The Want-Free Week

This I Wear | The Want-Free Week

Last week, I had all but written this post but was left with no time to post it, which is just sometimes how things go around here.

I was preparing to leave for a work trip to DC – a trip that as soon as I agreed to it, I started to feel unprepared. My casual work wardrobe that New York’s culture allows for would not fly on Capitol Hill. I immediately went into a mindset of lacking. My clothes weren’t enough, which almost too easily transforms into that nagging, destructive thought “I am not enough.”

So just before the trip was set to begin, I dropped some cash on a “power dress,” appropriate for DC and all future “professional” events that come every once in awhile. And I did feel a sense of relief as soon as I had the dress. Now I’m ready. Now…I’m enough?

Here’s my wish for you (and for me!) this week, especially because next week brings Thanksgiving and that new American holiday, Black Friday: let yourself be free from wanting this week. Starting now and until Sunday morning, just let go of thinking you need anything you don’t already have.

If you see something you love, write it down and then let the thought go. You can return to that list later, but don’t think about it beyond that for now. As you scroll through your Pinterest and Instagram feeds, feel inspired rather than inspired to have. Appreciate things for what they are, knowing that you have everything you need right now.

For everything we feel that we need, we can often equate it with something we feel is missing in ourselves. Did I need the dress or did I need the confidence to go outside of my comfort zone?

There were still a few more things that I felt like I needed to be ready for the trip. But I let those thoughts go and the trip went just fine. Will anyone remember that I wore the right dress or that I didn’t have the right handbag? Or will they more likely remember my smile, my story or the way I spoke about something I’m passionate and curious about? (Another possibility is that they won’t remember anything!)

So just like you might be eating lightly this week in preparation for a big Thanksgiving meal, can we “want” lightly this week in preparation for the oncoming shopping season? A “want-free week” might help us recalibrate and detox, so that next week, we can more easily recognize the difference between a want and a need, and be a little more mindful when these superficial needs and wants are just covering up what our gut is telling us we truly need.

In and Out: October 2014

This I Wear | In and Out October 2014

I recently went on a shopping “spree”, which for me means I bought three very well-researched items in one afternoon. It felt extravagant. As I walked home with my unusually “full” bag of goodies, I had the idea of sharing what truly comes in and out of my wardrobe and apartment in a given month to be even more transparent about my relationship with stuff.

My list would include anything I acquire that is for me and anything that I give away, whether by sharing, donation, recycling, etc. I use the word “acquire” to make sure to capture everything, whether it’s gifted to me or bought or found. The exceptions: the gifts I’ve purchased for others because they go instantly in and out (and I don’t want to give away surprises) and groceries or perishables because they don’t stick around for long either.

This felt really intriguing and rebellious. I can appreciate good “wish” and “want” lists, but they feel so unconnected to reality. A wishlist just creates in us a constant sense of envy and feeling like we have to catch up. But the nature of a wishlist is that it is things not owned yet – it doesn’t necessarily represent what a blogger can afford or that they’re willing to put their money where their link is. But what are they willing to really get behind enough to purchase?

At the other end of the spectrum is that terrifying trend of shopping “hauls” where people just buy loads of stuff and then show it all off. The emphasis is on quantity and the search for a deal. It is possibly one of the scariest things you can watch on YouTube.

And finally, nowhere to be found is talk of  what people dispose.

So I thought I’d just do a coming clean post to share what I stand behind, where I’m imperfect, and how I acquire and share, even down to the price. I hope you’ll not only tell me what you think but consider making one of these lists for yourself over the course of a month. It’s amazing to see how much comes in and out of our lives.

