5 smaller brands to shop

5 smaller brands to shop (instead of Nordstrom) — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

When it comes to adding a new item to my wardrobe, typically I turn to my go-to "big" retailers like Madewell and Nordstrom first. As much as I love the items I purchase from those retailers, it's always fun to browse and buy from smaller retailers—especially if I'm looking for something different or more unique! I rounded up five of my favorite smaller retailers (I wouldn't consider all of them to be small small) that I highly recommend checking out next time you're in the market for something new. Bonus: I included some brands that are women-owned and support worthy causes AND some brands that feature ethically- and sustainably-made products!


 

& Other Stories

I fell in love with & Other Stories over three years ago! The brand is part of the H&M family, but it has more of a flirty, feminine, contemporary vibe. I wish I could wear (read: pull off) their garments every day of my life. I only have two things by the brand—my white perforated bucket bag made in collaboration with Clare Vivier and my bright red-orange sweater—but I'm always on the lookout for more pieces to add to my wardrobe. I especially love browsing their knitwear and shoe collections! 


 via ABLE

via ABLE

 

ABLE

I've yet to buy anything from ABLE, but I love everything the brand stands for. Their goal is to end the cycle of generational poverty in women in countries around the world by providing job opportunities. Not to mention, their products are absolutely beautiful! I've found myself browsing their denim, bags, and shoes on multiple occasions, and I'm especially loving their new shoes for fall 2018! New to the brand? Use my referral link for $20 off your first purchase!


 

Amour Vert

If you've been following me for a while, you already know that I love Amour Vert! It's my favorite woman-owned small business that is also focused 100% on ethically- and responsibly-made garments, most of which are produced in the U.S. The best part is how affordable the garments are considering their production! I own a small collection of pieces and am always browsing the new arrivals for more to add. Their garments made with sustainable modal are my favorite; the fabric is incredibly dreamy and feels like butter!


 

COS

Like & Other Stories, COS is also part of the H&M family. It's different from & Other Stories and H&M in that their items have more of a high-fashion-meets-streetwear vibe. They play around with trends in unique ways. I wish I had the right lifestyle for their garments! It feels very off-duty-model to me. Even though I don't shop there much (I only own a basic red striped tee), I love browsing and dreaming about their unique pieces. I recommend COS if you're looking for well-made, thoughtful trendy items or affordable show-stopping garments.


 

Moorea Seal

Badass babe Moorea Seal is basically a small business queen. Her namesake online shop and retail store in Seattle are filled with products made by other small brands and women-owned businesses. She curates a killer selection of goodies ranging from jewelry and shoes to home decor and—most recently—clothing! I bought my very favorite pair of sunglasses from Moorea Seal on a total whim a few years ago, and it remains one of the best purchases of my life (not to be dramatic lol).

Midwest road trip: itinerary + packing list

midwest-road-trip.jpg

Even though we had been planning on going on our summer road trip to South Dakota since the winter, the plan wasn't actually set in stone until our time off was approved just a couple of weeks before we were set to leave. That left very little time to figure out when we should leave and return, where we should stop along the way, and what we could squeeze into each day. I knew I wanted to take Korri through all the sites possible between here and South Dakota, and that left no time to sit and truly enjoy any one place for too long. Even though his knee injury has been a battle, the fact that he had limited mobility made it easier to plan a drive-heavy trip with minimal walking. And we got to see a LOT during our trip!

If you are in the midst of planning a road trip (or enjoying reading about how others do road trips), this post features quick looks at our day-to-day itineraries followed by my packing list (clothing and other necessities for road trips). I don't think I'll ever stop tweaking my approach when it comes to planning big trips like this, so it's nice to be able to lay out everything we did and figure out what we could do better next time. I will say that we modified our trip home last minute and it worked out better than I expected! I also wanted to note what I brought with me and what else I would bring (or leave home) on future trips. I will definitely be referring to this post in the future.

Jackson Lake, Wyoming — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
 

FRIDAY / DAY 1

We planned to work half days and then head out, taking the highway and passing through Craters of the Moon on our way to Driggs, ID. Korri ended up working longer than me, and it took longer for us to get packed and the car loaded than I thought it would, so we scratched Craters of the Moon and took the interstate to Driggs, arriving to our hotel after dark.

