Admittedly, I am way more into secondhand shopping and thrifting than I’m into hitting the mall. Recently, I picked up a few major scores, and thanks to Poshmark, I was able to find a vegan suede fringe jacket–for $20, nonetheless. While I was on the hunt for a camel moto jacket, I spotted this Western-inspired piece and decided it would make a stylish alternative to a biker one. After all, I already own a black moto jacket, so why not change things up a bit?

I was instantly able to think up a ton of cute outfits with pieces already in my closet. From this season’s must-have bodysuit-and-mom-jeans combo to a smokin’ hot “athleisure” getup, the possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to styling this gorgeous statement jacket.

On this particular day, however, I decided to play it safe with gray and black underneath; in my opinion gray, black and tan look really elegant together, so this outfit was totally a match made in heaven for me. A simple, soft v-neck allows a lacy bralette to peek through, while high-waist skinny jeans and sock booties give the look a sleeker vibe.

Vegan suede jacket with fringe, thrifted, $20

Bralette, Free People, $38

Easy Jeans, American Apparel, $78

Sock booties (not pictured), Topshop, $70

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New media (including blogs) and social media (think: Instagram, Snapchat) without a doubt have a huge impact on the fashion industry. From the way we read magazines to who’s sitting front row at the hottest fashion shows, a lot has changed in tandem with new media’s rise–and not all of it is for the better, either.

Many industry professionals and fashion gurus yearn for the days when fashion was about art, talent and innovation; instead, they are left with a bleak world based on ads, sales and consumerism. This phenomenon affects not only the way the world sees the industry, but the scope of the industry itself, in six distinct ways.

Depp and Lagerfeld on the Chanel Couture Spring 2017 runway on January 24 [source: popsugar.com.au]

Nepotism: Nepotism is prevalent in just about every facet of the fashion industry, but it is most obvious when it comes to models, both on the runway and in print. World class designers, such as Chanel’s creative director Karl Lagerfeld, tend to favor the children of celebrities over models who have made a name in the industry for themselves. Bella Hadid (daughter of Yolanda Hadid and David Foster), Kendall Jenner (daughter of Kris Kardashian and Bruce Jenner) and Lily Rose Depp (daughter of singer-songwriter Vanessa Paradis and actor Johnny Depp) all served as Lagerfeld’s muse on the Chanel runway during the recent Spring 2017 couture show in Paris. Depp, 17, who closed the show in an ornate tulle gown, even walked arm-in-arm with Lagerfeld as she descended down the runway. Additionally, other celebrity children, like Bella Hadid’s older sister Gigi, and Hailey Baldwin, daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin, appear on numerous runways and print ads every season, causing traditional–and arguably more talented–models to be pushed aside.

Pay-for-play on the red carpet: Per The Fashion Law, celebrity stylists and their A-list clientele receive large sums of money from designers seeking red carpet recognition. With award show season in full-swing, these stylists receive “anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000” per event, while the celebrities themselves can receive upwards of $100,000, according to Jessica Paster, who has dressed Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Miranda Kerr, Sandra Bullock and Rachel McAdams, among others. But, American lawyer and voice behind The Fashion Law Julie Zerbo does not take these so-called “ambassadorships” between designers and celebrities lightly. In fact, she states, “…it is important for advertising brands to think critically about whether a connection between the product (a dress or necklace, for instance) and its endorser (the celebrity) is material; whether consumers would understand that that endorser has been compensated for his or her endorsement; and whether a material connection disclosure needs to be made and how.” Furthermore, “…endorsements that have come about as a result of a connection between the endorser and the underlying brand without proper disclosure are violations of the FTC Act,” according to Zerbo, while “a misrepresentation is ‘material’ if it is likely to affect consumers’ buying choices.”

[source: harpersbazaar.com]

Lack of innovation in design: While the most coveted designs were once the intricate, handmade ones that took hours upon hours to assemble and often had to be custom ordered, that is no longer the case. As exhibited by Dior’s Spring 2017 ready-to-wear collection, the most popular pieces are now synonymous with the most Instagram-able ones. A simple white t-shirt reading “WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS” stole the show, made subsequent headlines, flooded social media feeds all over the world and gained even more esteem when it was worn by superstars Natalie Portman and Rihanna rocked it off the runway. A similar t-shirt by Gucci, which retails for nearly $600, came to fame on the backs (literally!) of several bloggers and Instagram influencers–We Wore What’s Danielle Bernstein and newcomer Alicia Roddy, to name a few–who’ve worn it throughout the past few months, as well.

The democratization of fashion: The fashion industry, which used to be comprised of elites, is more accessible than ever. Thanks to fast fashion, more and more people are able to participate in runway trends at the expense of sweatshop workers in developing countries, as well as the global environment. Bloggers and social media influencers post snapshots and videos from their front row seats at the hottest fashion shows, while magazines such as Vogue publish free online content for all to read, increasing the demand for fast fashion. As fast fashion’s popularity grows, the malignant practice becomes a societal norm, and writers promote it as a positive while ignoring the ugly truth. Similarly, high end designers seem to be in a never-ending worldwide competition to create the most buzz-worthy clothes, which has caused an extreme decrease in the quality and innovation of their work over the last five years.

