Vegan Sandals for Summer

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With summer now here, I’m exchanging my winter boots for some sandals. One thing that most my vegan friends tell me is how hard it is to find good quality vegan shoes. Yes, you can technically find vegan shoes at places like H&M or Forever 21, but what they don’t show you is the unethical ways in which that shoe was made from the underage labor to the unsafe, toxic environmental damage that the materials impact water sources. So, beware of the true cost of cheap shoes. Instead, try investing in good quality shoes, which will be more expensive upfront, but will last you in the long haul, will be better for environment, and will provide a livable wage to whoever made them. So, keep reading to discovery some of the best companies in the business providing ethically made, sustainable vegan shoes.

This first company, Avesu is a vegan shoe company from Berlin, Germany. They have shipping to almost anywhere worldwide and all shoes and accessories are made from ethically sourced, environmentally friendly materials by workers who are treated fairly and with respect. What I like about this company is how transparent they are. Here are some facts about their workers in their Brazil factory: Location – Franca, São Paulo, Brazil, Production Volume – 50 pairs/week, 600 pairs/month, Factory Size – 11 employees, Working Hours – 7 am until 4.30 pm (including 1hour lunch break), Hours per week – 42.5 hours, Salary – 1.800 BRL/month (+ 275 BRL food bonus), Industry Standard Pay – 1.080 BRL/month. These simple facts go to show you how much their shoes are helping to pave the way for fair and respectful working conditions in factories. And on top of all of that, their shoes are amazing! They offer every type of style you can think of from high heels to hiking boots, to tennis shoes. And they have shoes for men, women, and children. These will be pricey upfront, but if you can spend over $100 on Nike shoes (which have very questionably unethical working conditions in their factories and unsustainable environmental waste from their materials), then these shoes will be a bargain for you in comparison without compromising the integrity of factory workers or without damaging the environment.

Cleo

Check out these gorgeous Cleo wedges that are perfect for dressing up any occasion. They were originally $108, but right now they are on sale for $54. I own a pair of wedges that my mother-in-law (who is from Germany) bought from this company, and seven years later I still have them, and they are in fantastic condition. So, if you choose some of the classier styles, then these will last you a lifetime, which is an amazing bargain. Another style that is very fashionable now are espadrilles. I’ve seen many fashion bloggers on Instagram sporting the Chanel espadrilles, which look chic but are made with leather. Avesu offers quite a selection on a similar style that I think look just as cute.

These shoes are great for when it’s hot and humid outside because they are lightweight and breathable. If you are planning on travelling this summer, these shoes make excellent walking shoes for your travels. I love how you can also easily slip these on or off. And they have many more styles, prints, patterns available on their website too. And at $55, these are way more affordable than the $700 price tag on the Chanel espadrilles.

Shop Avesu for even more options.

My next recommendation is a website called Moo Shoes. This PETA-approved vegan company is focused on bringing vegan fashion to the mainstream. Once you start browsing this website you can see how trendy their shoes are. They offer a selection ranging from budget conscious quality to handmade designer brands. All of Moo Shoes’ products have been vetted to ensure they meet the standards of cruelty-free sourcing to fair and safe working conditions during production. I love their block heels, they have both low and higher heels for this style.

I love the Gwen sandal on the right. It has a texture that makes it almost look like it is made from leather. And the lower block heel on the left is more of my heel preference, which is great if you are travelling or planning to walk around a bunch for the day. But both these shoes are stylishly trendy and great options for summer nights out. The average price of shoes from here ranges from $90-$140. They offer excellent quality with some style.

Leone Mule

Another style that is quite on trend at the moment are mules for summer. This is the Leone Mule from Matt and Nat and it’s simply gorgeous. I love love love the shiny, mirror reflection of the heel paired with the faux leather band of the mule. I can see this paired in so many ways, with jeans and a blazer, with shorts and a classic, fitted tee shirt, with a fun, floral dress, or with a bathing suit and cover. It’s definitely a statement piece, but they will dress up any outfit you can think of for summer. This pair costs $120, but you can trust the quality of Matt and Nat, they make some of the best (if not, the best) vegan shoes out there on the market.

