#whatiwore 2018w41 + Sunday links

Here, your little brain attic needs more stuff:

1. Trust your own judgement in aesthetics! Surviving your critics.

2. I’m not sure if this is relevant anymore. It might be that fast fashion collabs with big names has given way to influencer collabs long ago, but still – in 2012 people were writing op-eds on Making The Case Against Fast Fashion Collaborations.

3. A little PSA for those residing in Spain and decluttering: (just in case you were in doubt) you don’t have to keep the boxes of electronics in case the guarantee… the only case when you need the box is to return the recently bought item to get your money back during those 15 days when that can be done. Sources (in Spanish): 1, 2.

4. And to provoke a bit, here you have GoodOnYou asking Is Silk Sustainable? and answering with a suggestion to snack on some crunchy larvae after turning their cocoons into silk. Just to order a bit: Is conventional silk vegan? NO. Can it be? Yes, but it’s more expensive. Would silk worms enjoy high quality of life if we’d just leave them alone? According to human criteria, not really. Is animal welfare the only concern about silk? No, human welfare is also not that cool in conventional silk production, including child labor. Solution? Look through your grandma’s wardrobe or your favorite local vintage shop for second-hand silk.

5. This article is a bit of hodge-podge of data, but the graph of reminding how chemical-intensive is apparel production is nice:

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What I was writing about a year ago: Autumn capsule = 3 months and 7 dresses.

What I was wearing a year ago (see if any items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w41 + Sunday links (looks that a year ago the weather was even more ridiculously balmy).

Another old post you might enjoy: How I pack or #whatiwore 2017w16.

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What are your favorite animal welfare issues? The ones worth talking about? For me, industrial farming is a clear-cut issue: close that shit down and consume maybe a little meat if you are one of those ‘I just can’t quit it’ people, but honey and wool are my new favorite enmeshed issues I have no clear opinion about. They combine animal ‘exploitation’ and husbandry at its best, ha! And it is possible to do it very well and very badly… also, if we end up truly killing off all the bees, we – especially those of us not willing to live only on potatoes, rice, wheat, corn and the New World veggiesare fucked alright. Go, read Generation A.

Beyond repair: sports bra and blue leggings

I have already complained about the surprising downside of a truly small wardrobe: garments worn frequently do wear out! And don’t come to me with ‘but my grandma’s vintage’, nope, if an old garment has reached you, it hasn’t been worn that much. It is true that the fabrics going around nowadays are worse, but one also has to come to terms with the basic physics of friction and wear. And when enough of that happens, no swap will give your garments a new life, it’s just time to say bye-bye!

So to honor the fallen with one final recognition of all their service, this is my new ‘beyond repair’ section to fare proper goodbye. It is also meant to be educational, by the way, as recognizing ‘this just needs a new owner’ from ‘this can be fixed’ from ‘this is textile waste’ is a key task we all need training. You are welcome, my vasilisas separating poppy seeds from sand!

For a contrarian wishing to prove me wrong along the lines of ‘you could still make use of these by creating leg warmers, cutting it up in jersey yarn for chunky knitting, shred it for pillow filling…’ the answer is ‘yes, but only if I would want those recycled objects’. Around the corner there is the DIY falacy. Going back to Nagisa Tatsumi: “the Western custom of making patchwork from old clothes can be helpful [but] on the other hand, if you end up with ten oven mitts in the house, you’re just accumulating something else, so only try idea [of recycling] with clothes that you find very difficult to throw away. You might, for example, like to make a purse or a bag from a kimono or dress your mother used to wear. Changing form and reducing size – it’s another method of disposal”.

I really cannot think of anything I would want out of these discards. I have an upcoming project where I am using this logic of recycling, though, so stay tuned to the Fix it! section.

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The sports bra

Karrimor, bought new in 2015, unknown production place (all tags have washed off by now) but bad enough, unknown fabric mix bu very synthetic, of course, countless wears – this bra should have at least a yoga teacher certificate by now.

This sports bra has been my sports and lounge buddy for more than 3 years because of its fit. On a typical workday I’d take off the underwire bra and change into this one to proceed with errands and home life. Depending on necklines I’d also try to sneak it into work. And travel. Fun fact: I bought a Nike one the same day and gave it away soon after, as that one kept hurting my neck and containing the body parts it was supposed to contain.

So by now it was a trusted friend receiving weekly washes and countless stretches… and it shows. The elastic stops being elastic after a while. And some piling happens. Up till recently I was also going to say that smells accumulate (synthetics + underboob sweat = not cool, who knew?!), but my mother in law washed it while we were visiting her in September and did some magic (I suspect that higher temperatures combined with a fabric softener did the trick), so it actually doesn’t smell anymore.

The problem, of course, was to replace it properly. I knew that I needed such garment. And – after the Nike fail – I knew that it wasn’t necessarily that easy. The fear of failure was so big, I actually shared it as one of my sustainable living decision fatigues. And then some Internet magic happened: a stranger on FB suggested the thing that looked like exactly what I was looking for. I’ve had my People Tree Yoga Crop Top for a week now, so I can let go of the old one. Thank you so much, little sports bra!

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Blue leggings

ZIB, a 2015 gift from my mom, made in Latvia, 92% viscose 8% elastane, 100+ wears.

Ugh, this one is hard. That brilliant blue color! That soft-soft viscose! I love these leggings, and they are worn to bits. And I am so falling for the ‘but they are soooo comfy, I’ll just wear them at home and nobody will know’. They are worn out – check your jersey against light, by the way, if you see streaks of light it means that all that elastane has long said bye-bye! – discolored, and breaking at the waist. I know myself all too well: unless I throw them out, there will be days when I’ll wear them to work. And then feel inadequate. So I needed to make a post about them and to solemnly swear that I am up to no good will deposit them in the textile trash. And I will get a couple of new ones.

Although ZIB people have never expressed wishes to join the sustainability revolution by switching to organic cotton mixes or disclosing where the textiles come from… they actually produce a shitload of summer styles in questionable synthetic mixes, one of the great mysteries of fashion design! But the leggings are cool: high waist, long legs (I usually cut mine a notch shorter), original screen printed patterns, made in Latvia. I’ve had 10+ of them by now and I’m repeating.

The decision to be brave and honest (the amount of drama surrounding one pair of worn-out leggings, really!) about this one is especially sad because I was truly looking forward to getting away with wearing pajamas to work this winter, like so:

But then again, here is an inside look (also, one of the weirdest photos I’ve ever made):

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Are you secretly keeping something too ratty for anybody to see? Do you actually wear it at home? Or have you tossed something of this kind recently: so perfectly worn in that it has to go already?

#whatiwore 2018w40 + Sunday links

And a spoonful to maintain the highbrow credentials:

1. When classics talk about frugality, contentment, and how growing income tends to expand desire for consumption: Regrets for my Old Dressing Gown, or A warning to those who have more taste than fortune, a Denis Diderot essay from 1769.

2. On modern art: $1.4 Million Banksy Painting Shredded Immediately After Auction, So What? and Banksy’s Shredded Art Piece Is the World’s First Created During Live Auction.

3. Sometimes style advice for men is much better done (and useful for pretty much everybody): Six Suggestions For Developing Personal Style.

4. Yes, your hate of social media makes all the sense in the world: 10 Things Instagram Users Probably Don’t Know About Instagram (and its Use of Your Photos). Also, More Than Merely a Downtime Activity, We are Addicted to Social Media “Likes” and Instagram is supposed to be friendly. So why is it making people so miserable?

5. And for general education: How Russia Helped Swing the Election for Trump.

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What I was writing about a year ago: September Clothes’ Swap Recap.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w40 + Sunday links.

Other old posts you might enjoy: Is There a Winter in Barcelona? A Winter 2017 recap and To All New Arrivals (Winter 2017), We Love You.

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What have you learnt lately? Anything I should read? Where is the world going?

After 9 months of the big spreadsheet

Another 3 months have passed and here is an update on my big spreadsheet. If you are new to this, between 2014 and 2017 I was doing season capsules of stashing away the ‘unseasonal’ items and doing the whole ritual of ‘seasonal change’ every couple of months while tracking the number of wears. And then it felt like too much fuss… So I stuck with tracking without doing the ‘now you go away’ ritual and having all my wardrobe hanging in my wardrobe throughout the year. Here is the outset post, here the 3-month update and here the 6-month update.