Bare Minerals Mascara, $18.
– Alternative Apparel Ecofleece sweatpants, $55. (*Though I wish they were more specific about the eco fibers in this blend.)
Fabriano EcoQua spiral bound squared notebook, $4.40. I am obsessed with these and buy a new one every few months when I’ve filled up the previous one. I just learned from their website that they also print Euros and have lots of cool responsible practices.
– Two pairs of sunglasses: Persol, $70, Cole Haan, $20 (bought at a discount department store). I tried on every pair at Warby Parker, but I ended up returning the pair I purchased because I just didn’t love them. Instead I had fun shopping for the first time in forever while out with a friend and got these two, which I love wearing.
Mercado Global clutch. It was a gift from their recent fundraiser event, but I made a donation after because honestly I know how much work goes into these artisan-made bags and I couldn’t accept it for “free”.
– Four sweaters and t-shirt dress from EILEEN FISHER that are mostly organic cotton and organic linen, purchased through the employee benefit program. At least one or two sweaters will become gifts, but this organic cotton sweater is definitely staying with me and I’ve already been wearing it nonstop.
– Signed copy of “Worn Stories” by Emily Spivack, $25, at the one and only Strand Bookstore.

– A big bag of donations to Goodwill, accumulated over many months, which included two pairs of jeans, a few accessories, two pairs of shoes, and odds and ends.
– A few tops and cold weather clothing given to visiting family members who never bring enough layers when they come North!

P.S. In doing this exercise, I literally sat down with my credit card bill and went through where my money went this month. And while I’m really excited about all of the above – no shoppers remorse here – I felt all warm and fuzzy when I thought about two purchases this month that not surprisingly had nothing to do with owning anything. One was a spontaneous after work cup of hot chocolate at the coziest café, which I enjoyed solo and could feel my heart fill with happiness. The second was a proper afternoon tea with some of my favorite people on a recent Sunday, having real conversations over cucumber sandwiches. Pure heaven. I will throw my money at those experiences any day of the week.

Easy on the Eyes

This I Wear | Easy On The Eyes

A few months ago, I shared with you how I overhauled my medicine cabinet with new, safer cosmetics after learning about the harmful chemicals in the products I was using.

Today, I’m happy to report that my minimal makeup routine in the morning consists of an eyelash curler, RMS “the un-coverup” wherever I need it, RMS lip2cheek on the apples of my cheeks, a little Korres tinted lip balm, and an eyebrow powder that I have yet to investigate but is probably toxic (nobody’s perfect!). It takes me about 5 minutes total, and the RMS makeup has even improved my skin.

When I first made the natural switch, I threw away the Covergirl mascara that I have used for years, thinking I would replace it with a safer version immediately. A couple months passed and I never did as I learned that lots of natural mascaras can be slow to dry and take some time to get used to. I got spooked and put it off for awhile.

But recently I was inspired to get back in the game. With the advice of Kimberly Loc (one of my favorite natural beauty bloggers) and the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website and phone app, I picked….(drumroll please) the Bare Minerals Flawless Definition mascara, easily found at your neighborhood Sephora or department store, and I love it.

To give you some perspective, on EWG’s 0-10 scale (0=least harmful), my Covergirl was a 7 and the Bare Minerals version is a 2! The red flag on the Covergirl mascara was the ingredient probylparaban, which according to EWG is a 10 on the toxicity scale and is linked to “developmental/reproductive toxicity, ecotoxicology, endocrine disruption, allergies/immunotoxicity” to name a few. Absolutely not worth it.

If you’re shopping for a new mascara, let EWG do the work for you by searching their database. Still not sure which one you should go with? Kimberly has a rundown of the good and the bad of natural mascaras that will definitely make your decision easy.

P.S. I really should replace that brow powder! Any tips? Because, honestly, I won’t walk out of the door without these brows filled in!

Know Your Tacking

This I Wear | Know Your Tacking

Clothing construction is a mystery to most of us. How a bolt of fabric becomes a tailored jacket or your favorite perfectly draped blouse is hard to imagine. It seems like the seamstresses, tailors and knitters who make our clothes have a million and one sewing tricks up their sleeves to keep us looking good.

Tacking is one of those sewing tricks, and I like to think of it as one of the most polite ones. Tacking refers to using large loose stitches to hold pieces of the garment in place temporarily. It’s commonly used on any type of garment slit, so that the garment stays flat while folded during shipping and looks perfect when it reaches you.

You’ll find these “X” shaped stitches on your suit coat back flaps, on the kick pleat or slit of a skirt, and on your winter coat’s back vent. You’ll also find similar stitching inside pockets that were stitched shut for the same reason.