Moo Shoes is located in New York and LA, but make sure to check out their website because they carry all types of shoes for women, children, and men that range from dress shoes, business shoes, boots, tennis shoes, heels, sandals, you name it.

Shop Moo Shoes for even more options.

This summer you can rock some serious kicks that are super cute, fashionable, ethically made, and vegan. Make sure to check theses websites out and show them some love. Shoes plus internet shopping, veganism has never been made easier!

Natural, Organic, and Eco-Friendly Vegan Makeup Brands

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If you are new to being vegan, you might not know that a lot of makeup companies still test on animals. I honestly have no idea why animals need to be tested for mascaras and lipsticks. It seems a bit outdated to me. But, not to worry because more companies everyday are becoming cruelty-free and are making their ingredients vegan. So, I’ve compiled some of my favorite companies that are organic, natural, and eco-friendly. If you are like me and you like to change up your makeup for summertime, then make sure to check these makeup brands because they offer lightweight, colorful, and fun products for summer. But make sure to read to the end to find even more vegan makeup options at the drugstore and high-end vegan makeup options at places like Sephora and Ulta.

Before I dive in, I’d like to note that certain vegan makeup brands are excluded from this list because while they retail in the US as vegan, however, they sell to China which tests all their imported makeup on animals making them not vegan.

Pacifica

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This is a wonderful, budget-friendly brand. They offer quite a range in skin care as well as makeup items. Their primers, skincare, lotions are by far some of their best-sellers. But I happen to like their eyeshadow palettes because they make have natural colors as well as colorful, smoky palettes as well. Most products range from $10-$20, making these makeup items easily affordable and accessible.

Shop Pacifica online here.

Real Purity

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This makeup brand is perfect for those that are new to vegan, cruelty-free makeup because they are best known for being able to select sample colors to choose from, which makes it easy for you to pick the right color for you and your skin tone. So, you can easily get samples without having to commit right away to the investment of a whole bottle or tube of product. What I like best about this company is that their products are made from all-natural botanical and plant-derived ingredients. Plus, they affordably range from $10-$30 per product.

Shop Real Purity online here.

Juice Beauty

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This natural and organic makeup company is best known for moisturizers and anti-wrinkle treatments and serums. But this company takes eco-friendly to the next level by being USDA certified Organic, using local sources for its ingredients, and using solar and wind power in the manufacturing as well as using recycled packaging. Not only are they vegan and cruelty-free, they also give back to charities as well. They are priced from $20-$40.

Shop Juice Beauty online here.

Afterglow

Afterglow

Afterglow is a great brand for those with sensitive skin because their organic, natural ingredients blends minerals and natural pigments to carefully formulate their makeup to be soy-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free, vegan and fair trade. They are best known for the colorful pigments which are exemplified best by their color range in blushes and lipsticks. What’s also unique about this brand is that their products can be refilled (not wasting its packaging) and their packaging is made from recycled materials. Most products range from $20-$40.

Shop Afterglow online here.

Alima Pure

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This makeup brand is highly regarded for its inclusiveness for having their signature powder foundation for all skin tones. They have an amazing wide range of diverse skin colors to choose from, so if you have a skin tone that is harder to find in most makeup brands, make sure to give this makeup brand a try because I’m sure you’ll find your shade with them. Their signature powder foundation is like Bare Minerals, but their high-quality, pure ingredients never includes synthetic dyes to achieve its color. Not only does this company dedicate itself to uncompromising natural and organic beauty, they also are eco-friendly. They use soy-inks on recycled paper for packaging, they are carbon-neutral, and their compacts are refillable. Pricing for their foundations is $28, with eyeshadow pigments costing $14 per color. So, it is a little bit pricier, but it’s still comparable to brands like Bare Minerals.

Shop Alima Pure online here.

If natural looking makeup isn’t your go-to look and you prefer brands at the drugstore or brands at stores like Sephora or Ulta, then below are bullet point lists with a few more of my favorite vegan companies that are sold at these places. And if you are interested in seeing more vegan makeup companies, then make sure to check out Cruelty-Free Kitty. They introduced me to many of the vegan products I have listed here, but they have a great compiled list of vegan makeup brands. And now, onto some of the best high end and drugstore vegan makeup brands.

