Top- Secondhand Frame blouse from Shop Linda's Stuff. Same one here.
Skirt- Revolve from three years ago. Similar here. Use my link for 20% off!
Backpack- Vintage Chanel backpack. Similar here.
Booties- Pre-owned Frye booties. Similar here. (Size 7 & only $79!)
Did you guys know 2019's Fashion Revolution Week is already coming up next week? Check out the details here.
In honor of that annual event, started in 2013 to commemorate the collapse of the Rana Plaza and the thousands of factory workers who died that tragic day, I thought I'd discuss what slow fashion is about and link to some great posts below! First and foremost, though, I'd like to emphasize that you can't buy your way into sustainability. If sustainability is about buying anything, it's more about buying less, and yes, choosing well/ sustainably made garments can be key, because that often means your garments are made more carefully and with higher quality fibers and will last for a greater number of wears. For example, shooting for 30 wears is the rule of thumb for slow fashion! Asking myself whether I'll wear a garment or a pair of shoes or a bag at least 30x has stopped me from making a lot of wasteful purchases since I became aware of the need for a fashion revolution on that fateful day six years ago.
Choosing sustainably made or secondhand garments and shoes (and even designer bags) is certainly preferable, but those options aren't open to everybody. So it's not about a sustainability/ virtue olympics, either-- aka who is the most sustainable of them all! (Honestly, I thrift not out of virtue, but because I LOVE the hunt! And I mostly shop sustainably made designers when the budget allows, because the garments are nicer for the reasons I mentioned above!
What sustainability is truly about is a sense of inclusivity and an awareness of the circular economy and environment that ties us all together. At the heart of slow or sustainable fashion it's about transforming this attitude towards our garments and hopefully towards our world...
Into this one...
(Click on both images to take you to two great posts on some finer points of what sustainable fashion is all about!)
My suede skirt above is a great example of a loved garment! I bought it on sale on Revolve three years ago, and I wear it all the time. It's such a great neutral piece, and I can dress it up or down, make it chic or boho. (Although I hate that word and cringe writing it... but it does conjure up a style image, so I'll leave it.) I was so upset to spot a stain as you can see in the image where I'm checking out the outfit in the mirror-- a shiny spot that's probably from makeup or lotion on my hands. In the past, I might have been tempted to throw the skirt into the giveaway bag I always have going, what with two children growing like weeds. Coincidentally, that evening I happened to spot this incredible graph (see below) on Faye Delanty's Instagram stories! Faye Delanty is the beauty and brains behind Fashion Hound in Australia and THE queen of thrift queens.
When I first became aware of sustainable fashion, I definitely fell prey to the mistaken belief that my conscious consumer choices could change the world. While I continue to think it's better to be informed, what will change the world is consumers taking companies to task for polluting the planet, mistreating factory workers, and abusing animals, and that means systemic change needs to happen. It's going to take a paradigm shift not simply a shift in the spending habits of individual wallets. I do think, though, that when we treat our own garments as if they're valuable and worth being cared for instead of as disposable goods, I hope this mindset will trickle down to positive changes in every aspect of our lives-- to valuing and loving ourselves, our planet, our children's futures... and will help grow and strengthen our resolve to see companies treat the environment and their workers with the same attitude of loving respect.
That said, this Fashion Week 2019 I hope you will consider asking one of your favorite designers #whomademyclothes?
P.S. Using this graph, I've now saved my favorite skirt AND my favorite jeans by 3x1!
I often say my favorite part about thrifting is the chance it offers me to learn more about designers who would otherwise be out of my price range. I actually first learned about the designer Ulla Johnson on Instagram. A happy result of a newfound interest in #sustainablefashion! However, when I Googled where to shop her pieces, I was crushed to learn her silk dresses ran in the $500 price range. Even her blouses were about $300!! I think it was around then I fell in love with eBay, Poshmark, and online consignment retail in general. Instead of scavenging for whatever treasures I happened upon, my thrifting took on a more x-marks-the-spot flavor. (FYI I haven't shopped from the Real Real yet, but I've heard excellent things, have browsed extensively, and noticed they have a supreme selection of Ulla Johnson pieces!)
