#whatiwore 2018w21 + Sunday links

And because the little gray friends need nom-noms:

While I’ve never expected high fashion to be socially responsible and caring for poverty or social inequalities, this is an interesting point: Op-Ed: Is Balenciaga Socially Irresponsible? Meanwhile, you can read up about the actual Cristóbal Balenciaga and have some incredible eye candy of what Balenciaga once was.

The whole thing of shipping our garbage off-sight keep coming back, obviously, because stuff – including garments – does not evaporate, so Rwanda Does Not Want Our Used Clothes and is at a Standoff with the U.S. as a Result and, repeatedly, For Dignity and Development, East Africa Curbs Used Clothes Imports.

“Fashion Revolutionaries is a partnership between the British Council and Fashion Revolution which aims to create positive change in the global fashion industry. The programme highlights change-makers and activists who are exploring new ways of working which values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.
As part of Fashion Revolution Week, the British Council have commissioned a series of 7 short films profiling the innovative stories of 7 practitioners across the world, including fashion designers, artists, architects and entrepreneurs. The films have been created in the spirit of the grassroots movement, using content produced by the practitioners themselves and directed by Kate Cox and produced by the Smalls.” – shorts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

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June and summer will be officially here very soon… What are your fashion inspirations for this summer? Colors? Materials? Aesthetics? Mine, as you already know, are here.

#whatiwore 2018w20 + Sunday links

A random update: I did a little happy DIY to keep one of my feminist pins alive (obtained from Norwegian ladies in Women Deliver conference in 2013)! While the visible side had some rust which is not a big deal for me and happens to many pins that have been worn outside, the reverse was giving me grief. I had worn this one on my backpack for quite a while but lately the closure kept opening and too often I was picking the pin off the ground. The only useful transformation that occurred to me was doing the Sugru magnet magic: taking out the metal closure thing and putting a blob of Sugru + a piece of magnet (with the less magnetic side touching Sugru) on it. Ta-dah! This pin now has a calm retirement ahead of it guarding our shopping lists.


And now for something completely different:

While I don’t own any Elizabeth Suzann garments and I’m not sure if that’s an aesthetic I’ll ever wholeheartedly embrace, I’m in love and at awe with her business politics. Here you have both eye candy – Yossy Arefi: Clothing Is A Means & Natalie Chanin: Clothing Is An Expression Of Life – and some more talking about sustainable business development: Times, They Are A’Changing: A Conversation About Growth and Adaptation.

The notions of ‘modesty’ in fashion keep catching my attention. While in these videos the attention is on other aspects of people’s lives in connection with religion, I’m just superficial (and an atheist!) and attracted to the aesthetics. The bridging of the formally ‘modest’ with undoubtedly cool is fascinating: Your Average Muslim and The Queen of Berlin’s Underground Hip-Hop Dance Culture parts 1, 2 and 3.

For some reason, I’ve done some health-care intervention related reading this week… So you might too. The Oxytocin Tent by George Monbiot, Closing the Asylums in Jacobin Magazine and the Daniel Dennett classic Thank Goodness! + It’s Time to Take Back Our Aging, Smelly Bodies by Martha C. Nussbaum.

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Have you recently done any – however small – DIY that makes you very proud of your own ingenuity? Is there a practical-life or item longevity issue you are trying to solve and haven’t found the answer yet? Have you stumbled on any intriguing DIYs you can’t wait to tray out?

#whatiwore 2018w19 + Sunday links

A random update: I made my first sewn garment! I had knitted, crocheted and customized before, but this is a new milestone. And even brand new this garment already has a story. My little South African top needed an additional and more neutral bottom, then my friend Liisa taught me my sewing machine basics, my friend Julie invited me to take from her fabric stash whatever I wanted, and Carmen from Opció Taller accompanied me through all the troubleshooting this supposedly easy project needed. The whole precision thing is something I’m still working on, being accustomed that the code I write for my little statistics at work is basically endlessly tweakable and reiterations don’t leave trace. As far as I don’t show the inside of this skirt to my mom, we are all happy and set!

And now the brain nom-noms:

How could you resist a merge of Japanese shapes with African prints? Why would you? Why hadn’t this happened before? Cameroonian artist and Japanese designer collab for stunning Kimono line. (Hat tip to Sanjukta for this one!)

Just a brief reminder on what’s the problem with faux fur. In case you were wondering.

When reading about several African countries trying to forbid the import of second-hand clothing last year, I didn’t know that China did exactly the same thing in the 1990s (and now they are doing the same with our plastics). About the impact of that policy on the local industry, The State of Fashion Design in China.

