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
We're settling in nicely after moving mid-January, and I'm so excited for the spring I decided to bring the spring to me in this petal pink outfit! I wouldn't usually wear pink on pink but I think it works here. One nice thing about moving: your clothes get thrown together in different ways, and you notice new combinations. I bought this petal pink Sézane coat on eBay last year and only noticed yesterday that it perfectly matches this blush Free People beanie I've had for years and this soft pink secondhand Tory Burch tote from Greene Street Consignment!) Would you wear pink on pink?
About a month ago, we moved for what felt like the bajillionth, gazillionth time since we became a family six short years ago. Our family having survived these many, many, many, many moves in one piece (more or less), I told myself I was a pro now! I was sure I could make this next (and hopefully last) move easily, efficiently... so basically in my dreams.
It was A MOVE. You know what they say: pride comes before a move... or is it a fall? Fall or move, it felt the same-- i.e. chaotic, endless with a nice thump on the tuckus at the end. By definition, moving is always going to be a no-good, 100% horrendous time. There's nothing you can do about that, but, afterwards, I did discover there IS something you can do about the stress that comes along with wintertime. You don't have to give in to winter stress! As for moving stress, in some ways, it was kind of a relief to finally surrender to the total horror of moving house with two toddlers, a puppy, a cat, and a 150 lb Newfoundland. Instead of adding pressure to do human things like wear clean clothes or eat square meals, I acknowledged there might sometimes be factors outside my control. Actually, the ordeal sort of reminded me of finals. I'm not quite sure what I learned that was of much use in college-- I was a Comp Lit major so I can parse the heck out of some gnarly semiotics or what have you-- but I do feel like finals week taught me one solid life lesson: you can survive anything if you just keep slogging to the other side and worry about washing your hair later.
I'm happy to report we're on the other side of this move! We're unpacked, the cable is hooked up, the kids are watching Super Why, and my hair is clean again! And I have learned another important life lesson: that while moving is inevitably horrible and there's nothing you can do about it, THERE IS SO MUCH YOU CAN DO TO FEEL 100% BETTER ABOUT YOURSELF IN THE WINTERTIME! Below are five things I did that helped me recover my sanity and my skin after a solid month of winter, moving, and being a full-time stay-at-home mommy/ zookeeper! I have been so excited at how much improvement I've seen in my skin and my outlook after a month of making these changes. What are some of your winter remedies for dry skin and the stress of bad weather?
1. Drink Water Inside and Out
This one's pretty basic, but it makes all the difference in the world. We're all familiar with the advice to drink your body weight in H2O, so I added this twist to help it stick in my head: drink a bunch of water whenever you can but also keep your humidifier going whenever you can as well. When you're asleep, place one beside your bed. When you're working, put it on your desk.... in fact let me go fetch mine right now! I love it. It's so easy to fill and cart around and it's purty. You can find it on Amazon. (This one even comes with a selection of essential oils for $34.95 including the humidifier/ diffuser.) BRB!
Okay, I'm back. I thought about it, and I have to admit maybe learned one thing of practical value in college. I took a Buddhist literature class my first year, and while I can't remember a single text that we read-- although maybe that's where I encountered Basho first and fell in love with Japanese poetry. You can read some of my haibun here!-- I did find out there was a Sri Lankan Buddhist Monastery in West Virginia pretty close to UVA, and I went to visit it one weekend for free. I learned to meditate there, but the beauty of meditation is you can learn/ do it anywhere at any time. The meditation the monk taught me was a simple one that I also use to help me count laps in the pool. Here it is: breathe in and count 1, breath out and count 2, breathe in (3), breathe out (4), and so on and so forth until you reach 10 and then you begin again. If you want something more guided, there are so many great apps with meditation exercises. They always put me to sleep, and I tend to meditate in the morning, so I've kept to my simple version. I don't manage to meditate every day, but even doing it occasionally for ten minutes here or there makes a dramatic difference in my outlook.
3. Work Out in the Morning
On a less esoteric note, I have to admit I picked up this bit of excellent advice, because I saw that Pete Davidson was dating Kate Beckinsale, an actress I haven't paid any attention to in many a moon. When I Googled her, I was blown away by how fit she looks! Her Instagram is also hilarious, so I hope that means they're soulmates and never break up. (They probably already broke up, didn't they. PLEASE DON'T AT ME. LET ME LIVE IN MY DREAM WORLD!) At any rate, Kate recommends morning workouts both for fitness and as a way to guard against anxiety and depression, both of which I struggle with to some degree every winter. (I think I might have SAD, but I've never been diagnosed.)
