Compression

This I Wear | The White Shirt

Last week, I had a very interesting experience in the form of a reading, which I can’t quite explain. And no, I’m not talking about books. It wasn’t astrology and she’s not a psychic, but it was a really powerful experience, despite the fact that I am, in general, a very skeptical person.

I won’t go into too much detail since I’m not really sure how much of it to take to heart nor do I want you to think I’m one of those people who goes around looking for these sorts of things. But one of my favorite parts of the reading was when she told me that I’m in a period of compression – like a seed that will eventually bloom (what’s not to love?). And because I’m in this time of compressing, it’s the perfect time to shed the things that aren’t working for me anymore – negative thoughts, relationships that have run their course, and things in my closet.

Little did she know that I’m already living quite the minimal life, but it was a great reminder to not hold on too tight to things that aren’t working, but instead to loosen my grip and see where things go.

This week, I’m compressing my computer. It’s been on the fritz for a little while, so after I back it up in just a few more places for safety, it’s getting a fresh start.

Before I head offline and clean up this tech, I thought I’d share a little inspiration along the same topic of compression and the search for simplicity.

One of my favorite things on Pinterest is the search for timeless style (in fact, I have a whole board devoted to it!). I love looking for style inspiration, but I also always ask myself when I see an outfit I love if I think I’d still love it in a year, in two years, etc. It’s good practice for continuing my search for my own style and for improving my own abilities to see past trends and focus on the classics.

And one theme I find myself constantly being drawn to? A great button-down shirt. Whether you roll up the sleeves or tie the ends in a knot, there are endless ways to style a button down. And one in a crispy white will never go out of style.

What wardrobe staples make up timeless style for you?

Photos via Pinterest: one, two, three

My Closet: Summer Shoes + Saving Up for Fashion

This I Wear | Summer Shoes + Saving Up For Fashion

Vanessa Friedman is the new fashion critic at the New York Times. This spring, she spoke at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, and she declared that sustainable fashion is an oxymoron. Instead, she said, we should talk about the sustainable wardrobe.

She gave the example of her grandmother, who worked hard to save up for the precious clothes she had and then took great care in making the clothes last as long as possible.

This was slow fashion. It was careful conscious investments over time. Now, we all think we must all have everything we want immediately at our fingertips (or at least at our doorstep through overnight expedited shipping).

But what if we changed this sense of time?

Recently, I was tempted to buy an expensive pair of shoes (not surprising given last week’s post), but I couldn’t bear the thought of actually paying that much money for a pair of shoes. Then, a close friend asked me if I’d work a catering gig for her growing business, and she would even pay me.

Suddenly I started to think a different way: what if I could buy the shoes as long as I saved up for them? The money for me was outside of my budget, which is based on what I earn from my 9-5 job. The additional perks were, of course, that the longer, slower process would give me time to make sure I really wanted the shoes, and the hard work of earning them would make me take that much more care once I owned them.

We all have different limits of how much we are willing and able to spend on our wardrobes. Sometimes, for reasons out of our control, we need whatever is fast and easy, which sometimes means cheap and often means imperfect. But how can we make those instances the exception rather than the norm? What if each piece in our wardrobe had a slow lead time to when we actually swipe our cards and take our prize home? Would we buy less? Would we buy better?

After all of the hard work and with money in hand, I decided I still could not spend that much on a pair of shoes. Instead, I opted for a beautiful pair of flats that were still an investment but half the price of the original pair. It was not fast, easy, or cheap. It did not solve all of my wardrobe problems. But slowly, I’m investing through thoughtful purchases. And hopefully that brings me a little closer to a sustainable wardrobe.

Watch Vanessa Friedman’s talk here.

Do you think “Sustainable Fashion” is an oxymoron? What word or phrase would you use instead? I’ve got a glossary of terms in the works, so please share if you’d got a favorite phrase or one that needs more clarity.

The Ideal…Sandal

This I Wear | The Ideal Sandal
Summertime should be spent out on the beach or eating popsicles on your stoop. But I have a confession that I’ve been very distracted lately by my search for the perfect summer sandal. In fact, I admittedly have spent an excessive amount of time online and in real life looking for a new pair of sandals, mostly out of fear that my favorite pair is going to break beyond repair any day now.

The silly thing about it is that I’m not being indecisive. It’s just that I know exactly what I want.

So the lightbulb came on that maybe if I told the Internet what I wanted, it might miraculously find me. It also occurred to me that this might also be a helpful visual guide for you if you’re curious about what qualities to keep in mind when shopping for a well-made, ethically produced shoe.

I’m not a shoemaker, so I’m not 100% certain that all of these fantastic qualities can exist in a single sandal. But I’ve done a little homework and I think this is a great place to start. But I’d also like to know: what ideal qualities would you look for in the perfect shoe?

P.S. If you want more details, you should read what happens to be my most popular post of all-time, How to Invest in Your Shoes Like A Pro.

A million thanks to the very talented Mike Brown (@mchlbrwn) for the beautiful illustration!

