#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is making it unviable now – The King of Couture: How Louis XIV invented fashion as we know it and Are Fashion Seasons Outdated?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?

#whatiwore 2018w44 + Sunday links

Ho-ho-ho, brain food for everybody!

1. I am so not gen-Z, I have no intuitive understanding of the streetwear aesthetics. Hence, (a) The Season of Peak Sneaker Silliness, (b) How America Became a Nation of Yoga Pants, and (c) Is the Streetwear Bubble About to Burst?

2. Because time by time you just need a tongue-in-cheek anarchist essay: The Abolition of Work by Bob Black.

3. And a reminder that gender has always been what people made of it: A Brief History of Unisex Fashion + a contemporary high fashion example: Céline, Hedi Slimane, and the Grown-Up Woman.

4. And one of the beautiful contingencies when technology and new social mores attached to them push away the old: How Cycling Clothing Opened Doors for Women + a contemporary experiment (mentioned in the article) that shows how far we’ve gone since then: Bikes and Bloomers.

5. And this stuff that I’ve never really understood – Hermès CEO: “People Still Want Things That Not a Lot of People Can Get”.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Curating the 100% comfort wardrobe.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w44 + Sunday links.

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What are the trends that you do not understand? Does it make you feel old or just out of touch, or just proudly individual? Are your arguments more about (a) lack of practicality, (b) ridicule, or (c) sheer ugliness?

#100wears: Rayon shorts

#100wears is the most beloved garment section where I show off the longevity of items I’ve worn at least 100 times and urge to elevate the rather low #30wears aspiration. Basically, a love song, a poem, a “there are some garments so good I can’t stop wearing them”… These little rayon shorts are one of the unexpected – and often unseen, as I shall explain below – heroes of my wardrobe.

They came my way as an untouched hand-me-down from my mother. She actually bought them in my presence in Barcelona in 2016 just to realize that that was a complete impulse buy with the possibility to handing them over to me prominent in her mind. Or maybe that was her intention all along? Dunno. It took me some time to incorporate them properly in my wardrobe – 44 wears between 2016 and 2017, 67 wears in 2018 – but now they are a staple I’m afraid of losing.

So, this is probably too much information, but… I’d estimate that they are visible less than half of the times I’m wearing them. No styling surprises when you can see them: ultra-light pajama-like shorts for the Barcelona summers, like so:

However, these shorts have gained their special place in my heart with their capacity to also work like… underwear. Here, I said it. Looks like that (if I would ever show it):

If you have been following my writings, especially the summer themed ones (see a sample here), you have been informed by now that I am the ultimate chub-rub person. My tights touch alright, I walk a lot and sweat a lot while doing it. And conventional underwear makes it even more painful. Enter these shorts! I know other chaffers prefer more serious biker shorts in performance fabrics that cover more leg or, well, wearing actual trousers… But I’m a dress person most of the time and have a hate-hate relationship with performance fabrics, especially in summer.

So these are not moisture wicking but they dry really quickly (also see that point about this being about summers in Barcelona) which not only adds to wearability but also to sink washability and overnight drying. The ultimate little short that goes from outerwear to underwear to pajamas! Thankfully it shows little wear so far but I dread the moment of having to send it to the Beyond Repair category. My current plan is to make a copy of this model from the fabric of my old kaftan that was truly beyond repair and hence was converted into a pile of fabric again… I’ll let you know if that happens.

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What pieces easily reach #100wears in your wardrobe? Do you have garments that you use for several, supposedly even incompatible, purposes? How did that came along? I blame the 1990s ‘underwear as outerwear’ slip trend that convinced my pre-teen self that such limits were unnecessary…

#whatiwore 2018w43 + Sunday links

Here, feed the brain:

1. While most articles about uniform dressing emphasize reduction of decision fatigue and tech millionaires, this 2014 piece turns the argument on its head and talks about uniforms as ‘a stance against trends’ and ‘a consistent recognizable foundation’: The Case for Uniforms. The most inspirational example mentioned is Diane Pernet from A Shaded View on Fashion.

