So much outside wear has become loungewear since March 2020, and it is wearing out as we speak.
I hadn’t planned it this way. I picked-up a little cozy cashmere sweater at a swap in December 2019. It seemed new and gave me a sweater girl vibe, so I mentally categorized it under “neat and put-together, for formal-ish occasions”. Unsurprisingly, it turned out that this is a very short fiber cashmere, it pills just by looking at it. This is what happens when people try to expand the supply of a finite resource: it is still cashmere yet shares only some of the characteristics of its longer-fiber cousins. Under normal conditions, I would have worn that sweater rarely and shaved between wears. But these are not normal times…
The requirements have changed. My wardrobe mission for the last year has been staying comfortable and sane. And for the most of it that meant staying warm in a no-heating Barcelona flat with cement tile floors, hence a uniform of leggings and wool layers, and, oftentimes, blankets.
I don’t know when exactly the little cashmere sweater received the mental downgrade of “I shall be wearing you now because you are soft and warm, dressing up like a put-together sweater girl in some faraway future be damned”, but it happened. So I have been wearing it as one of my intermediate loungewear layers and even – gasp! – for yoga. Meanwhile I’m observing it as it wears out. It will never look neat and put-together again.
And that is fine. This is what textiles do. They respond to abrasion with pilling, holes, loss of shape, and loss of color. The only way to prevent wearing out is not to wear them at all. And how would having a pristine little cashmere sweater in my wardrobe enhance my everyday pandemic life?
So I am using it up and learning to let it go at the same time.
Kate Fletcher is the key prophet of sustainable fashion. For me, her work stands out due to her attention to the dynamics of wear, as opposed to manufacturing and disposing parts of the lifecycle of a garment. And, out of all her work, this little book of autobiographical essays – Wild Dress: Clothing and the Natural World (2019) – made me want to think and write differently, more personally and sensorially about my clothing. You are witnessing my attempts at it.
On the dangers of trying to live up to our purest ideals: (in Spanish) La coherencia es una trampa
A reminder of the possible benefits of reducing the number of garments in your wardrobe: Benefits of a Minimalist Wardrobe
I want a darning mushroom in my life (now I’m using the cup of my thermos for mending) and I do resent the past tense used here: “The darning mushroom would have been an essential tool in an era when women were constantly repairing worn socks. […] The mushroom was used to make repairs to clothing, bed linen, etc, a practice that has largely disappeared with the development of modern textiles.”
How things might not be traditional in the ethnographic sense but still have a tremendous cultural meaning (and bring us back to our families in one touch): Like a Warm Hug From an Angel
+ Imposter Syndrome might be a useful conceptualization of one’s experiences… or not: Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome
And that’s it for this week! I hope that you enjoyed reading and would be very happy to hear from you, be it regarding your feelings about the all-encroaching loungewear or anything else… in the comments below, on Facebook or Instagram, or via e-mail at luize.ratniece [a] gmail .com
Guardarrr is a weekly bilingual newsletter dedicated to sustainability and mindfulness in fashion. It is written by Luīze Ratniece, a sociologist and textile activist based in Barcelona. Guardarrr is both a tool for reflection and a crowdfunding channel for the app that Luīze is building. You can read more about it here and subscribe to it here.