Paying full price for anything makes Lindsay Ginn, founder of Broke and Beautiful, "nauseous" and she does wonders to voice this on her blog. She started the site in 2007 as a way to share sales on designer clothes with her friends eventually her blog has turned into one of the coolest budget-friendly blogs out there.
“I hope your day is full of tadpoles, and showers, and rainbows and rain. And pollywogs, and puddles, and, uh, sunshine and umbrellas, and warming weather, and lambs… Is ‘lambs’ the plural of ‘lamb?’ Yeah. And daffodils and chicks, and wildflowers and butterflies, and… births? And baby animals, and blossoms, and bulbs, and bunnies and breezes and – guys! The spring theme! You get it.”
The intro of Sara Weinshenk‘s semi-eponymous podcast, Shenk, begins with a series of guest-inspired wishes and affirmations for your day. Some days, the well-wishes include trapeze artists, cotton candy, and crystal balls and others are filled with sandcastles, soft serve, and bikinis. Either way, Sara wants you to have a good, highly-themed day, and an episode of her podcast is a great way to start it off.
Shenk is a fashion podcast that is also kind of about everything. Sara is an awesome interviewer who uses her deep California comedy roots to bring hilarious and talented colleagues to her podcast. While her guests are typically successful and interesting, Sara, herself, is a complex and charming creature. As a born and bred Valley Girl (a title she wears with pride), her demeanor is unique to the west coast, and what would a west coast lifestyle be without a healthy dose of cannabis?
She’s a rising podcast star and a tried-and-true influencer for all things ganja (shout outs to Kush Queen and Smoked Honey). In the pageantry of our modern, weed-loving world, Sara Weinshenk is the unanimous queen. Best of all, her Valley Girl coolness keeps her passion for cannabis from being obnoxious, or even stereotypical. As far as California girls go, she’s as good as they get: ambitious, stoned, and clever as hell.
No matter what day it is, Sara and her Shenk guest promise a ton of laughs. Sara is a killer in the comedy scene, and a style icon in the world of weed (and probably everywhere else). When she’s not recognized for being a talented, young, stand-up comic whose career has spanned almost a full decade, she’s being recognized for her entirely original and disgustingly good sense of style. Like if Wednesday Addams became a technicolor dandy.
You can often find her donning some sort of neck tie – be it a high’n’tight bowtie, or a 70s style pussy bow. Her eye for vintage is incredibly keen, and her closet is clearly full of once-in-a-lifetime second-hand fashion finds.
During each episode of Shenk, Sara encourages listeners to send her their most puzzling fashion quandaries – complete with photos, please! If you want to know if you can wear certain colors together, pair checkers with houndstooth, or just figure out if a vintage find is worth it or not, she’s your girl.
After the necessary introductions, podcast formalities, and thematic well-wishes, Shenk‘s guests are inevitably polled about their own fashion history. All of the best embarrassing fashion phases rear their dated and ugly heads, and it’s great. Sara doesn’t excuse herself from the table when it’s her turn, either. She’s proudly relived her Very Californian style trials in the early 2000s, all of which are as endearing as they are cringe-worthy. After all, if you can’t bond over horrific fashion choices, then what is there?
Some of our favorite Shenk episodes include:
Baggy Clothes, Art & Antler Horns with Jessimae Peluso
Ebikes, A Leather Hat & Anxiety with Joe De Rosa
Flipping Vintage, Baby-G Watches & Button Ups/Downs with Bree Essrig
818, Apple Cider Vinegar & Sperry Topsiders with Brody Stevens
The reasons we love Sara and Shenk are numerous, but at the forefront is the constant reminder that style is an eternally evolving, incredibly fun, and not-too-serious way to infuse your outsides with your insides, so to speak. A lot of the guests Sara interviews are her friends, but many of them aren’t necessarily the types to delve into the deep meanings behind their Hot Topic jewelry fascination, or the symbolism of a visible thong. Hearing people revisit their most potentially humiliating style choices can be as hilarious as it is insightful, and walking that road alongside someone who is funny for a living usually results in and excellent time for us listeners.
As far as podcasts go, Shenk is providing an excellent mix of fashion nostalgia, thoughtful interview, and hilarious small talk. It’s an excellent choice for a sunny day when you’re stuck in traffic, something to listen to while you chip off and then repaint your nails, and of course, the perfect accompaniment for a soak in a CBD-infused bath.
If you’re a Shenk listener already, leave a comment with your favorite epsiode. If you’re not yet a Shenk listener, you’re officially obligated to share your most hilarious fashion phase with us! Shoot us a tweet or admit your shame in our own personal Discord
It’s been a good couple of years for the budget skincare lovers of the world. Beauty brands have been passionately wooing us to spend our money on their products, and they want poor people’s money more than aaaanyone else’s. So, lucky for us, we have a lot of great, affordable skincare brands popping up all over the place. The latest, as of August 2018, is Colourpop’s sister brand, Fourth Ray Beauty.
Having launched less than six months ago, it’s impressive that Fourth Ray has already amassed almost 50 products to choose from. A few of those products are sets or kits, but there are dozens of individual facial cleansers, oil, serums, and creams for you to play with.
