Swap Goals and Money

This will be contentious, buckle up! On our long-term mission with Mara to explore all other swaps in Barcelona, we went to one last Sunday. This one. And, before long, I had gotten myself into an argument about the political rationale of swaps with the organizers. Yeah, considerate and polite, I know… So due to that unplanned outburst, I’ve been thinking about what triggered it… and I’ve arrived to the goals of different swaps – as that was clearly the difference between theirs and mine – and the role money can play in them.

This one on Sunday, organized by Hot Chili Chicas Go on PutFoot, was an instrumental charity swap. One paid 10€ at the entrance for a drink, swap + two charitable causes: The Put Foot Foundation that provides school shoes and supplies for children in Southern Africa and AADAS, an association in Barcelona which helps victims of sexual violence in Catalunya. Clothing swaps are only part of their fundraising efforts, they are doing also pub quizzes, movie screenings, fitness classes, auctions, etc. My first disclaimer here is that after quite few years hanging around bigger and smaller NGOs and overseas development aid activists, I am also pretty unsure about such micro overseas charity efforts. But that’s another conversation…

Going back to the swap as such, in that swap-for-charity scheme of things a clothing swap is the very attractive lure that gets people donating. As you can imagine, this does not fit neatly in my perception of the current textile abundance. Of course, the more circularity of garments, the better, but I see no reason for such hype around a swap…

In my social media bubble, swaps are popping up so often, I can hardly keep track… but the attendees at this one seemed to have really hungry eyes, following the new arrivals with hawk-like concentration. Adrenaline was in the air, and I took it as a sign of first-timers’ excitement. Maybe I just don’t have enough time to observe humans at my own swaps… I had been told about people having their favorite ‘providers’ and trailing them while they unload their discards but had never really seen that in action.

Finally having some time to just observe… and a glass of cava indeed helps!

A swap-related magic belief that I really struggle with is the one about the inherent value and infinite recyclability of all garments. While the material and labor input is undeniable even for the worst quality garments, thinking that all leftover garments ‘just haven’t found the right girl’ is ludicrous. In a world full of worn out and skewed-seamed 3€ Primark t-shirts, unfortunately, swap leftovers (and stuff that have to go directly to the orange container instead of a swap) is the first sign of sanity. So many of the garments surrounding us has a very low first-hand use potential, not to mention any potential to become a prized second-hand find.

For me swaps are clearing houses, separating the grain from the ashes, because doing it collectively it is much quicker and precise process. Yes, in some cases one woman’s garbage is other’s treasure… but I also hope that my swaps also serve to learn to recognize quality instead of jumping to anything free and sparkly. Indeed, after what I have seen at swaps throughout last three years, there are two big groups of fashion fails that poison the swaps: (a) the worn out, ripped, stained low quality basics, and (b) the extravagant, uncomfortable, and badly engineered garments that have been worn very little if any. And the mission of a top swapper is to recognize that stuff for what it is and steer clear of them.

Yes, it is unfortunate but I console myself thinking about the reasonable garments that get saved out of that primordial soup. A wide-enough ‘offer’ is the key to make sure that there is a good-enough soup to waddle through. A 100% circulation rate has never been part even of my utopian swap fantasies. Yeah, I know, you can’t *always* predict what will break, pile or lose shape, but often you can… I can only hope that people honing such selection skills would also apply them to their purchases and leave the producers and distributors stuck with their deficient wares.

Mara being a faster-than-light swap clearing house in person.

For me a clothing swap is a complete creation that doesn’t need a further charitable cause. The goal is to swap garments and hence put them into new, loving hands instead of eating dust at the deep end of a wardrobe or at the landfill. There is also a secondary educational goal to indirectly teach people – through repeated visions of heaps of free clothing and repeated satisfaction of having quenched their thirst for novelty without having paid for it – that buying (new) garments is so passé. My secret plan is that a repeated, very visual first-hand experience of the incredible garment abundance we live in should make an imprint that there is no need to buy new, that there is no real need for them. Almost all our acquisitions are pure whims, hence – as with all drugs – it is preferable to follow that impulse in a controlled environment and actively reducing the harm caused. And the best way to create that educational experience is a free and deeply ‘communist’ swap.

Yes, some money is needed to organize the swap I’d like to attend. Although we have a very friendly deal with Ateneu Roig – no rent for the premises in return for users getting their drinks from their bar – there are the little stupid expenses: tape, garbage bags, and snacks, snacks, snacks… And my own time, and that of the volunteers, is not included there.

For the number-curious, here are the Ateneu Roig and Un Armario Verde income from the last five Ateneu Roig swaps, pretty volatile and not really impressive, as you can see. After the last swap in September 2019, my net gain after the direct expenses came to a stunning 12.57€. Again, without even trying to include my time, the IT costs of the blog, electricity for cooking and laundry, etc. I’m celebrating the fact that I am breaking even with the direct costs, as the nervous damage is priceless.

And to remind that my purity is not absolute, we actually did a ‘paid’ swap in June, at Imprfcto bar in Parallel. Following the same strategy described above, we included a drink in the price – 5€ – and provided all the usual snacks. And it paid off alright: 77€ for the bar and 102.71€ to share between me and Mara. Again though, after deducting the expenses, I had 9.09€. In this case it also meant the additional 15€ for the taxi I had to take back home. That’s why I prefer my swaps in Gràcia and at the same place because much of the stuff stays at Ateneu Roig…

However, it did feel weird, especially when some of the Ateneu Roig regulars came in, apparently oblivious to the 5€ thing. In some cases neither me nor Mara had the guts to ask for the fee… Well, I had taught people that swaps are free, what did I expect? Now I’ve been training the uncustomers to consider my swaps a ‘taquilla inversa’ events, with varying results.

And money feels nice. I like money. Even better than social media likes, money is a very real form of recognition of a good job: money has changed hands, hence something of value has taken place. So I’m not against receiving payments. I had set up a Ko-fi account for a year or so and tried to promote it – i.e. ‘if you didn’t have cash to tip the swap, send your digital money this way’ – but nobody ever gave me those 3€. People love free shit… and my heart loves providing that utopian experience

Also, until the end of 2018 I was well paid via my PhD scholarship, and treated spending on events and IT maintenance like spending on books and fun courses: and investment I chose to make. Now that my unemployment benefits are over, I do fret about money. Often. But I also know that trying to charge at Ateneu Roig swaps would be off brand and logistically difficult (think of that huge garage door). Harvard Business Review will tell you any day that ‘Whatever funding mechanism is used to cover the costs of excellence, it is best thought out as thoroughly as possible prior to the launch of a new service, rather than amended in light of experience afterward. When a service that’s been perceived as free suddenly has fees associated with it, customers tend to react with disproportionate displeasure.’

So I actually agree with the Sunday swap ladies who tried to convince me that y time had to be remunerated… just that I have users with three years of free swap experience to accommodate. And going back to the beginning, my priority is that glorious free swap experience, planting that seed of dissent, doubt …and rebellion against the fashion system. And costs will have to be covered in alternative ways.

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So, while I’ll be trying to control my self-righteous temper at social occasions, Ateneu Roig swaps will be (as always) free in any foreseeable future and other possible future venues might have other rules. No charitable goals beyond fomenting circular garment economies and conscious consumption will be promoted. If you would like to economically support my self-employed life, send donations via PayPal at jauatkales [a] gmail.com, leave generous tips during the December swap, or engage me as your KonMari consultant and wardrobe coach

How do you feel about money in sustainable/upcycling/anticapitalist events? It feels great to say ‘oh, enjoy, it is all for free’ but landladies don’t tend to follow he same logic. Do you feel comfortable paying for a swap? Does it help if it has a further charitable goal instead of giving the organizers some pocket-money?

#whatiwore 2019w41 + Sunday links

A detail A: The weather shock coming from Latvian October into Barcelona October lasted a couple of days. And started with having to take off the cape, the hat, the gloves, the cardigan… and tights upon arrival:

A detail B: And I finally acted upon my urge to pick up textile garbage that idiots leave beside the containers. This was a pretty and promising one, so a good clean start into textile dumpster diving! I got a couple of tops out of it and a whole haul – after I’ve bleached those sweat stains that probably got them discarded out of them – for the next swap we’ll be exploring… This one, btw.

A PSA for the thick ones: Textile garbage in Barcelona goes into the orange containers. All Punt Verd stations will either have a container or just take you bag. And all Humana shops will take it. Do not just leave it on the street! There is enough garbage going around already… and I’m not always around to save it!

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Orden a Tres podcast

This week in your favorite – and the only one of its kind – podcast in *Spanish* dedicated to all things Marie Kondo, we talk about relationships: Ep. 12 KonMari más allá de los objetos: Relaciones. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher, and iTunes.

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As for the brain food and reading matter,

1. Let’s start with some science (and all the chemistry equations you wanted for your Sunday afternoon): Demystifying ocean acidification and biodiversity impacts. I know, I know, but it’s important…

2. Only this week, pretty randomly and quite late, I came across one of the pioneering work in the capsule wardrobe universe, Donna Karan‘s Seven Easy Pieces or ‘Essentials’. Although the whole thing is steeped into 1980’s notion of beauty, career women and femininity, the idea that 7 (!) considered and compatible pieces can carry one throughout day and night is very cool. The whole thing is built on a bodysuit + layers formula, and is pretty genius if you like bodysuits… Here, (a) Now You Know: The Evolution of Donna Karan’s Seven Easy Pieces and (b) Donna Karan Names Her Favorite Seven Pieces of Her Career. You could easily replicate this and then be able to say that you capsule is Donna Karan inspired…

Donna Karan’s Seven Easy Pieces at MoMA’s “Is Fashion Modern?” exhibit by Quartz/Marc Bain.

3. And for more fashion theory and history, quite some time Liliana recommended a Coursera course from MoMA on her FB page… and now I have finally enrolled in Fashion as Design. So you might be getting an even more obscure references and reading pieces than before. To begin, Bernard Rudofsky’s 1944 exhibition “Are Clothes Modern?” (I have talked a bit about his stuff before here) and a brief glimpse at 2011 MoMa exhibition Is Fashion Modern? guided by its curator.

4. For those wanting more fashion history – or smart enough to contribute a wiki-resource of fashion history, Fashion History Timeline: A hub for fashion research from State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology.

