#whatiwore 2017w38

*

A light layer has become a necessity, although to a much lesser extent than you would think by looking at people on the street. Barcelona seems to be craving autumn, and, as people are not getting it, they are faking (and sweating) it. I too ended up underestimating the temperatures and getting my first serious chub rub of the year. So much talking about being smart about heat and sweating, but September got me!

Six months of blogging and adjusting expectations

I started this site convinced that I had something to share. And none of the fashion-minimalist-sustainability blogs I was reading ticked all my boxes. Hence I set to write the blog I wanted to read!

This is the eight blog-like thing I’ve set up. Yeah, I came of age with the internet, so I started early. The first one was in 2004, and the only ones that survive are I ♥ Being a Girl, a collective effort with my YSAFE people between 2010 and 2015, my tumblr, and iza.feels.it, my visual diary since 2008. Each of them was an effort at “me-me-me, look at me, I have things to say!” and none of them really went viral.

Yet, I found functional explanations for each of them. iza.feels.it is nice to browse through after a while, it provides time stamps for certain events better than all my photography folders, and for a while my mom knew if I was OK by the frequency of posting there. I ♥ Being a Girl was my own little feminist boot camp. Nothing builds consciousness and discursive repertoires as having to explain stuff to others. The tumblr serves as an alternative to Pinterest because my aesthetic pleasures go beyond the puritan user norms of that place. With this blog my key consolation is that one above: this is the blog I wanted to read.

*

However, the numbers worry me. A lot. Every time I visit the WordPress stats site is either a confirmation of “yay, this is working!” if somebody has wondered by or a soul-crushing “this is useless” because nobody has visited the blog today. It is ridiculous, I know… but that’s the truth.

The number are not even that bad. I’ve been harassing my friends intensely enough (most of my traffic comes from Facebook) and some interested strangers appear time by time; in last month there have been four days with no clicks. I am not expecting comments, as those come in after a much higher critical mass of views. That July peak is me asking my Facebook friends to share the blog with their friends as a gift to me. Worked very well! I know what I’ll be asking for my birthday – more clicks.

To keep this labor of love pure and true, I want to spell out the demons surrounding it. I want to leave the doubts here and carry on, so here we go:

  • I fret about the stats constantly. Not healthy! I have my self-worth attached to clicks, even if somebody ends up here by mistake and do not linger. I like my content, but I also like external validation. A lot.
  • I am anxious about constantly spamming my friends with my little outfit photos. We can’t all be Brain Pickings going viral with a little curated newsletter of “look what I’ve read recently”… I am sure that there are quite few people who have unfollowed me on Facebook or who roll their eyes deep into their heads with each of my updates.
  • Wasn’t I supposed to be a serious scholar? How come my Facebook is full of me striking poses in hand-me-downs from my mom? Where is the serious high-brow critique of late capitalism? (Ha, I’m doing an embodied critique!)
  • Am I running out of content? Am I over the whole substract-spark joy-capsule thing? Have I reached a new equilibrium where I know what I’m doing? We all know that the most attractive content is that of redemption, the prodigal son, the recovering shopping addict… My “story” is not even slightly dramatic, I don’t have scary enough “before” pictures. I’m just another obsessive-compulsive disclosing my love for spreadsheets and believing that my strategies *should* work for other people. Well, guess what? Other people are other people. With different characters, needs, and strategies in life. You need a lot of messianic belief in your “method” to tell people that there is one definite way to fold the underwear.
  • What sense does it make to keep updating random passersby about the number of knickers in my drawers? All there really is fits on a napkin – THIS! – the rest is pure entertainment, recycling of the same information and making posts out of thin air.
  • I hate Instagram. It’s bullshit and social only in the worse possible way (conspicious self-projection, anyone? #ad, anyone?). I don’t want to have a social media strategy. I have this clearly idiotic idea that creating (imho) good content is enough. Oh, the naïveté! I wish I had the guts to eliminate it… I have the same “hate-but-it-might-be-useful-someday-somehow” relationship with both Instagram and Twitter. The desire to purge is cyclical.