Despite the brand’s infancy, people are already raving in measurable patterns about Fourth Ray Beauty’s best products. From the reviews and comments I’ve read, the ultimate favorite Fourth Ray product is the Cloud Bank Milky Cleanser ($12). It’s an opaque, thin facial cleanser that contains soothing ingredients like rose water and Argan milk that are gentle on skin while thoroughly cleansing. Other common favorites include the facial mists, moisturizers, and the BFD Oil Cleanser ($14), which happens to come in a set with the Cloud Bank Milky Cleanser for only $26 – currently on sale for $22. People love the way the oil emulsifies into a soft cleanser, and the smell is a favorite among shoppers, as well!
There are also a few products that people have repeatedly cited as their least favorite. Number one on that list: AM to the PM Gel Cleanser ($12). Folks have said that the formula can be overly drying, especially for naturally dry skin types.
But not every purchase can be based on a slew of credible, eloquent reviews. Instead, we are gonna just scroll through the Fourth Ray products until we see something we would like to someday unbox, set next to our other skincare products, and perhaps even use someday.
True to Colourpop family legacy, Fourth Ray loves to latch on to a good trend. They’ve got a ton of products to choose from already, and new releases aren’t exactly few or far between. While they have your standard cleansers, moisturizers, and face masks, they also have very buzzed-up items like skin milks, facial oils, and those weird crystal face rollers. (Do they work? IDK. I’m inclined to believe that they just make you feel extra fancy.)
One of the most appealing aspects of this new brand is the fact that everything is vegan and cruelty-free. They also pay attention to their environmental impact, and include recyclable packaging, glass bottles, and plastic that is recyclable in many regions.
As for whether or not you should take the plunge – well, it seems like most would say it’s worth a shot. Not only is the price right, but many have touted the ingredients in Fourth Ray’s products and I see frequent comparisons to higher end products. Someone on Reddit even compared Fourth Ray’s The Lightweight moisturizer ($12) to Tatcha’s famous(ly expensive) Water Cream. If they’re even remotely similar, that means you could be getting the goodness of a $68 product for less than 20% of the price. If that claim holds water, sign me the eff up, please!
For further reading on Fourth Ray (i.e. everything I’ve been diving through to see if there’s any real dirt on this new, affordable skincare brand), here are some great resources:
Of course, there are hundreds of reviews already posted to the Colourpop and Fourth Ray websites, but I’m never sure about who deletes negative reviews and who doesn’t, so I rely on external reviews more than anything!
Have you tried Fourth Ray Beauty? What did you think?
Of the several different types of music lovers out there, my favorites are the obsessive ones. The investigative biographers, the encyclopedic anthology experts, the meticulous playlist librarians, etc. The ultimate dream is to seek out and find every type of obsessed music lover and get them to share their overflowing knowledge and passion for music with us plebs. I’m pleased to announce that we have suckered a meticulous playlist librarian, Lacey, into tracking her musical obsessions over the last month. The result is a gorgeous, abundant playlist where every single song is a banger in its respective genre. This is music for music lovers, but there’s something for everyone!
Every time I run out of makeup remover wipes, I get a sinking feeling. With all of my attempts to be more environmentally-friendly, it’s getting harder and harder to turn a blind eye to my favorite beauty habits and they waste they produce. Disposable wipes are so easy to replace with low-waste options, too. And with the rising awareness and popularity surrounding low waste beauty routines, the reusable options are becoming abundant.
There are two main types of reusable makeup removers – ones that require a cleanser and ones that don’t. The makeup remover pads that don’t require makeup removing cleansers are usually made from a microfiber fabric. The texture is kind of like a velvet washcloth, and the fibers do serious work when it comes to removing makeup – even waterproof makeup.
The reusable makeup pads that aren’t made from these magic microfibers are a great option for people who have a favorite makeup removing solution or cleanser. Usually, they’re made from basic-ass cotton which is perfect for a few applications, then into the laundry it goes.
Forming new habits is always challenging, but this one is a no-brainer. Switching over from plastic-encases, cleanser-soaked, disposable makeup removing wipes becomes super easy after a few rounds of your evening beauty routine. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of attempting a low-waste beauty
Here are the best (coincidentally affordable) products for eliminating makeup wipes from your skincare routine:
No-Cleanser-Required Makeup Removers
There’s some serious science behind the fibers that these cloths are made from, but I’m not the one who should tell you. That’s a job for Lab Muffin, who you should all be following to learn all about the science behind beauty.
The Original Makeup Eraser $20 for the Original, $12 for the Mini at Makeup Eraser
As far as universal favorites go, Makeup Eraser is at the top. They make a bright pink makeup-removing towel that does an amazing job of removing everything on your face without the use of cleanser, oils, or soaps. Personally, I find their original size to be a little bit too big for easy use, so I like the Makeup Eraser Mini ($12) which is only about as big as a pair of sunglasses.
