Tagged: travel

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!

My Closet: The Liberty of London Scarf

This I Wear | My Closet: Liberty Scarf + My Mom

The year is 2000. I am in London on my first international trip with my whole family during my eighth grade spring break. I got my braces off in time for my passport photo and online shopping wasn’t what it is today, so my sister and I are feeling pretty cool as we shop UK-exclusive stores our friends will envy (well, once they find out they exist).

As this was in my pre-itinerary-making days, I just showed up where I was told to go. And my mom had an ambitious itinerary for us. She hadn’t traveled much internationally, and she seemed to be on a mission to see everything. This turned out to include churches, castles, museums, hot tickets to a performance of “CATS”, and most importantly, the iconic department store, Liberty of London.

I had no idea what Liberty of London was at the time. Since my mom is a quilter, she wanted her trip souvenir to be a few pieces of Liberty’s famous print fabrics for her next quilt project. Naturally, I thought that meant it would be a pretty boring shopping experience since my impression of quilting was that it was not so cool (though I have since changed this opinion!). But as soon as I saw the Tudor-style façade and stepped into the perfect world of unexpected and quirky design inside, I knew my mom was on to something. And sure enough, I became obsessed.

For so long, it was impossible to get Liberty prints stateside, so any sort of Liberty find was met with true teenage girl levels of enthusiasm. Now, the prints are ubiquitous; Collaborations with everyone from Target to J.Crew to Nike means the masses are wearing Liberty of London, and it’s likely they have no idea what kind of history they’re wearing. In fact, Liberty has been around since the 1880s and has been selling its iconic prints since then, typically on the lightest, finest cotton fabric I’ve ever felt, which is their signature Tana Lawn.

But while every hipster might be wearing these florals today, my mom was digging these prints back when most of those kids weren’t even born. So for me, Liberty has become inextricably linked with my mom. And when I scored this silk Liberty scarf in New York City of all places, I couldn’t help but feel the same teenage girl level of enthusiasm I felt when I first walked into Liberty at the age of 14, nerdy and naïve, only to be introduced by my unexpectedly design-forward mom to a whole new world of textiles, pattern and history.

So I’m not worried that Liberty prints are on trend now. Instead, I’m using it to my advantage to find pieces I know I’ll keep longer than the trend-seekers, because they mean something to me. Because when I wear my Liberty scarf, I can’t help but think of my mom, who informed my own taste and passion for design in ways that I’ve never fully given her credit for. And that will keep me wearing these prints for much longer than a season.

Nothing says cool like a scarf. For a little styling help, try Liberty’s own scarf-styling videos for the most creative tying/knotting/wrapping ideas I’ve ever seen. Start with this Youtube playlist, but a quick search will lead you to the other 20 or so tutorials.

The suitcase experiment: How I accidentally learned to live with less

I’m moving again. In the past year or so, I’ve moved from New York to New Orleans, traveled within the US and to two new continents (including living in India for a few months), and returned to the US only to continue living out of a suitcase, knowing that it still wasn’t time to settle down.

Inspired by author Elizabeth Cline’s closet inventory in her book Overdressed, I took stock of what is in the suitcase I’ve been somewhat living out of for the last five months:

– 8 sweaters
– 11 knit shirts
– 7 blouses
– 3 dresses
– 2 pairs of jeans
– 8 skirts
– 2 pairs of shorts (Hey, it’s New Orleans!)
– 2 coats
– Miscellaneous active wear, pajamas, underthings, and accessories

Somehow, I’ve been living off of under 60 total pieces – nowhere near Elizabeth’s total. And while I might be closer to her number if I counted up all of the clothes I have in storage, I’ve realized one amazing thing: I can live with less.

Let’s get one thing straight, though: At times, living with such a small portion of my wardrobe has felt impossible. I struggled many days to (more literally) find something to wear with most difficulty happening on special occasions or an unexpected event, including weather changes.

But I also was able to realize a few things:
We aren’t wearing most of what we own anyway. Even within my small suitcase, I never wore HALF of the clothes. Other pieces, however, were worn almost daily.

It is the favorite pieces that help us feel most like ourselves, especially in times of flux. It is hard to live with uncertainty, but the uncertainty will force you to look for things you can trust. In this (suit)case, I felt most like myself wearing my favorite gray sweater and a reliable pair of jeans. When things were unpredictable around me, I felt more need than ever for my clothes to feel like me. The predictability of my accidental daily uniform became a great source of comfort. There’s a reason to stick with what you know works.

Our big closets are keeping us from being creative. Most of us have a color palette in our wardrobe even if we don’t realize it, which makes our clothes infinitely mix-and-match-able. It was a lot easier to to create new outfits with a small portion of my wardrobe that I knew I loved and which coincidentally all worked together than to get creative with an overflowing closet.

