#100wears: Red flea sweater

#100wears is the most beloved garment section where I show off the longevity of items I’ve worn at least 100 times and urge to elevate the rather low #30wears aspiration. Basically, a love song, a poem, a “there are some garments so good I can’t stop wearing them”… My red flea sweater is one of those.

I bought it on a cold Saturday morning in January 2015 in Flea Market Barcelona. That one was a cold winter for Barcelona standards (for the first time in my Northern life I wore two scarves, one on the top of another), I desperately needed a warm layer and here it came, for 5€. And it has got a lot of wear since then, mostly because it’s the *almost* perfect combination of function (warmth) and function (a shape that allows for movement).

The waist is short, hence doesn’t interfere with the natural waist (as opposed to the all-engulfing Lithuanian sweater). This might be my favorite version of a crop top!

The neckline is open and leaves space for collars and necklaces.

The sleeves are the perfect length and hold up if folded.

My only complaint is about the front hem which has a bit too much volume. I don’t care about it when wearing it but often hold it back when taking photos. Like that ☝

The only tag it has says ‘UBER den volken’ and the garment has signs of having been ‘intervened’ and upcycled. My Google search has revealed that it could be a creation of Julia Breiter who, before making new things, did upcycle second-hand. If she ever responds to my email asking for a confirmation, I’ll let you know. Maybe it’s hers, maybe it’s just a coincidence… I’m curious now.

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Have any of your wardrobe staples appeared in front of you just when you needed? What was it? And have you ever done some detective work trying to figure out where a garment came from?

#whatiwore 2018w15 + Sunday links

A random update: Remember my excitement about my new yoga set I found in the swap seed suitcase just before January swap? Shorts-appropriated temperatures have come to at least my yoga studio and the functionality has spoken… those shorts are not for any gymnastics, unless you get a thrill of showing your privates to other people, those are pajama shorts! Although the length is similar when standing up, the construction of the crotch going into legs is different, rendering the new ones equal to a ‘cheeky’ cut when moving or doing splits. Here, one more proof that not all garments are created equal, and one more reason for getting free garments that one can trial out and send back to where they came from. I’m not sure I’ll bring them back to May swap, but that such option exists is already enough for me. And the old worn-out shorts will get at least #30-more-wears.

Old ones (bought second-hand in 2015) vs. the new ones.

And now for something completely different to keep the little grey cells fat and happy:

A sad reminder that ‘made in EU’ or even a more specific (you know my issues with the ‘made in EU’ blanket: 1, 2) ‘made in x country with long artisan traditions’ does not necessarily mean much: What Really Goes into “Made in Italy” Fashion?

Can’t get enough of plastic pollution and want more to be sad and frustrated about? Here you go: nurdles or plastic resin pellet pollution. Or, in Spanish, lágrimas de sirena.

Seeing how other topics – mainly nutrition and food-ethics – were coming into my link section and how time by time even my veganism needs a reminder on why I’m doing this, now there’s a whole masterpost of my vegan / whole-foods plant-based educational materials right on the top menu. You are welcome!

One of the big issues in consumption-based activism is its atomic and (often) online-only character – ethical consumption can be done pretty much in secret and stay between you and your bulk vendors without creating or affecting your community. To get inspiration for IRL activism and events, here you have Monbiot offering reviving communities as a cure for all the neo-liberal ills, and, for more brainy pushes towards people-activities as activism, Robert Ulanowicz on ecosystems and Elinor Ostrom on commons.

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Have you ever had to go back to the old garment after getting a new one and realizing that the old one is better? What did you do then, looked for another new one or went back to the old one?

Yes, there are garments that I’ve never washed

I revised my notes of Kate Fletcher’s Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys (2014, London – New York: Earthscan from Routledge) and found a ‘make post about this’ note in Chapter 3 waiting for me since November last year.
However, as I had it on a limited loan from a far-away library, I only have my notes… and I was convinced that the all data cited about wear frequency were from the Dutch paper cited below. It’s not! I checked all 170 pages of that report… So get Fletcher’s book from your library and check.

