When One is All You Have- #1Dress1Month

Growing up in Senegal, I knew that many of my friends only had one nice outfit…or one outfit at all. As a fashion lover since the age of about three, I would spend days or weeks planning what to wear to a party (a habit I haven’t grown out of), and my Christmas and Birthday wish lists always included that one item I felt would complete my sartorial bliss. Meanwhile, some of my friends would wear the same shirt and pants to every party, and every Sunday at church.

I’m well aware of this disconnect between the life I have lived and that of so many of my friends. Some of those dearest to me have recounted memories of being picked on at school because they wore the same shirt every day. I remember that very thing happening in my Canadian public school to the children of families on social assistance.

As hurtful as being bullied for your appearance is, not having enough clothes gets even more painful when the weather changes, as it is changing now. It’s this season that makes the difference between those who have, and those who don’t, a fatal gap.

That’s why, this month, I’m putting things into perspective for myself. For the entire month of November, I will wear one thrifted, little black dress. This dress:

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As I go through the month, I’ll be posting pictures of my black dress ensembles on social media, and raising awareness about how important warm clothes is for children in winter. Through my project, I hope to inspire those of use who are blessed with more than enough, to give the gift of warm clothes to kids in places where winter is bitterly cold, like Romania, through World Vision’s gift catalogue.

For someone who loves the creativity and self-expression of getting dressed in the morning, you might think this is a sacrifice. But it’s not. I get to choose from a myriad of accessories, sweaters, shoes, tights, and outerwear as the temperature drops. And, in choosing what piece I would wear for the month, I picked from about a dozen (mostly thrifted) dresses, including no less than four black dresses. This is an adventure- living without winter clothing in places like Romania isn’t.

When I was 17, I visited Romania on a high school music tour. One day we drove through a little village on our way to a local tourist attraction. As we passed the houses, I caught a glimpse of a little girl standing in a doorway, very close to the road. She was bundled against the March chill, and on her head was a warm hat in the design of a strawberry.

The image of that little girl has stuck with me. As I go through the month, I’ll be keeping her and her winter hat in mind as a symbol of what I want to achieve- that every little child we work with will have proper winter clothing this year. I’m hoping that’s a dream that will catch on.

PS- See some of the looks I’ll be taking inspiration from on my Pinterest board! To learn more about why I shop ethically (including the thrift store, where I bought my black dress), check out this post.

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No Shopping for 365 Days?! Katie of Sustainability in Style

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my blog, let me introduce myself.

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My name is Katie and I am an ex-fashionista now Environmental Scientist and Sustainability major on a self imposed 365 Day ‘Wardrobe Workout’ shopping ban. Abstaining from purchasing clothing, footwear or accessories for a year has been a great way to learn how to stretch my current closet contents and Graces Way has asked me to share some of my tips with you.

Do some homework:

In order to get the most out of what you own you need to work out your personal style. The most incredible tool I have found to assist in the process is into-mind.com. The genius behind it all, Anuschka, has step-by-step programs that will help you identify your personal style and streamline your closet and best of all its free and fun.

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Creating a mood board is a great way to have a visual reminder of the style you want to convey.
The finished mood board!
The finished mood board!

Go Shopping and leave your purse at home:

Heading in store or online and checking out the latest styles without intention to spend can be a surprising experience. So often we are drawn to things we already own. If you have a feeling of shopping déjà vu there is a good chance you will find something similar in your own closet. On day 191 of my challenge I was lusting over a cardigan in the store window only to realise I have a shawl identical to it in my closet and could easily replicate the look. Take inspiration from what you love in store and try to style something similar at home, you will be pleasantly surprised at what you can come up with a little lateral thinking.

Inspiration Look...
Inspiration Look…
...and my version!
…and my version!

