Category: My Closet

My Closet: The Mardi Gras Bunny

This I Wear | The Mardi Gras Bunny

My grandmother has been unwell. I flew down to Dallas to visit her last weekend – hence the skipped week here. I could have posted last week, since I was just away for a few days, but my gut knew I would be exhausted when I came back, which I was.

The morning after I returned home, I woke up and instinctively put on the bunny pendant that my grandmother and grandfather gave me as a little girl. I think I was around five years old when I received it from what I’ve been told. I never understood why I had it when I was growing up, because my little sister was obsessed with bunnies. I actually still don’t know why it’s mine.

The bunny was designed by a well-known New Orleans-based jewelry artist, Mignon Faget, and it was given out as a Krewe gift one year for Mardi Gras. A krewe is a dues-paying “club”, and it often involves a ball and sometimes a parade during Mardi Gras season in New Orleans. My grandfather had been part of a krewe, and received the gift of the bunny likely at a ball, and then passed it on to me.

For years, it was on a pale pink thin ribbon. Now it lives on a silver chain, and I occasionally wear it. Yet wearing it each day since I returned, I feel like I’m sending my grandmother strength and love, even if my mind is required elsewhere.

It’s not easy to see someone you love unwell. My grandmother danced me to sleep when I was little, paid for my piano lessons from kindergarten through high school, and bought me Limited Too chenille sweaters and plaid kilts at the height of the Clueless popularity when they were too expensive for my parents to afford. She taught me to love dressing up and that lemon juice and sunshine is all you need for some blonde highlights (which my mom did not appreciate).

I’m hoping there’s still time for me to learn more from her. For now, I’m sending her love and hope you’ll send her some well wishes too! And coincidentally, yesterday was Mardi Gras.

Do you have a favorite thing that keeps you connected and close to a family member or friend? I want to hear your story too! Share in the comments or tweet @ThisIWear.

My Closet: The Hiking Boots

This I Wear | My Closet: The Hiking Boots

Are you surviving the fresh start of the new year? I hope we’ll all go a little easy on ourselves, especially with New Years resolutions. Though even without specific goals, the idea of a blank slate can be intimidating. Who will we be this year?

Waking up after no sleep, groggily making tea, brushing teeth, going through the motions, just like last year, I am back in my morning routine. But even in these seemingly thoughtless moments, I sense something bigger off in the distance that my groggy self says to look into or merely acknowledge later. Later. Big dreams have no place in small moments, we tell ourselves.

A pair of brand new snow boots I couldn’t decide whether to keep or return (am I someone who wears fuzzy things?) that was made for icy days like this. I can’t decide. I slip on my hiking boots instead, remembering how they kept my feet dry in shallow pools of water trekked through – yet unworn since the final hiking trip of summer. I’m already late and this back and forth will make my miss the train. I keep the hiking boots on.

Out the door, and I’m walking down the street. I catch a glimpse of my feet. Lightness. Strength. I walked at least fifty miles in these boots in 2014. Fifty miles, and probably more. I know who I will be this year, I had just forgotten for a moment. And though the words escape me, the way I feel in these boots is exactly the way I want to be this year.

Who knew that these boots had that kind of magic?

Who will you be this year? How will you remind yourself, even in the small moments? What will pull you back in when you’ve drifted from your path?

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!]

My Closet: The Lone Blue Jeans

This I Wear | The Lone Blue Jeans

I only have one pair of blue jeans that I wear regularly. There were two other pairs I had been clinging to – one very old and worn, the other fairly new but never loved – that I finally pulled out of the drawer and put in my donation pile where they are currently still sitting. (We’ll see if they stay there.) And then there was that pair that came and went.

I wear my blue jeans at least twice a week, except in the summer. And I’ve done so for the two years since I bought them for less than $35 at a charity sale where clothes were donated nearly new from movie wardrobes (thank you sister in the movie industry!). They were a pair of fancy J Brand skinny jeans and fit perfectly even though I had no real or easy way of trying them on before purchase. This pair of jeans and I have been through a lot together since we found each other – the good (our first “couples” photo) and the bad (a very rough Northeastern winter).

The tricky thing about having only one pair of blue jeans, though, is that they own you a bit too much. You’re so overly dependent on them to solve everything for you that if something happens to them, you’d be lost. Clothing should have power but not that much.

And this is the point that is sadly funny to me. I started writing this post last week, only to put on my one lovely pair of blue jeans over the weekend to find a sizable rip in the lower butt area. So this became a story of both learning how to repair ripped jeans on my own, and also a story of needing to expedite a second pair of jeans, so I can make the original pair last longer by alternating wears.

Before this rip, part of me worried that if I got a new pair, would I still love and depend on the existing one quite so much? I don’t want to foolishly give in to “new-ness”.