5. A reminder to all activists, especially Extinction Rebellion… although when it comes to climate crisis protests, the logic that Ta-Nehisi Coates describes might not be a perfect fit: Civil-Rights Protests Have Never Been Popular, hopefully…

6. These are old scandals by the criteria of the 24-hour media cycle but I’ve been thinking about them this week… and cultural (mis)appropriation is an ongoing thing: (a) on the very short cycle of consumer outrage and forgetfulness, The Resurrection of Dolce & Gabbana; and the Carolina Herrera vs Mexico debacle (b) (in Spanish) México acusa a Carolina Herrera de apropiación cultural por su colección más reciente, and (c) Homage or Theft? Carolina Herrera Called Out by Mexican Minister where Vanessa Friedman dixit about the new caution surrounding cultural appropriation: ‘The natural end result of this particular trend, after all, is that designers and the brands they work for become so worried about offending that they cease to look at the world outside, defining their aesthetic ever more narrowly. Their own experience becomes their sole creative fodder. And that serves neither them nor us. It does not lead to new ways of being in an ever-evolving world. It leads to stasis. Fashion, more than most industries, was founded on the principle of cultural cross-pollination. Like most cross-pollination, it has produced astonishing, illuminating results. That it did so in a way that ill served some of those involved is unquestionable. That it needs to rethink its practices and systems so everyone has a seat at the table is also not in doubt. (…) The question is whether, once the authority of a government minister is added to the pressure of the crowd, it is already too late?’

7. I really enjoy it when even the usually expensive stuff loving menswear blogs get annoyed: Cucinelli’s New Kids Collection Is The Most Ridiculous Thing Ever.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Beyond repair: sports bra and blue leggings. Learning to admit that there is a point of bye-bye, followed by a trip to the orange container. Or, well, rags and trapillo yarn or sth.

What I was writing about two years ago: Autumn capsule = 3 months and 7 dresses. Wearing only 7 dresses for all that autumn was fun indeed…

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w41 + Sunday links. Also wearing this week: Veja Wata Pierre sneakers, Veja Arcade sneakers, Humana-Zara ruffle top, swap-Zara cardigan, and Liisa’s black top…

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w41 + Sunday links. And still relevant: Veja Arcade sneakers

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Do you ever pick up garbage from the street? Or are you the one leaving it on the street hoping I’ll pass by and pick it up? Do you think it’s a reasonable system for exchange of goods?

What (not) to do with discarded clothes in Barcelona: Percentil

A disclaimer: I wanted to try one of the ‘we’ll resell your garments for you’ services just as an experiment. I have never been attracted to reselling as it seemed more hassle than gain, but these services keep popping up and Percentil was recommended to me as the ‘next big thing’ by reasonable people. So I wanted to have a first-hand experience, expecting only mild disappointment as it should be when trying to resell fast fashion stuff to consumers who already have it all.

However, as you will read below, now I have an impossible-to-close dispute with Percentil and, convinced of their wrongdoing, would not recommend using it. But let me explain it…

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August 25: Signing up

One creates an account and says ‘give me a bag’, then this comes:

You also tell upfront if you will want your rejected stuff back. The obvious answer: no! Once it’s out, it’s gone. I don’t care if the Percentil sorting ladies wear them instead of discarding them. They boast about donating to NGOs the stuff that they reject but I’m not impressed with such claims… you know my stance on the garment abundance.

August 30: Package and instructions

I applied for the bag on Saturday, and had it in mail next Friday, so on 5th working day it was with me. It is small and fits neatly in any letterbox.

And there are additional instructions in there:

A) The general how-to with a couple of annoying points. This thing of ‘once we charged 5.95€ for this service but now we don’t’ is ridiculous. Or the clear contradiction between ‘really fill the bag’ and ‘take it to a pick-up point on your own’. I wouldn’t risk dragging it around public transit when that bag is even half-full.

B) More specifications of the garments to be sent. To me the insistence on ‘we are very picky’ only ignites the wish to fuck with them. Also, I’ve looked around what they sell and it is by no means spectacular. Also, I’ve seen enough stuff there without a brand name. Even ‘with a slight defect’, so, please… Providing measurements in cm instead of the brand sizing would be more helpful. And singling out certain shops as beneath them while accepting others is very ugly (why would CnA be worse than HnM?) just to then sell them anyways. Yeah, I checked that by browsing their merchandise.

C) And they’ll include you in a special club if you do refrain from fucking with them and provide at least 20 items with at least 16 of them being in acceptable condition. As I’m explaining below, I couldn’t refrain from messing with them just to try out their rigor (and to imagine that I’m a normal person who does not organize regular swaps; imagine I just pruned my wardrobe and want to get rid of all I’m discarding in one bag): I’m sending 12 things and expecting 3 to 4 rejections, i.e. 25-33% rejection rate. Sound about right after all I’ve seen at swaps.

That leaflet is also your contract with Percentil. A contract that you send them and do not get to keep any proof of what you put in the bag. As you will see later, this is the biggest problem of such system…

The bag is big, though. Very big.

Selection

They want a full bag, but what does a minimalist do to just try their service? Accumulate from other people! I’m sending 12 items. 10 is the minimum. (Although, if you think about it, how are they going to enforce that? Suspend your ‘membership’?) Only two of those 12 have been mine. I did a thorough soul-searching and spreadsheet reorganization trying to find the superfluous items in my wardrobe. Two is the answer.

There are three garments from C, and we are both very curious about how it will go with the Nudies. A new pair costs between 100 and 200€, and these are in a great condition.

Most of the 12 are from Giulia who moved in August, and left some of her stuff with me for the next swap. I was too lazy to go sort through the swap seed suitcase which is at the Ateneu, so I’m sending her stuff. It’s all in the name of proper research, pupsik!

Below you have my full list with all info, my expectations for their selection process and the result of it.

Men’s

1. Nudie Jeans. Thin Finn Black Ring. 99% organic cotton, 1% elastane. Made in Italy. W31 L32.
Should be accepted. Got lost, more on that below...

2. Levi’s shirt. 100% cotton. Made in Bangladesh. M.
Should be accepted. Accepted. Price to buy 18.95€. Gain for me 4.70€.

3. Cheap Monday shirt. Air Short Sleeve Denim Check. 100% cotton. Made in China. M.
With a hole! Should be rejected. Rejected as too worn out.


4. Suit shirt. 100% cotton. Made in China. L.
Should be accepted. Accepted. Price to buy 23.45€. Gain for me 5.81€.

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Women’s

5. Zara top. Cut off fabric composition tag. Made in Turkey. S.
Should be accepted. Rejected as stained.

6. No brand shirt. 100% cotton. Made in India. No size.
Should be rejected because of lack of size tag. Rejected as too worn out.

7. Zara vest. Shell 100% lyocell. Lining 100% cotton. Made in China. M.
Should be accepted. Rejected as stained.

8. Poncho. No tags of any kind. Wool.
No idea, we’ll see. Accepted. Price to buy 9.95€. Gain for me 1.65€.

9. Coat. No tags of any kind. Loose buttons.
Should be rejected because of lack of a sizing tag. Rejected as too worn out.

10. Vibram hiking boots. Dakota XCR. Made in China. 42 1/2.
Should be accepted. Rejected as type of footwear they do not sell.

11. Asos blouse. No fabric composition tag but plastic alright. No country of production tag. 38.
2015. A hand-me-down from Kristīne. 53 wears since I started tracking, 10 wears in the first 8 months of 2019.
Should be accepted. Accepted. Price to buy 9.95€. Gain for me 1.65€.

12. HnM skirt. 95% cotton, 5% elastane. Made in Bangladesh. M.
2017. Swap find. 31 wears, 4 wears in the first 8 months of 2019.
Should be accepted. Accepted. Price to buy 4.95€. Gain for me 0.82€.

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September 3: Pick up / drop off

Ugh… I made the mistake to check the drop off points. They do this with a ‘logistics solutions’ company and that mean’s quite few points in tobacconists, stationery shops, etc. I have two nearby, at 10 and 11 min walk from my place. And my 12-piece bag could be brought there without too much effort. And I was so attracted to the idea of somebody just picking it up from my place! But now my conscience is against it.

My bag was small enough to fit it into one of the big reusable grocery bags and carry it… so I did walk down to a tobacco shop for a drop off. However, from what I gathered from the conversations between the shopkeepers, receiving a Percentil bag implies them asking for a special pick-up while I had assumed that it would be picked up as part of a general Celeritas package run. So the impression I got was that, even if you take your bag to a drop-off point, it is likely that it will require a special pickup anyways, i.e. my walk to the tobacconist doesn’t mean that I have prevented a truck trip across Barcelona. Hence the only benefit of doing it yourself (if you have a empty-enough bag which shouldn’t be the case) is that you do it on your own time instead of waiting around for a pick-up.


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September 6: Confirmation of reception

I dropped it off on Tuesday, September 3rd and received an email on Friday confirming that they’ve received it. The somewhat shocking thing is the estimated turnaround: 3 weeks (!!!) or even more if they get many more bags in the upcoming days. Ugh. Not cool. OK, it’s sorting, pricing and taking photos, but 3 weeks do not feel adequate for that. I am not impressed!

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Then, on September 20 (two weeks later), they had sorted it out… but found only 11 items! And my experience goes downhill from this point…

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Selection explanation

Apparently I have to be grateful for them even showing me reasons for discarding garments, only because it’s my first time. However, the selection seems almost reasonable. I am really surprised only about the Vibram boots.

Pricing

As you would expect, peanuts. And all that, of course, hinges on somebody actually buying them.

I’m not sure if it’s an automatic smile-file email once you have sent your first bag in, but I received en email next day (September 21) congratulating me (?) that now they’ll be paying double on garments…

And they included a table of the percentage of the price you would get before…

…and now!

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The lost item

So they had found 11 garments in the bag I am convinced I put in 12. And, curiously enough, exactly the most expensive one is the one missing… Well, I sent an email on 21st specifying all the details and encouraging them to look for it:

As I had sent my inquiry in on Saturday, they responded on Monday that they would look into it:

On that Friday I got a response that they had revised my bag and had found no error, i.e. no Nudie jeans. For some reason they remind me about their high selection criteria – as if I had complained about something they had discarded – but offer no way to proceed with this:

Starting to doubt my own sanity and – this being the only scrap of paper involved – I asked them to look for my filled out leaflet:

As it again happened to be Friday, I got the response on Monday:

And one more week later – on October 7 – I received this:

And this:

And this is where the whole thing stops… as there is no way to close this dispute. I am convinced that somebody at their reception chain has stolen that pair of jeans, be it the Percentil policy or individual initiative of an employee, while they claim that there were 11 items when they opened that bag.

I have been going back and forth in my head thinking about ways to possibly prove it but there are none. Even if I had taken a video of myself counting and describing the garments and then closing the bag, that could still be questioned as in if you really closed it, if that was the bag, etc.

