Day 182

June 30th, 2016

The rest of the journey.

Outfit: Black dress summer version, made in kakhi linen, no back princess seams, box pleat.

I want to take today to thank everyone who came along for the ride. Everyone who gave me a ‘like’ and a thumbs up whenever they liked my posts or pictures and for those who said nothing when the outfits could have been better.

I have learned so much over the past 6 months and I am grateful for those of you who’ve told me you have too. Thank you for listening and for caring.

Special thanks go to those people who lent me items so that I could continue to add variety. To the shops:

Unless Market

Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift Store

Jen’s 14 Plus Consignment

Georgie Girl

To Shelley, Carmen, Renee and Carol who also provided items.

I want to thank my family for putting up with me for the past 6 months, for climbing over the photo booth and not complaining when supper was late because I had to take more pictures. Mike, thanks for the website, it is awesome.

To date I have raised $1660 towards my charities! Thank you all. I will leave the Gofundme campaign open for another week, for those who would like to add to that.

As this chapter ends, another begins. I’m not sure what it will look like, but I will invite you along when I decide! Thank you again.

Day 180

June 28th, 2016

# 10 Educate yourself and others. Change your perspective on value and give yourself a break.

Outfit: Black dress worn backwards

Finally. On this last day of the 180 Style Challenge I want to leave you with a challenge for yourself. I challenge you to consider shifting your perspective.

Did you watch the video I posted yesterday? (NO? Go back and watch it and then come back to this…) In the video they talk about a ‘beat’ which is basically pausing to evaluate and possibly change directions. I call that a 180° turn. That’s why I called this challenge the 180 Style Challenge.  To turn 180 degrees is to go in the exact opposite direction of where you were going. And when it comes to sustainability that’s what it takes sometimes.

It means changing perspective on our meaning of ‘value’

We are told that it is such a great deal you can’t afford not to get it. Our generation believes that we are richer than we really are simply because we can afford lots of stuff. What we don’t stop to think about is that half of the ‘stuff’ we buy is of such substandard value and quality that, this great deal is in fact a great deal of garbage that will either fall apart by the time we wash it or in terms of trends, be out of style by the time we leave the store.

Instead, if we think of value in terms of longevity and performance, we start to put more importance on factors other than price. For instance, what is it made of? Or how is it made? Other values include, who made it? Does it support my lifestyle? Is it in check with my environmental beliefs? Does it improve the lives of those around me?

Understandably we cannot answer everything, and sometimes the answers are not what we want to hear; sometimes our choices are limited. But, I do believe that taking a step back to even ask the questions will eventually give us a more balanced perspective to consuming and to purchasing things, and that’s something that we can feel good about.

I recently read a post about becoming sustainable, and I’d like to end today with an excerpt from it, as it echoes my sentiments perfectly. We cannot expect perfection when we are striving for such a radical change, but we can keep going slowly and with intention: One step at a time.

From the quote by George Eliot who once wrote of this, “It will never rain roses… When we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses.” Erin, the author of “Design For Mankind”, uses the metaphor of planting and growing roses as an image for sustainable living. Here’s what she said,

“Slow living is a slow process. We will get it right and we will get it wrong. Our garden will bloom for months and then we’ll lose focus – life will get busy, or hard – and we’ll forget to pay attention to our efforts. We’ll wish for the roses to rain again, for life to be simple again, for the work to get easier, and when will it get easier?

Planting will never be easier.

But the roses are worth it, nearly every time.”

From The Truth about Minimalism

Thank you for following me on this journey of planting roses.

Day 179

June 28th, 2016

# 9 No fast fashion. Learn to develop your own style.

Outfit: Black dress worn forward, over boyfriend jeans, tan MizMooz wedge shoes. Antique rose drop earrings. Unique neck piece, yes, that is made out of doilies. I’m going with it!

Buy style not fads. Current fashion retailers like to tell you that trends are moving fast and that in order to be fashionable you need to pick up the latest and greatest. They do not tell you that the only reason they are moving fast is because they designed it that way. Fast fashion feeds into our need for instant gratification and constant change. In this society where it is hard to stay put for more than 30 minutes at anything that is not on a screen, fast fashion fits right in. The problem is that you could not possibly re-invent fashion so much that it would be so different each time. The proof of this is that they are now re-introducing trends that were in vogue just a few years ago. 80’s and 90’s is cool again? High waist jeans?  Seriously? And they talk about it like it’s the greatest and newest thing since sliced bread. Like nobody has done it before! So what is the solution to this? In the words of Coco Chanel:

“When fashion fades, style remains”.