My tailored online searches do sometimes help me find Ulla's pieces on sale on sites like ShopBop. (I just bought her popcorn Baranco tote for summer for 60% off here!) But I was thrilled when, on one of said searches, I found the embroidered Ulla Johnson peasant blouse I'm wearing in this post (above). (Only $75 on eBay. It's also a size 2, but I gambled on it anyway. Because peasant blouses are cut generously, it fits me fine! I also own Ulla pieces in sizes 4-10! Size doesn't matter. Fit is king!) The score reaped even more rewards after I posted it to my Instagram stories: one of my Romanian friends messaged me to tell me I was actually wearing a traditional Romanian blouse!
"Really?" I wondered, privately questioning how Mircea could know that. Wasn't the top simply an embroidered shirt? Wrong! So wrong! My pretty blouse was far, far, far from "simple" as it turns out. "Google 'la blouse roumaine'," my friend urged me. So I did only to learn, much to my delight, how truly layered and textured the history of my old, thrifted shirt really is...
Henri Matisse "La Blouse Roumaniane" painted in 1940
I believe fashion is art. It can express many things. Even a simple pair of blue jeans and a white t-shirt expresses a state of mind. Even a NorthFace jacket and Uggs does the same, even if it's not the most original look. However, I don't mean to criticize the desire to conform. (When I was younger, I used to bitterly resent conservatively dressed people, because of the odd looks and comments my outfits garnered outside of the Lower East Side. Now I shrug my shoulders, because the LES, I know now, is a state of mind.) As far as conformity goes, in this year and in my region of the world, NorthFace jackets and Uggs are as ubiquitous as Romanian blouses once were in another part of the world. It could even be argued that the uniform of a warm black jacket and comfortable shoes is worn just as much to express age and social status just as the Romanian blouse was embroidered with flowers and images to do the same. Whether you think your outfit is fashion or not is beside the point: your clothes speak. If your outfit expresses a desire for comfort, that's up to the individual to choose function over form, but I do think people who wear fantastical colors and shapes and do so fabulously are a lot more fun (for me) to look at and promise to tell a heckuva lot more fantastical tales.
For example, there is no NorthFace jacket that inspired an artist as the Romanian blouse has done. In fact, the blouse has experienced a modern revival outside Romania because of a famous painting in 1940 by Matisse called "La Blouse Roumaine", which is why my top now exists and how this top I'm wearing is now deliciously referred to in the fashion world. The painting then inspired Yves Saint Laurent in 1981 to explore traditional Romanian costumes in a now landmark fashion show, from reincarnations of long, luscious skirts to crowns of gleaming braids, and, finally, the peasant blouse whose colors and embroidery not only express the wearer's status but are also distinctive markers of different regions of the country. Later on, designers such as Tom Ford and Phillippe Guilet drew inspiration from the same source. Now, Ulla Johnson is offering her own take on the traditional garment.
Why do you think so many designers have been inspired by this blouse? Do you own one?
In the end, what struck me in my reserach was how not one but FOUR Romanian and French writers, artists, and poets are said to have inspired Matisse's paintings and sketches of the Romanian blouse, as much as the gift to Matisse of an "IA", which is how the Romanian blouse is referred to in the community, by Romanian artist Theodor Pallady did. Some might look and see a blouse, but now I see Anna de Noailles' love poems, I see Matisse's endless sketches of soft female forms reclining in a nimbus of color and light, I see an online community devoted to stories around the Romanian IA or la blouse roumaine. Most of all, I now see these luminous words of Matisse's, discovered only now through my research into this beautiful piece, "“Color helps to express light, not the physical phenomenon, but the only light that really exists, that in the artist’s brain."