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Book of the Month: A Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

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February is known as the month of love since Valentine’s Day falls in it. And what better book to pick for this special month than an LGBTQ, historical-fiction The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. This glamorous book manages to fit the first-love of a young gay boy set in Europe in the 1700’s into an action-adventure story.

As the book jacket explains, “Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.”

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Set in the 1700’s, this novel somehow explores many modern-day themes and issues. In fact, I like the comparison of Monty’s grand tour year as the equivalent of the modern-day gap year young adults take after high school before embarking on their studies in college. This book also uses the historical setting to present modern-day themes that today’s YA genre would want to read in a book. These include child abuse (Monty’s relationship to his father, Lord Montague), alcoholism and gambling (Monty’s prolific lifestyle), racism (demonstrated through Percy being high-born yet also being a black character), disabilities (as seen in Percy’s epilepsy and the stigma that comes with his illness), sexism (Monty’s sister Felicity faces sexism as her gender undermines her intelligence and skills in medicine), and LGBTQ (which is illustrated in Monty’s sexuality and his crush on Percy).

I think what impressed me most about this book was how modern it felt within the constraints of the historical narrative structure. I really enjoyed the setting, it gave a fresh take on the similes used in the novel. Sometimes, after reading page after page of YA, you can come across a lot of the same metaphors and similes, but due to this novel’s setting I felt like I was coming across new comparisons that showed off Lee’s writing skills yet perfectly tied into the world-building of this story. It adds this charming, glitzy, old-world glamour feel into it.

The other great thing about this book is how it feels like it’s a little bit of everything – romance, comedy, action, adventure, murder-mystery, historical-fiction, and gay/LGBTQ. And if you like books that travel to other countries, then I highly recommend getting the audio book version of this novel. I listened to this book as an audio book and the voice actor did such a fantastic job at creating these authentic accents for all the various characters ranging from British to French to Spanish accents was just amazing and delightful to hear.

If you are a fun of captivating characters, then Monty is the right guy for you. Lee created such a strong, unique voice in the character of Monty. She manages to capture this entitled, sassy teenage voice right from the beginning while simultaneously making you like it. But this only makes it so much more wonderful for the reader to see Monty’s transformation from the exploits and troubles he endures along the way.

If there is one thing I would critique, it happens to be something that also ends up working in favor for the novel’s plot. I thought the grand tour would be more of this glamorous trip but ended up being a fleeing escape since they are on the run and less of a tour. I felt disappointed because it wasn’t what I had expected, however it also worked in favor of the reader because there was no guessing where this story was going. I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen next and I couldn’t ever guess the next thing that would happen. It felt truly unpredictable in the adventure/action portion of the plot, yet the romance side of it however was plenty predictable but in a good, happy-ending kind of way.

If you are in need of some good humor, some witty banter, and fun all-around then this book should definitely be on your To Be Read list.

Vegan Makeup Brands

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If you are new to being vegan, you might not know that a lot of makeup companies still test on animals. I honestly have no idea why animals need to be tested for mascaras and lipsticks. It’s absolutely ridiculous to me. But, not to worry because more and more companies everyday are becoming cruelty-free and are making their ingredients vegan. So, I’ve compiled some of my favorite companies that range from high end, to drugstore, to natural makeup brands.

Before I dive in, I’d like to note that certain vegan makeup brands are excluded from this list because while they retail in the US as vegan; however, they sell to China which tests all their imported makeup on animals.

Below are bullet point lists of my favorite vegan companies and if you are interested in seeing more vegan makeup companies then make sure to check out Cruelty-Free Kitty. They have a great compiles list of vegan makeup brands that you can see here. And if you love the galaxy animal prints above, then make sure to check out The National Anthem on Etsy to buy some of their cool prints and wall art décor. You can see some of their cool artwork here. And now, onto the list of vegan makeup brands.