The point is that the pieces I won’t have worn that much by next January will need a serious meditation about their role in my wardrobe. The biggest issue is my Riga mini-capsule of stuff I keep there for when I visit, so that I wouldn’t have to throw my hard-earned euros at checked-in luggages. It’s already streamlined down to formalwear, loungewear and winterwear, but still feels wastefulll as the frequency of my visits fluctuate and in 2018 they have been very scarce: only January and February and then nothing until December. Items of special doubt: the Nokian Hai rainboots (2016) that I’ve worn so little and Blanco harem pants (2010) that I use mostly as loungewear in Riga. Oh, will see in January… and whatever life will be after defending my thesis.

So here you have the wardrobe heroes by categories in 2018 so far with the number of wears January through September in parenthesis:

Layers

Most worn: my mom’s gray hand-me-down cardigan (47) because in summer it’s my AC saver in the office.

Runner-ups: Julie’s cardigan (45) and the red flea sweater (41).

Worn the least (unchanged since July): The floral courduroy bolero (2) – it’s fancy and in Rīga, works very well (although takes it slightly over the top) with the HnM sweetheart dress, but not casual enough for every day even by my very lax standards.

Dresses

Most worn: my mom’s dark blue silk dress (31).

Runner-ups: The second-hand kaftan (21) and my mom’s hand-me-down MnS dress (19).

Worn the least (unchanged since July): The HnM sweetheart dress (3) – again, it’s a party garment and lives in Rīga so that I would have a mainstay for all family celebrations and opera. Feels like a bit of a waste but I’ve had it since 2008, so it has to be somewhere in vicinity of those #30wears. Also, this February I finally found a nice way to dress it down a bit, this.

Tops

Most worn (still): The demon t-shirt (48). I can only repeat that: “This is weird, because I don’t have a feeling that I’ve worn it that much. Here, a proof that my memory and perception of frequency of wear cannot be trusted!”

Runner-ups: The swap Forever 21 t-shirt (37) and my mom’s hand-me-down little white zipper blouse (33) that was so worn out that we had to part ways.

Worn the least: The second-hand Zara lace top. I bought it (!) on September 19, so this is a statistical artifact, we’ll see how it goes from now on.

Bottoms

Most worn: My mom’s hand-mw down shorts (57). The secret here is that I wear them as shorts and as underwear/chub-rub prevention under skirts or dresses, so these shorts get a lot of summer wears. Also, they are very comfy.

Runner-ups: ZIB black leave leggings (46) and Liisa’s velvet skater skirt (32).

Worn the least: The swap HnM striped mini (15) because they were in Riga during the spring for a fix and then were left unworn because summer is not their season: very short for bicycling without tights, too chaffing for summer walks.

Footwear

Most worn: Birks (107).

Runner-ups: Arcopedico wedges (93) and Veja Wata (81).

Worn the least (unchanged since July): Nokian Hai wellingtons (1) – they live in Rīga and are rainboots. I keep wondering if bringing them to Barcelona could be a good idea…

Adornments

This summer was hard for adornments: everything felt choking and too much. And my ears keep inflaming with any other earrings but the little farmacy studs. Let’s see if autumn brings back some joy of adorning!

Most worn: The red wooden necklace (26).

Runner-ups: Jēkabs necklace (25) and Ban.do headband (15).

Worn the least: The flower ball headband (7) – I rescued it from the Rīga wardrobe and we had a great time together in London, but then in Barcelona I find it hard to wear. And the bicycle-headband incompatibility (the wind!) doesn’t help.

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Have has your wardrobe fared in these nine months of 2018? Do you think you have worn all that you have? Have you tried any kind of wardrobe tracking? Are you anywhere close the optimal wardrobe?

#whatiwore 2018w39 + Sunday links

Here, feed the gray cells:

1. Because in moments of low spirit I like old and wise people telling me that ‘it’s pragmatic to be optimistic [because you going one with a cause might as well be turning it into a self-fulfilling prophecy towards success]’ – Conversations with History: Howard Zinn. Who was Howard Zinn?

2. When fashion gets even faster – Super Nova: Fashion Nova gives the people what they want, and what they want is very tight. Interesting question, though, about the ‘redeeming’ quality of body inclusiveness and the unmentioned contrast with very ‘white’ aesthetics of most sustainable fashion brands.

3. I’m a sucker for proper England/New England preppy, so here is some menswear eye candy: Drake’s Goes Collegiate.

4. ‘Made in EU’ or ‘Made in Italy’ (or any other EU country) does not necessarily mean rosy working conditions, just so you know: The NYT On Italy’s Invisible Labor Class and (the actual piece) Inside Italy’s Shadow Economy.

5. And the plastic shit that will haunt us forever… Plastic Soup + Your Synthetic Clothes Are Hurting The Environment + More than ever, our clothes are made of plastic. Just washing them can pollute the oceans. Point for reflection: much of synthetics consumption in more sustainable circles is driven by the fitness culture, as exercising in natural fabrics is so paseé… them not being ‘performance fabrics’. And synthetics pick up smells, so the urge to was them is more intense. And then you have the heaps of fast fashion poly, see the Fashion Nova piece above or Material Guide: How Sustainable is Polyester?

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What I was writing about a year ago: Summer 2017 capsule ins and outs.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w39 + Sunday links.

Anther old post you might enjoy: Constant Gardener: Edit your wardrobe!

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When you think a year back from now (or go back to your spreadsheets, wink-wink), how different is your wardrobe now? How much of what you are wearing now were in rotation a year ago? Has your style changed? Your needs and lifestyle? Or garments just wore out?

Fix it! WAG skirt and lace undershirt

I started to learn to do proper textile stuff last year. And only now I’m finally starting to grasp – in tiniest baby steps – the basics of garment construction and textile properties. So this is a section of ‘look what I did to make this garment work better for me’ or ‘…to prolong its lifespan’. This post is a double feature of a skirt I had to adjust due to reality of bodies (ehm, too tight waist) and a little blouse/undershirt that had been dangerously worn out, i.e. more wears could push it over the edge of unfixable.

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WAG skirt

Careful readers of this blog know my ambiguous relationship with the WAG set all to well. It was an impulse buy last November in South Africa (see the money report here) and it has taken 10 months to finally tame it. Apart from loud print and attention-seeking (at least in places overtaken by the casual revolution) cut, the skirt was held above the natural waistline by a tight rubber band… which worked well when trying it on and walking upright, but became impossibly tight when sitting for a while or after a meal.

The original waist with rubber holding together the back:

So in consultation with my sewing guru Carmen at Opció Taller, we decided she suggested and I trusted her expertise to take out the rubber and then see if the waist needed any taking in afterwards. It was pick-pick-pick time to unravel all the seams that contained the waistband…

We discovered that the un-scrunched waistline was a bit too wide, and – (a) to avoid redoing the whole piece, (b) because the patterned fabric is very generous with these kind of shortcuts, and (c) because I was eager to wear this skirt already (before the season ends) – opted for just making two tucks in the back part of the waistband, in line with the original tucks of the skirt part. You can see them if you squint a bit:

I still have to go over the opened part with a zigzag stitch, but the skirt has been in happy rotation ever since I fixed the waist. The new waist is not pushing on of my ribs or any vital organs and it’s lower, leading to an unexpected thing: I am baring my midriff when wearing the whole set now. If before I had the ‘dress effect’, now it’s ‘look, my tummy’ effect. I’m hoping to be channeling some of this Sartorialist attitude, although some Swap bloopers showed that it can also be quite ‘unflattering’. Oh, well, I just keep telling the ‘you’re fat’ monsters off with ‘I’ll eat you too’… As now I can eat all I want while wearing this skirt! And it has pockets.

There is always the ‘risk’ that I would lose weight or gain even more, but having done this fix, I know that there are options to both take it in more or let it out. So this skirt is here to stay, #30wears and counting.

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The lace undershirt

The jury is still out on if this is a proper garment or a replica of an undergarment from 100 years ago… I got it in 2012 from my mom who has a penchant for little white blouses, and have been wearing it as a modesty garment in winter (who is the genius that keeps producing heavy jersey dresses with deep decolletages?) and as the lightest possible blouse during Barcelona summers. The fabric composition tag has been cut off long ago, but it has a very cotton-y feel and is suboptimal as a winter undergarment because of that as the sweat just stays there and makes me cold. Despite that, this little garment has a solid place in my wardrobe fulfilling a double function, and the possibility to wear the purple jersey dress with dignity hinges on it.