You must be able to discover what it is that looks good on you. Not only proportion, style and texture, but also what fits your personality and everyday life. A lot of sustainable brands are no longer targeting an age or income demographic, but rather a lifestyle, because this is what will ultimately dictate your preference in clothing.

I want to invite you to watch this video from Cladwell. Remember the company I mentioned a few days ago on building wardrobe capsules? The video does not talk about the business, but about fast fashion and why we should take a different route when approaching our purchases.

Why We Want to (beat) Fast Fashion




Day 178

June 26th, 2016

#8 Buy less often, buy better: comes down to Quality.

Outfit: Black dress worn as a jacket, ruffle tank top, dress shorts, beaded long necklace, tan Dansko sandals (have had them for 5 years= quality)

Quality not Quantity.

For this you may have to go ask grandma. You need to learn about quality finishes, seams and fabrics. About what makes a well cut garment lie flat vs. one where corners were cut (no pun intended).

Have you ever gotten a T shirt from a cheap source and even by looking at it on the hanger you can tell it is twisting to the side? What makes it do that is the fact that the factory decided to save fabric by cutting off-grain. The result is side seams that are on a bias cut (angled) and they either wave, stretch or twist. So you take the shirt home because it was 10 bucks, and you wear it once, because after you washed it, the problem got worse, only now it has shrunk and it is gathering on the side. The shirt ends up in the garbage and now you have to go back to the store to buy another $10 shirt for the next week. This would not happen if you bought a better quality shirt that was cut on grain.

But how do you make sure that you don’t get taken because more expensive doesn’t always translate into better-made. Well, you learn about finishes, and seams, and fabric. So go ask grandma…or take a class, or even look online.

I found a plethora of guidelines on how to spot quality and although I won’t post all of them here, I will tell you this, they all focus on seams, fabric and finishes. Quick tips: if you open the garment and there’re lots of loose threads, or the seams are crooked or if you pull the two pieces that the seams are connecting lightly and they bunch up, then don’t buy the outfit. Look for buttons that are securely stitched, more stitches per inch (16-20 is great) and self-facings, linings and wider seam allowances. For more information, check out this link it goes into great detail.

Another way to assess whether or not your purchase is worth it, is Cost per wear.

That 10 dollar shirt seemed like a good deal at first, but when you calculate the amount of times you replace it, the cost per wear becomes an issue.  I talked about this on day 99, and there are some great links and examples on that post, but basically it explains that something that may appear to be expensive on paper is actually more cost effective because it will last years due to  its quality and because it is not a fad. Another great insight on why cheaper  does not equal value is this article by Lifehacker, Cheap Clothes Are Too Expensive: Buy Quality Instead

The trend of buying less and buying better is catching on, in  The Power of Buying Less by Buying Better from The Atlantic, the author outlines a couple of brands that actually bet on the consumer buying less because their product will last longer. Point in case the 30 year sweatshirt and Cuyana whose tag line is ‘Fewer, better things’. These companies and many others like them acknowledge the fact that clothing has become disposable and are trying to combat this by providing the consumer with higher quality items that will last longer.

Day 177

June 25th, 2016

# 7 Minimize to maximize: Build a wardrobe capsule

Outfit: Black dress worn forwards, red runners. Yellow bag (thrifted) and yellow visor (I know…too much, but hey I’m going to watch soccer and if it’s sunny…it will be just right!)

I’m pretty sure this is the next step I’ll be taking after I finish the challenge. Although I don’t know how exactly I will do it (I’m still in the process of researching it) I do know how I won’t. If you Google “How to build a wardrobe capsule”, you get a ton of links on how to go about it. However, beware of the articles that say they are capsules yet they are not. According to “You are doing the wardrobe capsule wrong“, by Kelly Dougher for Fashion magazine, some of these articles recommend having a capsule for each season, so every 3 months and that would be 30+ pieces each time. How is that a wardrobe capsule? You basically end up with over 120 pieces! I realize though, that number may very well be minimizing for some people, I know some enthusiasts have way more clothing than that, and so, downsizing to a 30 piece rotation is a great step. But if you don’t have a Kardashian closet full, and you truly want to learn how to maximize what you own, then a true wardrobe capsule should be year-round and between 30- 50 pieces.

