fashion

Failing at Ethical Fashion

mustard sweater feature

I was almost hesitant to share these photos, and for a reason that isn’t readily apparent. It’s not because my hair wasn’t quite cooperating this day, my camera wasn’t focusing properly or because it was really warm in the house and I was eager to get this sweater off.

It’s because this outfit fails at ethical fashion.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, it won’t come as a surprise that I care about responsible fashion- I talk about it a lot. I take part in Fashion Revolution each year. The majority of my clothing is secondhand. I sew slowly and thoughtfully- I try to make sure that each of the items I make are ones that will add value to my closet. I don’t technically have a “capsule” wardrobe, but each and every item is chosen carefully and definitely worn more than 30 times.  I very seldom purchase anything new, and when I do, I try to buy natural fibres, and search out ethical brands if possible.

I love fashion (no surprise there), but seeking to be purposeful and ethical in a world where fast fashion is the norm, can be hard.

And sometimes when you find a mustard yellow sweater, you buy it.

mustard sweater 3

A few weeks ago, I was visiting a local clothing store with my mom and sister, trying to help my mom find a sweater, and as we were looking, I came across this mustard yellow sweater. I’ve been looking for a long time (a couple of years) for some mustard yellow pieces, since it is my favourite colour, but is extremely hard to find!

Since it was on sale, I bought it.

And then I immediately started thinking about the fact that it is made out of rayon and polyester, and dyed with a toxic mix of chemicals, and was made in China, and other than that, I definitely don’t know “who made my sweater”, and then I started regretting it, because this is not ethical fashion, and how can I call myself an ethical fashion proponent, when I just made a very unethical shopping choice?

mustard sweater 1

But I’ve been doing some thinking lately, and I would like to share a few of thoughts on whether it’s possible to be completely “ethical” in your shopping choices.

I participated in a course that Fashion Revolution was offering a while ago. It was an interesting activity, but the one thing that stuck out to me, was this response by the founder of Fashion Revolution, Orsola De Castro to the question, “Is it possible to have a 100% sustainable or ethical wardrobe?”

I don’t think it’s possible to have 100% clothes that were designed or made sustainably or ethically. I think that is going to be very difficult, but it is possible to make sustainable and ethical choices about all of the clothes you have in your wardrobe. So, somehow, you can refresh with love and turn them into something they weren’t originally. . . You can do things like shop at Primark and H&M, but with the same respect if you were shopping somewhere like Gucci. You’ve got to treat your fiver like it was $500, and choose that piece not because you are “stress shopping at Zara”. We are not stress shopping at Zara: we are “deep love shopping at Primark” or Zara or wherever. . . Because, if we were to commit to 100% not putting one foot wrong, we would be damaging ourselves and our wardrobes immensely, and also the people who actually make our clothes, because there are an awful lot of people making clothes who are waiting for the industry to ameliorate, and what are we going to do in the meantime?  Boycott them all? As consumers, we still buy that product. We just buy it in a different way, so we can give a really strong message to the brands. This message might be “Slow down”. This message might be “No, we don’t want five for the price of one; we want one well made piece for the price of five”.

This past year I have started going zero waste in my lifestyle. At first, I thought the concept of “zero waste” was to try and produce no garbage at all. We’ve all seen the pictures of people’s “trash jars” where they are able to fit all of their garbage from the past year (or more) into one glass jar. It’s inspiring to think about living a life that doesn’t result in garbage, but it’s not completely realistic for most people.

I live in a small town, and there is no bulk store. Cauliflower comes wrapped in plastic. I recycle or compost everything I can, but still end up with garbage at the end of the day.

As I’ve been reading more, and started following several zero wasters on Instagram, one thing that keeps coming up is the fact that we are currently living in a culture that is designed to result in garbage. “Zero waste” doesn’t mean that you are producing zero garbage, but is rather a name for a movement that is trying to restructure our global economy to one designed to be circular, where garbage isn’t part of the cycle. Today our products (whether it’s clothing, or food or other things) are designed with waste. It’s impossible to create “zero waste” as a consumer. And even if you think that you are doing a fairly good job, there is garbage that has been created before the product even reaches you. (I work in a shop, and the amount of packaging garbage that is thrown out before a product even reaches the shelf is astounding.)

mustard sweater 4

But again, this quote by Instagrammer Andrea Sanders (@bezerowastegirl) has been bopping around in my head for a while:

“Zero Waste isn’t easy because it’s an infrastructure that doesn’t exist right now. Access to bulk stores, fresh markets and the like are not accessible to most. Everyone makes trash. Period. Do what you can. Never feel guilty because you can’t do something. There is no absolutism.”

And so, it makes me ask: Was this sweater an unwise shopping decision after all? Am I “failing” at ethical fashion?

Our current fashion culture is one that is driven by the need to buy more and more, regardless of how much we already own, but when I purchased this sweater, I wasn’t buying it from a fast fashion perspective.