In summer:

In winter:

So imagine my horror when sometime this spring I discovered that the right armpit was falling apart, and I couldn’t think of a solid solution to the problem, as just stitching it over would not stop the tearing:

My ideas revolved around patching it on the inside and doing a lace applique on top but the garment is so light that anything I could imagine felt too much and closer to destroying it than resuscitating… Enter Carmen, my fairy godmother of sewing at Opció Taller! Yes, all the fix series are dedicated to her because I wouldn’t have achieved this level of satisfaction without her guidance. I would have either fucked it up on my own or given it to the fast sewing shop ladies who don’t necessarily care about my stuff . After a session of brainstorming about lace patches, their placement and possibilities to dye lace in black tea to get the right shade of this weird off-white, Carmen found just the right thing in one of her magical notions boxes: stand alone lace flowers in exactly the shade I needed.

Then it was my first contact with interfacing fabric (to secure the hole before darning over it), many little stitches and ta-dah! It’s now a cute demure detail nobody will really notice, the blouse has been saved and I have learnt a couple of new tricks. A complete win.


And the whole outfit! You cannot see either of the interventions, but I know that they are there, and having been able to make both these garments wearable again fills me with pride and satisfaction.

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Have you done any life-giving fixes recently? Made any garments? Or is there something you would like to fix and don’t know how to?

#whatiwore 2018w38 + Sunday links

Feed the bra-a-a-a-ain…

1. A little altar to Alexandra Elbakyan: Meet the woman who put 50 million stolen articles online so you can read them for free (2016), Science’s pirate queen (2018), Honourable Theft (2018).

2. So, “the government in Bangladesh raised the minimum wage by more than 50 percent last week, the first increase in wages since 2013 [and] garment workers and union organizers are outraged” because it’s still so below any reasonable living standard: Bangladeshi Garment Workers, Unions Say New Minimum Wage is a “Cruel Joke,” Call On Brands to Pay More.

3. One of those happy here-is-an-exciting-innovation-but-we’ll-see if-you-ever-hear-about-it-being-scaled-up-after-all-this-publicity news: Wrangler Implements Potentially Revolutionary ‘Dry Indigo’ Foam-Dye Tech. Not that innovation in dyeing is impossible, just that dyeing also rivers in faraway places is cheaper… and nobody was bothered until now.

4. Just to be clear: if you see a cheap-ish virgin cashmere garment, you do not want it! Why? Tragedy of the Common Cashmere.

5. I never bought into the skinny pant obsession, so I find this list hilarious and very true: Practical Reasons to Wear Wide-Leg Pants. After all, what is a skirt if not one very practical garment with one wide-leg?

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What I was writing about a year ago: Six months of blogging and adjusting expectations.

What I was wearing a year ago (see if any items coincide): #whatiwore 2017w38.

Anther old post you might enjoy: Journey on Hobbit feet.

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What are the trends or must-have garments that you never understood? Is there a garment you’d happily start a boycott of? And was there anything you thought impossible once and then ended up wearing? Remember, around 10 years ago there was the whole thing how leggings were not pants? And then we just accepted it somehow… I still struggle, but I will concede that once you see something a zillion times it imprints in your brain as normal.

September Swap (7th!) recap

The 7th Swap I’ve organized – marking two years since the first one – came and passed, leaving many people with new-to-them garments and me thinking. Hold on, because this won’t be an uplifting one.

A) I got less joy out of this Swap than ever before. Is it because it’s not new? Is it because I didn’t find anything that I was looking for? Or is it that I was just too tired? I do think that I’ve got too hung up on how the event should run, so spending Friday shopping and cooking seems normal. Yes, that’s correct: prior to a Swap I – the person supposedly employed full time to write her PhD thesis – take a day off to prepare the food. It started with ‘let’s give people snacks’ turning into ‘vegan tortilla would be great’ and now suddenly the norm is tortilla, brownies, fruit, and more things… I should really rethink this, as I’m clearly shoulding all over myself and making another time squeeze out of ‘apart from organizing the Swap, I should also feed people, and it should be wholesome, homemade and vegan, of course’. In case you were coming just for the brownie, stay tuned, because it might not be there in December

The other reason for tiredness was that exactly the night before I gave a Skype lecture to Liliana’s students at Mexicali CETYS. It was a great experience, but meant intense preparation and some anxiety, especially about the technical side of the event. Here you can see my YouTube back-up of that lecture (in Spanish). So I wasn’t at my netal and physical best, but…

It is still the case that even under ‘normal’ conditions it takes a lot of work, carried out overwhelmingly by myself and by enlisting C’s unwilling support when I truly cannot manage it on my own. The basic to-do list includes: 0) spamming like crazy about the event through blog and FB weeks in advance, trying to think of new things to say and more people to reach, (1) bringing the leftovers to Ateneu on Thursday or Friday (because it it physically impossible to take that suitcase and all other stuff that needs bringing in one one-person haul), (2) shopping which might involve several different places (Casa Perris for chickpea flour, Mercadona for pistachios, Casa Ametller for chard, etc.), (3) sometimes bringing the clothes rack from Patricia’s home to Ateneu if she can’t make it early Saturday morning, (4) making the tortilla, (5) making the brownie, (6) washing fruit and tomatoes, putting snacks in containers, (7) running through the check-list to make sure that there is tape, scissors, tea towels, sharpies, curtains, water filter, etc., (8) packing it all and bringing to Ateneu… (9) taking the photos during the event while (10) making sure that the music is on, that everybody is happy and knows how this works, where the bar, ice, bathroom is… and after the event (11) making sure that everything is tip-top at Ateneu and that they have earned some money out of the event and that nobody will have to clean up or repair anything after us, (12) dragging back home all my stuff and the leftovers, (13) washing up, laundering the curtains and putting things back at my place, (14) picking up the leftovers not selected for the next Swap and bringing them to Banc Expropriat. And (15) making a cheerful recap post and starting to promote the next event. December 1, btw!

Already typing the list makes me nauseous. And dreadful of the next event.

This is just the basic checklist for point 7 above!

I have got some help for almost every event, and I am truly grateful to those people – C, Liisa, Mara, Coco, Margarita, Patricia, Chus, Aina, Roraima – but they are typically there only on the day of Swap and also often require additional coordination… Nope, delegating is not what I am good at. Controlling is, ugh. Also, I have trust issues, the stupid ‘if you want to make sure that it is done well, do it yourself’. And it turns out to be much harder to mobilize somebody for half an hour on Monday evening to bring the leftovers to Banc Expropriat than to have them hang around after the event.

Another character flaw of mine in relation to this is dismissing people’s gratefulness during the event exactly due to this twisted thinking of ‘dude, you have no idea about the amount of work that went into this’. The pure gratitude, no matter how heartfelt, does not registrate with me. No, share the event on your FB wall repeatedly, consume from Ateneu’s bar, leave me a tip, volunteer to cook for the event, to set it up, to wrap it up, to bring the leftovers to Banc Expropriat, to keep the ‘seed’ leftovers at your place… Now we are talking!

B) I had a fantasy of creating a whole natural fiber corner, which is impossible unless you have somebody curating in it real time… and then, when dragging heavy bags of leftovers from the previous Swap, sweared I would take no leftovers ever again.

Both of these somehow merged into a new leftovers policy: keep only 100% natural or regenerated fabrics in good condition with intact fabric composition tags. No synthetic mixes, no pure plastic garments, no cut off tags. That was an interesting experience, that turned into a 3-in-1! A unified criterion for selection was nice, as previously there had been some clashes of ‘who the hell thought that this was worth keeping?’ And there were many exclamations from the wrapping-up volunteers along the lines of ‘yes, something, finally!’ and ‘not even 97% cotton?’ turning the into into an education event of developing the hand for natural fibers and raising awareness of how little there is going around in our events. And there was less for me to carry home. Win-win-win.

My ‘girl who moves house with a bird in her hair’ Saturday morning pre-Swap selfies from February and September.

