I’ve moved!

Sorry to spring this on you, but I’ve decided to move to the Blogger platform. It offers greater opportunities for design and sponsorship and I’m excited for the new design. If you currently follow me through WordPress, I’d love for you to consider following me on another reader, like Bloglovin.

You can now read Style Wise posts at stylewiseblog.blogspot.com.

Thanks! – Leah

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the moral wardrobe: sandals’ last stand

free people tunic outfit boho outfit, personal style on stylewiseguide.comtattly tattoo outfit, stylewiseguide.comOutfit Details: Top – secondhand; Jeans – AE; Shoes – Sseko Designs, fair trade; Fake Tattoo – tattly

You can tell fall wants to show itself, but the temperature’s still hovering at 75. I put on my sandals as soon as I got home; might as well sun my toes while I can.

Being an ethical style blogger is stressful sometimes. While I’ve gotten much better at buying things through more sustainable channels, I find that some things are awfully hard to find on the secondhand or fair trade market. I finally just gave up with jeans and bought a couple pairs that fit me well. My logic is that dark wash, good quality denim will last through several seasons, so at least I’m not succumbing to a trend. It’s not a perfect justification, but it is what it is. It’s something I’m living with, but not celebrating.

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platinum no more: how to get rid of the blonde at home

how to dye blonde hair brown at homeMy hair has been through a lot this year.

I had my hair professionally bleached and dyed to platinum blonde back in April for a fashion show. I was able to keep the look up for several months thanks to a touch-up I received as payment for a styled shoot I did in June. But then things started growing out and I knew I didn’t want to pay $70.00+ every couple of months to maintain a color so distant from my natural one.

I decided to dye my hair darker at home. The only hitch was that home dyes are made to go over hair with pigment in it and my hair had been bleached out. With nothing for the dye to hold onto, it was inevitable that my at home hair color would fade back to blonde or, even worse, turn a weird color. After consulting with several local stylists and doing some online research, I came up with a plan. And it worked!

dyeing your hair at home

What you’ll need:

  • Warm Red semi-permanent dye
  • Warm Dark Blonde/Light Brown semi-permanent dye
  • Permanent dye in the color of your choice


Follow instructions on box to dye your hair a warm red tone, concentrating more color at the roots than on the ends, as bleached hair is more absorbent than your natural roots. I waited a couple weeks before doing the next step, but you could do this all on the same day, if desired.

Next, follow instructions on box to dye your hair a warm dark blonde or light golden brown no more than 2-3 shades lighter than your desired final color. It is imperative that the dye you choose is listed as a Warm tone, as you really need to get the brown-red base of a natural hair color back in your hair before permanent dye can adhere to it.

After both semi-permanent dyes have been applied, dry your hair and apply permanent hair color in the Neutral or Warm tone of your choice (I used a neutral medium brown). You’re finished!

As hair fades, it will have a natural base to hold onto, so you won’t end up with pink or green hair. Dyeing your hair using this at-home method will save you $50.00 or more.

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easy recipe: balsamic potatoes with arugula

balsamic potatoes recipe with arugula, stylewiseguide.com

I didn’t enjoy cooking until recently, so I still have the bad habit of not preparing something to eat until I’m ravenously hungry. I tend to fall back on black beans and rice and chickpeas with garlic and parsley, but sometimes I get tired of it and make potatoes instead.

My super easy recipe for balsamic potatoes uses the microwave, but I’m sure there are better ways to prepare this if you’ve got a little more time on your hands and don’t mind cleaning up the stove top.


  • Salt
  • Thyme (fresh or powdered)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Yellow Potatoes (I used five in varying sizes)
  • Garlic (fresh or jarred preferred)


Wash potatoes and cut into bite sized pieces (keep in mind that smaller pieces will cook through quicker). Place in microwave safe bowl and add salt, balsamic vinegar, thyme, olive oil, and garlic to taste. Use a large spoon to coat potatoes evenly.

Cover bowl completely with plastic wrap and microwave for 5-8 minutes at a time, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are cooked through. Garnish with arugula to taste (I added a lot and it was delicious).

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i don’t think minimalism means what you think it means

simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Minimalism is in.

Capsule wardrobes; intentional living; clean lines; sustainable, closet-sized homes. But I hope you realize that the list I just spouted off represents two very different approaches to minimalism and that doing one doesn’t necessarily indicate anything about the other.

Officially, the term minimalism applies to an aesthetic that favors spareness and simplicity. But more broadly, it has come to represent a pared down lifestyle that advertises itself as the answer to the breakneck pace and over-indulgence of American culture. We’re stressed out, always working, constantly comparing ourselves to others, and we think that if we unclutter our living spaces, we may be able to make some room for stillness and reflection.

minimalism essay

Aesthetic minimalism places no barriers on consumption. But simple living minimalism is almost entirely about living with less. Though the two are at odds, they share enough in common superficially to conveniently allow us to feel like we’re improving ourselves while consuming and curating just as much as usual.