And just to rub in how far I am from the actual design and fashion vanguard, turns out that there is a whole color thing going on: Why Millennial Pink Refuses to Go Away, Why Are We So Obsessed With Millennial Pink? There’s A Scientific Explanation For Everything and Move Over, Millennial Pink — There’s a New Sheriff in Town. I live truly oblivious to this stuff… As an extra bonus, of course, the ‘scientific’ explanation boils down to ‘we don’t really know but we can quite confidently blame late capitalism for everything’.

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Do you make garments? If so, how do you then deal with the intimate knowledge of all the imperfections? Or is it that the pride of having done it compensates for all frustrations and suboptimal seams?

#whatiwore 2018w18 + Sunday links

Nom-nom-nom said the little gray cells:

Back to basics and George! I keep going back to his Career Advice a couple a times a year for the last ten years. Helps.

Puzzled by the great cognitive dissonance of our generation bringing together so much awareness and being such avid fast fashion consumers? Me too… Why Aren’t More Millennials Shopping Sustainably? Look at the Price Tag. Although I suppose there is something more apart from hard cash considerations going on.

And a side of social media can of worms: Fake Followers, Fraud, Huge Budgets Still Dominate the Influencer Marketing Sphere, Devumi: The Social Media Company Selling ‘Fake’ Followers to Stars, Politicians and The Follower Factory.

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What’s your relationship with the social media? Do you judge people by the number of their followers? Have you ever thought of aggressive follower acquisition (fake ones, having an algorithm that ‘befriends’ and then ‘defriends’ after you have followed back, etc.)? Have you noticed ‘like’-related anxiety?

#whatiwore 2018w17 + Sunday links

Let’s feed the little gray cells:

So the Fashion Revolution Week came and went, here’s a related reading list: (1) Op-Ed: Five Years After Rana Plaza, Not all Brands Have Changed, (2) Fashion Revolution Week: Fashion by the Numbers, (3) the Fashion Transparency Index and What Really Goes into a Fashion Ranking & How Brands Game the System.

Any moment is a good moment to rethink your personal finances (and savings rates!), here are some ideas: The Spectrum of Personal Finance and On ‘Being Frugal Is for the Rich’.

While I am very skeptical every time a “that garbage turned into this new thing” headline excites the web (remember the orange waste thread hype?), even I have to admit that this is cute: Sustainable Sneaker Is Made From Chewing Gum.

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Did you do something for the Fashion Revolution Week? Have you made any new sustainable fashion commitments? I’m starting to branch into mending and sewing…

#whatiwore 2018w16 + Sunday links

So I went to London to participate in Marie Kondo consultant seminar…
These are my sartorial experiences, the rest will come later:

A random update 1: The minimalist aspirations are too much at times. I went on a 5 night trip with my everyday backpack and a tote. The tote was mostly food (two big sandwiches, strawberries, an apple, date bars, cherry tomatoes, chocolate and almonds), because hunger always strikes right after the security control. I chose to leave my big camera at home, (correctly) assuming that this trip won’t be spent exploring London for photos (you can see the visuals from my past UK trips here), but did carry a laptop, several notebooks, a Marie Kondo book for her to sign and other life necessities. It worked out well, but was a bit too small… I ended up leaving some stuff (two books and a notebook) with my lovely host for future retrieval.

A random update 2: Given the limited luggage space, I made an exciting wardrobe decision – to take only one (gasp!) proper bottoms: my mom’s hand-me-down bird and flower skirt (+ a pair of leggings but I had no plans to go to the seminar in those) and three tops. So I wore the same bottoms, hence the same silhouette, and repeated two of the tops. And nobody cared! I received three comments about my clothes: two just praising the outfit (they hadn’t noticed that I wore the same skirt the day before) and one remarking on how I was getting the most out of my beautiful skirt. Outfit repetition for the win! Because either it goes unnoticed or you can present it as your personal war against fast fashion.

A random update 3: My effort to look smart and going places had a clear effect – for the first time in my life I was accused (not by a seminar participant but by a friend of a friend of a friend) of dressing conservatively! Not in my face and not as a good thing. It is hilarious, however, and I present all my outfits as an counterargument. I understand how in the age of black skinnies and gray t-shirts uniforms an outfit that looks like I made an effort might be confusing. I didn’t have a bird in my hair or visible radical feminist pins, and apparently the little pale pink sweater was the main culprit:

The perfect blank preppy canvas that it is!

Links for brains!

Talking about outfits as statements, Why Janelle Monáe’s vagina pants make me cheer. And also on feminism and representation, As Vogue Broadens its Gaze, One Might Wonder: What Took So Long?

