Tagged: bottoms

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?

If You Need It: Organic Unmentionables

This I Wear | Organic Unmentionables

Photos via (left) PACT and (right) Hanky Panky. See below for links!

Yes, I said unmentionables. You were not expecting me to set you straight on what you’re wearing underneath your clothes today. But what better way to start building a sustainable wardrobe than stripping down to the basics?

A few weeks ago, I discovered that Hanky Panky, my favorite brand of pricey and in-demand women’s intimates, was now producing a “Cotton with a Conscience” line. And since this organic line is sold at the same price point as their conventional cotton line, this was one easy switch! I already knew that unlike the Gap Body intimates I’ve been buying for years, Hanky Panky’s pairs will last forever, which is both impressive and totally justifies the cost. So not only are these skivvies made to last, but they’re newly organic, incredibly comfortable, and, as always, made in America. It’s a great step forward for the company, and I hope they’ll share more about this conversion with their customers soon!

There are also quite a few options for the gents: PACT’s fair trade organic cotton boxer briefs win the day for style, but Pants to Poverty’s options are a close second. Both brands have women’s lines too.

As long as we’re getting down to the basics, we should also answer the very basic but often misunderstood question of why we should choose organic clothing. The argument for organic food is straightforward enough: when we spray pesticides on the food we grow, those chemicals enter our bodies when we eat conventionally-produced food. Eating organic food means keeping those pesticides out of our bodies.

The argument for organic fiber gets messier, but we can keep it simple. It is often debated, but at this point fairly accepted, that when we wear conventional fibers, pesticides are not seeping into our bodies through our skin. However, our health as well as the health of the farming communities, the environment, and wildlife can be directly impacted by pesticides that enter our air, water, and even our food. When we use pesticides, we introduce them to our ecosystems. From there, according to all laws of nature, they don’t just disappear – they have to go somewhere. Unfortunately, that “somewhere” can still be in our communities, since the US is the third largest cotton producing country in the world, and conventional cotton requires more insecticides than any other crop (read more here). And just when you thought you weren’t eating this conventional cotton, the truth is that cotton by-products do find their way into our diets from the cottonseed fed to cattle to the cottonseed oil used in processed foods. So at the end of the day, choosing organic cotton and other organic fibers means we’re taking a big step to keep ourselves and our communities pesticide-free, so we can all be a whole lot safer.

There are many more reasons to advocate for organic fiber, but we’ll keep it basic like our skivvies today. In the meantime, if you want more, read up on how PACT does a whole lot more than just use organic cotton and then check out TextileExchange’s quick fact sheet on organic cotton. And if you have a great organic cotton resource, I hope you’ll share.

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.

My Closet: The Emerald Skirt + Infinite Alterations

This I Wear | The Emerald Skirt + Infinite Alterations

When I was really little, my favorite color was supposedly pink. As my grandmother will tell you repeatedly, I was sort of aggressive about it, insisting that my cherub-faced little sister had to like blue as pink was off-limits. I have no idea when the transition occurred, but I remember loving blue as a kid, sticking with the cool hue for nearly everything I owned. But as of a few years ago, I subconsciously made the switch from blue to green. And I don’t just like green; I love green. Say what you will that I’ve been brainwashed by Pantone’s “Color of the Year” (Emerald for 2013) and Meryl Streep’s rant on cerulean in The Devil Wears Prada about how colors trickle down from a small group of industry leaders, but I think my choice to love green was my own.

In my green collection, I have an emerald-hued skirt, bought some unknown number of years ago for its gorgeous color, lightweight textured wool fabric, and quality construction. But as much as I loved the skirt, it didn’t quite suit me at first. The original longer length overwhelmed my petite stature; so after a few attempts at pulling it off as a knee-length skirt, I enlisted my personal seamstress, my mom, to chop a few inches off the bottom. Perfection…until I lost a little weight. Another visit home included some strategic re-positioning of buttons to take in the waist. Again, perfect…until I lost a few more pounds. But this time, I was already at home, having relocated closer to my family. So a short afternoon with my mom, and the skirt’s fit was perfect again (along with that of many other garments as well).

