Use your nose, mandarin collars, 2020 greens and Rectangles

Use your nose, mandarin collars, 2020 greens and Rectangles

How Using your nose can save the planet

“I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don’t have any clean laundry, because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?” –Anonymous-

And guess what? Washing less also equals less impact from your clothing on the environment. Since I rarely do out and out dirty work in my job anymore I have started to give my outer clothes the sniff test before tossing them in the laundry basket automatically.  If they pass back in the closet or drawer they go.

According to this article in Treehugger 75 to 80% of our clothing’s lifestyle impact comes from laundry. The average household uses 13,500 gallons of water a year doing laundry. Front loading machines cut that back significantly by using 7000 gallons less. Now imagine if you cut your number of loads per week in half just by doing the sniff test.  Hanging your clothes instead of using a dryer will cut down on electricity use (but maybe crowd your minimal living space).

Use the coolest temperature water you can. Heating water accounts for a large amount of energy use when it comes to laundry.

To avoid ironing, hang your clothing up immediately instead of letting it sit around balled up.

Reconsider dry cleaning. Avoid buying things that say dry clean only. If you are open to experimenting, many sweaters and delicates that say dry clean only can be hand washed.

Another bonus? Your clothing will last longer when you wash less often, don’t use the dryer or an iron and use cooler water.

And now if you run into me on the street I hope you will know me because I am smiling about not doing laundry and not because my sniffer isn’t as good as it used to be.

Clothing detail of the week -Mandarin collar

A mandarin collar is a subtle little  stand up collar that is  basically the stand for a collar without the collar part attached. It is typically narrow but can be wider. It is typically thought of as an Asian look because it was used on Chinese military uniforms. Related styles are the Nehru collar and the band collar. What memories or feelings do the Mandarin collar create for you?

These girl’s costumes have a mandarin collar

2020 Greens Biscay Green and Chive

Have you tried either of these colors? I could see myself in a pair of chive green hiking pants on the trail!

Body Shape for the week – Rectangle

In a rectangular body shape the hips and shoulders are equal in measurement and the waist is not clearly defined. This body shape benefits most from defining a waist. This can be done with a design line, belt or other detail that creates a waist. This shape benefits from adding width to the shoulders and hips so that the waist appears narrower. A peplum top with additional shoulder details would do this well.

 

Rectangle body shape line drawing
Traceability Report, Portrait Collar and Summer Yellows

Traceability Report, Portrait Collar and Summer Yellows

“I like my money right where I can see it: hanging in my closet.” – Carrie Bradshaw 

What do you think of this quote? First instincts? It sounds joyous especially at first glance. That is part of what made the show so fun. Unfettered joy and drama in getting dressed up and shopping. A retailer’s dream show and shopper. Confetti. I wish I could feel it. But there is too much undercurrent in my thoughts to allow this to be my motto. More power to you if you can enjoy this much consumption. And if these companies that make these expensive clothes are providing quality and supporting all employees at all levels of the process from maker to seller with a supportive lifestyle including health care, a safe work environment and enough income to provide good safe food and shelter for themselves and their families then I am all in for paying the price.

I have never craved designer items – Quality might make my mouth water but not necessarily the name attached to it. And I certainly wouldn’t spend on a designer name unless it was quality or secondhand. Do you think new cars lose value as soon as you drive them off the lot? Well then the depreciation on a clothing item as soon as you take it out of the store would blow your mind.

I just did a quick search on the Real Real for Prada shoes. A low top Prada sneaker at Nordstrom retails for $590 to $620. On the Real Real a never worn leather sneaker is $225 and you can get a 20% off coupon.

Now let’s look at the traceability of their supply lines. I am not picking on Prada it just happens to be the first designer line that came to mind in my search. Before starting this article I really hadn’t done much research into them but now I am curious. I pulled up my copy of the  2020 Fashion Transparency Index and looked up Prada in the traceability scoring.

 

Traceability includes such things as:

Does the brand disclose where their final production factories are?

Do they disclose their processing facilities that are earlier in the game – ginning, spinning, embroidering, dying etc. ?

Do they disclose their suppliers of raw materials?

Do they do any tracing on their suppliers to make sure they are being told the truth? 

Then are they sharing verified information about these facilities including: 

The address of the facility

  • The types of products/services made in each supplier facility
  • Approximate number of workers
  • Sex-disaggregated breakdown of workers at each site
  • If the facility has a trade union
  • If the facility has an independent worker committee
  • % of migrant or contract workers
  • Name of parent company
  • The business relationship between facilities at different levels of their supply chain
  • If the list is available as a csv or Excel spreadsheet
  • If the list was updated within the past 6 months

I hope you can see why this information is so important to determining if a fashion supply house is just giving lip service to responsibility or really participating in making the world a better place.

Prada scored in the 11-20% range.  

You can get your own report and look up your favorite brand here: https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/transparency/ 

So I’m sure none of this was on Carrie’s mind but if it was I am all in.

Photo from https://sexandthecity.fandom.com/

Organized dressing area

Do you have a clean organized closet?