"Sweat," Kate Beckinsale claims, echoing one of my favorite authors Isak Dinsesen, "is nature's anti-depressant." I still don't think I would have taken this excellent advice if I hadn't found out my local gym offers morning daycare hours. I've been dropping my daughter off at school, grabbing coffee with my husband, dropping him at work, and then hitting the gym, and instead of exhausted by this grueling morning routine, I feel transformed. Instead of only feeling better in the evenings after my husband gets home from work and I squeeze in a workout, I am now 1000% more cheerful and energized the entire day long. Basically, me and Kate Beckinsale (and Isak Dinesen) can't recommend it enough. Sweat!
For anyone who's read this post to this point (Bless you. Thank you!), you might have picked up that I'm a bigtime reader. There are two side effects to this behavior: I'm constantly recommending books and authors (see points 2 & 3 above) but I'm also constantly frowning. For some reason, when I read, I frown. Ever since I was about 20, I've been fighting the curse of the 11. As much as I hate frown lines, the idea of Botox freaks me out, although I don't judge anyone for any cosmetic procedure they want to do to feel better about themselves. So for years, I remained stuck between Kim Kardashian's remedy-- resting bitch face ad eternitum-- or Botox, which carries the side effect of DEATH. So I did nothing besides massaging my forehead a lot and wearing bangs and felt kind of bad about it, and then I finally tried Frownies, and the temporary lines that were starting to become a permanent part of my look vanished! VANISHED! This stuff is magic. I also find fine lines are more prominent in winter, so I'm excited I don't have to wait until the air grows more humid for some relief this year.
5. Keep On Top of Moisturizing Creams and Masks
This isn't just a superficial suggestion: I've noticed the smells of my Jurlique rosewater spray or my favorite Bliss honey mask really perks me up and improve my mood in the gray, scentless winter especially. They might even provide the same effect as adding color to my wardrobe. Light floral scents and colors really trick my system in the winter! I'm currently really loving Edible Beauty's Ageless Goddess Serum, everything Jurlique does with roses, and Bliss's cruelty-free masks from their glycolic peel to their gentler honey mask. Check out this post for a simple nighttime routine that's easy to keep up. Mind you, I don't have sensitive skin, though, so I can try anything. For example, I love both olive oil or coconut oil for my hair and skin in the winter, although I recommend only using olive oil at home as it doesn't absorb the way coconut oil does.
What are your favorite winter moisturizers? Do you change your beauty routine in the winter same as me? Any tips or tricks for chilling out while keeping warm in the winter?
A couple weeks back, I did a round up here of some of the lifestyle changes I made this past Earth Month. My focus was overall a change in mindset. I had encountered the idea of a zero waste challenge on a fellow blogger's page but doing the same didn't feel practicable for me, at least not with my current responsibilities.
Two toddlers. Three animals. A household of mayhem, etc.
However, that same day, maybe inspired by some of what I'd read, it occurred to me to try an alternative to all those wads of paper towels for picking up our home's infinite balls of animal fur & trails of toddler crumbs. I tried the dustbuster instead. A true lightbulb moment. (Sad or not to say.) It was a small change but an incredibly easy one. Still, it made a big impact on the amount of waste my family created that day. I began to wonder if there were other small ways to reduce our family's waste that simply required conscious thought processes before I unconsciously reached for instantly disposable items. You can read my fellow blogger's much more intense adventure (which I think she ought to turn into a book) here.
While part 1 of my own zero waste experiment focused on the mindset change, part 2 is more about the inexpensive purchases that have helped make waste reduction practicable.
Here are some of my favorite eco purchases that have proven to be inexpensive, easy ways to reduce our family's waste! Plus, they're purtyier than their evil, single-use step-cousins.... win, win! (Sorry I have fairy tales on the mind. I just watched the Royal Wedding on CNN. I find Meghan Markle's humanitarian work (not to mention fashion sense) so inspiring! I promise to control myself and remain very serious-minded for the rest of this very serious post.) Ahem, here, in no particular order, are 5 life-changing eco products that will help you feel like you are saving the world:
1. Reusable Dryer Balls $9.98
These are so cute I hang them on the outside of our laundry closet's door rather than tucking them away as I did with our Bounce dryer sheets. Plus, they're hypoallergenic, smell great, and work perfectly well. I've been using the same ball since I bought the bag, so I think my $9 and my bag of reusable dryer balls will go quite a long way. Here's a link to the $9 ones I bought on Amazon.
2. Reusable Cotton Pads $15.98
A couple months ago, I discovered the eco brand Glossier, and I've been hooked on this magical toner ever since. That also means I've been using and discarding cotton pads every night. It didn't even occur to me how wasteful I was being. A very simple switch it is indeed to begin using washable cotton pads. An added bonus is that they feel softer on the face, more like a facial at a spa! The ones I like also come with this washable laundry bag, although I'm using the little bag for storing the pads as organization is more important than laundry sorting, which I have to do anyway.