I have been searching for a mustard yellow sweater for a few years, so it was not a spur of the moment purchase. It was “deep love” shopping, not buying for the sake of buying.

It is estimated that wearing a garment at least 30 times, reduces the carbon, waste and water footprint of a garment by 20%-30%. I wear all my clothes at least 30 times, and despite the fact that this sweater is not made of completely natural fibres, it is well sewn and will last me many years. I also take care of my clothes, and will be hand washing this one to help increase it’s lifespan.

mustard sweater 2

It’s a tricky issue. I can’t say that I’m completely convinced that I should have bought it. Maybe if I had waited a while longer I would have come across something in mustard yellow that would have ticked all the boxes, but then again, maybe not.

I want my wardrobe to be 100% ethical, but that’s not really feasible right now. If 95% of my wardrobe is ethical fashion, then is the 5% that isn’t ethical, OK? Where do you draw the line? Is there a line? How do you balance want vs. need, especially with something as “frivolous” as fashion?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. How do you decide for your own wardrobe?

mustard sweater 7

mustard sweater 7

mustard sweater sleeve

mustard sweater 6

Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl, the artyologist

How is it already the end of October?

This month has just flown by for me, and has been a rather strange month too. I had every intention of posting these pictures on the Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 8), but a combination of burning my right hand (which made typing difficult), getting a head cold that lasted forever, and then work and other engagements, has delayed me. . . and here we are now at October 22!

This is one of my favourite outfits and photoshoots of late. The photos were taken on the thanksgiving weekend, which also happened to be my birthday weekend! (Apparently I am claiming the whole weekend as my Birthday weekend, not just one day. . .) I was at first a little disappointed that the leaves had already turned brown by the time we were able to get these photos, but as it turned out, the colour palette worked incredibly well with the sepia tones of my outfit. The outfit is an amalgamation of some of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe-  I pretty much picked everything that I love to wear, and put it all into one outfit, because it’s always nice to wear something “special” on your birthday!

birthday outfit, the artyologist

Well, that’s really all I have to say, but if I try and think of something else to write, I am afraid that this will never be published. Sorry that the blog has been a bit boring lately, I’m a bit out of practice. . . I am hoping to get back in the swing of things, and post more frequently again.

Hope you are all having a happy October!

A New Look

new-look-feature

One of my favourite iconic vintage garments, is the Bar Suit by Christian Dior, from the 1947 collection. After the austerity of WWII, Dior’s designs must have been a breath of fresh air to women- although it is interesting, if you read about the time period, that not everyone thought that the new styles were a good change!

I’ve always loved this silhouette; maybe because it’s one that really works for me. I love so many of Dior’s designs from the late 1940’s through the 1950’s- the so called “New Look” of the era. Interestingly, the image below, often cited as from the 1947 collection, is actually an image taken in 1957 of a newer version of the suit. It has a few changes and, while the look is very similar, it is a bit looser than the 1947 version, which was more tailored, featured a padded hip to accentuate the waist, and a smoother line on the jacket without the peplum flare. Personally, I like the 1957 version more, and I love this image, so I decided to try and recreate it myself.

new-look-then-and-now

I’m not very good at replicating the pose, as it turns out. . . I guess this one won’t be going into the #myvintagecover annals!

As to the title of this post – yes I was alluding to that New Look, as my outfit was definitely inspired by the Bar Suit, but I was also referring to the fact that I got a new haircut, so it’s a bit of a “New Look” for me too! You probably can’t tell in these photos, because of the hat, but I got the sides trimmed (actually shaved) quite short and then left the top long and layered. I had a cut similar to this a few years ago, and it was the best cut I have ever gotten. This one was with a new hairdresser, and although I do really like it, there are a few tweaks that I will get her to do next time to make it perfect. It’s so hard to get a perfect haircut, isn’t it? I personally find it so hard to communicate what my vision is- when their vision might be quite different from my own!

walking-away-and-yellow-trees

Back to this outfit, though, I wore the same ensemble back in the spring, but never got photos. As soon as the weather started cooling off enough to wear wool, though, I decided to wear it again- and this time get photographs! The photographs were taken the day after I wore this outfit, and I didn’t actually wear the hat when I went out, because it was raining and windy- and I have no hair to pin the hat too! So, the hat is purely for styling purposes 😉

new-look,-arch-of-trees

We got snow quite early this year (September 15!), and even though it melted away again, it’s been quite cold. I was a wimp and didn’t go and get very many photos of the fall leaves. . . these are actually the only ones! But, there are still some trees with leaves on them, so maybe I can get some more this weekend.

