#whatiwore 2019w06 + Sunday links

Also, the Saturday swap outfit and the stuff that makes swap happen:

And the brain nom-noms are served, bon appétit!

1. On time and fashion (and, surprise, how fast fashion has ruined it all): How Tempo is Changing Fashion + an example of someone from very high shelves going against that crazy whirlwind: Meet Your Favorite Fashion Designer’s Favorite Vintage Dealer + an ode to wearing the same things for a long time (the best form of resistance!): The Joy Of Old Clothes.

2. If you want some objective reasons for feeling sorry for yourself (and a whole generation): How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation.

3. (American) politics and fashion: (a) George H.W. Bush, the Original Sock Diplomat, (b) Nancy Pelosi’s Coat Catches Fire, (c) Why Covering Nancy Pelosi’s Hot Pink Dress Isn’t Sexist, (d) Finally Revealed! Trump’s Reasoning Behind His Extra Long Ties, and (e) The Lessons of the Women in White at the State of the Union Address.

4. If you have been watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and swooning over the 1950s recreation (those dresses! those coats! the outrageous headpieces!), among other things, this: New York’s Lost Department Stores.

5. But if winter still has you craving everything warm and fluffy, here, have some fleece history: The Mill That Invented Synthetic Fleece and Caught By The Fuzz: A Brief History Of Fleece.

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What I was writing about a year ago: February 2018 (5th!) Clothes’ Swap Recap.

What I was writing about two years ago – My Wardrobe, Part 1: What Do I Have and How Did I Get Here.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w06 + Sunday links. The hair was long but the clothing was pretty much the same…

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w6. Oh, the very beginnings! Those first outfit photos have more visual interest than these, I think, (within the same set of limits) I was experimenting more back then.

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What are your outfit photo preferences? Breathtaking or mundane? I know very well the appeal of beautiful editorials… An example from my feeds would be Rebecca at A Clothes Horse! Or Louise at Miss Pandora. But I have no plans of going anywhere from my bedroom wall. This is a statistical and historic exercise, not an aesthetic one necessarily. Fun fact: the simpler the photo the harder to hide any imperfections in fit.

February swap + my outgoing pieces

We shall swap again! And to encourage wardrobe editing before the event, here’s how I think about what stays and what goes. I have to admit that it gets harder to discard things as they become fewer – these items have survived many editing festivals, so there is some function or value ascribed that has saved them before. Yet despite the reduced number, there are still garments in my wardrobe that do not live up to the standard of “would this be a part of my optimal wardrobe?”

I try to let go of fears about needing them or pondering about the likelihood of anybody wanting them. I have one historical reassurance for this and one additional mental trick. The reassurance is the story of my red denim jacket and the mental trick is possible due to the relaxed concept of my swaps. For very surprising that it is to myself, several pieces are leaving my wardrobe this time… Remember, in September all four items that left our household were not really mine.

But this time there is some honesty work to be done, bear with me as this is not easy. I have some emotional investment in each of them, either because I have worn it so much or because of the exact opposite – having worn it only a little (less than 30 times) makes me feel guilty about bad past choices. The usual stuff… Here we go:

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The pink Julie cardigan

Basics: 55% ramie 45% cotton, made in China. Picked it up at swap Nº3 in May 2017, Julie’s mother in law used to own it. 94 wears since then (darn, almost #100wears).

What’s good about it: it makes every outfit look a bit like Gudrun Sjödén dressed me, which is a good thing. The color is great, the floral motif is awesome. Cute buttons, too. And it is a cheaper-made copy of the Oleana cardigans. The fabric is a bit thick, so it holds shape and has required very few washes. I’d dare to say that it is mint condition (no piling, all original buttons) which is rare for garments I’ve worn so much.

Why not anymore: I prefer shorter and more fitted layers. This one is a roomy cut that feels a bit slouchy lately. And it is not that warm – no wool, no synthetics – which can be pro or a con in Barcelona.

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The WAG crop top

Basics: made in their Cape Town workshop, 100% cotton. And nice, stiff, and beautifully patterned cotton it is. But I bought it in November 2017 and have worn exactly 10 times.

What’s good about it: the color, the pattern! And the cut is cool. Nicely covered arms, and décolletage that can be opened more or less depending on the occasion. Very nice for very high waists (or very bare midriffs).

Why not anymore: If I haven’t made it work so far, I probably wont. And, since I relaxed the waist of the skirt (31 wears, they are staying), the gap between them makes me even more uncomfortable. The waist can be made to look good in photos but in real life it’s a bit too fussy because the strings that keep it together are just that, and they move with time. So during events you might have to the powder room to readjust it. For people who like to stay still and look good, basically. Also, careful when washing! It still leaks color, so hand washing it in cold water separately from anything else is a must.

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The Esprit floral

Basics: 100% cotton Esprit shirt I picked up at a swap in 2017. 51 wears since then.

What’s good about it: the pattern is cute, the fabric is lovely, the finishing on this garment is a joy in itself. Mint condition still.

Why not anymore: the cut! It has taken me a long time to admit that this beautiful thing is not my size, not fitted enough. I keep having this with button-downs for years now: I want them but then my body reminds me that these things are cut (almost) straight, and, if I don’t want the usual problem of popping buttons, I need them big. And I don’t like big…

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The Zara lace top

Basics: bought in a Humana in Oporto last September to calm an ‘I want a thing’ anxiety. Zara. Made in Portugal, unknown composition. A cotton/elastane mix, I’d guess. 15 wears since then.

What’s good about it: an easy black top that covers the waist with lace hem adding some interest.

Why not anymore: the cut is weird or, well, innovative! Sleeves are part of the torso piece, and there is an additional seam on the back. And I can already some piling and where exactly the first armpit hole will happen. Taking into account that I bought it with the tags still on, this a classical ‘why you really don’t want certain fast fashion garments’: they look good at the beginning but then age very quickly.

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A ‘maybe’! The green patterned top

Basics: Oh, wow…bought in a Humana during my first trip to Barcelona in 2005. No brand tags, no composition tags (but purely synthetic), no ‘made in’ tags. 39 wears since 2016, quite some more before that.

What’s good about it: it looks great! And is one of very few synthetic garments that does not asphyxiate me. And it is so worn in it feels like home… Look, look, a highschooler me in April 2006:

Why not anymore: the shoulder points… this is a beautiful boat neckline that would require a strapless bra to be proper. My bra straps keep peeking out, even after I put sewed some holders in (like so). Also, the wear is considerable. The elbows have lost the pattern and are basically white. And I see some future holes coming… It has received some fixes before, because 14 years for a second-hand garments is a lot. I still have a couple of days to decide, though.

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What is your inner dialogue before retiring garments? Is it more separating pains for the old friends or guilt for those that never really became friends?

#whatiwore 2019w04 + Sunday links

Yeah, I fixed a hand-me-down dress and then wore it all week… But of course! For me that always has been a sign of a beautiful new friendship: wanting to spend together all the time possible.

But meanwhile, here, feed the little gray cells:

1. By now you should know if your winter boots are performing up to your expectations. Want to know what makes a great boot? Here, take a detailed analysis from people who know what they are talking about (and are ready to use a saw to make convincing visuals): We Cut 5 Great Boots in Half to See What Makes a Quality Pair.

2. OK, so you grown blasé to the fact that very poorly paid people, including children made your fast fashion garments… How about slave labor, does that move you a bit? Did a slave make your sneakers? The answer is: Probably. Or prison labor? Prisoners in a Chinese Internment Camp Made Clothes for a Major U.S. Apparel Supplier.

3. I just love those love letter posts dedicated to ‘the one right thing’ my favorite menswear blogs produce so often. Here you have yet another story of a great company that once was world-famous in one particular product – The History Behind Stetson: The Quintessential Cowboy Hat. And if you want an even more subtler specialty product, here, have this one: Those Lovely Neapolitan Trousers. In my ideal world we would tell such stories about each detail, each garment and each brand we wear..

4. On the other hand, the stupid marketing missteps in fashion are just mind-blowing. I keep thinking about the fact that all these campaigns and products pass through at least a couple of meetings with at least a couple of supposedly professional people approving this shit… Fashion’s Year in Cultural Don’ts.

5. One of those little promising news: The Denim Industry Inches Toward a Circular Economy as Mills Adopt Recycled Fibers. No word about the fact how they are planning to take apart some of those mixed-fiber fabrics to use again after this cycle… But that’s the next step, I guess.