Exactly what goes into your capsule should depend on your own lifestyle, personality and style. I don’t believe that one size fits all when it comes to this because we are all different. We have different preferences and obligations, so it is silly to expect a stay at home mom to have a wardrobe that is the same as a working single woman or that what works in Florida would work in Calgary.

You can try making your own capsule wardrobe following some of the blogs found, or you can subscribe to a service. One of the ones I came across is called Cladwell Capsules and I love it. I might actually subscribe to them if I fail miserably on my own. But I want to try and come up with my own version first. However, Cladwell seems to be a very viable option if you don’t feel like re-inventing the wheel.

In the end it doesn’t matter how you arrive, simply that you do. So whether you go DIY or through a personal service, finding ways to downsize, purge and minimize will ultimately help you maximize your closet’s potential.

Good luck!

Day 176

June 24th, 2016

# 6 Mend your clothes: The  art of fixing: on the verge of extinction?

Outfit: Black dress worn forward, ribbon lace applique basted onto neckline, Miz Mooz wedges (fave shoe right now). Pearl bracelet, hoop earrings.

How many people do you know that will discard a garment because a seam came undone or a button fell off? A lot of people consider the problem a manufacturing flaw rather than simple wear and tear. Having worn the same garment for weeks on end I came to a realization I hadn’t had before. When you wear something often, it requires repairs! There’re tears from getting caught on the dog’s gate, the hem came undone at one point, and points of strain are getting worn. Suddenly I knew why the pioneers would spend the evenings around the fire with a pile of clothes to mend! They were rebuilding their clothing. This is one of those things we take for granted in our society, because sometimes we don’t wear the same blouse for weeks. Then the wear and tear is not as obvious to it. I truly believe that in spite of saving us hours of alterations by the fire, we’ve lost instead of gained. I fear that by not having to fix our everyday clothing we’ve lost a connection to the creative process. We lost the pride and feeling of accomplishment that comes from solving a problem to a very real dilemma. We’ve also lost that connection that came from spending time with others performing small tasks. This is very similar to the knitting circle article (Day 38), where we talked about how the human element to crafting together actually is beneficial to your well-being. Who knew?

I cannot tell you the amount of people who’ve told me, they can’t buy something because it’s too long or the sleeves are the wrong width, or it is just a bit too big? Ever considered altering? Here’s the thing…and I say this with love… (again in retail), when you get people complaining that the garment at hand does not fit them properly so they will not buy it because shortening it is too expensive, I often find myself thinking “Are you kidding me? Let me get this straight, you are all for mass-production, ready-to-wear-cheap clothing but you want it to fit you and your friend perfectly because you are both a small, never mind that she’s 5’1 and has a 36” bust and you are 6’ tall with a 38” bust.  And you want it all for $19.95?!”

We are a society of oximorons. We want it cheap, unique and perfect fit. Unfortunately we can’t have all three at once. So, when I suggest a simple alteration like shortening the sleeves. Often I hear a ‘Oh…I never thought of that!’

How about it? Wanna give it a try? Wanna learn how to hem your pants so the edges won’t fray from dragging on the floor (can’t even imagine the amount of stuff that collects there). Wanna learn how to sew a button back up so you can do up your jacket? How about learning to darn a hole or re-stitch a seam? It seems daunting when you didn’t learn from the get go. Maybe your parents didn’t know the skill, or maybe you had no interest in learning it. But right now, we are approaching a time where the skill of sewing is disappearing and I feel it is crucial to bring it back. It is not only a life-skill like learning to cook or do laundry, it is also beneficial to basic motor and hand eye coordination, which is good for your brain!

To prove my point, check out this article from the Guardian, in the UK, “The rise of mending: how Britain learned to repair clothes again” acknowledges the need to bring back mending to society and encourages people to pick up the habit.

There are many ways to learn to mend clothes. You can take a local class or simply go online. Lots of tutorials on Youtube, but I realize that can be overwhelming. I found two great resources. The first one is they have lots of guides to repair almost anything. They’ve partnered with Patagonia to teach consumers how to mend their product line.

The other website is called Love your Clothes, and it is a UK campaign to reduce the impact of clothing on the environment. I LOVE this site. There are so many great resources in it, but their mending tutorials especially, are great.

I wanted to leave you with an example of how easy it could be to learn to sew a button: Here’s a picture of Victoria my youngest, sewing a button on her teacher’s gift. Now, if a 9 year old can do this…so can you!


