Gifts That Give Back

“‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!'” – The Grinch

This is my favorite quote to repeat every holiday season. It also happens to come from one of my all time favorite movies. I think this is something we all tend to forget during the hustle and bustle of this busy month, so it’s good to remind ourselves every now and again!

But…

What if I told you the holidays can mean a little bit more while coming from a store?!

I’ve done tons of research and window (screen?) shopping so I could round up some of the most charitable brands for you to shop this holiday season.

Give back and check off names on your list? Win, win.

Colorfully Yours,

Haley

 

Alex and Ani

The Alex and Ani Charity By Design collection donates proceeds from designated bangles to their respective causes. My personal favorite is the Side by Side Charm Bangle Set for two main reasons. First of all, 20% of proceeds benefit the JDRF, whose purpose is to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Secondly, the otters remind me of my brotherAA.jpg, Colin. While I was sick during my freshman year of college, he sent me a picture he had found of two otters holding hands – apparently otters sleep like this to keep from drifting apart. It has been the photo I use for his contact info in my phone ever since. If only he wore bracelets!

 

Sseko Designs

The mission of Uganda-based Sseko Designs is to help women overcome poverty by providing them with employment and scholarship ss.jpgopportunities. I originally heard about them because of their ribbon sandals. However, this doesn’t really seem like the optimal time of year to be giving summer footwear. Luckily, they have plenty of other items to go around! I personally love this Merry & Bright Bangle Package. It comes with a bronze and gold clutch, a set of three handcrafted brass bangles,  and an inspirational print.

 

 

Better World Books

It should be clear by now that I’m a bookworm. I love receiving books as gifts. Better World Books runs a “Book for Book” program, where they donate a book to a literacy-promoting non-profit for every one purchased on the site. They have raised $18 million for global literacy programs so far, and they also use green practices! Read my book reviews for recommendations or play it safe with a gift certificate!

 

Yoobiyoobi.jpg

A one stop shop for all things desk and organization related, Yoobi donates an item to a classroom in need in the U.S. for every item you purchase! If cute notepads, planners, and office supplies don’t float your recipient’s boat, these adorable headphones will.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 2.35.17 PM.pngRoma Boots

Just like the well-known brand TomsRoma donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased on their site. They also fill those boots with school supplies! On top of that, 10% of all sales proceeds from the company go towards educating underprivileged youth so we can “give poverty the boot.” I’ll take this floral pair!

 

Bravelets

As I informed you all in my post a few weeks ago, I bought a few pieces of jewelry from Bravelets. The site donates $10 to your
designated cause for every item sold. My Brave Page benefits the JDRF for Type 1 diabetes research, but feel free to choose any of the available organizations! I’m in love with my Be Brave earrings!

Through Iris Colored Glasses

iris apfel

“Color is so important. I mean, color can raise the dead.” — Iris Apfel

If you don’t know who Iris Apfel is, you are seriously missing out.

I’ll admit that until recently, I wasn’t quite sure who she was. I recognized her from her signature round, oversized glasses and white hair. I knew she had something to do with the fashion world. But I wasn’t exactly sure what that ‘something’ was.

Thank heavens for Netflix.

I recently came across Iris, a 2014 documentary about Apfel shot by the late legendary filmmaker Albert Maysles, on the streaming site. I always thought Ms. Apfel looked cool in photos, and of course I can appreciate a bold eyeglass frame. I decided to give the documentary a try – I could always switch to something mindless if it didn’t keep my interest.

Fast-forward to the end of the documentary, and I found myself Googling “Iris Apfel mailing address” so I could express my intense appreciation for her in writing.

While I didn’t find an address, I thought sharing the greatness that is Iris in blog form would be the next best thing.

“I don’t give a damn about going to the party or being at the party, it’s getting dressed FOR the party. And there’s truth and poetry in that.” — Iris Apfel

Through my supplementary research, I learned that the now 94-year-old has been interested in fashion since she was eight years old. Iris attended NYU and the University of Wisconsin. She even worked as a ‘copy girl’ at Women’s Wear Daily in the 1940’s. She worked for interior designer Elinor Johnson as well as illustrator Robert Goodman.

iris apfel

The documentary went on to inform me that Apfel and her husband Carl opened a textile firm in 1950 called Old World Weavers. The couple created custom textiles for wealthy clients, and with continued success they went on to travel the world in search of inspiration. Iris recalls scouring souks and markets for unique, worldly pieces. The pair was even hired by nine presidents to complete restorations in the White House. In 1992, they received an offer they couldn’t refuse, and sold Old World Weavers.

