#100wears: Veja Taua

#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”.

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I don’t know how I came across Veja sneakers in May 2015, then I couldn’t name any bloggers that were wearing them… Maybe through C., as he is the one better informed about brands in our household. But it was love at first sight, and, despite several shipping and handling problems (If you are not in France and are likely to not to be at home when your package arrives, at least in Barcelona, Spain you are screwed, because Veja people have no idea which courier company their shippers use in Spain. Solution: stay at home waiting, order to to a work address/someplace it will be accepted, or just use a re-seller…), I’ve currently wearing my 3rd and 4th pair. Oh, special vegan section, lovely designs, full transparency… and they fit my feet! After a long history of wrong footwear, this is a great step towards my well-being.

My first Vejas: Taua Black White! I miss them so much…

What walking and biking does to soles. This is the 1st pair outgoing vs. the third incoming.

The first three pairs I bought were all the same model: Taua. A very basic tennis shoe! I shred my first pair mercilessly. I wore them on all occasions, and washed them in the washing machine when they got too dirty even for my very low standards (I’ll never be the person with impeccable white sneakers!). Then I invested in another pair a few months later, mostly because of the floral print. My third pair, bought in 2016, is another outrageous a print, this time not in *organic cotton* but in b-mesh *made from recycled post consumer plastic*.

There are two lessons I’ve gathered so far: (a) as I have so few pairs and they get a lot of use + my hobbit feet keep breaking the textile in the same exact place, I really wear these things out; & (b) for the sake of versatility, I’d really love to go back to black, but Veja won’t let me… and that third pair is getting closer and closer to complete fallout.

Nº2 in floral cotton.

Nº3 in fantasy b-mesh.

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Since I started counting wears in January 2016 (which means that the the two oldest pairs have actually been worn many times more than appear in my books), Veja Taua Black White got 101 wears until their demise in January 2017, the Floral has got 95 and are begging to be replaced, and Bahia’s got 209 and counting (I aspire to replace them in January 2018). Boom!

My 4th Veja pair is Arcade (see here, here, and here) – even I got carried away with the bulky aesthetics of the shitty brand sneakers one sees everywhere – but I was socialized in tennis shoes as symbol of rebellion (thanks so much, Converse All Stars and Avrile Lavigne!) and would like to go back to basics with my next purchase, so the current choice would be between Taua in colors nobody wanted or the chunkier Pierre design… We’ll see. Meanwhile, my street cred with shredded pirate sneakers from 2005 (although I doubt that any of those got to #100wears before they fell apart) for your viewing pleasure:

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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?

#whatiwore 2017w41 + Sunday links

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While I’m doing my 3-months-in-7-dresses thing, bon appétit for some brain food:

Planeta Zara (2002) – If you understand Spanish, this is a gem TV segment (55 min) from 15 years ago explaining the aspects of production and organization of the business that made them the fast fashion innovators. You have to know the enemy… plus, these were still times before the haul videos and ultra-cheapness, so you can get some nostalgia (for example, in those days 80% of Zara’s sewing was done by subcontractors locally in Galicia, not overseas).

The Overspent American: Upscaling, Downshifting, and the New Consumer – The first chapter of the 1997 pop sociology book (yes, some quaint very antiquated examples going on!) by Juliet B. Schor advocating – and being criticized of being naive because of that (examples 1 & 2) – deliberate downsizing. Quite some time before the wave of minimalism, tiny house movement, KonMari, etc.

Climate anxiety doesn’t have to ruin your life: Here’s how to manage it – The title is too good to be true, and it is. But the question – and anxiety – is real. Author’s answer is to accept the limited scope of individual action and to quit nagging other people… but keep doing. Easier said than done, hah!

