As the founder of AYANA International, a nonprofit that magnifies the power of youth innovation in addressing global problems, Mahika Halepete is an award-winning social entrepreneur. She's also 17. Because her wardrobe needs to work for classes and for conferences, she leans on sophisticated staples: silk camisoles, high-waisted pants, and a pair of wear-everywhere heels. "Around 90% of my pieces are from vintage stores and thrift stores, and I love the fact that these garments hold a story and are one-of-a-kind," she says. "I recently Marie Kondo-d my closet and am trying to cut down on the impulse to spend and shop and find ways to work with what I have so I can cultivate a closet of things I really love and didn't just buy on a whim." Here are her ride-or-dies that remained post-Kondo.
Lou & Grey High-Rise Wide-Leg Cropped Pants
"These pants are ~amazing~. High-rise, wide-leg, and cropped are my favorite words used to describe pants. The fabric on these is soooo good: soft, and comfy, and almost vintage-feeling? As far as sizing, in the store, they told me to size up, so I would add an inch or two to the size chart for stretch. The rust orange color goes with almost everything, but I especially like to style it with the Aritzia Galen camisole and some black loafers. I really like Lou & Grey as a company; they're conscious about their supply chain and fund empowerment programs for the women who are part of their production process."
BUY: $55 at Lou & Grey
FYI: Mahika's faves are almost sold out, but here's this season's version.
Everlane Day Heel in Cognac
"I was gifted cognac Everlane heels for my 16th birthday, and they are one of my favorite pieces in my closet. A pair of comfy heels that you can wear every day is probably the best closet staple. These shoes are definitely an investment but I've worn them for 19-hour-long travel/conference days, and my feet aren't hurting at all by the end of the day. I style mine with everything from black + white business casual outfits to blue jeans and a white blouse to floral printed dresses. They really go with everything. Everlane is a super cool company with transparent, ethical production lines."
BUY: $150 at Everlane
Kendra Scott Elisa Pendant Necklace
"A pair of KS earrings + matching necklace was my first big 'splurge' from my own paycheck. This necklace is my FAVORITE piece of jewelry; it falls at the perfect spot just below the collarbones. I have the red magnesite, so I style it with black dresses or colorful floral dresses that have red/pink in them. I also want to get another one in black or white that will go with more outfits. Also, pro-tip, KS has a birthday month discount for 50%! Kendra Scott jewelry is made in the USA and are so well-made. They can make an outfit look elegant."
BUY: $60 at Kendra Scott
Kate Spade Maryanne Bag in Black
"Although Kate Spade is one of my favorite designer brands, I definitely would not have splurged on this purse with my own money. My mom was cleaning out her closet and let me have the handbags she didn't want anymore, so I've incorporated it into my wardrobe. I think black bags are very chic and go with a lot of colors in my autumn wardrobe (black, white, beige, burgundy), and I am in love with the gold chain and quilted detailing on this one."
FYI: Kate Spade's Amelia tote has similar quilting and a gold chain to the sold-out Maryanne
BUY: $281 at Kate Spade
By Rosie Jane Perfume in Leila Lou/Rosie "Rosie & Leila Lou by By Rosie Jane are my favorite fragrances. I'm always getting compliments on them. Rosie is more mature, elegant, and musky; Leila Lou is crisp, bright, and floral. BRJ is my fave fragrance brand because all of the fragrances are paraben and phthalate-free. For a clean fragrance, I think the price is totally worth it. Definitely get the sampler to see if you like them."
BUY: $50 at By Rosie Jane
Aesop Body Balm in Tangerine/Vanilla "I usually NEVER splurge on skincare and have a super simple routine, but I tried this out in the Aesop store and fell in love with the fragrance and texture. I also find that a little goes a long way and the feel of it is amazinggg. Aesop as a brand is one of my absolute favorites. They're really focused on great fragrances, clean design, and products that are effective and luxurious. I also have the Primrose Cleansing Masque which I highly recommend!"
BUY: $37 at Aesop
Follow Mahika at @mahikahalepete.