And meanwhile they kept sending me emails asking for feedback before having resolved my problem and telling that they have made new, better photos of my items… And asking for feedback. So here you have feedback alright. And those poor garments up there are getting discounted already. And then come more emails urging me to ‘share my wardrobe’ on my social media so that people would buy it… Ugh.

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So six weeks after I had the brilliant idea that I should try Percentil, I am exhausted and pissed off at them. You see, I am a very trusting person and hadn’t even considered that something like this could happen. Curiously enough, though, I did receive a message commenting on me telling IG that I’ll be trying Percentil out to count well how many things I’m putting in my bag… so maybe they already have this fame but I’m slow to catch on? Although the person n question was doubting if the supposedly discarded items aren’t getting sold too.

All in all, a shit experience where I expected only a mildly annoying one. The key, of course, is the model of ‘you send us and we’ll tell you’ that – turns out – can easily lead to such impossible-to-solve disputes. I won’t be trying any of similar services soon and I don’t recommend buying from them. Fuck ’em, organize a clothes swap instead! How? This and this. Or establish an old-school consignment store where a staff member evaluates your stuff at the moment (while frowning at your fast fashion wares). Having seen a couple working very well in New York, I think there would be enough space in Barcelona… Maybe there already is one? I shall Google.

#whatiwore 2019w40 + Sunday links

How it looked at the moment:



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Orden a Tres podcast

We are often bewitched by what we are not that good at, right? So this week on Orden a Tres you will get us, three far from perfect KonMari™ consultants, talking about the importance of self-care… As always, in Spanish: Ep. 11 Hablemos de auto-cuidado. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher, and – finally! – iTunes.

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And for the little gray cells,

1. This week you get a special section on (mostly) men’s undergarments: (a) A Brief History of Men’s Underwear; (b) Winter Undie-land: A Brief History of Long Underwear; (c) Union suit; (d) The Unlikely Return Of White Socks; (e) Laughing at the Robes.

2. In the ‘cute but unlikely to scale projects’ uplifting press releases section, Great Green Wall and (in Spanish) leather substitute made from nopal.

3. Leave it to George to remind you who your class enemies are: ‘Immense wealth translates automatically into immense environmental impacts, regardless of the intentions of those who possess it. The very wealthy, almost as a matter of definition, are committing ecocide.’

4. Basic sustainability advice applied: make do (Extending the life of electronics by a year equivalent to taking millions of cars off the road) and try to make something else out of your garbage (7 Creative Ways to Upcycle Your Old Clothes).

5. On that romantic mist surrounding certain garments: ‘“Utilitarian” is probably an inappropriate concept for this discussion, except in our shared #menswear fantasies of rus in urbe. No one today really needs shoes whose construction has the butch origin story required for #menswear fantasies.’

6. On how purity, perfection and 100% coherence is impossible, and how people attempting any kind of sustainability have to embrace this fact or perish under the weight of our conscience: (in Spanish) La coherencia es una trampa.

7. A piece of satire proposing that we are at peak sartorial tolerance hence making any effort at shocking ‘the gray mass’ futile: Area Men Struggle To Find New Ways To Freak Out Squares.

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What I was writing about a year ago: After 9 months of the big spreadsheet. Ah, the rule of dry facts…

What I was writing about two years ago: (after the fourth swap) September Clothes’ Swap Recap.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w40 + Sunday links. And not repeating anything this week because of weather differences involved…

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w40 + Sunday links. Hah, actually Veja Arcade and the pearl earrings are being repeated, so that weather argument loses a bit of its power…

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Do you agree with the assertion that nothing shocks people anymore fashion-wise? Have you ever dressed with the purpose of shocking and provoking? Still doing so?

After 9 months of the big spreadsheet in 2019

Well, hello there, last trimester of 2019! Let’s see what I’ve been wearing so far… in case you are new to this, in 2018 I switched from doing seasonal capsules to having all my garments available throughout the year and just tracking every time I wear something outside home.

You can learn all about the underlying logic in the previous quarterly posts:

The outset post on January 2018, including a link to a Google spreadsheet you can use too,
here the 2018 January-March update,
here the 2018 January-June update,
here the 2018 January-September update,
here the 2018 January-December recap.
Then 2019 started, and here is January-March post,
and here the January-June 2019 update.

So here you have my wardrobe champions and laggards of 2019 so far by garment category.

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Layers

Most worn: Street One jacket (acquired in 2005, worn in 2019 so far: 52 / wears counted in total: 143).

Runner-ups: Swap Zara cardigan (2018, 40/98) and red flea sweater (2015, 34/182).

Most worn in the same period in 2018: My mom’s gray cardigan (2012-2019, 219 wears counted)

Not worn or worn the least: Velvet floral bolero (2011, 2/10) and the Lithuanian wool sweater (2015, 2/32). These two are ongoing complicated cases… the little bolero needs an occasion and a whole coordinated set while the Lithuanian sweater needs proper winter.

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Dresses

Most worn: Hah, still my mom’s MnS black linen dress (2013, 23/93). I really do not understand how this one gets to be the most worn but the spreadsheet doesn’t lie. This kind of unsuspected wardrobe champions is why I love wardrobe tracking.

Runner-ups: Swap Zara Mucha lyocell dress (2019, 22/22) and my mom’s dark blue silk dress (2016, 20/85).

Most worn in the same period in 2018: my mom’s dark blue silk dress (31)

Not worn or worn the least: my floral dress (2019, 5/5) and my mom’s Max Mara weekend dress (2019, 5/5). Both are recent acquisitions that are still finding their true place in my wardrobe.

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Tops

Most worn: My mom’s lace undershirt (2012, 39/106).

Runner-ups: Humana Zara ruffle top (2018, 28/40) and Kristīne’s MnS blue kaftan (2018, 25/58).

Most worn in the same period in 2018: The demon t-shirt (2014-2018, 95)

Not worn or worn the least: My mom’s green bird top (2018, 0/1). Let’s see how it will go this winter…

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Bottoms

Most worn: ZIB orange flower leggings (2018, 35/35). Yep, dark leggings is a staple in my wardrobe…

Runner-ups: My mom’s white jeans (2018, 34/34) and ZIB blue flower leggings (2018, 26/26).

Most worn in the same period in 2018: My mom’s rayon shorts (2016-2019, 119)

Not worn or worn the least: ZIB splash leggings (2015, 3/4). A pair of very comfy leggings that lives in Rīga and rarely goes outside.

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Footwear

Most worn: Veja Wata Pierre (2018, 107/228).

Runner-ups: the birks (2017, 75/256) and Veja Taua Nautico (2019, 53/53).

Most worn in the same period in 2018: the birks (107). After a total of 256 wears throughout three summers they finally went out this week.

Not worn or worn the least: Toni Pons espadrilles (2018, 1/11) and the mountain boots my dad got as a hand-me-down fro ma client (2019, 1/1). Espadrilles are for when my KonMari consultancy requires a change of footwear… and the boots are on trial since July…

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Adornments

Most worn: the sunhat (2019, 41/41). Yeah, I finally got a (swap) sunhat and it is great, both to shade myself and to hide sweaty summer hair!

Runner-ups: Little Bit Bijoux necklace (2019, 27/27), ban.do headband (2011?, 22/101), and bird and flowers headband (2012, 22/94).

Most worn in the same period in 2018: the red wooden necklace (26).

Not worn or worn the least: ‘Pearl’ necklace (?, 3/72). I like the idea of wearing a necklace but most of them choke me…

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2019 wardrobe conclusions so far? Well, it’s always in flux… there are old and recent acquisitions among my champions. And laggards are mostly pieces of limited use or comfort. Makes sense. Some of them still surprise me. And that keeps giving sense to this spreadsheet project.

Part of this is also about living with my own ambivalence. Notice that I don’t automatically discard the ‘laggards’ or make an active campaign to wear them. My 2014-2017 capsule wardrobe self could have done such… Nope, I drink my tea and observe, this is just an additional piece of information, not the final judgement.

Do you practice any kind of wardrobe tracking? Have you ever noticed (or been pointed out) incongruences between your perceptions about the frequency of wear and the reality? Can you easily name your wardrobe champions?

#whatiwore 2019w39 + Sunday links

How it looked at the moment:



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Orden a Tres podcast

In this week’s episode of your favorite KonMari-dedicated podcast in Spanish we talk about life with animals… and how the Marie Kondo logic applies to them: Ep. 10 KonMari™ más allá de los objetos: Mascotas. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher, and – finally! – iTunes.

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And now for the brain:

1. In March 1960 somebody at Observer had the bizarre idea to ask Simone de Beauvoir about ‘her attitude to fashion and how she chooses her clothes’, despite her telling them that ‘I am not at all interested in clothes […] I have so many other things to think about, so many other interests that they are not at all on my mind.’

2. A kind reminder that separating our garbage in some imaginary neat categories does not mean that it gets converted into something new. In many occasions we just piss off the workers of the recycling plants and break their equipment: (a) (for USA) Plastics: What’s Recyclable, What Becomes Trash — And Why and (b) (for Catalunya) Residu, on vas?

3. Consumption patterns as clear reflections of wider sociodemographic trends: Architecture Professor Explains Why Malls Are Dying.

4. ‘Going carbon neutral’ is mostly greenwashing for the big brands… Gucci Says it Will be Completely Carbon Neutral by the End of September and Kering Says its “Entire Group” is Going Carbon Neutral. Here’s What That Means… + a reminder that if a vendor/brand looks all boho, ecletic and/or vintage, it doesn’t mean a thing as the sustainability credentials go: How Ethical is Anthropologie?

5. When menswear blogs recommend a woman’s movie wardrobe for its use of menswear: Inspiration From Emma Thompson In Late Night.

6. In the mental health corner, A Perfect Mess: Black Swan (dir. Darren Aronofsky, 2010) and (in Spanish) Mi depresión nunca fue mía (o 5 cosas que he aprendido sobre salud mental).

7. The kind of fashion editorials I can get behind (because comfy and practical = ultimate good): My Fashion Fantasy is Napping and Get An Overcoat This Fall.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Fix it! WAG skirt and lace undershirt. My adventures in fixing… few accomplishments make me as proud as prolonging a garments life!

What I was writing about two years ago: Summer 2017 capsule ins and outs.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w39 + Sunday links. Wearing also this week: only the pearl earrings as end of September in Rīga and Moscow is a very different affair than in Barcelona.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w39 + Sunday links. Again, repeating only pearls, because, well, it’s not really sandal weather here…

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I had the interesting experience of wearing my mom’s rather formal (for my standards) coat throughout our Moscow trip… interesting indeed, made me think… no conclusions yet but certainly felt different. What are your relationships with formal/adult clothing? Do you wear it? Do you enjoy it? Are there external circumstances (like, ehm, jobs) that make you wear suits, pencil skirts, white blouses, etc. serious adult garments?