Chapter 3 is dedicated to *use* and this phase of garment’s lifecycle is a tricky one as it’s private and individual. It’s hard to track, and the industry just love to put the responsibility on the consumer reminding that (a) ‘ha, you made a shitty decision’ and (b) ‘loads of energy gets wasted and water polluted via poor laundry practices’. And they are not wrong. So (and this is from my notes, Fletcher does not use the f-word):

– A garment spends on average 3 years and 5 months in one wardrobe
– Get 44 wears
– Gets ~3 wears between the washes
– If a person has 10 pairs of underwear, that means 36.5 wears every year (provided that all are worn equally and one per day)
– Most garments get only around 20 washes that cause a lot of environmental impact
– Washing is responsible of 80% of the energy impact of underwear
– Cold washing and line-drying reduces the lifecycle energy for polyester 4 times and for cotton – 2 times
– The increase of individual households with more machines and less people tend to cancel out the washing machine efficiency gains due to smaller load sizes
– The launderette as an alternative are: better because they are communal and guarantee maximal use of fewer machines while getting big loads, worse because they use higher temperatures used and tempts people into using the f*ing dryer

(obviously the averages here are statistical artifacts, provided that there are categories of garments that are washed after every wear and ones that are never washed)

From the Uitdenbogerd et al 1998 paper “Domestic Energy Saving Potentials for Food and Textiles: An Empirical Study” we get that, according to the behaviour of Dutch families in 1997, the most promising options for energy saving in household when it comes to textiles are:

– washing at lower temperatures, including 25ºC cycles,
– use of ½- or S-buttons for ½- and ¾- loads, and E-buttons on the machines,
– longer wearing,
– line drying.

So, following St.Kate’s advice and being mindful that notions of cleanliness has more to do with idea about culture, civilization, piety, propriety (as opposite to dirty) than dirt. And for the germophobes: as a species we are not very good at disease prevention via cleanliness, unless you boil and bleach everything, and even then… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

(A disclaimer is due here that – quite ironically – our household experienced an order from a doctor to up our temperatures for certain types of laundry lately… So, as always, follow your doctor’s orders.)

Stop the automatic ‘I take it off and put it in the hamper’. Look at it, smell it, ask yourself if maybe drying it on a hanger and/or spraying with a mix of water and essential oils could be enough.

If you have decided that a garment needs washing, collect them until you have a full load (cold washes allow for not separating the colors), get an environmentally friendly detergent and go cold at least with the often worn clothing (very few of us truly cover our garments with mud every day). Rethinking the function of underwear is an idea, too. Let’s keep in mind that one of its missions is to separate the living, breathing, sweating, etc. flesh from our outer garments. The practice of wearing an undershirt might be on its demise (and now associated only with Marlon Brando and old men not wanting to show their nipples), but just give it a thought, especially for places with winters. And remember that the ‘iconic white t-shirt’ is not much more than a rebranded piece of underwear.

The impact assessments tend to include bleaching and ironing, so forget about that shit and the softener too. You never needed those for everyday use anyways. In our household only an occasional stubborn fruit stained serviette gets a 100ºC bleach soak before going in with the rest of household textiles at 60ºC. And only C’s summer shirts and my handkerchiefs get ironed.

Forget the dryer if you can, line drying is a beautiful practice in the sunnier parts of the globe (dry your brights inside out, though, sun is the original bleach; on the other hand, your whites will love it) and the northerners with proper heating at home get an actual health benefit from drying their clothes indoors on a rack – no need for an additional humidifier! The only people I’d give a permission slip for the dryer would be those with a lot of small children and those using launderettes (which normally comes accompanied with no space for a drying rack and a tendency towards mold in their studio apartments). But with reasonably cold/lukewarm water, good detergent and full loads, eh?