The packaging for the makeup eraser is pretty counter-intuitive (a thick, crunchy plastic box), but everything else about it is wonderful. You can find these everywhere, form Walmart to Sephora to Amazon.
Similar to the Makeup Eraser, but different enough to warrant its own entry is the Face Halo. This little fuzzy disc has two textured sides, one is more of a velvet, and the other is a bit more scrubby. Just like the previous entry, Face Halo doesn’t require any cleansers or soaps to remove even waterproof makeup, just wet it and wash.
The Face Halo is from Australia, and comes in a 3-pack for $22 (which is about four packs of remover wipes), and can be washed and reused around 200 times before it starts to lose effectiveness.
You know that beauty products with boxes that look like they were frozen in time three decades ago are usually worth your time, and Wonder Cloth definitely fits the bill. There also seems to be a miraculous component to the Wonder Cloth where the makeup you remove with it somehow doesn’t stain the cloth. Not like washing a cloth is a hard thing to do (and you definitely still want to wash this one!), but it’s nice that it doesn’t look gross between washes.
The 3-pack available on Amazon includes three separate boxes containing one Wonder Cloth, so if you have a couple of friends whose beauty routine you’d love to influence without anyone requesting it, keep that in mind. Otherwise, you can get them individually at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $9.99 each.
Ulta Beauty Smarts Towels
$10 for a 2-pack at Ulta
This is a convenient and accessible 2-pack of washcloth-sized microfiber towels are available at Ulta for only $10. As far as budget-friendly options go, this is pretty high. But beware, some of the reviews don’t jive with the claims made in the product description. This is the least reputable of the three cleanser-free options, but it’s hard to resist that price.
If you’ve tried this product, please let us know in the comments. If it’s really as good as it says, I’m loading up!
Danielle Creations Erase Your Face
$12.83 for a 4-pack on Amazon
Like all of the others, this is a soft microfiber cloth the removes makeup. But unlike the other cleanser-free options, these are finger mitts. (Their words, not mine.) They fit over your index finger so you can really get into your inner eye corners and nose crevices to get every last stitch of makeup off with just water. Best of all, you get four of these mitts for $12.83. Use them one at a time, or put them on all four fingers and attack your face with vigor. Your choice!
If the finger mitts creep you out, don’t leave yet. Danielle Creations has their popular microfiber makeup removing cloths in three different shapes: le finger mitts, cushions ($11.10), and regular old cloths (only $9.99 for four!).
Basic, Reusable Makeup Remover Pads
While the makeup removing cloths above are superstars when it comes to makeup removal, they simply can’t do everything that a cotton round can. That little pad is no slouch! When it comes to spot-cleaning, oil-blotting, toner-applying, or stubborn makeup – cotton rounds are the way to go.
Some might argue that these rounds – particularly the organic cotton varieties – are actually zero-waste, as opposed to low-waste. After these have been washed, washed, and washed again (x 100), the majority of these rounds can be shredded and added to your compost bin or yard waste. I suppose that technically makes them biodegradable, doesn’t it!
Cute & Funky Organic Cotton Rounds
$15 for 30 pads on Etsy
If you’ve been trlying on those sleeves of fuzzy, cotton rounds for most of your life, this is the perfect product to ease your transition into low-waste beauty. Made from organic cotton flannel and sewn into perfect (or imperfect, if you don’t care) circles, these are totally washable and reusable. Best of all, they come in an affordable pack of 30.
I’d recommend keeping a separate (cute) container for used cotton rounds on your makeup desk or bathroom counter. Then just dump what you’ve used into a lingerie bag the next time you wash towels.
Don’t love the white? Cute & Funky makes these little rounds in a bunch of different colors, from a bunch of different fabrics.
Les Decousues Organic Cotton & Eucalyptus Rounds
$22.37 for a 7-pack on Etsy
Lovers of the whole “French beauty” gimmick are going to be all over this brand from Nantes, France. They make beautiful dual-actions cotton and eucalyptus rounds – even the stitching around the edge is chic!
The dual-action is a result of two different fabrics being used. One side is your basic cotton sponge, and the other is a super-soft Eucalyptus velvet fabric which, from the description, sounds an awful lot like the cloths we mentioned earlier in this post. These little rounds have the potential to knock out both makeup wipes and cotton rounds in one fell swoop.
Side note: Les Decousues has tons of great low- and zero-waste stuff in the store, from hot water packs to eye masks!
Handcrafted Goodies Hemp Facial Rounds
$3.80 for a 5-pack on Etsy
Happen to have an affinity for hemp? It’s considered by many to be the most sustainable fiber in the world, so I wouldn’t blame you if you had a preference – especially if you live on the west coast, know what I mean? Anyway, these are made from one layer of organic cotton, and one layer of fleece made from hemp. You can get a variety of trim colors, like the photo above, or if you’ve got opinions about everything, pick your favorite color and get a pack of identical rounds to match your whatever. (No judgement here!)