*

How do you feel about the behind-the-scenes of your internet presence? Are you able to separate # of likes and your self-worth?

*

P.S. – This is my only social media “triumph” (ha!) so far:

É mesmo este fim de semana que começa o outono? @unarmarioverde #birkenstock #birkenstocklove

A post shared by Birkenstock (@birkenstockportugal) on

#whatiwore 2017w37

*

Although, the most worn items of this week have been these:

The summer is almost over, Mykonos confirmed that some of my hot weather garments need new homes, and these were the definite last wears for some of them (oh, little romper, you can’t go away soon enough!). There are two weeks left for this capsule, and Barcelona seems to suggest that I’ll be needing a light jacket over the summer dresses. Oh, finally!

Summer 2017 capsule heroes and lessons learned

My four-month summer capsule (it’s the weather, not me, making the rules) has less than three weeks left. Not all of its 35 items have reached the magical at-least-10-wears-per-season but they will get there. This is becoming an curiously anti-climatic numbers’ game. Of course I can make 35 x 10 = 350 wears happen in 126 days taking into account that an average summer outfit consists of two to four garments and there are many days when I wear more than one.

The only chaos-inducing event was the revision of my Riga capsule. Some items went out after just one or two trial wears while some changed homes and moved to either Riga or Barcelona. But by now everything that got added to the excel is getting its 10 wears. Oh, and the little blue heirloom blouse is up for grabs! May its journey be long and wonderful.

The list of my seasonal heroes (those that have had at least 15 wears, so far the range is [17; 45]) – as usual (see last winter and spring lessons) – reflects the weather, ease of wear, and the inherent magic of numbers: the fewer items there are in a category, the more wears each of them will get. So it is not a surprise that the only two layers that I’ve been using throughout these four months have been worn a lot:

The gray cardigan (hand-me-down from my mom, 39 wears) has been living at work and protecting me against the air conditioning.

The revived Street One military jacket (bought new ~2006), after a long sleep in a glass coffin in Riga, so far has seen mostly planes and travel, not so much everyday life in Barcelona.

*

Also both of my shorts have been worn more than enough. This is a source of additional joy, as it indicates a very healthy turn in my relationships with my body. Due to some very stupid ideas about “fat wobbly thighs” I wouldn’t wear any between the ages ~9 and ~24. I’m glad that’s over because shorts definitely are the easy summer garment, especially when as comfy as the floral rayon shorts (hand-me-down from my mom, 22 out-of-home wears). I’ve been wearing them as outerwear, lounge wear, and underwear. Comfy and versatile is how I love my garments!

As you can see, I’m starting to appreciate the appeal of (off)white blouses… So another throw-it-on-and-go comfort garment throughout this summer has been the little white zipper blouse. Light, breezy, and dries very quickly after having been hand-washed in the sink (again!) after somebody threw a saucy potato on it (again!). A hand-me-down from my mom, 17 wears. (Yes, “my mom’s wardrobe” is my favorite second-hand (un)shop.)

*

The last category of all heroes is footwear. My four seasonal pairs all have been worn more than 30 times in these four months, and I’m perfectly happy with the range: Veja Taua (2016, 45 wears this summer), Birkenstock Gizeh (2017, 38), Veja Arcade (2017, 32), and Arcopedico wedges (2017, 32). You can see that the price I pay for having a real footwear capsule – currently five pairs I’d step outside home or swimming pool in – is having to replace stuff quite often! I just wear the soles off them…

Preparation for Kristīne’s wedding lead to a discovery how Arcopedico shoes can be fixed for my feet with a couple of silicone heel liners, so now they are full members of the versatile shoe team. Before that I could only wear them for short bursts at work. Changing footwear at work is something I just have to do, it’s a hygiene thing and a mental switch. Eastern/Northern European heritage ftw! Latvians are obsessed with indoors-outdoors shoe switches, my favorite part is seeing women in theater or opera getting out of their winter boots and changing into party shoes.