#whatiwore 2019w38 + Sunday links

A detail: Above you see the Barcelona part of this week… then I planned my suitcase,

Packed it suitcase full of winter stuff…

To get two weeks of Latvian and Russian autumn:


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Orden a Tres podcast

This week at Orden a Tres podcast we talk about plants and their role in the KonMari™ universe – Ep. 9 KonMari™ más allá de los objetos: Plantas. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher, and iTunes.

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And for the gray cells:

1. Laurie Penny seeing the silver lining (whisper: fanfic will save the world) – We Can Be Heroes: How the Nerds Are Reinventing Pop Culture.

2. An obituary to department stories as places of beauty and longing: The Slow Death of Glamour. As for the present, A 7-Year Old Fashion Rental Company is Buying 193-Year Old Lord & Taylor.

3. When the purists see the irony that can be found among them: “Can’t Wait To See How This Breaks In,” Says Man Who Buys New Clothes Every Week. Meanwhile, you can still – unironically – learn about traditional Japanese hand-dyeing methods, mourn that Levi’s is No Longer Producing Any 501 Jeans in America, and worship Japanese denim: A Rare Visit to Kapital, Japan’s Denim Paradise.

4. The twisted realities of the influencer culture: Are the Most Valuable Brand Endorsements Free? Well, at least this one makes certain intuitive sense.

5. The status quo of the fashion industry? (a) The 76-Year-Long Evolution of New York Fashion Week; (b) The Denim Industry Needs to Find the Innovation Thread: Heritage labels face threats from the athleisure trend and growing demand for sustainable fashion; (c) It’s too late for ethical fashion: A sustainability expert explains that progress in the industry is cancelled out by the rate at which the fashion economy is speeding up; (d) Forever 21’s Expected Bankruptcy Filing Does Not Mark the Fall of Fast Fashion; (e) I can’t believe people still do the surprised ‘I just discovered the ills of fast fashion’ books and articles… but here you have another one only because it introduces the notion of ‘fashion bulimia’ (I’m unsure what the survivors of eating disorders think of this but it is a powerful reframing): The environment and economy are paying the price for fast fashion — but there’s hope.

6. When gestures interpreted as sustainable became hip and sociologically weird: How Fancy Water Bottles Became a 21st-Century Status Symbol and Too Much of a Good Thing (on the mysterious multiplication of canvas totes).

7. I am really longing for some serious disruption, like this: Grounded. I just don’t yet have the courage to do it myself…

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What I was writing about a year ago: September Swap (7th!) recap. Contains the swap to-do list that typically gets me in a knot and then I write these post-swap rants… I thought about maybe toning it down a bit for this week’s recap, but then decided that truth will make us free and maybe even prevent post-swap migraines (I’ve had only one in my life and that was after a swap).

What I was writing about two years ago: Six months of blogging and adjusting expectations. Oh, all those shattered expectations about going immediately viral… or shall we call it a strong belief in the quality of my content?!

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w38 + Sunday links. Also wore this week: the WAG skirt and the Zara-Humana ruffle blouse (from this ‘I really really want to buy sth’ occasion a year ago).

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w38. Repeated this week: my mom’s gingham dress, pearl earrings and the DIY mixed ‘pearl’ necklace.

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Can you help but roll your eyes at the n-th media fast fashion outrage discovery moment? Please, dear people, it’s 2019, everybody knows… maybe not the details but the big picture is ignored only thanks to cognitive dissonance. I know, I know, you never know which piece of information will penetrate the defenses of somebody but it just gets painfully repetitive. I just find it hard to believe that there are still editors who would pay for a general ‘everything is wrong in fast fashion’ coverage. Dude, infiltrate, do profound qualitative work, do in-depth coverage of the alternatives, do something new, please!

September Swap (11th!) recap

My pride and joy, happy uncustomers.

As I keep responding people who come to me all excited about how great the swaps are, ‘yeah, I’ve been doing this since 2016 and this is the 11th time, I’ve learnt a thing or two…’ There were no force majeures during this event, all went well, all as usual. So I have only a couple of points to write down for the history and such…

My swap stuff to be carried from home is down to one carrito and one bag, yeah! Practice, eh.

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On volunteers

Chus and Patri being the heroes until the very end.

While I love everybody who gives their time, social networks or money to swaps, it always feels to little. And I know that the problem is mine. This is my love project, and my unconscious measuring of people’s dedication by my own standards are clearly ludicrous… but I still do that. And numerous bitter experiences have confirmed that I cannot trust anybody to do what they promised they’d do until they’ve done that. Well, we don’t have a written contract, I pay no money and circumstances change, indeed. On the other hand, I know very well that I am unable to set up and wrap up a swap alone.

That said, *thank you* so much to those who came early and those who stayed late, and those who shared the event on FB and IG, those that left tips, and those who keep liking Un Armario Verde stuff on social media. This time, I have to thank especially Liisa, Lorena, Coco, Effie, Virginia, Cynthia, Grace, Patricia, Chus… and Mara from across the ocean! xoxo

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On wrap up

The final countdown being performed by Grace, Cynthia, Patri and Chus.

It’s f*ing exhausting! If the setup is at least filled with the excitement – and more people volunteer for this part – wrapping up a swap is quite horrible… I try to entice people with the fact that you get to go through all the things, maybe still take something for yourself, make snide comments about other people’s stuff, but even I didn’t have much fun this time. Taking into account that it takes place after 5+ hours of being on my feet and has to be done so as to return Ateneu to its best possible state, ugh. I just kept observing how the light went out of those who had volunteered to stay until the end, poor creatures. Again, thank you so much for enduring so much, and I hope to see you again!

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On leftovers

First of all, I’ll bite the next person who’ll ask me what do I do with the leftovers and then roll their eyes at me. F*ck you! You make a comprehensive survey about the textile reuse/recycling opportunities in Barcelona and take a reasonable decision about what to do with these bags and bags of (mostly) low quality / worn out clothes. And then physically carry it out instead of being philosophical about it. Dear people, your textile garbage is not amazing, nobody wants it!

So, for those at the back, for many times now, we pack it up and take it to Botiga Gratis of Banc Expropriat who run a very similar affair to my swaps but do that every working day for 3h (if you ever need any basic clothing or just want to browse sth, c/ Quevedo 13-15 from 18:00 till 21:00). It is not far but requires at least two trips for at least two adults with the aid of supermarket trolleys. And it has to be done on Monday or Tuesday after the swap, as Ateneu has other activities to do instead of just keeping a space full of bags and the Botiga Gratis ladies rest on weekends. So far I think I’ve had only such ‘volunteers’ for the Botiga Gratis part that I can coerce emotionally because they are friends: Liisa, Mara, and, I think most often throughout these years, C ♥.

The political choice I mentioned earlier in choosing the next step in the reusing/recycling chain is a complex one… The official stance of the city of Barcelona are the orange Roba Amiga containers. It is a Catholic-church affiliated NGO and they have the municipal contract for all textile residue management. They have shops that resell, they export to other countries, and they make pulp for industrial rags, carpeting, isolation, etc. I estimate, though, that the likelihood that somebody will wear the same garment you have deposited in the orange in Barcelona is very small… only if they are part of the illegal resellers that routinely break in those containers.

Botiga Gratis is not perfect either. They are also overwhelmingly full of low quality stuff, so seeing our haul does not necessarily make them happy. And they don’t believe in textile recycling – their hate for second-hand shops and resellers is visceral indeed – so all their discards go to the gray container and straight to the landfill. Not cool for all that polyester and other materials that will be there forever. 200+ years, Fashion Revolution dixit:

Taking into account the actual quality of the leftovers, the most considerate way of doing this would be to take the good things to Botiga Gratis and the bad ones to a Roba Amiga container. We actually separated them while sorting this time, again, with an extra effort from those tired volunteers, but ended up not doing it… because the closest church that had a container according to Roba Amiga homepage was brandishing a sign ‘we are not accepting clothes for Caritas’. F*ck it, said we and just hauled it to Botiga Gratis.

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On finds: for me

I got a new pair of – this time – fake birks… the most hilarious part is that I didn’t notice that it is a Natura copy until I started taking photos at home. Well, welcome to the family! The old ones have had 250+ wears and are very ready to be discarded, so the bar for the performance of the new ones is a low one. They are longer but much more narrow than birks, so my hobbit feet will have to work hard to deform that length into width.

I also picked up a couple of things with a hope to refashion them, I’ll let you know if that happens.

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On finds: for people who are coming

Washed and KonMaried, ta-dah! Also, a dachshund ribbon fixes everything.

My friend Luisa is expecting and this swap – unexpectedly! – offered me a chance to give her a babyshower present. Being me, knowing that she has already got quite few hand-me-downs for the baby, and her knowing me well enough (and being a fan of swaps), buying something new felt inauthentic… so, after asking her first from the swap if she was interested in 4 new-looking Primark 100% cotton onesies size 86cm, a gift was born. I hope Clarinha likes them too, they are soft and look quite comfy to poop in.

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Here you have my rant, see you on December 14th then! Because, although I complain and get tired, the show must go on… because it makes so much sense, because this is the thing that has do be done. And, as my love for rags is intense, it clearly has to be me doing this. I love you, swaps.

What are your swap experiences? Ever attended one? Ever organized one? Ever thought of organizing one, found this post, and now think it’s not such a good idea? Do it! All those sad garments at the very bottom of the wardrobe needs some airing out and somebody new to hang out with.

#whatiwore 2019w37 + Sunday links

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Orden a Tres podcast

Your favorite ‘practice your Spanish while doing KonMari™’ podcast is back! In this week’s episode we cover the final category of a tidying festival: sentimental items. Ep 8. La quinta categoría del método KonMari™: Sentimentales. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher, and iTunes.

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And a bit brain food too:

1. For those who are nostalgic about ink stains and hard-to-read notes, Handwriting: An Elegy and Activation Energy. Full disclosure: I love fountain pens and inks but my handwriting is useful only for private diaries as very few people can decipher it.

2. In case you had missed that US soccer team are awe-inspiring people, NYT is here to inform you: U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Members Are Winners, and Entrepreneurs.

3. This is a bit essentialist but based on – although biased – empirical observation, so read it anyway: 10 Things I’ve Learned as a Queer Woman in the Climate and Energy Fields.