2. On disinhibited creation: Why you should make useless things.

3. I’m such a sucker for ‘look at this person who single-handedly and with great dignity revived an old industry and is doing great’, so: A Legacy of Production at Valley Oak Wool & Fiber Mill. Also, the microscopic-precision handiwork for high fashion as a solution for the youth unemployment (and stupid non-jobs of the digital economy): Teenagers, Forget Engineering. Your Future Is Craft.

4. And I cannot resist a detailed history of a classic and local working class garment when boy fashionistas are fangirling about them: The Other Fisherman Sweater.

5. For our scary future section, How to edit a human. This one comes with a side dish of the dirty business that science often is, in this case making clear also the difference in opportunities for worldwide recognition that funding/location bring to labs and research groups, or how a bunch of genius Lithuanians won’t ever get a Nobel.

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What I was writing about a year ago: An Educational afternoon – The True Cost and Upcycling Barcelona.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w43 + Sunday links + Old #ootd.

Other old posts you might enjoy: Adventures of the spring 2017 capsule and The wardrobe ins and outs of spring 2017.

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Do you have any favorite type of stories among the sustainability usuals? Are you more touched by stories of independent wool farmers in West or underprivileged women’s cooperatives in South? Materials, dyes, sewing – which stories you save for special weekend moments of enjoyment? Share some of your favorites, please.

Fix it! No Pasarán jacket and the ruffle blouse

I started to learn to do proper textile stuff last year. And only now I’m finally starting to grasp – in tiniest baby steps – the basics of garment construction and textile properties. So this is a section of ‘look what I did to make this garment work better for me’ or ‘…to prolong its lifespan’. This post is a double feature of a t-shirt I loved so much I turned it into an applique for another well loved item and a blouse that kept opening at the bust so I sewed it closed.

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:

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No pasarán t-shirt to jacket

No pasarán t-shirt depicting a ‘tropical uterus’ (as described by its author Elena Cuadrado) and the anti-fascist slogan from the Spanish Civil War ¡No pasarán! comes from a crowdfunding initiative that sprang as a resistance movement when the right-wing government kept threatening Spanish women with limiting their rights to abortion in 2014. Much care and love went into these, for example, the delivery to backers were delayed because the organizers had discovered that the t-shirt provider chosen didn’t have good enough labor standards, so they switched to 100% organic cotton from Stanley/Stella halfway through. If you love the design and want to make it into a desktop or whatever else, there are downloadable .png and .pdf at the link above.

So I loved it and wore it a lot. It got well over #100wears and it showed. After several fixes of the cotton jersey around the armpits, it became clear recently that something else had to be done. See, old fixed ‘welts’ in the background an a new hole + an overall wearout:

At the same time I was figuring out how to improve my old Street One jacket. It, being around 15 years old, was cut to early 2000s fashion – on the hip – as everything was extra-low waist back then. For real, I didn’t learn where my real waist was until the age of 25 or so! The overall design is nice, the fabric is pleasant and sturdy, but it lacked an ooomph:

First I added some patches Kristīne gifted me, but that wasn’t enough and the length problem was still there…

But at some point an idea of a feminist-biker-gang-jacket occurred, we did some brainstorming with Carmen at Opció Taller, and then magic happened. Scissor magic and applique magic, to be precise.


This is the result! Shorter hem without many complications because the lowest press button was originally a long way higher than the hem. Front patches. And the glorious back applique. My only little concern is how it will wear under the backpack, but I don’t wear backpack on my back that often (it’s mostly in the bicycle basket) and it’s great so far! So 15 more years for the jacket…

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The ruffle blouse

I got this flimsy piece of plastic as a hand-me-down from Kristīne in 2015. It’s originally Asos, but knowing Kristīne I would bet that it has passed through a charity shop in Cambridge before she acquired it. It’s transparent, so an undergarment is needed. That’s one of the reasons why repairing the little lace blouse was so important, because I wear these two together.