Birks is this season’s incoming and I love them. However, I’m surprised how not made-for-walking the famously comfy shoe is! So nothing has replaced Vejas for biking (I like to pedal without worrying about losing my shoes) and casual 3+ km walks downtown. I get serious feet blisters if I do that in Birks.

*

Through these four months I’ve also collected an assorted list of summer fashion lessons, some of them new for me, some reminders of half-known truths, but here they are:

  • There is a (fashion) solidarity and significantly lowered thresholds of “yuck” in weather extremes. When it’s crazy hot you are sweaty and disgusting but so is everybody else using this metro.
  • After years of suffering chub-rub, here are ways how I prevent it: (a) by walking less; using the bike instead has been my alternative of choice as public transportation induces even more anxiety during a heat wave; (b) by applying some magical dust generously; my dust of choice being Lush “Silky Underwear” mixed 1:1 with cornstarch; (c) by choosing your garments wisely; instead of cooking my body parts in biker shorts I prefer my extra flowy silk maxi skirt. They move between my thighs as I walk and have saved my from “I can’t walk any further” moments this summer. And, yes, I have had such moments in my life!
  • Necklaces choke me. The do not come to me naturally in winter and even less so in summer. If I’d be perfectly honest, I’d have got rid of them long time ago. But I love the idea of necklaces, I love how they look, but often I take mine off before the day is over… so the struggle is stupid and real.
  • Due to a miscommunication with the amazing ladies that normally take care of my unwanted body hair, I ended up going to the biggest European sociology event with all the possible hair on me. August in Athens, so no opaque tight tricks! And it went perfectly well. I decided not to care and the whole non-experience just confirmed that nobody notices or cares.
  • Trying to dress weather appropriately in July and August lead to a clash with my mental hang-ups about work-appropriate clothing. These are totally self-imposed as I do not teach or deal with people in general. I share the office with several colleagues but it has been clear since the very beginning that there is no dress code. So it’s just about cockroaches in my head. Big fat cockroaches whispering that kaftan or short-shorts are not a good idea even when the premises are empty and, obviously, nobody cares!

*

What have you learned this summer? What will you do differently with your 2018 summer capsule?

#whatiwore 2017w36

*

While giving the last rounds to the summer capsule, especially some of the outgoing garments, I’m realizing that this time I will manage to do the at-least-10-wears-per-season with all the pieces. Feels, obviously, rather anti-climatic… Nothing special, I’ve just been wearing my summer stuff.

How did your summer capsule finish? With fireworks or with a meh?

September 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 fastivals, 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 our swaps. I’m still kind of on the fence about several of the items described below (guess which ones!), so I’ve made a deal with myself: if nobody will want them, they are coming back home. I know for a fact that I’m not the only one calming my separation anxiety with this kind of tricks and me being there from the start till the finish of the event increases the chances of these garments finding a new body to adorn.

So these are the ones looking for a new home on September 30 (in order of acquisition):

*

#1: The blue peasant blouse

Came from: It’s family vintage that my mother and her sister wore in early 1980s. Came into my wardrobe sometime in early 2000s. However, I’ve worn it very little.

Made in: Latvia by a former colleague of my grandma.

# of wears since January 2016: 9.

Overall # of wears: Many but stretched over a period of more than 30 years.

Why? The fluffy sleeves are a bit too much. But mostly because this garments shows all the sweat (and I sweat a lot).

Whom for: Somebody who enjoys the peasant blouse trend and is willing to stick to this style when the trend is gone (or wait until it’s back in 2032 or so). Also for somebody who sweats less than I do.

*

#2: The HM romper

Came from: This is one of the last fast fashion items I willingly bought in 2012 when still browsing shops for recreational purposes.

Made in: I was still in the tag-cutting phase, so that information is lost. An educated guess would be Bangladesh or Cambodia.

# of wears since January 2016: 24.

Overall # of wears: A bit more than that, but it clearly didn’t become a beloved staple.

