Earth shoes review: 1 to 2 years later (fall/winter edition)

For those of you that started reading here more recently, I’ve had a longstanding collaboration with Earth Brands since spring 2015 that involves styling a couple of pairs of shoes in the spring and again in the fall into outfit posts. I have enjoyed our partnership so much; it is such an honor to be working with them still in 2018! I wanted to write a more in-depth post about how the pairs I’ve received have been holding up over time. We didn’t start collaborating in the fall until 2016, which is why this post features shoes that are only 1 to 2 years old (here’s the spring/summer edition). Below, you’ll find my honest thoughts on how each pair has held up as well as outfits they were featured in (click on the photo to go directly to the original post). This post was not written in collaboration with Earth.

SALE ALERT: Earth Brands is offering 30% off sitewide in their Friends & Family sale event from now until November 11th! Use coupon code EarthFF2018. I have never seen a discount this high before, so now’s the time to buy if you’ve had your eye on a pair of shoes for yourself…or maybe for a gift!

Earthies Tolo • 2016 (2 years later)

I was immediately drawn to the Tolo flats in the textured navy suede when I saw them in the catalog and definitely thought I would wear these the most out of the two pairs I chose. It turns out that I wear the flats below way more than these!

According to my Stylebook app, I’ve worn these flats 8 times since I got them two years ago—5 times in dedicated outfit posts. That’s not as much as I thought I would wear them. If I had spent the full retail price of $140, the cost per wear would be down to only $17.50.

I think I don’t wear these as much for three reasons: 1) they’re suede, so I avoid wearing them if there is a threat of rain or if the ground is snowy, 2) I have another pair of navy flats, and 3) these are not my most comfortable pair of flats. The elastic back can dig into my heels if I have these on for too long, but they’re a half size larger than my usual size and easily slip off, too. The area around my toes and the sides of my feet also tends to dig in.

Like with most of my flats, I wear these the most with skinny jeans or pants, but I also loved how they looked with a mini skirt. There’s a small wedge in the flat that gives just a bit of height!

Earth Bellwether • 2016 (2 years later)

I selected these flats because I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a pair of neutral brown flats—and I was right! These shoes have gotten way more wear than I had anticipated.

Since I got them two years ago, I’ve worn these 25 times according to Stylebook (blogged 9 times). Their cost per wear would be down to only $3.80 if I had paid the retail price of $95. These would have definitely been worth it!

These flats run about a half size large, and I received my true size, so I have a tendency to step out of them if I walk a little too vigorously. That’s really the only negative thing about them, though! These flats are so comfortable. I have no issues with them digging in anywhere (probably because they’re too big, haha).

Since they’re brown, these flats go with pretty much anything. I’m honestly not sure what they wouldn’t go with! I’ve worn them with various styles of jeans and pants—skinny, crop flare, boyfriend—and with many different colors. I think they would work great with shorter hemlines, too. They’re perfect to wear when I want a neutral shoe that doesn’t steal the focus from the rest of the outfit.

Earthies Apollo • 2017 (1 year later)

I originally picked out the burgundy velvet version of these boots, but they had sold out! Instead I went with the sneakers below…and then when I opened the package, I also found these boots! That was a pleasant surprise. :)

I’ve worn these boots 7 times in the past year; 6 of those times were in outfits I blogged. If I had purchased them myself for their retail price of $180, the cost per wear would be down to $25.71. I’ve only worn them in the fall and winter since I tend to not wear as much black in the spring.

The velvet is gorgeous, and I haven’t had any issues with scuffing even though I tend to hit my feet when I walk. I love the classic cut and the manageable heel if I end up on my feet for a while. Since they are velvet, they attract cat hair and other lint easily.

I definitely did not need another pair of black boots (I had so many already), but these are fun to wear in the fall and winter. I especially love them when I need to dress a little fancier, like if I’m going to the ballet. There’s just something special about velvet!

Earth Zag • 2017 (1 year later)

When I couldn’t get the Earthies Apollo boots in burgundy velvet, I chose these sneakers instead. I love the rich, dark velvet, and the lighter sole gives them a sporty-casual vibe. (I also love the gold shoe eyelets!)

I’ve worn these sneakers 6 times (including in 4 blog outfits) since I got them a year ago. Had I paid the full price of $120, the cost per wear would be down to $20 now. Not the best.

I’m not surprised that I haven’t worn these as much as some of my other pairs of Earth shoes; I don’t typically wear sneakers in my day-to-day, even “fashion” sneakers. The dark velvet on them also leans toward more of a fall/winter look than spring/summer (hence why they were released for fall/winter, I’m sure!), and that limits their versatility—though I have worn these shoes in every season except winter! I will say that they were a little warm in the summer.

These sneakers are incredibly comfortable to wear all day, as you would expect! I usually wear them without socks with no problems. They look great with shorts or jeans (and I bet would look cute with a dress or skirt, too). Note that the white soles are easy to scuff up or stain.