Kate & Sunny Reusable Facial Rounds $18.49 for a 10-pack in a tin on Etsy
It was inevitable. This is too good of an idea for it to go un-capitalized upon by a clever indie brand. Here, you have your 10 organic cotton rounds in a perfectly-sized travel (or storage) tin. The rounds made from two layers of brushed cotton beneath a super-cute layer of printed fabric – printed with eco-friendly dyes, of course.
Q4U: Do you have a favorite low-waste or zero-waste beauty product?
When I was a kid, I based the aesthetic dreams of my future on what I saw on TV sets, music videos, and MTV Cribs. Little did I know that, as a grown woman, I would divert my source of inspiration completely and obliviously… to stock photos.
Once again, I have been utterly duped by a stock photo on Pinterest. I found a gorgeous, glamorous-yet-inviting bedroom that was decorated just enough to feel luxurious without looking too cluttered or garish.
It was an ad for Joss & Main, and when I clicked through on Pinterest, I saw it again – as the background of a login screen. Joss & Main is one of those websites that doesn’t let you in without your email address. I’m a sucker, so with one click, I signed in and probably registered for an account – all in the name of finding the products I saw in the photo.
Fast forward 20 minutes (aka 15 pages of nightstands) and it dawns on me – this photo isn’t even theirs, is it? A quick Google image search revealed that, no, it isn’t. It really, really isn’t.
And that’s totally fine. Stock photos are meant for uses like advertisements and promotions. I use stock photos all the time in freelance and design projects. Tons of the images on Broke & Beautiful are royalty-free stock photos, so I can’t even be mad. Except that Joss & Main is a freaking store that sells home decor and furniture so like… C’mon, you guys. Try harder. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
Anyway, this little divot in my shopping experience left open a window of opportunity for a Style Remake. The last Style Remake bedroom we did was just as calming and peaceful, but this one amps up the glam by about 100%.
The Tufted Headboard
I think most people would agree with me when they say they… don’t have a headboard. I mean, maybe you have a bed set, but putting thought into what style of headboard best reflects your personal style comes way after things like how you’re going to pay rent, and how you’re going to get the Check Engine light to turn off in your car, you know what I mean?
But I was surprised to find that tufted headboards are actually not as extravagantly expensive as I thought. I mean, they’re not exactly bargain bin prices, but if you have some money stashed for a budget bedroom makeover, you can get a really dramatic and beautiful headboard for less than $200.
These are all lovely, and even the non-tufted option with the nail head border woud be gorgeous in this room. But, as usual, if you’re ready to get handy and borrow your parents’ power tools for a weekend, there’s always the DIY route. And people have made some really gorgeous headboards at home – arguably cuter than the ones above.
Here are a few tufted headboard DIYs to get your started (or just inspired):
The Metallic Lighting & Accents
Mixed metals are usually a scary and dangerous place for newbie decor artists to tread. But when everything else in the room is beige and light, blushy pink, it seems like you can do pretty much whatever you want. Chances are good that, if you love the way this bedroom looks, you already have a good amount of metallic stuff already (probably copper and/or gold). Or, you have a good metallic spray paint source and are itching to use it.
Either way, you can definitely incorporate stuff you already own into this design. The best part about neutral stuff is that it goes with pretty much all other neutral stuff, and this bedroom is based on neutrals, so have fun with it.
Lamps, on the other hand, might be harder to come by. I’m a big fan of lamps instead of overhead lighting because it makes everything feel more cozy and cute. Lighting definitely affects my mood, so I highly recommend checking into some budget options for table lighting because it can really affect the feel of a room.
If you’ve never bought a lamp base before, it’s really easy to find a shade to go along with it. In fact, you might already have a great lamp shade on one your current lamps that just needs a base upgrade. I think a lot of people kind of… forget about lamps, though. They’re obviously an excellent source of inviting, cozy light, but they’re also excellent opportunities to bolster your room’s personality. Don’t be afraid to get wild with your lamps. Your decor style can handle it!
The Chic Furniture
The Mirrored Nightstand
First, let’s talk about the mirrored nightstand, aka the piece that started this whole thing. Once I saw this nightstand, I fell in love. I’ve seen a billion mirrored nightstands, don’t get me wrong, but they’re usually too architectural and modern for my personal style. I like a mix of new and old, and the mirrored panels on this traditional, legged nightstand are the perfect blend.
The knobs are even kind of plain compared to the glitzy mirrors, which are even cut to perfectly fit the legs. Despite the stock photo putting me completely off the path of success, I managed to track down the brand who made it: Design Tree Home. Judging by the accompanying pieces of similar design, this nightstand is definitely over $700.
I wouldn’t suggest trying to find something similar in a store. The smartest thing to do, in my opinion, is to head to your local thrift store, and look for a side table that looks like this. Important features include: legs, drawers with knobs, and flat surfaces.
That cute little folding bench at the foot of the bed is also a cinch to dupe. If you’re shopping online for one of these little guys, try the term “shower bench,” which refers to a folding, backless bench made from wood (usually teak). If you’ve never had a bedroom with a bench in it, you’ve never put shoes on in the morning the way they’re meant to be put on: easily, from a comfortable-but-sturdy seat which may or may not be covered with something from the next category.