And now, after the yearly ‘how to wash’ primer (this was the last year’s), here is the phrase that peaked my interest: “It is very likely […] that we all have durable unwashed items in our wardrobes, but probably have never recognized them as such” (Fletcher 2014: 107). This is part that got me thinking: what are my no-washes? And rarely washes? What would be the common characteristics of the garments that do not get washed?

*No washes* are my fluffy coat (2006),

my festive bolero (2011),

my cape (2013),

my red woolen sweater (2015),

my Lithuanian woolen sweater (2015),

my swimsuit (2015) – rinsed a lot, never washed,

Ginta’s Monton bird skirt (2016),

Liisa’s velvet skater skirt (2017),

my Pavlovo Posad shawl (~2013) and my Cien Colores shawl (2017),

Julie’s cardigan (2017).

The WAG set has gotten no washes, but I’ve worn it only few times, we’ll see this summer if that structured but unlined cotton begs washing. Rare (as in ‘once in a season maybe’) washes are my parka (2003; the outer shell, the inner one has been washed once in 15 years, I think), HnM sweetheart dress (2008), Ginta’s trench (2010), Ginta’s blue silk dress (2016).

So, the riddle is served: what do these have in common? (1) Almost all are outer layers, so that my filthy body does not touch them directly. On the other hand however, the same characteristic makes them more vulnerable to outside dirt: bike oil, bird poo… (2) Many of them are worn strictly seasonally or for special occasions, so the overall number of wears is small, hence reduced exposure to being dirtied. (3) Materials! Wool is my golden amazing darling that does not smell, basically auto-cleans and any minor mayonnaise stain can be fixed with a damp cloth and all refreshing these garments need is just some alone time in wardrobe with a baggie of lavender. (4) Fear and awe inspiring items: I’m scared of fucking them up and wearing them out by repeated washing + the swimsuit which seems to be doing just fine with its chlorine soaks and less-chlorinated rinses afterwards.

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What are your *no washes*? Are those things that don’t need washing because of their function or are those things that you haven’t worn enough? Do you have any secret garment refreshing techniques: spot cleaning, steaming them in shower, freeing them? Tell me, I’m all ears!

#whatiwore 2018w14 + Sunday links

A random update 1: After all my wishing and bragging about going to KonMari London seminar by train, the French rail workers are on strike and I preferred to play it on the safe side. Back to f*ing Ryanair we go… I hope to make my dream trip in June, though!

A random update 2: I have a little politico-fashion kerfuffle going on in my head… (a) I was on antibiotics and now have a sore throat, (b) the weather is right for a light scarf, not for one of my woolen ones, (c) my only light scarf is mustard (HnM 2008, I use it for covering when henna dying and for summer turbans), I love the color and love the scarf, but (d) in the current political climate it is likely to be assumed to be a message I do not feel strongly about (and that’s all I hope to say here about the whole Catalan thing). I know it’s mostly in my head, but at least there the struggle is real. Clearly, co-opting colors for a cause is a very dodgy thing, especially if a cause is not an extremely generalized one. The obvious ‘good’ example here would be the fight against breast cancer, with all the needed caveats about pink-washing – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

The scarf ☝

And now for something completely different… feed the brain!

The Fashion Law is asking if fast fashion is going down: Is Fast Fashion Dying in the Age of Wokeness or is it Just H&M? and Bernard Arnault Tops Zara’s Amancio Ortega as World’s Richest European. However, When It Comes to Millennials’ Fashion Buys, Price and Convenience Trump Sustainability. So maybe fast fashion is growing less because we have a shit-ton of stuff already? Or there are just more players in the field and the profits are less concentrated between the two giants?

For a bit of ‘the real conscious business’ and how the ‘don’t buy our stuff’ drives sales: How Patagonia Grows Every Time It Amplifies Its Social Mission.