Autumn capsule = 3 months and 7 dresses

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The time of wardrobe overhaul is here. OK, technically it was here on first of October… so I’ve been wearing my autumn capsule for 10 days now. The fun thing to know is that – to shake things up a bit –  this capsule consists of seven dresses + a shirt-leggings set for lazy occasions. There are layers, footwear, adornments in the capsule (29 pieces in total), but the fundamentals of my looks for next three months will be these seven beauties:

Ordered along the warm weather – cold weather gradient.

Origin-wise all of them are hand-me-downs, from top to bottom: from my Mom, from my Mom, from Laura during the last Swap, from Marina, from my aunt Inga, from Liisa, from Marina.

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This additional set allowing for lazy errands, flights, and other pajama-comfy occasions: hand-me-down shirt from my Mom and ZIB leggings.

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If you have seen my #ootd entries, you’ll know that dresses – together with skirt combos – is the basis of my wardrobe anyways. So this little experiment is a mild one for me, not a time-consuming Uniform Project (my only dress I could do a 365-day project with is – not surprisingly – also a LBD, this one; currently part of my Riga mini-capsule exactly because of its year-round versatility).

For me dresses is the sneaky way of just wearing one thing (limiting the decision fatigue!) and still being perceived as on the dressy (puns!) side of life, as Caroline from Un-Fancy said this summer:

“WANT TO STAY COMFORTABLE + LOOK CUTE? REACH FOR A DRESS | Ah, dresses. No pinching waistbands. No need to coordinate a top and bottom. You can just throw it on and be done. Bonus: When you wear a dress, people think you tried — when in fact, you probably didn’t. :)”

As I reach for the dresses half of the time anyway, I decided to see how well I can transition from summer to winter with dresses only. 10 days in, the only problem is the high temperatures (still above 20ºC and we are almost in mid-october), so I’m still in my Birks and the first three dresses of the list with zero layering. In last few weeks I have insisted – as so many people here in Barcelona do – on cajoling the autumn by wearing garments according to the calendar and not the thermometer, but that ended in sweating, chub rub, and frustration, so sleeveless in October it is.

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What are your plans for the autumn capsule? Have you already transitioned towards layers and warm garments? Any dresses included?

#whatiwore 2017w40 + Sunday links

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All that repetition – even more than usual – is not accidental. I’ll tell you on Wednesday what’s the deal with Autumn capsule! But until then… brain food!

A) How Instagram Makes You Basic, Boring, and Completely Deranged – My hate for Instagram, articulated!

B) Why Trying to Resell Your Clothes Is Always So Damn Embarrassing – The reality of consignment shops and the rosy delusion “I’ll just resell all my stuff [for a lot of money because everybody will want it so desperately]” + the same dynamics from a generational and home-ware point of view: Aging Parents With Lots of Stuff, and Children Who Don’t Want It.

C) I still haven’t finished Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Dress of Women: A Critical Introduction to the Symbolism and Sociology of Clothing (I read it at work during my breaks), but I’ve found one gem I couldn’t resist to share. There are many quotes calling for revolution in women’s dress, of course, but what I’ve found to be the most curious change that has taken place in these 100 years that separate us from Charlotte are prices!

In Chapter 8: Humanitarian and Economic Considerations she writes – not tongue-in-cheek, mind you, but very seriously! – “Some thirty [~1885!] years ago it was estimated that a woman could dress well enough to be in good society, on $300 a year. This allowed for one new evening gown, and one new tailor suit each year, both lasting over as second-best for another; and may be filled out according to preference. […] Even at that time I can remember these estimates being scoffed at as ridiculously low by a group of trained nurses. Yet one would hardly imagine a trained nurse as needing more than that list, substituting her starched uniforms for the richer evening wear.” and continues in Chapter 9: Larger Economic Considerations: “While it is still possible, with intelligent care, for a woman to dress on three to five hundred dollars a year, to say nothing of the millions who do it on fifty or less; the woman who is “in society” finds three to five thousand a moderate allowance, and many spend more.”