4. I never thought I’d be recommending a Daily Mail link but this is a type of garbage I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere. Also, being part of the industry that routinely suggests that people discard all the hangers they have and buy a new set of identical ones, ugh… Coat hangers leach cancer-causing chemicals, can’t be recycled and maim wildlife. Why do we ignore the plastic menace every bit as toxic as carrier bags? I don’t really have a good recommendation for a switch, except for sticking with the wood and metal ones as the wire-only are very thin and rarely spark any joy. Oh, and obviously not giving them away for free or hanging underwear…

5. For those last summer days… and to prep your fiber knowledge for next warm season: Summertime and the Linen’s Easy and Textile Tales: Terrycloth.

6. What are the luxury re-buyers coveting? Gucci, Yeezy, Luxury Watches and Sustainability Stand Out in The RealReal’s Annual Resale Report. To add context and a counterpoint, The Real Problem with Fast Fashion. And to get just a glimpse of a thought process in slow fashion, the trials and re-trials around just one garment’s fastening, this – Signature Collection: Late Summer Update.

7. I can’t help but love it when menswear nerds break garments down to the most minute detail (and teach you the vocabulary so you can follow their lead): How To Get A Good White Dress Shirt and The Different Types of Eyelets.

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What I was writing about a year ago: 1.5 years of blogging and adjusting expectations. The usual rant about how much I dislike the internets, I should write one soon…

What I was writing about two years ago: Summer 2017 capsule heroes and lessons learned.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w37 + Sunday links. Also wore this week: WAG skirt, birks, and the #memade beige skirt.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w37. The only coincidence are the birks because this was that occasions when I took a bunch of bye-bye items for a Greek vacation before letting go… The photos are very cute though!

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Have you ever given your items a ‘gift’ or ‘last x wears’ before discarding them? Sometimes it helps… Especially with those items you really know they should go but something sentimental keeps you from taking the final step.

#whatiwore 2019w36 + Sunday links

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Orden a Tres podcast

The Orden a Tres podcast is on holiday this week, so use this opportunity to catch up with all episodes you haven’t listened to yet. As you know, on PodBean, Spotify, Stitcher, or iTunes.

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And here comes your bowl of brain porridge:

1. I’m really not sure how I feel about this… Made on the Inside, Worn on the Outside: ‘Brands are using prison labor to provide inmates with jobs and training. But is it possible — and ethical — to build a profitable fashion business behind bars?’

2. On the secret life of fabric scraps: Why are fashion supply chains so wasteful? ‘Consumer textile waste may be the larger problem, but the pre-consumer supply chain has its own wasteful practices built in to the way garments are designed and produced.’

3. I’ve seen so many love letters to Phoebe Philo that I assume I’m just not getting something… but this one alos has birks and how men’s toes became showable: How Philo Made Me Love Sandals.

4. A very soft intro to Montessori education: Can a Playroom Makeover Make My Kids Over? ‘Simone Davies, a teacher and author, helped make over my kids’ playroom using Montessori educational principles like creating a sense of peace and instilling autonomy in children.’

5. Many things come down to fragile masculinities, as we all recently learnt that a common reason for not recycling among men is that it’s not masculine/hetero enough, this, (in Spanish) ¿Es el zero waste cosa de mujeres? and (on online fashion communities) Why Are Fit Pics Headless?

6. I’m not sure if I buy the argument completely, but it is an interesting research question… Traditional Dresses as Resistance: ‘Rarámuri women in Chihuahua, Mexico, have made an indigenous style of dress a means of fighting assimilation.’

7. And the oh-so-common-but-still-very-valid observation that perceptions of the same stories, characters, and style change with time: Ripley Revisited. Bear in mind that the aesthetics of Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) is apparently sacred to many millennial menswear enthusiasts. It is a beautiful movie, though.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Fix it! Liisa bag and swap t-shirt. About the minion bag that became owl bag… and the little t-shirt that very recently became knickers!

What I was writing about two years ago: September swap + my outgoing pieces. That was a fun swap, many of those garments had been torturing me for years, being just there between ‘I can make this work’ and ‘ugh, but do I really want to?’ Out! was the correct answer.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w36 + Sunday links. Also this week: birks and Veja Wata Pierre, c’est ça!

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w36. Still wore this week: Kristīne’s stripe skirt, Veja Arcade sneakers, and my mom’s gingham dress.

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Are you ready for the ‘new year’? Are you – like me – an adult that never gave up thinking in academic years and making plans/resolutions for September-May? What are you starting anew this September?

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Also, the tipjar is available if you ever feel like buying me a coffee!

#whatiwore 2019w35 + Sunday links

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Orden a Tres podcast

Your favorite podcast combining KonMari method™ and Spanish is still here, this week chatting about the kitchen komono: Ep 7. Más komono: Komono de cocina. You can also listen us on Spotify, Stitcher, and – finally! – iTunes.

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Here, feed the brain! The new schoolyear is almost here, so have an extra portion of what this blog is all about:

1. The walk of shame is nothing when you have the CO2 calculator for your air travel… Apparently, all my ‘lifestyle’ stuff gets me the rough equivalent of two round trips to Rīga per year. And, of course, the ‘this buys me’ logic is a fallacy as we have no rights to those emissions to begin with. Ouch.

2. As for interesting pieces on fashion production, covering the range from best practices to ‘ugh, really?’:

(a) a very reasonable 4 things brands should do for the environment instead of launching a new sustainable line;
(b) from the best practice shelf comes Inside the Denim Factory Your Favorite Sustainable Brands Use Loyally;
(c) How Ethical are Haute Couture Brands? The short answer: ‘not at all, unless stated otherwise’;
(d) the feminist reminder The Impact of Fast Fashion on Women in Developing Nations;
(e) and the horror reminder: Report: Levi’s, Wrangler, Lee seamstresses harassed, abused. Again, unless you know it is different, assume that these are the conditions that all (fast) fashion is made.

3. On why discourse and greenwashing is not the same as reality:

(a) H&M, Zara, and other fashion brands are tricking shoppers with vague sustainability claims;
(b) The Problem with “Sustainability”? It Doesn’t Really Mean Anything;
(c) Fast Fashion’s “Sustainability” Endeavors Need to Be About More than Fabrics, Recycling;
(d) And – finally! – sb on the absurdity of ‘sustainable’ influencer economy: Why I’m No Longer Accepting Free Clothes or Paid Collabs.

4. The climate breakdown is stil ON:

(a) It’s raining plastic: Microscopic fibers fall from the sky in Rocky Mountains;
(b) (in Spanish) Los piroplásticos: una nueva forma de contaminación por plástico;
(c) Ash to Ashes: Thanks to shocking failures of government, every tree, almost everywhere, is now threatened by killer plagues.

5. And our food choices are part of that problem America’s Obsession With Beef Is Killing Leather (that one is very weirdly written, though) and
Spectre at the Feast: The livestock industry is trashing the living world, and free-range, pasture-fed meat is the worst offender.

6. At the same time, Lady Gaga, Tyra Banks and the Disneyfication of Fashion: ‘Welcome to the Disneyfication of style: the convergence of entertainment, consumption and experience in a single, sensation-filled high/low extravaganza. Everyone has been on something of a roller coaster lately, after all. This just makes it official.’

7. And for at least some fun and symbolic value of fashion, At the U.S. Open, It’s What You Wear (keep an open search tab to look up the outfits mentioned, that will enhance your reader experience) and Serena Williams Won’t Be Silenced; Her Clothes Are Doing the Talking.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Swap masterpost, or all the resources so far. In preparation for the September 14th swap, there you have all the key steps to prep for the best swap!

What I was writing about two years ago: #100wears: The Red Denim Jacket launching the #100wears series.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w35 + Sunday links. Also this week: my mom’s dark blue silk dress, Veja Wata Pierre, my mom’s gingham dress, the beige #memade midi skirt, and birks, of course.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w35 + Sunday links. Still wore this week: my mom’s little lace blouse, my mom’s gingham dress, pearl earrings, my mom’s dark blue silk dress…

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How do you balance all the overwhelmingly hopeless news with some basic drive to go on living? And adorning that with some frivolous fashion? We are a long way from a jute sack uniform… or are we?

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Also, the tipjar is available if you ever feel like buying me a coffee!

A week of waste, an assessment

Waste assessment is a basic first step for the zeroish-waste curious. This can be done by looking at the garbage in detail or looking at the incoming stuff. I’ve recorded all incoming items for our 2-adult household and the volume of outgoing garbage. It’s not pretty, brace yourself, and show me your numbers afterwards!

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Monday, August 19

IN

Lentils + glass jar + aluminum lid.
White beans + glass jar + aluminum lid.
Pickles + 2 glass jars + 2 aluminum lids.
Artichokes + 2 glass jars + aluminum lids.
Pickled beets + glass jar + aluminum lid.
Pickled sprouts + glass jar + aluminum lid.
Mayonnaise + glass jar + aluminum lid.

Soy milk + tetrabrick + plastic screw top.
Barretxa + 4 plastic baggies.
Cheese + plastic wrapper.

Cherry tomatoes + 2 plastic wrappers + 2 cardboard trays.
Chocolate + 5 paper wrappers + 5 aluminum foil (wrappers.

8 receipts, still unclear how much BPA-laden are those and if I’m fucking up all my recycling with this.

OUT

1 small compostable bag of organic garbage.
1 empty paper bag.

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Tuesday, August 20

IN

Bread + paper bag. Will be used afterwards to collect our paper trash, though.

OUT

1 small compostable bag of organic garbage.

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Wednesday, August 21

IN

Snickers bar + 2 plastic wrappers.

Nectarines + 2 cardboard trays + 2 plastic wraps + 9 fruit stickers.
Aubergines + 2 cardboard trays + 2 plastic wraps.

Watermelon + 2 plastic wraps.
Pimientos de padrón + plastic baggie.

Loose carrots in my own mesh bag.
Loose cucumbers.

Receipt (14 paper).

OUT

1 small plastic bag (from Sunday’s bread) of organic garbage.
1 plastic bag of plastic/aluminum recycling (in a bag that Marina had used to cushion her last package).
1 paper bag (from last week’s bread) with paper waste.

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Thursday, August 22

IN

Museum ticket.
Restaurant reservation note.
3 receipts.

Watermelon + 2 plastic wraps.
Cream cheese + box + lid.

OUT

1 small compostable bag of organic garbage.

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Friday, August 23

IN

Bread + paper bag.

Beer + 4 cans + 2 plastic bags.

OUT

1 small compostable bag of organic garbage.

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Saturday, August 24

IN

Chickpeas + glass jar + aluminum lid.
Turkey + plastic envelope + cardboard wrapper.

Potato chips + 2 bags.
Smoked salmon + plastic envelope.
Melon + plastic wrap.
Watermelon + plastic wrap.
Pimientos de padrón + 2 plastic baggies.

Mushrooms + 2 plastic trays + 2 plastic wraps.