Day 175

June 23rd, 2016

# 5 Support better companies: Buy Local

Outfit: Black dress worn over cream capris. Tan Miz Mooz wedges, crystal long glass necklace, black skinny belt. 

There’s the big box company. There’s the small local enterprise. One has the buying power -cheap prices, the other one knows their clientele. How do you make the choice?

Buying local shouldn’t be hard right? But the truth is that sometimes local does not come with as much selection and it may be pricier. Once again, we gotta look at the bigger picture.

Remember the stats I shared with you day 74? Let me refresh your memory:

For every $100 spent at a chain store, $18 return to the community, for every $100 spent at a local store, $46 make it back to your neighborhood.

Those are pretty clear stats. So buying local should be a no-brainer. It is easy to imagine the 100 mile rule when it comes to food.  But when it comes to clothing that simply cannot apply. For starters, most clothing is made overseas. Most fabric is also made outside of Canada. As I wrote on day 72 being a local designer needs to be understood as Country wide-local. However, local also applies to businesses. Small boutiques vs. large clothing chains. These stores will generally carry better made garments, have great customer service and care for you individually as a customer. They must value your business or they will be out of it.

In spite of the odds being against locally made in Canada, there are many who are persevering. The website Fashion Capsule is a great resource for designers and it focuses in BC and especially Under their “Dress Local” category, you will find almost 100 links to Vancouver/Lower Mainland design labels including artisan style clothing, upcycled, jewellery and ready to wear.

Another great resource for Local businesses is LOCO BC also based out of Vancouver it is a non-profit organization that encourages and provides support to locally owned businesses. Some of their members include:BCbuylocal_4badges--e1415931029414

Nature’s Fare Markets Kelowna

Opus Art supplies

Portobello West

Plum Clothing

Each city has a local Chamber of Commerce. This is another great way to find out what stores owners are from your community and which are not. It may not seem like a big deal, but according to LOCO, even 1% spent BC based consumer spending, would add 3500 jobs province wide.

Here in Kelowna, we have all sorts of wonderful local businesses and artisans. You can check out the Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Or if you want to see a full selection in one place, why not visit Sara at Unless Market (day 67) and check out the awesome selection of locally made wares she has.

So when it comes to being and buying local, again, try to support them first. Don’t go running to the chain for everything. The chain won’t come running to you!


Day 174

June 22nd, 2016

#4 Support better companies: Buy ethically made

Outfit: Black and white sun dress worn with LBD as a blouse, knotted at the waist, black sash as scarf, watermelon wedge sandals, silver circle earrings. 

If everything came with an instruction manual things would be so much easier. But unfortunately clothing does not come with a history of the supply chain or instructions on end of life disposal. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of a fancy logo, the labels on our clothing had something like the food labels where they tell you the ingredients and percentages of things like carbohydrates? Clothing labels could say something like: “Made in a factory with good ventilation, proper bathrooms, no overtime and no child labour.” But instead they say Made in ________. And you are left to wonder how it was made or who made it. It gives no background check, no insight.

There are companies out there that are trying to go that extra mile, to become more transparent about their practices and processes. Some certification is available although it is not always obvious to the consumer. Things like B Corp certification (Day 51) or Cradle to Cradle are certifications that take a look at the triple bottom line: Planet, People and Profit. Or companies like Eileen Fisher who adhere to SA800 certification which deals with human rights in the workplace. Day 167

There are many more because we are at the turning point. This is the generation that will take things into account. This link to The Good Trade gives you 35 options on companies with an ethical mandate as part of their vision. Companies like Patagonia, Eileen Fisher and others.  The link is organized so you can see what country the label is from, and what are their priorities with regards to responsible production. Two of them caught my attention. Zady, I’ve encountered before and love their principle (“The New Standard”), I talked about them day 99. And My Sister, which provides t-shirts with a message against sex trafficking and donates a portion of their profits to make a difference in victim’s lives.

Just like it takes more time to read labels at the grocery store, it may take a bit of homework to find brands that make clothing with a conscience, but they are out there. We just need to invest the time and start to expect it from our local suppliers. And if we can’t get it from them, then we go and look elsewhere. The point is, where there’s a will, there’s a way. And when it comes to ethically made clothing, you just have to look.



Day 173

June 21, 2016

#3 Support better companies:  BUY ECO-FRIENDLY

Outfit:  Black dress worn backwards, red polkadot belt (thrifted), red necklace and shoes.

