Beauty Find Friday: Free Shopping and Style Help

So, let’s talk about shopping. I have discovered that I really don’t enjoy shopping at a mall, most of the time. There’s so many options, so many stores, distracting loud music and large crowds – it makes it hard to think clearly. I’ve recently collected a few helpful websites that pertain to shopping and style that I’m really excited to use! So for this week’s Beauty Find Friday, I’m sharing them with you! – I discovered this blog a few weeks ago. The author posts almost daily pictures of her outfits, usually business casual, with some weekend outfits too. I love that it’s REAL style – totally wearable, affordable, and looks good on real women’s bodies, not just super model types! I also enjoy her posts about how to pack everything you need for trips in one suitcase. Since I’m trying to maintain a capsule wardrobe of 100 items or less, having the visual inspiration different ways of combining pieces is great! – I discovered this website from reading about it in Real Simple. It provides you with a personal stylist, who will create 5-7 looks for you based on your style, or even a specific occasion, for free! The stylists are paid a commission if you purchase the items in the looks they create for you, but there’s no obligation or pressure to buy anything. I’m seriously considering trying this, just to get some new ideas and a better vision for my wardrobe. – If you have your eye on a particular item that’s out of your price range, this tool will altert you with an email when it goes on sale! I’m planning to use this for a few investment pieces I’d like. – Similarily, this site creates a customized list of what you’re looking for that’s currently marked down. Here, you can pick from broad categories, like “brown riding boots under $100” etc. – Sometimes when I’m checking out online, I’ll do a quick Google search for the store name and “coupon” or “discount code.” Sometimes I’ve found some great discounts that I didn’t know were going on! Other times, the codes didn’t work. ZenDeals verifies all the coupon codes on their site daily to make sure they’re still current.

Have you used these sites and tools? What did you think of them? What makes shopping easier for you? Share your thoughts with the rest of us in the comments!

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Beauty Find Friday: Thrifty Finds

Last week, a friend we hadn’t seen all summer dropped by to catch up with us. We sat around the living room and talked; actually, we listened, our friend did most of the talking. We knew there were major, difficult changes going on in their life, but that’s not what they talked about. Lots of “Remember when…” but nothing deep. When they left, in a way I felt like we hadn’t really caught up at all. 
Which I totally understand. I’m in a similar place – there’s so much going on inside my head and heart, I’m struggling to put words to it. Hence, I’ve been a little light on the blogging here lately. I’ll be back to three times a week soon, I promise. I have so much to say that I haven’t had time or energy to say, I might actually post more than that!
Even though I feel like I haven’t caught you up here, I have been busy talking about other things elsewhere. I was interviewed on Sage Grayson Coaching and I wrote an article for Sweet and Sage, and this next week, I have a guest post by Alana of Sparrow and Grace here on Monday and I’ll be on her blog on Wednesday. She is sharing here about how she finds beauty in everyday, and I’m sharing there about contentment and my confidence journey. You won’t want to miss next week!
This week was hard, emotionally and mentally, so yesterday I decided to do something just for fun. I haven’t gone thrifting for ages! It was the perfect cure. 
I know some people would love to have a shiny gold snakeskin bag like the one above. It looks pretty similar to this bag by Ralph Lauren for $158.

I’ve seen dozens of DIY tutorials for making these macrame plant holders. Unfortunately, I don’t have plants, and so, no use for it. 

Someone decided to get rid of their NSYNC posters. Is that Justin Timberlake?!

Aladdin slippers! These are the real deal. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a flying carpet to go with them. I’ll have to try again next week.

I brought home a navy blue Banana Republic tee, a GAP black and white tee, and a fold-over clutch. The tees were $5 each, and the clutch was 70 cents! I wanted to make my own fold-over clutch when they first became super popular using A Beautiful Mess’s tutorial, but you just can’t beat that price!
By the way, Brian is recovering well from having his wisdom teeth removed. He’s eating solid food again!

Next weekend, I’m going to a clothing swap for the first time! I’m getting rid of 18 tops, four bottoms, and seven accessories, and I’m not planning to bring that much home with me. I’ll have to do an outfit post before too long to show you what I find!

