responsible fashion

Cold Weather Capsule (My Ten Item Wardrobe)

skirts, tops, coats and accessories are laid out in a grid showing possible outfit combinations

Have you ever heard of the “10 Item Wardrobe” by Jennifer of The Daily Connoisseur? The principle is to create a seasonal wardrobe consisting of ten core items- tops, bottoms and dresses- which form the staples of your wardrobe. Then to these pieces you add layering cardigans, t-shirts, leisure wear, shoes and accessories. It’s not so much focused on having a certain number of items, like a capsule wardrobe often is, but rather on choosing items which can be easily dressed up or down, and layered or simplified as you need them to.

Over the past couple of years I have been seeking to create two capsule wardrobes; one for warm weather and one for cold. We have four distinct seasons where I live, so there isn’t a large amount of crossover between my warm and cold weather clothing items. As I have been curating my capsule wardrobe/ ten item wardrobe, I have not been focusing too heavily on making sure I have a certain number of items, but rather on the versatility and “mix and matchability” of each piece that I have. I’ve added a few new items in the past year, so I thought it would be fun to see them all laid out and how they work together.

Firstly, for the core pieces, I have four skirts, though one of these will soon be headed out and one may be brought in.

a row of skirts- peach floral, brown plaid, black pleated and brown houndstooth

A lightweight peach floral gathered skirt, a brown and black houndstooth patterned 3/4 circle skirt, a classic black wool pleated skirt and a brown plaid 3/4 circle skirt give me plenty of options. I have plans to add in another tan/ivory/black plaid skirt, but I have to finish sewing it first! I also will be removing the peach skirt, because it’s a bit too lightweight for snowy weather. With our warm fall and winter, I was able to get quite a bit of use out of it this season, but since we got snow this week, I think it’s time to pack it away.

As for tops, I have a few different categories and you will quickly see that this is the larger part of my wardrobe, which makes sense because tops take more wear and tear than bottoms.

a row of pullovers: a black and white leopard print, chocolate brown, black and gold stripe angora and black with dot detail

For stand-alone sweater tops I have my favourite off white and black leopard print with 3/4 sleeves, a chocolate brown mockneck (it’s not as red in real life), a black and gold striped 3/4 sleeve, and a black 3/4 sleeve with french knot detail at the neck.

a row of blouses and tops- a cream embroidered camisole, a black cardigan, a green cardigan and a black and cream lace cardigan

An off white embroidered camisole is a good layering piece, and I also have three cardigans that I wear tucked in like pullovers: one in black with a v-neck, one in green, and one short sleeved with lace detail. The green one is new-to-me this season.  Those are all of my “Core Pieces”, except for one more I will mention in a minute.  You can see that I have more than just 10 pieces!

Now, for the additional pieces, I have more casual tops which, to be honest, I probably wear more than the other dressier ones. It all depends on the situation and whether I need layers or not.

row of tshirts in brown, green and black

For t-shirts, I have a short sleeved brown, a 3/4 length sleeve green, a 3/4 length sleeve draped collar oxblood/brown and a short sleeved black. All of these are new pieces I added this year to replace some others that had worn out. The t-shirts are casual pieces which dress down my wool skirts, and I like to layer them with cardigans too.

cardigans and a blazer in brown, black and green

For layering I have several cardigans and a tweed blazer. The blazer and the brown cardigan are new this year, but the black and green are old favourites. Adding layers completely changes the look and the function of an outfit. You can make it dressier by adding a blazer, or cozier by adding a cardigan.

Moving on to outerwear I have four main coats, though I predominantly wear the trenchcoat for warmer days and the camel coat for cold days. The other two dressy coats I wear occasionally to church etc.

four coats including a black trenchcoat, two black dressy coats and a camel wool coat

I actually have more shoes than this (most of which I have had for 10 years or so) but I didn’t feel like taking a photo of every pair. All of my winter shoes, except one, are black or brown and I have a variety of casual and dressy boots as well as a few dress shoes. Some have heels and I wear them only on Sundays, but my low heeled boots are the ones I wear day to day. I used to buy a lot of high heeled shoes, but my feet don’t like them now, so I mostly wear my brown boots on the right, which I have had for 11 years!

winter shoes and boots in brown and black

Then it’s time for accessories! I have more than these pictured, but didn’t want to photograph everything, or we’d be here a while.

purses and hats- brown structured leather, soft green leather and wool berets in a variety of colours

