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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Although I stay away from dairy on a day-to-day basis, I love preparing cheese boards for special occasions and get-togethers. Entertaining at home can be tons of fun when yummy hors d’oeuvres and rich red wine are included–especially now that Sunday night football and Monday night Bachelor are both in full-swing. On a chilly night, nothing beats relaxing with friends and family over good food and a game of Cards Against Humanity or poker.

There is no actual cooking involved when it comes to wowing your loved ones with a Pinterest-worthy cheese board; the only skill tested here is how well you can organize various cheeses and other goodies on your favorite cutting board! A cheese platter also makes the perfect appetizer to a thoughtful home-cooked meal for your significant other on Valentine’s Day (don’t forget the chocolate-dipped strawberries and flirty lingerie). And, the leftovers are great to have on-hand for lunch during the week!

Start with:

  • A cutting board or platter (duh!)
  • Enough plates and wine glass for all your guests
  • Butter knives
  • Napkins

Cheeses: So that there is something all your guests will love, consider choosing one cheese from each of the main categories.

  • Soft: Brie, goat cheese, mozzarella
  • Semi-firm & firm: Gouda, provolone
  • Aged: Asiago, Parmigiano, white cheddar
  • Blue: Gorgonzola

Add:

  • Cold cuts: Prosciutto, salami
  • Fresh fruit: Berries, figs, olives
  • Dried fruit: Apricots, figs, prunes
  • Nuts: Cashews, marcona almonds, pistachios
  • Crackers and/or fresh bread: La Panzanella Original Mini Croccantini are my favorite crackers, but I also love honey wheat brown bread (recipe here) and traditional French baguette.
  • Spreads: Natural fruit jams, honey

Wine pairings: I am definitely a red wine type of gal! In addition to being a great way to unwind at the end of a long day, there are tons of health benefits associated with having a glass of red at dinner, including lower cholesterol, heart-healthy antioxidants, controlled blood sugar, a sharper memory, an immune system boost and levels of resveratrol that act as an antioxidant, preventing the growth of both fat and cancer cells, according to Prevention.

  • Pinot noir: Gouda, feta, Swiss
  • Cabernet sauvignon: Blue
  • Zinfandel: Blue, cheddar, feta
  • Merlot: Brie, cheddar, gorgonzola
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