Tagged: reading

New Reads for Summer

This I Wear | Summer Reads 2015

Last summer, I set my expectations too high. I planned to read three books but only succeeded in reading one of them. Dan Barber’s Third Plate was too big to carry in my bag during my commute, so I gave up. Fashion and Sustainability read too much like a textbook, and I lost interest. But I successfully read Let My People Go Surfing and luckily that one was fantastic and a very easy read.

Despite a small sense of failure on my reading last summer, Summer Reading remains my favorite hot weather tradition. This year, I’m making failure impossible and recommending a book I’m already nearing the end of and one that everyone but me may have read already.

Women In Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton
This is not the book you throw in your bag for some subway-commuter reading because there’s a lot of pages.. Yet it is such a delightful read that you will find yourself stealing away small moments just to read a few pages. In fact, I read the majority of it so voraciously that when I realized I was nearing the end, I made myself slow down to make it last longer. The book itself is the result of surveys to hundreds of real women plus interviews, photo stories and random encounters, all on one topic: women and their relationship with clothes. It is a storytelling masterpiece in many small snippets and bits, and if you like my blog, you will LOVE this collection of stories.

What’s truly wonderful about the book is that it’s impossible not to identify with at least some of the women, which also makes it easy to laugh when an interview subject says something that hits truly close to home. The book is also not about sustainability or minimalism, yet the topics come up in beautifully surprising ways from stories of trying to develop a personal uniform, learning about where clothes come from, understanding quality, and our emotional connection to clothes. I think I may in fact give this book to every woman in my life this coming Christmas, because there is something about it that so deeply expresses how clothing and fashion relate to how we view ourselves as women across many different cultures, ages, and orientations. Did I mention that I love it?

And if you read it and want to take the survey yourself, it’s still accessible by clicking here.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Perhaps all of you have read this book already, but I have been holding out for the sole reason of hoping a friend would let me borrow her copy, since I knew people were buying it in droves. I happen to love organizing, and I’m asked repeatedly if I would consider doing it professionally (not at this time, but I’d love to work with you on a one-time project – email me!). But there is always something new to learn and from what I’ve heard, Marie’s process of helping people find joy in what they do keep seems totally refreshing and inspiring. I think I also have a fear that she is advising everyone to throw things in the trash as I’ve been reading news stories of the sheer volume of now-orphaned “stuff” as a result of this book. I’m also very curious if she has tips for people on how to avoid buying more things once they’ve tossed everything out, since that is important too.

So those are the two books I’ve got lined up for the summer. I hope you’ll share your recommendations in the Comments, especially for some light summery fiction (nothing too intense please!), since I’m almost always in the non-fiction section. Happy reading!

Ayurveda: Seeking Balance and Beauty

This I Wear | Ayurveda: Seeking Balance and Beauty

Balance may be a myth, but the stress we’re putting on our bodies is real.

Last year, I shared the beginning of my switch to natural beauty products with you. The switch was motivated by a desire to incorporate my values around sustainability and health into what I put on my skin. Yet it also coincided with my own search to find new daily self-care rituals for myself, especially at the end of a long workday. And that latter part is because I’ve realized that I have been putting myself under so much stress, that the stress is starting to show up as very real physical health issues.

From the unusual pain in my neck that I’ve had since last August to the feeling of being unable to go any further as I’m rushing the six blocks to the subway in the morning, my health issues have been seemingly inexplicable. My doctor tells me I’m perfectly healthy. And admittedly, every time I go to a doctor and tell her what’s wrong, I follow up any description of the problem with “but I think it is just stress related.”

Well, at this point, most choices I’m making about how I live my life are “stress related.”

Before doing a total life overall, I’ve started to get curious about what balance means for me right now.

Ayurveda, an ancient system of healing founded in India, offers a totally different perspective on balance. Ayurveda is about “learning how intimately your body and mind are connected, knowing what will make them work in harmony, and doing what you can to create that harmony.”* It sees balance not as an end goal – you cannot achieve it once and then always have it – but instead as a constant process of listening to our bodies and responding to its needs through the activities we choose to do, the food we choose to eat, and the lifestyle we choose to lead. Balance, in Ayurveda, looks different for each one of us and differs based on our age, the season and even the time of day.

Inspired and intrigued by this different perspective on balance, I tumbled down the Ayurveda rabbit hole. Here’s why I think I might stay for awhile.

After a few initial attempts to learn about Ayurveda (a dense confusing book and a few online dosha quizzes), I serendipitously ended up in class at the yoga studio I attend occasionally with the resident Ayurveda teacher who had just returned from India. Taking it as a sign but too intimidated by my total ignorance to ask her where to start, I picked up the book Essential Ayurveda by Shubhra Krishnan in the studio’s lobby, assuming that the teacher had likely picked out this book anyway. And lucky for me, it was the perfect introductory book and was such a good read that I almost missed my train stop on multiple occasions.

Since Ayurveda is a holistic healing system that relies on whole foods as “medicine,” the focus is truly on what we are putting into our bodies as nourishment, which obviously reflects in our outer beauty. When we’re functioning well on the inside, the outside glow is a natural side effect. But there are quite a lot of Ayurvedic daily “beauty” rituals – just consider oil pulling or dry skin brushing. My curiosity around how Ayurveda translates to skincare led me to Pratima Spa and Skincare, based in NYC.