Speaking of finds, have you discovered any treasures thrifting lately? Let me know what you found in the comments so I can ooh and ahh with you!

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Shopping for Good

Are you planning your Black Friday shopping trips? I would rather not get trampled for a sandwich maker, so I’d much rather Black Friday and Cyber Monday shop online from the safety of my couch. In case you’re also planning to do some online shopping, I wanted to share how your holiday shopping can actually fund non-profit’s projects around the world. This is super exciting!

The Future of Philanthropy from Pure Charity on Vimeo.

With Pure Charity, you can shop online from their many partners, and a percentage of what you spend funds the project of your choice! Their partners include Target, Walmart, Apple, Forever 21, Gap, and many, many more.

You can buy your Christmas gifts, while giving back at the same time!

When you sign up, I hope you’ll follow me, and share Pure Charity with others!

Where to Buy Ethical Shoes, Accessories, Underwear, and Children’s Clothes

Last Friday we discussed Where to Buy Ethical Casual Clothing, yesterday I shared links to Where to Buy Special Occasion Clothing, Jewelry, and Cosmetics, and today I’m going to list resources for “everything else.” Not quite everything, but children’s clothes, accessories, underwear, and shoes.

But first, I read something today that touches on the question most of us are thinking: how can we afford to buy fair trade items? A reader asked the author of Seven, An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (a book that greatly influenced this month’s series) Jen Hatmaker, this question:

How do you balance purchasing organic / local / made in America items versus the higher cost of those items? We want to be eating and purchasing the quality items but what I spend on them in a month (not even in excess) is what someone in a third world country could live on for a year.

Agreed. I honestly found a balance, because though organic and Fair Trade is more costly, I also quit buying a bunch of other garbage (and some I continue to purchase, because, you know, FOR THE MOST PART). I find “Made in America” not so cost-prohibitive at places like Old Navy and several Target brands. And again, if we buy in equal quantity as we ever have but with high-integrity brands, we might go into the poorhouse. This is where “lower consumption” comes into play. Buy less, buy better.

Read the rest of the Q&A with Jen here. 

Jen summed up nicely my new approach to buying clothing. Buy less, buy better!

Children’s Clothing

Matilda Jane Clothing

Shabby Apple: I mentioned this in the last post, but Shabby Apple also sells adorable little girls dresses*, and is expending to pre-teen clothes.

War Chest: the War Chest Boutique sells fun purses, bibs, aprons, dolls and toys for children, and also adult aprons, some apparel, scarves, and jewelry.

Matilda Jane Clothing: For unique, whimsical dresses, tops, skirts and bottoms, and accessories, this is the place. Right now they only have clothing for little girls, but boys are on the agenda, and they also have some fun pieces for moms. Matilda Jane recently partnered with our friend Noonday Collections!

Thrift Stores: Since kids grow fast, shopping at your local thrift stores is a great budget friendly way to shop ethically and support your local community!


Raven + Lily

There are just so many companies that sell scarves, purses, hats, and that sort of thing, I’m going to keep this list simple:



Good and Fair Clothing


Toms– Tom’s shoes are fair trade, and each purchase provides a pair of shoes to someone in need. Toms sells shoes in womens, mens, youth (5+ years) and tiny (0-5 years) sizes. Besides the classic canvas Toms, they sell special occasion varieties, and even a line of campus colors to show your school pride.
Groobs– Groobs also gives a pair to a child in need, but they take a step further and allow you to pick a charity to give 50% of the proceeds to! They also come in sizes for the whole family.
* affiliate link
Whew! This is the last of the “where to buy” posts, but I will continue to update the Fashion for Freedom Pinterest board, so if you’re on pinterest, check it out!
Also, this week only, Sevenly is selling tees and totes to fund an undercover brothel rescue! Find out more and see the tees here. 
And another reminder, this FRIDAY is the Fashion for Freedom Charity Auction, where you’ll be able to bid on items from my closet and 100% of the proceeds will go to anti-trafficking organizations, Polaris Project and 4 the 1. Mark it on your calendars!
Of course, you won’t want to miss our super-awesome-mega giveaway after that! Be sure to follow on Facebook, Twitter, or email so you don’t miss it. Tomorrow and the day after I’m going to share ideas for shopping ethically: refashioning what you already have, and how to shop at thrift stores.
Do you know of any other resources I didn’t mention in this post? Share them with us in the comments!

