people who make it, and that gives its customer a better life. This is a company based in Toronto, Canada (Yaaas Canada!) and all its clothing is ethically made in small batches; slow-fashion if you will.

Here is a rundown of their sustainable MO:

  • Produce in small batches, they produce only what they will need
  • Production takes place 100% on Canadian soil, thereby reducing the impact of emissions and carbon footprint from shipping products from overseas
  • Source eco-fabrics such as: Modal (from Beech trees), Tencel (from Eucalyptus trees) and Bamboo
  • Textile process is sustainable using low-impact dyes
  • Closed-loop process, no "waste water" in textile manufacturing
  • Leftover cuttings are used to make products such as headbands
  • Use suppliers with matching principles and values
  • The list goes on click here to see the full list of sustainable initiatives 

My favorites from their collection: 

The Transform Leg Warmers - $58
Photo credit: Encircled.ca

The Wanderer Sleeveless T, black model - $58
Photo Credit - Encircled.ca

The Evolve Top, Mineral Grey - $98
Photo Credit: Encircled.ca

Same top, different look!
Photo Credit: Encircled.ca

Same top, different look!
Photo Credit: Encircled.ca

Same top, different look!
Photo Credit: Encircled.ca

Chrysalis Cardi Bamboo, Feather Beige $138
Photo Credit: Encircled.ca

Chrysalis Cardi, same cardi - can be worn 8 ways!
Photo Credit: Encircled.ca

Dressy Sweatpant, DK Heathered Grey Modal - $148
Photo Credit: Encircled.ca

Let me know what you think of clothing brands with an ethical & sustainable identity in the comments below! Want to be notified when new posts go up on Fashionmamaaquarius.com? Don't forget to sign up by email :)



February 21, 2017

5 Items To Hygge Your Wardrobe

The year 2017, it seems,  is the year of Hygge. A Danish word (pronounced "Hue-gah") which cannot be literally translated but which is described as being warm, cozy, comforting, and enjoying the moment. It is can be applied to your home, your car, your office and of course; your wardrobe. I find it hard to believe with the extreme cold temperatures we experience in Canada and the US, it could take us so long to catch onto this Danish way of life. Think about sitting by the fireplace, wearing your Fair Isle sweater, wool socks, candles lit with a big mug of cider: heaven right?

In many parts of the Northern hemisphere, spring is within reach but since it's still bitter cold and snowy here in Ottawa I need this kind of post to get me through the next couple of months until spring arrives. It is possible to transfer this theory of coziness to your closet, you may want to just hygge your at-home clothing if you work in a very corporate environment but if you can get away with it I would Hygge the whole darn thing!

Here are five cozy items which can make your wardrobe hygge-ier until spring/summer:

1. Flannel Shirts 

They're not just for lumberjacks and hipsters. They don't even have to be plaid, although I quite like some of the plaid out there. It's a cozy material, they come in flattering tapered shapes for women so it can be worn to the office or for a night out if you want to take your hygge "on the road". If you're not into flannel for everyday wear you could try some flannel pajamas instead. If possible go for flannel made with organic cotton, a soft and earth-friendly option. 

2. Cashmere Shawl

In the winter, in Ottawa, it get COLD. Like, really, really COLD. So first thing in the morning it can be difficult to get out of my nice warm bed into the cold-ish house. My solution for this dilemma is a shawl. It doesn't have to be a cashmere shawl (the shawl I have isn't) but cashmere is oh so soft and a great luxury item to ask for as a gift or to invest in for the long term (unless you plan to go somewhere warm for your winters for the rest of your life!) If going for cashmere (which comes mainly from the "undercoat" of the cashmere goat when they are combed after the winter season. Source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/jan/16/does-cashmere-get-your-goat)

3. Shearling Slippers

Another way to keep yourself in cozy-mode for the remainder of winter is by wearing some nice soft, shearling slippers. Not only is it a nice way to keep you feeling cozy after you extricaste yourself from your nice warm bed in the am, it's also a great way to keep you warm after a nice hot soak in the tub in the pm. There's nothing I love more than padding around my house in nice warm slippers on a cold winter day. Try to choose slipper that have sturdy rubber soles; better traction and protects your feel from the cold that can come through hard wood, concrete and tile flooring.

4. Buttery Soft Leggings

Leggings may be a no-no at work but for home-life they are a stretchy, soft, body-hugging piece of heaven. Choose leggings made with pre-shrunk Organic Cotton; super soft and better for the environment than Polyester (I still love my Sweetlegs but discovered they are Polyester and that takes a long time to break down in a landfill) mixed with low amounts of Lycra or Spandex (this material is a petroleum products using raw materials, toxic chemicals and lots of energy, also it doesn't have a long lifespan) (Source: http://wearnothingnew.typepad.com/wear-nothing-new/2011/01/environmental-impacts-of-fabric-spandex.html)

5. Cotton T-shirts

A versatile, cozy piece to have in your closet is a high quality organic cotton t-shirt. It can be layered underneath your warm weather clothing and then applied to your spring/summer wardrobe. You may wish to stick to basic colors; black, white, grey, beige for simplicity's sake but I prefer cream, blush and navy at the moment. A striped shirt is a classic piece (nautical has stood the test of time) which I would consider to be a staple in any wardrobe.