Loose lemons + 2 fruit stickers.
Loose avocado + fruit sticker.
Loose nectarines + 7 fruit stickers.

Loose potatoes in my mesh bag.
Loose bell peppers.
Loose zucchini.
Loose cucumbers.
Loose lime.
Loose cherry tomatoes.
Loose onions.

Receipt.

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Sunday, August 25

OUT

1 small compostable bag of organic garbage.

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Totals

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Alternatives

As usual with waste, avoiding most of these would require me changing my routines and doing more housewifing. And that, as usual, circles back to the extent I am willing to dedicate more of my time to the pursuit of less waste (I already wrote a rant about this a year ago)… In order of ease of change, these are the ways of reducing our waste:

A) Designate a bread bag and stick to it.

B) Deciding that buying zero waste is more important than ‘we are throwing these out’ discount trays of fruit and veggies (this week: nectarines and aubergines). This is an unfortunate choice I’m not sure about… a classic in the universe of sustainability decision overwhelm.

C) Switching to buying beloved watermelons (and just melons) whole with the risk of buying an overripe and garbage-ready fruit it entails. I already had three of those this year, and really hate that disappointment after paying for and carrying those 5-8kg home.

D) The next step would be choosing my lemons and avocados based on if they have lost their stickers already. Bah! Or changing my fruit vendor. Changing would also be needed for pimientos de padrón and mushrooms. And adding an another shop – after finding one that’s fine with filling my own containers – to our shopping routine for all animal stuff.

E) Then, making legumes at home. We don’t own a pressure cooker, hence stovetop legumes imply several hours of some vigilance, and additional heat and humidity that life in Barcelona does not need. I’m still very unsure if this way of cooking beans is more energy efficient than the industrial ones. But buying cooked legumes leave their jars behind.

F) Mayonnaise. I have never tried to make the proper traditional mayonnaise (as opposed to several vegan options and replacements) but what I know about the care to be put into it does not make it appealing…

G) Soy milk. We tried it once with my grandma but without knowing that it has to be boiled. Internet says that dry soy beans can be used, so this sounds quite plausible although not that attractive. Again, time…

H) Beer. Buying on tap and in growlers is an options…

I) All the pickled stuff, ugh… we have done some very basic pickling, and olives can be easily bought zero waste here. Anything beyond that would rather mean foregoing then starting a wide pickling operation here.

J) As for other forms of preserving produce, only now – after 5 or so years of mild interest in the zeroish waste movement – it dawned on me that I would eat some stuff very rarely or never if they have to be zero wast, namely the veggies I usually get industrially frozen. In my case those would be green peas and edamames. A kilo of green peas in shell cost around 4-6 €/kg here when they are in season. Mostly they are not. Even when you get the fresh ones – and if you are not a green pea monster and are actually able to shell them without eating them all – a tiny bowl of green peas is what you get. And there would be no edamames… or only the very overpriced restaurant edamames that most probably came from the same frozen plastic bag that the ones I buy now. Well, one of my big issues with zero waste has always been the assumption that ‘if I didn’t see/touch it, it’s not my waste’…

K) Industrial shit, like Snickers or Philadelphia cream cheese, are not really an issue. Those happen quite rarely here. As for snacks like barretxa and potato chips… I’d have to explore the zero waste shop in St. Antoni.

L) Chocolate. For all my love for Casa Perris, their chocolate (no wrapper) is very much meh in comparison with our Blanxart favorites. And Blanxart’s supply chain is clearer and more eco. Ugh.

M) The amount of unnoticed paper going around is just annoying, and the Spanish internets do not agree about the recyclability of the receipts. And, as far as the alternative is giving people my email to send me the receipts, I’m not sure what’s worse.

N) And don’t even get me started on fruit stickers. I’m currently doing a little artsy project with them, as to channel my annoyance.

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As for the garbage, it is summer in Barcelona – hot, humid, and full of gnats wishing to make sweet love in our garbage – hence avoidance of the immediate compost is a priority. Public health first. And, no, home composting is not an appealing idea for us. C is outright disgusted by the thought, and I don’t feel strongly enough to try to cajole him. Rigorous separation for the city organic fraction is how far we are ready to go.

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So, I’m not very happy or inspired after this. I feel guilty, but I’m not willing to add more places to go to my shopping list… Also, a curious observation: I am more willing to do zero waste with stuff that lasts more. For example, for the quite occasional Casa Perris or Safareig trips I get all prepared, with a tight list and all corresponding containers. But I am far more relaxed about the plastic wraps that go into the garbage almost immediately. Minds work in curious ways…

Are you doing anything to reduce your waste? What have been the easiest steps? And the hardest? It is painful to understand how a life dedicated to zero(ish) waste would be possible if only we were ready to to actually dedicate much bigger chunks of time to it or restrict our consumption to only the easily available… neither is an attractive option.

#whatiwore 2019w34 + Sunday links

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Orden a Tres podcast

This week’s podcast episode is dedicated to komono, the miscellanea category of KonMari method™: Ep 6. La tercera categoría del método KonMari™: Komono. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher.

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And for the English-reading gray cells,

1. Those funny cases when a notion changes its meaning completely: In Defense of the Boot Cut.

2. Probably because I don’t understand the importance of brand dressing, I also do not understand counterfeit economy. But this: 71 Percent of American Gen-Zers are Buying Counterfeits, Compared to 84 Percent of Their Chinese Counterparts. Especially together with this: Shoppers admit to feeling guilty for buying fast fashion. Dear consumers, why are you so weird?

3. And bits from the even more confusing influencer economy: Rampant Influencer Fraud is Costing Brands More than $1 Billion Each Year.

4. Cute but unclear what good this will bring now: England region plans world-first for climate change teaching.

5. There are sneakerheads that exact copies of *very* historical sneakers: Basketball’s First Shoe and the Re-birth of Colchester Rubber Company and Colchester Rubber co. National Treasure 1892 High Top Review. And to add some teenage-typical wear suggestions, Thrashin’: The Case For One Sneaker All Summer Long.

6. In case you’ve been forgetting why ‘made in China’ is often very problematic: Cotton On and Target investigate suppliers after forced labour of Uyghurs exposed in China’s Xinjiang and Schoolchildren in China work overnight to produce Amazon Alexa devices.

7. People writing out loud that summer is not good for being stylish: Take The Heat: Summer Sucks For Clothes and Looking Forward to Fall.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Beyond repair: White zipper blouse and lyocell shorts. The beginning of goodbye posts to garments that are, well, beyond repair.

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

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w34 + Sunday links. Also wore this week: birks and Veja Wata Pierre.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w34 + Sunday links. And still wearing: birks, my mom’s lace blouse, the silk maxi.

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Do you agree with those claiming that summer is bad for good style? Or are you a happy summer dresser?

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Also, the tipjar is available if you ever feel like buying me a coffee!

#whatiwore 2019w33 + Sunday links

A detail A: Ha! I need more summer-appropriate tops. As this summer has unexpectedly turned me into a pants-wearing creature (pockets! no chub rub!), my current two summer tops are falling short. I had volunteered for a couple of bar shifts at Festa Major de Gràcia bar at carrer Ciudad Real without realizing that everything I wore for that will reek of spilled beer and need urgent washing. Then I dropped my lunch on the clean one, and ended up borrowing C’s gray stripes for my Saturday shift. So getting another summer top goes on my swap wishlist. If you have the right one for me, bring it along on September 14th!

A detail B: The Barcelona summer is being quite hard for me, so I took advantage of Liisa visiting me between her adventures to do a 4-in-1: (a) fulfill the undershave fantasies I’ve been having for a while, (b) have the therapeutic effect of a hairstyle change, (c) with no hairs sticking to my neck, it is indeed breezier, and (d) I saved quite few euros by having a trusted friend to operate the razor on my balcony. I’m very satisfied.

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Orden a Tres podcast

This week’s Orden a Tres podcast will take you to the tedious but oh-so-satisfactory-afterwards paper category. In Spanish, as always, Ep 5. La tercera categoría del método KonMari™: Papeles. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher.

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And to nourish the little gray cells:

1. Marina sent me Brittney Cooper’s Eloquent Rage. To get you in the mood, a couple of quotes below and the following: (a) The Case for Reparations, (b) The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration, and (c) the Combahee River Collective and their statement.




2. On the real life problem of bioplastics: (in Spanish) ¿Es la tarjeta de Triodos Bank biodegradable? Again and again, bioplastics biodegrade but do so properly in controlled facilities made exactly for that not in your balcony compost. So here goes advice for reducing your plastic, the usual ones: (in Spanish) ¿Cómo vivir sin plástico? Pasos básicos.

3. Workwear and Gender focusing on Emilie Casiez’s style and citing 1973 NYT’s Androgynous World. As usual, about women appropriating the menswear, not the other way around (except for the honorary mentions of Prince, Hendrix and Bowie). Also, as usual, without mentioning that the capacity for such appropriation depends on the body type. While I’m against the notion of ‘flattering’ and such, the same silhouette Casiez is wearing would look very different on me (and so many other people). Anyways, it’s a menswear blog and the whole point of this is ‘examples of how masculine attire can be worn in a feminine manner […] a treasure trove of menswear inspiration’. Oh, never mind, it’s clearly not my aesthetic anyways…

4. Does Extinction Rebellion Have the Solution to the Climate Crisis? The wrong question, imho, as XR are the only ones being honest and constructive about the climate emergency.

5. Eager for some depressing shit? Here, ‘as I struggled to carve out time in my crowded days for writing, a colleague suggested I read a book about the daily rituals of great artists. But instead of offering me the inspiration I’d hoped for, what struck me most about these creative geniuses – mostly men – was not their schedules and daily routines, but those of the women in their lives. Their wives protected them from interruptions; their housekeepers and maids brought them breakfast and coffee at odd hours; their nannies kept their children out of their hair. Martha Freud not only laid out Sigmund’s clothes every morning, she even put the toothpaste on his toothbrush. Marcel Proust’s housekeeper, Celeste, not only brought him his daily coffee, croissants, newspapers and mail on a silver tray, but was always on hand whenever he wanted to chat, sometimes for hours. Some women are mentioned only for what they put up with, like Karl Marx’s wife – unnamed in the book – who lived in squalor with the surviving three of their six children while he spent his days writing at the British Museum.’

6. More proof that (high) fashion is reckless and untrustworthy? Saint Laurent incident underlines environmental cost of fashion shows.

7. One of the weirdest fraud schemes I’ve heard about: Counterfeit Jeans and the Rise of the $24 Billion Returns Fraud Economy. People are strange…

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What I was writing about a year ago: #100wears: Vegan Birkenstock Gizeh. Heh, they are now at 240 wears, and refuse to fall apart. Not pretty, though.

