Happy first day of May! Is it warm where you are at, dear Reader? We’ve been having a bit of a rollercoaster lately- going from coat-and-scarf temperatures, to hot and having to wear a sunhat, then midweek there was a snowstorm and then it’s now back up again to warm Spring weather!
One of my houseplants is finally blooming, after years of stubbornly refusing to. I grew this one from several cuttings, and I believe it is a Kalanchoe- it’s so much leggier and scruffier looking than the ones I’ve seen online. I pruned it ruthlessly a few months ago, and I guess it decided that meant it was time to bloom!
In other book related news, I love Agatha Christie mysteries, and have amassed quite a collection of them. As I add more volumes to my library, though, it becomes more and more difficult to find copies of ones I don’t already own. But, when I went to the thrift store a couple of weeks ago, I found a whole stack of Agatha Christie books, a couple of other books, and some smocked pillow patterns.
I’ve started doing fashion sketches again. I’m not sure if I’m going to do anything with the sketches, but I enjoy the process of putting all of my fashion dreams down on paper. It’s so much easier to sketch than to sew, and it’s nice to be able to indulge in all of those garments that will most likely never come to fruition.
I have also turned one of my abstract watercolour sketches into art bookmarks. I plan on including one of these with every order that is placed either in my Art Shop, or Poshmark Shop. It’s nice to open a package and receive a little something extra, isn’t it?
So, those are just some things that have happened in the past couple of weeks. I hope you’ve had a lovely week, and that you’ll have a good weekend too!
I should have actually shared this post last week, as it would have been rather perfect for Fashion Revolution Week, but I guess today will do just as well. Fashion Revolution isn’t just applicable for one week in the year anyway, so perhaps this is timely, in case you have been wanting to read further about the fashion industry and how to put “sustainable fashion” into action.
I have a disproportionately large collection of fashion related books, compared to other topics at least, on my shelves. But as nice as social media and blogs can be for inspiration and information, there is still something special about pulling out a book and learning in-depth about a topic. So for today, here are some of my favourite books about sustainable fashion, as well as some of the books that sparked my interest in fashion, in case you are looking to add some books to your own library, or are just getting interested in sustainable fashion and aren’t sure where to start.
“Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth L. Cline
This is the book that started it all for me. A blogger recommended this book years ago (I think it was in 2012?) and I immediately went and checked it out of the library. It was an eye-opening look at what really goes on in the fashion industry supply chain, and is a deep dive into what happens before our clothing makes its way to the store.
While I had never been a shopaholic, or even very addicted to fast fashion, this book definitely changed the direction of my wardrobe, since I realized that many of the pieces of clothing I owned were from fast fashion brands. I immediately started looking at my clothing with new eyes- knowing the story behind the pieces- and changed my shopping habits for the better. If you are at all interested in ethical and sustainable fashion, this is definitely the place to start.
“The Conscious Closet” by Elizabeth L. Cline,
Also by Elizabeth Cline, rather than the investigative style of Overdressed, her follow up book about the fashion industry is more of an instruction manual or guide. I would say that this is probably the second book you should read once you’ve finished reading Overdressed and have become interested in ethical fashion. I have been reading about the cheap fashion industry for almost 10 years now, so this book was probably not as helpful for me when I read it in 2019, as it would have been if I had read it in 2012, because I was already familiar with a lot of the information within.
Nevertheless, it does have some very good tips, so if you’re just starting out, this is also a good place to start to put the ideas into practice. She includes tips on how to change your shopping habits, create a more ethical wardrobe, how to sustainably pare back your wardrobe, as well as how to care for your clothes and other steps for getting involved outside of your own personal closet and shopping.
“Wear No Evil” by Greta Eagen
This is another comprehensive “instruction manual” style book that includes many aspects of the fashion industry, as well as the beauty industry. I found this book extremely helpful when I first read it years ago (early on in my sustainable fashion journey) and I actually should read it again. I really like how she gives practical tips for how to move past the “awareness” stage to the “actions” stage.
What makes this book so helpful is what she calls “The Integrity Index”, which is a list of sixteen attributes/categories that a garment could potentially fit into. While you are probably not going to be able to find a garment that ticks all of the boxes, you can start somewhere. For example you might not find a garment that is organic, natural fibre, recycled, closed loop, biodegradable, fair trade, and locally produced, but you might find one that checks off three of those categories. I found it so practical and helpful to pick the causes that are most important to you and use those as your guide while shopping, and she includes some very helpful charts and lists with suggestions to make shopping easier.
“The Curated Closet” by Anuschka Rees
I don’t own this book, but I’ve checked it out from the library a few times and mentioned it before here (I probably should just buy it!). Even though I don’t own this one, I wanted to include it on the list because it has been a helpful tool to shape my closet. It’s not strictly a sustainable fashion book, but when you focus on creating a more intentional and curated closet, it is going to be more sustainable by default.