You can find these at nearly every large department store (Target, Walmart, etc.), but Amazon also has a shocking number of affordable, small, foot-of-bed benches available. There are non-wooden options that would look great in this room, too, so we’ve thrown in a tufted bench or two for good measure.
After following the Instagram account for Los Angeles-based Elhoffer Design for several months, it’s clear that Catherine Elhoffer, owner and namesake of the label, was absolutely destined to make unique, fanatically-infused fashion inspired by the wide world of geek heroes and nerd legends.
The first design that caught my attention last year was a (then, newly released) nearly perfect Peggy Carter two-piece, but the design library of Elhoffer goes way beyond street-ready versions of on-screen heroes. What makes Elhoffer so unique is the way they extract the visual qualities of their favorite characters and inject them into their own unique, original designs. Nothing is derivative, and nothing is a replica – each piece is 100% designed from scratch with a respectful nod to its nerdy muse, with recognizable details that only true fans could identify.
The passion of Elhoffer, according to their mission statement, is “helping lady-nerds feel amazing and powerful, with the occasional unisex piece for those not as interested in feminine cuts.” That nod to inclusivity is just the tip of the iceberg. Elhoffer’s constantly-growing inventory is a paradise for the stylish nerd who loves what they love, but also love the versatility of brilliant fashion design.
Here’s what we love most about Elhoffer Design:
Beautiful Designs That Incorporate Easily
These designs have no logos, no licensing deals, and no branding. This is a direct reflection of the tastes of Catherine Elhoffer, who prefers her tributes to be subtle – a nod of appreciation as opposed to a high-decibel, passionate scream – which has its own applicable place and time, that time just isn’t every day. The gentle infusion of iconic imagery, cleverly-selected colors, and shape recognition keeps these garments totally unique, license-free, and easily incorporated into your existing wardrobe.
If you’ve ever been a girl wearing a Star Wars t-shirt at a social function, you know the feeling of fatigue you get afterwards. Either every non-fan in the room has either decided you’re a total nerd and ask you about every nerd- or fan-related topic, or a fellow fan has challenged your trivia and knowledge of Star Wars lore with the highest attention to scrutinous detail. Neither are particularly pleasant experiences. But when you’re wearing something like an Elhoffer design, you only get the fans picking up on your nerdery, and when you bear a striking resemblance to a certain General in the Resistance, you become fansplainer kryptonite.
If you’re wondering what kind of people wear Elhoffer Designs, just hop over to their Instagram, the vast majority of which is photos of their customers – also known as “Starpuffs.” It’s feels a little bit cliché considering the context, but there’s something majestic about a woman in Elhoffer clothing. But I mean, I get it. It’s probably not hard to feel like an indestructible hero when you literally look like one.
One look at Elhoffer’s online store will quickly clue you in to their intentions when it comes to making everyone feel included. Most knit designs are run in a range of sizes between XS – 3X, and ample information is given about the construction of each piece to help customers select the perfect size.
This is the kind of store that will delight the frustrated, fashionable plus-sized fan. Not only are there sizes for almost everyone, but you don’t have to play the guessing game when it comes to how it will look on your not-a-fit-model-shaped body. Many of the products are modeled on both a standard size and plus size model. Additionally, their regularly-updated Instagram page serves as an excellent source of fit references. As I mentioned earlier, it’s full of customer selfies
It’s clear from the cuts of each original piece that tons of thought is given to the fit. Conveniently, the dresses and fitted items in Elhoffer’s inventory are as close to “universally figure-flattering” as you can get. Wrap dresses, high-waisted A-line skirts, and oversized cropped sweaters (yes, they’re flattering on almost everyone).
Your eyes may have lit up at some of these prices, but Elhoffer is ready for that reaction, and they have a damn good reason why. One of the core values of this brand is transparency, so they make sure that their customers understand why their prices sit where they do.
First of all, at their Los Angeles-based factory where everything is made, workers are paid at least minimum wage. Elhoffer also uses high quality materials that are sourced locally. Both of these commitments mean that the higher labor wages and local support are reflected in the price. But after reading through their story and learning about their higher margins… I kind of expected the prices to be higher?
I look at a lot of independent and ethical brands, and when someone leads a brand biography with “we pay everyone in our factories minimum wage or better and source materials locally,” we usually see a few more multipliers on those prices. Sure, Elhoffer has some dresses that top out at a few hundred dollars, but they look like this:
Most of the Elhoffer designs don’t even come close to those prices, though. Aside from dresses and special knits, most of their pieces are around $100 or less. Not only are they affordable, but the money you’re spending couldn’t be going to a more fulfilling place: an indie brand with an investment in their community.
Here are the current collections at Elhoffer Design:
One of the most accessible ethical brands when it comes to basics is Alternative Apparel. Conveniently alliterative, AltAp has just about everything your average, um American Clothing store would have, but the garments are more sustainably produced.
From fair labor to biodegradable packaging, this brand is definitely putting as much effort into being environmentally friendly as they are into being relevant. Many pieces are made with recycled fabrics, sustainable fibers, or organic materials. Alternative Apparel goes out of their way to encourage the repair and reuse of their clothing instead of urging you to restock on favorites.