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What I was writing about a year ago: right in time for the upcoming February swap, Wardrobe pruning for minimalists: KonMari stairway to heaven.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w04 + Sunday links. Ha! Even with the same new dress and new leggings, I’m still repeating the trench, the cape, the red flea sweater, the Muroexe boots and the previous incarnation of the little red beanie.

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How do you start relationships with new (to you) garments? Wearing all the time? Saving for special occasions? Dry cleaning or washing the moment they cross your doorstep? Do you have any rituals, especially for pre-loved garments to clear out the previous wearer and fill it with you? I normally don’t do anything, assuming that the best way to replace odors and spirits is to impose a new one – mine. However, with this dress is was a bit special as it still smelled of my mom as I was refashioning and wearing it for the first times. That brought me right back to my childhood when I used to smell her sweaters if I was missing her while she was traveling.

Fix it! Making smaller my mom’s gingham dress

I started to learn to use a sewing machine in 2017, under Liisa’s guidance (here, see what she makes). And only now I’m finally starting to grasp – in tiniest baby steps and with great help from Carmen from Opció Diamant (I cannot recommend them enough if you are looking for sewing courses in Spanish in Barcelona) – 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 feature of a jersey dress I adopted during the last purge of my mom’s wardrobe. It was too big for me even as a relaxed cut, so it got a very simple shape change.

A standard disclaimer: these are not detailed tutorials but inspirational pieces instead. However, my level is so basic that you can probably do this too. Here we go.

It’s a ‘made in Spain’ jersey dress from Mango’s Violeta sub-brand which caused quite a controversy upon its launch in 2014 due to them suggesting that ‘plus sizes’ start at size 40.

I have no idea about the precise fabric composition. Thanks, mom! I imagine it was one of those scratchy labels…

The most important point I learnt with this one was a bit of the magic that happens around the armpits and bust, i.e. how the a two-dimensional material takes the desired shape. As I was taking a good chunk off the whole side seam, it meant losing both part of the sleeve’s curve and the bust dart. Carmen’s expert advice was to wing the sleeve relying on the forgiveness of the jersey and…

…creating a new bust dart, following the line of the old one:

The new shape, from the end of the sleeve to the hemline, followed by a long trrrrrr with a stretchy stitch:



Voilà! The new shape once the extra fabric is cut off:

These are the leftovers:

And this is my new dress:

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What have you been up to, my talented friends? 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 2019w03 + Sunday links

Braaain-braaain-braaain, feed the braaain…

1. Just a beautiful story of crafty people making beautiful things + the magic that wool is: A Family History in Hats.

2. So, with the new KonMari-mania going around thanks to Netflix (this is a reasonable review + get the basis of Kondo’s method explained in a 15-point clickbait list here)… Some organizing basics from Spanish professional organizers + a very ironic list of ‘buy this stuff to make sure you get rid of stuff’: (in Spanish) Cinco claves para ordenar tu casa de una vez por todas.

3. And a BuzzFeed sermon on being organized as the socially responsible thing to do: Being Organized Is A Gift I Give Myself And Other People. While I’m typically better at giving sermons than appreciating them, this: “Being flaky isn’t cute; it’s disrespectful. This isn’t the intention, of course. (And, in fact, most of the disorganized people I know are actually trying to make too many people happy.) But the reality is that being close to someone who is consistently all over the place requires a tremendous amount of emotional labor”.

4. I don’t know who threw the bomb, but people in many places, including the f*ing Wall Street Journal, have suddenly – and simultaneously – grasped the problematic choice between real and faux fur. Gosh, get a second-hand anything and let it go… Examples: (a) Real Fur vs. Fake Fur: The Latest Dilemma for Socially Conscious Consumers; (b) Fashion or Faux Pas: The Conversation About Fur Became Far More Nuanced in 2018; (c) Real Fur is Bad for Animals. Fake Fur is Bad for the Earth. What the Hell Do We Do Now?

5. For pure pleasure, City Hermit: The Style Of Allen Ginsberg. And to throw in some contrast from the squares ‘who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse and the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments of fashion‘, an ode to the same flannel: Better than Wool Flannel Trousers.

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What I was writing about a year ago: #100wears: Bik Bok parka.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2018w03 + Sunday links.

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I’m still trying to figure out if I want to say anything new about the ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo‘ whirlpool, aside from the fact that everybody thinks it’s hilarious to forward me all possible coverage of it… Anyways, have you seen it? Has it inspired you to empty your wardrobe and see how big your mountain is? Or are you the one sharing the jokes? The best one I’ve seen so far (in Spanish) was about Marie Kondo suggesting people keep only three relatives. Captures the spirit of her method quite precisely, imho, especially after the Holiday season.

2018 second half money talk, or how expensive an ethical wardrobe is?

Money is the typical contention point of ethical fashion, because price is, of course, fast fashion’s forte. And once we have accepted that 5€ t-shirts are possible, how do you convince people that it has to be 30 at least? The fact that most online pushers of sustainable fashion either make it, distribute it or receive it for free to review it plug it in doesn’t help either.

So to be the change you want to be in the world tell where at least my money goes while following my list of priorities in wardrobe detoxing, here you have the first half of 2017, the second half of 2017, and the first half of 2018. This post is about last six months, July to December 2018. You have the full list and the total above, and more details below, from most euros spent to least.

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Learning to sew, Sep-Dec: 4 x 78 = 312€

First of all, it is unclear if these expenses should even be here… the 312€ look very expensive and I could explain them away with ‘I am learning a new skill, these are not fashion expenses’. But they are. I consider myself brave (ha!) for admitting myself that the first garment I made – that beige skirt in the photo above – is the most expensive garment I own. But that money was spent in the first half of 2018. In last few months I’ve been focusing on repairs. Someplace on this blog I have already confessed that all my repair and refashion costs so far have been covered by my mother and the work was done by a trusted seamstress in Rīga.

To be very detailed about these 312€, this is the tangible list of what they’ve got me. In fixes: (a) attaching the embroidery to Liisa bag well enough; (b) fixed swap cardigan; (c) fixed lace undershirt; (d) adjusted WAG skirt; (e) adjusted Street One jacket and No Pasarán t-shirt got turned into an applique; (f) C’s jeans taken in for my waist. And my mom’s and Julie’s deadstocks became a yoga mat bag. So the total balance is an increased lifespan of six garments and one new thing. And I did all this in four months = 32 hours in the studio and then some at home. And, and, and… an I could do it all again because now I know how to. Hell yeah.

Verdict: Yes, please, more! This is a life skill I want to master. And I’ve found the right place to do it, my beloved Opció Diamant.

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Ezra W. Smith embroidery: 105.74

You can read all about this one here. The story has it all: friendship, women artists, and me learning a new skill.

Verdict: 100% a good idea.

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Swedish Stockings, recycling the old ones and 3 new pairs: 12.90 + 92.36 = 105.26€

Oh, this is a hard one. The idea and marketing of Swedish Stockings is impeccable. And my needs and whims also play a role here by deciding that their most expensive product is just the one for me. The price is not friendly at all, and they don’t last long. Excited by their recycling program and wanting the promised discount, I jumped all the hoops. And made a big, fat ripped tight package. As you can see in my 2017 post mentioning my first purchase, I was expecting a 30% discount for those who have sent in old tights. The voucher to be included in my package clearly said 20%, so I was apparently overexcited. Now comes the stupid part: one actually has to mail those tights. And the bigger your package is the less worthy your discount.


Just do the math! Because of some additional idiocy I did my purchase in Swedish kronas, I really don’t know if I just missed the euro option. But I’ll do the example in euros. In my case 39€ x 3 = 117€. I got a 20% discount which means that my total at checkout should be 93.60 (heh, the kronas worked in my favor!), so the price of each pair comes down to 31.20€. But I had previously paid 12.90€ at the Spanish post office. And that bring my final price per pair up to 35.5€.

The stinger? Simply joining their mailing list gets you 15% off, without sending any packages. That would be 33.15€ per pair. And if you would like to be the very responsible person and send your tights before having bought anything from Swedish Stockings, that cold mailing will get you only 10% off. And, no, joining the mailing list and using the recycling discount are not compatible, I tried.

I know, I know, the Swedish Stocking ladies do not get the euros I paid the Spanish post office, but that doesn’t change the outcome for the customer.

The second stinger (for the careless reader)? While you could get an impression that these people are closing the loop and making new stockings from your old ones. Nope. “We want to close the loop and eventually be able to fully recycle old hosiery. However, to make that possible we need to be able to separate the polyamide in the yarn […] from the elastane […] to make new pantyhose. Unfortunately, this technology isn’t commercially available just yet although it isn’t far away. In the meantime, we have a short term solution. We are grinding old pantyhose down to be used as filler material in fibre glass tanks for oil and grease traps, in the commercial industry. These tanks are extremely hard wearing and last a long time […].”