HighEndVeganMakeup

DrugstoreVeganMakeup

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5 Things to Use Instead of Wrapping Paper This Christmas

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As a child my favorite thing about Christmas morning was ripping open my presents. I loved the feel of soft plush bows, satiny ribbons, and crisp new boxes. In fact, when I was three I preferred the boxes my gifts came in instead of the actual gifts. I played with those boxes for hours.

However, I think everyone can agree how satisfying it is to tear off that wrapping paper, but had I known then how bad the gift wrapping paper was I would never have unwrapped my gifts. Now as an adult, buying wrapping paper is so costly for something that’s just going to be thrown away. I’m sure, like my family, this Christmas, after all the wrapping paper is torn off the gifts, you’ll gather up all the paper remains into a trash bag and throw it away. This is such a huge and unnecessary waste. Keep reading to find out how to replace gift wrapping paper with Eco-friendly options that also have multiple uses too.

The tradition of wrapping gifts in paper isn’t a very long one in American history. For most of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century, gifts were presented in keepsake boxes which brings me to my first recommendation. A keepsake box today can be in the form of a nice storage container. You can find them for under $10 at places like TJMaxx, Ross, or HomeGoods. What’s nice about them is they come in various sizes, artistic designs, and they usually have magnetic top lids. So, after your friend or family member opens their gift they’ll have a great and unique box to use afterwards.

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However, if those boxes aren’t quite your thing my next recommendation can be used for many occasions. You can buy cardboard gift boxes in a bundle for pretty cheap at the dollar Store or online at Amazon. Since they are plain you can reuse them for many occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. If you store them nicely, you can keep using these over and over saving you lots of time and making gift wrapping less of a hassle.

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If you have a smaller gift, you can try out this next recommendation by also buying a scarf. There are many tutorials on YouTube which demonstrate how to wrap a small gift with a scarf. This is a great idea since the scarf is not only the wrapper but also a bonus gift too!

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If a scarf is not suitable as a bonus gift, then I also recommend a small blanket, a coffee table cover, or even a table runner to use as the wrapper. These can also be useful in wrapping larger gifts too.

For my last recommendation, I suggest using reusable grocery bags. These are pretty affordable since most only cost between $1-$3. Plus, after Christmas is over you can easily put these into great Eco-friendly use at the grocery store.

I hope this list helps you create some new Christmas traditions that are Eco-friendly without the holiday waste.

Why You Need Vegan Leather in Your Life

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Leather is a bit of a paradox in that it has a beautiful aesthetic but comes at an ugly cost. I’ve been a vegan for two years now, but just recently, I learned disturbing facts that forever changed my opinion on leather goods. So, prepare to hear the worst, but also prepare to hear how you can change and hopefully prevent this ugly practice.

China is the world’s leading producer of cheap leather, which means that a lot of animals are killed every year to produce purses, gloves, belts, etc. But, what if I were to tell you that dogs make up a large amount of the slaughtered animals to provide cheap leather for you to wear? How does that make you feel to hear that man’s best friend are turned into gloves, belts, and wallets?

According to the Guardian’s report on this issue, “The US banned the importation of dog and cat fur and skin, which is punishable by fines up to $10,000, as part of the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000. But distinguishing dog and cat leather from cow, sheep and pig leather is no easy matter, making it possible for unscrupulous manufacturers to pass off leather from dogs as leather from legal animals. A report by the Congressional Research Service shows that in 2014, the US imported $8.5bn in leather articles from China. It is unknown how much of each year’s total might be dog or cat leather.” Essentially, it is almost impossible to discern dog from other animals like lambs or cows. After the leather is tanned and cured they all look alike, and the only way to prove its species is to use a DNA test; and even that might be difficult since hardly any DNA might be left after all the chemicals used to process it.

According to One Green Planet, “the Chinese Leather Industry Association claims that they have no knowledge of dog leather industry, [however] an undercover investigation from PETA showed that this horrific practice is alive and well in the country.” In November 2014, an undercover investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment (PETA) Asia infiltrated one of the slaughterhouses where dogs were being bludgeoned and skinned to be made into leather. According to PETA, “one employee told the investigator that this facility bludgeons and skins 100 to 200 dogs a day.” Just this one facility kills upwards of 200 dogs per day. I’ll let you do the math per week, per month, per year. Now multiply that figure with however many slaughterhouses you think are doing this in China. No matter how you calculate it, the outcome is too high.