C) Which brings us to the quality of the garments swapped… I’m only half-joking when I speak of swaps as immediate karma, because – statistically speaking – you are bound to get back exactly what you brought, as there is no other place where the garments will come from. And if somebody had any doubts about fast fashion and our life being an abundance of poorly made mixed-fiber garments, swing by on December 1 and you’ll see! there are several reasons: (1) That is what our wardrobes are made of! My key audience is young and more or less precarious women. This is what we have. Even more, (2) these are the discarded garments! Supposedly the better ones stayed in the wardrobe. People consistently overestimate the state of their clothing, so the discards tend toward truly worn-out, truly ugly, and truly irreparable. Also, (4) the magical line between ‘this is swappable’ and ‘this is textile waste’ still eludes people. So by the end of the vent we have piles elbow-deep of garments that nobody wants. I’d prefer less but better.

(The disclaimer here is that I truly see only the leftovers, as during the event I’m too busy with parts of the to-do list mentioned above to calmly browse through things. So unless something really jumps at me or an attentive friend picks out things for me because they’ve memorized my wishlist – I owe my best-slippers-ever and winter gloves to Margareta, btw – I go through garments only during the wrapping-up or at home after the event. I truly hope)

D) The quality of discards brings us to me passing the buck then to Banc Expropriat. First, every time there are rumours of them being evicted again from the public property they are squatting. So I get extra anxiety of ‘will I go there and find it closed forever?’ with all the leftover bags that Ateneu couldn’t be more eager to get rid of as they occupy valuable space. Second, the Sphinx-like faces of the ladies that run the Botiga Gratis still leave it unclear if bringing stuff is a good or a bad thing for them. I’ve teased out thus far that they hate Roba Amiga because ‘they resell donations’, although unfortunately that’s true only for a fraction of what they get due to poor quality and people not really buying that much. At the same time the backroom of Botiga Gratis is full of bags of clothing, indicating that also they are inundated by the same abundance as second-hand shops. I really want to research that place and its dynamics in depth once I hand in the thesis…

Bags, bags, bags of garments nobody wanted.

E) I had nothing to swap away. This is new and weird. In principle the expected result after 4 years of curating, but weird still… What left our household were C’s windbreaker and jeans, Marina’s backpack and leggings my mom passed on to me but I ended up not really liking them:

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At the end I did calm down, rested, went through the leftovers and picked for myself a little bright summer loungewear garment… but the doubt (and wish to improve the experience for myself) stays. What would your advice be? What would you change if you were me? What would you drop? Or what additional help would you ask for?

#whatiwore 2018w37 + Sunday links

Brain food for everybody:

1. Just for fun, a reinterpretation of the Hans Christian Andersen classic: Be kind to your tailors. And if you want a more serious reinterpretation, Clarissa is here to help: The Dangerous Old Woman, parts one and two.

2. A weird article linking casual dressing and loss of humility understood as empathy: Dress Up. What we lost in the Casual Revolution.

3. And a couple of articles on the casual revolution in tennis, this sporty mix of class and fashion: The Most Fashionable Rivalries in Men’s Tennis and The Tennis Dress Code Racket.

4. And in the feminist news of the industry: Female-Focused Manual Workwear Is Still an Emerging, But Also Evolving, Market.

5. I cannot resist the idea of completely locally produced clothing. And here you have somebody actually doing it: Rebecca Burgess, the founder of Fibershed, at Conscious Chatter podcast Episode 118 | Fibershed + Regenerative Textile Systems.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Summer 2017 capsule heroes and lessons learned.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2017w37. This is the rare occasion when no garments coincide, as a year ago it was the Mykonos edition and this week was clearly the week of the WAG set.

Anther old post you might enjoy: My minimalist well-being routine.

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While I’m not doing formal seasonal capsules anymore, I sill think in seasons… and this one is getting a bit too long. Are you in the autumn mode already? Or is it a summer forever for you too? By now I am craving scarves and cardigans.

1.5 years of blogging and adjusting expectations

Different from previous blogging-versary posts, this contains very limited amount of what George Carlin would have called ‘free floating hostility’. If you want more on what’s wrong with fashion and internets, here: Six months of blogging and adjusting expectations and A year of blogging and adjusting expectations.

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As you can see above, the visitor stats have improved in comparison with my n00b year. In these 8 months of 2018 there have been twice as much visitors as in the ten first months of the blog that fell in 2017. It’s still, of course, nothing in comparison of what proper influencers get, but I’m happy to see that there is some payoff. And I can see a high correlation between me promoting the content and people actually coming over, so that’s the double-edged sword I’m now trying to tame: my work here is recognized at least with some interest, but every time I leave the blog a bit off – for thesis or any other reasons – I feel guilty, because of all the action I am missing.

As I plan my posts weekly, I’m also used to looking at stats as weekly columns. The best week – and also month – stats-wise on this blog was in February when Archana misspelled my name but linked to #100wears. That brought in 200+ visitors in that week, and this meager number clears up how quiet it gets here. In weeks I’ve been off-ish, less than 40 weekly visitors is a normal thing. Around 100 feels great and busy!

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I recently went through a lot of past posts while preparing Swap masterpost, or all the resources so far, and I am happy to admit that at least I am happy with my content. I really like it. So I am acing at least the ‘I’m writing this blog for myself’ section. And in June I wrote the so far longest post that I am immensely proud of: Body positivity, the average user’s guide. It’s also funny that it is only so marginally about fashion and completely not about material sustainability…

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Post length in general has been fluctuating. The graph below suggests a slight increase, the 2017 shortest Wednesday post was 293 words and the longest – 1806. So far in 2018 the shortest Wednesday post has been 322 and longest – 3180 words. And Sunday posts have gained word count since I started to do link lists below #wiw photos. At the total over 100k words on this blog, I really wish I’d write my thesis at such speed.

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And now, a list of annoying things I’ve noticed around the internets:

(I’m not being constructive here, mind you, this is just hate)

A) Wedding dresses + and the whole idea of buying something new for a specific event, maybe wearing it only once, and fretting that ‘these people have already seen me in this outfit’. Not to even go into the idea of ‘that one special day in your life’ that you have to find the right dress for… Meh. But I’m weird that way, we already went over that: My take on “formal” and dressing up out of a capsule.

B) Cookbooks. Those are obsolete. A recipe book will never deliver what internet has, so why not just give up with dignity? In an era when I expect dozens of photos from all angles documenting the preparation, searchable indexes, google-able ‘what can I replace x with’, and even videos, not to mention hundreds of versions of the same dish available, why would I want a set book with one photo at most?

C) And a similarly absurd idea: magazines. Especially fashion and lifestyle magazines. How can such businesses survive while printing the same year after year? And why would I want to give my money for a solid copy of assorted articles that somebody else curated just to then throw it away? Or, worse, hoard for years? Again, the internets…

D) Making a problem out of laundry routines… what’s complicated about it? Maybe I’m too into professional organizer internet circles, but the fact that there are whole posts dedicated to this issue treating laundry as this great chore that needs planning and separating ‘folding’ as a separate one is confusing. Not mention people having ‘laundry rooms’. I brush this off as an American thing, result of too much space, too many children, too much free time, and an obsession with germs. Explain it to me if there’s anything else going on!

A note on my perspective: (a) We didn’t have a washing machine until I was 11 or so, my grandma worked at a kindergarten and would just use their facilities after work (once every two weeks, I guess?) to her laundry in that more advanced setting. (b) I was a cloth nappy child too, not because my mother was zero-waste, but because industrial diapers did not exist in Soviet Latvia in 1988, so boiling a pot of nappies on the stove top was a normal thing. Also, potty training took much shorter time. (c) As for drying, line drying, either outside, even in winter – sheets that have been drying outside in winter smell amazing, btw – or inside is the only thing I’ve known in my 30 years, except for 6 months in Brussels where I was using a launderette and in my mini-studio there was no space and a humidity problem that prevented line drying. (d) The only person in Latvia I know that for sure has a dryer – and enough reasons to have one – is a friend that has three small children. She  described getting one as such a liberating experience that I do recognize that it can be a good idea… (e) As for us, we typically do three loads a week, two of clothing (cold and 60º) and one of tea towels and other linen (60º). We line-dry on the roof of our building or sometimes on the balcony using a little drying rack. I’m the one making an event out of this for the 10 minutes I dedicate to KonMari folding the tea-towels (like this!). The only planning involved – that often goes meh – is trying to not to have laundry up on the roof during a torrential rainfall or during the top summer heat hours… Where’s the mystery? More on laundry: Breathe deeply, it’s clean enough and Yes, there are garments that I’ve never washed.