One of the biggest driving forces behind the cheap, fast fashion industry is the insatiable desire of consumers for more and more clothing. These impulse buys, in turn, push brands to create cheaper clothing and more and more trends each year in order to make more sales. But these clothes are often so poorly made that they degrade quickly or are flash trends that fall out of fashion so quickly that they need to be replaced- thus starting this unsustainable cycle all over again. By curating your closet to reflect your own personal style, with items that are thoughtfully purchased, you are going to automatically purchase less items and thus become more sustainable in the process. This is an excellent guide book if you are wanting to create a more streamlined closet by reducing the number of pieces you have as well as changing your shopping habits.
“The One Hundred” by Nina Garcia
I got this book when I was 16 for a Christmas gift, and I have no idea why- I must have paged through it at the store and liked the illustrations. However, it is actually a fun book to read, and it sparked my interest in classic styles. While this book isn’t sustainability focused in any way, this book is about those timeless pieces in your closet that you always reach for over and over again. While some might say that 100 “must have” items is too many for a sustainable wardrobe, I think it’s a good start.
Rather than following this book as shopping list and going out and getting all 100 items to add to your closet, I think of this as an evaluation of why some items are so timeless and chic, and in finding the value in the items you have in your closet that you always reach for over and above other items. These are the pieces that you love and care for, and aren’t rushing to replace any time soon. Again, a more thoughtful and curated wardrobe is by default a more sustainable wardrobe, so it really is a good idea to reflect on what particular items are your most loved pieces, and why. And, of course, the alphabetical format of the book, witty quotes and illustrations just make this one all the better!
“The Sartorialist” and “The Sartorialist: Closer” by Scott Schuman
Finally, the last one on this list is the blog/book that started it all. I discovered Scott Schuman’s blog in about 2007 or 2008 (the olden days of the internet) andput his first book on my Christmas wish list when it came out in 2009. I wasn’t a very fashionable teenager because, while I liked fashion (especially historical), I had no idea of how to interpret my interests into a style that was wearable. His blog, and then later his books, about real people’s street-style showed me the value of breaking fashion rules, stepping outside of the norm and then going on to create my own unique style. Even though he never photographed vintage styles, without his blog I don’t know if I would have ever gotten interested in incorporating vintage into my wardrobe on a daily basis. And while I don’t wear strictly vintage looks anymore, without that early inspiration to dress in a different way, I probably wouldn’t have evolved to where I am now with my style.
Scott is an excellent photographer and I love to look through these books occasionally to be inspired by all of the unique and different people in these pages. This book is 12 years old, but when I page through it, while I do spot some trends, it still seems as fresh as when it was first released. Again, this book isn’t one that promotes ethical and sustainable fashion in any way, but I think that it really demonstrates this quote by Yves Saint Laurent: “Fashions come and go, but style is forever”. When you aren’t concerned about the latest trends, but instead are choosing to wear your own unique, collected style you are, by default, creating a more sustainable wardrobe that is going to last you longer than any fast fashion trend.
So, there are some of my favourite books for learning about sustainable fashion. If you are wanting to learn about how to turn your wardrobe away from fast fashion, then these are a good place to start- though they are only the tip of the iceberg!
What are some of your favourite fashion books? Have you read any of these? Do you have any other recommendations to check out?
Today is Fashion Revolution Day: the 8th year anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory tragedy in Bangladesh. In some ways, it doesn’t seem like that happened 8 years ago; it seems so long ago, yet in other ways so recent. For those who were directly injured by the tragedy or lost loved ones, I’m sure this is an extremely hard day for them.
I wasn’t sure whether to post today, since I’ve posted a lot about Fashion Revolution in the past, and I no longer have social media accounts to participate in the online movement. However, I did think that maybe some of my Readers might not have ever heard of Fashion Revolution, or Rana Plaza, or other issues that are ongoing today. That’s the thing about much of the fashion industry- an awareness of what is happening today in the fashion industry is still very much needed, because, sadly, human rights abuses are still rampant in the supply chains of most of our clothing. Eight years since the event that sparked my own personal dedication to ethical fashion, this movement is still very much needed.
Fashion shouldn’t be something to literally die for.
So here are some articles for further reading about current events, as well as some of my old posts. (And if you want to read all that I’ve posted on this topic, check out the “sustainable fashion” category in my sidebar.)