Making the decision to buy eco-friendly fabrics can be a hard one. They are more expensive. And a lot of the times, they look the same. It isn’t like organic food, where very often you can taste a difference. Especially on things like strawberries. No, with fabrics, you’re just taking their word for it.

That being said, the statistics don’t lie, having looked at the impact all of the fabric manufacturing has on our planet, (Day 160) it is difficult to ignore the fact that something must be done.

Now, don’t go out and set yourself into a panic or a slump. I know so many of us (definitely me) get discouraged with the amount of things that are wrong and the minimal impact we seem to be able to have. But that’s not the point. The idea is to be able to make small, seemingly insignificant changes that eventually will add up to more.

Do you remember the mind map I posted on whether or not to buy something (Day 55)? I’m going to make one on how to approach eco-friendly fabrics:fabric infographic

If you want more information on where to buy eco fabrics, check out they have a wide range of fibres available. There are also lots of companies that use recycled fabrics, Day 143 Reformation is one of them. Eco friendly fabrics, Day 158.


Day 172

June 20th, 2016

Clothing Recycle: More than just donating

Outfit: Black dress worn forwards, green drop earrings, tan flats.

Neckline styling idea: Upcycled collar from a used denim shirt, courtesy of fashion student: Amethyst Lins.

We’ve already talked about how recycling clothing does not mean donating your impulse-bought items so that you can buy some more. Recycling clothing falls into the following categories:

1. Second Hand clothing: Buy and wear used clothing. By supporting your consignment or thrift store you are not only re-purposing clothing and saving it from ending up in the landfill, you are also helping your community. Many of the thrift stores in your city have a charity attached to them, and buying from them, helps the charity. See days 93, 104, and 136 for ideas.

2 . Upcycle: Whether you buy or make it yourself, re-purposing a piece of clothing that is no longer in style or was the wrong colour, gives it a totally new lease on life. Some great upcycling companies that I’ve encountered include Nooks designs (childrenswear) or Precocious clothing (Day 4 ). For a more broad view of upcycle clothing check this link. 7 UPCYCLING COMPANIES THAT ARE TRANSFORMING THE FASHION INDUSTRY

Or look on Pinterest…lots of ideas there too!tshirt_cutting ideas

3. Recycling of fabric. If your city has a recycling program for fabric, count yourself lucky! Not many places have this available. New York City is in the process of approving a system that works similarly to the blue bins curve pick up.

In addition they do have a recycling program where you can bring your unwanted textiles. But not all cities or towns have these programs. So the next best thing to do is to lobby your city council to think about implementing something similar.  Until then, try to turn your un-donate-ables into rags for cleaning, use them as pajamas or for work out wear. Have a look at how this author tackles the donating issue by trying eleven steps before she finally donates  or recycles a piece of clothing.



Day 171

June 19th, 2016

#1 Care for your clothes. (Wash less)

Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, vintage shawl collar jacket borrowed from the fashion room at school. Gold rope necklace, hoops. 

I’m going to split this one up in two parts.

Part 1 refers to washing instructions. When was the last time you actually looked at your labels? In retail I couldn’t believe how many people I got who didn’t recognize fibers and their proper care. So first and foremost would be to learn about fibre care.

If you check your labels though, you’ll see more and more of them simply state “Dry clean only”. This is the easiest way for a brand to shed the responsibility for the garment falling apart after a wash or two. Here’s a hint: if the garment is made of polyester or cotton or blends and the label reads Dry Clean only, chances are they don’t know how the fabric will respond to washing. So it’s probably not the best fabric, period. For all other labels, simply follow instructions carefully. If they say wash in cold water…wash in cold water; if it says hang to dry only… then follow suit. The more you follow these instructions the better your clothes will react. Just so you know, no fabric reacts well to heat anyways. Cotton would be the only one that could resist hot water the best (once it has shrunk), but even polyester will eventually get marks (at the seams) from super hot water or the dryer. Rayon will definitely shrink, and wool will end up fitting your American Doll if you wash or dry in heat. Washing clothes properly will make them last longer, period.

For best results, no more dumping a big ball of miscellaneous laundry into the washing machine without separating. I’ve been so guilty of this at times. I feel like it’s saving me time, but in reality it’s ruining my clothes. Whites really do stay whiter if they are washed together and then hung in the sun to brighten. Honestly.

On this note, I find that using an environmentally friendly soap is also gentler on my clothes. I’ve been washing my clothes for years with a biodegradable soap with no scent. It is awesome.