Case in point: A very prominent blogger I follow is doing a series on simplifying life. In a recent post, she indicated that she got rid of everything in her closet to buy a whole new closet of more classic items like – wait for it – leopard print sneakers and jeans with holes in them. The only intentional living I’m seeing here is intentionally finding excuses to stock up on trendy items.


The reason this matters – the reason I’m freaking out about it – is that confusing a look with an ethic is really dangerous. It’s destructive to the fair trade movement, too, because it distracts people on this really exciting, really hard path to long-term ethical living. It’s like a snake oil advertisement: Ease your first world guilt by literally not changing anything! The only problem is that you’re actually just swallowing a bunch of poison (or maybe corn starch, if you’re lucky).

Look, it’s fine if you like the minimalism trend. I agree, it’s pretty groovy. But don’t confuse simple silhouettes with moral living. Your capsule wardrobe is not for a good cause.

And please, for the love of God (this isn’t me swearing; I really mean it), please don’t pretend that donating your whole wardrobe to the local thrift store is a great philanthropic deed.

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the moral wardrobe: it’s fair trade month!

Happy Fair Trade Month!

mata traders outfitI’m more excited than I look.
ft6Levitating leaves
fair trade month style postOutfit Details: Dress – Mata Traders, fair trade / Earrings: Ten Thousand Villages, fair trade / Cardigan – secondhand / Shoes – old

Hooray for a whole month of celebrating a living wage! I’m wearing my new Mata Traders dress and fair trade tassel earrings from Ten Thousand Villages in celebration.

It’s amazing what doing a little laundry and cleaning the dishes will do for my spirit. Things feel much more orderly now.

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birthday weekend

Things have been hectic recently and I’m looking forward to next weekend, when my schedule is clear and I can read and doze and play my banjo.

On Friday, a group of us headed out to Peter Chang’s (not to be confused with PF Changs) for dinner, followed by cake and drinks at my place. Since it was my Golden Birthday, it had an understated gold theme and a couple friends gave me gold-adorned presents (but no real gold, unfortunately). Yesterday I went on our church’s second annual hike in Shenandoah National Park. We had perfect weather and an enthusiastic group this year!

shenandoah national park mountain flowers, leah wise sunlit fall leaves, leah wisered leaves in the mountains, leah wise

For more photos from the hike, check out leahwise.com.

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the moral wardrobe: low back

b2 b6b3

Outfit Details: Top – thrifted via the Schoolhouse Thrift Shop; Skirt – Old Navy (old); Shoes – thrifted

I’m emotionally exhausted over the disappearance of local student, Hannah Graham, and spent the week being snippy with people I love. I’m feeling a bit down, but am encouraged by the way the Charlottesville community has stepped up to comfort one another and aid in the search.

This week is birthday week and I’m determined to count my blessings. I have lovely plans for Friday and am going on a hike in Shenandoah National Park on Saturday, so there’s a lot to look forward to. I’m also excited to work on some new pieces on my banjo; I’m painfully inexperienced, but I think my guitar basics will transfer well enough for now.

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platinum and rust: shop update

vintage jean jacket vintage fruit print skirt vintage vest vintage handbag satchel vintage white boots vintage woven oxfords

New items now up at platinumandrust.com and etsy. Click the images to be redirected to listings. Stay tuned for a special sale beginning later this week on etsy.

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tradesy: secondhand shoes galore

I know that the thought of wearing used shoes makes some people nauseous, but I’ve never taken issue with it. In fact, probably 1/3 of the shoes I own are secondhand. In a consumer culture dominated by 5-week trend cycles, people are doomed to impulse buy, which leaves a lot of gently used stuff on the secondhand market to trawl through.

I’ve typically thrifted or searched ebay to find secondhand shoes, but the popularity of online shopping has resulted in all sorts of new places to shop for secondhand goods.

I discovered Tradesy over the weekend. It’s a mashup between the Ebay/Etsy, direct-from-the-seller approach and more curated sites like thredup and Twice. Basically, an individual lists items, which are placed both within their personal shop and within the larger marketplace. Once an item sells, the Tradesy team processes the order and sends the seller packaging materials, which the seller then uses to ship the item to the customer. Items ship free and returns are free, as well.

Tradesy’s setup isn’t perfect. Items that sell out are delayed from removal while the site waits to confirm the order with the seller, which means the customer has to scroll through a lot of extraneous listings to find something she can actually buy. But they’re the best I’ve found when it comes to shoes. Prices tend to fall in ebay ranges with the advantage of avoiding the auction and having your item ship free.

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