How do you get yourself "hygge" in the colder months? What are your go to pieces as you transition from winter into spring or fall into winter for our southern hemisphere readers :) Let me know your tips and tricks in the comments below!


Project 333: Week 2 OOTD

I'm now into the third week of my Project 333 Challenge and I am still loving it! I have noticed that I am starting to get close to the need to repeat some outfits, which is totally fine with me. The only problem with repeating outfits is it won't be as interesting for people following along with me on this journey. One caveat I can think of is it will show people that it's not the end of the world if you wear an outfit more than once on social media!

A downside to wearing the same clothing in a more frequent rotation is the amount of wear and tear they endure compared to a larger closet rotation. I try not to wash my jeans unless they are stained but because I work with kids I usually end up with something on them by days end, and because I am down at their level or crawling after them my jeans all wear out in the knees very quickly.

You may notice that I wear Toms in many of my outfit pictures and this is because I find socks to be slippery and get dirty from the floors (running a daycare means lot's of messes). I do like wearing socks with slippers first thing in the morning but I find my feet get too hot so Toms with no socks is my best option. It is also helping me to break them in before summer as I was gifted two pairs from my MIL to replace my two pairs that are falling apart!

A t-shirt or tank with a cardigan is my go-to look because my house starts out cool in the morning and then heats up like crazy as the sun comes in through our massive back window. I need to be able to take it off quickly while I'm working and put it back on when I need to leave for the school pickup.

On the weekends I tend to go for easy, comfy and lazy. I do run on the weekends and of course I clean the house so leggings with a tank is the best option for me. I do have three pairs of leggings in my 33 item capsule wardrobe because they are such a staple for me during my downtime.

I hope you liked this weeks outfits. If you have any suggestions for how I can make my looks more unique or interesting without adding any additional items please feel free to leave me a comment in the comments section below this post!  Follow me on Instagram to see my OOTD in my daily feed along with other fun pics.

Happy week everyone!


February 13, 2017

Project 333: Week 1 OOTD

It has been just about two weeks since cleared my closet, created my capsule wardrobe and started my Project 333 Challenge. So far I am really enjoying it, my weekly laundry has been drastically reduced, mostly because I am re-wearing things like sweaters and jeans (assuming they are not stained or smelly). Another aspect I like is the ease with which I can plan my looks. All my items work well together and since most items are in the same color-family, I have an infinite number of outfit possibilities.

Every night before I go to bed, I choose my clothing for the following day. This makes my morning easier because there is less thinking required before I've had my coffee and therefore less stress for me. I keep my outfits simple; top, sweater, pants, socks and accessories, I know it's pretty basic but I focus more on the colors, patterns and shape of the clothing. It is also important, working with children everyday, that I am comfortable and wearing clothing that washes easily. 

This capsule wardrobe was created using pieces that I already owned. I didn't purchase anything new, but I did receive the gold Coffee and Couture choker for my  birthday from my best friend and got a new gold bangle from my husband. I have been loving gold jewellery lately so I wear the same pieces everyday. 

In the past I was always longing to buy new items. It felt as if I was always planning my life around my next shopping trip. Since discovering and undertaking this project, I haven't purchased any new clothes and I haven barely thought about clothing shopping. In fact, I went to the mall recently to buy some skincare items from Sephora and I only ventured into one clothing store; Zara, which I didn't end up buying anything at all.

I will be posting weekly updates for the duration of this challenge, there will obviously be some outfit repeats since I am working with a closet of 33 items but I will try my best to keep things interesting and unique! Follow me on Instagram to see my daily outfit updates as well as my Instagram-worthy meals.

Did you decide to try the Project 333 Challenge? Let me know in the comments below this post!

February 07, 2017

5 Reasons to Shop the Second-Hand Market

When you read the title for this post, your initial reaction might be "awesome" but it may also be "ewww gross". My reaction would be the former but if you're reaction was the latter, please know you are not alone. The demand for second-hand goods has grown steadily over the years with thrift shops, consignment stores and websites; KijijiCraigslist, VarageSale, Thredup and Facebook. The second-hand market has given consumers the opportunity to sell their gently used items for cash, and find quality used items at a significantly lower price than if buying new.