These are my most worn, for example; the satchel on the right is my everyday purse. Accessories are really where you can change up your outfits, and are not necessarily season specific, so they are an important component of your wardrobe. Some accessories I wear are purses, scarves, berets, tights, jewelry, hatpins, hats, gloves, fur collars etc.

scarves including cashmere ones, a blanket scarf, a lightweight taupe one and a silky one

Now I mentioned another “core item” earlier, and this is it… my navy dress. The reason why it is lonely down here and not with my other core items, is because it doesn’t go with anything else in my wardrobe except these navy heels, and my navy purse.

navy silk scarf, navy dress, navy structured purse and navy high heeled pumps

When I sewed this dress I thought it would be one of these background pieces that you could dress up or down and pair with many different accessories, but it really doesn’t go with anything else! So it just hangs out with my other few navy accessories which still make it an excellent and easy go-to outfit.

But to get back to the capsule wardrobe items that do play well together…

All of my main pieces are easy to mix and match and I can get a fairly good amount of combinations from them. I’m not a mathematician, but if I was, I could figure out the number of unique combinations and I’m sure it would be in the hundreds.  If I added in all of my accessories, I’m sure it would be in the hundreds of thousands. I always used to want to have a large wardrobe with many pieces to choose from in all colours, but I’ve realized over the years, it’s much nicer to have several pieces that work well together and are easy to accessorize. Not only does it make it easier to dress in the morning, but also easier to shop and launder and maintain.

Here are just a few quick outfit combinations I came up with.

First up, my black pleated wool skirt paired with off-white and green accessories. I think I’d wear sheer black or patterned tights (such as polka dots) and for jewelry a short chain necklace and either my silky or woven taupe scarf. My leopard beret would add in some nice texture and pattern as well.

an outfit grid consisting of a black pleated skirt, embroidered cream top, green sweater and leather bag, black ankle boots and a black trench coat

Another green and off white combination. Because I don’t have a black purse, I struggle with which bag to pair with an outfit like this, so either go with this green one, or a tiny clutch if I don’t have to carry much. I would pair this with sheer hosiery, and for jewelry, my pearls.

an outfit grid with a black dress coat with fur cuffs, a black wool skirt, a printed sweater, silky scarf, green purse and mary jane shoes

Now for my houndstooth patterned skirt. You can’t tell in the picture, but in person the brown has a bit of a green undertone, so I’ve got the green purse back in. I’d probably do sheer beige tights and maybe a pin on the lapel of the blazer. 

houndstooth brown skirt outfit grid with a camel coat, brown shoes, a blazer and green purse

For something completely different, here the skirt is paired with black accessories. I’d pair this with sheer beige or black tights and for jewelry a pendant necklace and a hat pin.

brown houndstooth skirt paired with black accessories and coat

Now for a splash of pink, I’ve paired this peach skirt with a casual brown top, gingham scarf (which does coordinate in person, I promise!), a green bag and brown shoes. The coat doesn’t match very well, but it’s what I have, and I wouldn’t be wearing it inside anyway. I’d pair this with sheer tights because the skirt is so lightweight.

peach skirt paired with brown top, brown shoes, green bag and gingham scarf

For the next outfit with the peach skirt, I did the opposite and have all brown accessories and a green top. I’d wear stud earrings and a pendant necklace to finish it off.

peach skirt outfit with a camel coat, green top and brown accessories

Finally, here is my plaid skirt, which goes the best with most of my clothing pieces, so I did four outfit combinations. I originally did three combinations, but since I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago, I found another top!

First a monochromatic look in shades of brown. I’d wear sheer tights and for jewelry do just earrings since the collar takes the place of a necklace.

brown plaid skirt paired with camel coat and all brown accessories and top

Next, an outfit with a mix of black and brown accessories; I have no problem mixing brown and black together, even in leather.  If I wanted this outfit a bit dressier, I could switch the satchel for my top handle brown bag. I would wear black or “hint-o’-black” (which is more of a brown/grey colour) tights with this look, and if I wanted to add a hat, I’d pick my black beret and add a hat pin.

plaid skirt outfit with brown and black pieces paired

Here is a more casual outfit with a mix of predominantly black accessories. I would wear a long pendant necklace with the drapey top, a hat pin, black tights and as for purse, I would probably wear my satchel. I’ve been wearing this outfit basically on repeat this winter, since it’s so easy and comfortable and perfect for a day out running errands.

brown plaid skirt paired with taupe and black accessories and top

And finally an outfit with colour! When I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I was on the lookout for some pink and taupe tops, and I have since found one! This top pairs really nicely with my plaid skirt and brown accessories. Again, I have paired it with the top handle brown purse, a brown scarf and brown shoes, with my camel coat. For jewelry I’d probably do earrings and skip a necklace.

a plaid skirt paired with a pink turtleneck and brown accessories and coat

Well, there are ten outfit combinations to start with, and I didn’t even feature all of the pieces I have in my wardrobe.