To read more about the event that sparked Fashion Revolution, click here
Welcome to another instalment of the Fashion Moment series, this time featuring quite a few lovely vintage short sleeved knits. I only have a couple of short sleeved sweaters, but they are great pieces to wear in the Spring before the weather gets too warm. Depending on where you live, it might already be past the season for sweaters! This is the second-last post in this McCall’s series as I’ve only got one more set of photos from this book. I hope you enjoy seeing these today!
Above, is a very pretty dressy cardigan with embellishments on the collar. It looks like she’s wearing it for a formal event. And, below is this lovely dressy knit pullover with a beaded yoke- so pretty! I love how adding beads to a sweater suddenly makes it so dressed up.
Next up are several short sleeved knits in a similar style- all featuring a small collar and some with buttons and some without. I think this is a pretty classic vintage wardrobe staple. This style of sweater has been around for so long, and you can usually still find plenty of them in the thrift shops!
Next up is this pullover with a hood. I love the look of hoods, but I often find that they look less than ideal when they are pulled up…what do you think about hoods?
I really like this v-neck collar detail on this next sweater. I think it adds such an elegant shape to the sweater and makes it a bit dressier than the ones with peter pan or pointed collars.
And lastly, a casual striped sweater. This looks, to me, like something you’d wear for sports or out camping, but they’ve got the model carrying a purse and wearing pearls, so I’m guessing they are thinking it’s more for an afternoon out shopping!
Which of these is your favourite? I’m partial to the beaded sweater, but I wouldn’t say no to any of these actually!
Continuing with my PERSONAL STYLE series, today’s post is about the importance of keeping comfort and confidence in mind, while you create your own unique wardrobe. Click here for Part One (about creating your own unique style description) and click here for Part Two (about using colour theory to create a signature colour palette). Click here for Part Four (about paring down your closet with Minimalism).
Dressing For Who You Are & How You Live
As I’ve been thinking about personal style lately, I’ve been realizing the importance of not just liking a particular style, but also feeling comfortable in what you wear. By this, not only do I mean physical comfort, but mental comfort; or in other words, confidence in what you wear.
Finding comfort and confidence in your clothing can look completely different for each person. Once you have narrowed down your ideal style vision and filled a scrapbook full of beautiful editorial images, it’s not going to be of any help to you if you aren’t going to wear those sorts of garments in real life. You need to also keep in mind the physical comfort of an item and how you feel while wearing it…and what is comfortable for one person to wear, might be just a fantasy wardrobe for another. And while dreaming up your fantasy wardrobe can be fun, it’s not very useful for creating a closet that truly reflects your personal style on a daily basis. Figuring out the clothing styles that you like to wear, and that make you feel good, is an important part of creating your ideal wardrobe.
So what do I mean by considering the physical and mental comfort of an item? For example, consider an outfit of sweat pants and a t-shirt. While we would consider that to be a physically comfortable outfit, I personally would never wear that because it’s not mentally comfortable for me. It specifically makes me feel very conspicuous and un-confident, and so it turns out to be an uncomfortable outfit.
On the flip side, another example could be wearing a bold statement piece, such as a hat. I love hats and when I wear them, I feel more like myself so, for me, that is a comfortable outfit. And while a hat may not be physically uncomfortable, many people wouldn’t wear dream of wearing a hat because it would make them stand out from the crowd and for them that would be exactly the opposite of comfort for them.
When choosing clothes that you both look good and feel good in, you need to keep in mind both of these types of comfort. Here are some of the things I have helped me see not just what I like, but what I actually wear on a regular basis, and then making sure that the things I wear are also things I like– those two don’t necessarily go hand in hand!
One thing that has been helpful is determining my body type. I had never heard of the Kibbe or Style Essence body typing systems until I stumbled upon them last summer, and I found them to be a helpful tool while going through my closet. There are several different body typing systems out there, which all feature a spectrum of body types, and while I can’t really figure out which type I am for certain, it doesn’t really matter. None of us fall into exactly one “type”, so as long as you get a general idea, it can be helpful. Like seasonal colour theory, I would recommend that you take or leave whatever works for you, and use it as a good starting point.
I haven’t been professionally typed, but I did a quiz and found this website, Truth Is Beauty, to be the most helpful for me. I fall somewhere in the Classic/Soft type, with a more rounded and soft silhouette. This wasn’t “news” to me, but it still was helpful. While I’ve generally always known which pieces I liked on me for silhouette (mostly through trial and error) I actually found this kind of body typing to be incredibly positive and helpful for how to dress your best. Instead of focusing on your body as something that needs to be tweaked and molded into the “ideal shape”, these systems focus on each body type as having their own strengths and unique qualities. There are specific styles of clothing that suit each body type particularly, so (rather than trying to squeeze into one specific fashion trend, doubtless ending in frustration and feeling bad about yourself) wouldn’t it be better for us to all suit the clothing styles to our bodies, rather than the other way around?