I had worn it with no second thought about the buttons even this May. Then summer came and it’s too plastic for Barcelona summer, so we met again this week. And there clearly have been some body changes in between because I spent all day buttoning it up because the buttons kept popping. 0 fun even with an undergarment. Evidence below, May 2018 vs. October 2018. There is now just this little bit more tugging on the buttons now… that makes all the difference for the ease of wear:

Every busty person will have met this problem with button-downs, it’s one of the reasons why the only one I have is quite oversized… but this one, which is not even a true button-down because it does not button all the way down, now played this trick on me! See?

But I want to keep wearing this one! I like the cut, I like the pink hue, the exaggerated femininity of it, dude, it’s a nice little blouse for my brand of ‘tame-looking-librarian-that-will-crush-your-bullshit-once-you-have-underestimated-her’…

The only reasonable fix that occurred to me was to sew it up. I measured that leaving open only the top two buttons was enough for me to get it over my head, which meant that all the problem area can be neatly stitched together and nobody will know. And nobody will have to remark on my buttons ever again.


I sewed together the inside part of the button detail, as that was a neater way to do it. So the buttons can still be opened and the stitches are behind them. That’s why it’s not perfectly fixed from the outside and looks ‘natural’. The difference is subtle but I don’t have to monitor those buttons anymore. Great! More mental energy for the actual life.

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

#whatiwore 2018w42 + Sunday links

The Friday outfit is a story of comfort vs. stupid ideas about what’s appropriate… That hoodie, well, actually two of those – organic cotton, made in India, stamped with the corporate identity of the company C works for – appeared in our home after a work event that C went to. First I tried to get him to discard both of them because ‘you don’t need them’, then I accepted that he really was using it around the house, then I started to wear the other one myself noting how warm and fluffy it is… and on Friday I went out on the street with it.
Only to the swimming pool and back, and it was raining, but I had sworn to myself not to wear this one outside… But knowing winters in Barcelona and how all I want to wear to the pool – and that’s three times a week and just down the block – is something comfy and adequate for weather, it will now be my gym uniform. And it has a hood to make up for my unwillingness to blow dry my hair. A win for the ‘relax and be casual’ team.

Lesson learnt I consider myself a tiny step closer to: Letting go, of course, and following the sirens of comfort.

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Now that you are all comfy, under a blanket and with a cup of warm something, here:

1. The typical reminders of all the offshoring problems and onshoring complexities: Why Is It So Hard for Clothing Manufacturers to Pay a Living Wage? and American Manufacturing Doesn’t Have to Die. And just to put a sinister spin on that, out of the Dark side a big consulting company: Is apparel manufacturing coming home? The ironic part is that for them – and people they serve – it’s not about ethics but about a balance between production/shipping costs and timing. So their conclusion is that producing in Mexico for US market or Turkey for EU market makes a lot of sense (and customers love it, too) but not really on situ production, that would be waaay too expensive…

2. In the news of ‘animals we are not exploiting yet that have a great potential’- New Artificial Spider Silk: Stronger Than Steel and 98 Percent Water. Be calm, it’s about replicating ‘the spider technology’ not cramming masses of spiders together and making them work for us, no, we do that mostly with mammals, humans and otherwise, not spiders. Not yet, at least.

3. History time! And about the seasonal wares, no less. The Trench Coat: Before, During, and After the Trenches and From Cavalry to Coco Chanel: The Cardigan Unbuttoned.

4. To bring you back – or for the first time – to William Morris and ‘Some Hints on Pattern-Designing‘ (1881) among his other writings, here are some guidelines from him:

“We ought to get to understand the value of intelligent work, the work of men’s hands guided by their brains, and to take that, though it be rough, rather than the unintelligent work of machines or slaves, though it be delicate;
to refuse altogether to use machine-made work unless where the nature of the thing made compels it, or where the machine does what mere human suffering would otherwise have to do;
to have a high standard of excellence in wares and not to accept makeshifts for the real thing, but rather to go without;
to have no ornament merely for fashion’s sake, but only because we really think it beautiful, otherwise to go without it;
not to live in an ugly and squalid place (such as London) for the sake of mere excitement or the like, but only because our duties bind us to it;
to treat the natural beauty of the earth as a holy thing not to be rashly dealt with for any consideration;
to treat with the utmost care whatever of architecture and the like is left us of the times of art.