I’ve noticed that my colours change a little bit with the seasons; in summer I predominantly wear blue and brown, but in the winter I predominantly wear black and brown! Almost all of these outfits were just a blend of black and brown, with the occasional splash of green and pink. What can I say? I love neutrals! However, I still would like to add some blush pink, taupe and off white to bring in a bit of lightness, and have been actively avoiding looking at black when I’m shopping. Black is chic and versatile, but wearing it head-to-toe is a bit overwhelming for me. As I wrote about in this post, it’s nice to hone in on your signature colours and shop from there. It’s been so helpful when shopping to immediately skip over the pieces I know won’t look good on me and won’t coordinate with the other pieces in my wardrobe. I’ve also got small swatches of fabric of my two brown skirts, so when I’m shopping I can easily see whether the pieces I’m looking at will coordinate with them or not.

The problem with wearing “slow fashion”, though, is that it is also slow to find new pieces. However, I know that there will always be those pieces that I “need” to fill a gap in my wardrobe, and it’s alright if it takes a while to find the right ones. The nice thing about building a capsule wardrobe is that it isn’t static, things are always changing, just as we are, and it’s OK to add and remove pieces as you need them.

So, other than wanting to add in a bit more colour than I currently have, I am really happy with how my capsule/ ten item wardrobe came together this year. It’s nice to be able to put together outfits without overthinking it, and I like the direction it gives me when shopping.

Have you ever heard of the 10 Item Wardrobe? Do you like to have a capsule wardrobe? What are the predominant colours in your closet? And, do you have a seasonal wardrobe, or do you wear the same things year round? 

a group of accessories including hats, gloves, jewelry, collars and clutch bags

Six Books to Read About Intentional & Sustainable Fashion

a stack of fashion books

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 book cover

“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.

overdressed book open to a page

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 book cover

“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.

conscious closet book open to a page

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 book cover

“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.

wear no evil book open to a page

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 book cover

“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 book cover

“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.

the one hundred book open to a page with an illustration of little black dresses

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 book covers

“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) and put 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.

the sartorialist book open to two photos of ladies

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? 

Fashion Revolution Day 2021

a row of dresses hanging in a closet on vintage hangers

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.)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Five Garment Care Tips For Your Spring Wardrobe Transition

woman looking into her closet

Now that Spring has officially arrived, it is time for the seasonal wardrobe transition! I always enjoy the changing of the seasons, and all of the things that go along with that… packing away my cold weather garments and then pulling out my warm weather ones always makes for a rather fun afternoon task- it’s kind of like opening presents! Switching your wardrobe around for a new season does take a bit of time, but it is also the perfect opportunity for a bit of garment care and maintenance as well. Here is how I go about switching around my closet, as well as some of the tasks that I like to do each season to keep my clothes and shoes in good condition.

Depending on where you live, transitioning your wardrobe might not be very drastic, and if you don’t live in a climate with four distinct seasons, it might not even be necessary. (Or if you live in the Southern hemisphere, you’ll be pulling out your fall and winter clothes) Here in Alberta we definitely do have four seasons but, while it is now officially spring, we certainly will have some cold days left, so I am not doing a complete wardrobe switch.

There are some etiquette “rules” that I like to follow for my closet, just because they make sense for me and the climate where I live. According to Miss Manners, here are some seasonal wardrobe rules:

Straw should not be worn before Easter nor after Labour Day. 

-Velvet should be worn between October 1 and March 1.

-Furs should not be worn between the months of March to September

-White should not be worn after Labour Day, nor before Memorial Day. (This one is rather archaic, and a better rule to abide by, rather than colour, is judging the weight of the fabric you are wearing. Gauzy white linen is not appropriate for fall and winter, depending on the climate of where you live, of course, but a white wool coat or stockings is a completely different matter!)

clothes laying out ready to be packed away

I moved my strictly winter garments, such as my fur collars, winter coats, berets and lined boots into storage and then rotated my lighter spring and summer items into my closet. While I might not wear some of them right away, because we do still have cool days ahead, I brought them out so I have something to look forward too! I most likely won’t wear my straw hats until Easter, but it’s still nice to take them out and hang them up too. I also don’t have that much space, so I have to trade the items in and out, to fit them all back into my closet. I keep my in-season clothes hanging in my bedroom closet, and put the out-of-season clothes in a suitcase.