But after carefully ironing on an adhesive patch and then hand-sewing the ripped area for extra reinforcement (with the help of Youtube videos on “how to repair denim”), I got a good close look at my jeans and those two years of wear are showing from the seams to the color. So I have officially decided that having two pairs of blue jeans is not an extravagance; it’s just a reflection of my lifestyle and how often I wear jeans. I’m not suddenly not a minimalist if I own two pairs of blue jeans. (Thanks Kate Arends for confirming that!)

I may have also been putting off this inevitable moment because my philosophy on shopping for jeans is that you can’t just go shopping, looking for anything and just stumble on the perfect pair of jeans. You have to go jeans shopping and you can’t look at anything else. Seriously. Because buying jeans requires trying on as many as possible to find the right fit because you never know what might be the perfect rise, fade, cut, etc. No distractions from dresses or cute earrings allowed. That kind of shopping almost needs to be scheduled on your calendar. It requires commitment. It also sounds exhausting since my shopping stamina is close to non-existent.

I’m trying to make this an easy decision though, and I’ve been thinking about investing in a pair of Imogene + Willie jeans, made in Nashville and definitely made to last. One of my favorite parts about the company is they have a limited number of cuts and fabrics, so the decision is much more simple than going to a department or denim store with a million styles. Yet at $200+, they are nearly six times more expensive than the pair I wear now.

And while that’s a big difference, I’m probably going to buy a pair for two reasons. First, if you think about $200 for a pair of jeans in terms of cost per wear, it is not an unreasonable amount of money. Secondly, more and more, I feel that buying clothes from responsible and thoughtful companies, especially smaller ones, is as much an investment in their success as it is an investment in my wardrobe. I’m not just paying them for my jeans but I’m thanking them for giving people great jobs, quality jeans, and a role model of how to do business responsibly and with kindness. And it just so happens that I’d get to have a beautiful pair of jeans for expressing my gratitude. It feels like I’m paying it forward and that feels pretty good.

I’ll report back once I’ve found the lucky new pair.

What are your thoughts on denim? How do you shop for jeans? How many pairs do you have? How many pairs of those do you actually wear?

My Closet: Ask & You Shall Receive

This I Wear | Ask and You Shall Receive
A few weeks ago, I had a hunch that if I put out the idea of my ideal sandal to The Internet, it might magically send the sandals I had been looking for my way. It was a crazy idea that somehow a pair of properly made, high quality, non-disposable shoes might enter my life and save me from my minimalist lifestyle-induced problem of having only one pair of sandals that were on the brink of death.

So if you’re looking at the above photo and asking yourself “how is it possible that she had these shoes made from a sketch in the three weeks since she posted the illustration?” you would be asking a very reasonable question. Except that these shoes were bought straight off the rack. And very fortunately in this case, on the sale rack.

After I wrote that original post, I ended up purchasing a pair online from a reputable brand that were way too big and way too much “foot exposure” for work, so I headed back to the department store in person to return them. Now shoeless again and needing to kill some time, I popped over to the sale racks that seemed overflowing with shoes. In that moment, I realized that I never go to department stores – there were so many options in one place – for better or worse. But I also had no expectation of finding anything.

I did a once over and then was somehow compelled to walk through again. That’s when I found these shoes. It was the exact shoe that Mike had helped me draw out a few weeks ago. And on top of that, they were the last pair in the store and they were in my size.

I looked around expecting that someone was playing a joke on me. As if the people in the store follow my blog (pfff!) and they had planted this shoe here for me. But this was a fancy department store, and there are no jokes there.

After 20 minutes of walking around with them on and searching the Internet to learn more about the brand, I decided to embrace that this was serendipity.

So how do these actual shoes stack up against the criteria I laid out in my “Ideal” post? Actually, pretty good.

Timeless, work-appropriate design – Yes! In fact, these are made by a very traditional British brand known for their men’s shoes, so they do simple, classic design really well.
Vegetable tanned leather – Yes! I actually sent an email to the company’s customer service once I got home with the shoes to get the full details since I couldn’t find the pair anywhere online. And yes, the leather is vegetable-tanned, though I had no way of knowing this in-store.
Stitched insole + Leather sole – Yes! These shoes are sewn, rather than having the pieces of the shoe glued together. This means more durability and less toxic glues for the makers. It also means very durable construction, and the leather sole lends itself to infinite repairability.
Conflict Mineral Free Hardware – Not sure. I did not ask this question and actually I’m not sure how many brands could answer this. So for now, this remains unanswered.
Comfortable – Yes! I’m not sure how or why, but these just feel great on my feet and I knew it instantly.

A little something extra:

Made in Italy – While this is a historical British brand (who knew that Northampton has a tradition of shoemaking?), the customer service representative confirmed that the brand makes all of their women’s shoes in Italy (the men’s shoes are still made in England). Ok, it would have been cool if they had been made in this historic town known for shoemaking, but Italy has some higher standards than other countries, and they have a tradition of making leather products that count on highly skilled labor.

And with that, I promise not to talk about shoes again for a really long time.

If you’re feeling lucky, tell the Internet what you really really want in the comments section and maybe your dream _____ will find you too.

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