Make a mess:

Being creative can be messy. Get some crates or tubs you have lying around and label them ‘recycle’ ‘rethink’ and ‘repair’ and start sorting anything you haven’t worn in the last year (or ever) into categories. ‘Recycled’ goods are ones you know you will NEVER wear; these can be given to charity, used for fabric scraps, or repurposed into cleaning rags. Your ‘rethink’ box is for things you like but for some reason aren’t quite right. Most items in my rethink box have changed colour or shape a couple of times throughout my challenge. If you use INTO MIND to determine your idea colour pallet and preferred proportions, you might find yourself with a whole new wardrobe of clothes simply by dying (look for a copy of ‘Eco Colour’ by India Flint for dyeing options) or altering a few hemlines. If you just like the fabric you could use it to make a cushion or a purse.  The repair box will be full of old favourites, the things you long to wear but need some TLC. If you’re not sewing savvy find a great local tailor. Its much less ‘expensive’ time wise to invest a little money getting your favourites repaired than it is to find a perfect replacement.

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Be thoughtful about your look, and don’t be afraid to plan!

Take some time to appreciate what you have:

Have you seen ‘THAT’ person, the one that turns heads with their seemingly effortless and authentic style? That person could be you and you don’t even know it. Being OK in your body and your life can give such a radiant and positive glow to your persona. If you don’t believe me spend an afternoon on Stylelikeu.com. It is the most wonderful collection of personal stories of style and has some great insights into how style is not about what we wear, its about what’s underneath, our spirit. I personally recommend the ‘What’s Underneath’ Project and the ‘Second Skin’ series (BYO popcorn as you will likely be watching for a while, its addictive).

By shopping your closet you not only save money, you will save time, liberate yourself from the constraints of consumption (and yucky department store fluorescent lighting), and find your own style ‘groove’.

If you be brave and have fun with your style then outfit compliments are guaranteed!

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Megan from Grace’s Way here! As some of you will already know, Grace’s Way is promoting a one year, buy ethical challenge with the hashtag #graceswaypledge on Instagram and Twitter. For an even bigger earth-friendly challenge, let Katie know you are joining her cause with the hashtag #sustainabilityinstyle and #365DayChallenge!

Also, for those of you who are having problems with the giveaway widget, you can also enter the Luminance Skincare giveaway though their blog. You can also leave question for Luminant Skincare on this post to be entered! 

The Scent of Wanderlust

Coming up for air out of the salty sea, spices from far-away lands, a juicy pink guava for a tropical breakfast, a leafy bower of delicate lilac blossoms…

 

What does Wanderlust smell like to you?

 

Scents can trigger so many memories, and that what the brand Pacifica built itself upon. The company uses all-natural oils and essences to make their bright, beautiful perfumes. Each one if inspired by an exotic locale, and with their inexpensive price range (from $8-$20 for the perfumes), you can experience a little escape whether you are in an office or at the beach! I have been a fan for about five years now, and I wanted to share some of my favourite scents with you, and why I love them.

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Beachy: The scent I generally associate with the beach and summer is coconut. But, while they do have a coconut scent, my favourite beachy Pacifica perfume (and my all-time favourite from the line) is Malibu Lemon Blossom. It has notes of salty air, lemon, and the flower angelica. As soon as I smelled it, I was transported to my favourite place in the world- the Phare beach in Dakar, Senegal, a place where I have so many special memories. I’ve been going on a few excursions to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, and I bring it along in my beach bag every time.

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Fruity: Hawaiian Ruby Guava is a favourite of both my Mom and my sister, Emma. Neither of them are too into perfume, and this deliciously ripe, citrusy-sweet scent is perfect for them. It was one of the first Pacifica scents I fell in love with, in the form of a candle.

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Floral: If you are a fan of the cult-favourite Kai perfume oil, but don’t want to shell out $48 for a tiny rollerball, I would give the lush florals Waikiki Pikake and Tahitian Gardenia a try. Similar to Kai, both of these scents are pure, exotic white flowers. Waikiki Pikake is my favourite of the two. It was inspired by a Hawaiian princess, and is simply magical.

 

Personally, I am on a subtle, delicate flower kick right now. French Lilac is definitely next on my to-buy list. It smells like soft spring blossoms, and reminds me of springtime walks in Canada, and the green hills of Grasse in France. I have a candle in the fragrance, and I keep it in my pajama drawer. It really adds such a beautiful scent to my sleepwear, so I can drift off to dreamland in peace.