To me, fashion is color, a walking bit of art that reflects my own light and those of the souls around me. Secondhand or new, designer or not, I will clothe myself with color and light and silk and dreams, even if *dramatic sigh* I alone must take up and wear all the world's beautiful castoffs to do so. #thriftersoftheworldunite
I loved checking out all of Meghan Markle's outfits on her recent trip through Australasia! What about you guys? Not only am I a fan of Meghan's modern and sophisticated, yet still romantic style, but it was even more delightful to see her sporting looks from several sustainable designers like Outland Denim, Veja, Reformation, Maggie Marilyn, and others! In fact, I was so enthused, I nearly wrote a post featuring Meghan's looks with Meghan wearing them. Luckily, before I made that blogging faux pas, I remembered something I'd read in My Blogging Secrets by Amber McNaught (a book on blogging that I highly recommend): you can get in a lot of trouble using other people's pictures! I thought about a solution and realized I had a bunch of similar items in my closet but had never thought of putting them together before. I had so much fun recreating three of her looks-- the fourth was a dress similar to one she wore on the Australian leg of her trip and that I wore often this summer. (For all her looks, check out this Vogue tribute to her trip!) Which one do you think worked out best?
Meghan wore this look with a blazer by her pal Serena Williams when she first arrived in Australia. Her jeans are by sustainable brand Outland Denim.
Vintage Ralph Lauren Blazer from Shop Linda's Stuff. (Only $18!!!)
Vintage Chanel Backpack from Tradesy.
JBrand Maria high rise jeans available now at Bloomingdales.
Scotch & Soda tie-neck blouse (sustainable designer) from Bloomingdales last year. Similar Maje blouse here.
Meghan wore her Veja sneaks on a boatride. (Veja sneaks are not only gorgeous but made of fairly sourced materials!) Here's her same pair in size 5 available at Poshmark.
My Veja sneakers are from Amour Vert a few years back.
JBrand Maria high rise skinny jeans now available at Bloomingdales (and sooo comfortable!).
Wrap top from Reformation at Nordstrom.
Pre-owned Tory Burch tote from Shop Greene Street.
This is probably my favorite look from Meghan's trip! I wish we'd had more light to shoot this nighttime look, but c'est la vie... it's getting darker earlier and earlier! I'll definitely be wearing this look again and will try to get a better shot. Her white sheath dress is by Karen Gee, and she immediately crashed the website after she wore it. I think it's a nice classic piece every woman should have, for sure!
My Vince white sheath dress was pre-owned from Second Time Around.
Miu Miu trench coat pre-owned from luxury consignment at Shop Linda's Stuff.
Nude Aldo heels from several years back.
Vintage Chanel double flap purse from Tradesy.
My second favorite look of Meghan's featured a dress by Reformation. Above is a dress by Sézane I wore quite often this summer! Sézane is a nearly sustainable designer. I don't see anything about it explicitly on their website, but they do go out of their way to value their seamstresses, and I love that their clothes always arrive wrapped in muslin instead of plastic! Not to mention, I love their clothes in general. Check out their fall lookbook here!
Sezane dress and shoes from this summer.
Straw circle tote from sustainable, online-only boutique www.shopbaiae.com.
Sunglasses from Sunday Somewhere.
On a related note, following the acclaim, the Duchess of Sussex is now receiving criticism for how expensive her many (glorious) outfits were. I think people are forgetting she was a blogger and actress before she was a royal, so I bet quite a lot of people are giving her clothes. Unless that isn't allowed anymore? Hmm, anyone know the law for royals? I can't imagine it's the same as for politicos as there's no question of election shenanigans after all. I do know that her checked blazer, the one I'm imitating in this first look, was designed by her friend Serena Williams! And that immediately after she wore that white sheath dress she crashed the designer's website! Plus, we all know the Royals are, well, royally rich. Not to mention, I'm sure she has plenty of money of her own after having had a successful acting career, right? And boy, does she continue to work hard for the money! I was frankly exhausted watching her make her way through Australia, attending one event after another, always with a beautiful, warm, sincere smile plastered on her face. The thought alone of how much that poor woman had to smile gave me a headache. Let the hard-working, rich lady enjoy her pretty frocks, I say! Jeez! I'm enjoying watching her wear them!