Creating one is well worth your time. Doing so can help eliminate confusion in the morning, up your style game, give you a plan for shopping that will help eliminate duplicate purchases, fill holes in your closet, help you see what you really have and finally help save the earth. 

When it comes to closets I believe less is more. Evaluating your lifestyle in terms of what you really need to own in terms of clothing, evaluating your style in terms of how you want to be perceived,  and paying attention to what sorts of clothing brings a smile to your face when you put it on is the first step in culling. 

How many pairs of black pants or blue jeans do you really need? There are only 7 days in the week. If that was all you wore and you only did wash once a week then 7 would be the max (assuming you can’t wear them more than one day a week between washing). Do you keep going out and buying black pants? Why? Evaluate your lifestyle to see what you really need. 

Do the clothes you own reflect you the way you feel and want to be seen?  Having clothes with holes in them may be how you want to reflect if you are proud of the fact that you reuse and never buy new. A better choice might be to do an artistic mending job, alteration or remake so this wear looks planned and not inadvertent. If wearing clothes with holes in them is not a choice you are consciously making and you don’t want to repair, then get rid of them. Goodwill and other textile recycling organizations now take ripped and stained clothing and turn them into other items. They no longer need to go in the garbage. So get rid of them without guilt and try to buy better quality next time. 

When you look at the clothes in your closet, which items bring a smile to your face? Which items do you wear most often? Are there things hanging there that bring you grief instead of joy? (i.e. too small or last worn on divorce day?) Get rid of them. They are keeping you stuck. Life is short. Let’s have some forward motion. 

If you want to get started on your own, try my closet makeover plan for free. 

If you need help, drop me a line.

Fashion Trends

Summer 2020 yellows Saffron, lark and sunlight 

Yellow! Yellow! Yellow! Brings me joy. Please wear some.

Pleated Portrait Collar on 5th Ave Dress pattern

Clothing detail of the week- portrait collar

 

This vintage style collar is a face framing gem and attention getter. It is very large and wide. It is probably called a portrait collar because it frames your beautiful face and highlights your neck and upper chest. It can be sexy or subdued depending on styling.  The collar can be simple or ruffled. The same color or a contrasting color.

Try one out and be framed.

Triangle guidelines – always a guide NEVER a rule 

The triangle body shape is larger on the bottom than the top. To achieve body balance which is a trompe l’oeil  that creates a top and bottom that are equal with a defined waist, make the upper body look larger. This can be done with color – (like one of the 2020 yellows worn with a darker bottom) or print or it can be done with design details like necklines, ruffles, sleeve styles, seam lines.  The portrait collar discussed today moves all the attention up! 

As a general rule for every body shape you want to avoid straight lines across the widest part of your body. This means don’t have a hemline or color break across your hips which are the widest part of a triangle. Instead move that hem up or down to a narrower part of your body. Another option would be to make that hemline a diagonal or vertical that moves the eye up and down not sideways.  The design lines should always lead the eye to where you want it not where you don’t. 

Play around, try something new and have fun experimenting. Look at the items in your closet with this in mind. Are there some items you like? Could any of these guides be part of the reason?

drawing of triangle body shape
Here comes summer!

Here comes summer!

My favorite season is around the corner. I love summer. I grew up in Michigan and was surrounded by lakes to swim in. As a youngster I would get to swim all day while my mother cleaned the homes of the “summer people”. It is surprising she let us because she was terrified of the water. We took our swimming lessons in the “ice tea” water of the river.

As a teenager I drove around with a swimsuit, floatie and towel in the trunk of my car and never missed a chance to jump in the lake. That swimsuit didn’t take up much room because it was a little orange bikini. When I was a teen it didn’t really matter what I wore, I thought it looked great. Now I find myself looking at bathing suits with a much different eye. I want a bit more coverage for lots of reasons. And I want some substance to it so there isn’t any jiggling! Funny how what we think about ourselves and our bodies changes over the years.

When I went to college one of my room mates wouldn’t go swimming because she couldn’t stand how she looked in a swimsuit. I felt so sorry for her but didn’t even realize that not going swimming because you hated how you looked was a possibility let alone have any idea how to help her

50 some years later, I have created a video about those messages we send ourselves. I believe hearing them is the first step to changing them. Next week I’ll share some tips on changing them.

For now I invite you to dream about what you will do in whatever swimsuit you get. Maybe you will just lounge by the pool in the warm sunshine, or kayak down the river, or waterski or actually swim! Those days are coming and finding a swimsuit that lets you comfortably do those activities you love is the first step. Did you know you can save some grief in the fitting room by knowing what style of suit will work best with your body type?

You can snag my guide to swimsuits by body type here.

Swimsuits are made from some of the least environmentally friendly fabrics there are so getting one that you love and would love to wear until it wears out is one way to save the earth. Taking care to rinse out the chlorine right after you use it and gentle washing will extend the life.

You may get lucky and find something at a thrift, vintage or consignment shop and if you do I admire your diligence.

I found this article from The Good Trade with links to several swim manufacturers using recycled plastics for swimwear. I plan to try Summersalt when my current suit wears out.

