Friday Tea Break: Floating Leaves

I have several favorite tea suppliers, each of which does something different well.  Northern Lights Tea Company sells high-quality sustainability-focused teas (especially their Japanese greens); Tea Source sells at least one tea for everyone, whether you like prize-winning Ceylons or candysweet herbals; Breakaway Matcha sells what I think is the most delicious matcha on the market, albeit at really high prices.

I eventually decided that, if I had to start by recommending just one vendor, I’d recommend Floating Leaves Tea.   This blog is meant to help people find high-quality, reasonably-priced products. Floating Leaves Tea’s Taiwanese oolongs are the best I’ve ever had and incredibly reasonably priced for their quality.  They’re so good, in fact, that they converted a friend who thought she hated oolongs.

Continue Reading

Overly-Comprehensive Reviews: MM LaFleur

I have intensely conflicted feelings about MM.LaFleur.  The idea of looking sharp and professional but having someone else do all the actual work is great; MM.LaFleur’s customer service is excellent; their branding and marketing is brilliant; their clothing is sturdy and conservative enough for any workplace and has a good balance of personality and versatility.  Also, most of their stuff magically looks way better in photographs than I think it actually looks on me.

However, even though I did end up buying some of their stuff, I think I’m too hard to fit and too picky to be their audience.  You’re best off with MM.LaFleur if you feel overwhelmed by the idea of picking work clothes, you’re not especially picky about color, and you have no emotional problem dropping $155-$295 on an article of clothing.

Continue Reading

Awesome, Extremely Expensive Coats: The Ethics Edition

Sorry for the lack of new content lately.  Contract work has been taking up a lot of my time!

But I do have a few things lined up.  Namely: I have a hobby of Internets-staring at beautiful, expensive coats.  There’s something so expressive and dramatic about them.   Through this hobby, obviously I’ve come up with a few different favorite coats for different reasons!  Today I’m going to introduce you to one: the most universally ethical fancy coat maker on the market.  Vaute Couture is a manufacturer and designer of vegan, eco-friendly, made-in-the-USA dress coats.

Continue Reading

Who Makes The Best Silk Blouses?

Good news if you like silk: if you can pay $29, you can afford a top made of reasonable-quality silk.

But that top won’t work for everyone!  Online reviews say Grana (the company that makes said $29 silk tanks) generally has a petite-friendly boxy fit, so if either of those don’t work for you, you’re likely out of luck.  Also, Grana’s silk is the most affordable decent-quality silk on the market, but not the best silk at any price point.

So whose silks are the best on the market (in terms of quality, fit, ethics, and affordability)?  Join me as I delve into esoteric topics that I might be the only one interested in!

Continue Reading

Monthly Roundup: Useful Links

Here are a few especially useful or especially interesting a few things I’ve found within the last month or so!

 10 Fashion and Beauty Brands Expanding the Definition of ‘Nude’.  Because seriously, not everyone is beige-colored.

To this list, I’d like to add Meow Cosmetics, an indie mineral cosmetics line that has the widest color range of foundations that I have ever seen. I absolutely guarantee they have a perfect color match to your skin– and they offer samples, so it’s easy to figure out which one it is.

JCPenney Launching New Plus-Size Line In New “Boutique” Sections In Stores, Online. Not sure how I generally feel about JCPenney, but now they’ve put an actual famous plus-sized person who is actually experienced with plus-size design in charge of designing their plus clothing.  Cool move, JCP.

Hard Water And Your Hair.  This one especially helped me this month!  I always love Science-y Hair Care Blog.  I apparently live in a place with enormously hard water (like, 2x the limit for ‘very hard water’), and the suggestions in this post have helped change my hair from “what the hell is happening” to “mildly grippier than my ordinary hair.”

How To Let Go Of The Guilt Of Letting Go.  In order to keep my life even remotely together, I need to keep my stuff to a minimum, but I have a tendency to hold on to sentimental stuff.  Over the years I’ve developed a few strategies for helping with this– create a special closed “memory box” to hold small physical items with positive memories, take a digital picture of larger things before getting rid of them (Justin’s idea)– but sometimes you just need to let go of stuff.  This post can help.

Catalog Choice.  And speaking of letting go of stuff: Catalog Choice can help!  this is a nonprofit that helps you cancel your subscriptions to catalogs and other kinds of junk mail.