And, as human ingenuity has no limits, a new way of – maybe? sometimes? – greenwashing: Is ‘Ethical Fashion’ Made with Deadstock Fabric Just Greenwashing?

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Have you had any fashion mishaps linked to meaning attached to garments, cuts, colors? Like, learning that you have the wrong color laces in your boots? Or have you been accused or have had a remorseful moment about past cultural appropriation? I wore bindis for fun in my adolescence, ugh, and nobody around me knew better.

Here, as a bonus: Headdresses white people can wear that aren’t appropriative of non-white cultures. Mind you, while the idea of this ‘master post’ is good, some people would protest against appropriation of animal-inspired and Middle Eastern headdresses, too. Let’s just stick to flower crowns instead!

After 3 months of the big spreadsheet

So the first three months of no-restriction-you-have-access-to-all-just-track-it wardrobe have passed…

Lesson 1: Go with the flow! After years of pruning and tracking I still struggle with the ‘but I *could* wear it more’ fallacy. Yes, I could. But should I? If something does not get worn ‘naturally’ it doesn’t mean that I have to force myself to wear it. More likely (a) it’s not the right weather, (b) it’s for relatively rare occasions, or (c) it’s not right for me in this season of my life, hence, bye-bye has to be considered.

Lesson 2: Taste and wishes change. D-oh! Some garments somehow fit in for years despite changes in my preferences and some don’t. That’s fine. Let it go!

Lesson 3: My wardrobe is still oh-so-ample! In these 90 days I wore 56 different items (and this is not counting underwear, scarves, hats, bags, hosiery). No wonder many didn’t make it to 10 wears.

And now the nitty-gritty of my wardrobe champions and the not-so-much champions of these 90 days by the category:

Layers

Most worn: my mom’s Zara hand-me-down trench (39), obviously. That’s my winter basic, my shining light, my everything. Now it really needs a wash, though.

Runner-ups: the red flea sweater (37) and the Portuguese cape (26).

Never wore: …wore them all.

Dresses

Most worn: my aunt’s hand-me-down PhD dress (11). I was clearly fed up with dresses after the 7 dresses experiment (1, 2). Hope my fondness for them will come back as the temperatures rise…

Runner-ups: my mom’s hand-me-down MnS linen dress (4) and the purple jersey dress (4).

Never wore: kaftan and my mom’s dark blue silk dress. Because, weather.

Tops

Most worn: the demon t-shirt (28).

Runner-ups: my mom’s hand-me-down lace undershirt/blouse (18) and Liisa’s hand-me-down black lace top (16).

Never wore: my mom’s hand-me-down white zipper blouse. Yeah, weather…

Bottoms

Most worn: ZIB black leave leggings (33). Let me explain the legging situation: I do yoga three times a week and swim twice a week, for those activities I leave home mostly in leggings. Then I also sometimes wear them for errands, and instead of tights when it’s cold and I want to be extra cozy. All the wears at home are not counted, but a telling sign is that these 2016 leggings had to be mended once already and now have a new rip again. These 90 days confirmed the central role leggings play in my cold-weather wardrobe, indeed. There were three pairs in my winter wardrobe and not was not too much by any means.

Runner-ups: Amoralle leggings (30) and Liisa’s hand-me-down velvet skater skirt (19).

Never wore: the sari maxi, the lyocell shorts, the rayon shorts. No guessing needed why January and February might not be the months for shorts, even in the Mediterranean.

Footwear

Most worn: Arcopedico wedges (41). They live at work, so the game is rigged in their favor.

Runner-ups: Veja Arcade (29) and Veja Taua Bahia (26).

Never wore: the birks, obviously.

Adornments

Most worn: red wooden necklace (8). None of my adornment got their 10 wears this time. I was trying to relax instead of forcing it, and winters are for cozy layers.

Runner-ups: Jēkab’s necklace (7) and bird and flowers headband (7).