Summersalt also had a quiz to shop for certain features (including butt coverage and torso length) by size to help you choose a swimsuit.  And pricing was quite reasonable.

I hope to be in the water enough this summer to wear out my suit. How about you?

What are your favorite swimsuit memories?

Muscatine Iowa – Pearl button capitol

Muscatine Iowa – Pearl button capitol

Who would have guessed that buttons were the cause of the decline of fresh water clams in the Mississippi River? Or that Muscatine Iowa was known as the pearl button capitol of the world? Not me. This is what I find fascinating about travel. The opportunity to learn.

From the 1890’s to the 1900’s pearl buttons were made by cutting blanks from freshwater clams. These blanks were polished, sanded, and then drilled to create buttons which adorned many types of clothing. Harvesting the clams with rakes from the bottom of the river provided an income for many during these times. Unfortunately the demand for buttons caused over harvesting of the clams and the industry began to decline in the 1920’s. Around this time other materials also became available. The last factory closed in 1967.

The clams were just beginning to recover when they became a source of freshwater pearls. According to the Wisconsin DNR site “In 1995, more than one million pounds of shell were removed from the river in Wisconsin and shipped to Japan for use in the cultured pearl industry.”

 It is hard to not keep seeing the problems of over consuming clothing. The costs to our environment whether your items are made naturally or artificially are huge. Buy quality and wear it forever! Easier to say than do. Be conscious of what you want the future to look like but don’t beat yourself up over past choices. Move forward in a thinking way.

Care for your boots and shoes

Care for your boots and shoes

Do you have a pair of boots or shoes that are classics, well made and that you love to wear? You can extend their life and save money by caring for and storing them properly as well as making inexpensive repairs. I had this amazing pair of black leather motorcycle boots that were an unusual splurge for me. I wore them a lot and could walk for miles in them. The heels were wearing down so before it got too late I took them to the shoe repair shop and for $20 got new heels! Good as new and comfortable as ever. In addition I try to polish and condition the leather 2-3 times during the season (which is probably not enough if I wear them regularly). When I put them away I stuff newspaper inside. This absorbs odor and moisture and keeps them upright in my closet.

What is your favorite shoe care technique?

 

Be memorable doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot

Be memorable doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot

Buying items at thrift and consignment stores is good for the environment and your wallet. Another inexpensive source of clothing could be some of the neighborhood groups, Facebook marketplace and free cycle groups that have been set up to share items no longer wanted. There are even online used clothing sites such as Thred Up and Poshmark where you can buy used items or items from others closets.  A site called The Real Real calls itself a luxury consignment sales shop.

Being a beneficiary of someone else’s buying mistakes can save you real money.  On a recent shopping trip I made to the local Salvation Army on 4th Ave in Seattle I found some great buys.

The outfit on the left is made up of an Eddie Bauer goose down vest $7.50 , Acrylic/wool blend green sweater $4. The scarf is one my mother knit for me and the shoes and jeans are a thrift store find from a while ago.

The berry colored cardigan on the right was $4. The navy knit jacket in the  middle was from another thrift shopping trip and was  a splurge for me at $15.

You don’t save time shopping this way and you may not find what is on your list without making several trips. Here are my tips for Goodwill and Consignment shopping.

  • Go with a list. It will save you time and you will avoid those same frivolous purchases you make at real stores.
  • Go prepared to easily try things on without a dressing room if need be. This means slip on shoes, leggings and a camisole.
  • Know what your colors and styles are so you don’t get discouraged. Since these stores are filled with items from many different brands a size 10 or 14 is not necessarily a size 10 or 14 – if you know what I mean. Limiting yourself to only try on silhouettes and colors that you know should be a flattering choice for you will save time.
  • This can also be the place to pick up something you aren’t sure about. It is an inexpensive try. Like the sequin jacket in the middle – would I really wear it? Fortunately I love it.
  • Get a cart. Everything that fits and is the right color should be taken to a window usually in the front of the store where you can hold them up and closely inspect for rips, tears, pilling and stains. An item that looks worn out is not a good addition to your wardrobe.
  • Ask about the return policy. In spite of following all the rules you may get home and find your great deal is not as great as you might have hoped. Our local Salvation Army and Goodwill currently offer a 7 day exchange for store credit if the tags are still on.
  • Read the labels to make sure you aren’t going to have to spend a fortune on dry cleaning.
  • Be prepared to run everything through the wash once you get home.
  • Remember to take the price tag off (especially shoes). I once walked into a meeting and fortunately a fellow thrifter pointed out the tag before I took the stage. 
  • HAVE FUN and allow yourself time.

People ask me “Aren’t you worried about someone seeing you in their stuff they gave away?” My answer is no. Everything that is manufactured is made in multiple units. This means there are already multiples of whatever you buy running around with someone else wearing them. There is no way for a person who donated an item to know if this is what they gave or not. 

I would be happy to make a Goodwill or consignment store run with you after we meet to sort our your style and needs. If you have the patience it can be an amazing source of unique finds.

What is the best thing you have found this way?