This skirt is perhaps my wardrobe’s best example of a piece evolving with me. It’s been through as many changes as I have; each new “alteration” was a trial-and-error process to find the “perfect” fit, only to realize that my needs and wants will always be evolving and so “perfect” is never permanent. Instead, the goal was to figure out how to make my clothes, and specifically this skirt, meet me where I was at that moment in my life, in my weight, and in my taste.

Right now, the skirt hugs in all the right places and draws me in with its vibrant color. But perhaps my favorite color will change again, or perhaps my body or style will first. At that point, I’ll be sad that I am no longer a short drive away from my mom or the rest of my family who have helped me in each of my life’s “alterations.” Instead, the skirt might be hemmed or re-sized by someone new, or maybe I’ll boldly take a stab at tailoring my own clothes. But one thing is for sure, this skirt isn’t done evolving, and I’m not done either. And as long as I don’t forget to remember how me (or this skirt) reached this moment today or that change is just part of the process, I think we’ll both be just fine.

Do you have a piece you’ve altered or changed many times? Comment below or tweet a photo to @ThisIWear #InfiniteAlterations to share your piece’s story.

My Closet: New Jeans + Old Ways

New Jeans + Old Mistakes | This I Wear

I had already been living out of a suitcase for weeks. I returned from India to a suitcase of nice clothes, having put the rest of my wardrobe into storage before the two month-long trip. But because I had no idea what I would be doing upon return, the suitcase contents (54 pieces including workout clothes, pajamas, and other items not to be worn out but not including shoes, accessories, or under things) were proving insufficient.

I have lived out a suitcase many times in my life. Most recently, when I was moving from New York to New Orleans, I lived solely out of a suitcase for two months while still working full-time in an image-conscious city. I know how to be resourceful, and I know how to live minimally. But what I am still struggling with is how to live with discomfort.

That discomfort and sense of uncertainty led to a moment of desperation in a (fancy) strip mall in Mandeville, LA, where I purchased this pair of stretch denim jeans from a chain store that I haven’t shopped at in years. I had only one reliable pair of pants in my suitcase: a pair of fantastic 100% cotton jeans whose days have been numbered for a while. Not wanting to risk not having a pair of pants one day, I knew I had to find a backup pair fast. Denim is something I just can’t shop online for, especially when legging jeans are constantly out to trick us into buying them, so my options were limited. My mom graciously bought these jeans for me, almost certainly out of sympathy for the sob story of how uncomfortable it is to be in a state of life limbo that requires living out a suitcase.

I have worn these jeans once so far, and while I plan to wear them again in future, I’m not really sure how I feel about them. Just as clothing can take on wonderful memories of experiences, places and people, they can bring us back to moments of weakness, sadness, regret and all those other negative memories too: the dress you wore to a funeral, the bracelet you were wearing during the epic fight with your best friend, or the sweater that was a gift from an ex. In this instance, these jeans remind me of the time where I didn’t go with my gut and hold out to buy something that would I would love and that would make me feel at my best. They remind me of getting emotional in a Banana Republic dressing room as my mom tried to console me by telling me I looked great. And they remind me of why I write and believe in this blog in the first place.

The things we own and wear can have such a powerful influence over us. They become part of us and the moments in our lives if we let them. Often they even become external manifestations of how we’re feeling on the inside. And just as every person has flaws, our closets have flaws too. In this season of gratitude and giving and as we get ready to start a new year, my hope is that all of us, myself included, will be grateful for our own (and our closet’s or our suitcase’s) imperfections, knowing that without them, we wouldn’t have the chance to grow.

Do you have an item you wear (or don’t wear) that reminds you of a mistake or a bad experience? Have you kept the item? And if so, why? Share your stories by commenting below or tweeting @ThisIWear.

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