So after this math exercise the whole ‘send us your tights’ exercise feels a bit like a trick to push me towards an interaction with the brand and get me in one of those ‘I’ll do a thing that doesn’t make economic/time-use sense for me just to be the best possible person’ binds.

As for use, they are fluffy and comfy. They truly are. However, for 39€ a pair I would expect them to last more. I keep reading about happy Wolford customers that have had the same tights for decades, and I’m envious. At least on my feet these Swedish Stocking get transparent patches at the toes after 10 wears or so. Those are not holes, but look like so if I have to take my shoes off. I already had a couple of such moments in the airport and at the sewing studio, and really didn’t like it. After some 20 wears those bald patches become holes. And three pairs for a season is a bit too few even in Barcelona winter.

The current fugliness!

Verdict: It’s a lot of money for nice but not durable tights. These in combination with leggings will carry me till spring but I’ll have to think about my hosiery again in autumn. Oh, the decision fatigue! At least one thing is clear: I’m off stay-ups (because there were some 5 years when I wore mostly those), and really enjoy the comfort and silhouette of black opaque tights.

The practical lesson: If you want in on their game, send them a small, light envelope with three very few denier tights, preferably from Sweden. That will make your discount worthwhile.

Fun fact: The ‘please send us ripped tights’ voucher that came with my November package doesn’t mention any discounts for sending them in, it just refers to their website. I imagine that this means that 10% off is all you get. Meh.

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People Tree Yoga Top: 37.15€

The old sports bra was dead, and somebody on FB suggested People Tree. The best random anonymous lead I’ve had so far! The beginning was very promising: tight and comfy, and very cotton-y. It’s stretch jersey of 95% organic Fairtrade certified cotton and 5% elastane and so much nicer to touch than its fully plastic predecessor. But after a lot of wears already and a couple of washes, the underbust elastic is a bit too wide. The plastic performance fabrics have their advantages, they do. Also, I think it’s made for people with less breasts, at least with less difference between the breast and underbust/waist circumference. I haven’t practiced any serious yoga with this one, but it doesn’t seem too reliable for doing headstands with any dignity. And even less so for more demanding sports. This is a pajamas crop top.

Verdict: Okayish. Serves me now but I’m not sure I’d repeat it.

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Zara black lace top from Humana: 7.59€

From my September’s ‘I just have to buy something‘ scratch at a Humana in Oporto. It’s nice and versatile, 15 wears already, but the fast fashion quality is showing too. The fabric is thin, the construction is weird, and it already has holes without much mending potential. I’m treating it as a replacement for the black floral shirt, but who am I kidding? Nothing can replace the black floral shirt.

Verdict: It’s nice but won’t last long. No #100wears for this one.

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Thread: 6.90€

I have been living on Carmen’s supplies and haven’t had to buy notions for sewing in these months. As an exception, these euros were for the pink thread meant to fix the sequin barrette (still a to-do) that also came handy with the pink ruffle blouse, and some blue embroidery thread to mend my Bonne Maison knee-highs.

Verdict: Reasonable. I’m doing my best not to accumulate notions, but this was a September excitement slip-up.

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Zara white ruffle top from Humana: 5.19€

It’s funny how it’s so hard to know which garments will wear well upon acquiring them. I imagine it’s my ignorance (still), not a true mystery, but this top was that case. I bought two at that Humana, thinking that the black one was the great score. But after 13 wears, this has much more potential for longevity and making me feel my best. Also, I am considering this a replacement for the white zipper blouse, so it’s a 1-out-1-in acquisition. Also, I’m still very proud how I managed that ‘gotta buy a garment urge’.

Verdict: Great, five golden stars.

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What will 2019 bring? Less money, first of all, as I’m transitioning towards self employment. So curbing my fashion spending would be a good idea… The 2018 total, including sewing classes were 1016.33€. Only garments, repairs and notions: 528.33€. That is not cheap, I think. Especially for somebody that is not making any major purchases. Just for a reference, my unemployment benefits will be around 1000€/month. Hence the responsible thing would be to stop spending money on garments altogether. The good news is that I do not foresee urgent purchases anytime soon. But the sewing classes stay… so that’s at least 78€ per month; assuming two vacation months in summer that would already make 780€. That much for curbing my expenses.

The other news is that torturing people with statistics in November paid better than I expected, so I made myself a 130€ birthday gift in early January by tracing down the last vegan Veja Taua sneakers I could find and getting two pairs. Boom!

Despite the professional organizing knowledge that ‘buying duplicates rarely work’, this one shall. My reasons are the following: (a) I have already shredded (100+ wears!) through three pairs of the same model and loved them (proof 1, proof 2), (b) they are clearly discontinued and not coming back, (c) I bought the next most similar option from Veja, and I don’t like them, (d) even the Amazon seller who sold these was running out of them. Knowing that I’m currently OK in the sneaker department – Veja Arcade, Veja Wata, and December swap Vans copycats are all in great shape – it is possible that these two boxes, my sleeping beauties, will be dormant until well into 2019, if not 2020, who knows. And that’s fine. My heart is all fuzzy knowing that, when the moment of need will come, I won’t depend on the fugly whims of Veja or other desperate google searches. Sweet.

My dormant Brazilian treasure.

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Congratulations! You have reached the end of this extra-long confession. What have been your wardrobe investments in 2018? Do you have a fashion budget or do you move in intuitive ways? Which fashion spending is yours: the truly rational based in need, the capricious stemming from ‘oh so beautiful’ or the one looking for added value (what else apart from the garment do you get, who made it, who benefited)? Have you ever found yourself making the added value excuses of ‘I didn’t really need this but at least it from the little local shop / responsibly made / support an artist’? What’s your experience with duplicates?

#whatiwore 2019w02 + Sunday links

It is the brain, the little gray cells on which one must rely. One must seek the truth within – not without.” But first you have to feed those little gray cells:

1. Some basic tricks our minds (and retailers) play against us: 10 Situations When We Lose Our Common Sense and Buy Useless Stuff.

2. Mending has some serious benefits – Mending as a philosophy of life: 9 reasons for why it’s worth it. My favorite being ‘Mending is prefect for practicing imperfection’. The whole blog is a cute gem full of thoughtfulness and sustainable ideas, unfortunately inactive since September 2018, offering posts titled What makes a garment repair-worthy? and Mending knits: 3 favourite darns.

3. The internet classic on second shifts and all mental work that goes into maintaining a household, typically done by women: You should’ve asked by Emma Clit.

4. In 2018 I started to follow – and learned a lot – from several menswear blogs: Heddels (especially remarkable for their Fade of the Day section showcasing worn out garments), Put This On, and Die, Workwear! Maybe I just haven’t found the right women’s fashion blogs for this time in my life but I’m really enjoying the historical and aesthetic obsessions of these people. And then I found this: ‘Every once in a while, I’ll hear a woman say how she wishes a piece of menswear could be made for the female form, or how she’s excited to see one of her favorite designers take inspiration from the men’s aisle. Which is funny because, just as often, I find myself inspired by what women today are wearing. As society has wrestled with the concept of gender over the last hundred years, fashion has followed. And while there’s been a bit push and pull – from the strictly gender delineated world of gray flannel suits and A-frame skirts, to the space-age unisex uniforms of the late 1960s – we’re now at a point where gender takes on a much more complex and nuanced meaning in terms of how clothing is worn’.

5. For a contrast with menswear (or, depending how you look at it, to combine with their beloved knit ties), here you have a lady who did the impossible – made the crochet look glamorous: Greta Plattry. Here you have a couple of write-ups about her and photos of her designs from the glorious 1950s – 1, 2, 3 (the third link gives you also the original prices and the conversion in today’s dollars; gives you a thought about casual swimwear as investment pieces and the radical change clothing prices have undergone in last 50+ years).

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What I was writing about a year ago: The capsule is dead, long live the spreadsheet!

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2018w02 + Sunday links (the 100th post!).

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Do you have menswear inspirations? Or blogs you read for a once-removed value? For example, for me the menswear blogs are teaching to pay attention to detail that somehow are easier to gloss over in women’s fashion. Anyways, all new reading suggestions will be appreciated.

After 12 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 started tracking the number of wears without doing the ‘now you go away’ ritual. Here is the outset post (that includes a link to an example Google Sheet), here the 3-month update, here the 6-month update, and here – the 9-month.