It’s a special little touch by a clothing manufacturer to say “hey, I wanted your clothes to travel safely and nicely to you.”

But a lot of us don’t realize these stitches are intended to be removed after a garment is purchased. I often catch people in the subway with skirts and coats that bunch up and pull in the back because the tacking has not been removed. (You’ll start to notice it now because it makes a garment look very restricting!) Or someone mentions that their jacket pockets are fake, only to discover that they’re real – they were just nicely stitched shut.

So this is my little polite PSA to you to get to know tacking and make sure to do a little snip to remove those stitches before you wear that new item out.

Photos via The Joinery and Of a Kind.

Wear It Twice

This I Wear | Wear It Twice

It was with great pride and great ease that I wore a silk floral dress with a beautiful deep-v back to my oldest brother’s wedding this past weekend in Brooklyn. Even though I knew this would be a day where I was photographed and that I’d have these photos for years and years to come, I didn’t shy away from wearing the same dress I’d worn the dress was to my mother’s wedding nearly a year ago (another day of photographs!). I was determined to wear the dress both because it is the most perfect dress for a Fall wedding and after I had already mentally committed to wearing the dress, I learned that it perfectly fit into the color palette. No other dress would do.

For memorable occasions, there exists a temptation to wear something new (or at least “new to you”) every time. Even during the work week, I often calculate when I last wore an outfit to decide if it’s “ok” for me to wear it to the office. An even greater fear of mine has been running into someone you so rarely see only to realize that you’re wearing the same thing they saw you last in months ago (and you wish you could tell them that you have a full closet and you’ve worn lots of outfits since!). I do think there is a very tangible social pressure to not be seen twice in the same memorable outfit.

But my point is screw that. I’m not suggesting we all wear a uniform everyday, but I do believe we are allowed to love pieces so much and resist the ideas of “more” and “new” so well that we embrace being seen in them often.

I recently heard all-around inspiring woman and White Dog Café founder Judy Wicks speaking and was surprised when she unexpectedly diverted from her advice on changing the food industry to tell the audience that we’ve got to change the fashion industry. Part of her advice was that we’ve got to wear things more than once to start changing our expectations of clothing.

I actually first had this thought when I was watching Downton Abbey a few seasons ago and realized that the characters were always wearing the same outfits. My initial reaction was embarrassment on their behalf. Then I felt indignant as if I was being deprived of more beautiful costumes to swoon over. And finally, I realized that it was likely just historically accurate, as all clothing would have been made to order and vast closets of clothes impossibly expensive even for a wealthy family. I wondered why all TV shows weren’t similarly repeating costumes, since we do wear things more than once in real life, even if we always want our clothes to appear new.

In order to change this social stigma, I have this radical idea that celebrities should start wearing the same dress to multiple Red Carpet events. I imagine it to be like Livia Firth’s Green Carpet Challenge but taking it a step further by actually wearing such beautiful responsibly made gowns more than once to show their value.

Recognizing the value of our clothes is an essential part of the solution, yet emotion plays a significant role too. I didn’t wear my dress to two weddings just because I matched the color palette. I wore it a second time because I remembered feeling incredibly beautiful in it, despite having a broken heart at the time on the inside. The dress got me through a difficult experience. It also was such an important celebration – to celebrate my mom’s new marriage – that somehow the dress felt important enough to wear for my brother’s wedding too. It had already proven it could hold up on a big day. Finally, I felt silly hiding such a beautiful dress in my closet when it was meant to be worn!

Wearing the dress for the second time meant I had to let go of worries that people would remember the dress but it also gave me the opportunity to create new memories in it. I know it won’t be the last time I wear it for a very special occasion either.

Join the movement! Tweet @ThisIWear or comment below to tell your story of wearing a memorable outfit twice. Or better yet, tag your photos with #WearItTwice to show your support!

[Dress by No. 6, purchased at a charity sale. Photos were taken before my mom’s wedding in December 2013 – no photos from this weekend’s wedding yet!]

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