3. Reusable Metal Straws $9.99
We use so many straws in our house! Since we've made the switch to metal straws, we've definitely cut back, although it's annoying that so many so-called green places send their drinks with straws or the ways straws come with juiceboxes. We've also used paper straws, which at least have the virtue of disintegrating. Still, it feels good to do something. After all...
"Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day. To understand just how many straws 500 million really is, this would fill over 125 school buses with straws every day. That's 46,400 school buses every year! Americans use these disposable utensils at an average rate of 1.6 straws per person per day."
4. Reusable Utensils Travel Packet $9.99
This kind of falls under the same rubric of reusable straws except a zero-waste friend of mine made an excellent point: why not make a little packet that you take with you everywhere? I already try to remember my reusable bottles and cups, but why not try to bring my own reusable spoon, fork, straw, and napkin all tucked up together? Even if I don't remember all the time, (which I don't sadly) the times I do remember will help me start to cut back on really useless kinds of waste. I've just begun doing this. So far, I've remembered zero times, but that's how I was with my cups too at first, and now I almost always have a cup or bottle with me. The trick there for me was to purchase bottles and cups I really like. On that note, I really like this handy, bamboo travel set for $9.99 or this cool reusable lunchbox set with a bamboo carving board for $24.99 if you pack your own lunches every day.
5. Reusable Tampons $15.95- $29.14
I also listed these in part 1 of this blog series, but I can't stress enough how easy these are to use and what a game-changer they have proven to be in my life and the life of many women. According to the Guardian...
"The average woman uses roughly 11,000 tampons in her lifetime. The time it takes for a tampon or pad to degrade in a landfill is centuries longer than the lifespan of the woman who used it, particularly when wrapped in a plastic wrapper or bag. In addition, the process of manufacturing these products – turning wood pulp into soft, cotton-like fibres – is both resource- and chemical-intensive."
Even though half the population deals with their period every month, there's still a taboo that keeps us from talking about it. The feminine hygeine industry therefore thrives even though there's a cheaper, safer, easier, WAY more eco option available out there: diva cups. Or Luna Cups or Goddess Cups or whichever brand works for you. Just be sure to get an undyed one. Some of the dyed ones are tested on animals. I hope that doesn't make me sound wacky to mention, although I don't really mind sounding wacky. This is why: I could not be a more ordinary woman. I'm a stay-at-home mother who loves Starbucks and shopping. I'm happily married, and we even have one boy and one girl. I love Target, and I have been known to rip a romance novel read in the bath. What I'm saying is: I'm exactly the type of totally ordinary, basic woman who needs to be speaking out. So here goes.
Ladies, GO GET YOURSELVES A DIVA CUP. It is not gross or weird. The environmental savings are huge, but so are the savings on your wallet. It will also make your life infinitely easier. No more leaks. You can sleep through the night if you have a heavier flow. Most of all, it's just common sense: if you wouldn't stick a tampon in your mouth and suck on it because of all the chemicals, WHY would you put a gross, chemical lollipop in your vagina?
I personally love the Diva Cup, but I've heard friends say they prefer other brands like Luna Cup.
Next up for my family is cutting back on paper towel use. A friend recommended we try Norwex Cleaning Cloths. They retail between $14.95- $24.95. These are all easy, inexpensive changes, but I don't want to pretend it's all easy. Paying attention to our waste also brought home the limitations on any real changes we can make. Our worst waste is from food containers, and there's not much we can do about that. Real change is going to have to be institutional. Renée's post does an utterly amazing job delving into the more difficult work necessary to make more lasting changes. I think what I've tried to emphasize is so much of this is simply a change of habit. And these aren't centuries-old habits that we'll have to break! They came about only two generations ago when production values changed. Our great-grandparents and maybe even grandparents did not live like this, and we shouldn't be, either.
I'd love to keep the conversation going below! What are some ways you've learned to cut back on foolish waste in your own lives? (Please no one say "by not wasting time reading this blog!" haha. That said, I've been working very hard at improving this blog the past few weeks, but I always value feedback! Thanks!)
In the outfit above, I'm wearing:
a secondhand Anthropologie skirt. Similar here.
An old Missguided gingham top. Similar here.
A reusable basket from Robertson's Florist. Similar here.
Soludos espadrilles. Available here.
On our way to the flea market last year! We seem to have skipped right over spring this year and gone from the bitterest cold straight to 70 degree weather, so I thought it would be nice to ruminate on the perfect spring (last year's!), the perfect (thrifted!) spring outfit, and the Clover Flea Market-- one of my favorite spring events in Philadelphia.
It was already held in Chestnut Hill this spring, but here are some upcoming dates in and around the city:
Spring 2018 Schedule:
A Slow Fashion Diary