Before you shrug at this and point to my own fashion expenses, I have to remind you that these are 1915 or even 1885 dollars! Very different dollars than the ones going around today… The earliest information that the easy inflation calculator I found online offers is 1913 which is fine for a conservative estimate about the dollars that Perkins Gilman is talking about. And – ta-dah! – $300 of Charlotte become $7440. That’s what any *respectable* woman needed back then to be *properly* dressed, and even nurses found that to be a very low number… and the $3000-5000 she’s mentioning for the “society” becomes 74’400-124’000. Now compare that with the fast fashion prices of today!

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We are branching out of swaps and organizing a movie screening to build the consciousness about why we are swapping: A screening of The True Cost. See you there!

September Clothes’ Swap Recap

The swap was a whirlwind, so photos are few but precious. And it’s a pleasure to see happy returning un-customers!

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It has been a year since our first swap, we  – me and Liisa – have had four and each of them better than the previous one. And we keep learning, here are some of my observations after this one:

  • We have to do a better job at explaining the whole concept! There are people who arrive thinking that money is involved, there are ones that just drop stuff off as if we were a recycling point, there are people expecting a formal 1:1 swap… Oh, well!
  • The abundance of garments is overwhelming. There are always a lot of things left after the event is over (this was the situation in May, see below for this time’s leftovers), but I hadn’t seen the tables becoming piles that people can literally dig into.
  • We are becoming very good in sorting through garments afterwards, spotting stains, holes, pilling, and sloppy seams. As always, only one suitcase of garments stays with us to serve as “seed” for the next swap, but this time we had no problem in closing the suitcase. We rise to the occasion and become ruthless and picky! Only quality timeless pieces stay for the next time we’ll play shop.
  • I had a personal a-ha! moment with a brand item I’ve been coveting for years. I’ve been drooling over Oleana cardigans for years now, I even ventured into their shop in Stockholm this summer just to touch things and to look at the price tags… beautiful wool blends, stunning colors and patterns, made in Norway, and more than 300€ for a new cardigan. And last Saturday here comes Julie with a vintage Oleana hand-me-down from her mother in law. I tried it and had to admit that the cotton-ramie made in China knock-off I got from her in May fits me better. Oh, the frustration! At least I know who got that Oleana, and I hope Silvia will be very happy with her new Precious.
  • But don’t worry about me, I got a dress and a shirt, so I’m very well served. The dress is 100% polyester which saddens me a bit, as I forget my goal of reducing synthetics in my wardrobe every time I see a nicely patterned plastic! The shirt I haven’t taken pictures of yet is a 100% cotton Esprit number, also blue and with a gorgeous floral pattern. You’ll see…

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We tried a new thing: garment stories! This was only a trial that we hope to expand next time, as knowing the story behind the garment does makes difference. I love those stories of mothers in law who wore things, friends who made things, garments that were brought back from faraway trips or found somewhere unexpected. Clothing is a deeply personal experience, tell me more about yours.

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As always, a huge amount of leftovers to deal with. Be ready, Banc Expropriat, we are going to inundate you with pre-loved garments!

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And we have our next date! This time it’s not a swap, it’s a movie! With some delay in plans, we finally have the date and time for The True Cost. Facebook event is here, mark it in your agenda and invite friends!

#whatiwore 2017w39 + Sunday links

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And a full portion of garment-related brain food:

Is the world really better than ever? – If you are torn between the “oh, everything is down the tubes” and “but there are no plague victims in the streets”, this long Oliver Burkeman piece may help synthesize a middle ground.

Shopping, and the Seduction of “Fixing” Ourselves – Leah from Style Wise meditating on therapeutic consumption. In a similar vein – I’ll Take Care of You – on Billfold. It all comes down to necessity of self-care and how we have learned (or been taught?) that self-care is a purchasable commodity. Well, yes and no. Ha!

Leaves, Mushrooms, Bark and More: 6 Innovative Eco-Friendly Leather Alternatives – Promising proofs of human capacity of innovation if only we get serious about things. Hopeful!