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The lovely Pacifica French Lilac candle in action

 

Spicy: Tibetan Mountain Temple is my cold-weather favourite. It smells like warm spices in a sandalwood base, but the orange zest keeps it from being overpowering. This is a cuddly fragrance for fall days and winter nights. It’s also kind of unisex, and I bet it would smell just as great on a guy as it does on me.

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Sweet: Island Vanilla is such a unique vanilla for me. It’s not overly sweet, but it’s also not deep, like some vanilla fragrances. It falls somewhere between, and manages to have a refreshing tone to it. I love putting this in the ends of my hair. The oils and coconut wax smooth split ends, and I get whiffs of the scent when I turn my head.

With summer beginning here in Egypt, I’ve also been really craving coconut scents. If you’re on the same page, I think Indian Coconut Nectar would hit the spot. It’s a milky, light , sweet coconut scent is simply divine.

 

Pacifica scents are made to be layered, so you can create your own signature fragrance, or wear the perfectly blended versions on their own. They carry natural body care products and home fragrance products in their scents. Pacifica has also branched out into skincare and cosmetics, and just released a line of 7-chemical free nail polish! Hopefully I, or one of my Grace’s Way partners, can test out those soon.

 

Pacifica products can be found in Whole Foods in Canada, the US, and the UK, as well as various other natural stores. If you want to shop online, go directly to their website!

 

If you’ve tried anything else from their line, let me know! I am always looking to expand my Pacifica arsenal, and I’d love some enabling. Happy scented travels.

 

gracefully yours,

 

Megan

A Daisy Chain OOTD

“Don’t you think daisies are the friendliest flower?”-Meg Ryan, You’ve Got Mail

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I have a slight obsession with flowers. Daisies are some of my favourites ever since You’ve Got Mail made it into my top 10 movie list. Who didn’t love making daisy chains when they were young, stringing them in their hair and pretending to be a fairy princess? There is just something about daisies that is so inviting and innocent.

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I’ve been looking for a daisy dress for quite a while. I was super lucky when, on my first trip to one of Cairo’s vintage markets, I found one! It was a grand total of six dollars Canadian. It’s so comfortable and easy to wear.

 

The trick with vintage markets, or any vintage store, is to keep an open mind, and look for colour and fabric first, not style. As you scan the racks, your eyes should be tuned to looking for interesting patterns and colours. I am always attracted to pretty pastels and floral patterns. According to your personal style, have an idea of the kind of thing you are looking for, but don’t get too detailed before you go. If you have a general idea of what you want- say, simple dresses- you will have much more luck than if you are looking for a specific colour or style. Also, if you do need a specific piece, you may need to go back on multiple occasions to get a sense of where things are, and when new pieces arrive. Have patience, and you will be rewarded with something unique and lovely.

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Dress- vintage

Belt- vintage

Locket, ring and pearl earrings- gifts from my lovely parents!

Flower hair clip- old: similar

Sandals- Birkenstock discontinued style: similar 

 

I’ve worn this dress at least four times since I bought it a couple weeks ago. I also took it on a weekend vacation to the Red Sea, and it was so easy to throw over my swimsuit. I love bringing dresses on summer holidays, because they save space in my suitcase, and they work at the pool, on the beach, going for a stroll in the garden, and at dinner jazzed up with some jewelry! In Cairo, I generally have to put leggings on underneath, for cultural reasons. But at the resort, and in my garden, with the flowers, I’m as free as…well, a daisy!

 

I’ve also uploaded a little outfit of the day and mini get-read-with-me video!

Do you guys like these short videos? I am still getting used to filming and editing, so they are nothing fancy, but I think they add a little something to a normal outfit post.

 

Also, this is not the only dress I bought that day. The other will be make an appearance in another post soon. Until then, happy sustainable shopping!

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If you have a beauty, fashion or lifestyle brand you think we should feature, or would like to do a guest post, please email me at contactgracesway@gmail.com! I have been in contact with so many of you, and some of those collaborations will be coming to Grace’s Way very soon.

