All About Sustainable Fashion

Discussions about global warming, climate change, and pollution are now happening in our dining halls, our classrooms, and even in crowded bars. For a few years now, the fashion industry especially has come under fire for the constant damage it does to the environment. According to a report by Forbes, the fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter! All those clothes that you’ve been throwing away after wearing them twice – that’s ending up in a landfill that releases the dangerous greenhouse gas methane. This gas has very high potential to contribute to global warming – yikes. So, we should all be putting a little bit more effort into making more environmental-friendly choices when it comes to fashion. To help us out we asked Tess Herman, a graduate student getting her dual degrees in journalism and environmental science to give us a few tips.

How did you get interested in issues about the environment?

I’ve always had a strong interest in the environment and nature in general. I studied anthropology and ecology in my undergrad. I learned that the environment has an influence on humans and vice versa. Then I went to Costa Rica where I studied the implementation of sustainability practices. It helped me see how our daily actions influence the lives of others abroad. I then got involved in teaching children about the environment and realized that I wanted to learn more, so I came to grad school. In my classes we go deeper into ecology and sustainability, on a local and global scale.

How would you describe sustainability?

My definition would be that sustainability is the ability to meet our needs today, but also to improve the lives of those in the future. Not just humans, but also other organisms. Essentially, allowing our children to have the same amenities as we do or even better. Not just in terms of consumerism and having lots of possessions, but also having access to fresh water and air.

What are some of effects that the fashion industry is having on the environment?

The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters of the world and that is because of demand. Fast fashion has grown significantly in the past few years. Technology has made it easy to crank out new styles and designs every week. It’s fun so we’re feeding that engine. But we are constantly consuming more and more. They say that a clothing item only gets worn about seven or eight times. But there is a hidden cost to those clothes – the cost of the resources, of labor, of transportation – that we don’t realize. All of these procedures contribute to releasing many greenhouse gases. Most cheap clothes are made of synthetic fabrics which come from oil. Also, the clothes are made with dye that comes from lead and cadmium, which are harmful. In the US we may not know the repercussions, but the people and animals adjacent to those factories have to bear the burden of all that constant manufacturing. All of this in the big scheme of things is contributing to hurricanes, fires, and flooding across the world.

What are some things we can do to reduce the effects of fashion on the environment?

Just like any product, try buying local – this way you can prevent pollution that happens due to the supply chain. Do a little bit of research, see where the products of your favorite fashion companies are coming from before buying them. Go for brands that sell sustainably manufactured products. Invest in pieces that may be expensive but also happen to be classics and last long. They’re better quality and in the long run, you may actually save money!

How can college students on a small budget make more sustainable choices?

Take really good care of your clothing, that way you’re not contributing to the global demand cycle. Even if you buy affordable clothes from fast fashion brands because it fits your style (and pocket) – make sure that you use those clothes often. Avoid buying clothes that you’ll only wear a couple of times and also make sure that you don’t waste clothes too often.

How to Wear Color

We all get so used to wearing drab clothes in the gloomy winter weather, most of our wardrobe is packed with greys and blacks. With our daily uniform of leggings and sweatshirts it’s hard to play around with bright shades. But since we spent most of the year wearing the same four colors (all neighboring each other on the color wheel!) it can be hard to know how to wear color in the summer. Should you pair two totally contrasting colors? Or different shades of the same color? And what in the world is color-blocking? So, we asked Rachael Vacanti, a graduate student of journalism to tell us how exactly to wear colorful outfits. “For me the process of getting ready is different,” says Rachael. Most people with different abilities have some way of organizing their wardrobe – cutting tags or putting tape on clothes to identify them. “I usually go by the texture and how they feel,” she explains. With a wardrobe that’s packed with vibrant colors, Rachael tells us how to wear bright outfits in the summer.

Start Small

“When I think summer, I think fun and bright,” says Rachael. But most of our wardrobe is filled with black and white pieces with some brown and navy on the side. Use these items and add a small pop of color to them. Rachael wears a white skirt that’s dotted with yellow and pink floral patterns. She also keeps the shirt white but pairs it with a bold pink blazer. Go for black shoes if you want the color on your outfit to stand out.

 

Make it Monochrome

If you are in a hurry and don’t know what to wear, a simple monochrome outfit can make you look presentable in minutes. Just wear the same color on the top and bottom! You can play around with different shades of the same color to add some variety. Or go with the same shade for a streamlined, classic look. “In the summer I typically go for anything that is bright,” says Rachael.