Firehole Lake Drive, Yellowstone — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Surprise Pool, Yellowstone — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Artists Point, Yellowstone — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
 

SATURDAY / DAY 2

The alarm went off at 6:30 am for our first full day of driving. We drove into Wyoming and started by grabbing sandwiches at Dornan's to keep in the cooler for later. We took the slower scenic route through Grand Teton. We came into Yellowstone through the south entrance, did the lower loop, and left out the east entrance to Cody, WY. We had to skip most of the geyser basins due to traffic, and had to wait a while in other areas (Old Faithful, Artists Point) but we didn't get stuck in any wildlife jams. You can read more about our full day in this post!

Bighorn Mountains along Highway 14 — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

SUNDAY / DAY 3

It was another early start for another full day of driving—not as heavy on the sightseeing. We decided to take highway 14 through the Bighorn Mountains, which was absolutely amazing and I would highly recommend that highway if you're not in an RV or towing a trailer (the grade and switchbacks are a little crazy at times). We stopped at Shell Falls on the way up. The road was torn up near the junction with 14a—not ideal, but we survived, haha (it will be complete by the end of October). After lunch in Sheridan, the next stop was Devils Tower. We ended up having time after DT to drive through Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills, where we found recent tornado damage, and then took the scenic route (read: a dirt road...) down to Needles Highway. It was less busy near sunset. We stayed the night in Custer, SD.

Devils Tower, Wyoming — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Tornado damage in Spearfish Canyon — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Mount Rushmore National Memorial — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

MONDAY / DAY 4

We left our hotel in Custer a bit later than I would have preferred (about 9 am) because we were going to be driving into the central time zone later in the day and losing an hour. The day started with a drive through Custer State Park to see the buffalo...only we hardly saw any wildlife! We spotted one buffalo, a couple of burros under a tree, and a turtle in the middle of the road (I didn't even though there were turtles in South Dakota to be honest). It was the strangest thing! We took Iron Mountain Road up to Mt. Rushmore and waited in line for what felt like forever to get into Mt. Rushmore. I'd definitely avoid going the week of July 4th if you can, haha. Next stop was the cute little town of Wall to visit Wall Drug (you'll see the signs all along the interstate) before heading south through the Badlands. It was about mid to late afternoon when we finished driving through the Badlands and got back on the interstate, heading east.

Badlands in South Dakota — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
 

TUESDAY - THURSDAY / DAYS 5-7

We slept in and stayed put most of the time! All of our time was spent with family. We did visit the Corn Palace in Mitchell one day. It's kind of like Wall Drug: a South Dakota staple that you can't miss. ;) The walls of the building are decked out in murals of corn! The theme was "South Dakota Weather"—perfect for us weather nerds! We didn't get any good storms during our trip, but it was rather hot and humid (and buggy...so many mosquitoes!). We watched my cousin play baseball, shot off fireworks, and ate tons of yummy food.

World's Only Corn Palace, Mitchell, South Dakota — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Wall Drug billboard, South Dakota — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Bighorn Mountains from Highway 16 — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

FRIDAY / DAY 8

I wanted to leave by 9 am at the latest, but we didn't head out until about 10 am...and then we stopped at the grocery store, so we weren't on the road until about 11 am. At least we were going to gain an hour driving back into mountain time! We had a very long day in the car. We stopped once for lunch in Rapid City (ate really good Mongolian BBQ, surprisingly). We took highway 16 back through the Bighorn Mountains, drove through another beautiful canyon, and then hit 100°F on the west side. Whew! We stayed the night in Greybull, WY, since it was cheaper to stay there than Cody (and not as far of a drive). Our little motel was so cute and actually pretty nice; we would definitely stay there again! And even though it was hot, at least we were back in a dry heat. ;)

View along Beartooth Highway — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

SATURDAY / DAY 9

The focus of this day was really the drive to Yellowstone. We started a bit later in Greybull than we should have (got out about 9:30 am). We drove Chief Joseph Scenic Highway to the junction with Beartooth Highway, and then we took Beartooth Highway all the way into Montana before turning around and heading back to Cooke City—Silver Gate. We made it to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone at 3:45 pm. I was getting nervous since we had about a four hour drive in Yellowstone ahead of us. We did get stopped on the road many more times due to wildlife (once for bears, though, at least). We drove out the south entrance at about 7:15 pm; 3.5 hours in the park wasn't bad considering all the stops! We caught the sunset at Grand Teton, and it was a perfect evening with no clouds obscuring the mountains. You can read more about our day in this post!