 

PS- My favourite flower will be revealed on Instagram for this week’s #flowerfriday!

 

Photography by myself and Ahmed Badawi.

In My Dreams- A Wishlist

Graces Way In My Dreams Wishlist

 

For me, Pinterest is all about dreaming. Whether it’s a make-you-think quote, an interesting DIY, or a magical pair of shoes, I can spend hours finding inspiration in the pretty pictures. My birthday is in a few days, and since it’s a time when no one can tell me not to put my head in the clouds, I’ve put my In-My-Dreams Wishlist on the Grace’s Way Pinterest.

Here are some lovely things I am swooning for. Starting from the middle and then going clockwise from the top, we have:

 

Puff Piece Adornments Petal Flower Crown– $18

Designer Krystin not only makes these works of art incorporating upcycled materials, but she is also just a lovely person. Her hand-made crowns are sold on Avenle and Etsy. Plus, her prices are so incredibly reasonable for such fairy-tale items.

 

Mae Movement Roller Girl Set- $36

If you haven’t read our tell-all interview with Mae Movement founder Haley, click here! Her bracelets give women in Nepal a wage three times that of the average salary in their country. They also give them a way to stay out of the sex slave trade. Oh, and they are bright, fun, and adorable pieces! The pastel greens and corals in this set were basically mae-d for me!

 

One Love Organics Travel Set– $50

I have heard such great things about this brand, especially from Ashley of makeupTIA. Their products are pretty expensive by my standards, but very special. This travel pack comes in a cute little bag that says Love in pink letters. I think it would be a great way to see what all the fuss is about.

 

Mermaid Shampoo and Conditioner– $60 for the set

I’ve been looking for a new natural shampoo and conditioner. This is it. Coconut and orange blossom scented and sulfate-free, I want these to be my new best friends. Basically a dream in two bottles.

 

A ticket to a Staves concert– $?

This one fits into the lifestyle category. I have been loving the Staves for a couple months now, ever since I asked a friend in the music production business to recommend some musicians similar to Scarlett O’Connor on my current favourite show, Nashville.

The Staves are three sisters with hauntingly beautiful voices and melodies, and lyrics just as poetic as their sound. I would love to see them in concert one day!

 

Della LA Travel Bag– $24

Can you tell I have a thing for cute little travel bags? I am always traveling, so I can justify the many I already have. They are just so helpful for organizing the bits and bobs I bring with me. This pretty purple zip-up case was handmade by artisans in Ghana by super-chic up and coming fair trade brand Della. The lilac and aqua tie-die is one of my favourite colour combinations.

 

Sole Rebels tooTOOs– $65

This brand makes fair-trade, eco-friendly footwear. I am loving their adorable tooTOOs style- a fabric ballet flat. I’m not ashamed to admit that I want every colour, but I’m kind of on a lavender kick, and the light purple ones are calling my name. Then again, the grey ones look really practical…hmm…

 

Mermaid Perfume No. 1– $50 for the perfume spray, $25 for the mini oil rollerball

I definitely don’t need another perfume, but…just the name makes me want to close my eyes and dive under salty waves. From the makers of Mermaid Hair, Mermaid No. 1 is an orange blossom scent that so many lovely ladies have raved about. Meghan from Briar Rose Blog wore it on her wedding day.

Sarah from Vintage Magpies pranced in a field wearing a breathtaking cobalt dress with it in tow.

I already love it for it’s all-natural ingredients, mystery, and lovely aesthetic, but the scent of orange blossoms is also special to me for its presence in the picture-perfect town of Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia. After climbing to the top of the hill, there is a little café where you can drink orange juice under the blooming orange trees. The town, with it’s white buildings and blue doors, coastal views, and laid-back atmosphere, was my very favourite place in Tunisia. I would love to have a perfume to remember it by.

 

RMS “Un” cover up– $36

RMS has been on my radar for a number of years. Recently I’ve been thinking I need to switch out the toxic, chemical-ridden stuff in my makeup bag with more natural fare. I have allergies around my eye area, and I have to be so careful with concealers and foundation. This one really intrigues me because it is meant to enhance your skin, not totally cover up- something I was never a big fan of with foundation anyway. It’s packed with lovely ingredients like coconut oil, which my dry skin definitely needs.