 

Summer Reads

This I Wear | Summer Reading 2014

I did very little reading this spring. I made it about halfway through The Goldfinch and then desperately wanted to stop only because I was afraid of how it might end. But since I’m not a quitter, I just “took a break”, which meant I wouldn’t let myself move on to a new book. I finally did break the self-imposed curse with The River of Doubt, following the stories of Teddy Roosevelt’s reckless adventure in the Amazon. I have just 50 pages left, and I am itching to get back to some reading on my favorite subject (the fashion industry) just in time for one of my favorite traditions of all time (summer reading).

My latest summer reads are below, and don’t forget to check out last year’s reading list here. On the other hand, if reading isn’t your thing, I suggest picking up an adorable bathing suit and some flip flops and heading outside – just don’t forget the sunscreen.

What’s On My Reading List

Fashion and Sustainability: Design for Change by Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose – This book has been calling my name for months as it has sat unread near my desk at work. Kate Fletcher is a London-based professor, the founder of one of the coolest fashion storytelling projects ever (Local Wisdom), and possibly one of the people I’d most like to meet in the world. Lynda Grose is a California-based professor who has amazing insight into where sustainability and fashion exist now and where they could go. Together, they’ve made a book that covers everything you’d want to know about how to get creative in bringing sustainability to fashion products, systems and design. I’ve been intimidated because it looks like a (skinny) textbook, but it’s time for it to move to the top of my list!

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard – This is Chouinard’s first book about his work in founding Patagonia. If you’re at all interested in entrepreneurship or how businesses can do good by people and the environment, I’m told it’s a must read.

The Third Plate by Dan Barber – After reading an interview with Chef Dan Barber on my favorite food blog, Food52, I immediately added this book on how to make what we put on our plate reflect “where good farming and good food intersect” to my list. It’s supposedly a little bit world food history, a little bit farming, and a lot about finding out how to make and eat delicious food.

Wish me luck! We’ll see if I finish these by the end of the season. In the meantime, what’s on your reading list?

P.S. A huge shout-out to the many of you who recommended Goodreads to me as a way to track my reading. I’m loving it! (Find me here!)

Finding Quiet: Style + Craft

This I Wear | Finding Quiet: Style + Craft

I understand that this is not objectively scandalous, but I have never felt more rebellious than when I recently turned off my phone for approximately 10 hours and said no to noise and distraction. It feels important to note that I was not flying in an airplane but just hanging out.

Of course, I made sure to let certain important parties know that I would be unavailable so they didn’t assume the worst. Once these precautions were taken, I felt liberated…and a little uncomfortable. That moment when I see something I want to remember? Oh well, Instagram is inaccessible. The moment where I think of something I should Google? Not possible. Suddenly, the world was quieter and my mind was clearer. And though I was hyper-aware that my phone was off, I did not want to turn it back on at the end of the day.

Strangely, I feel a similar sense of quiet liberation as I’ve attempted sewing. Around the time that I started this blog two years ago, I started my first quilt – machine sewn patchwork but with the intention of hand quilting. I’m not a maker or an artist or a professional crafter, so this unfamiliar experience surprised me with an awareness of a more peaceful mind and a feeling of doing something almost counter-cultural, i.e. sitting still. I’ve recently started the hand quilting process (the project collected a little dust I’ll admit), and it’s been so incredibly enjoyable.

The craft of quilting itself encourages this type of peace. Through quilting, I’ve been able to engage in an extraordinary craft passed down through generations that both encourages thoughtful quiet moments when alone and connects and builds community when shared together. I didn’t know when I started that the added benefits would be an almost meditative state as I move the needle in and out of the fabric and the sudden empowerment that comes with knowing that I can make something out of seemingly nothing.

These two examples – turning off my cell phone and making things with my hands – might seem unrelated. But they both take me to a quieter world where it isn’t so hard to fight off distraction. And believe it or not, it’s not unrelated to our style either.

Once I became interested in quilting, I discovered that there are some amazing young people continuing the tradition too. One of my favorite people to follow is Maura Ambrose of Folk Fibers. Maura is a full-time quilter based in Austin. She uses natural dyes on all of her fabrics and then creates beautiful traditional quilts by hand. (Her recent feature on design*sponge made me all the more interested in her work.)

Her personal style too is as inspiring as her craft. Few people wear denim as well, and what I love about her style is that it seems so effortless and simple. She’s not trying too hard. Like her quilts, her style has no distracting details but lets herself shine through.

Maura is a great example of simplicity and quiet through her style and her work, and I admire her so much because the idea of quiet and focus in our daily lives, in the things we do for fun (or imagine, what we do for work), and in our style still feels revolutionary. It feels rebellious and empowering. It also feels joyful, as if the quiet leaves more space for happiness to flow in.

I’m thinking more and more about how to treat myself to the luxury of focus and distraction-free time in every aspect of my life, and I’m seeing it reflected in the things I want to spend my time doing and the people whose style I admire. I’m curious if you’re looking for this too, and even more curious if you’ve found quiet and its many benefits in an unexpected part of your life. What are you doing to remove distractions in your life?

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