Review of the MightyNest MightyFix monthly subscription: part 1 of 4

Review of the MightyNest MightyFix monthly subscription of green home products — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

I’ve briefly mentioned in previous posts that I’m working on reducing our waste where I can and incorporating as many “green”/environmentally-friendly products as possible. It hasn’t been a perfect process, as you can expect, but it’s been rewarding to see small changes add up. I’m planning on writing a more detailed post on the changes we’ve made to become low(er) waste, where we aren’t doing as well, and what I hope to do in the future.

In the meantime, I wanted to introduce you to a healthy-living brand that I learned about only three months ago on the Litterless blog: MightyNest. More specifically, I wanted to share my first review on their monthly subscription that features many eco-friendly alternatives to common home products called MightyFix. I’m not one for monthly subscriptions and actually have never joined any until now. I purchased a full year of the service in June; the service costs $10 monthly ($120 for a year), so I decided to go all out and purchase a full year with a promo code on Litterless that brought the total down to $99. Each month’s “Fix” is worth at least $10 to make it worth the money, and shipping is always free! If you want additional items, every product on their website ships free with your Fix, too.

So far, I’m very pleased with the products I’ve received! I will note that I did not set any preferences on products, fill out the profile questionnaire, or add any additional products to my shipments so far. I’m willing to try pretty much anything, so I hope to receive a wide variety of products, and I don’t want to buy something just in case it shows up in a future Fix. More details on the the first three products I received are below…!

I can invite two people per month to receive a free month of the MightyFix monthly subscription, so let me know via email if you’d like an invite (cottoncashmerecathair (at) gmail (dot) com)! If you email me in September, let me know which of the three products below is your favorite and I’ll select that item for you to receive. Note that MightyNest did not pay me or ask me to write this post.

MightyFix Stasher silicone sandwich bag — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

Stasher Silicone Sandwich Bag (June 2018)

The Stasher silicone bag is made of food-grade silicone that can be used in the microwave, freezer, and dishwasher. It serves as a green alternative to plastic baggies and can be reused thousands of times. That said, I’m not sure how to recycle or dispose of it when the time comes.

I’ll admit: I wasn’t totally thrilled when this was the first item I received. It didn’t help that I couldn’t figure out how to get it open! It took a few tries before I finally figured it out, lol. I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to open, but I suppose that’s because it’s an airtight seal. I have used this to carry part of my breakfast to work (two slices of cinnamon bread), and it is slightly difficult to open it up wide enough to get both slices in without smashing the bread. I can imagine it would be much more difficult to get in a fully-made sandwich. I think it’d be most useful for smaller snack items, like cut up fruits and veggies, chips, pretzels, etc.

Regular price: $11.99 / Member price: $10.29 / I paid: $8.25

MightyFix wool dryer balls — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

Wool Dryer Balls (July 2018)

Made from New Zealand wool, these dryer balls are used in lieu of dryer sheets to fluff up garments, soften clothes, and decrease drying time. They also help reduce wrinkles and static (though I’m not entirely convinced about the claim to reduce static).

I love, love these and have been using them since they arrived. My boyfriend likes them, too—he’s very anti-dryer sheets. We also use a bag of dried lavender purchased at the farmer’s market alongside these to provide some subtle scent, though I’ve been considering buying essential oils to use on them when the lavender becomes scentless. The only downside is I’m not sure that they help reduce static all that much…but I’ve read that maybe I’m drying items for too long and that’s causing the static.

Regular price: $16.99 / Member price: $15.29 / I paid: $8.25

MightyFix tidy dish cloths — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

Tidy Dish Cloths (August 2018)

These 12” x 12” dish cloths by Full Circle are sustainably made in China from organic cotton. They act as a paper towel replacement; the loops provide texture for scrubbing off messy counters or dishes. The cloths are absorbent, durable, and machine-washable.

I was thrilled to receive these cloths! I’ve been trying to use fewer paper towels already (I bought some “unpaper towels”) so these are great to add to the collection. The size is great for quick countertop wipe-downs and the texture helps to loosen sticky or dried food. They’d also work great to wash/scrub dishes. I have only used them to wipe down the counter and they worked great! Haha. I’m really hoping these don’t stain over time just because I’d like them to stay looking nice for as long as possible. I haven’t washed mine yet, so fingers crossed all the food gunk comes out.

Regular price (for a set of 3): $6.99 / Member price (for 3): $6.29 / I paid (for 5): $8.25

How to overhaul your wardrobe for grad school

How to overhaul your wardrobe for grad school — Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair

I've now been on the other side of grad school for over a year, which is kind of hard to believe because I'm still working on journal articles (the second one from my PhD research was finally accepted!). I started blogging when I was in my second year and it's crazy how much has changed with my life—and style—since then.