What I was writing about two years ago: Capsule wardrobes trans-seasonally and beyond seasonality. That time my reading skills failed me… but brought an interesting idea.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w33 + Sunday links. Also wearing this week: the birks and my mom’s silver bracelet

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w33 + Sunday links. Was wearing also this week: the birks. Although the little denim shorts + little white top formula was the same, those were other garments. Note to self: that clearly is the summer formula!

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What have you been wearing most this summer? Do you have a summer outfit formula? The slight difference between a formula and a uniform being that formula = this type of x + this type of y (little denim shorts and little white top) while uniform = x + y (exactly this top which I have in 5 copies + these shorts which I have 2 of every day of summer).

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Also, the tipjar is available if you ever feel like buying me a coffee!

#whatiwore 2019w32 + Sunday links

A detail: Giulia left Barcelona for good… 🙁 but I got a pair of hand-me-down denim shorts (and the unexpected knowledge that we fit into the same shorts) among other bits for the September swap. They are already well worn in, repaired and in need of some new patches. I’m up for the job!




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Orden a Tres podcast

This week for your simultaneous KonMari and Spanish lesson, a podcast episode on the second category in the method, books: Ep 4. La segunda categoría del método KonMari™: Libros. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher.

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And a spoonful of brainfood, of course:

1. I already shared this, but all of us should read it again: How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation. And this: Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?

2. Yes, exactly as Marie Kondo would tell you, sometimes garments become sentimental items and are not really clothing anymore (and have to be treated accordingly): Cost Per Wear and the Nostalgia Variable.

3. If you haven’t red Laurie Penny, drop everything and do that: her books, her opinion pieces (this one, for example; or this one), interviews with her… She is one of my role models, and those are scarce these days.

4. Ugh, they are watching us and we are not looking good: Retailers Are Judging Consumers by Using Secret “Surveillance Scores,” Per New FTC Complaint and Consumers Will Spend More than $3 Billion on Single-Use Outfits This Summer, Alone. I can’t even…

5. Here, have a beautiful – and truly cool – visual respite: Jazz Style Behind The Scenes: Photographs Of Milt Hinton.

6. A series of articles trying to convince us that keeping sheep and using wool is the best thing ever: (a) Shearing and Welfare: Why are Sheep Sheared? (b) Inside the Shearing Shed with Kinkade Shearing; and (c) Choreography and Skill: How Sheep are Sheared. If you are sitting on the same hedge as I am – liking wool but not the idea of any animal agriculture, hence a Gordian knot alright – it’s always good to learn more about it.

7. Cleaning as therapy, akin to anxiety baking? Or just dealing with grime that keeps accumulating? Well, start by switching to white vinegar: Natural Alternatives for a Greener and Cleaner Home.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Book review: The Art of Discarding by Nagisa Tatsumi. Oh, there is magic in the message ‘you are surrounded by stuff you don’t need and don’t care about, discard it’…

What I was writing about two years ago: The Future of Riga capsule. It’s an ongoing thing, I just revised it again… Despite my unwillingness to have things laying around unused for such long stretches of time, the comfort of not having to pack any clothing for Rīga trips is priceless. So I still have a full capsule for all occasions (including harsh winters, harsh summers, and opera)…

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w32 + Sunday links. Also wore this week: birks.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w32 + Sunday links. Nothing! The interim conclusion: my summer wardrobe has been heavily updated (and the corresponding 2017 week was spent in Rīga, so see the Rīga capsule note above).

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Do you have any mini-capsule laying around somewhere, in other countries, in other cities? Gardening clothes in the summer house or your adolescent stuff at your parents’ place? I can’t be the only one…

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Also, the tipjar is available if you ever feel like buying me a coffee!

#whatiwore 2019w31 + Sunday links

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Orden a Tres podcast

Starting this week, in Orden a Tres we are starting an overview of the all five key categories of possessions in KonMari™ method. So this week it’s all about clothing, selecting – and honing the ‘joy-meter’ – and storing them. We also share the extent to which we ourselves follow all the guidelines of the method. Here you have it: Ep 3. La primera categoría del método KonMari™: Ropa. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher.

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And reading matter too for those little gray cells:

1. A bit of American (and current tarrif) issues but still a reasonable explanation of how difficult it gets when one wants to create locally: The retail complexities of ‘Made in America’.

2. Although sponsored content, still one of the fluffy hopeful stories of garment business well done: Soorty is Pioneering Recycled Fabrics and Water-Free Garment Dyeing.

3. My sociologist self is so fascinated by the digital influencer economy… because that stuff is just bizarre: Why Are the Disclosure Rules for Influencers’ Sponsored Content so Different Than They Are for TV Product Placements?

4. And also fascinated by tech billionaires and digital monopolies: Warehouses at LWT and Amazon is Turning 25: Here’s How it Changed the World and What We Can Expect for the Future.

5. And apparently now the weird ‘new green’ trend that media is discovering is the simple fact that we are overwashing our garments, so (a) The Extraordinarily Sexist History of Laundry Detergent Commercials, (b) The next big thing in fashion? Not washing your clothes, (c) Is Stella McCartney right – should we stop washing our clothes? (d) Cleaning our clothes too much is bad for the planet, and (e) 100 days in one dress.

6. And some of that very detailed sartorial knowledge (of top menswear blogs): You Should Wear An Extended Shoulder and Shirt Anatomy 101: Collars, Hems, and All the Parts in Between. Knowledge as power and knowledge as care alright.

7. Plus some sportswear fanboying: The Unassuming Sweatshirt and Before The Bad Boys: Inspiration From Wimbledon In The Early 1970s.

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What I was writing about a year ago: The decision fatigue of sustainable living. The summer in Barcelona certainly is tiring, also for the ideals – and practices – of sustainable living…

What I was writing about two years ago: My take on “formal” and dressing up out of a capsule. trying to tell again and again, to myself and others that there is no need to get new garments for special occasions. True story.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w31 + Sunday links. Also wore this week: my mom’s dark blue dress, the birks, and the Veja Wata Pierre.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w31 + Sunday links. Still wearing this week: my mom’s dark blue silk dress and the Street One jacket, although refashioned.

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What do you think of the ‘stop overwashing’ suggestion? Are you overwashing? Is that just a habit to throw everything in the hamper or do you really feel it definitely unfresh after just one wear? I’ve already done my part of this advocacy in 2017 and 2018: Breathe deeply, it’s clean enough and Yes, there are garments that I’ve never washed.

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Also, the tipjar is available if you ever feel like buying me a coffee!

#whatiwore 2019w30 + Sunday links

How it looked at the moment (thanks, mom!):



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Orden a Tres podcast

In this week’s Orden a Tres episode we follow up on a joke we made in last week’s episode calling KonMari™ method one’s own personal Feng Shui… so we had our first guest ever – certified Feng Shui consultant Mercedes García – explaining how intuitive also Feng Shui can be. Here: Feng Shui flexible con Mercedes García. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher.

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And now a bit of summery gazpacho and ice cream for your brain:

1. You might have wondered… How Forecasters Predict Fashion Trends. Yes, much of that is self-fulfilling prophecies.

2. After having read JUNK: Digging Through America’s Love Affair With Stuff, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? story was one that I was most interested in… so here you have NPR How I Built This episode about Brian Scudamore who created the service and Spark Joy podcast episode with Long Island Franchise Partner Brian Heiser. Still only the best impressions about that company.

3. One of those weird stories of fashion appropriation and unintended uses: The History of Timberland: Waterproof Boots and Rap Royalty. And another one: The History of the Tank Top: From Swimming Pools to the Silver Screen and Beyond.

4. #istayontheground (most of the time): (in Spanish) El aumento de las emisiones aéreas alienta un movimiento ‘antivuelos’ and Una hora en avión, dos en tren: la iniciativa ecológica para prohibir los vuelos cortos. And continuing on traffic, all the hilarious ways how car producers try to persuade millenials and gen-z that we need cars (because we have stopped buying them, hah): Urban Jungle. Also, remember who the real enemies are: Snake Oil.

5. The new Academic year is coming, maybe uniform is the right choice for you: These 4 designers wear the same thing every day. Here’s how to copy their look.

6. Ba-na-na-na-na-na-na… Left Field’s Latest Jeans are Literally Bananas, and it is not a crazy innovation. ‘Banana fiber harvested from the pseudostems and leaves of the plant has been used for textiles in Asia since at least the 13th century’, wikipedia dixit.

7. And for some cute menswear trolling, Just to be Safe on ‘zipper entrapped penis injuries’. Happy – and accident free – July to you too!

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What I was writing about a year ago: Liliana’s guest post Me, My Clothes and My Club. Remember to follow her FB page Green Swap Club!

What I was writing about two years ago: How to survive summer heat in Barcelona. Still very relevant. This week, even in Rīga.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w30 + Sunday links.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w30 + Sunday links. As this week I’ve been working on these two dresses I’m taming – and, curiously enough, wearing sneakers and not birks – no items coincide between this week and the ones one and two years ago.

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In this summer heat (at least where I am at), are you wearing the same stuff you were wearing last summer or are your wardrobe heroes new-to-you?

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Also, the tipjar is available if you ever feel like buying me a coffee!

#whatiwore 2019w29 + Sunday links

How it looked at the moment (I’ve been vacationing with my mom, hence the paparazzi shots):


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Orden a Tres podcast

With the podcast it took us until the second substantial episode to start talking about what makes KonMari™ stand out among other organizing and mindfulness practices, here: Método KonMari y sus beneficios You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher.

And here comes the brain food, as always:

1. Just in case you didn’t have enough reasons to drool after Patagonia, have their videos about how great wearing to shreds and fixing your garments are: Patagonia | Worn Wear. This level of love and dedication to garments is what we need, not only to pieces that guarantee your survival in hostile environment, but also the everyday stuff. To get you even more inspired to learn some repair skills: I’m fed up with iPhone feudalism – viva the repair revolution! and Mending hearts: how a ‘repair economy’ creates a kinder, more caring community. And this guy who has the right make-do attitude while blaming Marie Kondo for all the evils: The life-changing magic of making do. For real, you can write about consumerism without blaming her…

2. All those plastic-looking disposables that have a ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ printed on? Yes, read up: What’s your biodegradable coffee cup made of – and how biodegradable is it?

3. A climate change adaptation researcher answering her friends’ questions on the climate emergency: Ask Me Anything. Mostly on USA Pacific area as that is her area of expertise, but very interesting anyways.

4. And a dash of Elizabeth Suzann just to reinforce the idea that clothing can be ethical, comfy and liberating: ES x Motherhood.