There’s no denying it. This is a horribly gruesome practice. There are currently no laws protecting the slaughter of dogs in China since they are considered livestock, not pets. There are also no laws that dictate how the animals (in this case, dogs) are slaughtered. So, many are bludgeoned to death. This made my heart break to hear about this practice, but I cried upon seeing PETA’s undercover footage showing this practice. In that moment, I felt so helpless. Mainly because, this was happening half-way around the world. What could I possibly do?

Well, after researching, I learned that no matter what you think, there is always something you can do to help. In this case, the most effective way to end this horrible practice is to use the power you have with your money. Let your dollars, your economic decisions, speak for you and say no to leather.

I understand that leather has a nice aesthetic look to it, and if you’re like me then you like the way leather looks. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. That’s why I want to share with you these vegan leather purse brands that provide that beautiful leather appeal without the pain and torture of being made from dogs, or any animal for that matter.

Here are my Top 5 Vegan Leather Purse Brands that offer great quality and affordable prices.

  1. Gunas

If you are a fan of the Hermes Birkin bag, then you are in for a treat. Gunas offers a Birkin dupe called Hermit that looks fashionable at around $100.

  1. Urban Expressions

If you are a fan of Chanel boy-bags, then you should check out Urban Expressions Sheena for only $55.

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  1. Melie Bianco

This L.A. based company offers a great selection of fashionable bags. Be sure to check them out at the end of the season for their sales. I ordered two purses from here because they had their buy one get one free promotion. You can easily find purses in the $35-$70 range, plus free shipping on orders more than $50. Just signing up for their newsletter can get you 50% off your first order.

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  1. Matt & Nat

This company offers the most variety with the types of bags they have. They are a little bit pricier with bags ranging from $70-$200. However, they also offer vegan leather shoes and belts. I’m in love with their vegan leather boots for Fall.

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  1. Urban Originals

This is another great brand that sells their bags at retailers like Nordstrom’s and Macy’s, making it easier to find these vegan leather purses in person.

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Here are other Brands that are also selling Vegan Leather Purses

  1. Mod Cloth
  2. Free People
  3. Nordstrom
  4. Saks Off 5th

Just make sure to type in “vegan leather” in the search engines on their websites and a lot of results will come up for you.

But if want a high-end fashion bag, well there’s also an option there for you. Stella McCartney only sells vegan-leather products. So, you’ll never find any real leather, feathers, or fur at her store, which is awesome!

So, just remember that the cost of cheap leather from China is a lot higher than you might think. But, you don’t have to let any dogs, or any animal for that matter, die for your fashion. All you need is vegan leather in your life. And with every dollar spent on this material, you help drive the economic push towards sustainable fashion without ending a single life. Hopefully, someday soon, the practice of killing dogs for leather goods will be outdated and gone forever.

Further resources and works cited

  1. Kearney, Lauren. “Could Your Purse Be Made Out of Dog Skin? The Truth Behind the Dog Leather Industry.” One Green Planet, 12 Apr. 2015, onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/the-truth-behind-the-dog-leather-industry/.
  2. Weissman, Alanna. “Is Your Leather from China? It Might Be Made of Dog or Cat Skin.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 31 July 2016, theguardian.com/business/2016/jul/31/dog-cat-leather-china-us-congress-trade-peta.
  3. “Dogs Bludgeoned and Killed in Leather Industry.” PETA Investigations, PETA, https://investigations.peta.org/china-dog-leather/.

The Best Fall Trends This Year: From the Runway to Your Closet

I love everything about Autumn, from the leaves changing colors to the cozy, comfy sweaters. There’s a lot to expect during the fall season. For me, I usually expect orange, yellow, and brown to be prominent colors on the runways and in stores. And I expect to see sweaters, leggings, and oversize coats to be in fashion. While these are all on trend this fall, there have been unexpected surprises on the runway. Here are the top five trends in season this fall.