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This was the last week of my summer capsule + an adventure with a sprained ankle! I’ll tell you soon what my autumn fun challenge will be… Although it seems weird to bring in the autumn wardrobe with this weather forecast:

Summer 2017 capsule ins and outs

The only true incoming of this summer have been the Birks. And they were accompanied by a swimming pool version of the same model. Despite not being the best long distance walking shoe – hey, nobody promised that! – they are very comfy and, although they are showing some of the characteristic Birkenstock wear already (47 wears), will certainly be a next summer’s staple too.

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These four garments came in from storage during the season:

The off-white blouse (hand-me-down from my mom) I mostly use under the other transparent blouse came out of storage to boost the number of available tops. This one is so light and breezy it works even in Barcelona summer. 11 wears.

The blue family blouse – read about it here, here and here – traveled from Riga so I could make my final decision. I did my best to wear it – 10 times – and remind myself that practical is better than sentimental. It is sad to part with such an old and *experienced* garment, but I still hope it will find the right body to sit on for next 30+ years.

I had overlooked the occasional need to cover my legs when planning for the summer capsule. Well, heat was my focus! Nothing beats a pair of leggings for travel, so the black ZIB leggings (2016) came in and saved the day. Several times. 13 wears.

The Nike yoga top (bought new in 2013) was repaired – shortened shoulder straps; they had stretched out and were doing a poor job at keeping my breasts inside the top – and I brought it back from Riga to make sure it was perfect now. 10 wears – to gym, not work – and I know that it’s a bit too tight now… Ugh.

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A serious number – 10 garments – are going out after the season ends or have been bye-bye for a while. Six of them I already discussed here, but there are more:

The fish necklace: a gift from C’s mom in 2016, 48 total wears. My only reason to give it away is that it is superfluous… We’ll see. If nobody wants it this Saturday, I might bring it back home.

The H&M romper: bought new in 2010, 13 wears this summer, 27 wears since January 2016. We always got along OK, but not splendidly… And all the immediately visible underboob sweat, yuck!

Crocs sandals: bought new in 2014, broke beyond repair after 3 wears in June, 70 counted wears in total. So those have been in the landfill for a few months now…

The Nike top. Let’s see if anybody else is better fit for this one!

The floral jersey dress: a hand-me-down from my mom, 13 wears this summer, 34 counted wears since January 2016. Bye-bye worn-out jersey!

Pleated Zara skirt: a hand-me-down from my mom from last summer. They were short people maxi, got shortened and even then didn’t work for me. 4 wears in total. Went along the family networks of sharing garments. Hope it’s in better hands now!

Amoralle (yeah, those people went from making affordable leggings to whatever atemporal fantasy it is they are doing now) t-shirt: made in Latvia, bought new in 2012, 7 wears since January 2016. As with several other items on this list, it was altered to fit better, but even then… No, thanks! As the gray skirt, went along family networks looking for a new body to adorn.

Yellow floral dress: hand-me-down from Kristīne, mine since 2015, 22 wears since January 2016. Not good enough! The neckline – although altered – is still weird for me.

The blue family blouse: I have a feeling that much of my summer capsule has been orbiting around this one little blouse. Yes, it’s a heirloom. One of the last ones still alive since I started raiding family wardrobes almost two decades ago. But it is not working for me! If I have to make myself wear things – the spreadsheet has a lot of power over me – it’s better to send them away.

The striped H&M top, the same as the pleated skirt, came in Riga capsule after the last time we tidied my mom’s wardrobe. But turned out to be not for me after all. Bye-bye!

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What pieces proved themselves superfluous, not needed or not wanted in your summer capsule? Was there anything you included afterwards? If so, was it need (weather, special occasions) or desire-driven?

#whatiwore 2017w38

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

Six months of blogging and adjusting expectations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A post shared by Birkenstock (@birkenstockportugal) on

#whatiwore 2017w37

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

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