The 2016 Official Dressember Dress

Brought to you by Conscious Closets + Symbology!

I am super excited about this year's dress. Knowing that I needed something versatile and comfy, Marissa and her team at Symbology helped me design a gorgeous dress that not only looks amazing, but feels amazing, and can be worn so many different ways. In this post, I've styled it two ways. The first look is how I'd wear it for a night out on the town. And the second, for a more casual weekend day of play. Check out all the fun below and head over to Symbology to get one of your own. But act fast, this is a very limited addition.

For look one I was inspired by the starkness of the black and white star print, so I styled the dress with mixed metals, primarily silver and gold. I like the play of opposites. I used statement earrings and a statement bracelet from Rebecca, an Italian jewelry brand. And I went for more minimal, but no less chic, necklaces from California designer, Hadley Frances. My clutch is a gold and silver vintage metal clutch that I picked up at the Long Beach Flea. And lastly, I chose strappy black heels. You can find a great similar brand at Susi Shoes

SURPRISE! This dress is reversible! And I love this grey print too. It has a cool Southwestern vibe to it. For look two, I styled my dress with small handmade earrings from Bless the Theory, one of my favorite necklaces from Enrou, and a fun statement bracelet from Noonday Collection (I love these bracelets). I love this boho clutch from Cleobella, the fun belt that I've had for years, and lastly......THOSE BOOTS (yes I still wear them to remind me of how my journey started).

Conscious Closets + Symbology

I'm super excited to share a little collaboration with my friend Marissa and her beautiful brand, Symbology. The dresses and tops at Symbology are statement pieces for sure, and what I love most about them is the conversation that wearing her pieces create. Conversations, not just about how beautiful the dress is, but then how it's made (ethically, of course, to empower women in India)! Each collection centers around a common theme or symbol and the prints are block printed by hand, making each piece extra unique and special.

Check out my favorites from her summer line below and look for more from Conscious Closets and Symbology coming to the Darling blog soon. 

I styled the Peacock Kimono Wrap dress with my favorite gold Tieks that I've had for years. Necklace is from UNCVRD

I kept the accessories to a minimum to let the gold leaf design speak for itself. Bracelet from Tribe of Dreamers.

Symbology Founder and Designer, Marissa wearing the Butterfly Caftan.

Lastly, Conscious Closets readers will get a whopping 20% discount on any purchase at Symbology using the code WEHEARTCC at check out! Woohoo!!!! 

Photos by Brian Tropiano

Conscious Closets + Sotela

All images by Hanna Baror-Padilla.

 I love me a dress that goes with everything; the cozier the better. But finding a well made dress that is also ethical and affordable is not an easy feat. Enter Hanna Baror-Padilla, the designer behind the new brand Sotela. Hanna has designed five different dresses all using sustainable materials and made right here in Southern California. 

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak at Hanna's dresses and loved them all. The materials are soft and luxurious. And you can literally wear them with everything. To prove this point I took Hanna's cocoon dress and created five different looks. Check them out below and head over to Sotela to participate in her kickstarter and grab one for yourself!

Look One: I paired the Sotela cocoon dress with my Everlane button down, white hat from Westerlind, and vegan booties from Love Is Mighty. The chunky black necklace finishes the look for casual Saturday lunch with gals. 

Look Two: I kept this look strait forward and simple. I'm loving wearing dresses over pants right now and the white cut off jeans and vintage slides are perfect for summer. 

Look Three: For a moody morning meeting with a potential client, I paired the dress with pointy flats, a linen top from Elizabeth Suzann, a necklace from Akola Project, and #thatwhitehat. 

Look Four is a little more fun! I like to keep things pretty neutral, but sometimes you need that piece that just pops. Adding this amazing Trina Turk jacket to the dress really gives it the wow-factor. 

Look Five is reserved for date night. I love a thin gold belt and red pumps. We are ready for drinks at my favorite little wine bar in Long Beach. 

Empowered Women Empower Women

Empowered women empower women.

Clothing certainly doesn't change us intrinsically, but it's amazing how what we choose to wear can either enhance or diminish our personalities. 

I know that I am strong, but there are days where I struggle with depression or anxiety. If I get up and get dressed and put on an outfit like this, I immediately feel that strength returning. Then I can go out and give and serve. 