Read more about their dedication to sustainability here.
Something unheard of: an AltAp mega-sale. It just doesn’t happen very often, so when it does, we’re entirely here for it.
Right now, save 40% on sale styles with code DEAL40, and get free shipping on all orders!
If you’ve shopped Alternative Apparel before, you might be surprised to learn that they have a lot more than t-shirts. But if you’re looking for something restrictive, body-conscious, and rigid – look somewhere else, because everything here is maximum comfy.
A new social media platform has arrived, and it’s everything a plus sized fashion lover could ever want. Imagine an platform that was half Instagram, half Lookbook.nu, where plus size people could post photos of their outfits and be introduced to others with similar body types for an endless stream of curvy-girl inspo.
Now imagine that those outfits had direct links for people to shop the items, and maybe the outfit-poster would even have the opportunity to earn some cash on the side… That’s the premise of 21Squared, a new social fashion inspiration & shopping platform, and their free app is available now.
The way that I got into fashion was through magazines and catalogs. I have always loved print media and art, but fashion magazines are what kind of steered me into the direction of style and photography. They also steered me into the direction of body image issues and low self-esteem.
Thank goodness for blogs. I’m dead serious. Seeing bloggers (like the ones who post on 21Squared) helped me crawl out of the self-shame hole I was in and start applying my love for fashion to my own body. Fast forward to 2019, and there’s more size representation now than ever. But while print media has now found it to be profitable to feature women of different sizes, society and consumers just can’t shake that preference for the tall, white, or at the very least, thin body types we’re used to.
Social media has provided a more level playing field, but with sponsorships and advertising constantly consuming our feeds, it’s becoming harder to surround yourself with the kind of content you want. 21Squared is doing their best to change that.
Where Can You Find Real-Live, Plus-Size Fashion Inspiration?
There have been tons of outfit-based style apps over the last couple of decades, but none have been quite like 21Squared. Popular apps of the past include Chictopia and Lookbook.nu, but these days, the ruling queen of all style photos is indisputably Instagram.
Instagram is a wonderful source of inspiration when it comes to all subjects, but fashion has a special place on the ‘gram due to the fact that, well, the best fashion photo is nothing more than a great selfie. You can document yourself from anywhere, at any time, and as a result, there are hundreds of thousands of posts per day – all in the name of #ootd.
The best part about this phenomenon is the diversity it exposes us to. Or, at least, it should work that way, but with marketing campaigns, influencers, and algorithms at play, Instagram can feel like being trapped inside of a high end fashion magazine. Relating to highly stylized, modelesque Instagram stars in size-limited brands is hard, and if you’re curvy or plus sized, a mission for fashion inspiration can result in immense frustration.
That’s why 21Squared set out on a mission to create a space for curvy and plus sized women to feed off of each others creativity, help each other find clothes that fit, and even make some money in the process. After all, influencers are always making money off of their fashion posts – who says we can’t make some extra cash, too? As far as I’m concerned, everyone is an influencer, and at 21Squared, that’s never been more true.
Get Matched Up with Your Perfect Style Inspo by Size
To get started, you enter your measurements. If you’re not really sure, you can tell the app the sizes you wear in different brands like ZARA, Lane Bryant, Torrid, etc. After some style questions and extra info, 21Squared will match you up with people who are close to your size.
Follow the people whose style you like most, or just the people whose sizes resemble yours, and your feed will be full of super cute, curvy gals wearing awesome outfits. Everyone’s height is right next to their name, too, which makes it easy to surf through photos with the right perspective. It just goes to show how focused 21Squared is on giving people the realistic fashion inspiration they’ve always dreamed of.
When you see something you like, whether it’s accessories or a piece of clothing, there will be a little shopping bag icon nearby. Click it, and you’ll see information about the brand, where to find it, what size the person in the picture is wearing, and sometimes even a short review to help you determine whether you absolutely need it or not. It’s like having thousands of incredibly stylish shopping buddies who have the same shopping strugs as you do.
Get Accurate Reviews on Specific Clothing Items
This is the little secret powerhouse of 21Squared. While this app provides oodles of fashion and style inspiration for curvy and plus size women, it also offers the opportunity for real, unsponsored and scrutinous reviews of plus size clothing.
Having a reliable and unbiased platform for individual product reviews is something that plus size women have been needing for ages. Especially when it comes to big, huge brands like Lane Bryant and ModCloth, sizing can sometimes be inconsistent. And when you’re dealing with fast fashion brands like Forever21 and H&M, sizing can often be… frustrating. (Remember when H&M released a new size chart that affected new products that were on the shelves with old products which were based on the old size chart? Bleh.)
Now, if you see someone in a skirt you noticed, but didn’t buy, you can get the 411 on whether or not it’s worth going back for.
Who’s Using 21Squared?
After downloading and logging into the app, you’ll be greeted with a bunch of questions about your size and personal style preferences. After that, you’ll be given some suggestions of people to follow, and I highly suggest you follow anyone whose look inspires you at all.