E) The list of ‘basics’ that everybody needs. Nope, I’m my own person, thank you very much! And what’s the idea? That the reader of such crap will just throw out all the stuff she has and run out to get her Breton stripes and trench coat? F*ck off.

F) Trends in general. How the fuck dare you to tell me that now my bolero is so very out and those ugly mom jeans are in? Nope.

G) 1980s and 1990s looks. Nope. I lived through oversize sweaters in clashing colors, shoulder pads, and weirdly shaped pants when I was a child. Never again.

H) Curating your feeds with other people’s stuff. Ugh! Not cool. I do get the desire for a visual identity on IG, but just re-posting other’s pretty stuff is… dumb. And false advertising, imho. That’s what Pinterest is for. And I’m talking about credited work, of course, once you read the captions. Blatant stealing is a whole another hell.

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See, at least for this kind of venting the blog is accomplishing all I could ask for. Let’s see if this shit ever comes back to haunt me… as I’ve already dismissed as idiotic all the ways how people make money from blogs. What internet stuff do you hate?

#whatiwore 2018w36 + Sunday links

A random update on… self care: Wednesday (btw, most weeks the outfits go in chronological order Monday to Friday) was difficult for some reason, so I wore a crumply garment with a hole to work, because that was the only thing I did not totally abhor at that moment. The poor old kaftan is really disintegrating – seems that a #100wears feature just destroys garments – but it was either that or staying naked at home. So, in case you need this sometime, take this as my permission slip to be sub-optimally put together if need be. Clothing are just drag anyway. Do what you have to do ♥.

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And, here, have a spoonful for the brain:

1. In line with my Wednesday mood, in defense of not being too polished: Fear Not the Rumples and Sang Froid in American Style, both focused on menswear while I’d say that womenswear need such chillax even more. Although my version of chill is much more chill then what the authors suggest…

2. And the other side of the dress-up / dress-down tension for those who want to dress up but have ‘nowhere to go’ and fear judgement: Put On Your Happy Suit and (a Reddit thread) I love to dress up, but I have nowhere to go…

3. On how much of what you might believe about the prehistorical social structures might be wrong: How to change the course of human history (at least, the part that’s already happened).

4. Have you ever stumbled across just the thing you wanted – a book, movie, album, item – and then just couldn’t get it (because they would not ship, or stream, or it’s out of print, etc.)? I had just that disappointment when reading Fashion Is “an Extremely Wealthy Industry Founded on Unpaid Work” over at The Fashion Law describing a qualitative research book by Giulia Mensitieri… just to discover, as far as I’ve been able to google, that the book only exists in French – Le plus beau métier du monde: Dans les coulisses de l’industrie de la mode. My French is not that good…

5. And a bit on creative work and showing up inspo, in line with the Ira Glass quote below, Be Friends with Failure by Stephen McCranie.

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What I was writing about a year ago: (in perfect synchronization) September swap + my outgoing pieces.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w36.

Anther old post you might enjoy: Style ebb and flow, me and others.

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When do you – if ever – relax the requirements for put-togetherness? I know that sometimes and for some people it actually might work the other way around: that getting put-together on the outside does a bit for the inside too. Are you one of those?

Fix it! Liisa bag and swap t-shirt

I started to learn to do proper textile stuff last year. And only now I’m finally starting to grasp – in tiniest baby steps – the basics of garment construction and textile properties. So this is a section of ‘look what I did to make this garment work better for me’ or ‘…to prolong its lifespan’. This post is a double feature of a garment that was technically perfectly fine but didn’t feel right and a basic 3-minute fix of a jersey fail that happens all the time.

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Liisa bag + Ezra W. Smith embroidery

In the beginning of 2018 Liisa made a gift for me: this little cross-body bag! Nice size, careful design, sturdy construction… and a print of a minion and Pusheen. Which showed her intimate knowledge of my Facebook sticker favorites and overestimation of my desire to express those in public. But I wanted to wear it! Reason 1: my dear friend made it! Reason 2: my only small bag here in Barcelona has chain strap that stains light garments, so a bag that would not entail sink washing my tops after every wear could be nice.


Also, the very technique of printing gave an impression of not lasting. Marina wore it for the week she was in Barcelona in July and the subsequent wash left it looking like this. I also have to admit that I didn’t care if this applique would be destroyed… because I had a plan.

Being an active insta-stalker of Ezra W. Smith I saw an opportunity to spend my hard-earned euros on embroidery by her. Also, I could explain my wish to spend 100€ on an 13 x 15 cm patch with #girlssupportinggirls. Best cure for buyer’s guilt is to wrap it in feminism! We talked back and forth about the content of the embroidery (carps, foxes and great tits were among the options) and settled on an owl. This was the photo she worked from, and this is the result:

As we had agreed that the most reasonable way to do this was for her to make a patch and to me to sew it on, I got some practice at invisible stitches. My initial plan was to create a definite border with bias ribbon or something (like this), but my sewing guru, Carmen from Opció Taller, convinced me that such artwork needed the least intervention possible. She was right, and here it is, complete with an ironic Tate Modern pin that says ‘oil painting’, as it should be!

The only weird thing about this endeavor has been that just around when I was carrying out this transaction, Liisa launched hEdgy Crafts doing, among other, embroidery, even of owls. I have already asked for forgiveness for having intervened her artwork… but the uneasiness stays. But at least now I have an easy-wear cross-body bag. While I’m not planning to put it in the washing machine ever again, the embroidery is keeping up very well so far, especially taking into account my usual carelessness with things.

So here you have before and after:

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And here is the little basic jersey hole, as promised. My February swap t-shirt got a hole and I did my best to gather the sides and contain it. The internet is full of how-tos, here’s just two of them: How to Repair a Hole in a T-Shirt and Fix It Friday – Holes in Jersey Material.

Before:

After:

After (reverse):

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Have you done any life-giving fixes recently? Made any garments? Or is there something you would like to fix and don’t know how?

#whatiwore 2018w35 + Sunday links

Your brain will thank you:

1. When a retail giant tries to clean up their act, it’s very complicated to begin with: Walmart Tried To Make Sustainability Affordable. Here’s What Happened.

2. The fashion industry cannot continue doing the same fast fashion thing. And changes needed are massive, not just tweaks in design, dyes or packaging. St. Kate dixit: Towards a future framework for fashion + how ‘greener’ fashion is not really changing much as far as the paradigm stays the same: A dizzying spin on green growth.

3. The fascinating topic on why are we as species so bad at understanding climate shit of our own making: Your brain on climate change: why the threat produces apathy, not action + Climate Change, Disbelief, and the Collision between Human and Geologic Time + European perceptions about climate change + Climate change and ideology.

4. Ha! You and me already knew that women’s fashion is pocket-challenged. Here are some people who actually went out and measured the differences. And I made a Pinterest board dedicated to the topic.

5. Archana’s post on house plants was probably meant to inspire… kind of scared me instead. I sometimes forget that plants are people too. However, I did my first-ever replant this weekend of the jade plant (?) the previous tenant had left behind. It is knotty and used to abandonment, but at least it has more space and a properly holed pot now:

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What I was writing about a year ago: #100wears: The Red Denim Jacket.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w35 + Sunday links.

Anther old post you might enjoy: Baby Steps: Detoxing A Wardrobe Takes Time.

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Do you have green thumbs? Or at least try to develop them? Or has the plant fashion filling Instagram left you indifferent?

Swap masterpost, or all the resources so far

Another swap is coming! It has been too long… And always trying to improve our common experience swapping, here I have gathered all swap-related posts so far, hopefully useful for both first-timers and swap fans alike.

In my head there are two sides to swap prep for an un-customer. If your job is to show up and participate – which is a great job and without you there wouldn’t be an event – there are two questions you have to have answers to: (a) what am I taking to the swap? and (b) what do I want to bring home from the swap?