Where to Buy Ethical Special Occasion Clothing, Jewelry, and Cosmetics

Ethical Special Occasion Clothes


Did you enjoy yesterday’s post, Where to Buy Ethical Casual Clothing? Now that we know what modern slavery is, how ethical fashion fights it, and the fair trade difference, and we’re excited to make small changes to make a big difference, we’re discussing practical questions: Where can I buy a fair trade tee? Where can I buy ethical jeans? Dresses? Scarves? And how much is this going to cost me?

Today I’m going to share links for dressy, special occasion clothing and accessories.  Note that you don’t always have to spend a fortune to look good while doing good, although some classic, high quality items are what I consider “investment pieces.”

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6 Ways To Find Out If A Product Was Ethically Made

You’re browsing the aisles of one of your favorite stores. Let’s say it’s Target, because, it’s probably a favorite for many of us, right? You’re shopping for groceries, but somehow, you end up by the clothing and accessories (or does that only happen to me?). With all the brands to choose from at a supermarket like Target, how do you know if a product was produced ethically? There’s a few ways to find out:

1. Check the package for a “Fair Trade Certified” or similar label. The Fair Trade Certified label isn’t the only indicator of a fair trade product, like I originally thought. Because there can be lots of red tape involved in this certification, some companies choose other certifications, like Green America, Domestic Fair Trade Association, and Free2Work Certified.

2. Check the package for information on how the product was produced. For example, on Starbucks’ coffee packages, Starbucks claims to ….

3. Check the label for the place it was made. Every clothing item has a tag that tells you where it was produced. If there’s no other indicator, products made in the USA, Canada, or Europe are more likely to have been ethically made.

4. Check the company website. Search the FAQ, About Us, and Our Story sections of the companies’ websites to find information about where and how they produce their goods.

5. Check the grade. The work has already been done for you for many major companies! Free2Work gives brands a grade based on their efforts to ensure no child or forced labor takes place.

6. Scan it with the app! 

If none of the above produces any fruit, you can make your best guess, or look for alternatives that you do know are ethically produced.

Have you tried any of the tips above? What did you find out?

Thrifting, Iowa Style

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen sneak peaks of my thrift store finds while I’ve been in Iowa. Here’s the full story.  While I’m in my home town in Iowa for my best friend’s wedding, I wanted to do a little thrift store shopping. My mother-in-law, some friends from church, and I visited two thrift stores in our area, and WOW. I can’t believe all the cool stuff I found, and the low prices!
I took pictures of all the awesome stuff that I would love to buy, but knew I couldn’t fit in my suitcase. 
I saw this beauty right when I walked through the door, for all of $2. 

This green leather pouf was going for $7.

These would be perfect for my painted mugs, especially at 25 cents each!

Check this out! It’s a bowl and nut crackers! There was no price on it. I put it in my bag to ask about at the front. 

How cute are these canisters?

A little spray paint, and this mirror would be fabulous, especially for $3.

This is a big Van Gogh style painting, for a couple bucks.

This set of four midcentury modern-ish chairs were in great condition.

This like-new hair curler set was $2.

I thought about buying this skirt, since I liked the pattern and it had an elastic waist. It was several sizes too big though, and I decided against taking on another sewing project.

I love this vintage suitcase.

I happen to know insect jewelry is big right now, and this bumble bee necklace is right on trend.

A beautiful coffee table…

And another one….plus I love the lamp!

This rocking chair was going for $25.

This beautiful chair was only $10.

These matching mirrors were $25 each.

This jacket was under $5.

In the end, my mother-in-law bought me the jacket and another tunic top for my birthday.

I bought a black pencil skirt, some mustard yellow velvet ribbon for 50 cents, and the nut cracker set.

It was only $1!!!

I’m linking up today at Simple Design, check out the other thrift store finds there and get inspired to check out your neighborhood shops! 