  • Red

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(Victoria Beckham, Fall/Winter 2017)

You would think Taylor Swift’s Red album was just released this fall based on the love affair designers have with red this season. On the runway, models wore head-to-toe red as a monochromatic statement piece. But when I say red, think ruby red – no pink or orange undertones here. This color is usually seen during Christmas time or even in mid-summer. And if red is seen during the Fall it tends to be a dark, deep red like maroon. Seeing this ruby red on the runways is bold and bright and beautiful. For easy everyday styling, I’m seeing pops of red like a red purse, red lipstick, or red nails, which makes it easy to incorporate into your style.

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  • Pastel Pink

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(Nina Ricci, Fall/Winter 2017)

This is a color that has been trending since last Spring. In fact, it was also a very popular color for Summer too. On the runway, this color popped in floral patterns as seen on dresses. But other garments like jackets and midi-skirts were also in pastel pink. Here, I’ wearing a sweater wit faux pearls adorning the front. I found this at a vintage boutique for $18. Pearls were also a major decoration on shoes, jeans, and shirts this past summer. So, with this sweater I’m carrying a little bit of a summer trend into the fall.

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  • Crystals/Rhinestones

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(Chanel, Fall/Winter 2017)

One of the most memorable runway shows this fall was Chanel’s space-inspired collection. And the most memorable item from the Ready-to-Wear were the crystallized boots. But I won’t be buying Chanel boots anytime soon because a) they are made from leather and b) they are way too expensive to justify spending thousands of dollars on just a pair of boots. However, I did find affordable crystallized shoes that are cruelty-free. I’ve been on the look-out for a good pair of flats since last spring when my other pair got holes in the sole. And the wait was worth it. I found these crystallized pair of flats at goodwill for only $8. But these pair of flats are brand new and came with the original price tags. Not a bad steal, right?

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  • Midi-Skirts

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(Carolina Herrera, Fall/Winter 2017)

Skirts are always on the runway year-round, but what’s so unexpected is that this fall midi-skirts are in. Usually, midi-skirts are a spring and summer staple. And fall brings the more sturdy and reliable skirts that are thick and warm. So, to see midi-skirts on the runway for fall is quite a surprise. But, as seen in previous trends, it’s another trend carrying over from summer into fall. This is great if you’ve already invested in summer trends like the midi-skirt since you can continue on using this and get your money’s worth out of it.

  • Bare/Natural Face

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(Dior, Fall/Winter 2017)

There are some pretty crazy makeup trends this fall on the runways. From the wavy eyebrows to the wavy lips, these makeup looks are far out there to be used for an everyday look. But what’s also on trend is natural and light makeup. This was predominantly seen on models on the runway. The light makeup was probably done purposefully to better accentuate the eccentric bold trends and make them stand out. But, if you’re like me and want to skip on those crazy trends, then you’re in luck! Because instead of the darker, grungier makeup look that was seen in past fall seasons, we are seeing light and natural and fresh faces which means it’s easier than ever for you to copy this runway trend at home.

This fall season have a little fun with your wardrobe and use whatever you have in your wardrobe to mix it up or buy secondhand to afford the latest runway trends for less.

Vegan Eats: Charlotte, NC

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Whenever I think of good southern comfort food, I’m easily reminded of Charlotte, North Carolina. And North Carolina loves to boast about its heavenly BBQ. My dad and his family live in Charlotte, so I’ve had many wonderful opportunities to try all the delectable vegan eats in this beautiful southern city. So, come on y’all. Let’s get our eat on!

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Click here to read more.

Vegan Eats New York: Part 1

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What would New York City be without its tall skyscrapers surrounding you, making you feel like a small child discovering a new world? This week’s post takes us to New York City where every traveler knows the buildings themselves are a must-see. So, while you make your way around the city to see these architectural wonders, I’ll show you the best vegan restaurants nearby so you can experience the best view and the best food in the city.

Click here to read more.

And stay tuned to read Part 2.