I deny that it can ever be our own to do as we like with; it is the property of the world, that we hold in trust for those that come after us.”

5. And I encourage you, yes, repeatedly, to do some pattern play. It’s not 19th century anymore and any basic image editing software can bring you and your doodles a lot of joy. Here is one way to do it: Pattern Play with Jeanetta: How to Create a Pattern in the style of William Morris. As a proof, my 5-minute pattern from mandalas that were in my 2017 agenda:


Or how this:

Becomes that:

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What I was writing about a year ago: #100wears: Veja Taua… Oh, I miss them dearly! And I am stalking some random leftover pairs on Amazon hoping they will still be there when my October salary comes in. Those sneakers were so good, I’m now ready to buy two new pairs and just have them sitting in my wardrobe waiting for the current Wata to wear out. After three pairs worn to shreds, I think that’s an informed decision.

What I was wearing a year ago (see how many items coincide!): #whatiwore 2017w42 + Sunday links.

Other old posts you might enjoy: We shall swap again and May Swap recap.

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Have you had any comfort vs. ‘propriety’ dilemmas or insights lately? Which one do you typically gravitate towards?

The urge to acquire

Sometimes the urge to acquire knocks at your door and says ‘hey, you really really need something new… no, you *deserve* it… how could you possibly go on without a mustard cardigan’, and your shopping fast goes out of the window. Sounds familiar?

Since I started pruning my wardrobe in 2014, I’ve mostly observed others going through these dynamics: friends telling that they just *need* to buy something new every month, seeing how some wardrobes fill up immediately with new things once the old ones are edited away, people digging through swap piles frantically to take away something, anything. And, no, I am not immune. It happens rarely but I had a recent flare-up that got me thinking…

Let me set the stage for you: September, Porto, late afternoon, vacations. After lunch C went back to the apartment for a siesta and I went to see an exhibition on Frida Kahlo photo archive. Nice. After coming out of the museum I just walked around and ended up in front of a Humana, suddenly having it very clear that I was going to buy something there.

After a short mental scan of my wardrobe for possible need, I proceeded to meticulously review every top and dress in that shop to select my winners. As after the September swap, I touched the garments, looked at fabric composition tags, scoffed ‘ugh, 100% polyester, of course’, looking for something nice in at least 100% cotton or viscose. While linen or silk would have been nice, Humana in Iberian peninsula is not that kind of place; as with the swaps, what goes around, comes around. And after several trips beyond the fitting curtain I had two garments that made sense for my wardrobe for €12.78. Both of them can be assumed to be functional replacements of a ‘beyond repair’ garment I said bye bye this summer, like so:

To make it even funnier, both are Zara, made in Portugal (the black one) and Morocco (the white one), and the black one even had its tags on: from the original €17.95 to €7.59, even less than the price tag said because in Humana they do all kinds of ‘sales’ – all for €4, all for €1 – and that day it was the -20% day. And on top of that – just to make fun of my fabric composition obsession – none of them has that information. The tags on the white one have been cut off, and all the intact tags on the black one does not reveal the material… my guess would be a cotton and elastane mix + synthetic lace for the black one and no clue for the white one, except for the synthetic lace panel.

Although I can rationalize this episode of the urge to acquire much better than the previous time I heard the the little voice of ‘oh, you are so buying something here’ in the WAG shop in Cape Town last year which cost me €160, I am still curious about that voice and where it came from. I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t need a lift-me-up. But I needed a garment, and I needed it now.