Snow along Beartooth Highway in July — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Grand Tetons at sunset — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Mesa Falls, eastern Idaho — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

SUNDAY / DAY 10

Our last day started leisurely—we ate breakfast in the hotel and didn't leave Driggs until about 10:30 am. It was supposed to be a short day; Driggs is about a five hour drive from Boise, but we added some stops on the way, starting with Mesa Falls and the old Teton Dam Site in eastern Idaho. I also saw so many potato cellars! You may think of potato farms when you think of Idaho, which is true, but only in eastern Idaho, haha. We took the highway back to Boise, making a stop in Arco for food (which took forever, unfortunately) and then at Craters of the Moon (I got my stamp!). We didn't get home until after 9 pm. Then, of course, we had to get some groceries and unload the car. I was very excited to see my kitties after 10 days, though! :) And I dreaded the fact that I had to go to work the next morning...

Eastern Idaho potato cellar — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
Craters of the Moon, Idaho — via Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

PACKING LIST

Packing ended up being slightly difficult for me because we experienced a range of temperatures during our trip that required a variety of different articles of clothing, but I didn't want to pack too much and then not wear everything. I also didn't want to pack too many bags because I was the one that had to carry them all. ;) I actually feel like I was pretty successful this time, especially when I compare it to the last time I went to South Dakota! Why did I think wearing a chambray shirt in July would be a good idea? Haha!

I packed all of my clothes in my roller bag with room to spare, and I packed all of my shoes and our toiletries in my Everlane weekender bag. I filled two canvas bags with our toiletries to keep them separate from the shoes and for easy carrying to the bathroom. Korri packed his own roller bag with clothes, and we each had backpacks with our laptops and other small items like chargers.

Here's what I brought with me:

  • One tank top
  • Five t-shirts (three linen)
  • One sweater
  • One sweatshirt
  • Two pairs of jeans
  • Two pairs of shorts
  • Two pairs of sandals
  • Two pairs of sneakers (one not pictured; I also brought my old Toms for driving)
  • One crossbody bag + wristlet
  • Two baseball caps (one not pictured)
  • One necklace + two pairs of earrings
  • One lightweight coat
  • One pair of leggings
  • Workout clothes
  • Pajamas
  • Undergarments (including socks)
10-day summer road trip packing list — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair
10-day road trip outfits — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

Above are eight outfits I put together over the 10-day trip. They're not very exciting, but they got the job done. On the first day, I changed tops after work and didn't make a completely new outfit in Stylebook. I also wore one of the outfits two days in a row. I wore either my second pair of sneakers or my old Toms with the outfits that don't have any shoes. The start of the trip was much cooler than the end; I wore jeans or leggings on days 1-3 and was glad to have my light packable puffer coat in the higher elevations. I switched to shorts partway through day 4 (Monday) and wore them through day 8 (Friday). (I put on jeans in the evenings to keep the bugs at bay.) I did wear jeans the Saturday we went back through Yellowstone (day 9) because it was cool along Beartooth Highway, but Sunday (day 10) was another hot day and shorts were necessary!

In the end, I think packing two pairs of shorts and two pairs of jeans worked really well. I brought along leggings, too, but I didn't really need them (however, they are more comfortable than jeans to sit in for long periods of time). I wore my navy sandals more than the flip flops because they are more secure for driving. I'm also glad I brought a sweater and sweatshirt, though I wore the sweatshirt just about every day so I almost wish I had brought a second sweatshirt instead of a sweater. The sweater I brought doesn't layer over tees as well as the sweatshirt does, so that's why I only wore it with the tank. It was definitely smart to bring all the linen tees for the purpose of breathability in the heat and humidity. I only wore jewelry once during the trip (my tiny studs), and I could have left the other items behind.

We also packed plenty of miscellaneous road trip necessities! I highly recommend bringing along all of these items, especially if you're planning a national parks tour like we did.