As a birthday treat for myself, I tried the Ayurvedic facial, and my amazing esthetician Heidi (after I admitted I was intimidated by the products) walked me through where to start. I’ve been using the Pitta face oil twice daily after cleansing and before I add a little moisturizer on top. I’ve also been massaging post-shower with the Vata body oil, which is really lovely. If I had based my purchase on scent alone, I wouldn’t have picked these, but given how happy my skin is, I plan to stick with both. If you’re curious, you can pick up Pratima’s book Absolute Beauty (though I don’t recommend it as an introductory book) and take her dosha skincare quiz to find your dosha type and the right products for you.

And after all of this, I am still so hungry for more knowledge. It’s been really interesting also to see how it fits in with my regular yoga practice and (mostly) healthful diet.

So what does balance look like for me right now? Well, it looks like 10 minutes with the Headspace meditation app while I ride the train to work, going to bed earlier than I would like (old habits die hard!), and letting myself get up from my desk and take a break without feeling guilty for not looking busy. It looks like really luxurious evening rituals like a steamy shower followed by thoughtfully applying body oil to soothe the aches and pains. It looks like reaching for a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea instead of a caffeinated beverage. And it also looks like experimenting with new and delicious recipes that warm me from the inside out.

And most of all, it means acknowledging that only I know what my body feels like when it is in balance, and trusting my gut (rather than a perfectly normal blood test) when it says that it’s time to make some changes. Balance is not achieved in one day, but then again, it didn’t take just one day to reach this state of imbalance. But a very good place to start the healing process is simply to redefine our idea of balance to allow for constant change and even imperfection.

So tell me, what rituals keep you in balance? What are your best tips for letting go of stress?

*Krishnan, xvi.

Goodbye Summer

This I Wear | Goodbye SummerPerhaps you know it’s Fall when your latest Vogue looks like they cut down an entire forest to print it, you’ve run out of vacation days, or just because you are finally ready to retire your jean shorts for the year.

Well, I know it’s Fall because my blog vacation has come to an end. It was such a lovely break for me, so thanks for hanging tight. As you can see above, my trip to Glacier National Park in Montana with Climate Ride was pretty epic. I’ve heard that they are going to host another hike next year, so if you’re interested in hiking, meeting other environmental enthusiasts, and fundraising for amazing environmental nonprofits, you can let them know by filling out this form! I imagine the next trip will fill up as soon as it is announced.

Coming back online has been slow, but I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. I am also looking forward to trading my jean shorts and hiking gear for some cozy sweaters and coats. And since I’m in San Francisco for work this week and it is cold and grey, Fall does feel within reach!

While I was away, I kept up with my reading and I have to say that there were a lot of hardworking folks this summer, creating some amazing stuff. Here’s a few:

– I just purchased and downloaded Into Mind’s Personal Style & Perfect Wardrobe Guide. I cannot wait to work through this book as I’ve been loving Anuschka’s minimalist take on wardrobing via her Berlin-based blog for the last few months. Let me know if you’ve tried it yet or if you’ll be working through it with me!

– I still have a lot to learn about leather and this interview with the Horween Leather family on the Distance was really informative. A few really great tidbits on quality and how the leather industry works.

– If after reading the Horween article, you are craving more “heritage” brand stories, Alabama Chanin’s look into the history of the Scottish cooperative, Harris Tweed, is so good and perfect if you can’t get enough of textiles.

– Last week was an amazing week for books about women (and men) and the stories behind their clothes. Not one but TWO books – “Worn Stories” and “Women in Clothes” are now out. Read a review of both books here.

– On September 21, thousands of people will march in NYC to demand an international climate change treaty as the UN convenes to discuss the issue. I’ll be there and would love for you to join me! More info here.

Looking forward to catching up with all of you soon!

P.S. What’s on your Fall shopping list? I’ll be doing a few “if you need it” posts and would love to do a little shopping research for you. Tweet @thisiwear or email me with what you’re looking for.

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!)

Stories While Away

This I Wear | Stories While Away

If the media keeps telling us that our attention spans are getting shorter, it is certainly not paying attention to all the people who are telling stories just as well as your grandpa ever did way before the internet existed. As I’m off this week for a craft beer- and hiking-filled vacation in the Great Northwest (Portland!), I thought I’d turn over storytelling duties to others who are doing it pretty damn well.

Here are some stories I’m really enjoying:

01. The Alabama Chanin Journal is a treasure trove of stories of the artists, makers, and community that inspire Natalie and her team. It would be an understatement to say that Natalie herself is just a thought leader in sustainable fashion as she is truly a role model of how to put sustainability (and people) first in the making of things in the modern world. Read on for their latest journal series on personal heirlooms as they invite family and friends to share the things they hold dear.

02. Online ethical fashion retailer Zady only began in 2013, but it has already become a go-to source for beautifully designed and ethically made clothing and accessories for men and women. But as much as I’ve admired their product offerings, it wasn’t until I recently met co-founder Maxine that I really started to understand the care in which they select the products they carry and the disruption they hope to create in the fashion industry. In addition to giving us a great place to shop, their “Features” section is filled with great articles, including this recent article on the history of fabric dye.

03. New Zealander Emma Vitz writes about her adventures in conscious consumerism on her blog, This Kind Choice. I’m in love with the honesty and thoughtfulness of her writing, and I identify so much with her struggles to build a wardrobe that feels true to herself and her values. A favorite post for me is her own story of connecting with her clothes, so I was really excited to contribute to the series with one of my own stories too. She wants to hear your story too, so please reach out to her if you’d like to share your story.

I hope you all enjoy these stories, and hopefully I will come back from Portland with my own to tell. See you then!

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