Having a year’s worth of solid information is great, and my data-loving side is filled with joy. If you think that this is for weirdos quantitative sociologists only, Marina is an example how less spreadsheat-inclined normal people might get value out of this exercise too… So, I’ll go through the most and least worn by categories as I did in previous posts, and then try to draw some mor egeneral conclusions.

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

Layers

Most worn: My mom’s gray hand-me-down cardigan (62) because in summer it’s my AC saver in the office. Also works well if my street layers are a bit too much for the office, etc. We’ll see what 2019 for this one, as there won’t be an office anymore…

Runner-ups: Julie’s pink cardigan (60) and the other gray cardigan from May 2018 Swap (58).

Worn the least: 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. I’m probably keeping it forever, though.

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Dresses

Most worn: My mom’s dark blue silk dress (32). She made it herself, btw. This dress also serves to assess my sewing skills… And the comparison is not flattering.

Runner-ups: My mom’s hand-me-down MnS dress (28) and my aunt’s ‘take this, you might defend your thesis in this’ dress (25).

Worn the least: The HnM sweetheart dress (4) – 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. it is wearing out, though, especially around the ‘bones’ that keep the shape of the top, so it might become a skirt one day. Also, last February I finally found a nice way to dress it down a bit, this, and I have been developing that ‘look for a short sweater to tone it down’ sensibility further on, like so:

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Tops

Most worn: The demon t-shirt (58). 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!” And after 100+ total wears since 2014 it finally was beyond repair, so it is not with as anymore. The picture, though – a painting of a lietuvēns by Kristiāns Brekte – is still good, and I’m looking for a surface to repeat the trick I did with the No Pasarán t-shirt and the Street One jacket.

Runner-ups: The February 2018 Swap Forever 21 t-shirt (51) and my mom’s hand-me-down lace blouse-undershirt (38).

Worn the least: A couple of newcomers, because we cleaned my mother’s wardrobe on December 22. A great gift for both of us, indeed, if you see what proportion of my wardrobe are her hand-me-downs! I already wore – once in 2018 – the green synthetic fantasy of birds and flowers and the black MnS ‘beat’ short-sleeve turtleneck:


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Bottoms

Most worn: My mom’s hand-mw down shorts (67). 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. On my to-sew list in 2019 is trying to make an exact replica.

Runner-ups: ZIB black leave leggings (62) and Amoralle leggings (52). Both of these, after having reminded me how essential leggings are for my comfort and happiness, are now beyond repair

Worn the least: It’s a tie – at two wears – between the ZIB splash leggings that are mostly used as loungewear in Rīga and my ‘new’ hand-me-down green capri jeans. Yeah, there are big news for the ‘Luīze wearing pants’ section, we’ll see how it goes.

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Footwear

Most worn: Arcopedico wedges (132) because nothing beats the office shoe.

Runner-ups: Veja Wata Pierre (121) and Vegan Birkenstock Gizeh (118). Birks are going to truly fall apart sometime in 2019, but we’ll keep counting until then. And keeping an eye on their vegan section for replacements. BTW, dear Birkenstock, could you be so kind and bring the vegan Gizeh back for June? I really don’t care which color…

Worn the least: Nokian Hai wellingtons (4) – they live in Rīga and are rainboots. I keep wondering if bringing them to Barcelona could be a good idea… but in Riga they are handy as well, just that this year I spent very little time there. And, after an 8km walk in December, it is clear that their shape and sizing – they are clearly making Finnish women feel good about the size of their feet since 1898 because I haven’t been a size 37 since I was 12, I think – work alright.

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Adornments

2018 hasn’t been a good year for adornments: I don’t reach for necklaces automatically, my ears have become very sensitive to anything that’s not farmacy-grade baby earrings, my headbands ar big and flashy, and unfit for bike rides, and this year I didn’t have the seasonal spreadsheet *making* me wear all that. I don’t know it’s just a temporal thing or a new aspect of growing up I’ll just have to accept.

Most worn: The red wooden necklace (31).

Runner-ups: Jēkabs necklace (30) and Ban.do headband (23).

Worn the least: The flower ball headband (8) – 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. And I am growing more conservative, I’m afraid… Ugh.

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So far, so good, but what does the future bring?

First of all, the spreadsheet stays. I do think that it is the right amount of obsessing and ‘hard data’ for me. Wardrobe tracking has helped me to not only become aware of the unsung heroes of my wardrobe (officewear, leggings, the more ubiquitous t-shirts) but also to appreciate that a low count does not necessarily move garments into the ‘out’ pile. I have my reasons and excuses. Some of them are very rational, as in having two winter coats of varying thickness and two pairs of waterproof boots in Rīga, even if in 2018 I have spent only three weeks there. There is enough space in my mom’s house to keep them there instead of lugging them back and forth. And there is no proper winter in Barcelona anyway.

It is a bit harder to explain away the little black cocktail dress and that flower ball, but let me try. Those are aspirational and backward-looking pieces at the same time. I would still like to be the person who wears those, and tracking tells me to what I extent I am.

The person I was when I bought that LBD. Brussels 2008.

I also tracked – in wider categories – what covered my legs. That serves two purposes: (1) knowing the seasonal balance, and (2) taking future hoisiery decisions. Measured in days ‘worn’, the winner are bare legs. 169 days in 2018 I have left home with nothing covering my legs, wearing no or ankle socks. That’s the climate part. The runner-up with 135 are leggings, hence my talking about their central space in my wardrobe beforehand. The other three options – knee-highs (52), tights (48), stay-ups (44) – are clearly minor players. In 2018 I abandoned stay-highs and embraced opaque woolen tights. And Bonne Maison knee-highs, when worn with midi-skirts, are a very good option for spring and autumn.

2019 will bring a whole new vibe with me finishing my thesis and leaving behind having an office to go to. Although it has always been a very relaxed environment, the very fact of getting out of home was enough for me to dress nicely. Now the landscape will be one of balancing drawing/blogging/running errands from home (in something comfy) and projecting my professional self as a freelance researcher and professional organizer. From all 2018 outfits this might be the one closest to how I see that new self… I know, pretty boring and grown-up!

What has happened in your wardrobe in 2018? Abrupt changes? Baby step evolution? Lifestyle switches? Did you try any method of wardrobe tracking? What has your wardrobe taught you in 2018?

#whatiwore 2019w01 + Sunday links

The year might be new, but the brain has to be fed:

1. I am still a sucker for a good fashion anecdote, obviously, especially if it’s about somebody’s whim becoming an unexpected hit: Bernstein’s Folly. Or protest fashion that then loses its meaning – Wretched Excess: The Rebellion of the Wide-Leg Pant. Or just completely weird ideas, like having designated drinking jackets as to not to ruin the good suits – Ivy Workwear Style Via Princeton University’s Beer Jackets.

2. A short look at the gilets jaunes from a purely fashion point of view: The Power of the Yellow Vest.

3. If the Holiday season has tired your liver, kidneys, and/or brain and you have been entertaining the idea to never ever consume something again, turns out that Vice (!) has a whole straight edge section (!) dedicated to ‘the drugs are bad, mkay’: (a) Smoking Weed Can Be a Lot of Fun, But Let’s Not Pretend it Doesn’t Fuck You Up; (b) When Partying Becomes a Problem: How I Managed to Quit Drink and Drugs; (c) How Giving Up Drink and Drugs in Your Twenties Can Change Your Life; (d) This Is Why Gen Z Isn’t Into Drink or Drugs; (e) Quitting Alcohol Doesn’t Have to Be the End of Your Social Life. The funniest and scariest cultural changes in substance abuse I found there were the pressures stemming from the footprints such behavior leaves on one’s social media: it all will be photographed if not filmed, will project a ‘bad’ image, your prospective employers will be able to see it, your puffy face will look uglier in the selfies… and, in this competitive economy where serious people start to prepare for their career in the kindergarten, ain’t nobody got time for that anyways.

4. I don’t own anything Elizabeth Suzanne, their aesthetics are mostly not really my style, and I know that their way of working implies a price point inaccessible to most, but I just can’t help but love the way they do business: 2018: A Reflection and Recap and 2018 Holiday FAQs.

5. Those who have made a new year’s resolution to travel more, don’t. It’s a dirty business. Literally. (In Spanish) Cada turista contamina al día en Barcelona el equivalente a conducir 410 kilómetros. Go to a library and read  a book instead!

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What I was writing about a year ago: How expensive is an ethical wardrobe? 2017 second half money talk.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2018w01 + Sunday links.