The women on 21Squared are almost all plus size fashion bloggers or fashion professionals. These women exude confidence, and it’s more than just the (amazing) clothes they’re wearing – it’s their whole vibe. They wear what they want, they take selfies in public, and they’re not going to be distracted from living their best fashion life. If you’re not getting style inspiration from this app, at the very least you’ll be getting a heavy influx of girl crushes.
But they need your style, too. Do your best not to compare yourself to these ladies because, like I said, they’re actual pros. 21Squared needs your personal style to be added to their (currently pretty small) database of babes. Besides, those girls get their inspiration from somewhere, and you could be it! So get cute, grab your phone, and whether it’s a mirror photo, a tripod snap, or a quick selfie, POST IT! We need to see your style!
Now, About Getting Some of That Money I Mentioned…
Using your style to hustle is the hallmark of the digital age. If you don’t have the vanity and misplaced tenacity to start up your own online magazine dedicated to only the things you like (hi, I’m Lindsay), then the least you can do is monetize your style photos, right?
All you have to do is tag the brands you’re wearing, linking to the product if possible, and if someone purchases something from that store using your link, you’ll get a commission! It’s nothing crazy – usually less than 10% – but it’s something! Heck, tiny bonuses like that have been fueling this blog for over 10 years! It’s a harmless way to get a little kickback from the all that promotion you’re doing.
All you have to do is tag your clothing when you upload a photo. It’s as easy as copy/pasting a link, or scanning a barcode if you’re wearing something you recently purchased. The rest of the work is done for you, all you have to do is hope that people buy the stuff you’re wearing. Or… just don’t even think about it. Surprise money is always the best money, and this app does so much more that it’ll be easy to distract yourself.
(AKA don’t post outfits for money, post for your love of style! The rest will come if you stay passionate and true to yourself.)
21Squared - The Curvy Fashion App - YouTube
21Squared has partnered up with several plus-size and size-inclusive fashion brands to offer commission on sales made through your outfit posts. There is a link on your profile which will show you your “Rewards” – meaning commission you’ve made.
Once you’ve hit $25 in commissions, you can withdraw the cash via check, electronically, or redeem it for a gift card for one of 21Squared’s retail partners. (AKA the places you probably already shop, and places that are plus size friendly.)
Where to Get 21Squared
Right now, the app is only iOS compatible, but they’re working really hard on an Android version of the app (it should be here in Spring 2019!). In the meantime, you can pick up the iOS version of the app here:
When it comes to graphic t-shirts, I’m very picky. The last decade has been heavy on the t-shirt-based wordplay, and while I’m not opposed to the idea of words on a shirt, I feel strangely about broadcasting a full sentence to the world when that space could be taken up with awesome, simple, and clever designs like the ones from these excellent indie fashion brands.
Graphic t-shirts are trending hard right now – and by “right now” I mean “the last decade.” Now, you can’t walk into any single clothing store without seeing a shirt about a) coffee, b) rosé, or c) days of the week. Maybe it’s just me, but that stuff is getting kinda boring, you know? Any time a trend becomes too ubiquitous, it starts to fall off of my radar. Thus, I take to Etsy. It has the power to revive my spirits and rekindle my love of graphic t-shirts.
This is the brand that inspired this post. I came across Philly-based Xenotees a few months ago and was delighted with how non-cloying and wearable their designs were. Like I said, I’m picky, so if I want to tell the world that I love pizza, I want it to be in a way that’s design-first – not message-first – and when it comes to understated food love communicated through Sharpie-esque drawings and scribbles, Xenotees absolutely nails it.
Sure, the content of their screen-printed t-shirts favor animal lovers and foodies but… I mean, if you’re reading this and you don’t fit into one of those categories… how on Earth did you find us?! On the other hand, if pizza, tacos, and cats are your jam, then you’re about to be in heaven.
The designer behind GingyCake is a true hustle queen. In addition to the Gingycake line of cute animal characters in very wearable situations, designer Ginger Blackwell also designs clothing for Fox Peak Apparel which has very pretty, outdoorsy sweatshirts and tees. But the GingyCake line is what I need you to look at today, because it’s too cute to ignore.
The best designs in the line, in my opinion, are the clothes with the fox or panda characters. You’ll find the panda inside bowls of ramen or hopping out of a drawn or fabric scrap shirt pocket, and the fox shows up either as a simple line drawing or a cute little dude who also appears in shirt pockets. But don’t let me determine which of GingyCake’s characters are your favorite, they are all equally adorable!
This brand has been on my radar ever since I wrote the Indie Stocking Stuffer Guide of 2018. Who could pass by these meticulously detailed designs? Each one is totem-like with a strong nature focus, often centering around an entomological subject (read: bugs.) with an ornate frame of flowers. It’s not always bugs, though. You’ll also see bats, various animal skeletons, and beautiful (living) birds.
Sure, there’s a bit of an occult-y vibe to these tees, but for the hobby botanist or bug nerd, these are just stunning representations of their favorite things. Fennec also sells beautiful sew-on patches featuring their designs for the punk rockers and DIYers out there.