Never wore: the flower ball headband! Ugh, I keep struggling with this one. It’s huge, and we have a love-hate relationship…

Future… and doubts

The show goes on! I’ve already started the next 3 month spreadsheet. There are some replacing to be done (both my Veja Taua are in shreds and I just noticed a tear in the lace undershirt/blouse – things really do wear out!) and some decisions to be made before the May swap.

After these 90 days I have no clear ‘outs’, the only one I’m doubting about is the ~2005 corduroy skirt that looks great but feels a bit off in comparison with my other skirts. I am tempted to toss it (oh, the purgers high!), but my keeper self is arguing against it: (1) they are beautiful, (2) also, they look good on, (3) that would leave me with only 4 winter bottoms, (4) I’ve had them for gazillion years, so, yeah, there’s some sentimental attachment from my ‘past lives’, (5) they are midi length, pink, patterned and sparkly; who on earth will wear that? And similar thoughts on the flower ball headband too – it’s so exuberant that I don’t trust anybody else to wear it either. Ugh!

This is why editing wardrobes of big volume is easier than small ones: the KonMari ‘power of the pile’ works it’s magic and it’s easier to pick out gems from a background of meh. True story.

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What wardrobe lessons have the first three months of this years brought to you? New styles, silhouettes, uniforms, outfit formulas? Letting go of the old ones? Moving towards more stimulating restriction or relaxing the rules?

#whatiwore 2018w13 + Sunday links

A random update: The spring is here, the spring is here! Finally. The weather switch came suddenly and a month later than last year. April and May are the sweetest months to dress for in Barcelona – I crave shedding the extra layers, the temperatures and the humidity are still pleasant, and the outfit formula is short sleeves + a light layer + bare legs. Yes!

So let’s feed the little gray cells meanwhile:

I find the whole stylist/closet app so confusing! Turns out there are people who appreciate that algorithms suggest them combining their skinnies with a t-shirt… I really should talk to somebody who enjoys this kind of service! Until then: Digital Closet Startups Want to Give You the Cher Horowitz Experience.

The notion of modest fashion is making rounds. There was already a NY Times read in December, and it popped up again this week on The Fashion Law: “Muslim Futurists” are Waiting to be Recognized, Embraced by Fashion. While obviously not buying anything on the site they were mentioning, I peaked of what their modest luxury selection looked like. Extremely expensive pretty dresses without too much cleavage or mini. That’s it, folks!

Back to basics: despite all the tempting sustainable fashion brands out there, the best thing that you can do for the sustainability in fashion is to wear the hell out of what you already have. Boom! The fast fashion stuff you already have is waaaay better for the climate than the ethical and sustainable fashion you don’t own yet. Why We Should Wear Clothes Until They’re Worn Out.

And for eudaimonia:

I’m switching to trains instead of planes whenever possible. For my next two trips I’ll be trying this strategy out on routes Barcelona-London-Barcelona and Barcelona-Brussels-London-Barcelona. Here are part of my reasons: (a) Cut your CO2 emissions by taking the train, by up to 90%, (b) Watch Out, Airlines. High Speed Rail Now Rivals Flying on Key Routes, (c) 27 reasons trains are better than planes. Also, I think I will enjoy it much more!

My sociologist self loves unintended consequences! Here you have one: “Concerted Cultivation” and the March For Our Lives.

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What are you most looking forward this spring? What sustainability adventures are waiting for you?