A clothing diet is surprisingly easy to stick to. Without a place to put clothes or much money to spend, I just stopped shopping. And now, when out of necessity I add a new piece to my wardrobe, it feels insanely special. But this is not of the addictive “I need to feel this all the time” quality that could lead to binge shopping, but really more of a wake-up call to make sure ALL of my clothes are pieces that I get really excited about and could become part of my daily uniform. And the “thrill” of going shopping? Well, it’s almost totally gone, and it is liberating.

Despite having successfully made it through more than a year of constant transition, I am so excited to put my clothes on hangers and to be able to take better care of my favorite pieces again. Yet no matter how spacious my new closet will be, I think this accidental experiment in living with less has taught me too many lessons to forget the freedom that comes from being able to fit everything you wear into just one single suitcase.

Over the next couple weeks, I will be relocating to a new city and state! And while I change locales, THIS I WEAR is going to be growing too with lots of new and exciting developments. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram to stay in touch!


My backpack: Stocking up for roughing it

Belize Cargo Pants | This I Wear

In a few short weeks, I’m headed to India for three months. It will be my first time in the country, so I’ve been asking my friends who are local or who’ve traveled to India what I should bring, especially in regards to clothing. Their advice: pants, long(er) skirts, and tops with sleeves, all of which should be comfortable when sweaty and dirty yet still culturally appropriate.

And herein lies the dilemma. The clothes I bring are going to get roughed up – dirt, hardcore bug spray, sweat, aggressive laundering, etc. – and with such little packing capacity, I’ve considered that I may want to leave them there and fill up my backpack with souvenirs for my return journey instead. I did this in 2007 when I worked on a field research project in the wetlands of Belize. I spent less than $100 at a few chain stores and had to dispose of most of the clothes upon my return as the high percentage DEET literally began to degrade the fabric. One of the few things to survive was a pair of green Old Navy cargos. They are one of the most disgusting things I own yet continue to wear. I’d be embarrassed about this, except that when I wear these pants, I remember that summer that I wielded a machete, climbed Mayan temples, and got a fantastically ill, delaying my departure home. But I survived, and I learned so much about myself in those three weeks. Wearing those pants brings back the incredible confidence that comes with proving yourself wrong. I love those pants.

Because of all of these worries about if what I bring will survive, I’m leaving my favorite pieces safe at home in the States and getting back in the shopping game after a few lovely months of little to no consumption.

But is it ok to buy clothing, and in this case cheap clothing, with the intention of getting rid of it soon after purchase? What is the alternative in this situation?

Here’s what I’ve bought so far:
– Cotton capris from Old Navy (less than $10)
– Two knee-length cotton skirts (less than $10 each)
– Two knit skirts (less than $30 each)

I’m also bringing:
– Ankle-length Forever 21 dress
– Leggings which I’ll pair with locally-bought tunics
– Various t-shirts and long-sleeve tops
– Rain poncho
– Large pashmina for covering up and using as a travel blanket

Over the next few months, I will share what does end up in my backpack, what happens to it along the way, and what comes home with me. I don’t know what to expect quite yet, but this should be an interesting experiment.

Comment below or tweet @ThisIWear to share what you think: Have you ever bought something knowing it would be ruined and you would dispose of it shortly thereafter?

A New Adventure

Biddeford Pool, Maine | This I Wear

You may have noticed things were a little quiet here last week. If you’ve been tracking me on Twitter, you’ll know that I was off adventuring in NYC and Maine (check out that photo!) but also hard at work on some amazing interviews that will hopefully be posted soon.

During my ten days of travel, I also confirmed a very exciting new adventure for me both personally and professionally. After years of dreaming about it, I am headed to India for at least three months, starting in early September, for travel and some hands-on work and learning opportunities with artisan communities. I am so passionate about craft preservation, sustainability, design and supporting the people involved in this field, even if I am still unsure of my role. I am also very excited to share the stories of craftsmen and the people that I meet in my travels here. While the conversation might be different, the stories remain true to the mission of THIS I WEAR.

This is a huge step for me, even if I’m not quite sure where it will lead. I’m also not sure how this will affect THIS I WEAR. But I have some ideas:

New series: everything from peeks into my backpack to exploring the meaning of clothes in a new cultural context. If you have an idea of what you’d like to see here, email me.
New contributors: I am looking for writers/interviewers! If you’d like to tell stories from your city or if you have some ideas for posts you’d like to write, email me with your ideas and why you want to write for THIS I WEAR. If you have a writing sample, feel free to include it. Not interested in writing? You can help by spreading the word.

There may be more quiet time here while I try to get ready for three months of travel in just three weeks and as I settle into new surroundings, but I look forward to sharing these adventures with you.

Comment below or tweet @ThisIWear with India travel tips, words of wisdom, and ideas for what you want to see here.

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