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So, what are your new year’s resolutions? Teetotalism or getting a beer jacket? More travel or more books? Doing more or contaminating less?

Luisita 31 or 31 facts about me

Somehow this March 2007 selfie feels relevant…

I’m turning 31 today and here you have 31 things you didn’t ever necessarily wanted to know about me:

1. I’m an only child. That does explain a lot.

2. Although several millions of people share this experience, it still tickles me: the state that issued my birth certificate does not exist.

3. I have found a missing piece of family history online. The family legend was that my grandpa’s sister’s second husband had been incarcerated for anti-Soviet activities in the 1950s, but later in life he never talked about it, so there was no additional narrative about that. Doing a more general family history project a few years ago, Google revealed that he – Mikhail Krasilnikov (1933-1996) – was a vanguard poet and student experimenting with performances in 1950s Leningrad. The Russian internets have his prision-time photos, his poetry, memories of his friends and photos of my great-aunt too. I was high on this new piece of the family puzzle for days.

4. Quoting Hamilton, an ongoing issue in my life is “why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room?” with the answer being “because it’s obviously the case”. Since kindergarten I’ve had enough “no, Luīze, not you, maybe somebody else knows” situations to be prepared for this scenario, much more than the opposite one. This is one of the reasons why PhD has been so hard – you get a room full of people whose basic experience is to be the smartest on in the room. That ought to lead to trauma and friction.

5. The story about professional ambitions that I like to tell myself is that I’ve actually given a try to every idea that made sense. An alternative view would be that I’ve been quitting stuff when it stop making sense from a very early age…. At three I wanted to become a ballerina. My mom dutifully enrolled me and after a year or even less I had it clear that the tutu was the best part and that the classes with a strict teacher wasn’t. The next idea that persisted for a long time and, in a way, never really went away was becoming a fashion designer. So I drew, I read, I learnt classical drawing, and at the end, just before the entrance exams for the arts high school at 16, I stayed at the comprehensive programme. The next fantasy was to become a journalist. I did a gig for few small publications and realized that I didn’t have guts to do serious (read: dangerous) reporting from conflict areas while most local stuff was so boring and half-assed that I didn’t want to be part of that. By that time I was deep in volunteering for NGOs, so working for an international NGO suddenly seemed the perfect combination of politics and impact. Yeah, it took some more volunteering and a six-month internship to learn that that’s not the case. After that one dissipated, I started my undergrad, fell in love with the scientific method, vowed to become a sociologist and even got a tattoo honoring Descartes. Nine years later I am a few months from having a PhD in social and political sciences and no illusions about this industry.

6. Yeah, there are two tattoos. 2011 question mark honoring Descartes’ ‘methodological skepticism‘ and 2013 ‘el cuerpo de Osiris, cuerpo brotado, se alzó y caminó’ from Eduardo Galeano‘s microcuentos reinterpreting the myth of Osiris and Isis. No regrets and they are keeping up great (a n00b advice: mine are gray and not black), my grandpa still pretends he cannot see them, and I still haven’t been able to come up with a reasonable addition. The only nuisance are all the people who think that it is a fine icebreaker to ask about the meaning of my tattoos, no, not cool, stop that sh*t.

Planning my first tattoo the obsessive-compulsive way.

7. I’ve had several piercings that were done in the following order: a ring in the helix of my left ear at 12, nose stud in the left nostril at 13, belly button at 15, earlobes at 19. The upper ear and belly button never healed, so they disappeared quickly. The nose stud lasted until a few years ago. The earlobes are still here but very sensitive nowadays, hence I’ve let go of my extensive stupid earring collection and wear pharmacy earrings.

8. Until some German pop-feminst books set me free at around 14, I avidly read and believed women’s magazines. That’s an incredible amount of false beliefs about life, sex, beauty, femininity among other topics. Ugh.

9. An issue that was too big for pop feminism was body issues, fantasies about fatness, and linking bodies to acceptance and self-worth. The most reasonable way of describing it is a low-key body dysmorphia. And knowing that so many all of us suffer from this doesn’t help. Body positivity, the average user’s guide is the blog post I’m most proud of.

10. At 16 I realized that life with short fingernails was much easier. It took a bit more time to arrive to the same conclusions about life without nail polish and make-up in general, but I don’t think I’m ever going back to that.

11. I’ll never know if I didn’t learn to walk in heels or is the whole thing just that painful (long way beyond my boundaries of acceptable discomfort). Anyways, no heels for me.

12. I started drifting towards vegetarianism at 14, went serious ovo-lacto at 18 and started flirting with veganism at 23. A list of my favorite Ⓥ resources can be found here.

13. Yoga is the physical activity that I’ve practiced most. I started with a very fitness-oriented version sometime around 15 or so and – with differing intensity – it has stuck around ever since. The second most practiced is tennis that I (having until then only played with the clay and watching my mom play) started learning at 8 and abandoned at 14, I guess. I did take it up again during my first year of undergrad but didn’t continue. Posterior trials with ping-pong confirm that the neuronal pathways forged for this are solid and would happily come back. I hope it will make sense some day to go back to the clay and the amazing sound of a correct hit. Other sports I’ve given a committed amateur’s try at some point include floorball, volleyball and swimming. After 1.5 years of actively learning it, swimming must be the third most practiced by now.

14. I have an advantage in yoga, though. My joints are very mobile, not enough for Cirque du Soleil, but still enough to see difference very quickly and get a lot of satisfaction out of it. Only recently I learnt that also my recently cranky ankle (after a sprain) and lower back pain if I don’t move enough are due to the same random genetic gift.

15. I don’t have a driver’s license. This is the only thing I regret not doing when the rest of my cohort did it. It’s a skill I find useful and a good idea but I had other priorities when all my classmates were getting theirs at 17. And it has been like that ever since.

16. I have very few teeth, 27 of the 32 there should be. All my wisdom teeth were extracted (I lived in pain and on drugs for a year or so meanwhile) and on the bottom row where most people have four incisors I have three. Funnily enough, the space is so well filled that nobody, including dentists, had noticed that until I was 18.

17. On a related dental hygiene note, dental floss for me is a basic necessity and a happy little indulgence at the same time. Meanwhile, I only brush once a day.

18. I’m between ENTJ and INTJ on the Myers-Briggs matrix. Knowing that gives me a perverse permission to be even more ruthless… “Anyone who worries they are an unfeeling, manipulative lunatic is probably quite cuddly

19. Right before running into C, I was very excited about the idea of polyamory (thanks to Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt, of course). So at that point monogamy was a radical choice for me (wording of that notion: Tristan Taormino), and much hilarity ensued when I announced I was settling down for an exclusive coupledom to the same friends to whom I had waxed enthusiastically about polyamory just months before. 6.5 years since then and going strong.

20. The food that never fails to make me happy is basic avocado maki. Even the pre-prepared ones in the airports. Most potato-based dishes come in as close seconds. Yes, I am a case of the stereotypical Eastern European potato love, and will never get bored of them.

21. The drink that never fails to make me happy is natural rooibos or any of the subtly bitter herbal teas: nettle, raspberry leaves, lemongrass. Like one of the characters in a Nora Ikstena novel, I get way too sentimental when drinking camomile, but in the great debate of fresh vs. dried mint for herbal teas I’m firmly on the side of dried.

22. Flavor I’m really NOT into: anise! Be it in licorice, liquor or fennel (probably the only vegetable I don’t know how to make palatable for myself), I don’t like it.

23. My drug of choice: alcohol. By now I have an extensive knowledge, both personal and cultural, on how it works and what to look out for (as opposed to many other substances), and it’s pretty clear that I’ll never be able to drink like I could (and did) when I was 17. Current favorites for an occasional indulgence include fruity session IPAs, easy chilled white wines and – if need be – quality distillate straight up.

24. Best smells are freshly mowed grass, lavender, roses and sunny pine forest. I don’t wear perfume, though.

25. The bulk of my taste in music was summed-up C in the phrase “dead black ladies”. Eartha Kitt and Ella Fitzgerald, in particular.

26. Yet my 2017 and 2018 have been heavily tainted by everything Hamilton, including the Mixtape and #hamildrops. Musicals do attract me in general, although the only one I’ve seen live is The Book of Mormon. As for hamildrops, this: “Rise Up Wise Up Eyes Up” by Ibeyi.

27. And I consider South Park to be among the best series ever. Yeah, it might be early childhood trauma, but that satire is wow. For me, much better than Simpsons or Family Guy. Some of my best early adolescence memories is watching South Park VHS tapes I had made from the TV and playing with matches (and candles) for hours. True story.