  • Cooler for food, drinks, and Korri's ice pack
  • Umbrella
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Sun shade
  • National parks annual pass (we saved $120 on entry fees)
  • National parks passport book (I'm a nerd!)
  • Camera + extra battery + charger + extra lenses
  • Car phone charger
  • Snacks (lots of chips, haha)
  • Compostable plates + napkins + silverware
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Paper copy of each day's driving directions
  • CDs in case of no phone service or radio signals
  • Bug spray + sunscreen + hand sanitizer

ISO: More midi skirts

A few years ago, I thought I'd never wear a midi skirt. I thought only tall women could pull them off and that they would make me look frumpy and shorter than I already was. Flashback to now: I am employed (!) and don't want to wear my go-to mini skirts at my new job, yet the summers here would be brutal without breezy skirts and pants. With a little inspiration from Nicole especially, I jumped on the midi skirt bandwagon, and I have to say that I don't hate them anymore! I now have two midi skirts and recently ordered a few more to try since I included them in my wardrobe plan for 2018. I'm on a quest for ALL of the midi skirts! I've gone a little crazy placing orders because it would be so nice to have a bunch of options this summer (and beyond).

Here's a look at the midi skirts I own, the ones I ordered and am currently deciding on, and a few that I have my eye on for the future...

MIDI SKIRTS I CURRENTLY OWN

The Amour Vert 'Greta' skirt on the left was the first proper midi skirt I purchased. I was surprised by how much I loved it when I first got it (and I still love it now)! I thought the length would be too long, but I don't mind it at all. The stripes are subtle and go with any color top. I love that it has pockets and an elastic waistband, and it's breezy but also relatively heavy, so it works in the spring and fall, too. The only thing that annoys me is how the fabric tends to "dip in" between my legs (as shown above).

I ordered the Madewell 'Palisade' button-front skirt on the right a couple of months ago. The skirt was offered in three colors, and I picked the less "safe" choice of the three (the other two being a light chambray blue and darker blue stripes). This skirt is slightly longer than the Amour Vert skirt, but I don't feel ridiculous when I wear it, and it doesn't feel like it swallows me. The major downside to this skirt is how wrinkly it gets! It's 100% cotton, which feels great on the skin but isn't quite wrinkle-proof.

MIDI SKIRTS I RECENTLY ORDERED

I placed an order at J.Crew Factory on Memorial Day for some midi skirts (and wide leg pants!) that had caught my eye. This gingham skirt was definitely more of an impulse buy, but I decided to give it a shot because it's black gingham, which is a classic pattern on a somewhat trendy skirt. I would like it more if the front-tie was removable because it feels bulky and doesn't lay as flat as I wish it did (it's super hard for me to tie for some reason). I think this skirt looks cute with this basic tee but I'm not sure I'd get enough wear out of it to justify keeping it. I took my regular size 0, and it has a concealed back zipper.

Through tomorrow (Tuesday 6/5) evening, I have a few Instagram stories posted with these skirts and included polls, so please feel free to vote in those if you want! ;) (Feel free to comment here, too—or instead if you prefer that, haha.)

I couldn't resist a skirt that had three of my favorite skirt features: stripes, linen, and an elastic waistband! I ordered this striped midi skirt in both the red stripes and blue stripes, thinking that it would be easy to decide between the two of them. HA! I typically would pick the blue stripes because I wear a lot of blue, but I do have a soft spot for the red, and it would add some variety in my wardrobe. I'm not planning on keeping both so this is going to be a very tough decision!

I read many reviews and decided to size down from an XS to an XXS, which fits fine thanks to the elastic waistband. It comes down to my knees, so I would feel comfortable wearing this to work. The fabric is perfect for hot summer days! And it has pockets, which is the best, as you know. Now to decide on a color...

MIDI SKIRTS ON MY RADAR

Everlane just released their "clean cotton" collection today, so naturally, I glanced through the new products and decided to order the A-line midi skirt in black. I have the navy cotton-poplin mini skirt from a couple of years ago and the new midi skirts look very similar in style. I'm slightly worried about it being too voluminous/not "relaxed" enough and prone to wrinkles like the Madewell skirt I have. I ordered it in my usual 0.

I've also been seriously considering ordering a linen midi skirt from an Etsy seller. The skirt above is by Magic Linen, but I've heard great things about Not Perfect Linen and will likely order from them at some point (they're currently not accepting any orders but plan to open again on June 11th). The skirts are beautiful, but of course, it's difficult to figure out what size you might need since these sellers make these to order in Europe and returns are next to impossible (or highly inconvenient at best). And, since they're made to order, it takes weeks for them to make the item and then another week or more to receive it. That said, I love the idea of ordering from a small business! I'm hoping that I have my life together enough to place an order next spring so I have the skirt in time for summer. I'd love to hear any feedback about the clothing from these Etsy sellers (or others) if you have the experience. :)


SHOP MIDI SKIRTS