Guest Post: Marina’s Wardrobe Reset 2018

Welcome to the first guest post in the history of Un Armario Verde. This post is a double win, being an endorsement from one of my dearest friends *and* a feed-back from a happy adopter of wardrobe tracking. Yes! According to my photo-archives, I have known Marina since 2004 and we have lived a big chunk of our adventurous youth together, like the time when hitchhiking to Paris seemed like a good idea in 2005:

We have lived in different countries since 2006 but do our best to meet whenever possible. The last time we met and happily stuffed our faces with Van Leeuwen vegan pistachio ice cream was May 2017 in New York:

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Without further ado, I give you Marina and her wardrobe reset story:

I tried tracking my clothes in a spreadsheet and here’s what happened

First of all I must make a confession – I’ve always admired Luīze’s style and ability to wear whatever she feels like without fear of being judged. It took me years to reach the point of comfort where choice of clothing was based on how I felt rather than what others expected me to look like. Thus, when Luīze started Un Armario Verde blog that explained in such beautiful detail the logic behind her outfits, I instantly became a regular reader and slowly started preparing myself to one day follow her example and learn to really love the clothes I wear.

Let’s backup a little bit – I’m a recovering shopaholic. I grew up in an environment where if something was on sale and it was a good deal it was almost mandatory to own it. I’ve wasted ridiculous amounts of my own and my parents money on clothes that I end up donating or giving away to someone after just one wear (sometimes not even one…) to make more space in my closet and have new excuses to buy more stuff. Until very recently, I was a bargain hunter living in a city where shopping resembles more of gathering practice rather than a hunt as brand discount stores and outlets keep luring one in on daily basis.

I agreed with everything Luīze wrote in Un Armario Verde from day one but it took me a couple months to really be ready to integrate her practices in my own routine. At first the spreadsheet idea seemed nuts – why would one put in so much time and effort into gathering data on worn clothes that is absolutely useless to everyone else except the wearer!? However, as I started tracking my outfits, it became a lot clearer that’s the whole point – becoming aware of the wardrobe choices, mindful of what hangs in the closet and optimize outfits for personal growth and nobody else’s benefit. The process of getting dressed suddenly gained new meaning and sparked unexpected joy. Perhaps, it was the element of gamification what really allowed me to embrace the spreadsheet-ing.

There were a couple of things I wanted to learn from this exercise – which items of clothing I wear the most, what brands are my go-tos so that I know where to allow myself to continue to shop and whether there are any subconscious trends I create.

A few results were obvious – I definitely had a favorite pair of boots and a scarf that was a mandatory staple of my outfit. What surprised me though, was my choice of home clothes – my most comfortable pieces that I hurry into as soon as I nobody’s watching. Those were the items that sparked the most joy and coincidentally were the items that had graduated from outside to inside wear after acquiring un-washable stains and moth holes.

I also developed my own version of office uniform that included jeggings and white shirt with faux fur vest to stay smart casual yet somewhat warm in the freezing New York winter. Unfortunately the pair of jeggings ended up calling it quits and ripping in the thigh area in a non-repairable way. The spare pair of jeans that would replace this piece of uniform did not feel nearly as joyful and I embraced on a quest to find a conscious replacement. I organised a clothes swap at a yoga studio where I teach in the evenings, spent hours browsing Good On You app but at the end fell for Jean Shop sample sale. I wasn’t able to find out how sustainable they are but I promise the pair I bought will be worn relentlessly.

I also encountered a challenge tracking my outfits when I went on a weekend break to Miami. The shift in seasons was almost like shock to me and I was back to being completely lost about what to wear. I packed way more than I needed and even then I wasn’t prepared appropriately for vacation activities. If only I had tracked my summer outfits in the previous seasons – I would have known exactly what to pack in the suitcase. Luckily prior to 10-day vacation to Costa Rica, I was able to pick out some suitable pieces at the clothes swap and felt more at ease with my choices. While I didn’t physically fill in the spreadsheet on my travels, I made very conscious mental notes of everything I wore and how it made me feel.

The biggest win for me was I stopped shopping when bored. I used to spend my I-have-nothing-else-better-to-do-right-now time looking for bargains but now I use the downtime a lot more productively – researching home improvement ideas, looking for DIY inspirations, catching up with friends, reading and literally doing anything else that isn’t shopping. While I haven’t quit spending money on new clothes completely, I only purchase items that I need. For example, a wool hat – a replacement for one that my partner lost, and rainboots – a replacement for a pair with a giant hole.