I believe the stories behind our clothes add to that as well. These pants are made by thriving women rescued from sex trafficking. Call me crazy, but I can literally feel their strength and courage when I wear them. And I too am empowered. 

Every purchase in this post goes toward empowering women. And I truly believe, they will empower you too. 

Top is from TWENTYTWO|FORTYFOUR's Black Ash Collection; Pants are Punjammies from Sudara, available at Enrou; Necklace is available at Enrou; Bracelet is available at Tribe of Dreamers; Clutch is from Hayden Harnett, sold out but get a similar one here; Shoes old

Conscious Closets + Enrou

I love Jessica Willison and Ann Wang, the entrepreneurs behind LA fashion brand Enrou. One thing I'm learning on the Conscious Closet's journey, is that shopping is hard! Finding pieces that are both affordable AND fashionable? Nearly impossible.

Enter Enrou and clothing designer Mayamiko! Not only are the materials ethically sourced, but the pieces are handmade in Malawi providing over 15 hours of work for women there. 

I loved learning more about Enrou and the ways they are using fashion for good. Take a moment and check them out!

All photography by Brian Tropiano

Outfit details above: Mayamiko Celtic Thistle A-line Skirt: $46.75; matching shell top: $32.73. I paired it with a turtleneck from Gap, an old faux fur vest and old boots. 

This little Mayamiko designed Shift Dress is made from 100% reclaimed Italian wool and retails for $80.75. I paired it with my white hat from Westerlind, dainty necklaces from The Brave Collection also available at Enrou, my favorite bracelet from Tribe of Dreamers, and black Nisolo Austins for something unexpected. I'd love to see it paired with this little denim jacket from Urban Renewal. Maybe my next Conscious Closets purchase? 

A Conscious Closets' Christmas: Part 2

This next set of my conscious closet's guide to Christmas is a little on the pricier side. But again, think about all the work that went into creating these pieces. Think about the design, sourcing, sewing, etc. The fact that these pieces are made slave free, is priceless. Choose one as a staple piece for your wardrobe this winter/ spring and wear the hell out of it. And please, whatever you do, don't take any of these pieces for granted. 

A Conscious Closets' Christmas: Part 1

There's nothing I love more than giving. So you can imagine how much I freak out over Christmas.  I am beyond excited to present a curated list of some of my favorite conscious closets christmas gifts just for you and just in time for those cyber Monday steals.

I'm offering gifting guide in parts. This section is for gifts less then $50.00. The next section will be gifts greater than $50.00, and then I'll do one last one for men. (We can't leave them out!)

 From the bottom of my heart, thank you for shopping ethically this Christmas season. 

Cheers! ~Johanna

Gifts Under $50

The 2015 Little Lindee is Here....

And I couldn't be so excited! This year you have two to choose from, but the tunic is the dress that I'll be wearing and styling all December long. I had so much fun working with incredible designer Lindee Daniel on these two special pieces. Her eye for design and craftmanship is the best I've seen. 

Both dresses are made from organic cotton so not only are they ethically sourced, but they are also handmade in LA. Also ladies, if you are a Dressember participant you get a 30% discount on your purchase. Check Lindee's website to purchase a Little Lindee of your own. You'll love it, especially knowing this is one dress made totally slave free.

How cool to fight for freedom not only with what you give, but by what you wear as well?! Amiright?

Below are some the pics from the shoot we did for the 2015 Little Lindee. Special thanks to my husband Brian for shooting and to our gorgeous models, Giorgi and Jennika.

PS. Did I tell you it came with pockets? 

We had so much fun working on this project and it would mean the world to me to have you join me this year fighting to end slavery by participating on my Dressember Team, Conscious Closets. And it would be even funner (yes, that's a word) to do it together in our Little Lindee dresses. 

To sign up to be a part of my Dressember Team, click this link here. Let's all be Freedom Fighters this December! 

Conscious Closets + Botanica Workshop

Saturday's in. That's my dream. It rarely happens these days with all that's going on around me, work, relationships, events, travel, etc. All these things are wonderful, but can pull one in so many directions. When I think of vacation and rest now, I think of home. I think of a quiet morning in bed with coffee from the French Press and a good book. I think of dancing in my living room to Blue Suede Shoes, or let's be honest, anything Taylor Swift. These pictures are a reflection of a Saturday well spent, at a home I love surrounded by people I love.