Treasure Hunt: Goodwill Shopping Haul

I went to find three skirts and two pairs of jeans; four hours later, I almost left with Kenneth Cole shoes and a chandelier. And I did leave with $342.96 in estimated savings. 
This was my most epic Goodwill trip yet. You might remember my other posts about Goodwill shopping when we lived in an apartment with a Goodwill just down the street. I was really sad when we moved away, but last November, a brand-new Goodwill opened just down the street from our house! Saturday was the first time I’d had a chance to check it out. 
I was looking for three skirts in denim or khaki to wear on the missions trip to Mexico I’m planning to go on in March. They have a dress code, and my only denim skirt isn’t long enough, and skinny jeans aren’t allowed, hence the two pairs of jeans. 

Once I filled my cart with skirts, I headed to the dressing room. On the way, a few shirts and shoes caught my eye, so I took them along with me.

None of the skirts really worked for me, unfortunately. But check out these nude heels!

I looked online, and Kenneth Cole leather heels range around $178 new. These were in excellent condition, no scuffs or scratches, but used, and were $5. Unfortunately, they didn’t fit me. So I put them back. 

These actually did fit me, and they were very comfortable. They looked unworn, and I recognized the brand, ecco, but I didn’t know how much they were worth. I kinda wish I’d bought them, because I looked them up online, and ecco tennis shoes are around $120 new. 

On my way back to the skirt aisle, I spotted the chandelier. It was metal, no crystals, but a beautiful elegant leaf design. It just needed a coat of white paint and some distressing, and it would be good to go. For $12, I almost bought it. But, I decided that since we live in a rental house with no where to put it, it probably wasn’t the best idea. Brian agreed.

But enough about what I didn’t buy. After I filled my cart for the second time, I was more successful. Here’s what I did get:

This scarf first caught my attention because it felt higher quality than many of the others. Then I noticed the signature.
I hadn’t heard of “Ralfeaux” before, but a little sticker left on the scarf from a garage sale said “Designer.” 

For 99 cents, it was definitely worth it. I looked up Ralfeaux, and found out that this scarf is probably a vintage designer scarf worth around $15. 

I finally found a skirt! I looked it up and found an identical one at Target for $24.99. I paid $4.99.

If you know me, you might have notice how much I love stripes. I caught a glimpse of this tee in passing, and when I saw it was my size and since yellow tags were half off, it was in my cart before you could blink.
Similar Old Navy Tee, $14. Price for this Old Navy tee, $2.50
At first I thought these would make good work jeans for our projects during the mission trip. But now I’m not so sure. 
These army green pants were SO comfortable, they’re flared and a little loose fitting. And, they are New York and Company brand, and while I couldn’t find any similar pants online, New York and Company sale jeans go for around $30. These were half off, so I paid about $3.50.
Ok, here’s the REALLY exciting part. Speaking of New York and Company, I also bought this blazer.

 It’s in excellent condition, and fit me well. I’ve been looking for a well-fitting blazer for quite some time.

It is a New York and Company blazer, and I actually found the identical one online, for $69.95. I paid $7.99!

I couldn’t decide between that blazer and this one, so I bought them both. It’s a little wrinkled in this picture.

I first noticed the unique stitching and buttons, and then I noticed that the sizes were in European and American. I knew that was a good sign.

And then I saw the brand. It’s a Zara blazer. I was first introduced to this brand by Wendy’s Lookbook fashion blog, and when I looked online, Zara’s black blazers cost between $89 and $99. This one had a yellow tag, so it was half off. I got it for $4.

I also scored a pair of GAP 1969 “Essential” jeans. I looked them up online too, and they sell for $69.99. I paid $7.99. 

And then, THEN. I spotted this little basket!

Blogger still likes to randomly put my pictures sideways

 So cute! I knew it would be perfect for my friend’s wedding next summer. She liked the idea of a little suitcase type box for the wedding cards.