Fashion shows that are no longer about the fashion: Instead of attending shows to actually see the designs, industry insiders (and outsiders!) seek invitations so that they can be photographed in the front row or spotted outside. The front row was once reserved for Anna Wintour (Editor-in-Chief of Vogue) and company; now reality stars such as Kim Kardashian-West and big name bloggers such as Chiara Ferragni of the Blonde Salad sit front row for the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Jeremy Scott–some even sit alongside Wintour and co. They come to shows toting their smart phones in order to post photos of designs almost as instantly as they debut. At a given fashion show, followers can count on a handful of bloggers and influencers to Snapchat the entire event. Some big name designers, such as CÉLINE and Tom Ford, have tried presenting collections strictly to buyers and editors in order to combat this problem.

Gross violation of FTC regulations: Gross violation of Federal Trade Commission regulations is undoubtedly the most widespread dilemma currently facing the fashion industry. Countless bloggers, YouTube stars and social media influencers fail to disclose sponsored content on their respective platforms, misleading millions of consumers regularly–in fact, it seems there is a new culprit every week or so. In an attempt to come off as more authentic to their thousands, and sometimes millions, of followers, bloggers such as Natalie Suarez (known throughout the blogosphere as Natalie Off Duty) and Aimee Song (Song of Style) intentionally fail to disclose content paid for by fashion and beauty brands such Lord & Taylor and Laura Mercier, according to Zerbo. Influencers like the Kardashians and Jenners have also come under fire for posting misleading social media content sponsored by brands such as Balmain, Calvin Klein, Inc., Estée Lauder, Inc., Karl Lagerfeld™, MANGO, Mint Swim, MISBHV, Puma, Revlon (for Sinful Colors) and Roberto Cavalli S. P. A., according to Zerbo. While some bloggers and influencers occasionally include a #spon or #sp to their posts, it is often hidden in the middle or the end of a wordy caption. An FTC-approved disclosure, according to Zerbo, includes #ad or Ad: (not #spon or #sp) at the beginning, and video posts call for disclosure to be said out loud or displayed on screen early on.

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Skinny scarves are having a major moment this season, and to be 100 percent honest, I am completely here for it. I used to think I was all about chunky knit scarves and plaid blanket scarves, but style stars like Lou Doillon completely changed the way I see the accessory. Because I wear a ton of black, white and gray, I purchased a tan skinny scarf from Revolve last month; so far I absolutely love the texture this suede piece brings to basics like shirt dresses and silky pajama tops (another huge trend this season)!

Lou Doillon for Rockins [source: Instagram user @rockinshq]

On this reasonably mild January day I decided to pair the skinny scarf with a crisp white shirt dress, gray ribbed tights and black leather sock booties, this season’s It shoe. This look was perfect for a long day on campus; it is simple and clean, yet stylish and modern. All the pieces are versatile and somewhat plain, but they create an effortlessly chic model-off-duty ensemble when they come together.

I definitely plan on styling this look with fishnets and heeled booties (and maybe a little cleavage!) for a night out. As soon as I ditch the skinny scarf and let my hair out of its top knot, this outfit can definitely go from classroom to cocktails. For daytime, however, I find it is much better to forgo the flashy accessories and choose something slightly more modest. While a sultry, smoky eye and flirty nude lips would suit this look in the evening, minimal makeup is definitely the move during daylight hours.

Shirt dress, thrifted

Skinny scarf, Revolve

Ribbed tights, American Apparel, no longer available

Sock booties, Topshop

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If your New Year’s resolution involves organizing your closet, you are not alone. Every January, tens of thousands of women find themselves in need of a little spring cleaning–not because we’ve outgrown our clothes, not because we’ve worn them to shreds, but because our fast fashion habits fill our closets to the brim, making them difficult to manage.

The solution? Creating a capsule wardrobe. That is, “a minimal wardrobe composed of 30 to 40 high-quality, versatile items that will meet your needs for a given time amount of time,” usually about 3 months, according to Business Insider.

Breaking your fast fashion habit and revamping your entire wardrobe may seem like a tall order, but it turns out your overstuffed and neglected closet is actually causing you a ton of stress, according to Rachel Jonat, author of Do Less: A Minimalist Guide to a Simplified, Organized, and Happy Life.

Major closet inspo via Amy Kim, aka Homey Oh My [source: homeyohmy.com]

If you think fast fashion rendered a capsule wardrobe a thing of the past, then think again; a capsule wardrobe is exactly what we need in order to combat day-to-day aggravation in this face-paced, constantly connected world. 

