Summer Style Q&A

Summer Style Q&A | Jess Ann Kirby wears Agolde Dee Denim shorts with a classic white button down
one of my favorite summer outfits: agolde dee shorts, converse 70s oxford sneaker, sezane button down (this photo is from a few summer’s ago when we could go places)

Last week I asked for your summer style questions on Instagram and you guys had SO MANY good questions. I realized it’s actually been a while since I wrote a proper blog post about anything fashion/style related which is kind of crazy because when I started this blog 6 years ago that was the ONLY thing I wrote about.

Last year I set out to change how I approach fashion and personal style, curating a wardrobe I love, and trying to consume less in the process. The journey hasn’t been perfect. I’ve occasionally slipped back into old habits (and realized in the process how much I use shopping as an emotional crutch). Then pregnancy and now postpartum have me re-discovering what my personal style is and what I feel good in. Ultimately I know we’re just talking about clothes which is frivolous in the grand scheme, but clothing is a form of self-expression. For me, an outfit I love can make me feel great and boost my confidence (I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m linking materialism to happiness because I know that’s problematic and that’s not the goal). Anyway, leave it to me to get way too deep when trying to have a conversation about style. Thanks for all of the great questions, I answered as many as I could. Here’s to dressing for your fabulous self this summer, and always!

Summer Style Q&A

What are you favorite everyday dresses for summer?

I’m all about anything that’s in a breezy, lightweight fabric and isn’t clingy. I love this midi dress from Mate the Label (it was great for maternity last summer too). This breezy linen mini dress looks comfy but also very chic. This cover up is great for beach days but can also easily be work (from home) appropriate. Just discovered this brand on Etsy and LOVE the dresses. I also ordered this dress in peach from Fanm Mon (featured in this post) and I’m so excited for it to arrive. I know tie-dye is trendy but this t-shirt dress looks really cute. Also this organic cotton t-shirt maxi dress is such a good price point!

Any chic sun protective clothing options?

All of Summersalt’s swimsuits are UPF 50 which is awesome! This is a nice white long sleeve top by Prana. Love this dress style from L.L. Bean and for activewear these all have sun protection.

What are your favorite affordable sustainable brands that have inclusive sizing?

I get this question a lot and to be honest it’s tricky. Making clothes sustainably and using sustainable materials is just more expensive. I also think many brands need to do better when it comes to sizing. It’s helpful to think about cost per wear, while the initial investment may be more, consider how many times you wear the item and how long it will last. I consider this for any items in my wardrobe.

For example, I love Barbour, my first jacket from them is now probably around 10 years old and still in great condition. Assuming I paid around $400 (I think a little less at the time) and I’ve worn it 15 times a year for the last 10 years (definitely more but for the sake of this example) my cost per wear is $2.60. That said, I know budget is still an important factor. Some sustainable brands with inclusive sizing that have a more affordable price point:

Naturlinen (just discovered this brand on Etsy and I want everything)
Girlfriend Collective (athletic wear, underwear and socks)
Wear Proclaim (bras and underwear)
Alternative Apparel (they go up to a 3X but I notice anything above an XL is often sold out unfortunately)
KOTN (great basics like tees, button downs, dresses, etc. they go up to an XXL)
Prana (nice for activewear, basics)
ThredUp (second-hand online)
Eileen Fisher (a higher price point but a great sustainable brand)

Cute mask recommendations?

This etsy shop has really stylish masks. Amour Vert also has cute mask bundles.

Any alternatives to Everlane/Reformation?

There were lots of brands being called out over the last few weeks (Anthro, Everlane, Reformation to name a few). I personally prefer accountability over cancelling a brand. I think people and brands that have not done irreparable harm should be given the opportunity to apologize, grow and change. That said, I don’t think Everlane or Reformation (or Anthropologie) have done that. The good news is, there’s lots of great alternatives. Here are a few.

KOTN – Great cotton and linen basics.
Outerknown – Love this wrap dress and these pants are similar to Everlane’s wide leg!
Mie – Gorgeous dresses, this style is one of my favorites.
Cuyana – Beautiful, classic wardrobe pieces. This linen blazer is a favorite.
Etica – Love their denim.
State Cashmere – Nice classic cashmere pieces at a reasonable price point.
Alternative Apparel (Get 30% off $75+ w/ code UGET30 or 40% off $100+ w/ code UGET40)- Lots of great loungewear, tees, casual dresses.
Pact – Affordable organic cotton basics. I love their baby stuff too (recommend sizing up).

Comfortable cute sneakers for walking?

I’ve had these converse for a few years and love them (they are a slightly more expensive but way more comfortable version of the originals). I really like these Vejas which do take some breaking in. I’m also a big fan of ABLE and they make cute sneakers.

How do you start a capsule wardrobe and how do you edit it for each season and year?