During my first couple of years of grad school, my style went through a transformation. Thankfully, I don't have much in the way of photos from my first year, but trust me when I say that I wore a lot of old items from college, including many free t-shirts and my outdated pairs of jeans. I hardly recognize myself when I see those photos of me so I'm glad there aren't a whole lot floating around from that period of time. Ha! I don't remember dressing so scrubby in college—I did have some cute dresses—but I definitely didn't care a whole lot about what I wore once I started grad school.

In between my first and second years of grad school, I discovered ModCloth. And I went overboard buying dresses and skirts from ModCloth, as one does when they first discover ModCloth and have a "real" disposable income for the first time. (In my field, for the most part, grad students earn salaries in exchange for their work in research and/or teaching. They're meager, but it's better than taking out loans to get through school.) It was during this time that I discovered the ModCloth Style Gallery, and consequently, style blogs. That lead to me starting my own blog.

I credit style blogs and my own blogging for my style transformation. I went from being a student that wore free t-shirts and low-rise, bootcut jeans with frayed hems that were too long for me to a twee ModCloth addict to what I am now: a somewhat put-together mashup of girly-meets-minimal cool girl (still working on identifying my style!).

All that to say, I put together this relatively brief guide on how to overhaul your wardrobe for grad school so you don't end up like me buying up an entire brand just for the fun of it. I wrote it with grad school in mind, but it could be applied to medical school or really any transition in life (college, first job, new job, etc). I also included a few widgets with some affordable picks to get you started. The goal in all of this is for you to feel more grown up, put together, and confident as you enter this new stage in your life—and do it all on a grad school budget. :)

How to overhaul your wardrobe for grad school

1 / Evaluate your current wardrobe and your (future) lifestyle

  • What items of clothing do you love to wear?
  • What items of clothing do you hate wearing? (Plan to sell or donate these items depending on condition.)
  • Are there any major holes in your wardrobe?
  • What will your new lifestyle look like? Will you need to dress more professionally? (Teacher assistants tended to dress up more than research assistants.)
  • Consider the climate where you live, especially if it is or will be different than what you're used to

2 / Determine potential swaps/upgrades

  • Wear a lot of free t-shirts? Trade those for a set of basic and maybe a couple of graphic tees.
  • Denim collection feeling outdated? Try a new trend or two!
  • Tired of wearing the same old, same old buttoned-up cardigans? Think about other silhouettes such as long, open cardigans or blazers!
  • Don't be afraid to tailor your items (old or new!) to get a perfect fit; you will likely get so much more wear out of an item if it fits how you want it to

3 / Find inspiration and make a wish list

  • Search Pinterest for outfits or clothes you like (hint: search based off of items you own and love or items you plan to buy, i.e. "fall skinny jeans outfit" or "black blazer outfit")
  • Read style blogs of people whose style you resonate with and save your favorite looks for reference (see list of grad school/academia/medical school bloggers at the end of this post)
  • Make notes of items that would "complete" your wardrobe (hint: focus on any wardrobe holes)—be as specific as possible when describing these items

4 / Set a budget and plan your purchases

  • Write down your monthly take-home income and make note of your monthly expenses
  • Set aside less than 10% of your take-home income on all "fun" expenses, including new clothes (Tailor this number to your situation depending on your expenses; I budgeted about 10% of my post-tax income on clothes/shoes/accessories at first and then dropped it.)
  • Don't buy everything at once; focus on a couple of items at a time and buy during big sales (i.e. holiday weekends) and use your student discount or coupons
  • Keep in mind return policies, especially if shopping online
  • Don't forget about secondhand shopping; check out places like Poshmark or Thredup or, if you have time, browse local thrift shops or online

5 / Enjoy your updated wardrobe!

  • Use your Pinterest and blog inspiration for reference when putting together outfits
  • Realize and embrace the fact that your wardrobe will never be truly complete—your style is always changing and evolving
  • Take time at least once or twice a year to cull unwanted items (donate or sell items on Poshmark!) and make a plan for new items
  • If you nerd out over your wardrobe, start tracking what you wear with the Stylebook app
  • Plan and budget for more "investment" pieces like a work bag or great pair of shoes

Academic life and style bloggers:

A Thinking Animal (STEM professor)

Dress Like an Engineer (PhD candidate / research assistant)

Grad School Style (PhD candidate / teaching assistant)

Life Love and Medicine (medical student)

If you're interested in more in-depth guides, I highly recommend purchasing either the Feel Good, Dress Better workbook by Nicole (if you want to focus on dressing intuitively) and/or The Curated Closet by Anushka Rees (for a more analytical look at your closet). If you're feeling overwhelmed when it comes to wish-listing and shopping, Nicole also offers a curated shopping list service.

More posts about grad school: why I went and advice for prospective students, a day in the life of a PhD student, six outfits to wear at an academic conference