My Closet: The Striped Tote + Paris By Foot

This I Wear | The Striped Tote + Paris By Foot
It’s August. Everyone has travel on the mind. A real vacation is not in the cards for me this year, but I am thinking about journeys lately. And this reminded me of a trip to Paris with my mom to visit my sister during an internship in Paris.

In America, so many of our cities are experienced by car. But in Paris, as in many European cities, the best way to get around is by foot: you walk, you eat some pastries, you walk more, you marvel over old churches and unexpected cobblestone streets, you walk a little more, and then you eat more fromage.

Neighborhoods change, people change, and atmospheres change as you walk. It is a journey in itself to experience the city by foot.

And it was my sister’s journey to Paris, one that she had dreamed of for so long, that I was most intrigued to see. I had heard stories of her suddenly being interested in salsa dancing late into the night and drinking wine by the river. Was this really my little sister!? But of course a foreign country and a city full of life is the perfect place to experience different sides of ourselves and different legs of our own journeys.

On one such meandering walk, my mom, sister and I stumbled upon a beautiful shop filled with stripes. Though stripes are easily associated with the French (the infamous sailor shirt!), these were more colorful and from the Catalan region of France. Inside, the variations were overwhelming. Colors that I never would have joined together suddenly had me questioning everything I believed about color. It was beautiful and overwhelming. I couldn’t leave without something, so I settled on a simple striped canvas tote. I had no idea that I would still be carrying it nearly everyday in the two years since the trip.

When we carry something so frequently, it takes on new meanings. My friend Carmen was delighted that the company’s name (Artiga) was so similar to her own last name. I often think of my favorite blogger oh joy! when I see it, because I know she loves a good stripe too.

But, at the end of the day, it is still the bag that was part of my journey with my mom and sister in a new place and a chance to be a part of my sister’s experience, one that I knew was so important to her. And I’m glad that despite all the wear and tear this bag has experienced, it’s still on its journey with me too.

P.S. I cannot find the name of the shop in Paris. But if you’re in NYC and interested in these famous fabrics, try Les Toiles du Soleil for the real deal fabric woven in France from a 150-year old company!

Do Your Best Now, Then Do Better

This I Wear | Do Best Now, Then Do Better

I’ve been thinking about the words above since designer SwissMiss shared the quote on her blog recently.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

So often, we are overwhelmed by decision making: too many (or too few) choices, too many priorities to balance,  and feeling like we have to have ALL possible information before we decide. But sometimes putting off a decision is not an option. Sometimes we have to make a choice now, even when the perfect choice hasn’t yet been discovered (or doesn’t yet exist).

This applies to so much in our lives. It applies here to helping us decide how to apply our values to what we wear each day. It applies to the trial and error that I’ve gone through to create and grow this site. And it definitely applies to all the big life decisions I’ve been making lately. I’m sure you can come up with a few more situations too.

And when it comes to deciding how we shop, I hope we’ll go easy on ourselves. Don’t take the easy road (i.e. another $10 dress that will fall apart after one wash), but don’t go naked just because your wardrobe isn’t up to your standards and values just yet. Yep, I said naked.

Shop with intention. Ask questions. Find and take care of things you love.

And as you and I both learn more, we can do better by the people and environment impacted by the clothes we wear and the lives we lead. And I promise to post more too!

P.S. The skydiving photo was from a friend’s birthday jump almost exactly a year ago today. Here’s to living fully. Happy early birthday, Molly O!

If You Need It: A great bathing suit

This I Wear | Eco-Friendly Swimwear from Faherty Brand

The more that I tell stories of clothes here, the more I get asked the simple question of “where should I be shopping?” And unfortunately, there’s no single perfect source for everything we need that just happens to be ethically produced. Right now, the best place to shop for something ethically made is where you can find it.

So I’ve started little challenges for myself, as if I’m training for the marathon (the marathon of helping all of you find the responsibly produced stylish versions of everything you need). So when I think of an item I’d want, I see if I can source it ethically with as much style and quality as I’d demand of any purchase I’d ever make.

In honor of July 4th, today’s challenge is the swimsuit. Google “eco-friendly swimwear” and you will find a whole lotta ugly. Like a lot. But ask your Twitter followers after a fruitless full hour of googling, and you’ll get Faherty Brand (Thanks, Hattie!).

Faherty Brand, founded by a savvy pair of twin brothers, is a recently-launched swimwear line for men and women. The line predominately uses recycled polyester fabric, one that they’ve worked hard to create, so that it dries fast, retains its shape, and uses less resources like water and energy in fabric production. And well, the swimwear happens to be super flattering too.