Why we shouldn’t believe when fashion promises, only when they deliver: Garment Industry Watchdog Calls Foul – Again – on H&M’s Vow to Provide “Fair Living Wage”.

And when spirits falter, A Climate Change Activist on Why Giving Up Isn’t an Option.

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Do people ever misunderstand you through your clothing? Do you ever “deceive” through clothing on purpose? Do you adjust your outfits to the people you are going to meet?

#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?

#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!

#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?

#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!”

#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).

#whatiwore 2018w10 + Sunday links

A random update: I saw this job ad in my neighborhood in Rīga this January – ‘seamstresses and pressers needed’. My fantasy is that this is one of those ‘designed in [some cool country], made in EU‘ things. I know, I know it’s much better when businesses outsource to the EU periphery instead of Bangladesh, but it still feels weird when my country is the much-cheaper-and-we-can-still-say-it’s-made-in-EU country. On the other hand, it could be a workshop for an up-and-coming Latvian textile endeavor, who knows…

And brain food to keep the little gray cells round and happy:

Outfit repeating is *in* on the red carpet! And seems that all it took was a couple of persons being unapologetic about the ‘you’ve worn it already’ taboo: Once a Faux Pas, Outfit Repeating Was the Talk of Oscars Fashion and Kate Middleton Isn’t the Only One Repeating Outfits: Vogue Editors on How to Wear a Look Again . . . And Again. Oh, we are such ridiculous animals!

If you need a reminder that community is at least as important as all the constructive steps e can do on our own, here’s George for you: Commonhealth.

The Spark Joy podcast ladies dedicated one to all the derision and myths around KonMari. As I realized after reading all three books, only the third – Spark Joy – actually describes all the way how to stretch Kondo’s system to fit each person. And it is amusing to read passionate criticism from those that clearly (1) have read only the Life Changing Magic if any, (2) have taken it in with the ‘my way or the high way’ tone that that book has, and (3) might have had other expectations for it. This is how you get people who apply it partly but then title their review Why I Absolutely Refuse to KonMari My Life or people who accuse Kondo of not being minimalist or sustainability-focused (something she has never claimed) while suggesting applying her method ruthlessly but with a slightly different overarching question. Relax, it’s a tool not a cult – you can infuse it with your own meaning and take what you need!

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Are you transitioning to spring these days? What are layers you are most eager to shed? (For me the return to canvas sneakers felt especially pleasant this year!) And what are you looking forward to wear?

How I pack or #whatiwore 2017w16

Week 16 featured this year’s first trip, so I had to pack for four nights away from home and two flights.  My travel planning for last few years involves a pen-on-paper list (pictured above) divided by days and activities. I fill it with weather appropriate items I want to wear and – voilà! – I have a list of all I need to pack. This approach allows packing only the necessary number of things and planning to repeat outfits if appropriate. I will never tire of repeating that other people actually do not notice that much of our outfits. So repeating is a very smart travel strategy: if it passes the smell test, wear it again (and carry less with you)!

I make the list quite some days before the trip. It helps to assess my needs in a more detached way and helps to prepare all that has to be washed or mended before the trip. As with wardrobe pruning, you have to know your stuff very well to be able to do this without opening your wardrobe. To make sure that nothing stays behind in the laundry basket, I prefer to get the suitcase out a few days before the trip and just start to put in stuff that’s on the list.

My basic travel outfit is a long blouse and leggings adjusted for weather with adequate footwear and additional layers. It’s comfy, relaxed, and still feels put together. Lack of pockets in women’s apparel becomes an issue when traveling, so the additional layers need to have those. And, knowing how crazy cold it can be on a plane, I always bring that additional layer and a scarf with me.

For this trip involving Granada and Seville, however, I was preparing for warm weather on ground, so my Mom’s hand-me-down blazer it was. As long blouse and leggings combo work very well for almost all casual travel situations, I only needed a hotter weather alternative… So the shorts season is officially open!

By the third day the white blouse already had some grease stains (hello, Andalusian tapas!), but the little pink number (a hand-me-down from Kristine) did a great job replacing it. I have to admit that I chickened out when packing and included an extra top and leggings. In vain. Lesson learnt: trust the list!

I don’t mind showering together with my socks and underwear, so five of each was more then enough even if I changed into fresh socks after siesta. And my new Veja sneakers are now officially broken in and extra comfy for long walks.

We also attended a formal family event, so my aunt’s hand-me-down dress, the Arcopedico shoes and the same blazer topped with a sparkly headband did the trick.