Purging your closet and creating a capsule is a relatively painless process–even for the organizationally challenged–that can help you develop your own personal style by ridding your space of the bland or outdated pieces you never wear. Caroline Rector, blogger behind Unfancy, suggests three basic steps to begin your first capsule wardrobe:

  1. Empty your closet, dresser and anywhere else you store clothes completely; failure to do so constitutes as cheating.
  2. Sort each item into one of four piles.
    • Love it: These are the pieces you absolutely love, that you could not live without and that you definitely plan on keeping for your capsule wardrobe.
    • Maybe: Items that you do not wear regularly, such as those that may need some tailoring/alterations, those that have sentimental value and those that you have not worn recently but can definitely–emphasis on definitely–see yourself wearing within the next 6 months or so, are all considered “maybe’s”.
    • Nope: “Nope’s” are clothes that don’t fit properly (and that you don’t plan on taking to the tailor), clothes that you’ve never worn or have only worn once (and that you won’t be wearing within the next 6 months) and bland or outdated clothes that you will never wear again. Consider donating these pieces to a local charity or reselling them on sites like Poshmark.
    • Seasonal: Winter coats, snow boots, swimsuits, etc.
  3. Asses what’s left, i.e., your “love it” pieces, and adjust your new wardrobe accordingly. You should be left with approximately 30-40 pieces. If you are below the 30 mark, consider using the money you earned from your old clothes to invest in some quality pieces; if you are way above the 40 mark, you should definitely add a few more things to your “maybe” or “nope” pile. Then, pack all your “maybe” and “seasonal” pieces away for the time being–Rector suggests storing them in a box in the garage, or under your bed.

Minimal and fashionable [source: un-fancy.com]

For those that prefer writing things down to stay organized, Rector’s blog also features a printable capsule planner, which acts as a foolproof guide to creating a capsule wardrobe. The technologically savvy can utilize the Stylebook App (available on the App store), while visual learners will find tons of inspiration via Rector’s personal capsules on Unfancy’s Capsule Experiment page.

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Twenty-five years ago, the thought of clothing being disposable was foreign to most Americans. Now, a trip to the mall (or a virtual trip to an online shop) every time styles change is as common as a trip to the corner store or local coffee stand. Enter: fast fashion.

Fast fashion, an industry-coined term, refers to any inexpensive–and dirt cheap–poorly made copy of a runway trend that goes out of style almost as quickly as it comes into style. In turn, fast fashion is sold at retail chain stores like Zara and Forever 21. [Source: LEAF.tv]

The garments are constructed haphazardly, in hazardous conditions in developing countries such as Bangladesh, which tend to have looser labor laws and can pay their workers (the equivalent of) just pennies a day. As Elizabeth Cline, author of Overdressed states, cheap fashion has a high cost on both the environment and human life.

The frequency with which Americans buy clothes is higher than ever. This is thanks to fast fashion. Americans once spent their money on clothing much more wisely; they bought far less, but the quality of their clothing was far superior than the quality of most clothing on the market today. And, most of it was made on U.S. territory in Manhattan’s—you guessed it—Garment District. Now, the Garment District is full of restaurants, hotels, yoga studios, bookstores and just about anything besides textiles.

Inside Mood Fabrics [source: sideways.nyc]

Marked by faded advertisements, manufacturing-related businesses in the Garment District, such as Mood Fabrics (as seen on Project Runway), are difficult to find and even trickier to get to. While the mood inside Mood is peaceful, bright and of course, colorful, the route there—which includes a trip through a set of commonplace glass doors and an ambiguous elevator ride—is a different story, and one that is filled with ghosts of the Garment District’s history obstructed by 21st century businessmen and –women. According to CoStar, the high-rise in which Mood is housed, known as Bricken Arcade, is currently leased at 92.7 percent capacity, yet only 18 percent of lessees work in retail/wholesale or manufacturing.

Clothing sold in modern-day American malls comes from a much different scene than Manhattan’s Garment District. There are no briefcase-carrying, Armani-suit-clad men and women; there are only small children and women working–some may say “slaving”–in sweaty and downright dangerous and dirty conditions. They are at risk to tragedies like the May 2015 footwear factory fire in Philippines that killed nearly 80. While these foreign factories may be able to give Americans more garments for a lower monetary price, is this manufacturing strategy worth the lives it takes?

[source: thereformation.com]

Eco-friendly brands like Reformation seek to combat this global crisis by constructing their garments responsibly in downtown Los Angeles from green materials. In fact, the brand is so transparent that their carbon footprint–which is measured by the sustainability research team using the RefScale–can easily be found on its website. They are a part of what American lawyer and fashion writer Julie Zerbo calls the “slow fashion” industry.

Following Reformation’s 2009 launch, blogger-turned-designer Rumi Neely created her namesake brand Are You Am I in 2014, which is made entirely in downtown LA. Both these brands gained popularity through new and social media, offering hope that America’s youth may be steering away from fast fashion in favor of more sustainable and prosocial practices.

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