5. ‘Consumers feel that luxury brands have not upheld their end of the bargain to justify their premium price with clearly superior quality goods’… hah, color me surprised! YouGov Affluent Survey: “There Used to Be a Huge Gap Between Mass Brands and Luxury Brands”.

6. What to wear when it’s so hot you can’t even imagine wearing anything? (a) Things I’m Excited to Wear This Summer; (b) Warm Weather Collection: Midweight Linen and Silk Crepe, and (c) ough Love, Summer of Workwear. And to make some summer plans that earn you karma points, (in Spanish) Beneficios de limpiar la playa.

7. The politics of fashion: Dolce & Gabbana’s Expanded Sizing “Proves They’re Really about Selling Clothing,” Not Just Leveraging it. Funny how even in principle good news – wider range of people fitting in garments is a good thing, even if those are elitist, ultra-expensive, unethically made clothes – make us doubt the calculations behind them… Ugh, capitalism!

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What I was writing about a year ago: #100wears: Veja Arcade sneakers. The weird chunky sneakers that didn’t become my favorites but are being worn to shreds anyway. 196 wears and counting.

What I was writing about two years ago: Lessons learnt from the Fashion Revolution MOOC. tl;dr? Pretty useless indeed.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w29 + Sunday links. Also wearing this week: only the birks.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w29 + Sunday links. Repeating this week: still only the birks.

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How is your own ‘worn wear’ revolution going? Any exciting new skills or deep wardrobe finds? What would be the garment-related skill you’d like to acquire most?

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Also, the tipjar is available if you ever feel like buying me a coffee!

2019 first half money talk, or how expensive an ethical wardrobe is?

Money is the typical contention point of ethical fashion, because price is, of course, fast fashion’s forte. And once we have accepted that 5€ t-shirts are possible, how do you convince people that it has to be 30 at least? The fact that most online pushers of sustainable fashion either make it, distribute it or receive it for free to review it plug it in doesn’t help either. Even more, it is common to tell people to vote with their euros which is so class-biased and so insidious if you stop and think about it…

So to be the change you want to be in the world tell where at least my money goes while following my list of priorities in wardrobe detoxing, here you have
The first half of 2017,
The second half of 2017,
the first half of 2018, and
the second half of 2018.

This post is about last six months, January to June 2019. You have the full list and the total below, followed by more details ordering the purchases from most euros spent to least.

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Overall, I am very pleased with how 2019 is going. The only actual ‘fashion’ buy have been those Vejas that I desperately sought the internets for. And I’ve had three pairs of the same style before, so no risks (and this acquisition should imply no footwear worries well into 2020). Then I just needed some socks, and still want to learn to sew. Hell yeah!

As I have discussed elsewhere, several factors make this possible: (1) the amazing hand-me-downs from my mom (and other family members and friends), (2) the the swaps I organize, and (3) the occasional (new) gift from my mother. But even if your mom is very different or you are not yet organizing swaps (you totally should, take a look here and here), noting your clothing expenses down and seeing where the money goes is so very informative. Yeah, you guessed it, in a spreadsheet!

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Learning to sew, 64 hours: 624€.

Yeah, I’ve taken a lot of classes in these six months, and I have been LOVING every minute of them. As I’ve been repeating on money posts since I started taking the sewing classes with Carmen at Opció Taller (web, FB, IG) in March 2018, it is, of course, more than direct spending on clothes. I am learning a skill I really want to have, materializing much of my politics (hello there, mending, fixing, upcycling and self-reliance!), and having a great time.

During these 64 hours I have received a course on pattern-making and made my own base pattern + (a) fixed my mom’s jersey dress, (b) made the second yoga mat bag, (c) made my first dress based on my very own pattern, (d) fixed (again!) my mom’s lace undershirt, (e) fixed the yellow swap pants, (f) thought through and prepared materials to make a patch pocket out of my current embroidery. All that thanks to the generous support of Carmen. I am making significant savings on materials and notions as I mostly use workshop’s notions (that’s Carmen’s politics, and a big thanks for that) and I still haven’t bought any fabric for my projects, they just keep appearing magically.

So, as always, I wholeheartedly recommend Opció Taller for anybody looking for sewing, shoemaking or painting courses in Barcelona in Spanish. Carmen and Cristián are great!

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Veja Taua sneakers, two pairs: 130€.

If you have read this blog for a while, Veja Taua model keeps appearing as my all-time favorite sneaker that I was denied of renewing last year (to replace my first three pairs that had been worn to shreds) as Veja discontinued it. This: Swap VI and the problem with the threadbare. Unless a company has an explicit ‘timeless’ policy, you cannot repeat a garment that has turned out to be perfect for you. I bought the next most similar Veja sneaker in 2018 and – despite having worn them happily for more than 200 times – do not want to repeat them. So when kept stalking Amazon for some leftover Tauas, and got myself these two pairs from my teaching paycheck in January.

The blue ones are now at 50 years and finally comfy. They are size 39 instead of 40, so breaking in was a bit of a struggle and I can already see breaking points where they will disintegrate again. Ugh… Well, I have the purple ones waiting their turn once these ones fall apart. I have no clear plan for later on, as so far neither amazon.es nor amazon.co.uk – or anybody else I know – are stocking any in my size (out of those very few pairs still out there).

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Embroidery thread, second hand: 25€.

I got a sudden urge to embroider in June, and decided to couple it with a supply rescue operation through second-hand sellers. Throughout this first experience I got what I wanted: (a) a cool stash of pretty color 100% cotton Spanish embroidery thread and (b) a confirmation that, as I suspected, Wallapop is the weirdest place uniting in transactions the weirdest people. I’ve already finished all that stash, so my August mission will be to go out there or either start buying it from orderly mercerías or to carry on interacting with strangers selling their dead mothers’ crafting stash.

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A pair of stay-ups and several (5?) pinkie socks from Calzedonia: 19.75€.

I needed socks. And, after my calculations around Swedish Stockings in 2018, I just went to my nearest Calzedonia and repeated items I know very well, the opaque stay-ups with a silicone band and several pairs of the little invisible socks to get me through the summer. No regrets.

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Notions (needle, ribbon, zippers): 10.10€.

As I said above, I mainly use Carmen’s notions on my projects and wonder out to shops only for things she does not have. During these 6 months those have been velvet ribbon and a pearl needle (I ended up not being able to use) to fix the bracelet I had given to Jorge and zippers for the second yoga mat bag and the floral dress. The bracelet, as you can see, turned out great and much more solid than it was at the beginning. I love the fact that he gave it back to me with a ‘hey, I love it but it is falling apart, maybe you could fix it’… and I was able to do it! Hell yes.

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And that’s it. In comparison with the previous years, I have a feeling that my clothing and craft spending is very much under control and in line with my values. K-ching! While the number – 808.85€ – is big and scary, most of it is skill acquisition and working on maintaining garments alive for as much as possible. That’s a win in my book.

How are you approaching your sustainable wardrobe money-wise: free hand-me-downs, cheap seconhands, rather expensive investment pieces? Have you tried a ‘no-buy’ period to analyze your shopping impulses? Have you internalized so completely that browsing shops for fun – online or IRL – doesn’t even occur to you? Or do you indulge? Also, how are the rebajas going? Wink-wink.

#whatiwore 2019w28 + Sunday links

Orden a Tres podcast

This week’s episode of our first podcast in *Spanish* dedicated to all things Marie Kondo, Orden a Tres, is a powerful meditation to get you in touch with your future self and make that vision we talked about in last week’s episode. So close your eyes and let Andrea lead you into it: Visualización del Yo futuro You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher.

Nom-nom-nom, the brain said after swallowing all this:

1. Hah, even the new trends often come from old garments: How Thrift Stores Drive Fashion.

2. Oh, when people love designing this much (and are this clear about what exactly they are doing): ‘My cuts are minimal and simple, but not cold. The hand of the maker is celebrated, not erased, and our fabrics are understated but full of texture and life. This collection is no different, and in that vein I’m especially fond of the finishing technique on the hems and necklines of these garments. Organic, bias cut rolled edges trim all of the openings – a finish that honors the nature of the material and gels perfectly with the story behind the garment. This trim doesn’t interfere with or contradict the nature of the fabric – it feels more like an extension of the way the material wants to behave naturally. Continuous, organic form; deference to the nature of the medium; evoking emotion with simplified shape – that’s the story of each of these garments. The silhouettes we love in materials that enhance their form, not hinder it.’

3. Kate Fletcher has been part of establishing the Union for Concerned Researchers in Fashion and has given a mini-interview to Lucy Siegle about it: Cause For Concern – The Researchers Calling For Fashion Change. Heart-eyes! because all her writing is like this: ‘the other issues are around a lowering of expectations around the consumer’s ideas around garments. If the message is that clothing can be endlessly recycled, that’s a sign that it is disposable. All in all, there’s a constant undermining of the idea that clothes are precious and that you should take care of them and that they have an intrinsic value. […] The truth is, it’s predicated on consumption. Both consuming a new piece and then recycling it again and then consuming a new piece and that idea is fundamentally at odds with the finite limit nature of the resource base.’

4. On style, and taste, and courage to do (and dress) your own thing: The Spotlight Effect & Style Anxiety and On Taste.

5. I’ve been writing with fountain pens only for more than ten years now, this explains some of the reasons pretty well: The Joy of Fountain Pens. My favorite, however, is the bulky and decidedly non-elegant yet so comfy Faber-Castell Scribolino. My current one has lasted me so long that some of the coating has come off exactly in places where I put the most pressure.

6. Well, if you are somebody like me, a ritualistic and zealous recycler, you won’t like this: We’re Buying Into a Giant Lie About Plastic. Most important point being that separating your garbage does not mean that it gets to be recycled as there are so many intermediate steps…

7. On cities, city planning, and how certain urban dynamics drive or asphyxiate the emergence of new exciting fashion: The Closure of Fashion Cities.

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What I was writing about a year ago: After 6 months of the big spreadsheet.

What I was writing about two years ago: Garment makers and fixers, I salute you. This is a true love story to the women of my family who have been sourcing, making, and fixing for much longer than it has been in vogue. Also, an explanation why to me all this minimalism, voluntary frugality, and upcycling comes so easy… this has been the basic setup for generations of Latvian women.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w28 + Sunday links. Repeating this week: the silk maxi, my mom’s silk dress, and the birks.

What I was wearing two years ago: my mom’s silk dress and lace top, the birks.

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Do you have any favorite writing tools? The perfect pen, the greatest highlighter, the one and only planner that you cannot imagine replacing? Tell me about them, I’m all ears…

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Also, the tipjar is available if you ever feel like buying me a coffee!