If you’re curious, the swimwear is made in Taiwan, and they’ve shared a peek into their suppliers, though no information about their practices. But the brand also carries scarves created in partnership with Fair Trade social enterprise, Mercado Global, which works with women artisans in Guatemala (and I happen to be a huge fan!). I’m curious to learn more.

So, if you need it, find a great bikini (or some swim trunks) from Faherty Brand.

What are you searching for but can’t find ethically produced? Email me your challenges and I might tackle it in a future post.

[Images via FahertyBrand.com]

A Summer of Fashionable Reading

This I Wear | A Summer of Fashionable Reading
Vacation booked? Check. Bathing suit? Check. Beach reads? Well, these sort of work for whatever your plans are – whether it’s a poolside lounge chair or a park bench. I take summer reading pretty seriously, and just in case you do too, I thought I’d share my picks.

Below are a few I’ve read (and there’s more here) and a few I hope to read, all focused on various aspects of style and sustainability. I hope you’ll share your recommendations too.

What I’ve Read
DV by Diana Vreeland – The autobiography of an eccentric woman who made a big impact on the fashion industry, eventually running Vogue magazine. Best part: great one-liners from a woman who saw it all and knew everyone.

The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli – This book traces a t-shirt from its origins on a cotton farm to all the possibilities of where it could end up. My favorite chapter is on the secondhand clothing trade in Africa. If you can’t travel this summer, at least you can hear the adventures your clothing has had and will have!

What I’m Reading
You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You by Dr. Jennifer Baumgauter – A psychologist’s take on what your closet says about you. Totally at the top of my list, and I can’t tell if it’s because I’m being nosy about other people’s clothing hang-ups or because I’m looking to self-diagnose.

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finley – A little history lesson on where our colors come from, whether in our paintings or dyed in the fabrics we wear. This one seems to be the perfect mix of science, history and storytelling.

The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance by William McDonough and Michael Braungart – Calling all design thinking geeks, environmentalists, and people who think most things could be done better, this book by the authors of Crade to Cradle wonders, what if the things we made didn’t just avoid harming our world, but in fact, improved it? Cue mind explosion. I’m psyched and ready for the challenge.

And just in case the gents were feeling left out, my resident menswear guru recommends checking out F**k Yeah Menswear, which may be best read when you need a good laugh or when you catch yourself buying one too many brands your grandfather would’ve worn or another pair of pants with a menagerie of animals embroidered on them.

Happy reading!

My Closet: “Twirly” Skirts + Being a Grownup

This I Wear | Twirly Skirts + Being a Grownup
Being an adult is rough: making big decisions that you always imagined you could make “later”, being responsible for yourself (and sometimes others), and generally just trying to find a balance between work and fun. Not. Easy.

But flash way way back to childhood (but not middle school, because no one had a good time during that). I’m thinking kindergarten graduations, family gatherings, eating tons of sugar, kiddie pools, and being totally uncensored.

My favorite thing to wear during my early childhood was something I called “twirly skirts,” simple circle skirts in corduroy with iron-on decals, like cherries, that my mom let me pick out. My mom made a lot of clothing for me growing up – some that I wore, some that I didn’t – but with one simple pattern, she made me a handful of these skirts, possibly to appease me as I refused to wear pants, which I then considered to be universally “ugly.”

The best part of these skirts? When you spun around, the skirts would spin up like a ballerina’s tutu (or somewhat reminiscent of the whirling dervishes, but I wasn’t aiming for that). I only remember how fun they were to wear, but I wonder if my mom was chasing me around telling me to stop flashing everyone. But that’s just it! You’re totally uncensored at age four or five. You don’t care as long as you’re having fun.

Flash forward to 2011. I was in a Forever21 for some unknown reason, and I bought this bright coral pleated mini-skirt that instantly took me back to the good old days. I don’t twirl publicly in it, and in fact I’m usually sweating in it, because it’s polyester (just one more reason not to shop at Forever21). But I love it. It reminds me of playgrounds, dancing in family home movies, and appreciating simple things.

Do I wish it didn’t come from Forever21? Yes, but I bought it, and I’m taking responsibility for that with no intention of tossing it out anytime soon.

Being an adult is serious. But playing with your personal style should be fun. Whether it’s a flashback to who you were or dressing as who you want to become, our clothes tell the story of where we’ve been and where we’re going. And luckily, we can pick and choose the stories we want to tell.

What was your favorite thing to wear when you were a kid? Comment or tweet @ThisIWear to share what clothes you lived in when you were little.

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