Why? Also this garments shows all the sweat, especially under the breasts if you are not wearing a bra.

Whom for: Somebody wishing to discreetly channel Esther Williams, at least that’s how I feel when wearing it (like this!). Again, for somebody who sweats less than I do.

*

#3: The Nike workout shirt

Came from: Bought new in 2013 for yoga because it has an incorporated bra part. This shirt has seen so much yoga, it should have a yoga instructor certificate by now.

Made in: Cambodia.

Overall # of wears: A lot. Not counted as this was never part of the proper capsule.

Why? The neck straps had worn out and I got them shortened, now I’m not sure about the new fit.

Whom for: Anybody looking for activewear and having a more delicate back-neck than I do. Maybe it just needs some more wear to stretch just the right amount for me…

*

#4: The floral dress

Came from: My mom used to wear this around the house in summer, I snatched it from her for the same purpose in 2014 and never gave back.

Made in: Some fast fashion hell, most probably.

# of wears since January 2016: 29.

Overall # of wears: Much more than that, as wearing it as loungewear was never counted. And my mom wore it beforehand.

Why? Feels worn out.

Whom for: Anybody looking for a very relaxed and easy to throw on beach/leasure wear. I wear it as a strapless dress and without a bra, because the two rubber bands give it enough structure. However, I’d look into replacing the rubber and taking the straps completely off to give it a reboot.

*

#5: Kristine’s yellow dress.

Came from: A hand-me-down from Kristine. Mine since 2015.

Made in: ?.

# of wears since January 2016: 20.

Overall # of wears: A bit more, but it’s clear that I’m not giving it all the love it deserves.

Why? The material and print are very nice (the print remind me of home textiles for summer houses, that’s the reason I adopted this dress), but I have an issue with the neckline. It’s weird on me, I’m not sure if it’s because of shoulders/back or breast size.

Whom for: Again, a relaxed beach/leasure number for hot weather. There has to be a body type to enjoy this little number!

*

#6: The fish necklace.

Came from: A gift from my mother-in-law. 2016.

Made in: China, maybe?

# of wears since January 2016: 48.

Why? I have a complicated relationship with necklaces (for me headbands are easier to wear). I have made myself wear them since I started doing the tracked capsule, but… among the four necklaces that I have, this one is the weakest link.

Whom for: Anybody looking for a low-hanging whimsical but delicate accent piece.

*

And for a moment of wishful thinking… What would I happily pick up at the next swap? These are very specific, but – hey! – a girl can dream. In all affairs of pre-loved clothing I pursue a bimodal strategy: I have a clear vision of what I’m looking for and open eyes for an unexpected treasure. Thankfully my idea of “treasure” has evolved and I’ve become much harder to seduce than some 15 years ago. There are still things that I’d gladly incorporate in my wardrobe, though:

A) A top that could serve as a modesty garment under the purple jersey winter dress of Riga capsule. I use the little lace blouse for such purposes in Barcelona, but having another one as versatile in Riga would be nicer than carrying this one back and forth.

B) A pair of comfy gym shorts for the Riga capsule. Again, a have my comfy shorts in Barcelona but an additional pair in Riga would be less hassle.

C) A pair of winter gloves. May random second-hand gin-promoting gloves are too short and too big to be optimal, and the long pair I got second-hand in New York didn’t survive even one winter.

*

What’s on your outgoing and incoming lists? What strategies do you pursue when (un)shopping?

#whatiwore 2017w35 + Sunday links

Barcelona and Athens:

*

And a spoonful for the brain:

Fashion and Animal Welfare: Everything You Should Know Before You Buy – A reminder that much of the conventional fashion items are made of animals and that only very few of those *materials* can be obtained without harming them.

*

Can you already feel the autumn coming? Is your summer capsule over? Is September a summer or an autumn month where you are at?