26. My favorite escape is to be drawing while listening to something. I guess there are many people whom I’ve offended because of my doodling during their classes or presentations, but I just can’t help (and it feels so good and so right). Also, I typically remember what I’ve been listening to while drawing that exact piece. I am very present while doing that.

27. I find chairs very uncomfortable. That position just does not feel comfortable. I wiggle, sit on my leg, try to sit cross-legged on the chair, etc. And wish that long distance travel – or work – could be routinely done with legs at the same level as bum. The Fifth Element-style travel drawers (with or without the drugs) seem very attractive for me. And not for nothing you get a similar thing when flying business class.

28. I’m a walker. True to basic human advantage in resilience to outwalk anybody, walking is my favorite way of getting to places in the city. A pretty typical day-off for us with C is walking some 3km to get dinner or lunch and then walking back. Fun. This goes back to the point about comfy shoes. Unwalkable footwear is useless.

29. I have a certain talent for languages, as far as I really have to use them. However, my two major pitfalls come from Latvian. In Latvian all words have fixed stress – always the first syllable – so I have to learn it the hard way in languages that have variable stresses, which is all others I speak: English, Spanish, Russian. Russian is currently the hardest for me when it comes to accents. The other Latvian quirk is not having articles… so I have no intuitive understanding of where it’s supposed to be a definite, an indefinite one or nothing. I manage somehow, but it’s a continuous struggle and startle people editing my texts. Well, at least I don’t have the typically harsh Latvian accents when speaking other languages… and some claim that my current Latvian prosody (and volume) are Spanish-influenced.

30. I’ve been more of a night owl since the kindergarten but can be trained to follow a reasonable schedule (but never get one of those 5am rise-and-shine inspirations). Additionally, I sleep a lot with up to 10h of natural everyday sleep. Although there is a lot of fetish around little sleep and early rising, I find solace in the internet knowledge that Einstein slept 10-12h too.

31. My mom’s inspiration for the name, however, was The Human League’s Louise. It was innovative at the time, according to contacts at Latvian Bureau of Statistics, I’m the 22nd Luīze registered in Latvia. Some years after it became more popular and now there’s a lot of Luīzītes. I just let people reinvent my name as they please, because nobody that doesn’t speak Latvian is able to get it right. Well, at least exactly as my mother intended. And people are creative alright! I’ve gotten Luis, Elise, Lluice, Luitze, Lizzie, Alice, Lucille… Luisa is not in use in our household, but Luise and Luisita is.

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Too much information? Anything left unanswered? This is the opportunity…

#whatiwore 2018w52 + Sunday links

Om-nom-nom, here we go with a nice hefty portion of brain food to finish off 2018:

1. People either ignore them on hate them these days, but once they were all the rage – Artificial Intelligence: A Guide To Synthetic Fibers.

2. And if you are going to proclaim yourself as a natural fiber person, The Types of Cottons You Should Know.

3. Ha! The consistent theft and forgery of design can be a good thing for fostering in-house production and integrated supply chains at least at the highest shelves of fashion industry: Fashion’s Notoriously Controlling Luxury Brands Are Busy Bringing Everything They Can In-House.

4. And more garment history so that you would have an idea about the history behind an now-ubiquitous design: The Boot That Became “The Chelsea”.

5. It has been 120 years since Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class and 40 since Bourdieu’s Distinction, and still our fashion choices tell our politics and social class by a mile away: Cambridge Analytica Used Fashion Tastes to Identify Right-Wing Voters and Cambridge Analytica Used Consumers’ Fashion Preferences to Target Them with Pro-Trump Messaging.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Fashion, sustainability and tidying books I read in 2017.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w52.

Also, this is the 200th blog post at Un Armario Verde en 100th #whatiwore post. You can scroll through all those posts here (if you want the weird Mediterranean seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn) or see them all at a glance on Pinterest here. All together it looks rather spectacular, and the data lover in me squeals alright about such abundance of consistent data.

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What do you think your fashion choices tell about you? Could you be politically targeted due to your looks or would that be a total miss? Do you camouflage or express your true self via clothing, ehm, wearing your heart on your actual sleeves?

#whatiwore 2018w51 + Sunday links

Nom-nom-nom…

1. If you wanted a reminder why fast fashion is not a good idea neither as a gift nor as a last minute sequin dress provider: (a) Global garment workers exploited as big brands pressure suppliers: Report; (b) 5 Years After Pay Pledge, HnM Still Isn’t Paying Laborers a “Living Wage”; (c) Bangladesh to eject safety inspectors brought in after Rana Plaza disaster. Stay away from those people! + also, The Biggest Fake News in Fashion, aka ‘fashion as we know it is bad for the environment and pollutes a lot, but we cannot really say that it is the second most polluting industry’.

2. And if you wanted a suggestion list for your 2018 resolutions: Ten simple ways to act on climate change. Yes, you already know these by heart but have you actually tried to apply these to your life? All 10? Half? Just 3? Let me remind you that the 4 most effective on the individual level are: having less children, going car free, flying less, and switching to plant-based diet.

3. A long(ish) read on the sudden appearance (in the common social consciousness) of one of the trendiest sustainability issues: The plastic backlash: what’s behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference?

4. And just for historical fashion fun – The Pilgrims: The Original Sadd Boys [for whom black was too daring of a color].

5. An occasional uplifting piece of new that is supposed to make us feel hopeful about fashion: The UK workers’ co-op filling in fast fashion’s gaps and here you can buy from that co-op: Community Clothing.

And as a community service: In Mapping, Size Matters + more about Gall–Peters projection. Because you are old enough to know that maps are political and that Africa is bigger than Greenland or Europe. You are welcome!

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What I was writing about a year ago: 7 dresses x 3 months: Lessons learnt.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w51.

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Have you already prepared your 2019 resolutions/goals? Are you giving up something? Are you starting something new? Did your 2018 sustainability resolutions work out?

#whatiwore 2018w50 + Sunday links

Hello there, we specialize in the best brain food around here:

1. Knowing my tireless advocacy work for laundering less – proof 1, proof 2 – I recommend this cute BuzzFeed survey of figuring out how much of a cleanliness freak are you in comparison with (let’s not talk about the survey design or its representativity) the average American millennial: Ok, This Poll Is The Place To Confess How Often You Actually Wash These Things. Obviously, I don’t mean to say that the average person is right, just to point out that there is a lot of heterogeneity in habits that still allows survival and that critical judgement has to be applied.

2. Feminist analysis from when subtle, symbolic sexism in politics was a worry – The Princess Effect: How women’s magazines demean powerful women—even when they’re trying to celebrate them. Oh, 2014, I miss you!

3. I keep coming across excerpts from Alison Matthews David’s Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present and it looks delicious. Take a look: 7 Ways Victorian Fashion Could Kill You. Into 2018 reading list it goes!

4. And continuing on the topic on trusting your own judgement: the glory of a minimalist purge (of quite an extreme case, I’d dare to say) in I Surrendered My Wardrobe and the equally true story how a tiny wardrobe might be only a temporary therapy instead of a permanent solution for your true self in The Anxiety of the Minimalist Closet. Relax and do you at your own pace, if you are suffering from millennial shit anxieties you probably still have at least 50 healthy years to live, you have time to explore all kinds of dressing. I, of course, recommend a step-wise reduction and greening of your wardrobe…

5. And a party pooper which might or might not renew your sustainability pledges for the next year: Does Climate Change Mean You Should Fly Less? Yeah, Maybe. For me the balance between individual and collective action is the hardest part of the whole sustainability thing. I’m still figuring it out (17 flights in 2016, 23 in 2017, 8 in 2018 but 2019 already looks like a fly-a-lot year…) but starting to think is.. well, a beginning.

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What I was writing about a year ago: #100wears: Hummel Madelaine Zip Jacket.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w50 + Sunday links.

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How do you deal with the ‘personal responsibility’ vs. ‘only massive social/political action can achieve the CO2 cut we need’? Is your propulsion towards radical lifestyle changes, community organizing, or just existential dread under the blanket? What to you do when the existential dread and helplessness comes?

Garment Stories: Hunting Ensemble Beanie

This is a new category born out of my burning wish to tell this one thing… It’s not #100wears just yet for this one, and it is long way from being beyond repair, but it’s a lovely gem of a garment and the story behind it makes it even lovelier.