Iris’s worldwide inspiration didn’t end there, though. The documentary follows the icon as she barters in African shops in Harlem and sifts through thrift store merchandise. In one flea market scene, Iris buys a bright red, studded flat brim hat for Carl – who is 100-years-old at the time of filming.

Iris’ sense of style is unlike anything I’ve seen, particularly for a woman of her age. She carries herself with such confidence and self-assuredness that people can’t help but take her seriously, even in the craziest of ensembles. She knows what she wants and does not take no for an answer. Iris recalls being one of the first women to wear jeans in the 1940’s. It was deemed inappropriate for a female to wear jeans at that time, but Iris haunted a shop owner for six weeks until he made her a pair to get her off his back.

iris apfel, karlie kloss, kate spade

Iris in a Spring 2015 Kate Spade ad alongside Karlie Kloss

However, despite her strong will, Iris is anything but curmudgeonly. In one scene, she stops the procession of the red carpet to invite an old friend to dinner at her place. She ignores the flashbulbs of the cameras to bend down and affectionately rub the head of her husband, seated in a wheelchair beside her. In another scene, as she poses in front of an artistic rendering of herself, she reaches out and holds the hand of her doorman, inviting him into the frame.

When Iris meets Kanye West, she tells him that she is a big fan of his. When he tells her she looks great, she blushes. Later, when she meets Jenna Lyons, Iris talks about how impressed she is by the J.Crew Creative Director and President, although Lyons insists it is the other way around.

Part of what launched the cult-like fame around Apfel was an exhibition at the renowned Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. When the Institute’s original exhibit fell through, Iris was approached and asked if she would be willing to show off her collection of couture costume jewelry – one of the two largest collections in the country. The curators decided it would make more of an impact if they also showed some full outfits alongside the jewels to show the power of transformation in accessories. It snowballed into an unforgettable and whimsical exhibit.

And whimsical she is. The documentary peeks inside the Apfel’s Palm Beach, Florida apartment. Every inch of the space is filled with games, stuffed animals, and trippy trinkets. In anyone else’s home it would look kitschy – in Iris’, it looks high fashion. The home has a toy store feel, which alludes to the childlike personalities of both Iris and Carl – in the best way possible. The couple leaves the Christmas lights and decorations up for eight months out of the year.

Every figurine tells a story, and each is artfully placed. As she shows us around the space, she stops to say hello to a stuffed Kermit the Frog, seated atop the ostrich-statue-turned-bar. “Kermit decided he’d love to live here, and he’s become a terrible lush. See how tipsy he is?” It’s impossible not to fall in love with her wit. She shows us a large dog statue and explains how it took her years to find the right statement necklace to fit both the dog’s ceramic neck as well as his personality.

Apfel was asked to decorate one of the world-renowned Bergdorf Goodman window displays. She painstakingly styled each mannequin with layers of baubles. Nothing was an accident – she took control of everything down to the way her feather boa sat in a mannequin’s hand. Each mannequin’s face remained empty except for an oversized pair of spectacles.

Iris Apfel, Carl Apfel

Iris and Carl

Perhaps the most poignant aspect of Iris is the relationship between Iris and her husband, Carl. The pair has a silly, dry rapport. Although Iris often pretends to roll her eyes at Carl, the camera repeatedly pans down to their wrinkled, pale hands intertwined. As wheelchair-bound Carl watches Iris try on clothes in a vintage shop, he sings out of tune: “That’s where my money goes, to buy my baby’s clothes!” The love between the two is palpable. He later remarks how lucky he is to have such a talented wife – “I think I’ll keep her,” he jokes. Towards the end of the film, Iris admits that she has just had surgery but kept it a secret from her husband. He is “so devoted to me,” she reveals, with sadness in her eyes. She didn’t want to worry him. Heartbreakingly, Carl passed away on August 1st, a few days shy of his 101st birthday.

After I watched Iris, I gushed to my TV-and-film-critic brother about how the documentary – and the person – had instantly become my new favorite thing. He replied: “She’s so you. Old lady who’s super cute, sassy, and stylish. I.e. you in 65 years.” I’ve never been so flattered – I told him that if I am 1/100th as amazing as she is, my work will be done. But I won’t argue the similarities. She unapologetically says she likes “big, bold, and lots of pizzazz…[because] life is gray and dull, and you might as well have a little fun when you dress.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, sister.

