Brand Focus: Reformation ft. The Carina Dress

Hello and welcome to a new week! Today’s Brand Focus is Reformation. I’m going to review the Carina dress, my most recent Ref buy from Nordstrom store, the Bellevue location.

About Reformation

Reformation (Ref) was founded in 2009 by Yael Aflalo, a former model. The company relaunched in 2012. Based in LA.

Reformation is known for its design, fabric, and its many sustainability practices.


Reformation can turn a design from a sketch into an actual item within a month. The main range is fit on women between 5’6 and 5’10, and the petite range is designed for women 5’2 and under. And the extended size goes up to size 22 and those with a full C-DD cup. Ref style, I’d say, is very fitted and feminine with an edge. I adore the clean and modern take on the styling and photography on the website and cannot wait to one day visit one of Ref stores. (I’m 5’5 and find certain pieces fit me amazingly, and some don’t. So keep on reading to find out!)

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Ref proudly states: ‘The fabric is the magic.’ And that is no doubt. I love researching and learn more about the textiles and fabrics, and I am a firm believer that one day we can find alternatives which will reduce and won’t scare natural resources. I was intrigued and knew I had to buy Ref. instantly once I got a chance to touch and feel the fabric in person in-store at Nordstrom beginning of this year. Ref makes sustainable materials (better and cleaner than cotton), rescued deadstock fabrics, and repurposed vintage clothings.

TENCEL™ Lyocell. Made by Austrian company Lenzing, is a semi-synthetic fiber with properties almost identical to cotton. It’s part of the Rayon family, made from renewable wood materials.

Viscose. Is another renewable plant material. Half comes from Lenzing, and half is from an Indian manufacturer- Aditya Birla. The Carina dress I’m wearing in this post is 100% viscose.

TENCEL™ Modal. Is a wood-based fiber. Source: beechwood forests in northern and central Europe.

Linen. The good old linen, in case you don’t know, is made from flax, one of the best fabric out there. It’s strong, breathable, gentle and anti-bacterial.


Recover®. Recover® yarns are made from old clothes and fabric waste. Once this textile waste is recovered, it is cut, shred and spun into new yarn.

REFIBRA™. Previously known as TENCEL ™, REFIBRA ™ combines 20% of recycled cotton waste with wood pulp to produce new virgin TENCEL ™ Lyocell fibers.

Deadstock & Vintage. Ref buys leftover, unused fabric from manufacturers and fabric warehouses. About 15% of Ref stuff is originally from deadstock, and 2-5% is made out of vintage clothing.


Ref states ‘fashion is the third most polluting industry in the world, and one of the largest consumers of water. Making fabric uses water, energy, chemicals, and other resources that most people don’t think about, or ever see. We think knowledge is power, so we talk about resource use, climate change, and other impacts of fashion.’ You can read more in each of these details, here. One shocking thing I learnt from Ref’s Impact of Fashion page is that most fast fashion (clothes/fabrics made of polyester, acrylic, nylon, spandex, and acetate) are all made from nonrenewable fossil fuels that require lots of energy to produce and those processes emit harmful chemicals and wastes (formaldehyde, heavy metals, BPA, and PFCs) to the landfill. Like what? Ref also mentions about even organic cotton is not the best option out there since cotton plants do require large landfill and tons of water to produce. Eek!

Read in details about Ref Sustainability Report and progress (Quarter 2 in 2018), here.

Ever since moving to Seattle, I noticed that there are composting options, recycling, and separate waste option everywhere I go. More people here are into outdoors and exploring the nature, and the reason is clearly that the state of Washington (or the West coast) has a lot more nature compared to the Midwest (where I moved from.) I have also traveled to lots of other states and do agree that there are more outdoor things available to do here within a few hours of driving. I’ve learnt to be more conscious in disposing trashes and learnt ways to reduce plastics in my regular daily living. I don’t own a car anymore, so I find myself wandering the shops less often (it for sure is a good thing!). Shops I often wander are H&M, Zara, Topshop, Urban Outfitters, etc., and those are some of the most commonly known as fast fashion retailers out there. I shop online more these days and always make sure I research and make careful consideration prior to making any purchases. Reformation is a brand that I have finally felt ok to invest my money on this year, partly thanks to me being more aware of the environmental impact while living here in the PNW and partly thanks to being a fashion blogger (which requires me to explore and invest in what really works for my style and my fashion journey).