It’s a picnic basket!
The dishes are white plastic, and they’re cute too. I found a similar one on Etsy, with green plaid inside, for $65.95.  I paid $10 for this one.
So let’s summarize all this goodness. 
Vintage Designer Scarf, paid $0.99                Valued: $15
Denim Skirt from Target, paid $4.99              Valued at $24.99
Old Navy Tee, paid $2.50                             Valued at $14
New York and Company pants, paid $3.50   Valued at $30
New York and Company blazer, paid $7.99  Valued at $69.99
Zara blazer, paid $4.00                                  Valued at $95
GAP jeans, paid $7.99                                   Valued at $69.99
Picnic basket, paid $10.00                              Valued at $65.95
Total spent: $41.96     Total value: $384.92

Now, that’s what I call epic!!! 

I told Brian after I finally checked out, “I think I could make a nice income finding designer and high quality items at Goodwill and selling them for more on ebay.”

“Well, why don’t you then?” He asked.

What do you think? If I sold the Zara blazer for even half of a comparable Zara blazer, for maybe $50, I’d still make quite a bit from it, considering that I bought it for $4. What do you think? Should I go into business? If anything, maybe it could fund my penchant for shoe collecting!

A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.

Affordable Fall Style and Trends

Where I live, the weather finally started cooling off last week. Walmart is full of fall decor, and Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice latte is calling my name. It’s a little too warm to wear long sleeves and scarves here in the valley, but I went up to the mountains for a ladies’ retreat a couple weeks ago, so I got to dig out my warm weather clothes. I decided it was a good time to do my seasonal inventory, complete with pictures. 
I wrote about this closet inventory technique as part of the Fashion 101 series, basically, I’m shopping my closet, thinking outside the box and putting together some new combinations with what I already have. 
Since it’s been a while since I’ve written about what to wear, I thought I’d share some tips for dressing for fall. 
1. Camel is in. 
It used to be called khaki, tan, or light brown, but now it’s definitely called “camel.” And Loft says it’s the IN color this season. 

Well, I happened to find a pair of Khakis in the bottom of my drawer that I hadn’t worn for over a year, probably. Amazingly, they still fit. Now they’re at the height of fashion, so dig out yours too, along with your tan blazers, and keep those nude shoes.

My “camel” pants

2. Flares are in, but so are Skinnies. 
I don’t know about jeggings, but keep your skinny jeans, they haven’t been replaced by flares totally yet. Speaking of flares, 70’s inspired bells are popular, but I recommend going for something a little more conservative and classic, like a bootcut jean. Dark rinses tend to make you look slimmer, and are more versatile.

My go-to bottoms: Khakis, skinnies, and bootcut jeans

3. Go from Summer to Fall with Accessories
I love wearing this thin cotton plaid tunic in the summer, but the color is great for fall, so now I can wear it with skinny jeans and a scarf to keep warm.

Here’s another outfit I put together: a long sleeve purple tee, a gold lace cardigan, and my bootcut jeans. It’s a nice outfit as is, but add a scarf….

…And it takes it to a new level.

This scarf has a paisley pattern on the ends, fringe, and several gorgeous fall colors in it, including the same purple as the long sleeve tee. I can’t tell you where you can get this scarf, because my dad bought it for me in Afghanistan when he was stationed there. 
This teal scarf dresses up and warms up this casual grey tee and jeans. And this scarf I got at Walmart for $5. 

Besides scarves, jewelry adds a lot to an outfit. These earrings from Francesca’s Collections add a touch of whimsy to an ordinary cardigan and khakis.

Here’s a versatile necklace with lovely fall colors. I’ve been seeing a lot of chunky chain necklaces around, and also chain belts and bracelets.

Besides scarves and jewelry, accessorize with a hat, a cute purse, or a unique belt. 
4. Stock up on basics. 

I realized as I sorted through my clothes that I have a tanks and tops in the same shades of purple, teal, and cream. Stock up on basics, like tanks and long sleeve tees, in colors that flatter your skin tone and fit you well. Then, you can mix and match, and go from casual to dressy with a few accessories.

5. Go Monotone and neutral.
Pick pieces in the same hue, or similar hues, with a solid neutral base. If camel isn’t flattering on you, try

This picture again, from Loft. 
Here’s my take on the mono-color look, with my “camel” pants, a cream tank, gold sweater and white scarf. 