 

She And Reverie Mermaid Skirt– $148

Have I mentioned that I love mermaids? This gorgeous skirt by hand-made loungewear company She And Reverie is made of softest cotton and printed with beautiful mermaids and roses in pink, blue and aqua.

 

The Grace's Way Pinterest Board
The Grace’s Way Pinterest Board

Whew! I thought this was just going to be a few, but when I sat down and thought about it, there are so many lovely things I’ve been checking out lately. For more details on where to buy them, click through to my wishlist Pinterest board! Some of these are a little pricey, but hey, I get one blow-out-my-candles wish right? Now which should I choose…

 

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Let me know what’s on your wishlist in the comments below, or with the hashtag #gracesway on Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram! Happy pinning 🙂

gracefully yours,

Megan

A Desert Adventure

Since I was a little girl, the desert has intrigued me. We lived in Senegal, West Africa for five years when I was growing up, just on the edge of the vast Sahara, and I always dreamed of living with the Bedouin like a character in 1001 Nights. When I was a teenager, Hidalgo and Sahara were my favourite movies.

I’ve had my fair share of desert forays, from sleeping in a Moroccan-style tent, climbing sand dunes and riding camels in Senegal, to baking bread under the sand in Tunisia- both in the Sahara-not to mention, one harrowing but memorable ride on horseback at 2 am near the pyramids.

These particular snaps are from a quick adventure on the way back from Sahel, Egypt’s North Coast.

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Photo by Ahmed Hossam Badawi

 

Everything I’m wearing, except for jewelry is vintage. The shirt, skirt and belt are all from the vintage market in Tunis, and are unknown brands. My burgundy Keds are from a Value Village on the Danforth in Toronto. The wooden necklace was a gift from my parents, from Senegal. The dolphin earrings were made out of a seed pod by the Malika Monkeys- a group of artisans in Senegal who mostly make African drums. Check out their website here for more fun jewelry and gifts- their skirts are especially gorgeous! I liked wearing these Senegalese pieces on this particular trip, because they remind me of my dreams as a child- and how I am living them now!

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By the way, along the road we saw a herd of camels! I wish I had taken a video, because it was amazing. There were so many of them. Here is a blurry photo I managed to snap out the window!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetBy way of an update for those of you who have been following Grace’s Way on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, we had some issues with the camera on the trip, so there won’t be a lookbook video per se. However, we did manage to get photos, so I will be posting more of those soon. Once I get comfortable with video editing again (it’s been years!) and work out the camera kinks, I will try to post a lookbook. I have a very special idea in mind, so keep an eye out!

Also, if you are a fair-trade-loving, sustainably-living type person- or just trying to give it a go- send me your photos, post ideas, or experiences! This site is definitely not meant to be just me. Like with Haley’s interview, I love featuring people and brands who are making beautiful things, for the good of our planet and the people living here. So email me at contactgracesway@gmail.com, tweet @thisisgracesway or post on Instagram with the hashtag #gracesway.

That’s all for now, Graces. Have an adventurous day!

PS- It’s Audrey Hepburn’s birthday today!

PPS- It’s my (Megan’s) birthday month!

 

 

Let’s dress like Grace Kelly and save the planet!

My closet full of vintage lovelies.

Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel, Grace Kelly, Daisy from the Great Gatsby- what do all these women (real and imagined) have in common? They were born into an age when your favourite dress came from a shop down the street, or was tailor-made for you and worn for years. It wasn’t mass produced in a factory across the world, where the people who worked on it are payed less than your lipgloss cost you. It didn’t fall apart after a couple summers. It stayed beautiful for years. Maybe this is why we can still buy dresses from the 40s, 50s, 60s- even 20s- today, and continue to wear and enjoy them.

 

Vintage shopping is nothing new, but it’s gaining popularity with trendsetters from Taylor Swift  to Violet magazine creator and star stylist Leith Clark (who has dressed Kierra Knightley, Clemence Poesy, Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams to name a few).