Most importantly though, I look at clothes now in a more thoughtful way. I take better care of garments I own and put in more effort in fixing items that need attention. I am nowhere near Luīze’s level of sustainable dressing but this is a beginning of a new phase in my wardrobe and I am excited for the journey to come!

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Thank you so much for sharing, Marina! And now, do you do any kind of wardrobe tracking? (Remember, even the easiest – turning the hangers trick – counts.) If yes, what have you discovered in the process? If no, does the idea resonate with you at all? If so, what’s holding you back: the work of preparing the full list, the routine of ticking thing every day, or the dread of what this exercise could reveal about your habits?

#whatiwore 2018w12 + Sunday links

A random update: I have a beige-minimalist-weird-shape capsule wardrobe fatigue! I know, I know that to each her own but the hegemony of this one aesthetic is overwhelming and depressing. And gives a false image of what a minimalist-in-numbers wardrobe can and cannot be. Here you have a great example of a capsule I’ll never wear from Fête/Life magazine:



Fashion-related brain food for the little gray cells:

Initiatives aimed at giving full information about supply chains involved in their garments: (1) The IOU Project that will show you both weavers and dress-makers of each item they sell, and (2) Where Your Clothing that will show even which cotton farmers the raw material came from.

One of those usual *maybe* hopeful sustainability news: ‘[In US] After rising for 100 years, electricity demand is flat. Utilities are freaking out.‘ My cranky side would just frown at this due to the fact that the consumption should be actually falling because (a) so much electricity-intensive uses have been shipped away to other countries and (b) all appliances gain efficiency with each new model. So who is using all this electricity anyway?

An artsy attempt at an atemporal capsule (somehow looks much better than most sleek-and-beige capsules mentioned above) Standard Issue by Dosa.

Brain food for eudaimonia:

A practice to try – writing therapy! Two different approaches to choose from or to blend according to your needs, Dr. James Pennebaker’s Expressive writing and Julia Cameron’s Morning pages.

For quite some years I’ve summarized a part of my youth with the Geroge W. Bush quote “When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible” (1, 2). Last week on Stephen Colbert I discovered that I could also quote Bukowski to convey the same sentiment: “Oh, I was once young, Oh, I was once unbelievably young!”

#100wears: Trench

#100wears is the most beloved garment section where I show off the longevity of items I’ve worn at least 100 times and urge to elevate the rather low #30wears aspiration. Basically, a love song, a poem, a “there are some garments so good I can’t stop wearing them”… My Zara hand-me-down trench is one of those.

October 2012 – Montreal, Canada.

Facebook suggests that I started wearing it in spring 2010. However, my memory is of first cleaning it out of my mother’s wardrobe, deciding that it’s not a garment for me and passing it on to my aunt. Then finding it again in her summer house, trying it on and going like “Oh, I think this could work after all…” So the more precise dates could be passing it on in 2008 and reclaiming it in 2009. It took me a long time to really get into it, though. Only after moving to Barcelona and downsizing my overall wardrobe in 2013-2014 it has become a basic staple for my Mediterranean winters. Up to a point when a friend recently hollered at me across the street because “I’d recognize your trench anywhere”.

That time in October 2010 when I dressed up like bleach. Stupid word games and strategic placement were involved. Salamanca, Spain.

December 2015 – Barcelona, Spain.

The cold season here is so mild that I have given up on my Latvian upbringing and C’s objections that ‘this is not a coat’. It’s not! But this is not a real winter either. So my winter coats live in Rīga and Barcelona gets a layered trench. The trench is size XL (Zara sizing, go figure!), so it drapes nicely and there is space for a sweater under it. Layering is how regulate it: thick wool for the coldest of them (~5ºC or so; never below zero, mind you) and cotton-poly blends or whatever is going around for warmer days.