And here with a little more color, adding the olive green tank.

Also from Loft. 

And here’s my take on the second picture, with a light pink sweater and camel pants.
Sweater: Old Navy, $15
Khakis, Aeropastale

 6. Go bold or classic with red. 

Second to camel, red is also the “in” color this fall and winter. This is a picture of the Real Simple November magazine and the October Better Homes and Gardens. BHG had an entire article about the color red.

I bought this read sweater dress last year, and I’m excited for cooler weather so I can wear it again.

In my opinion, red nail polish is classic. This is color a little more trendy take on red nails. Coral was popular last spring and summer, and this polish makes a great transition from coral to red.  It’s called Fire Coral, and depending on what you wear with it, it can look more red or more coral. Plus, it only costs $2. 

I bought the nail polish at the same time I bought the lip gloss, and didn’t even realize how well they matched until later.

If you’re worried about red being too bright on you, experiment with different shades. There are so, so many shades of red available, I’m sure there’s one to flatter your skin tone. 
If Fire Coral is too bright or orangey for you, try this set of three polishes. If you buy, all three, you actually save 50%.
If you prefer lipstick to gloss, e.l.f. Mineral Mineral Lipstick is 100% mineral based with no parabens, no preservatives and no chemical dyes. And, it’s only $5 a tube. 
Cheerful Cherry $5

7. Make a list. 
When you take inventory, make a list of what you don’t have, but would like to get. Keep this list in your purse, so when you’re out on Black Friday, you’ll be better prepared to resist those deals on things you don’t need.

On my list, a mustard colored top. I’m in love with this color, and I don’t have any of it in my closet.

Study Break from Shabby Apple

I’m also saving up for some boots, like these from Old Navy.

What trends do you plan to partake in this fall? What are your favorite fall colors to wear?

Have you ever shopped your closet? If not, check out this post and read the “Homework” section for instructions. 

BTW: If you too are looking for a new dress, enjoy a Special Treat for the Month of October from Shabby Apple. Save $10 Off all Black and Orange Dresses

Define Basics: What Do You Really Need?

The “basics” are essential to a versatile, classy, and loveable wardrobe. And this is where I have trouble. When I go shopping, I’m easily distracted by something sparkly and I forget that what I really need is a pair of black flats.

I found this list of twelve must have basics, the bare essentials every woman needs in her wardrobe. What’s your score?


Essential Wardrobe Staples

1. Little black dress (LBD)
2. A black suit (blazer and pants)
3. White button down shirt
4. Knee length black skirt
5. Classic trench coat
6. Dark denim jeans
7. Black pumps
8. Black flats
9. Two cardigan sweaters, one black and one white
10. Black leather bag
11. Set of pearls
12. Diamond (or small cubic zirconium) studs

Midnight Garden
Classic black dress: Midnight Garden from

I got 7 and a half out of twelve, so almost 60%. Hmmm. How did you do?

When picking your basics, keep some of the other principles we’ve talked about in mind. For instance, if button up shirts aren’t flattering on you, look for an alternative, like the white wrap shirt below. Try googling “White wrap shirt” and all sorts of options will come up.

While some lists might include a pencil skirt as a must have basic, if you know they make your hips look too big, find a black A-line skirt or a pencil skirt with a little flair at the bottom.

Adelaide and All Ruffled from Shabby Apple.

More Info

What are your wardrobe basics, your go-to items? If you could add something to the essentials list, what would it be? 
P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! (click the cupcake button on the sidebar to go there).My commenting system had some issues on that post, but with help from technical support, I found out what happened. I have all of your comments that were left with Intense Debate, so if you already entered, don’t worry! You’re still entered.

P.P.S. Is anyone trying the homework for this week ? Or catching up on last week? How is it going? 

P.P.P.S. This is technically the LAST Fashion 101 post. Having said that, I will probably do a weekend reading post with some good resources for finding more fashion advice, and now and then, I might pop in another fashion post if I feel like it. Has this series been helpful? Did you learn anything? 

Give Scribbles From Emily’s sponsors some love!

Dresses from Shabby Apple