Step 0: Knowing what will happen

If this is your first swap, you want to know the rules of the game! There are many ways to exchange garments, so make sure you are in tune with the event you are going to. Important questions include the level of formality of the swap, if somebody else checks the garments for admittance, it there is a strict brought-1-take-1 policy in place. Of course, there will always be people happy to explain you the event in situ, but at least I appreciate prior knowledge before stepping into something new. And it is good to know these things when selecting what to bring to the swap. So these are all posts about swaps and lessons learnt in chronological order:

February 2017: Why We Swap and How.

October 2017: September Clothes’ Swap Recap.

February 2018: February (5th!) Clothes’ Swap Recap.

May 2018: May (6th!) Clothes’ Swap Recap.

Step 1: Vision building

Now back to you! Having a clear vision on how you want to dress helps a lot, both for editing the exisiting (the key question being ‘does the future me wants to wear that?’) and in moments when the Swap is flooding you with garments you never wanted that suddenly look kind of cute: Vision-building for your wardrobe.

Step 2: Editing

Preparation for a swap is a very good reason to take a good look on what you already have and see if there are garments that no longer fit your body, your style, your life. The internets will offer you a million ways to do a wardrobe revision, here you have my proposals: Constant Gardener: Edit your wardrobe! and Wardrobe pruning for minimalists: KonMari stairway to heaven.

Step 3: Sorting

Once you have a pile of bye-bye garments, the next task is to decide which ones are worth bringing to the swap and which ones are not. A swap is not a textile recycling plant to bring your rags to! Take your textile garbage to where it belongs, in case of Barcelona, the orange Roba Amiga containers or your local deixalleria / punt verd. I suggest the key question of: would you lend this garment to a friend? Like, if a friend visiting you had lost their luggage on their way, would this be something you would offer them? Things NOT to bring to a swap include anything truly worn out (unless it’s a vintage leather jacket), permanently stained, broken… if you think that the unravelled seam can be easily fixed, fix it! And wash it all, of course. Remember, a clothes swap is karma made into an event: if people bring sad rags, we have only sad rags to pick from. Here you have examples of ‘what I’ll bring to the next swap’ posts with descriptions of my reasons to send garments away from my wardrobe: We shall swap again and September swap + my outgoing pieces.

Step 4: Paying attention to the materials

Not all fibers are made equal and in the world of fast fashion there are sometimes very idiotic fiber choices, like using thick synthetic fabrics for summer garments or lining natural fiber garments with synthetics. So pay attention to the material tags while you are editing and sorting to find out what are your favorite – and least favorite – materials, especially if you are discarding something because you just cannot breathe while wearing it. More on fibers, here: Get to know your fibers (and stop cutting the tags).

Step 5: Wishlisting

At this point you should have a solid vision of how you want to dress in the nearest future, a pile of swap offerings and a pile of textile garbage. And an emptier wardrobe… So now the question is: do I need anything to complete my wardrobe? (If you did the full ‘brainy’ process from Constant Gardener: Edit your wardrobe! you already have a list, congratulations!) Of course, swap is not fairy magic that fulfills all the wishes, but knowing what you are looking for helps. Especially if you get carried away by pretty things and good deals free stuff. As with all vintage hunting, there is always space for serendipity and the inexpected, unimagined treasure, but you might want to know that you do not need more t-shirts while a shortish skirt for colder months would be a great addition. This is an example of my wishlists:

And for the September swap I’ve decided to go a level up in imagining detailed imagination, so I made a Pinterest board. While even the internets might not have ready-to-pin exact photos, I really enjoyed this exercise, because it also serves to refine your desires. We all know that when we say ‘I want a new bodycon’ or ‘I need a white blouse’ it’s not just any generic garment. If you then decide to relax your criteria or find an even better cut than you had imagined, cool, but clear desires really help. Sometimes it even gets too much, if you keep hunting for the right garment: Swap VI and the problem with the threadbare.

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Following these steps you should be ready to swap happily and fruitfully! Here are just additional mini-points:

If there is a Facebook event, tick that you are going and share the event on your timeline! Diffusion really helps, especially to you as you get a bigger event to find your whlist items at.

If you want to get more involved in the event, ask the organizer if you can volunteer with something. The most likely answer will be yes as there are so many things to do. And you will be sudddenly part of the organizing team and will have an even better entry-way to make new friends at the event, and feel superuseful and sustainable.

It’s OK to bring back something you picked up at the last swap. This mode of garment acquisition is the safest way to experiment and has the best return policy: Curating the 100% comfort wardrobe.

Have a solid breakfast before! And try your best to not to be horribly hungovered. For your own wellbeing. The format of my swaps is a Saturday morning pica-pica with beer or vermouth (and water, and tea in winter), but snacks won’t do enough for your empty stomach.

Enjoy the event! It’s a party, after all. And a party filled with likeminded people who don’t mind that typical second-hand smell – I still have no clue where that comes from, the internets says it’s just humans – so take your time to socialize and make friendships.

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Do you have any swap experiences? Additional tips or rituals you do to prepare? What’s your best-ever (or just latest) swap find?

#whatiwore 2018w34 + Sunday links

Nom-nom-nom, said the brain:

1. What have the shops done after the (partial) free plastic bag ban in Spain: (in Spanish) ¿Se está aplicando la normativa de cobrar las bolsas de plástico en España? A spoiler: not that much.

2. I am a sucker for unintended consequences, so: The #MeToo Movement Finds an Unlikely Champion on Wall Street.

3. Heh! Why Does Every Lifestyle Startup Look the Same? The clock is running out on this minimalist aesthetic… This: “Rather than being descriptive of the product itself, startup minimalism indicates how that product will be purchased and delivered to the shopper: digitally, easily, inexpensively, and with a smile. It promises no bullshit and no imposition on your busy schedule.”

4. This is a nice working hypothesis for the woo-woo wellness boom: How did wellness become our new religion? And if you want solid reasons to hate Goop, here, you are welcome – Dr. Jen Gunter: I Snuck Into Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Summit To See Just How Bonkers It Was and Goop Forced to Pay $145,000 and Refrain From Making Unsubstantiated Medical Claims.

5. And time for some art! I am a great admirer of William Morris‘ pattern work (and political activities), as for me it brings together just the right dosage of ornamental and ordered. For brainy activities, here you have his writing archive. And for the artsy part: (a) William Morris and wallpaper design at Victoria and Albert Museum; (b) Morris’ 1981 Some Hints on Pattern-Designing; and (c) solid Pinterest-y advice on How to Create a Pattern in the style of William Morris.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Is Sustainable Fashion a Privileged Affair? Yes, and…

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w34 + Sunday links.

Other old posts you might enjoy: My Wardrobe, Part 1: What Do I Have and How Did I Get Here and My Wardrobe, Part 2: How I Build and Track My Seasonal Capsules.

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How has your week been? Autumn wishlists ready and colder weather items suddenly seeming so appealing? Or are you the one who wants summer to go forever?

Beyond repair: white zipper blouse and lyocell shorts

I have already complained about the surprising downside of a truly small wardrobe: garments worn frequently do wear out! And don’t come to me with ‘but my grandma’s vintage’, nope, if an old garment has reached you, it hasn’t been worn that much. It is true that the fabrics going around nowadays are worse, but one also has to come to terms with the basic physics of friction and wear. And when enough of that happens, no swap will give your garments a new life, it’s just time to say bye-bye!

So to honor the fallen with one final recognition of all their service, this is my new ‘beyond repair’ section to fare proper goodbye. And today it’s a double feature!

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The white zipper blouse

2015 hand-me-down from my mother, 100% viscose, 65+ wears.

The white zipper blouse has been my go-to staple for last two summers, before that it was just laying around waiting for its moment to shine. It comes from the epoch when my mother still ordered from catalogues, and I would dare to say that probably no other garment of this model has been through so many wears and washes. I never ironed it, so in many outfit pictures it looks rather crumpled, and my underwear choices under it were always visible, but I didn’t care…  And it dried quickly after a hand wash, combined with everything and was the perfect lightness for Barcelona summers when putting anything on is a struggle.

However, the fabric is now showing visible wear (I’ll repeat: I don’t think that people who designed this little number and picked the material for it ever thought anybody would wear for more than a couple times) and broken threads all over. In my efforts to sharpen my criteria and look more put together, I had already decided that this was going to be its last season. And then it got a hole you can see in the photo above! And I got a dilemma… Because, of course, I could make an effort to patch the hole: put an applique on it, convert the whole back in a lace garden or do a rebellious embroidery. Yet that will do nothing for the wear and tear of the fabric. So I’ve decided to work on acceptance that garments, especially the light and fragile ones, are not forever. And send this one off to textile trash. Thank you, little blouse, you did a great job!