There are definitely some items that you might be better off buying new; undergarments, swimwear, and socks come to mind but aside from those very personal items the options for buying second-hand are limitless. Here are some reasons why I think that shopping second-hand is a great idea:

1. Wallet-Friendly: This point may be open for argument as I am aware that deals on the high street discount rack are pretty good but the beauty of buying used clothing, particularly through Kijiji, Facebook etc. is that the price is usually low (people want to get rid of their stuff quick) and the price is usually negotiable, SCORE. Another point would be that you can get some really high quality used items for a fraction of the cost of buying new; example: a Canada Goose jacket, these rarely go on sale.
2. Stand Out From the Crowd: One of the problems with always buying new, current and inexpensive; everyone else has the same thing. That dress you saw in the window at your local Mango? There are thousands of others out there just like it. Buying something vintage, from a few seasons ago or even something purchased abroad can add some exclusivity to your wardrobe.

3. Supports Local Charities/Businesses: 
This point may vary from country to country but there are local thrift shops who will pass on some of the benefits of your donations to people in need. Showing support for local consignment businesses is a good way to help while at the same time getting a bit of money back from your used items.

4. Creates a Sense of Community: 
Buying or selling through sites online like Kijiji, where you are dealing with people in your area, can create a sense of community. It puts some the money you initially gave to a corporation back in your pocket, or it is helping one of your neighbours to make some extra money while you get a great deal on the item you desire; win-win.

5. Reduces Textile Waste: Like it or not we are a society of consumers. This is great for our country's economy but not so great for our planet. The conventional clothing and textile industry is the second-most polluting industry in the world, so by reducing the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills and by reducing the demand for new textiles (or demanding a change in how textiles and clothing are produced) we can hopefully steer the industry in a better direction for our earth.

Do you ever buy second-hand? What are your favourite stores or websites for buying quality used items? Please let me know in the comments section below! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter for updates on my posts ;)

February 03, 2017

7 Easy Ways to Curb Your Shopping Habit

Shopping can be like medicine, "retail therapy" some people call it, but is it really good for you? Yes and no. There is nothing like the high you get from a day out at the shops, getting a latte with some girlfriends and giving your credit card some exercise. Then there's the lows, next day regrets of spending too much and asking yourself, "did I really need that shirt in three different colors?".

Like it or not, many of us are addicted to shopping, spending money and consuming. These are not bad things in moderation but it can be difficult to reverse this habit, especially if you have been shopping this way for many years. This makes it a challenge but by no means impossible, here are 7 EASY ways that you can curb your shopping:

1. Target Impulse Buys: Don't start out too restrictive such as putting a complete ban on shopping. Instead focus on cutting out those unplanned, "because it was on sale" purchases. In doing so you are training yourself to start shopping smarter. Less money spent on things you don't need or really want means more money for items that matter, that you treasure and that you will want to keep for decades.

2. Have a Reason to Stop: It could be that you have a ton of debt, that your closet is already overflowing, that you are concerned about the impact that the clothing industry has on the environment or perhaps you want to save for a trip. Whatever the reason may be, having a purpose for shopping less will help get you through when a craving strikes, and they will strike.

3. Find a New Hangout: Shopping can be a very social activity, particularly for women; we gather, we gossip and we shop. So find a new get-together spot; at the yoga studio, at the park for a run, or you can even host a spa night. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as it gets you out of the habit of shopping in a herd.

4. Unsubscribe: It's really hard to shop less when your inbox is constantly bombarded with emails telling you about all the latest products or upcoming sales. Believe it or not, if you see enough of these types of ads you will eventually be enticed into an unplanned purchase. Try unsubscribing to as many as possible, only keeping your absolute favorites. Or better yet, unsubscribe to them all and see if you miss them, you may realize you don't.

5. Avoid Online: Shopping online is easy, this also makes it a trap for those of us with, shall we say, less self-control. As lovely as it can be to sit on your couch on a Friday night with a glass of wine and fill up a virtual shopping cart, these types of shopping sprees are mostly impulse. Since you are not physically in the store, you are not able to use your senses to ensure items are right for you before purchasing and this will usually result in less satisfaction once the items are received.

6. Rediscover your Wardrobe: You may feel bored by every item in your closet, this is likely a result of too many impulse buys. Items that you thought you liked, thought you would wear, or bought because they were a "good deal". Try coming up with new outfit combinations using your existing wardrobe and accessories, this will allow you to get more wear out of the items you already own and hopefully help you to define your style so that you can avoid impulse buys in the future. Narrowing your wardrobe to a smaller "capsule" wardrobe can help you to decide which items pair well and can make it easier to hone into your own unique look.

7. Be Confident: When you are confident it doesn't matter what you are wearing, the clothes you wear do not define who you are as a person. There are so many different styles out there, following trends can be fun from time to time but having a distinct personal style that works with your dimensions will look natural and make you feel comfortable. When you feel comfortable, you will feel confident and that is what others will notice.

I hope this guide is useful to those of you who, like myself, have been trying to cut down on my shopping but have a hard time finding the motivation. These are the things that I have discovered which help to give me more control over my urges to spend and slowly but surely it is getting easier to be happy without shopping. Please don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter (right sidebar) for updates on my new series coming for #SustainableSpring17!


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