The cutest thing happened last week. I received the best gift in a long time. And here comes my lesson learnt (as a receiver of such gift) about gift giving: the best material gift is the replacement of something the receiver loved and then lost/wore out/grew out of. Of course, this is not applicable to irreplaceables (pets, people, etc.), so don’t be daft about it, but if you know somebody well enough to know that they have lost a material possession they were fond of, that would make sense to own again and haven’t replaced it yet, here’s your perfect opportunity to show how loving and attentive you are. Boom!

The other way of telling this is ‘my partner gave me a hat that’s very similar to the hat I had until last February and I couldn’t be happier about it’.

So going back a while… I found a red knitted hat among C’s possessions in 2013/2014. I have no idea where it came from, but it was cute and practical, and I started wearing it. As an adult I’ve developed sensitive ears, and year-round swimming (and hating the blow dryers) and bicycle wind don’t help. And I always felt cool when wearing. Few things have that power, so I cherished the little red beanie.

With time it got a patina of meaning and inside jokes, especially about being part of the crew taking after the aesthetics associated with Jacques Cousteau and Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. But during a beer festival in February 2018 I somehow lost it. Yeah, you tell me about the benefits of losing a hat in -17ºC Latvian winter. I looked for it, I wrote the organizers but that beanie was gone… the n-th proof that I am pretty reckless with my things and because of that it probably fell out of my pocket and was shoveled away by a snow/garbage truck. Sad.

I can’t even claim that all I wanted for Xmas was a little red hat, because after a few Pinterest searches I just assumed that the hat I was left with was the gray one I crocheted for C in 2012/2013, so I just wore that one. Yes, very in line with my ‘use up what you’ve got‘ ideology… it’s a fine hat, but it’s a long way from being as visually interesting as the red one. Sorry, gray hat!

I had basically forgotten about the red one when C showed up one day after work with a little package for me. Ta-dah! He had gone beyond a lazy Pinterest search and found Hunting Ensemble Fine Merino Beanie in bright red. 100% merino and made in Germany. This is what I meant before talking about perfect desired presents that bring so much joy…


The new hat also sparked an interest in learning – well, doing a basic google search – about the little red hat. Turns out it has a fun name (‘cap comforter’) and a long history in civil engineering diving that then TV made it Coustou’s trademark. Well, he was wearing it anyways and it looked good on the color TV. Read up: The Incredible Story Beneath Jacques Cousteau’s Famous Red Hat and An incredible Follow-Up to Jacques Cousteau’s Famous Red Hat. Googling ‘standard diving dress‘ you’ll see several historic photos with divers hugging the bonnet under their arm and sporting a knitted cap.

I unpicked the brand tag from my and now I have the perfect anonymous red beanie. It’s so similar to the old one I could have illustrated this with last year’s pictures and nobody would have found a difference… Ha!


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Have you received something very special this festive season? Have you ever had any successful replacements of this type? Do you lose things often?

#whatiwore 2018w49 + Sunday links

Nom-nom-nom, said the little gray cells:

1. A bit of indigo fetish just for you: True Blue and Indigo Witches + raw, traceable wool fetish, too – Fleece patrol: How organic wool from Patagonia is creating sustainable luxury.

2. Funny fashion tips (and obsessions) around maintenance of hegemonic masculinities: My Father’s Fashion Tips and The Most Flattering Sweater?

3. The horrible stories of visible and undeniable pollution created by textile industry in loosely controlled places: (a) Bangladesh Pollution, Told in Colors and Smells, (b) The denim capital of the world: So polluted you can’t give the houses away, and (c) Dying for Meaning.

4. One of those weird, chain-of-unintended-consequences stories how politics created fashion structures in XVII century and how climate change is making it unviable now – The King of Couture: How Louis XIV invented fashion as we know it and Are Fashion Seasons Outdated?

5. And to put some fire in making nice, authentic for you – not necessarily ones made of 1940s originals, though – wardrobes Five Reasons Vintage Clothing Is Not Just “Old Used Clothes” (Even Though It Kind of Is), and Building a Vintage Closet: a few quick notes, and Building a vintage closet, Step 1: Who are you? There’s a whole series of these there…

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What I was writing about a year ago: #KonMari for advanced minimalists.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w49 + Sunday links.

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I am more and more astonished about the collective wish to play winter here, and my willingness to take part. It has been sunny and oscillating between 16-18ºC lately, and streets are full with winter jackets and boots. (OK, and sunglasses too.) Of course, those are not thick enough for a really cold winter, but is very clearly not the same clothing that one wears when a Latvian summer hits exactly the same temperatures, or when a Spaniard travels to Scandinavia in August. And I should know better. I have had enough of those 10ºC summers. But there you have me, wearing wool tights in 18ºC and being cranky about sweating too much. Weird… Yes, yes, climate change, wool nostalgia manufactured by marketing, clinging to the picture book ideas what winter is, the paradoxical life of being cold inside (the no-heating life, anybody?) and warm outside, but I still find it a bit disturbing when there’s a mass market for poorly filled puffy jackets that have a winter look but keeps you warm to the level that a Latvian spring coat would.

Are people faking winter where you live or do you get a real one?

December Swap (8th!) recap

Swap Nº8 came and went. Remembering my exhaustion and despair after the previous one, I (a) was going to do my best to be the most relaxed possible around it and (b) was on a lookout for how it went if I didn’t have other high-stress commitments bookending a swap. After that last recap post, several people gave me advice on how to do it better. Most of that centered around ‘ask for more help’ and ‘stop cooking’. Ha! I can’t do that. My inner grandma insists on feeding people. And as nobody has offered herself to cater for this event just for tips (that this time did not even cover the cost of food and tape), it’s a bind I see no exit from.

To try to stay sane took the previous two days off work (hello, thesis that has to be handed in by X-mas) and made sure I had no plans for Saturday evening or Sunday. Shopping happened, taking the seed suitcase to Ateneu happened, cookies and tortilla happened.

The monster-size vegan bread cookies…

And it went fine. People came and swapped. There was tea and snacks. I beamed at the opportunity to shrug off all the ‘oh, what a great idea!’ with a ‘yeah, I’ve been doing this for more than two years’. I was accompanied by an enthusiastic bunch of volunteers from the very beginning until the very end. Thank you all!

On that positive note I am toying with two ideas for the next one (9th of February, btw): (1) to skip the Banc Expropriat thing and just bring it all to the Roba Amiga container, and (2) to insist that tips are actually ‘taquilla inversa’.

As for Botiga Gratis of Banc Expropriat, I went to ask if they were still OK and accepting stuff as rumors about their eviction come up all the time. The answers are, yes, they are open and active, but their backroom is full to the brim with bags and bags of garments. While the idea is wonderful and clearly working, it is not working enough. The Botiga Gratis has clearly become a guilt parking for the socially conscious graciences who share the stigma of the containers but then do not acquire their stuff exactly where they bring the old garments. I’ve noticed this spark in the eyes of Swap uncustomers when informed that the leftovers go there, they feel great about it! No, dude, your worn out fast fashion jersey is not charity. It’s garbage you refuse to dispose of properly.

So my new plan is to add another didactic dimension to this work and educate people why Roba Amiga is the thing to do. First of all, that is the official municipal response: used garments and textile waste go to Roba Amiga containers, and those people take care of sorting and figuring out whatever can still be done with that. If any other alternative would appear – ganchillo crochet enthusiasts, patchworkers, pillow stuffers, etc. – I’d be very happy, but they haven’t yet. And organizing a whole different shift (and people don’t want to do this; fuck, I don’t want to do this) of bringing bags and bags to Botiga Gratis when they already have bags and bags wastes both my and their nerves and time.

And, yes, I have to give this thing a bit more of a capitalist spin and suggest that everybody who benefits from this event considers paying me. If every person who passed through the event last Saturday would have left an euro in the tip jar, I wouldn’t be complaining, because that would have covered all the food, all the tape and then some… but it is not the case! So taquilla inversa – i.e. ‘pay what you want/can if you consider this a good idea’ – is the big poster I’m preparing for the next Swap.

The leftovers.

The magical team that wrapped it up, swept, washed up, and locked the door. Thank you!

As for my commitment to stay calm and do less. Well… it started well. We had a very late lunch after the Swap with C and some friends, I was happily decompressing and munching seitan. At home I had Pride and Prejudice and drawing waiting, so it seemed perfect. But instead I got what seems to have been my first migraine, leading to going to bed at eight and just staying there. Miserable. And the shitshow continued on Sunday when I woke up with pain in my left foot that made it hard to walk. On Monday at the GP they confirmed that 8+ hours on foot is not a good idea, especially for my apparently not well healed last year’s sprained ankle. Bah! The ‘don’t overdo it’ part clearly didn’t work out this time. But I’ll try again…

The little pink jersey was the only garment that left my wardrobe. And I even know who has it now!

