I know I’m not alone when I tell you all that over the past 10 years (well 25, really) my body has gone through a lot of stages. A lot. There’s the ‘I’m hitting the gym and eating well‘ stage. And, the ‘I love summer happy hour‘ stage. Then, every few years I went through the ‘I’m 10 weeks pregnant and look like I ate a whole pizza for lunch‘ stage. Followed by the ‘I had a baby 3 (or 6 or 9 or 12) months ago and I’m not a person who bounces right back‘ stage. And every stage in between.
It seemed that every stage required a completely different style and size of clothing, which meant I was keeping three different wardrobes on hand (for skinny Paige, not-so-skinny Paige, and pregnant Paige). I can joke about it now, but there were certain points in time where staring at a closet full of clothes and feeling like none of them fit or looked good was really upsetting.
Experiencing some of these same wardrobe issues, Hanna Baror-Padilla was inspired to create Sotela and launched it with ‘The Last Dress You’ll Ever Need’.
I have been a fan of Sotela since it was a Kickstarter project and it has been so inspiring to follow Hanna’s journey. I love the thought and care that Hanna gives each step of the process, from designing pieces for women to wear at various stages to selecting fabrics to manufacturing to her brand’s message for women.
Sotela was created after Hanna had a medical issue that caused her extreme bloating and left her with nothing to wear. She decided it was time to create a line of clothing that women would be able to wear throughout the various stages of their lives and the body changes that typically accompany them. I discovered Sotela when I was newly postpartum, so this message really resonated with me.
I am so lucky and incredibly flattered that Hanna recently asked me if I’d like to try the Magnolia dress from Sotela’s Warm Weather collection. I’ve been so excited to make dresses a summer wardrobe staple again now that Brynn isn’t breastfeeding so this is an ideal addition for me at this time.
Design, Fabric, and Manufacturing
The Magnolia dress is a true workhorse. The design is easy to wear (at any stage), it has huge functional pockets, and is machine washable. I am a size 6 and I ordered the Size 1 and it fits perfectly. Just enough room for those fluctuations in my figure, but it doesn’t feel sloppy. And Hanna really found the most beautiful shade of blue for this dress.
The dress is 100% linen, so between that and the boxy cut, it will be perfect for keeping cool on hot summer days. I also recently learned that linen tends to resist dirt and stains, which is a major win in my book! The fabric does wrinkle, which is a characteristic of linen, but I feel it gives the dress a bit of style and authenticity (if that makes sense). I also know that linen softens with wear, so I look forward to breaking this dress in and making it mine in that way.
Not only has Hanna committed to using sustainable, eco-friendly fabrics, she also has all of her garments made in the USA (Costa Mesa, California to be exact). In the past 6 months to a year, I have learned more and more about the damage the fashion industry is doing, not only to the planet, but to people. I have been making a conscious effort to buy ethically manufactured garments when possible and to shop secondhand when it’s not, which is another reason I’ve been drawn to Sotela. Hanna started off as an ethical fashion blogger, and I can appreciate her dedication to the cause and to making a change in the industry.
I have worn this dress three times since receiving it, and have styled it slightly different each time. The first time I wore the Magnolia dress I kept it simple of a family outing with the kids by wearing minimal jewelry and my clogs. The second time I wore the dress to work over a pair of straight leg jeans (see more here), which I LOVED. Finally, I wore the dress to Easter brunch with some strappy sandals and a long necklace.
This is a piece of clothing I want to wear again and again, so I’ve been brainstorming different ways to wear it and I’ve decided that anything goes….with a straw hat and sandals for errands, add sneakers or Birks for chasing the kids, wear booties and a long cardigan for a cooler spring day, or pair it with wedge sandals and a clutch for date night sitting outside having dinner and drinks.
As always, stay tuned on Instagram for (almost) daily updates on my #ootds to see how I’m going to wear the dress next. If you have a moment, I highly recommend heading over to Sotela. Check out my Warm Weather Collection favorites, the linen jumpsuit and crop tank top, as well as the great blog content Hanna continues to put up on top of running a successful clothing business and growing a baby (hello, Superwoman).