I'm so thankful to Botanica Workshop for letting me spend my dream Saturday in their beautiful loungewear. Consciously made pieces I will treasure. Ladies, do yourself a favor and put one of their items on your Christmas list. And when you wear it, let it remind you of the importance of surrounding yourself with beauty and rest. 

All images by Brian Tropiano

Conscious Closets + ETHICA

Re-blogged from Shop ETHICA

Mere hours before we met Johanna Tropiano on a sunny Tuesday morning, the L.A.-based blogger, stylist and anti-human-trafficking advocate had been overseeing a packed house at the Highline Ballroom in New York City, where Natasha Bedingfield and Questlove respectively took the stage to toast the launch of Made In A Free World.

Tropiano is the newly minted VP of Strategic Partnerships for the nonprofit, which aims to eradicate modern-day slavery through a mix of awareness campaigns, field work and business solutions. (Ethica is one of 34 companies working with Made In A Free World to examine our products’ supply chains and identify areas potentially at risk for the use of forced and child labor.)

Despite her late night, Tropiano was lively and infectious as we took a walk down the High Line. Within minutes of conversation, she’d had us check our cosmetics for mica (an ingredient that is mostly mined by young girls in India), added The Locust Effect to our reading list, and created an Ace & Jig layering situation that was pretty darn perfect.

Hear about the disturbing conversation with a stranger that led Tropiano to commit her life to fighting human trafficking, and how she went from being an admitted shopaholic to a champion of #consciousclosets.

Certain issues are so overwhelming that our tendency can be to think of them in conceptual terms rather than as realities. Whats one thing that you want people to know about human trafficking and how very real it is? In 2009, I took a trip to Nicaragua to visit a child I sponsor at an orphanage in Leon. I struck up a conversation with a young man living in New York and teaching middle school P.E. I asked him what he was flying to Nicaragua for. He told me he wanted to hike the volcanoes. Then he looked up at me and, straight-faced with no emotion, said, “All my buddies have been there. They say the sex is cheap. You get young girls for cheap.” That conversation changed my life forever, and I’ve been fighting for human dignity ever since.

There are evil people like that school teacher from New York who seek to prey on the vulnerable and poor. I experienced it firsthand. Trafficking doesn’t just happen in movies. We are incredibly blessed to be born here. We can’t take that for granted.

Youve written–bravely and beautifully–about how attached we can become to our clothes. How long has it been since your big closet cleanout, and whats the best part about having a less-than-half-full closet? Thank you! I cleaned out my closet in a huge way in March of this year. I got rid of over half my clothes. It is a relief. I feel like a weight has lifted in a lot of ways. My husband I recently moved to a new home with small closets, and I was actually thrilled to see that all I had left took up half my closet. That’s a very different mindset from when I was proud of owning 50 pairs of designer jeans.

I continuously ask whether an item of clothing will bring me joy and only purchase something if it fulfills that. I also try to adopt a one-piece-in, one-piece-out mentality. There’s something to be said about having a small amount of beautifully curated, quality pieces rather than a closet full of fast-fashion throwaways. A friend of mine says, “Happy people make happy things.” I truly believe that. I want everything I own to be made by happy people. I’d rather spend money on something good and have less to make that happen.

“A friend of mine said, ‘Happy people make happy things.’ I truly believe that. I want everything I own to be made by happy people.”

Do you think your #consciousclosets journey would have been different if you had gone through it privately rather than sharing your progress on Instagram–and now on your new blog? I’ve always been a passionate, wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve kind of person. I’m super inspired by people who are vulnerable enough to share their stories and what they are learning. So I thought if I can help someone who is in a similar place as me through sharing my story, that’s awesome!

I believe my personal journey would have remained the same whether I shared it openly or not, but if even one person starts to think differently about fast fashion or shopping addiction or human trafficking, it’s worth it to me to be public. I live to inspire change in myself and in others. That motivates me more than anything. When I see small changes in friends or family taking place, that’s a real win.

Visit Made In A Free World’s Slavery Footprint calculator to discover how your choices might be impacting people around the world. Keep up with Tropiano on Instagram (@johannatropiano) and at

Outfit details all available at Shop ETHICA; Striped Dress by Study NY; Cardinal Lake Pants and Westside Pants from Ace and Jig.