Belated Graceful Favourites- May!

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I am a few days late with this, but May has been an extremely busy month. It’s was my birthday month, and I’ve been traveling, working several jobs at once, and there is construction happening in my garden that disrupts my schedule. I will try to post my favourites in a more timely manner next month. And now, on to my favourite fair trade, natural, ethical, graceful things of the month!

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Beauty:

This month, I have been using two oldies but goodies quite a bit. One of them has been in my collection for years, and the other I received at the end of the month from my family.

Shorts Story by OPI is a lovely pink. It’s one of those colours that you just can’t look at with a frown, and it is a staple for me.

Bikini So Teeny by Essie is the most perfect periwinkle blue I have ever seen. I’ve been eyeing it for so very long, and I couldn’t believe it when I opened my birthday package from my family and found it there, wrapped in pretty polka-dotted pink paper. Thank you Mom, Emma and Beth for reading my colour-loving mind! The polish is a cream formula, with tiny shimmers in it. It does take some working with- I put on two coats one day, and a third the next morning for full opacity. But the colour is worth it. In the shade, it’s an almost-mod periwinkle leaning on the blue side. In the sunlight, it takes on a more sky-blue shade that I can’t take my eyes off of.

Both of these formulas are free of the main three chemicals that make nail polish toxic. I’ll be posting more about the levels of nail polish toxicity, and what you can do to keep your pretty fingers and toes from hurting the planet (and you!) soon.

Pink Blossom lip balm- Burt’s Bees lip balms are a cult favourite. This tinted formula is the perfect in-between for girls who aren’t into full-on lipstick or lipgloss. It’s buttery smooth, with a poppy-pink tint. Oh, and it’s almost totally natural.

EOS lip balm in honeydew melon- I’ll be honest, my first EOS (summerfruit) didn’t get that much use. But this one seems to be softer for some reason. My mom and sister bought the four pack in Costco, and asked me which flavour/sent I wanted. I’ve been using it a ton this spring, after borrowing my little sister’s strawberry one every night when I was home. Like the Burt’s Bees, it’s natural, plus it is sweetened with steevia. My only complaint is the excessive plastic packaging.

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Skincare:

I’ve been going back to basics at bathtime, and skipping the shower gel for the more traditionally made soap. This one is by Fragonard, a beautiful centuries-old parfumeur in Grasse, France, and a gift from my cousin Laura. I visited the factory while I was staying with Laura in Nice, and we got to see how they extract flower essences to make beautiful fragrances. This soap is a lot more natural than my Bath and Body works shower gel, and it feels so old-school glamourous. The delicate rose fragrance reminds me of Grace Kelly. I can picture her taking a quick jaunt to the Fragonard store to pick this up- the factory is only a few hours from Monaco. It came in a lovely keepsake box of four- lavender, verbena, rose and freesia. I only have the freesia left now, and then the box will hold trinkets and treasures.

I’ve been having some issues with dry patches on my face, and this Calendula cream from Weleda really soothes and heals them. It’s made to be used by all ages, so it’s very, very gentle. The whole Calendula line from Weleda is great if you have sensitive skin like me.

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Fragrance:

My first fragrance is not natural, per se, but I have been wearing it almost every day since I got it as a gift. Wild Bluebell from Jo Malone smells like a dew-spattered field of green grass and flowers, with a hint of sweetness. If you were a fairy, this is what you would wear. I’ve wanted it for years.

Since bluebells are an endangered wildflower, Jo Malone recreated their scent with lily of the valley, briar rose, orange flower and cloves. They also made a large donation to the Woodland Trust, to help preserve Britain’s beautiful bluebells. That sounds pretty graceful to me.

My natural fragrance pick of the month is Malibu Lemon Blossom by Pacifica. If you want to hear my full review of this fragrance, click here. It’s been traveling in my backpack, my purse, and my beach bag all month.

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Fashion:

When I like something, I wear it over and over and over. This was the case for my two fashion favourites this month. The first was a daisy dress that I bought at a used clothing market. It was originally from H&M, and I wore it every week. It got snagged on a nail, so it is in the mending pile right now, but it will be back for June! You can see more photos of it in my outfit post.

I received this necklace from my parents at the end of this month, but they showed it to me on Skype on my birthday. I have worn it almost every day because it matches EVERYTHING. I’ve never been a silver girl, always preferring gold, but this may just convert me. Thank you to Shakespeare’s Sisters for crafting such a unique piece, the lovely vintage-inspired Avenle for stocking it in their webstore, and my wonderful family for sending it to me!

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Food:

I am a tea addict, and this month, there have been tea that I have come back to over and over.

The first has been a favourite of mine since moving to Egypt, but I just recently discovered the “more than fair trade” story behind their products, which you can check out here. Dilmah strawberry tea is lovely with honey and milk when I have a sweet craving. It reminds me of the first time I tried flavoured tea. I was eleven years old, at an American Girl doll (remember those?) tea party in Dakar, Senegal. I had always loved drinking milky tea with my Dad, but at this party, they served us raspberry flavoured tea with milk and sugar. It was a revelation to me. Tea can have flavours? I was hooked on experimenting with tea from then on.

My other favourite has been the chai green tea from local health food store Imtenan. I like to make a cup of iced tea with this in the morning to wake me up. It’s a little spicy, which is a nice change from regular green tea.

Incredible colours at Abdel Zaher
Incredible colours at Abdel Zaher

Lifestyle:

Notebooks, notebooks, and more notebooks. Put me in a stationery shop, and I may never come out. That’s what it was like when I visited Abdel Zaher for the first time. The store is in a little nook, off the beaten path near the historic Al Azhar mosque in Cairo. A friend steered me into it on my first visit to Cairo and bought me this notebook. I’ve been waiting till I use up some others, and now it is my little travel journal!

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This lavender and gold softcover is from another Egyptian brand called Colors & Shapes. Their designs are really cute, and they are made here in Egypt too. This one I am using to write down poems, quotes, and good things.

 

That’s all for now. I hope all you had a graceful May, and that June is even more full of wonder, beauty, and joy. There are exciting things coming to Grace’s Way this month. Sometime next week, a buyer for a not-so-average fashion brand will be sharing her incredible story with us of how she went from L.A. to Haiti- and loves it!

 

gracefully yours,

 

Megan

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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!