 

Play With Pastels

Pastels are a great way to wear color without attracting too much attention to your loud outfit. Pair soft mint green (like Rachael) with neutral shades like white for the perfect summer look. Swap black shoes for a nude pair to make the outfit a little more romantic. You can also try wearing pastel hues of peach, purple, and lime. “I would keep it light,” says Rachel about which colors to pick.

 

Accessorize Away

Rachel’s wardrobe is filled with headbands that Blair Waldorf would approve of. But during the summer, she also experiments with necklaces and bracelets. Go for looser, lighter accessories that don’t stick too close to your skin so you’re free to move as your please. “Don’t buy anything you’re not comfortable in,” that’s the biggest fashion advice Rachael has.

Workwear Essentials for Internships

So, you’ve finally scored that summer internship! Everyone back home has congratulated you and you’ve already started preparing for your move, but your wardrobe is packed with black leggings and blue jeans. While this might be appropriate attire for early morning classes and drinks on Court Street – it might make a couple of eyes roll in your dream company. But it’s also not possible to get a whole new wardrobe, right? So, we asked graduate student Amelia Kibbe, who is soon moving to New York for her internship to suggest a few workwear pieces that look professional and can be styled in a hundred different ways. “When people think of workwear they tend to think boring and dull, but you can definitely show your style with business clothes,” she says.

  • The black blazer

“My motto is, above all else, be classy,” Amelia says. A wardrobe essential for her is a black blazer, you can wear it with jeans to keep it casual or pair it with some cigarette pants for a streamlined look. “I’m a big fan of the black suit,” Amelia explains. “But you can also mix that with some color.”

  • The versatile shoes

Your white sneakers are cute but they won’t make the cut when you are working in the same office as some of your role models. Step it up a notch and invest in a pair of shoes in a neutral shade that go with every piece. Amelia also suggests “Adding a pop of color to your outfit can help you shine in your workwear.”

  • The pencil skirt

A pencil skirt can be worn for a variety of occasions based on how you style it. Keep it black for a sharp, business look when you have meetings. Go for a bold color or a bright print for a special occasion. “People are always making an impression of you,” reminds Amelia. So, dress in a way that helps you make a mark without standing out.

  • The party dress

Office parties are a great way to get to know your colleagues and make an impression. However, choosing an outfit can be difficult – you have to strike the balance between not being boring and not being provocative. So, get a dress that you’re comfortable with and try spicing it up by wearing a solid color along with metallic details. “Obviously you’re not at the office but you’re still with your colleagues,” says Amelia. So be mindful of that when dressing for a party.

 

If you are planning to build a work-wear wardrobe Amelia suggests starting with basics – “a navy blue dress, a plain black dress; choose things that are easy to build off of.” She also suggests experimenting with jewelry because she believes it is hard to get that wrong.

Simple Hairstyles For Summer

Whether you’re preparing to start your internship, packing for a music festival or booking a flight to Miami – your summers are probably packed with a bunch of activities. But when you have to run from one fun event to another, it’s hard to find time for taking care of yourself. We tend to get lazier with our skincare or makeup routines and don’t pay too much attention to how we look. But that’s no excuse for looking drab! So, we turned to graduate student Elisabeth Weems or Liz who always show up to class in funky hair-dos. “I grew up in a community where I didn’t see a lot of ethnic people, biracial people, black people,” she says. Being mixed race, she is the only member of her family with “crazy curls.” But there was a turning point for Liz, “Throughout the years I learned to love my hair and nourish it.”

  • Let it go

What’s the best hairstyle? No hairstyle at all! So just let your strands soak in the summer sun. This is perfect for when you are spending an afternoon surfing at the beach or rushing to a summer class. Liz explains why she loves this hair-do, “A lot of it has to do with taking the path of least resistance and not trying to tame or force your hair, but just letting your curls be free.”

  • Up top

Running late? Grab all your hair and throw it in a bun. Not only is this hairstyle suitable for professional settings like that internship you scored, but it will also be perfect for intense activities like hip-hop classes or basketball matches. Liz says, “Letting your hair fall where they will,” is the key to rocking this up-do.

  • Mystic mane

Spice up your morning yoga classes with this bohemian turban. Just pick a colorful scarf, wrap it around your hair, and throw it all together in a bun. Add some funky accessories like Liz for a ‘character from Harry Potter’ look.  “Love your locks, nourish your locks, moisturize your locks!” says Liz.

  • Punk princess

Add a twist to your romantic, flowy dresses with this French braid. Separate your hair and braid them from the roots. Throw on some shades and now you’re ready for a concert! For healthy hair Liz says you must have the right attitude. “I’ve shifted my perspective from this is something I have to do, I dread it, to this is something I love to do,” she says.