Well, I’m off to my family’s place for the weekend . . . to all of my fellow Canadians: I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Did you know that there were two Bar Suits made? (I learned that just recently!) Have you ever tried to recreate an iconic vintage outfit or design? And have you had a nice Fall where you live?

archway-and-portrait

shoes-and-leaves

twirling-and-sidewalk-of-leaves

belt-and-jacket-detail

walking-through-leaves

Dancing in The Street

If you follow me on instagram (@theartyologist) you will already have seen these pictures. . . but I wanted to post them here as well, because I figured that a hairstyle this different should be documented on the blog! Every August I seem to do something drastic with my hair- and this year it was a pixie cut. I’ve had a pixie cut before, and I loved it. I started growing it out right when I started this blog two and a half years ago, and after having a bob for a year, I was ready for a change.

Anyways, that’s basically all I have to say about these photos, except that this is the sort of outfit I would love to wear swing dancing (these are actually the shoes I used to wear dancing) I used to love going swing dancing on Saturday nights, but as there is no group where I live now, I must make do with breaking out in a few steps in the middle of the street 😉

Creating A Well Loved Wardrobe

Creating a Well Loved Wardrobe, the artyologist

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that these photos are from a couple of weeks ago because. . .  I’ve since cut my hair! I was going to post these before that happened, but time just got away from me. (I took at little holiday last week, when a friend came to visit and everything else kind of got thrown out the window, but it was a much needed break!) I still wanted to post these photos though, because as you know by now, I never seem to post “on time” lately anyways.

I rediscovered this peach skirt in my wardrobe a couple of weeks ago and have worn it several times since then. By “rediscover” I mean that when I moved into my new apartment last month, I decided that it was time to finally start “curating my closet”, and during that process I discovered this skirt again.

I’ve talked about my desire to curate my closet before, but I have never actually got around to doing it, so when I moved I decided it was time for a fresh start. There are actually a couple of things that I did to streamline my closet.

Creating A Well Loved Wardrobe, shoes and bag , the artyologist

The first is that rather than going through my wardrobe all in one go, deciding whether each item was something to keep or get rid of, I am trying another method I’ve heard about. Because I actually do like all of things in my wardrobe, I don’t need to sort through, and pare down my closet because I have things I don’t like; I need to sort it because I’m not actually wearing some of them! So, when I moved into my new closet space, I turned all of my hangers around backwards. As I have been putting clothes back in my closet after wearing them, I’ve put the hangers in the correct way, which makes it easy to see which pieces I’ve actually worn. I’m going to be doing this until September, which is when I will be switching to a Fall wardrobe anyways. Of course, I’ve been taking into account seasonal items! (“I haven’t worn this down-filled parka all summer!”)

It’s looking a bit messy right now, with the hangers going all directions (only another month to go!), but it is definitely making it easy to see which pieces aren’t getting worn. As I’m doing this experiment, I am trying to determine why I wear some things, and pass over others. And, when I am getting dressed, I look at the items I haven’t worn first and decide whether I can wear them instead of the same three things I always turn to. If I wear something and I decide I don’t really like it for some reason, then I know that it is time to pass it on!

Well Loved Wardrobe, the artyologist

Another way I have made my closet a bit more streamlined, is by moving all of my Fall/Winter garments out my closet and packing them away in a suitcase. I used to have quite a large closet, and so I stored all of my clothes in there. The problem I had was that when I went to get dressed, it looked like I had twice as many clothes, but I actually couldn’t wear half of them, because they were out of season. I also moved all of my old clothes out of the closet and put them in a separate drawer. (By “old” I mean, worn t-shirts/pants which are perfect for painting or doing chores in, but not for wearing in public!) Having all of these extra clothes in the closet was making it difficult to get dressed for work, because it looked like I had so much to choose from, but actually a lot of the pieces were unwearable. By moving them to a separate area, I can easily see what I have to wear.

Creating A Well Loved Wardrobe, vintage skirt, the artyologist

By doing this closet experiment, I decided to try this peach skirt again, since I’ve tried wearing it before unsuccessfully. I sewed it last summer, but never really liked it. I felt frumpy in it for some reason- the gathered waistband perhaps? Maybe I was just in a bad mood? Maybe I was pairing it with the wrong top? I don’t know what it was, but I’ve tried wearing it again this summer, and I love it! I’ve worn it several different times- once with my black Hell Bunny blouse, once with a black drapey rayon top, and once, here, with this sleeveless ruffled cream top. I’ve even worn it with both heels and flats, and I like it both ways, so I guess this time around, the skirt is a keeper! And seriously- the pattern is little people dancing, so what’s not to love about that? I guess it’s a good thing I am sorting through my closet, or I wouldn’t have come across this outfit combination.

Have you ever had a piece of clothing that you didn’t like, and then tried it again with success? And have you tried this method of wardrobe organizing/curating?

hydrangea-side-view, the artyologist

Well Loved Wardrobe, the artyologist

stonecrop, the artyologist

peach hat detail, the artyologist

Well Loved Wardrobe, peach skirt, the artyologist

Well Loved Wardrobe, hat and purse, the artyologist