I did leave some of the more “seasonally ambiguous” items in my closet, such as my brown Oxford pumps. Rather than moving them out with the winter wear, I decided to keep them in since I might be able to wear them while the days are still cool.

straw hats hanging on a peg rack

Before I put each item into storage, I made sure to look it over and see if it needed any cleaning or other repair. There’s nothing worse than pulling your shoes or clothes out in six months for the next season, and then having to wait to wear it until you can repair it, or even worse than that, it has become irreparably damaged from sitting. So, here are five of my garment care tips to do before packing your winter clothes away for the season.

Doing Laundry

handwashing clothes in a basin

Depending on the soil level, I don’t wash my clothes after every single wear. Some garments can be worn a few times before they need laundering, and if your clothes are delicates then they will actually benefit from less washing. Before you pack the clothes away, though, make sure to clean them so they don’t sit with dirt or odours for months. Dirty clothes in storage can attract moths or other pests, and any light stains on the fabric might set over the months and become a much bigger issue for you later on.

If you have “dry clean” items, you may be able to spot clean them yourself. I don’t like dry cleaning my clothes, because it’s not actually really cleaning and the chemicals are so pollutant and unhealthy. Thus, I prefer to do most of my own washing, though sometimes dry cleaning is a necessary evil. You can often spot clean your wool or hand wash delicate items. If you do decide to wash a woolen item, and it ends up wrinkled or out of shape, you can take it to the dry cleaners for a “press only”. I have done this before with pleated skirts and they come back looking so much better than I could ever get them to look with my iron at home. Once you’ve cleaned your items, make sure they are completely dry before storing. If you are storing your out of season clothes in bins or boxes, you can also add in cedar sachets to keep pests out.

Brushing & Shaving Your Woollens

brushing a wool coat with a lint remover brush

Brushing wool is a new habit for me, and I learned this from the book How to Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman. She talked about brushing wool clothes rather than washing them in order to clean them, and I had never heard of that! So, I have ordered myself a clothes brush with natural bristles (that is what she recommends in order to not damage the fabric over time) and once it arrives, I plan on brushing all of my winter coats before putting them away.

In the mean time, I will go over my coats with a velvet lint brush, as well as a pill remover/shaver. It’s amazing what a difference a brushing and shaving can do! A clothes brush works so much better than those sticky lint rollers, to take out the dust and dirt that collects. This is a good practice to get into a regular habit of doing, to keep your clothes in good condition, but it is especially important to do before you store your clothes.

Cleaning & Polishing Your Leather Shoes

cleaning your leather shoes

This is such a simple thing to do to keep your leather in good repair, but it’s the one task that I always neglect. I am trying to get better at doing this more frequently, but I always seem to procrastinate and put it off for far longer than I should. (This is probably because shoe polish smells like death…and probably brings you closer to death as well…?) Every time I do get around to polishing my shoes, though, I am amazed at the transformation and vow to do it more often! I haven’t tried any of the more natural leather conditioners yet, but I’ve ordered one to try on my purse. I think it’s a natural wax that doesn’t smell as bad as regular shoe polish, so maybe I’ll use it more often!

shoes ready to be polished

Cleaning and polishing or conditioning your leather is a good thing to do regularly, but is also very important to do before your put your winter shoes away. Salt stains from ice-melt burn leather and if left untreated can ruin a good pair of shoes (I’ve had that happen before!) and other stains will only get worse over time.

First clean your shoes with a leather cleaner and a soft rag. (I clean mine with a suede cleaner solution since that is what I have on hand, and it works well.) Once your shoes are dry, you can polish them with either a cream or wax polish in a matching colour. I’ve heard different cobblers recommend both options, so I’m not sure which is better!

polishing and shining shoes

I’ve also just started using a shoe brush that we got from my Grampa, and I have no idea why I was using just a rag before- the brush gives such a nice polish! I like to finish the shoes off with a little sponge for a nice shine, and then they are done.

polished black high heeled shoes

In the image on the left, the shoe on the left is unpolished, and the shoe on the right shows the difference that polishing makes! The final result is in the photo on the right.