For other people who have hair like Liz she has a few tips. “Straightening your hair, putting heat on it is the worst possible thing you can do if you have curls.” So, stay away from heat products or use a strong heat protectant to keep your hair healthy. She also suggests having a consistent hair-care routine, “I use conditioners and gels and a bunch of oils,” to keep them healthy. Lastly, whatever your curl pattern is keep your locks moisturized, especially in the summer.

10-Minute Outfits for Spring

We all have those days when we only have a few minutes before we walk out the door. Either you overslept before your class or you have work early in the morning, or you’re just rushing from one thing to the next. At times like these deciding what to wear can be tricky – even though you have a lot of clothes it seems like you have nothing to wear! So, we asked Ohio University graduate student Briana Ekanem or Bri, who starts most of her days at 5 am to tell us her secrets. “In high school I put a lot of weight into what I wore and what it said about me,” she says. “I would take an hour just to make sure my hair looked good and my outfit was put together.” But now that she’s in college she has become lazier (her words not mine) and has a much busier schedule which means she often has to get ready in minutes. So here are a few comfortable looks she plans on wearing in Spring to class and work.

  • Keeping up with a cardigan

Start with a fluffy cardigan in a neutral tone that will keep you warm and cuddly all day. Pair it with black jeans and boots and add a dash of color with loud prints or bold yet simple accessories. “My fashion is definitely casual, more laid back,” says Bri describing her sense of style. She picked a brown, knee-length cardigan and kept the rest of her outfit simple so that the cozy cardigan would be the focus.

  • Denim for days

We all have an old, trusty denim jacket in our closet. Pair it with a pair of jeans and a tee in a solid color for a look that’s comfortable yet stylish. Bri also added metallic accents using bracelets or bohemian necklaces to up the ante. She explains, “I value having my personality shown in what I’m wearing more so than just dressing in a way that looks good to other people.” So, play around until you find a look that reflects you.

  • Statement skirts for style

For a girly look with a twist pair an eye-catching skirt with subdued items. Bri wears her midi-length floral skirt in bold red and a tee in a neutral shade with a versatile denim jacket. Pair this with lace-up boots for a grunge look. “Sometimes I like to mix and match and I prefer it when the look doesn’t go together perfectly,” says Bri. Follow her advice and don’t try too hard to make an outfit perfect.

  • For the flower child

Bri’s favorite fashion trends are from the seventies, “I really liked the floral patterns and big, voluminous hair.” So pull out that loose, floor-length maxi dresses with wild floral prints from the corner of your closet – they’re perfect for the spring! Pair it with black, low-heeled boots so you can rock this look from the classroom to a quiet bar without much help.

If you’re trying to save some time while getting ready Bri has some advice. Heading somewhere early in the morning? It’s best to decide and prepare your outfit the night before. If you must wear the same outfit all day long she suggests layering up. But most importantly she recommends wearing outfits that make you feel comfortable and confident. “I don’t think you have to wear whatever is in fashion,” Bri says.

Easy Makeup Looks for Every Skin Tone

With the endless variety of foundation shades now available (Thanks Rihanna) it has become easier than ever to find something that suits your skin type. That means you can find makeup products in colors that show off your natural beauty and try on looks that have been hard to achieve before. But makeup can still be tough to do every morning, especially when you have textbooks to read and papers to submit. So here are four makeup looks that can be done by people of all skill levels and they only take under five minutes. Start by creating a lasting base with primer, foundation and setting spray, or simply try the looks below if you feel like it.

 

1) The 60s Cat-Eye

For people who struggle with getting a sharp cat-eyeliner (read: me) putting on eyeliner every morning can require a good fifteen minutes and far too many tissues. If you have a class in the morning this can be frustrating. So instead of going through the long process try this simple trick – use a pen liner or a gel liner with an angled brush, hold the brush vertical so there is a straight line from the outer edge of your eye. Then bring this line inwards and as you go closer to the center of your lash line, make the line smaller. Sounds complicated? Here’s British model Alexa Chung showing you how to get her easy cat-eye.

 

Products used: Ecotools angled liner brush, Maybelline New York Lasting Drama Gel Liner, Covergirl Lip Gloss.

2) The Classic Red Lip

There is a reason why this has been the most popular look among the women of Hollywood – nothing conveys power and drama quite like the sultry red lip. You can simply slap it on from the lipstick or use a brush. Kendall Jenner does hers by pressing on some lipstick and then dabbing it to spread it so the lips look natural and the color lasts longer. You can also line your lips (or overline them, up to you) or apply foundation on your lips so they look more voluminous with lipstick. But if you want a more natural pout try scrubbing your lips with petroleum jelly before putting on lipstick.