The Corporette Guide to Suits. Useful for anyone looking for suits from larger, well-known labels. Also, deeply sorry for the issues with formatting earlier.

Continue Reading

Oops: A Miniature MM LaFleur Giveaway

Last month, I bought the MM. LaFleur Didion in Cornflower Blue in size L.  It looks beautiful in all of the pictures online of people wearing it, but unfortunately, it does not look beautiful on me.  Busty women: do not buy this one.  However, it’s a sturdy, nice-looking blouse for people with not my figure, and I’d love for it to find a happy new home.

(Full disclosure: I also don’t love the fabric, but there’s nothing wrong with it.  I certainly wouldn’t say it “feels like your favorite t-shirt,” like they do, but I also think Ureshii might have spoiled me on comfy fabric.)

The Didion is unworn except to try it on, and we live in a non-smoking home.  To enter this impromptu giveaway, ask me something!  Either something you’d like advice on, or something about me, or, I don’t know, something about Chinese literature.  (My favorite Chinese author: Lu Xun.)   If there are people interested in a tiny new blog’s out-of-pocket giveaway, I’ll pick a winner at random on Tuesday, 4/19.

Also, if anyone’s interested in getting a pair of Ziera shoes, Mar-Lou Shoes is having a small ($25) discount on each pair through 4/24.  The clearanced shoes at ShoeMill are still cheaper if they have them in a size and style that works for you, but if they don’t, Mar-Lou Shoes might be a good option.

Continue Reading

Skincare Problem-Solving: Sunscreen

Someone close to me has gotten skin cancer three times now.  They used to suntan a lot as a child, and it’s come to haunt them later in life.  They’re more diligent about sun protection now.

So I was stunned to find out they didn’t wear sunscreen on their forehead– the most recent place they had gotten skin cancer.  “Why not?” I asked in horror.

“It stings,” they complained.  “I sweat on my forehead and it gets in my eyes and it stings.”

I get it.  Sunscreen is one of the most potent tools in skincare– used properly, it prevents signs of aging, it protects you from cancer, and the right sunscreens can even make your skin softer and smoother.  But it’s really, really hard to find the right sunscreens.  They smell bad, or they leave unsightly white streaks, or they sting, or they make you break out.

I am here to help.  I hope the information in this little troubleshooting guide can help at least one person like it did that person close to me: I have now found them a sunscreen that solves their discomfort issues.  Now they are actually protecting themselves.

Continue Reading

Ureshii Design: A Love Letter

I… I mean review.

When I bought my first shirt from Ureshii Design, the intention was to get a few versatile well-fitting basics to make my wardrobe more cohesive.  What I ended up doing instead was entirely replacing half my wardrobe.  Their clothes are so comfortable and so well-fitting that I couldn’t bring myself to wear anything else.

As I’ve gotten to know the brand, I’ve only gotten to like Ureshii Design more.  The prices Emily and Amanda charge for their clothing are absurdly low for a made-to-measure service, especially one that only works with sustainable fabrics.  But they do all the sewing themselves, so you can be sure no one’s getting paid unfair wages.   Not only that, they do made-to-measure well: they consider measurements other companies don’t, and they use (optional!) self-submitted photographs to make sure your clothing really fits right.

They’ve got a wide range of designs, colors, fits, and fabrics.  They’re constantly adding more, and they’re happy to make tweaks to their designs for you.  Heck, they actually invented a design for me just because I wanted to dress like the inferior Batman.  The main reason I haven’t reviewed Ureshii already is, honestly, I had no idea how to coalesce infinite fangirling and half my wardrobe into a review.  This is my best effort.

Continue Reading

Dagne Dover Sale

Timely!  Some discontinued colors of the Mini tote I reviewed last week are on final sale on Dagne Dover’s website through 4/10.  Bright red, bright blue,  basically any shade of muted and/or metallic pink, dalmatian print, hideous olive, and hideous blue-and-white print versions are on sale for $129-$189–it’s usually a $245 bag.    I’m not planning on taking advantage myself– if I get a new one at any point it’ll be in a more neutral color that will let me more easily replace the crossbody strap.


If you were interested in their laptop bags, there are also a few of those available in various colors.  Full sale is here.

Continue Reading