For any shoes that need more serious repairs, you can take them to a cobbler for fixing. I am so hard on my shoes, and have really done a number on some of my favourite pairs (such as ripping the finish off the toe of the aforementioned Oxford heels!) but it’s amazing how cobblers are able to restore them back to – almost- as good as new!

Storing Your Shoes 

shoeboxes with shoes wrapped in tissue paper for storage

Once all of my shoes are polished and clean, I put them into shoe boxes with tissue paper in between to keep them from leaning on each other, and then put them back in my closet. I stack all of my shoeboxes on the top shelf in that inconvenient corner of the closet that you can’t quite reach, since it isn’t useful for storing things you actually need to access on a regular basis!

shoes in fabric shoebags

I don’t have quite enough boxes for all of my boots and shoes, since I only keep the shoeboxes with aesthetics. There were a couple of pairs of boots and shoes that I didn’t have boxes for, so I made some fabric bags to store them in, to keep the dust and dirt off, and they work just as nicely as boxes do.

Using Garment Bags

garment bag over coat hanging on a peg rack

Coats can get so dusty while hanging in the closet over the summer, so I put a garment bag over the top of them- especially after having gone to the trouble to brush them clean! It is important to use cloth garment bags, not the plastic bags that come over dry-cleaning, because plastic can trap in moisture and cause your fabric to get musty. Instead of purchasing garment bags, I made some for myself out of vintage pillowcases. I’ve been using pillowcases as garment bags for a few years now, but had never gotten around to actually sewing them into the proper shape, so I decided it was finally time to do that.

tracing a hanger to make a garment bag

To make your own, all you have to do is take a pillowcase and sew it into the shape you need. Pillowcases are easily found at thrift stores, or maybe you even have a few extra in your linen cupboard (or you can, of course, sew a rectangle of fabric to the width you need). Trace the hanger you will be using onto the wrong side of your pillowcase, and make sure to double check your tracing with a ruler, so you don’t end up with a lopsided angle. Curve the seam where it meets at the sides.

sewing a garment bag out of a pillowcase

Sew along the line, then open a little hole in the seam at the top, for the hanger to go through. I hand stitched the top edge around that hole to keep it from unraveling, and then trimmed off the excess fabric with pinking shears. Flip it inside out and pop it over your coats, and that will keep them nice and clean until next fall!

Once I finished these garment care tasks, my seasonal wardrobe transition was done. Doing these tasks adds some time and is not as much fun, but it is worth it! Keeping your clothes and shoes in good repair will reduce your wardrobe costs over time, since you won’t have to replace your items due to damage. And, not only will it save you money in the long run, but your clothes will look better too; wearing a pair of freshly polished shoes is always going to elevate your outfit!

Do you switch out your wardrobe seasonally? What sorts of garment care or maintenance do you do for your clothes each season?

Who Made My Fabric?

fashion revolution 2020

Today is the 7th anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory tragedy in Bangladesh. Today I ask, “Who Made my Clothes?” because never again can 1,134 people lose their lives from unsafe working conditions.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about supply chains, because so many people worldwide are involved in the manufacture of clothing and textiles.

Cotton is grown and harvested, spun into fibre in mills, woven into fabric, cut into pieces, sewn into garments and then sold in a shop…it’s a lot of steps and a lot of people are involved along the way.

I don’t buy very many new garments. To be honest, tagging a brand today doesn’t make very much sense.(The last new piece of clothing I purchased was in October.)

The majority of my wardrobe is vintage, thrifted or home sewn, so, I’ve been thinking about the supply chain in my own homesewn garments. What kind of impact does the fabric I use have? Who made that fabric? Who made my thread? Who made my buttons and zippers and snaps…

Fabric in some ways is actually harder to trace origins as there usually isn’t any indication as to where it came from. I would love to be able to walk into a fabric store and easily see where the fabric came from, how it was dyed, whether it was made in a closed loop…

Do I have any answers for how to get from here to there? Not really, but it’s a question I’d like to start exploring more. Just being a bit more mindful with new fabric purchases, taking time to seek out fabric companies that are doing things right, buying 100% natural fibres, and in the meantime using up my stash and seeking out second-hand fabric (this skirt was made from vintage fabric I found in a thrift store!)

How have you taken part in Fashion Revolution this year? Do you have any other ideas for making home sewing more ethical?