 

Products used: Ciate London Liquid Velvet, Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Mascara.

3) The Peach Blush

A trick borrowed from Japanese anime, peach blush can add a pop of color to your skin. While pink, red and brown shades can also work wonders too; peach is a color that will enhance your natural skin tone. Wear it on your cheekbones near your ears or underneath them, right on your cheeks. But you could also try this technique that makes your cheeks look doll-like in photos – smile and whatever section of your cheeks pops out under your eye, use a brush and apply blush all over that area.

  

Products used: Elf Peach Blush, Ecotools Full Blush Brush, Burt’s Bees Strawberry Lip Balm.

4) The Brown Eye-Shadow

Even makeup beginners can vouch for the magical properties of a hint of colorful eyeshadow. But brown – regardless of what the color of your eyes (or your hair) is can make you look put together but still natural. The neutral hue goes with all skin tones and is versatile enough to be worn with a variety of looks. Running to class? Just rub some brown eyeshadow over your eyelid, if you have some more time on your hands try adding gold detailing near the lash line or the center of your lid.

  

Products used: Smashbox Covershot Golden Hour Eyeshadow Duo, Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara.

Regardless of which looks you go for don’t forget to take your makeup off before going to bed or taking a nap! The most important thing with beauty is to keep experimenting, don’t feel the need to copy the looks that are popular or don’t pressure yourself into buying products that are trending on social media. Just try a variety of products that suit your budget and your skill level and try various looks that enhance your beauty and make you feel more comfortable and confident.

 

 

How to Henna

Whether it is a traditional South Asian wedding or the Coachella Music Festival – henna has become one of the most popular forms of body art. These temporary tattoos that are also known as ‘mehendi’ in some cultures are painless brown patterns that last on your body for one to two weeks. “My grandma used to crush the leaves and use the paste to draw henna”, says Michelle Michael, a graduate student at Ohio University. A Sri Lankan by origin, Michelle grew up drawing henna on her sisters and now draws it for anyone enthusiastic enough to try it. We asked her how a beginner should go about doing henna and she told us her secrets.

  • Get a henna cone

While you can go find a henna tree, cut the leaves, grind the leaves and make a paste out of it – it can be a little difficult and time-consuming. These day, it is easier to find henna that is packaged in a cone. Look for one on any online shopping website (not from a shady one!) and buy a few so you can practice before you draw it on someone. “Cut the tip of the cone”, says Michelle and press the cone gently so that the henna falls out. For bigger lines you can cut a larger hole on the top of the cone but Michelle suggests pressing the cone harder. Try putting on a little bit on yourself to see how your skin is reacting to it before you go all out.

 

  • Practice, practice, practice

“Practice makes it perfect”, says Michelle. “So don’t get frustrated if your first attempt takes forever”. Start simple by looking for easy henna designs online – flowers, geometric patterns and images of creepers are commonly used in henna drawings. Get inspiration online or on Instagram – while starting out go for the chunkier designs with minimal elements and as you progress get more intricate with your patterns.

  • Start small

In the Indian subcontinent people decorate their palms (and sometimes go up till their elbows) during festivals or other celebrations. A bride would typically even cover her feet in henna. Some people also don’t shy away from unconventional spots like a design on the back of their shoulder or a circular pattern on their upper arm. But if henna is a newer hobby for you, you can also try drawing it on just a finger. “It can be intricate”, says Michelle, “but it doesn’t have to fill up your entire hand”.

  • Just have fun

Michelle says, “Me and my sisters, we just like doing henna.” So don’t think that every design you do needs to be a masterpiece. You don’t have to follow shapes or rules, just play around with henna. Once you have practiced the designs you have seen and can replicate them to your own satisfaction, try making your own designs and adding a little bit of your personality to them.

Once you have put on henna it is best to let it rest for 5 to 6 hours, try putting it on right before you go to bed and then washing it off when you wake up. The dry henna will be washed off and only the pattern on your body will remain. Usually henna has a reddish-brown tint and the hue of it will depend on your skin tone. Based on the henna you used the patterns can last anywhere from one to two weeks. Want to make your henna last longer? Sprinkle lime juice on it or dab it with a mixture of water and sugar when it gets dry.