 

One designer who is vintage inspired is the iconic Orla Kiely. In a video on her collaboration with ethical clothing producer People Tree, Kiely talked about “fast fashion” vs. quality designs: “The race to buy cheap clothes…and you know, they don’t last, they fall apart, and I just think there’s so much to be said for quality now.” Kiely encouraged customers to “invest in pieces that they love and that will last,” and to “think about what they’re buying.”

Orla Kiely People Tree SS14 Dress

Of course, we often don’t think they have the luxury of buying ethically, because of how much we think it will cost. On her blog, Wildfox Couture designer Kimberly Gordon gave us some advice about this. “When I was younger I shopped at places like Forever 21, now I realize what that company has to sacrifice to keep their prices so low, including low pay for their employees, bad fabrics (in many ways), cheap factories, and the stealing of other people’s creativity and hard work,” she said.

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Kimberly Gordon of Wildfox

As an alternative, Gordon suggested “looking for local brands or vintage.” “If you regularly shop somewhere cheap check out its history and make sure you aren’t supporting something you don’t believe in!” she warned.

 

Those things that you may not believe in include art theft, in other words, when brands like Anthropologie and Forever 21 steal a struggling artist’s work and use it for their own profit. As the sister of an artist, that does not sit well with me.

 

An even bigger problem with high street fashion, is that the less you pay, the less wages and rights someone on the other side earns to get them to you. According to the Guardian, hundreds of people have been involved in making the shirt you are wearing. Many of them were paid $2 a day. Last year, the Rana Plaza Disaster in Bangladesh made use realize the impossibly high cost of of high street brands like River Island and Primark. Though most of the brands whose clothing was being created in the factories have signed The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, many are wondering if they will actually change their ways. Horrible things like Rana have happened before- fires, the discovery of factories without washrooms, of children working long hours…and little to nothing has changed.

 

Here’s the thing- by investing your money in quality pieces, you actually save in the long run. You won’t have to buy as much, or as often, since your clothes won’t fall apart. Get creative, and wear what you have, adding a fair-trade statement piece or a new pair of recycled sole shoes.

 

Quality is another pro of second-hand shopping: if a dress is in a vintage shop, chances are its been loved enough that if it hasn’t gone to piece by now, it’s not going to for another long while. Plus, there is always that shot in a million that it once graced the beautiful frame of one of your fashion inspirations.

Marie Claire’s 8 favourite online vintage stores

Buying used clothing is also a way to keep our planet beautiful. The process of making your t-shirt the colour of your favourite flower is actually one of the most serious threats to that flower. You know the sweet “Fabric of My Life” ads with a celebrity twirling in a cotton sundress? The industry that made that dress is responsible for 25% of the insecticides used worldwide.  That’s a lot of chemicals going into the plants and animals around us. By buying a similar dress at a vintage store, you cut down on those chemicals and save our natural resources. Plus, you look unique and adorable doing it.

 

Grace once said, “ If there is one thing that is foreign to me it is shopping for pleasure. On the other hand, I believe that it is right to honor all those who create beautiful things and give satisfaction to those who see me wearing them.”

 

In buying cheap products, are we really honoring those who made them? Or are we saying, “My desire to look pretty and own pretty things is more important than your life?” Do you, like Grace Kelly, want to be remembered as someone who did her best to help others, or as someone who just looked pretty?

 

This is what Grace’s Way is about- following the example of women like Grace Kelly. It is about resisting the urge- and the incessant marketing- that pushes us to buy more, at cheaper prices (and lower quality), rather than save up and spend more for pieces that will last long enough to become our favourites. It’s about acknowledging the beauty of the world and people around us, and loving enough to protect them.

 

I believe that beautiful things can be ethical too. Starting today, Earth Day 2014, I am making a commitment to the earth and the people on it. I commit to buying only vintage and sustainable clothing for this year. Will you make the pledge with me, and believe that beauty can do good? If you will, tweet or post on Instagram with the hashtag #gracepledge2014. Let’s join the movement of fashion for good!

What would Grace Kelly do?

Happy Earth Day 2014 from Grace’s Way! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!