I can think of two different but resonating dynamics for this. First, food cravings! Assuming that food cravings can be similar to shopping cravings not only in the good way of ‘my body is smart and wants natural yoghurt / comfy shoes, so I shall provide’, but ‘my body is weird and wants pickles in ice cream / a giant pack of chocolate chip cookies / another supermini dress I’ll never wear…’

The cravings story I like to tell has a morality subplot to it – as does garment acquisition after you have learnt enough about the harmful ways of the fashion industry – and involves anchovies. I’ve been an ovo-lacto vegetarian since 2006 and mostly vegan since 2011, but there were episodes in late 2000s when I just wanted a can of anchovies (always when it was already sitting in my mom’s fridge, never in shop). So I would eat it and move on. With no remorse, btw. And nowadays I act similarly around cheese and ice cream. If it feels like a good idea, enjoy it and relax. If it happens rarely enough – and only you can feel what’s rarely and what’s bingeing – just do it. Relaxing your standards occasionally to improve your quality of life is a good idea. And helps to not get too caught up in the purity politics of holier-than-thou. Note to self: Nobody needs another judgemental and suffering martyr.

I considered a photo of anchovies to illustrate my point but that somehow seemed too triggering. Here, look at this moldy piece of milk robbed to calves instead:

Second, selecting from a fixed set. Contrary to Clarissa trying to expand our horizons thinking beyond the given – look up her smorgasbord analogy; in a nutshell, even if you are presented with a multitude of readily available options to chose from, think about what you want without looking at the buffet as your true wish might be on another table – we tend to treat the given set as final, even in fleeting situations. I’m sure I’m not the only one who, when unpartnered and open to encounters, would enter a bar/party/class and without even thinking about it, do a hypothetical potential mate selection along the lines of ‘if this bunch of people would be the last bunch of people on earth, who would I…’ Why? It’s ridiculous. If you are somebody doing this with garments at shops or swaps, play the game, but try to keep in mind what you already have in your wardrobe. For example, when you have selected a winner at a swap, ask if you would swap anything out of your wardrobe to bring this one in. If the answer is no, reconsider taking it.

I keep reassuring people that it’s fine to bring their swap finds back the next time. The frantic buzz of the swap – as in shops during the sales – alters our decision making and sends it into a post-apocalyptic mode of thinking. Relax! Just shrug and bring it back on December 1.

As for me, I think I’ve found the perfect pastime that allows to open a safety valve for wanting things and prevents me from the scarcity-mentality browsing: sewing magazines! I stroll to my local libraries, fetch a pile of Burda and Patrones, and leaf through, annotating via phone photos and sketches things I like. As I’ve taken up learning to sew, these are fantasies that could be made reality but not immediately. The results look like this and may or may not turn into real garments, but I had my hour or two fantasizing and evaluating along the lines of ‘oh, this is nice… yuck, who thought that that was a good idea? …wow, I could totally enjoy one of these…’


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What’s your relationship with that little voice? Do you have it? Do you indulge it or ignore it?

#whatiwore 2018w41 + Sunday links

Here, your little brain attic needs more stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond repair: sports bra and blue leggings

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

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

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

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

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The sports bra

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

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

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

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

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Blue leggings

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

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

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

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

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

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

#whatiwore 2018w40 + Sunday links

And a spoonful to maintain the highbrow credentials:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After 9 months of the big spreadsheet

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

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

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

Layers

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

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

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

Dresses

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

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

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

Tops

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

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

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

Bottoms

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

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

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

Footwear

Most worn: Birks (107).

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

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

Adornments

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

Most worn: The red wooden necklace (26).

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

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

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

#whatiwore 2018w39 + Sunday links

Here, feed the gray cells:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fix it! WAG skirt and lace undershirt

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

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WAG skirt

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

The original waist with rubber holding together the back:

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

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

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

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

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The lace undershirt

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

In summer:

In winter:

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

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

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


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

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

#whatiwore 2018w38 + Sunday links

Feed the bra-a-a-a-ain…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September Swap (7th!) recap

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

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

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

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

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

This is just the basic checklist for point 7 above!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bags, bags, bags of garments nobody wanted.

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

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