How to Style Your Hijab for Class

With the recent celebration of World Hijab Day women across the globe shared what their relationship with their hijab is like on social media. Those who wear it everyday spoke about their experiences and those who wear it sometimes expressed how it made them feel. For women, it is not only a religious or cultural object but also a symbol of freedom – the freedom to choose what they want to do with their bodies, whether they choose to wear the hijab or not. We asked Ohio University graduate student Sundus Zahra what exactly a hijab is. “For me hijab is any piece of scarf, shawl, stole or cloth that you somehow style around your head,”, she says. She was brought up in Pakistan and wears hijab when she wants to. “From where I come from a lot of people wear hijab for religious reasons which is great. But I don’t always wear it for religious reasons.” So, we asked her to show us how she styles her hijab for when she wears it to class. Brace yourself for some serious fashion envy!

  • Play with the prints.

“Hijab can be of different levels, hijab can involve completely covering your head or it could be slightly covering your head,” says Zahra. Here she wears a bright kurta (a long top typically till your knee) and understated straight-leg pants with embroidery. She pairs this with a bright hijab with floral prints that she casually throws around her head and shiny silver flats. This outfit is perfect for summer when you want to wear light fabrics and comfortable kicks.

  • Ace it with accessories.

Zahra says, “How you play around with your hair and how you pair hijab with your earrings – it makes you look different.” Here she combines a top with busy prints with a solid-colored hijab in a soft, nude tone. She pairs this with her long, dangling earrings and wears eye-catching makeup. Pair this with high heels for when you must dress formally for an important presentation in class.

  • Go all out with outerwear.

If you don’t want the hijab to be the focus of your outfit, pair it with bright jackets. “Different styles of hijab bring out a different personality in you,” says Zahra. She wears a pale pink hijab with geometric motifs along with a bright red trench coat. She keeps the rest of the outfit simple with a grey tee and fitted, black trousers. This is an easy outfit perfect for those 9 am classes.

  • Dealing with details.

For when you want to make an impression, you can also pair your hijab with other eye-catching elements for a memorable look. Zahra says, “On my gloomy days if I put a bright lipstick and if I dress up it cheers me up.” She pairs her black hijab covered in silver accents with a drool-worthy jacket with gold detailing. Wear this when you’re fishing for compliments!

Most importantly Zahra suggests that you should wear hijab in a way that makes you feel comfortable and confident. “Everyone should be allowed to wear and style their clothes the way they want,” she says.

 

 

How to Wear Ethnic Pieces to Class

We all have something in our wardrobe that holds cultural value to us – an item from home that reminds us of comfort, care and cuddles. It might be an intricate piece of jewelry passed down to you or an ugly item that you don’t throw away just because it was from Grandma. When I moved from India to the United States six months ago my mother lovingly packed a few clothes and accessories from home – I bet you have something similar. But don’t let the loudness of it deter you, there are ways to wear them with Western pieces and still look casual. Here I have used pieces from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but you can use these guidelines to sport any ethnic piece you have and look stylish.

  • Start small

If you usually go to class in grubby sweatpants and you happen to show up one day in an elaborate costume, there are bound to be some eyes rolling. So, take baby steps by slowly integrating ethnic accessories into your outfit while keeping the rest of it still Western and simple. I had a pair of intricate earrings that are quite attention-grabbing, so I wore them with black, round shades that didn’t have any detailing and a simple outfit.

Image courtesy Michelle Michael
  • Balance busy prints with solid colors

A lot of ethnic items often have busy prints or intricate details – loud animal or floral motifs, extremely small designs repeated a thousand times, delicate embroidery scattered across the entire garment. These pieces can be eye-catching so pair them with solid colors to provide a blank background for your ethnic piece to enhance its design. I wore a colorful dupatta (a long scarf from Pakistan) with floral motifs along with a white tee and shorts so that my scarf is the focus of the outfit.

Image courtesy Michelle Michael
  • Jeans make everything casual

There is a reason why jeans are everyone’s go-to clothing item – it can make you look put-together without any effort. Pairing it with ethnic pieces is easy because jeans go with everything. If you want a more streamlined look go for a fitted pair of black jeans, if you want something more relaxed try wearing blue jeans with a boyfriend fit (don’t forget to roll the bottoms!) I paired my soft, blue kurti (a long top worn commonly in India) with a pair of stripped boyfriend jeans and black boots.

Image courtesy Michelle Michael
  • Pair bright colors with neutrals

Western fashion takes a lot of inspiration from French fashion, so it is dominated with neutrals. Black, white, brown, beige, navy blue and grey are the most commonly-worn colors sometimes with a dash of bright hues. So, take an item with any of these colors and pair them with something bright – this combination is easy on the eyes and looks like you really spent time getting ready. I am sporting a sarong (a long, fitted skirt worn popularly in Sri Lanka) that has an interplay of blue, gold and red shades. I paired it with a black tee to make the outfit simpler and a black leather jacket.