#100wears: The Red Denim Jacket

This post was written as submission to the Fashion Revolution Zine #002. They didn’t want it but for me this will be the first one in monthly series about my most worn garments. #100wears because we all know that #30wears is not even close to ambitious. The red denim jacket definitely got more than 100 wears but nobody counted…

*

It was 2003. The big switch in what I wore had happened a few years ago. My parents were upwardly mobile. We had started to shop in mall stores instead of market stalls and second hand shops, a big leap for (still) post-soviet Latvia. My early adolescent insecurities had dissipated. I was 15 and felt very cool.

I had the confidence to pull off pretty much anything and enjoyed garments with shock value, so, when this fast fashion denim jacket – classic cut but in bright red – came in my wardrobe, it became a *neutral* filler piece. Maybe exactly because of being so easy to wear this jacket hung around and accompanied me everywhere: school, parties, travel, coming-of-age adventures, leaving my parents’ home, and changing countries of residence.

The frequency fluctuated, but I wore my denim jacket pretty constantly until this spring. It had faded heavily on the outside and had a lot of wear and tear, despite my seamstress’s efforts to conceal it. I wouldn’t care too much about the beyond mint condition, but the shape also felt dated. Our 14-year relationship was coming to an end.

With a heavy heart I followed the rules of my wardrobe (“if you are not thrilled to wear it now, it has to go”), and set it apart for the next community clothes’ swap. I know that we overestimate the qualities of our belongings just because they are ours. So I assumed that this swap will be the funeral of my denim jacket, that my community – by not wanting it – will confirm that this garment is dated and too worn out to be desired.

But turns out that classic cuts do live forever! That red jacket now lives with my friend Alba, and I hope that the leprechauns of my youth still hide in the pockets urging her to take her chances and enjoy life at its fullest.

*

What are your *forever* garments? How old is the oldest wearable item you have? Do you still wear anything that you wore in your adolescence?

#whatiwore 2017w34 + Sunday links

Barcelona:

*

Instead of “oh-the-bad-fast-fashion-industry” stories, this week I suggest aesthetic, anthropological, and sociological pleasures:

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (2011) & Iris (2014) – Two documentaries on women who became style icons by reinventing their looks and ignoring trends. Perfect easy-watching pieces (make sure to get them in HD to appreciate all the details!) for a dose of sartorial inspiration.

The Dress of Women (1915) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – Early feminist sociology analyzing and denouncing the ridiculousness of (women’s) fashion. Full of pearls such as “the mere insistence on a totally different costume for men and women is based on this idea—that we should never forget sex” and

The lot of the farmer’s wife was hard, but the lot of no man’s wife was harder. For the unmarried woman life held no opportunities. Hence, within their iron bound limits, women were modified most by this main economic necessity, pleasing man. This effort must perforce express itself in such channels as were allowed; and when we pass the stage of direct labor and service, the way to a man’s heart through his stomach, she found the second road to a man’s heart lay through his eyes.
It is not Beauty that is demanded. It is two things—variety and the visible effort to please. As one honest man explained, the reason men admire paint on a woman is because it shows her ardent wish to attract; and the cruder her performance the more plainly it shows that alone to be her motive.

Google it and the internets will provide!

Is Sustainable Fashion a Privileged Affair? Yes, and…

Standard disclaimer: This is a bit of August armchair sociology, converting personal demons in a generalized and generational lament. Bauman would be proud of me! Freud, too. Just to be clear, I’m normally quite cautious with the postmodern sociology but in the following context it does make sense. I am not claiming that “postmodernity did this to us”, I’m thinking more along the lines of “these are the postmodern responses to the same old problems”.

*

I’ve felt guilty since entering adolescence: of my use of resources, of my privilege. This is not a feminist issues of “they are trying to shrink me”, this is “I am trying to shrink my guilt and my carbon footprint”. Win-win! And I’m clearly not the only one: KonMari’s “throw it all out” is selling like crazy, the internets are teeming with tiny homes, capsule wardrobes, out-of-backpack adventures, digital nomadism…

I’ve promised myself to never use the idiotic notion of “millenials”, although I do remember that year when shops were selling “2000” candles and t-shirts. I shall move towards a generalized “we” instead. In this case it means generation Y and also a certain socio-demographic. However, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, replace every “we are” with “Luīze is”, that should do the trick.