What do you think? As a role model, is it on her to dress sensibly or are you enjoying the princess fantasy as much as I am? Actually, what I love most about Meghan Markle's style is that all her looks are so wearable, comfortable-looking even, yet somehow still elegant! She really is my favorite style icon at the moment! Which of her looks from her trip did you like the most? As for my post, which of Markle's looks from above do you think you might be able to build from your own closet as I did or which look do you think you could imagine yourself wearing?
Slow Fashion October is almost over, and I barely had a chance to participate with one thing and another. (Wisdom tooth surgery and my Kindergartener's weeklong Fall Break chief among my excuses!) I actually wanted to participate, so I don't want to make excuses. Instead, I thought I would extend the month with a No Shopping Challenge in which I spend the next month shopping my own closet and posting never-worn or little worn items to my Poshmark Closet or my IG page @IsabellaDavidVintageShop. However, Slow Fashion October is not about denial, so much as it is about actually wearing and enjoying the clothes you do have in your closet! That's hard to do when it's cluttered and overflowing. So donate or sell what you don't wear and figure out what you are wearing or what you actually need to complete your outfits instead of endlessly buying the same things over and over! Is anyone else guilty of that?!
For example, two weeks ago, I could not devise a casual outfit to wear to my wisdom tooth removal surgery to save my life (pun intended). I actually managed to pick the exact wrong thing!?! A cozy, very white sweater. Wrong choice because the doctor became wayyy too worried about messing up my sweater, when I preferred that he focused on my teeth! I decided some closet renovations were in order and undertook this challenge in that spirit: I took one essential trend of the season (mine happens to be thrifted from eBay) and wore it three ways this week!
Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below! Or check out more details on Instagram. Also, read more about what Slow Fashion October is all about here!
Pre-owned Burberry Wallet at Shop Linda's Stuff
This fall's Sézane Circle Bag available here.
Burgundy skirt from eBay. Similar here.
Frye boots from three years ago. Similar here.
MKT Studio "kuroko" sweater. Available here.
Scotch & Soda blouse from last year. Similar here.
Vintage Chanel backpack from Tradesy.
OTK boots from Bluefly 2 years ago. Similar here.
Cashmere sweater from Shop Linda's Stuff.
Tory Burch tote from Shop Greene Street Consignment.
Actually, I purchased the thrift skirt originally because of an image from Sézane's 2018 fall lookbook. I find a little inspo can help you comb through all the mountain of secondhand possibilities to unearth a treasure! That skirt (above) was only $18! I also found that cashmere sweater secondhand due to the same inspo source. FYI there are SOOOOOOOOO many like-new cashmere sweaters available for peanuts on eBay. This one cost only $20, and it's GORGEOUS. Soft and in perfect shape. If secondhand shopping isn't your thing, Reformation has started upcycling mountains of cashmere goodness into new cashmere products. Read more about why it's super important to shop ethical for cashmere here.
Which outfit do you think works best? Do you like to shop secondhand? Have you participated in a No Shopping challenge before? How long were you able to keep it up? Let me know and have a great rest of your October... Can't believe how fast it went by this year!
1. It Can Be
I think most of us with even a modicum of interest in the slow fashion world know about Reformation now (both the dresses pictured above are from Reformation and are both are secondhand), so I'll leave these pictures here, because the proof is in the pudding and Reformation dresses celebrate my curves like no other brand. Reformation can be pricy, which leads me to my next point, but first, something else I love about Reformation is their push not only to sell vintage clothes on their own site but the way they partnered with DePop to sell their OWN CLOTHES secondhand on another site. They're really the rare company whose ethics and aesthetics match up. (Quoting journalist Rosalind Jana in that last line.)
2. Sustainable Fashion is Expensive
Image care of Pretty Little Fawn by Courtney Halverson
Not only are there a plethora of secondhand options from the very cheap on eBay or Depop to the pricier ones on Tradesy or treasures to be found in carefully curate vintage shops, but there now exist more and more mid-price retailers like Sézane, who go out of their way to craft high quality pieces at pretty affordable prices considering. (My Sézane and Rouje embroidered blouses that come in at around $115 are as nice as Ulla Johnson, which retails for more like $300.)