I think part of this depends on your own personal style. A lot of times a capsule wardrobe is equated with minimalism and neutrals, but I don’t think it has to be this way. What helped me was really honing in on the pieces I wear the most and figuring out how to maximize the ways I could wear them. It doesn’t mean you should only have one pair of jeans and one white tee and one pair of tan flats. It’s really helpful to go through your entire wardrobe, try everything on and see what you love and makes you feel great. I think this first capsule I did can be a helpful starting point. It’s pretty basic, but those pieces and the ones from my summer and winter capsule are what I wear most often.

That said, if you love prints or bright colors embrace that. Pay attention to fit, quality and what makes you feel good vs. what’s trendy. In terms of seasons, it really depends on where you live. Since we have four seasons I switch out my wardrobe twice, in the spring and fall. Thick sweaters, boots, all my heavier weight clothes for fall/winter and dresses, sandals, bathing suits, lighter clothes for spring/summer.

How do you suggest transitioning your wardrobe to be more refined (from a recent college grad)?

Take your time and be intentional. A few things I’ve had in my wardrobe forever that never get old: classic blazer, white button down, great fitting jeans with no rips or distressing, flats, a tan wool coat, tailored trousers.

How do you take care of your linen and silk pieces and wear them without looking completely wrinkly?

Haha got this question so many times. I think especially with linen you have to be ok with some wrinkling, it’s just the nature of the fabric. That said, I have a steamer that I LOVE and has literally probably saved me hundreds if not thousands on dry cleaning bills. I also like the Grove wrinkle release spray.

Summer outfit ideas for new moms?

I’ve been living in denim shorts, button downs, t-shirts and comfy dresses with sandals or sneakers. I should also say buying some clothes that fit me right now was a game changer. It made me feel like crap trying to squeeze into pre-baby clothes. See summer capsule for some favorites.

How old is too old to be wearing denim cutoffs? What length denim short do you suggest?

I really don’t think there’s an age limit (to anything). Wear what you feel good in, bottom line. That said, I have definitely gravitated towards a slightly longer hemline with denim shorts. The AGolde Dee are my favorites but hard to find right now as they seem to be sold out everywhere. I also love RE/DONE and these are on major sale. If you don’t mind a little distressing I like this pair from sustainable denim brand Etica. The AGolde Rumi are a good length too.

What are your favorite non-denim shorts?

I’m a big fan of linen shorts especially for summer. Love this pair if you’re looking for something a bit more casual. I also really like these tie-dye shorts. For something more formal these linen shorts from Cuyana are beautiful.

Favorite ethical/sustainable swim brands?

I wrote a post here with some favorite brands. Some styles I’m loving right now: this one piece from Summersalt, the Sidestroke is really flattering, love this bathing suit (recently discovered this Black-owned brand), and this one is UPF 50!

What are your go-to summer shoes? I’m sick of sandals!

My go-to summer shoes are sandals, haha! But these huarache flats by ethical brand Nisolo are nice or these slips ons from Toms.

What’s your favorite summer cardigan or sweater for chilly nights?

I LIVE in the Saint James Original Breton in heavyweight cotton. It’s a thick cotton that you can layer over a lighter tee or wear on it’s own. It’s sort of a cross between a shirt and a sweater. I have it in navy/white stripe and the light blue stripe. I size up to a large because I like a really oversized fit. They also make one with a more tailored fit. For more formal I like my White & Warren cashmere wrap or a lighter cashmere sweater.

Cute work from home outfit ideas?

I’ve been reaching for lots of button downs in lightweight fabrics. The gathered sleeve is a great detail on this linen button down. Rails is one of my favorites but they’re not really sustainable so great if you can find second hand (check ThredUp they have tons!). I love Sezane’s tomboy shirt paired with linen shorts or tailored trousers. This jumpsuit is really cute and this eyelet dress looks chic and comfortable.

How do you suggest replacing clothes from ‘problem brands’ without creating more waste?

I got a lot of questions like this and personally I don’t recommend replacing something just because it’s from a problematic brand. That defeats the purpose entirely. If you have pieces in your wardrobe from a brand that you feel no longer aligns with your values or has been exposed for bad behavior, etc. and it’s still in good condition, and you like that piece of clothing, the most sustainable thing you can do is keep it and wear it! If you’re looking to add something to your wardrobe or you no longer enjoy an item of clothing and want to get rid of it that’s a different story. I recommend donating clothes you no longer want (I donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters and Salvation Army) or you can sell items on Poshmark, ThredUp or The Real Real to name a few.

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5 Comments

  1. Rach wrote:

    I am for sure checking out your dress recommendations!

    http://www.rdsobsessions.com

    7.1.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Hope you find something you like! xx

      7.1.20 | Reply
  2. Serene wrote:

    Thanks so much for all these great tips and links to cute/sustainable pieces! I appreciate your approach to fashion/style so much! 🙂
    Xo, Serene

    7.1.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Thank you so much Serene.

      7.2.20 | Reply
  3. Heidi wrote:

    In relation to the last question, if you are throwing any type of garment out, even underwear take it to H&M. They have a box where you just drop it in and they are sorting and recycling the fabric. You can also pick up a 10% off coupon if you’d like. You can read more about the process on their website. All stores have a drop off box.

    7.2.20 | Reply