The outer shell is 51% polyester, 39% cotton and 10% nylon with a 100% polyester lining. It does hold wind at bay, especially when bicycle commuting. And when it comes to bicycling, the length also helps to keep my waist well covered, my skirts together and away from the brakes. Also, the color is perfect for an occasional dirt and oil stain. It’s not a small thing, think that Levi’s has a specific line for bicycle commuters that are ready to pay premium for those little practical adjustments.

February and March 2018 – Barcelona, Spain.

Despite being fast fashion and made in China, this trench has gone through its 120+ wears with very few minor fixes. Some buttons have been lost and replaced, one of the metallic holes for fastening the sleeves fell out in late 2017 and the belt buckle finally gave away in early 2018. As these moving details had been a bit of a nuisance for wearing – both belt and the little ‘sleeve belts’ kept moving, opening, crumpling – I decided to put them as I wanted and pin them down! After replacing the sleeve thingy (0.80€ at my local cobbler), I just sewed fixed both the belt and the sleeves, those are the little orange details in the photo below. Now the belt is always straight, the sleeve details are never suddenly open and flapping in the wind, and I use the belt without a buckle – I just make a knot!



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Is there a type of garment that you have keep wearing throughout the years? What pieces easily reach #100wears in your wardrobe? What are the items that you have doubted first and grown ‘into them’ after? Are there any basic fixes that you are very proud of?

#whatiwore 2018w11 + Sunday links

A random update: A person who knows me very little but enough to be aware that we share certain sustainability concerns, asked if I had a lot of clothing as I’m always organizing something clothing related. The logic seemed to be that as I seemed to care a lot about a topic, I necessarily would own a lot of that, ehm, topic… Twisted logic, because it goes the other way: I have so little and approach the incomings with such suspicion that creating spaces that allow to choose carefully and to maintain the already owned is what I truly need. If other people benefit from it, good for them! Yes, you might have guessed, I’m trying to branch out into garment fixing events too…

But until then…

Fashion-related brain food for a rainy spring day:

While I’m mostly pissed off about sponsored content, here you have the other side – Alden Wicker on why content promoting brands should be sponsored and not gifted away by the bloggers. I find all the embedded marketing and sponsored content stuff extremely dodgy and weird, but it’s nice to see people being open about money.

As I am preparing to wander in the fixing and mending, here’s some basic inspiration: The Aesthetics of Mending and kintsugi. Also, this Spark Joy podcast episode featuring Lanecia Rouse Tinsley and her take on wabi sabi.

Behind the very encouraging title of ‘Americans have stopped trying to stuff more clothes into their closets’ the news is that *maybe* the consumption patterns are shifting slightly in the US and that the latest wave of fast fashion since the late 2000s hasn’t been such a change in comparison with the previous decade.

Brain food for eudaimonia:

Thomson, Judith Jarvis. 1976. ‘A defense of abortion.’ In Biomedical Ethics and the Law, pp. 39-54.

Deresiewicz, William. 2007. ‘Love on Campus‘: “Love is a flame, and the good teacher raises in students a burning desire for his or her approval and attention, his or her voice and presence, that is erotic in its urgency and intensity. The professor ignites these feelings just by standing in front of a classroom talking about Shakespeare or anthropology or physics, but the fruits of the mind are that sweet, and intellect has the power to call forth new forces in the soul. Students will sometimes mistake this earthquake for sexual attraction, and the foolish or inexperienced or cynical instructor will exploit that confusion for his or her own gratification. But most professors understand that the art of teaching consists not only of arousing desire but of redirecting it toward its proper object, from the teacher to the thing taught.”

The New Yorker 2016 profile on Martha NussbaumThe Philosopher of Feelings‘ spun me off to her The New Republic pieces and the feminist battles depicted in her ‘The Professor of Parody: The Hip Defeatism of Judith Butler’ (pdf).