“That’s what life is about – if you’re just gonna sit there and do the same damn thing all the time, you may as well jump into the box yourself.” — Iris Apfel

Head to Netflix to check out Iris and let me know what you think! I hope you love it as much as I do.

The LC Runway Collection

sept-02

It’s no secret that I adore Lauren Conrad. In fact, I wrote all about my love for her a month or two ago on this very blog. I entered (and won!) a contest on her site. And when my friend referred to LC as my “spirit animal” just the other day, I basically squealed.

So it comes as no surprise that I was psyched to find out that Lauren was premiering her newest Kohl’s collection on the runway at New York Fashion Week. However, I’ll admit to being a bit underwhelmed by the LC/Kohl’s collabs in the past, so I didn’t get my hopes up too high.

Boy, was I pleasantly surprised.

I am in love with the LC Runway Collection. It is ethereal, soft, feminine, and reminiscent of a woodland fairytale. The color palette is full of toned down neutrals and pastels. This is definitely outside of my comfort zone, as I tend to go for bold, bright colors, (duh) but it works so well here. The photos of Lauren herself in the collection actually glow. I’ve never had such a desire to be outdoors! Ha.

After making a mental ‘favorites’ list on the Kohl’s website, I couldn’t wait to get to my local store and see the items in the flesh.

Unfortunately, but not shockingly, my local Kohl’s had an extremely limited selection of LC Runway items. Regardless, it was nice to see the items in person – I was very impressed with the quality of each one I tried on.

LCRunway

But…

I hate that there’s a but. Lauren is my girl. BUT I promised that my reviews would be honest and uncolored.

First of all, the price point is a little wacko for Kohl’s. I understand that Lauren is a legitimate designer and this is an awesome collaboration, but at the end of the day, we’re still talking about Kohl’s. The store needs to pander to its demographic. Full disclosure: if I’m going to spend $230 on a backpack or $120 on a little jacket, it’s probably not going to be at Kohl’s.

Secondly, the sizing was bizarre. I had to keep grabbing larger and larger sizes of the faux-suede motorcycle jacket – the item I wanted to see most. I finally felt comfortable in the size 12 – WTF? But although the body fit in that size, the arms were much too loose. Ugh. Next, I tried the scuba skirt in a size bigger than my usual. Still too small! The bow sweater that I tried was a cute and normal fit, but I’d be reticent when ordering online. I’m so tempted to order some of the items that I couldn’t find in stores, but I’m not sure how far up to go in size.

Anyway, odd sizing aside, the collection is just as gorgeous in person as it is on the website – and that’s not something you run into often. Hopefully I can get to another (fully stocked) location and try on some of the other items I’m lusting after.

Speaking of lust, I’ve chosen my favorite items from the LC Runway Collection below:

  1. Faux-suede motorcycle jacketI wish this had fit my body type better, because I’m obsessed. Girly and edgy – my two personalities in one item. The pale pink was amazing, but I’d love to see the deep green in person too!
  2. High Waist Soft Pants: I think I need these in my life. I’m not sure what I like best. That crepe? That blush tone? That sash? Ahhhh!
  3. Floral Scuba Skirt:  This skirt is thick and flattering. The sweet, feminine style and print would pair perfectly with the edginess of the motorcycle jacket, in either color!
  4. Tiered Fringe Crop Top: Daisy Buchanan, is that you? Oh, no – it’s just me looking fierce and flappery in my [currently imaginary] fringe crop.
  5. Tulle Maxi Skirt:  I’ve been hunting for the perfect tulle skirt for so long. Now someone invite me somewhere so I can buy this!
  6. Sequin Ombre Midi Skirt: Sequins + ombre + pink = a dream come true.
  7. Faux-Fur Collar Peacoat:  Don’t ask me how it even got into my head, but I’ve been wanting a pastel winter coat for the past couple of years. Hello, beautiful.
  8. Lace-Up High Heels: These are the ideal mix of classy and sexy. They’re so versatile, yet they’re reminiscent of a fairy princess. The perfect tie-in to the rest of the collection!

You may think I just listed most of the collection, but I promise this is an extremely narrowed down list. The collection is BIG. So much to choose from…so few money trees in my backyard. 😉

Keep my sizing comments in mind, but don’t let that stop you from shopping!

Support my spirit animal Lauren Conrad and channel your inner woodland fashionista while you’re at it. Time for your very own fairy tale!