For those who love the word-shirt trend but don’t like anything that’s currently popular, you’ve met your match with Vayne. With the addition of some good typography and a punk rock attitude, Vayne has been able to produce graphic t-shirts that do “weekend chic” or whatever without the flamboyant wine and coffee touting that we’re all kinda sick of. (Right? No? Just me? Ok.)
If you happen to be born in 1988 – first of all, happy 30s, your life is gonna be better now – you’re going to find a ton of birthday year tees in with this brand.
The head artist and owner behind Zen Threads is a college-educated art school nerd (sorry, Brandy) that fell in love with the art of screenprinting after school ended. In addition to doing tons of custom orders for clients, Brandy prints her original drawings onto various t-shirt styles for Zen Threads’ in-house line. What started in her garage now has its own storefront in Northern California, a location that inspires many of their designs.
Here you’ll find incredibly detailed line drawings with a heavy dose of contextual irreverence. That can manifest into of everything from prog-rocker sloths to bears who love beer. Environmental responsibility is pretty much the only thing taken seriously at this cute little shop, as they use water-based inks for both quality and eco-friendly reasons. They also use environmentally friendly chemicals in their screen-creation process.
This list wouldn’t be complete without something a little dark & spooky, and ElephanTees has figured out just the right way to be a little creepy without going overboard and making it a theme.
ElephanTees continues the trend of outdoor appreciation, but also brings a little bit of deathiness to the party. I love their Creation of Death and Betrayal tees, but their inventory contains much, much more than just beautiful spook. The design that attracted me to the brand was their gorgeous, geometric, crystalline stag, pictured above...
At first glance, I thought this newly-released wet n wild PUMP Collection used “pump” to reference the packaging of some of the products, but once I saw Cassey Ho‘s lovely face, I realized what this collection really was: a collection skincare and cosmetics for gym-rats, and Cassey – aka uber-popular YouTuber Blogilates – is the face of it.
The last time I saw a gym-inspired drugstore makeup collection was when e.l.f. put theirs out in 2017. wet n wild choosing to pair up with one of the most popular YouTube fitness gurus was a smart move in this world of athleisure and glowing skin.
They’ve also blown the competition out of the water already with the sheer number of products upon its initial release. The PUMP collection contains 37 items, including haircare, skincare, and a few makeup items. They’ve also included a variety of versatile, convertible products meant to minimize the clutter in your gym bag (and life).
Highlights of the wet n wild PUMP collection:
PUMP includes many skincare items in stick form, including a toner, primer, a mattifying stick, cooling moisturizer, and makeup. One of the standout items of the collection is actually an accompaniment to these sticks, a joiner tube called Partner Up ($1.99). It’s a two-ended sleeve that allows you to combine any two of their stick products. Not only does this match with the theme of the collection, it’s just straight-up smart.
Another eye-catching item from the PUMP line is the looks-like-candy-but-isn’t facial cleansing balls called Personal Best. These little pastel-colored beans could easily be mistaken for a Lush product, and seem to be just as user friendly.
They aren’t just little soap balls, either. Each one is vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and fragrance-free and is infused with hyaluronic acid (for exfoliation), Vitamin B3, skin-calming Calendula, and whatever “Antarctic Glacial Glycoprotein” is. Glycoprotein means “protein with sugar attached,” and when combined with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, it can improve the appearance of skin, including firmness and smoothness. I guess the stuff they use is from Antarctica. Or something.
Here is the rest of the PUMP collection:
PUMP Collection Skincare
Skincare is arguably the most important beauty activity that surrounds the athletic lifestyle. All of that sweat, all of the touching of weights and equipment, all of those open pores… Let’s cut the nasty stuff and just say that it’s important to make sure your skin is taken care of. Whether you have oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, or otherwise, there is a product in the PUMP collection that’s meant for you. The two glitter masks seem more like a gimmick than a lifesaver, but I’m ready to be wrong.
Haircare isn’t a major focus of this collection, but it doesn’t feel like a neglected category. Between these two products, you’ll pretty much be good to go wherever you need to, post-gym. Seeing a “hair refresh spray” (aka hair de-stink spray) makes me realize that I don’t have a product like that… and I maybe kinda want one.
This is where things get really interesting. Adding makeup to an athletic beauty collection is a delicate task, but wet n wild has done a really good job with their execution. Instead of big, glittery eyeshadow palettes, they’ve included two multi-functional face palettes that carry eyeshadows, face shades, and lip products all in the same place. It also just so happens to look like toy makeup you’d see at a daycare center. Whatever! As long as it works, who cares?
Also interesting: the BB cream. It’s a sheer, tinted formula that promises to color-correct, even skintone, and boost your glow all at the same time. It only comes in six shades, which is unfortunate, but if it’s sheer enough, maybe it’ll be more versatile than it seems on paper.
Lastly, you can buy the collection in two separate chunks for $39.99 each. One set includes all of the makeup products from the PUMP collection and the other includes every Partner Up stick and three connectors. Each set comes with a cute, and relatively waterproof cosmetic bag.