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The HnM ‘conscious denim’ shorts

2015 hand-me-down from my mother, 100% lyocell, 69+ wears.

The ‘denim’ shorts come from the last time my mom got excited about HnM, and then pretty quickly realized that she wouldn’t really wear all that. And the story of the shorts is pretty much the same as that of the little white blouse above: it’s a lightweight fast fashion garment meant to be bought for one night at Primavera Sound and then discarded. Ha! But I insisted, although they were never too comfortable or ‘serious enough’ for work (I tried wearing them to office once and quickly realized that nobody else cared but I truly didn’t feel appropriate).

And then they just fell apart. I really have a feeling that just suddenly they were all frayed, especially at waistband. And my response to the ‘fix or ditch’ question was, as above, material related. This is not true denim that I’ve just ‘worn in’. Nope, this is very light (a bit more sustainable) viscose that is not known for aging well. And fixing the waistband wouldn’t improve much the life expectancy of this garment. Oh, well. Thank you so much, and out to textile trash they go.

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Have you had to send things to textile trash recently? Was it due to heavy wear or to inherent weaknesses of the material or cut? Or do you have more creative discarding strategies, like converting the garments in patchwork or embroidery?

#whatiwore 2018w33 + Sunday links

Feed the brain, feed the brain…

1. Occasionally consumers do have enough power to move something, that happens rarely, though. The title should be ‘If people with money get angry with somebody, they might kill their brand’ instead of Stop buying crap, and companies will stop making crap.

2. Not only Paul Manafort‘s shady deals went on trial, so did his taste in clothes: Did Paul Manafort Secretly Dress Like Steven Seagal? Somebody with time on their hands could write a whole set of papers about (a) the gendered aspects of such ‘taste trials’, i.e., how garment or home décor accumulation is ridiculed because of its association with femininity, a collection of sports cars wouldn’t have raised such amount of scorn; (b) the glee with which media dissected his extraordinary sartorial spending; and (c) how lifestyle aspirations can turn around and become evidence against you.

3. And some more symbolic sartorial politics from USA: The presidential love of denim – an illustrated guide. D-oh, those are not mom jeans, those are president jeans!

4. An unexpected take on mental health and medicating oneself down to the population average: “This is the reason I take these meds, right? So I can live a life that seems relatively normal. Except for one thing: I don’t want to be normal”.

5. In the local news, taking into account that many undocumented migrants in the big Spanish cities end up as street vendors of fake goods and knickknacks constantly harassed by the police and earning criminal records that then make ‘papers’ nearly impossible, there is activism around these issues and much of that involves garments. (In Catalan) Roba que dignifica vides + (in Spanish) the union of street vendors who have launched their own garment line + (in Spanish) and, as an alternative to those economic activities, there is also a cooperative dedicated to African-inspired fashion and catering: Diomcoop / Diambaar. So if you want a waxprint-y something made in Barcelona, those might be the people to get in touch with.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Capsule wardrobes trans-seasonally and beyond seasonality.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w33 + Sunday links.

Another old post you might enjoy because the swap is coming: Why We Swap and How.

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Are you ready for the September swap? Oh, yes, it has been too long… And if you are not in Barcelona, make your own! I have plenty of tips here, y también en castellano, por supuesto: He organizado seis intercambios de ropa y ésto es lo que he aprendido.

#100wears: Vegan Birkenstock Gizeh

The only way how a pair of Birks can look dainty is by another, bigger pair.

#100wears is the most beloved garment section where I show off the longevity of items I’ve worn at least 100 times and urge to elevate the rather low #30wears aspiration. Basically, a love song, a poem, a “there are some garments so good I can’t stop wearing them”… My pair of Vegan Birkenstock Gizeh has reached the magic wear threshold a while ago – it’s now 130 and counting – so here comes the love song.

This is my first pair of brand Birks as it took years for vegan models of my liking to appear in the vegan section of their store. I have been pinning these ‘made in Spain’ suspiciously similar vegan sandal for years. I knew I would like the model as these were the copycat sandals I wore to shreds in summer 2005. And then I went back to the store  and with my despair about how could a pair of shoes fall apart so quickly (the toe post came out, so that was a design flaw) cajoled them into giving me another pair for free:

So all the stars aligned last July and for rather reasonable 65€ we have been happy ever since, getting up to #100wears in less than a year. And their production practices and attitude couldn’t make me happier… I mean, somebody who is willing to go on record saying that collaborations with Supreme or Vetements would be ‘prostitution’, among other strong opinions about the world of fashion is exactly the person I want to buy sandals from (see this for a historic overview of Birkenstock footwear).

When it comes to fit on my hobbit feet, you can see that a size 38 is a bit long (in sneakers I typically wear a 39 to fit in all that width) and a bit too narrow as my pinky is hanging on the edge. Trying to get it right I actually went to a brick-and-mortar pop-up here in Barcelona, and this size is a compromise between their generous sizing and my even more generous feet. After a year of active wearing – I also got a pair the same model in EVA for home and swimming pool use – I’m very happy with my choices. But if you are the one with very narrow feet, these might not be for you (not for nothing they do a narrow-feet option),  leave them to the hobbit people!

My biggest surprise – but obvious when you think about it – is that while they are very easy to just slide into and hang around, Birks are not a walking shoe. Less so with the ones made of EVA because that plastic is cushioning, but that original anatomical footbed is not giving you any spring. It supports, yes, but that’s it. So walking long distance is not a good idea, at least I get feet blisters which is no fun at all. And keep a heavy duty cream for your feet at hand, as they get dry and tired in sandals (as opposed to wet and smelly in sneakers). Also, my feet create vacuum with the footbed when walking and often make little fart noises… You decide if that’s a perk you’d enjoy. I don’t know any other Birk-wearer that has the same issue, so it probably has to do with the hobbit feet and not so much the shoes.

Another primer: although they look incredibly sturdy, they do wear out, especially, of course, if that happens to be your only sandal and you are a shredder (a counterfactual: C’s Birks are from 2016 and look immaculate in a live-forever-Highlander-way). So at least for me this is not a #buymeonce scenario. Mine have wear and tear, and the reason for discarding will probably be the left heel. They are surely hanging in there until this autumn, and we’ll see how the next summer goes. If they survive until next July and clock in the respective 260 wears, I might have to do a ritual burial and all. After 130 wears (and no cleaning or any other active upkeep), this is what they look like:






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What pieces easily reach #100wears in your wardrobe? Have you ever had the perfect match between desiring something for a long time, then getting it and being truly satisfied? Have you had any recent #buymeonce finds or #buymeonce disappointments with something you thought would last forever?

#whatiwore 2018w32 + Sunday links

Brain-food, brain-food, what a good idea…

While the focus here are classic male fashions, the attention to detail and the knowledge involved are fascinating: How To Judge Quality In Clothing.

And a counterfactual rant about how little women’s fashion actually cares about their consumers comfort (not to talk about the workers): 15 Infuriating Things We All Hate About Women’s Clothing. You would have thought that after all the memes about pockets, the industry would have got the message. Here, I made a little Pinterest board of them, you are welcome! For example, part of Sanjukta’s business is to put pockets on your garment for 10€. Résistance forever!

A call for a new dress reform: The Jumpsuit That Will Replace All Clothes Forever.

When somebody decides to translate the message into action, it becomes news: New University Rules Encourage Scientists to Avoid Air Travel. Here you have my bits on the topic: My Sustainability Fails in March and then trying to take some action in June – Train Travel Long Distance in Europe.

When the job of an activist is done and a huge milestone is achieved, there is always aftermath: It’s been two months now [since the Irish abortion referendum].

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What I was writing about a year ago: The Future of Riga Capsule.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w32 + Sunday links.

Another old post you might enjoy: The Minimalist Wardrobe Masterpost: What Do People Do and Why?

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My crumply top season is still on, survival is still the priority and wearing any garments feels awful… How is your summer going? Ready for some cardigans and blanket scarves? Already making Pinterest wishboards full of skiing sweaters?