For a Dramatic body type, for example, there are the straight, angular pieces such as blazers and tailored pants like Katherine Hepburn wore.
For a Gamine, you have the classic Audrey Hepburn cropped boyish look that always looks undeniably chic.
And for the Romantic body type you have the elegant and sensual Sophia Loren silhouette.
(There are more body types than this, so make sure to check out the links at the end of this post if you want to read more!)
When you realize that each body type has its own strengths, it is freeing to embrace the garments that particularly suit your own body shape and make you look fabulous, instead of trying to force yourself into garments that would look good on someone else. It is incredibly liberating to realize that just because something works on everyone else, doesn’t mean it will work on you…and you shouldn’t feel bad about yourself for that!
One of the particular examples that body typing made a difference for me was when I thought about plaid. I absolutely love plaid, but I don’t always like it once I put it on. I realized that, of course, putting a straight line on a curved body isn’t going to look as amazing as it would on a dramatic body type, but if I turn my plaid on the diagonal, it doesn’t feel like I have a line drawn around the widest part of my body (and the same goes for stripes).
Knowing which garments particularly suit your body type is a very helpful tool for building your wardrobe because you aren’t going to end up buying things that end up at the back of your closet. And when you wear clothes that suit you well, you are automatically going to feel more confident and comfortable. Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t wear things that fall outside of your body type; of course you can! At the end of the day, if I love something I am going to wear it. For example, both these coats are boxy swing coat styles and they are are two of my favourite vintage pieces. Even though this boxy shape isn’t a recommended silhouette for my body type, I absolutely love these coats and there is no way I’m going to stop wearing them.
On the other hand, sometimes even when things do physically fit you and suit your body type, you might not feel amazing in them. Just because something looks great on you, doesn’t mean you have to like it and wear it. My Gramma told a story about how she once complimented a bank teller on her burgundy suit, and the lady said that she always got compliments on it, but she didn’t like it herself. Perhaps she couldn’t afford to replace her work clothes, but wouldn’t it have been nice if she could have gotten something that she looked nice in, but also felt confident in? Many of the pieces of clothing that I have gotten rid of over the past year have been pieces that just felt a little off for me in some way, and I didn’t feel confident in them for some reason. Once I came to the conclusion that it was OK to not like everything the way I thought I would, it was freeing to be able to pass those pieces on to others, and look forward to creating a wardrobe full of pieces that I do feel comfortable in and love to wear.
In your wardrobe, when you find those pieces that you love to wear, the ones that always make you feel like a million dollars, stop and take a moment to think about why you like them. For me one of those pieces would be my circle skirts. The silhouette is a good one for my body type, and it always makes me feel great. Knowing that I like this silhouette of skirt helps me as I add pieces to my wardrobe, since I can narrow my search down to pieces that I already know are tried and true winners, rather than having to sift through everything I come across.
On the other hand, for those pieces that you don’t wear very often, why don’t you like wearing them?
As I’ve taken this closer look my closet and evaluated why I like some things, and don’t like others, another realization has been that I don’t like wearing anything too fussy. I don’t want to have to fuss and fidget with things, because then I am automatically not comfortable- I’m too busy wondering whether my shirt is coming untucked!
Or maybe some items don’t fit you the way you like, or there is something you wish you could change about it. Can it be altered to fit you better? One of the downsides of off-the-rack clothing is that it is not made for you specifically, and as a result many of us are walking around in ill fitting clothing. It’s amazing how something as simple as hemming a garment can make a huge difference in how it fits and how comfortable it is.
Also, don’t forget to take time to think about whether the items you have in your closet actually fit into your lifestyle. While I do have those fantasy pieces that I never wear but will still never part with, these pieces are not the majority of my wardrobe.
For everyday wear at home I prefer to wear more serviceable cotton rather than delicate fabrics (when I’m working, I don’t want to be worrying about whether my clothes will get ruined) but I still do like to look put together. The majority of my closet is full of simple skirts and tops (and my favourite harem pants!). They might not make regular appearances here on the blog, but I am wearing them most days, and they do still reflect my own personal style more than the aforementioned sweatpants!
When it comes to creating your dream wardrobe, you want to make sure that your closet is full of items that you find not only physically comfortable, but that you feel good in and excited to wear. Your wardrobe should be full of pieces that make you feel like yourself, and you want to make sure that you are wearing your clothing, not having it wear you. The great thing about fashion and personal style is that you are the one who gets to choose what finding that confidence in your clothing means for you!
Have you looked into the body typing before? Which Style Essence are you, and do you follow those guidelines in how you dress? And do you have any favourite pieces that reflect your personal style and give you a boost of confidence every time you wear them?