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About the Carina Dress:


“Yet another easy Ref number you probably need. This is a midi length, wrap dress with a high slit, v neckline and a cap sleeve.” Details: Bra friendly, Cap sleeve, Double layer, Fitted bodice, High slit, Midi length, Relaxed fitting skirt, V neck, Wrap dress. Fabric and care: This is a lightweight georgette fabric with a dry handfeel – 100% viscose. Dry clean only

This dress is a pretty good example for me to highlight the pros and cons of Ref in terms of the fabric and fit.

Let’s talk fabric first since it is my most passionate topic to dive into. As mentioned on the website, the Carina is made of 100% viscose, one of the most popular weaved fabric that Ref does. It is breathable, feels and looks heavy and luxurious. The skirt part is lined, hence the weight and the beautiful flare and flow that you see in most Ref dresses. I was drawn to the beautiful lilac shade at first, and I think the floral details are done right. Ref fabric never disappoints! However, I have not washed not dry-cleaned my Ref pieces before, so I cannot tell you much more. It is slightly naturally creased, so make sure you give Ref stuff a quick steam before wearing!

Sizing: This dress is in XS, and Ref’s XS measurement is Burst 32/Waist 25/Hip 37. I am a 32B in bras and 25 in bottoms in general. Ref’s smallest size is size XS, and I fit relatively well in most Ref tops and dresses in XS. Again, I’m 5ft5, and Ref stuff is made for 5ft6-5ft8 people. I don’t like how petite sizing looks on me, so I won’t ever bother trying Ref petite. I’ve also purchased these Ref jeans in size 25, but they did not fit me well around the waist and butt area. I did have to return them. So if you cannot try them on in-store, make sure to read the measurement and make a decision in terms of sizing accordingly. The Carina is a wrap style which means it should fit everyone relatively well around the waist area since you can tie the string as tight or loose as you want. The Carina is not the first wrap dress that I’ve ordered from Ref. I ordered and had to returned this dress since it did not fit me well around the chest and top part. (See how it fits on me, here). And the Carina has the same fit issue as you can clearly tell in these photos. Anyways, despite of the fit issue, I absolutely think it is worth the $200 price tag, and I would totally buy Ref dresses for any fancy or more dressy events in the near future, with certain style preference of course. Ref also has a section where they call RefScale (next to the product information), and I think it is great to have a peek at it to see how much water and energy you can help saving if you choose to buy Ref stuff. It is all about the advertising strategy which I won’t go too deep into. But at least you know that what you spend at Ref is great quality and will last you for years. Well, make sure you learn how to take care of your stuff properly, so read the labels and care instructions, always!





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I have a trip to LA coming up early November, and visiting Ref store is on my high priority list for sure! I have the Lily top in green and am absolutely in love with the fabric and fit. The reason that it fits me so perfectly is because it has the smocked detail in the back which cinches me in so well. See how it fits on me here.

Read my previous Brand Focus posts: Xinh & Co.Kozha Numbers, Mejuri, Everlane

OUTFIT DETAILS: the dress: Reformation (this specific print called Yvette is only available at Nordstrom, here. Other prints are available and on sale at the Reformation website, here) | geo-block heels: Mango (sold out style) | watch: New Gate (gifted)

Shop clocks and watches at New Gate using code NGantrieu for 20% your order

Enter my Jord giveaway ends September 16:

Thanks for reading!style and senses signature stay inspired

Photos by: Toan Chu

An Trieu

Currently based in Seattle, Style & Senses is my digital life and style journal of all things that inspire my senses and beyond. Hope you stay inspired, as always! - An Trieu.

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