#trending: GiGi New York

Me working in retail is like an alcoholic working in a liquor store. But since my family hasn’t staged an intervention yet, my shopping addiction will continue to be exacerbated by my part time gig. Let’s just say I don’t always take home a paycheck. The latest line that I’ve been lusting after from behind the register is GiGi New York. The brand hand-makes leather bags of all shapes, sizes and colors.

Although the company has been around since 2010, GiGi has received amazing exposure in recent months via social media. Fashion bloggers of all kinds have been posing with their personalized clutches, crossbody bags and satchels. I am a sucker for anything monogrammed as well as anything bright, and GiGi kills those two fashionable birds with one leather-covered stone.

image via What Courtney Wore, www.thecourtneykerr.com

image via What Courtney Wore, http://www.thecourtneykerr.com

When the bags first began popping up on my Instagram feed, I wasn’t necessarily head over heels purse. They were certainly cute, but by the time I clicked through to the site (www.giginewyork.com) and did some browsing, I didn’t think the simple bags were worth the price tag. When I saw them in person at work, though, I was immediately drawn to the bold hues and gold initials.

The clutches start at $105 before monogramming, but of course I am drawn to the bigger (and pricier) items like the Hayden Satchel, starting at $495. Maybe in my next life.

The Hayden Satchel

The Hayden Satchel

As a born bargain hunter, I still won’t be jumping on the GiGi train just yet. Instead, I’ll be spending all of my paychecks on a plane ticket to Florida – sun is perhaps the one thing I worship more than clothing. If I get a big check one of these days, though, you just may spot me with an embossed python GiGi… an “HMB” emblazoned on the front, of course.

Hint, hint – I didn’t just post my initials for kicks. 😉

Say Yes to The… Sweater?

Olivia WeddingAs most of us know, THE style icon Olivia Palermo tied the knot with her long-time boyfriend, German model Johannes Huebl, this past weekend.

I assumed Palermo’s wedding ensemble would be out of the ordinary, but I pictured something more along the lines of a pastel hued dress or even a structured white jacket over her gown.

I was surprised to see the trendsetter in separates – at first, not pleasantly so. I scoffed out loud when I spotted her solid three-quarter-length sweater. “That’s all she wore on her wedding day?” I gasped to my mom, who still isn’t quite sure who Olivia Palermo is. I think my initial disappointment came from two places:

1)    Society makes your wedding out to be the biggest day of your life, and I totally fell under that spell for a second when I turned the page of whatever magazine I spotted the newlyweds in.

2)    As one of my celebrity crushes, I had such high expectations of an extravagant, statement-making outfit for Palermo’s wedding day.

After about 45 seconds of glaring at the page, my mind did a complete 180. I realized:

1)    It’s a wedding. It’s one day, one ceremony. These people have been dating for over six years.

2)    Palermo did make a statement. That’s the whole point. Her statement was that she is a style icon and can wear whatever she wants, whenever she wants. She could style up a paper bag and people would ooh and ahh. That, and that she loves this hunky model and she doesn’t need to make a whole production out of it.

The couple got married in front of family and two friends. If that isn’t intimate, I don’t know what is. And I totally respect that. I actually might even envy it a little bit. I can only hope that I’ll be so in love with my German model hardworking and affectionate husband that I won’t need all the pomp and circumstance of a fairytale wedding.

Olivia Back ShotAnyway, back to the outfit. Upon further investigation, I found out that Palermo’s Carolina Herrera ensemble included three pieces, not two. She wore a cashmere sweater, a tulle skirt, and a pair of white shorts underneath. Perfect for that gorgeous photo of her frolicking away in the grass, messy ponytail and all. Style and function? Win, win.

She also took a page out of Carrie Bradshaw’s book and wore cobalt blue Manolo Blahnik shoes. The pop of color looked amazing – now let’s just hope Johannes is a better husband than Big.

So, I’m sorry for being rash, Olivia. I’m saying yes to your (three-piece) dress!

 

Tulle skirts aren’t just for special occasions, you know. In fact, I’ve wanted one since Carrie Bradshaw tried on her iconic tulle skirt/sheer tank top combo for the second time in the Sex and the City movie. Score a classic like this one from Etsy or this tamer version from Topshop. Not so sure about waltzing right into this ballerina trend? Ease in with this dress from Forever 21!

 

Forever21 Tulle Dress

Forever21 Tulle Dress

Topshop Tulle Skirt

Topshop Tulle Skirt

Etsy Tulle Skirt

Etsy Tulle Skirt