Also, my first KonMari consulting client ‘graduated’, so I have some free time on my hands. Get in touch if you are interested in some life changing magic of tidying up!

Book review: The Art of Discarding by Nagisa Tatsumi

Reading has been an important part of my life since I understood the superpowers it conferred and proceeded to read through the whole local children’s library in the 1990s. And since I got hooked on minimalism and sustainability in 2014, great part of my readings have been around these topics, both on-line and off.

The Art of Discarding: How to Get Rid of Clutter and Find Joy (Hachette Books 2005 [2017]) by Nagisa Tatsumi has a weird history of being edited in English only after being mentioned in the gospel according to Kondo as a suboptimal tidying method. The synopsis starts with “Practical and inspiring, The Art of Discarding (the book that originally inspired a young Marie Kondo to start cleaning up her closets) offers hands-on advice and easy-to-follow guidelines to help readers learn how to finally let go of stuff that is holding them back as well as sage advice on acquiring less in the first place”. It doesn’t reveal the whole story about Kondo passing out in exhaustion after a throw-away frenzy and then regaining consciousness with an insight how the focus has to be on ‘does it spark joy?’ instead of ‘could I just throw it away?’

Tatsumi is less sophisticated than Kondo in her method. There are no magical questions and promises of everlasting piece if only you would fold your knickers right. This is a method without fluff – as most of the ‘get rid of your shit’ tidying literature is – based on the single premise that, if you would just look around critically, you would realize that most of your stuff can go. The quote I’ve chosen for the title pic is the basic truth that only very rarely something consciously thrown out will be sorely missed and hardly replaceable. The true treasures and items that have ‘this passport is the property of the State of’ printed on them will never be in your maybe pile.

(I do have a heartbreakingly stupid counterfactual to that, though. At my big tidying spree of my last childhood room before giving it back to my parents I donated a hot pink transparent plastic triangle ruler with assorted diameter circles inside it, like a love child between this and this but in my all-time favorite color for plastic. Despite my undying love for all thing hot transparent pink, I decided that such thing should be easy enough to replace if need be. Little did I know! I ended up wanting to work with little circles right after that, obviously, and went to all physical shops in Rīga I could think about… Nope. No circles. Not in any color. And in no shape. Now I have that circle stencil sheet linked above from Spanish Amazon and still think of the other one. It wasn’t a birth certificate, of course, just a proof that our replaceability calculus is very wrong sometimes.)

Most of Tatsumi’s book is straightforward advice like setting limits and not exceeding them (along the lines of ‘if my clothing does not fit in my wardrobe, I should get rid of some’) and establishing a number of something actually needed (tableware, sets of bed linen), pruning out the rest and gradually replacing the old ones with new when you see them wearing out. She doesn’t propose a once-off tidying festival or a minimalist game. Instead her premise is that most people bring in their homes much more items than they discard, so the capacity of getting rid of has to be strengthened. And she is empathic, too. So Kondo’s falling becoming a ‘discarding machine’, according to herself, might tell more about Kondo than about the ‘art of discarding’ Tatsumi proposes:

My favorite few sentences of the book that Tatsumi uses just to sell her more individualistic approach (in comparison with more direct ‘this is the right way’ approach apparently present in Japanese tidying culture) sends me into a spin every time a think about professional organizing. This is the great inherent conflict in professional organizing, the selection bias that were also very clear during the KonMari Consultant seminar. The selection bias are very clear and there is tension between a tidying coach and the client because of one’s ability to do exactly that thing on her own and enjoy it, and other’s realization that some assistance would be very nice… Of course, it is softened by the fact that tidying or minimalist lifestyle is not a clinically proven prescription (although for last few years lifestyle magazines would make you think that it is) but a choice. This, the obvious statement that all tidying has to be a personalized solution (and that the ‘experts’ have to be very aware that they are not very normal to begin with):

Here come a couple of mind tricks I think might be useful, apart from the – critical and conscious – limit setting mentioned before:

1. Your possessions are not somebody’s gifts anymore! Kondo also says the same, don’t know if borrowing or is it some third party wisdom… “Discard once they’ve served their purpose. […] Gifts are all about the act of giving. So as soon as they’ve been given/received, we could say that their function has been fulfilled.”

Gifts fill us with guilt, so at least trying to do this reframing once the object is yours might help to disassociate it from the giver and value it on its own merits. Very hard, I know, we’ve been taught all our lives to do it the opposite way…

2. The doubt takes mental energy. “When we’re troubled by a sense of waste, delay seems to make disposal easier. But if you’re going to get rid of something anyway, you may as well do so straight away. […] If you stop delaying disposal, you’ll also stop diluting your sense of waste. Keeping a keen sense of waste – guilt at throwing things away – can have a very positive effect […]”

Repeat after me: my home is not a storage unit, my home is not a dumpster… It is true, though, that some people benefit from a cooling off period of making deals with yourself, like ‘if I don’t touch this box in three months, it’s going away’, or just a maybe pile to get tired of and toss away. It is thrilling to give oneself the permission to let go!

(I had one of these moments a couple of weeks ago at work. Sounding like a Kondo case, I had a fat pack of papers from a software course I took last summer. I kept telling myself that to truly master the contents I should just take a week off and go through all those materials again. For more than a year I kept moving that pile from desktop to drawers and back. Before leaving the office for vacations I finally tossed it all in the paper bin knowing that I do not want to do that at all and have enough productivity anxiety inducing to-dos already. Felt really good.)

3. Develop a notion of ‘used-enough’. “The belief that things should be used until their potential is exhausted is a powerful one. People seem to think that if they keep something, there’ll be the opportunity at some point for this potential to be used. (The reason some people like passing things on to second-hand shops is the idea that somebody else will take over this potential.) But it’s better not to bother about whether you use things to their full potential. […] Or you could go a bit further and say,”It’s done what I bought it to do, so that’s that. I’ve used it to the full.” […] In other words, by fulfilling your purpose, its potential has, in fact, been exhausted. […] With the “I’ve-used-it-once-so-I-can-get-rid-of-it” mindset a lot of things are easier to discard. Depending on the item, it may be a question of ”once” or “this much”, but either way this attitude will stop you worrying about being wasteful.”

Another type of deal, ‘I’ll wear it once, remember why I hated it, and will be able to let go finally’.

4. Little victories! “Choose a compact area – a table top, a kitchen shelf, or a washstand, say – and decide you will definitely not put anything there. Then keep your resolution. […] It’s easier to feel the impact it you’re dealing with a place you can see. The first thing you’ll notice is how many unnecessary things you have around you, and how they increase in number by day. As this begins to bother you, you’ll want to do something about it. By following this strategy you’ll also develop the habit of disposal – of reducing the number of unnecessary things you have. Instead of picking redundant things up and putting them back, you’ll pick them up and dispose of them. This is why it’s important to start with a compact place. If the job is too onerous, you’ll get fed up before discarding becomes habit.”

A strategy I really like is the empty or half-empty storage spaces. Empty surfaces are aesthetic, of course, and easy to clean, but there is something truly mischievous about and empty cupboard.

5. Mindful second-handing, please. “[Reselling] is a very good solution for people whose sense of waste won’t let them throw things away. If this kind of recycling becomes part of our society’s system, it will mean that things can circulate. This circulation will prevent things from accumulating in people’s homes, so that there will be less stuff in society as a whole. […] At worst, the desire to see things reused can lead to the simplistic thought that someone will use it eventually… This way of thinking allows people to buy things that are unnecessary in the belief that there’s no waste – if they don’t want it, someone else will. This leads to a vicious cycle of purchase and disposal: things accumulate, you pass them on, then more things accumulate. And what you believe to be a waste-free method of disposal often ends up with somebody else simply throwing things away on your behalf.”

I do think that there is a strength in accepting that I create a heap of garbage that is not going anywhere nice, that’s the modern living. Nobody is innocent. Yes, even the zero-wasters, as they happily tell you they ‘refuse’ the airplane food… That refusal is so naive it’s endearing! So, be realistic about your wallapop and freecycle aspirations, as with all sustainability delusions (1, 2).

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Got some tidying inspiration? This type of books really get me wishing to revise the whatever few junk nest there might still be in our flat… Talk about those selection bias! What fun books have you read lately? Anything life-changing I should be aware about?