*

We are attracted to (1) minimalism in numbers, (2) minimalism in aesthetics, and have (3) ethical (and global) sensibilities in line with Ahimsa. While it’s all beautiful and good for the environment (unless you are one of those people tossing out all plastic / fast fashion and replacing it with stainless steel / sustainable garments; using up and not replacing is the thing, obviously), they are an itch to scratch to a budding sociologist. Where does it all come from? And the smugness! And righteousness!
These are the ad-hoc explanations I can come up with (following the best Weberian traditions, yes, it’s definitely multi-causal and more complex, but let’s just relax and spitball):

*

A) We are too well-off. To put it crudely, Russians have an expression loosely translated as “going mad because of abundance” (literally: “going mad because of fat” – “С жиру бесится”). Or, to be more refined, we have post-material values. In line with the infamous, unscientific, and intuitively true work of Maslow, these are sensibilities that arise from all practical needs being covered. And then we reshuffle the priorities! While few might have the discipline to follow the steps of George Monbiot, travel and festivals, and vanguard tacos might be ascribed more subjective worth (as *experiences*) than the biggest TV set and a mortgage.

Old problem counterfactual: Marie Antoinette playing farm and how believable we find that she could’ve suggested that the starving eat brioche.

*

B) Our life is unpredictable, and, contrary, to the XX ideal, we don’t expect it to be otherwise. Even if living and writing code from Bali is not your dream, there’s also no certainty of living in this house, in this city, in this country for a reasonable amount of time. So acquiring numerous heavy possessions is not practical.

Old problem counterfactual: not having anything and the plague is coming. Possessions are meaningless, unless you can buy your way into the Decameron mansion, and we all are going to end up in a mass grave anyway.

*

C) We can’t handle chaos, hence try to establish a little patch of order in our won backyard. We cannot control economy, politics, terrorism… but we can decide to wear 33 garments for next 3 months, and stick to it. At least something! The doom and gloom seems to accelerate, and if the X-ers were already f*ed (see Coupland for proof), we are beyond that… We are craving meaning and clarity, and feeling special, better than the rest (after all, our mothers believed the indigo children bs, so we grew up confident in our uniqueness and unavoidable success).

Old problem counterfactual: family patriarchy under Feudal or Authoritarian system.

*

D) The knowledge economy has gone postmaterial, so we are (selectively) reducing the material stuff and entering the business of selling intangible skill and hot air. Coaching, consulting, curating, networking… several powerful devices and few other possessions might be all we need. We envy the techno-nomads and virulently share testimonies of living out of a backpack.

And we are our own brand! Such careful cultivation when the fruits of your labor are not material. Only the number of followers and “likes” measure our worth. We seek to project our ideal selves – glowing, smart, compassionate, and creative – into reality instead of killing ourselves and all other creatures.

Old problem counterfactual: the world is still material (knock on wood!), and parsonal branding is not new! Either for curating a successful philosophy (1, 2) or explorer brand (3, 4, 5).

*

E) The eye has to rest! Contrary to Diana Vreeland’s advice, we might just be tired of all the stimuli. Every day we see a gazillion pictures, read as much snippets of texts, tweets, ads… it’s tiring.

There might be a spiritual-religious spark to it, too: looking for the enlightenment via (selective) renounciation and purity politics (the “clean eatingorthorexia horrors, anyone?), wishing to be on the right side of the history.

Old problem counterfactual: find a cave, become a hermit and wait for the magic to happen! Moving in a semi-secluded cabin and writing a tedious diary is another option.

*

Is it that bad, doctor (or, better, holistic practitioner)? I prescribe persuasion by quiet example, *not* surround yourself with the like-minded, and better a smug blog than smug sermons at family gatherings.

Dos any of this resonate or is this really just me?