On the bright side, what did I get? A pair of Vans-like slippers and an off-shoulder dress in 100% black lyocell. Neither of them is a whim. A pair of sneakers is always a good idea because I burn through mine. These are my size but I expect them to give a little to become extra comfy. My current plan is to wear them around the house to break them in. The only problem there is that my May swap slippers (thank you, Margareta, for spotting them!) is now at the comfiest point before they break… These are the new ones:

And the dress is a shape I call Mucha dress, although poor Alphonse is probably rolling in his grave because of it. But for me they do recall his heroines: off-shoulder, generous and drape-y cuts, florals and ruffles, and playful about tiptoeing between a nightgown and a dress. Not full length, though. I’ve had two such pieces so far that I wore to threads… which was easy given the flimsy fabrics and my constant tugging of the dropped elastic waists and/or shoulders. This is the spirit of a Mucha dress in my mind:

My Pinterest wishlist featured a couple of Mucha dresses:

I had never imagined one in black or any solid color for that matter, but here it came: no signs of previous wear, Zara, made in Morocco, 100% lyocell. This one does not have an elastic dropped waist to tug at which will probably prolong its lifespan and has pockets! The Zara thing is starting to worry me a bit because of 9 second-hand garments I’ve adopted in 2018, four (!) are from Zara. But to hell with them, I have a new Mucha dress for once it gets warm again… Or maybe even for January with tights or leggings?

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Do you have any swap experiences? Have you ever organized a swappy event? If yes, how did that go? Or do you have any other routine sources of quality hand-me-downs: family, friends, etc? What’s your best-ever (or just latest) swap find?

#whatiwore 2018w48 + Sunday links

Because your gray cells deserve a feast:

1. And because ’tis the season: 12 Easy Ideas for a Sustainable(ish) Christmas.

2. And to reduce the stress and increase the lifespan of your most festive (hence usually the most exposed to stain catastrophes) garments: How to Remove (Almost) Every Stain from Your Clothes.

3. Oh, funny story for 2018: Victoria’s Secret Is Trying to Change With the Times. Or Is It? D-oh!

4. And on the other side of sex-segregated dressing and gendered narratives: The Sneaky Way Clothing Brands Hooked Men on Stretch Jeans.

5. Of course, this section wouldn’t be true to itself without some climate pessimism and tales on how the world is going down the toilet in a hand basket, courtesy of George Monbiot: In a World of Their Own and Hopeless Realism.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Stop browsing fast fashion, browse the internet instead.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w48 + Sunday links.

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Do you have any plans for sustainable-ing Christmas? Less love miles? Less gifts? Less decoration? In my family this is the first year – after several years of discussions about such possibility – when the agreement is to not to give presents… We’ll see how that will go. So far it has been quite relaxing as the pressure to think up something reasonably fun, useful and sustainable for people who already have it all has been lifted.

#whatiwore 2018w47 + Sunday links

Feed the little gray cells:

1. OK, the retail might be working very hard to reinvent itself, but this is just weird: “Going to a store […] should feel like going to a hotel or resort, where you are taking away a memory because you are touched by an emotion you want to revisit […] As a retailer, this means “you are not serving a person who needs an item,” […] You are serving a person who needs an experience”: Libraries, Gardens, Museums. Oh, and a Clothing Store.

2. When the way how we use our body parts change, also this happens: Surgery students ‘losing dexterity to stitch patients’. Apparently stitcher robots are not really here yet…

3. And the other reason to praise – or at least explain the surge of – the hands-on crafts is their mental health benefits (in Spanish): Las manualidades son el nuevo yoga para la paz mental: Lettering.

4. George Monbiot got on the quit meat bandwagon only after imagining animal-less meat. Here’s another sprinkle of his futuristic excitement, in this case about synthesizing all food: “a group of Finnish researchers has been producing food without either animals or plants. Their only ingredients are hydrogen-oxidising bacteria, electricity from solar panels, a small amount of water, carbon dioxide drawn from the air, nitrogen and trace quantities of minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium and zinc. The food they have produced is 50 to 60% protein, the rest is carbohydrate and fat. […] They use electricity from solar panels to electrolyse water, producing hydrogen, that feeds bacteria (which turn it back into water). Unlike other forms of microbial protein (such as Quorn), it requires no carbohydrate feedstock – in other words, no plants.”

5. Lessons from the plastic-free people (in Spanish): Tres años viviendo sin plástico and – with focus on our unwillingness to trouble others – Sin plástico y sin vergüenza.

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What I was writing about a year ago: How to Survive *Winter* in Barcelona.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w47 + Sunday links.

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What are the sustainability practices that make you feel like a burden? Asking to weight your own containers at the bulk bins? Telling that you don’t eat this, this, this, and that at a social gathering? Asking where and under what conditions was this made? Having to lie about what you did with people’s last year’s presents?

#whatiwore 2018w46 + Sunday links

The best brain food for the best people:

1. Mid-term elections in US, Melania Trump’s fashion choices, Michelle Obama’s book tour, and the season 6 of House of Cards have brought a series of NYT articles (♥ Vanessa Friedman) on the meaning of dress while in office: (a) Melania Trump: Out of Africa, Still in Costume, (b) The First Female President Will Not Carry a Handbag, (c) Dressing Michelle Obama, Then and Now, and (d) The Congressional Uniform Is About to Change.

2. And these two weird-for-me articles (trigger warnings for restrictive beauty standards and class bias) speak to the same interaction between appearance and how people treat one in line with their reading of our appearances: Why do attractive people dress well? I interviewed a random stranger to find out and How to become an International Woman of Mystery.

3. Can you beat Bill Gates’ score on this climate change quiz? And after that, Climate change and the 75% problem. Major takeaway points: cut meat and dairy, reduce your consumption of new things, rethink all those internet purchases, think about making your dwelling more energy efficient…

4. The McKinsey report about how ‘nearshoring’ – still outsourcing to cheaper places but doing it closer so that the production would shorten even more the sketch-to-shelf cycle – is the new business-smart thing to do fashion popped up in my feeds again (this was the first time): In an age of super-fast fashion, Mexico and Turkey may be the new China. Ugh, when relatively good things happen for the wrong reasons…

5. This: Please Stop Clearing Out Your Wardrobe In The Name Of Sustainability. Again and again, every conversation about sustainability has to begin with the fact that the most sustainable thing to do is to wear out things you already have, even if they came from fast fashion brands that you now loathe. Paradoxically enough, wearing your fast fashion stuff a lot is a way of sticking it to them! My advice on this, here – Baby Steps: Detoxing A Wardrobe Takes Time.

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What I was writing about a year ago: The Pink Post: Instrumental and subversive uses of the traditionally feminine.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w46 + Sunday links.

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Have you had to curb your impulse to throw away anything that said H’n’M or Zara on it after your first exposure to problems with fast fashion? What did you do? Do you happily pick up fast fashion items at swaps or second hand shops or do you shun them? Do you ever think about this paradox of you wearing and hence representing a brand you do not agree with at all while doing the most sustainable thing possible in giving the most possible wears to their garments?

#whatiwore 2018w45 + Sunday links

Brain food, brain food, what a good idea:

1. Urbanism and fashion industry, oh, yes: Is NYC’s garment district unraveling? and How Manhattan Became a Rich Ghost Town. And, in similar vein, some innovation in how to get their fashion to people (still moving parcels around but at least not with new garments): WeWork Is Getting Into Workplace Fashion With Rent the Runway.

2. Today is the Best Time in Fashion: “Fashion has become closer to modern art. Whereas both forms were once ruled by strict classical ideas, the space is now free with untrammeled creativity and multidirectional experimentation, where people can both celebrate beauty as well as ideas that challenge traditional notions of beauty.”

3. When politics and ethical/sustainable fashion might or might not come together: Made in USA and the Rise of Nationalism.

4. What the ultrarich do if they have similar long term vision of future as I do: How tech’s richest plan to save themselves after the apocalypse.

5. Structural disadvantages in the industry: The Most Diverse Fashion Season Ever on the Runway, but Not the Front Row and What it’s really like to be black and work in fashion.

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What I was writing about a year ago – #100wears: Ginta’s gray cardigan.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w45 + Sunday links.

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The weather is confusing, there is a lot of work (at work, ha), the blog is a bit backlogged, and my links are very USA-centric. Yes. How are you do doing?