People Tree UK and Everlane are two other retailers in the same midway to expensive price range, and Everlane has even run "name your own price" sales! I think paying about $100 for a dress isn't too crazy, once you start factoring in what it costs to make cloth ethically and to treat the person making the actual dress just as ethically as the cloth. Not to mention that special care is reflected in the splendid quality of the garment. My sustainably made clothes are genuinely my nicer clothes, no two ways about it. I am not such a good person that I would reach for them as often as I do over more expensive (but probably thrifted tbh) clothes if they weren't!
3. Sustainable Fashion Is Minimalistic/ Boring
Kate Arnell Wearing a People Tree Dress. Click on the image to visit People Tree's blog.
I do think minimalism and sustainability go hand in hand, but there are different ways to approach the minimalist philosophy. For my part, I appreciated the idea that we should value collections that bring value to our lives but eschew a mindset that mindlessly collects objects which you don't actually need or want. While I do have an enormous collection of vintage and thrifted pieces with some new designer brands thrown in and a growing presence of sustainably made pieces, I still consider myself a minimalist, because I try hard not to waste money or energy on thing I don't need or want or that don't bring me as much immense joy as I feel when I immerse myself in my collection of clothes or books. My clothes closet, which is currently housed in my office, is such a special space that the entire family, barring the dog, likes to go in there and nap or rest!
4. Sustainable Fashion Is A Fad
Check out the gorgeous Natalie Kay (above) if you want an expert take on the current state of sustainable fashion affairs. You can follow her here or on Instagram @sustainablychic.
There's a great piece at Mochni arguing that one day (soon) sustainable fashion will one day simply be called "fashion". It makes three strong excellent points about why. You can read it here.
5. Sustainable Fashion Can't Catch On
On Instagram @dearlybethany spent 365 days showcasing fair fashion outfits that managed to be minimalist, chic, and still very pretty. Check her out for some fashionably sustainable inspiration!
Before I bought my last pair of jeans, a pair of Levi's famous wedgie icon jeans with an unfinished hem, I researched the company, and I was SO excited to discover that such a big company is making such big changes! You can read more about that here.
It's happening, folks!!!! I don't know about you, but I find it thrilling to be part of a brighter future for our children and our planet.
What are some of your favorite sustainable brands? Do you like thrifting or does the thought turn you off? What bothers you about it? Is it the fact clothes are pre-owned or is it the hunt that dissuades you?
In both pictures (of me) above, I'm wearing:
A secondhand, two-piece Reformation dress from Tradesy and an apron Reformation dress from Tradesy (while sitting outside the Reformation store no less! The cheek, ha!)
My Louis Vuitton tote was also gently pre-loved from Tradesy.
I pinned some similar cute two pieces below or follow me on Pinterest @IsabellaDavidVintage.
A Gottex hat from Bloomingdales available here .
Wearing an older pair Rebecca Minkoff espadrilles.
There are some gorgeous, handcrafted ones from Spain available on Amazon here.
I also love delicate ones from Sézane here.
One of my favorite recent trends is the revival of the maxi dress from the 70s, which was in itself a throwback to the 30s when hemlines dipped low again after briefly hitting their first high EVER in the 20s.... Really what is more vintage than a maxi dress? It's the feminine silhouette from time immemorial. And modesty aside, I see why: it's comfortable and pretty and so easy to throw on. This one pictured above is a second Self-Portrait dress from Tradesy paired with sustainably made Swedish Hasbeens boots and a vintage cashmere shawl from Millay Vintage, named Best in Philadelphia! It works well for any season, and that's another reason I love it. I bought it this spring but wore it again through the fall and now into the winter.
What's your favorite maxi dress style? I definitely need a little extra confidence on the days when I wear this more fitted, textured version.
A Slow Fashion Diary