Ok and we already saw on Day 164, how the fastest way to lower your CO2 impact is by hanging to dry and skipping the dryer. So I guess for those of us who live in the Great White North, at least during the summer this is still an option, see Day 165.

Part 2 of caring for your clothes, I would round up as don’t get them dirty in the first place! How do you achieve this? Well, I wear an apron whenever I’m cooking, cleaning, drafting, sewing, and sometimes eating! Do you know how many times I’ve spilled my first cup of coffee on my apron only to be so relieved it wasn’t my real clothes? Our grandmas wore an apron for this precise reason! They only had a certain number of clothes and did not want to ruin them. It is a lot easier to replace that apron than it was to replace a dress. The same can be said for our clothes today, except that when we ruin a t-shirt, it is simpler to go buy one. But that does not help our sustainable problem does it? If you absolutely hate the apron idea, then have a ‘home outfit’ that you can change into and be ok with ruining. Just make sure you change when you go out…nobody wants to see your shredded jogging pants at the store! Clinton and Stacey (What not to wear) would be horrified!

Day 170

June 18th, 2016

Ingrid’s top 10 ways of becoming fashion sustainable.

Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, with Peter Pan white detachable collar. Long clear glass necklace, gold hoop earrings. Tan shoes. 

Wow. 10 days to go

I honestly can’t believe that I’ve done this almost six months. It has become such an integral part of my routine that I don’t know what I’ll do now that I don’t have to. I wish exercising would come as easy as this did!

I think I might keep up some of these new found habits though. I really like the practice of having pre-set outfits that I know will work and simply picking a day to wear them. Like I’ve said before, it’s like meal planning but with your clothes. The best part is that you don’t have to think in the morning and leave the house looking like you got dressed in the dark (happened more than once). So I’ll definitely be trying that one.

The other one is wearing more of the pieces I have and trying new things. There were items in that closet that hadn’t seen the light of day for a long time, and having to experiment with new looks definitely made it easy to bring them out again.

Now, as promised, I will take the next ten days to offer some ideas on how to tackle unsustainable fashion in small steps. So I present to you:

Ingrid’s Top 10 ways of becoming fashion sustainable:

  1. Wash less
  2. Recycle: Buy second hand/swap/thrift.
  3. Support better Companies 1: Buy eco-friendly
  4. Support better Companies 2: Buy ethically made
  5. Support better Companies 3: Buy local
  6. Mend your clothes
  7. Minimize your wardrobe to maximize its potential. Fashion Capsule
  8. Buy less often, buy better: Cost per wear.
  9. No fast fashion. Learn to develop your own style.
  10. Educate yourself and others. Change your perspective on Value.

Of course this list is not by any means the end all or be all, it is simply a suggestion and one of many ways to achieve this goal. You may have better ideas that suit your lifestyle. Those are the best ones, because they will work for you. And then it will be done. And that’s all that matters in the end.

Day 169

June 17th, 2016

The power of the consumer is stronger than you may think.

Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, purple ruffle scarf (hand-me-down), brown and green shoes, mauve glass bracelet.

As this challenge draws near the end, I want to focus for the next few days on what we can do as consumers. I watched a documentary called “The Next Black” and in it, among other things, Rick Ridgeway, environmentalist, mountaineer and Vice President of Environmental Initiatives at Patagonia, talks about their campaign on less consumption (about minute 24 in the film). This campaign came out on a Black Friday ad and it simply said:

DO NOT buy this Jacket.

Can you believe this? A retailer asking you not to buy something? Their intent was, do not buy the jacket unless you really need it. Ie, you need to replace a very old one or you don’t have a winter coat. The campaign gets some slack as ‘greenwashing‘ from some, but I believe that it is much better than some other brands that pretend they are sustainable yet their practices show otherwise.

In any case something he said, stuck with me. He said,

“How did we end up with Fast fashion? Perhaps the answer is in the ability of companies to deliver fashion faster and faster because their are made in places with the lowest cost, deliver and change weekly, and we end up with having that capability because it satisfies a desire and a need in people. If that’s the case, then it is that desire from the consumer that’s driving it, and that’s where the change has to come from.” (Paraphrased)

That’s where the change has to come from.

Yes, companies can change their fabrics, their protocols, their practices, they can be as green as can be. But if the consumer doesn’t buy, it won’t matter. We have the most power in change because companies depend on us otherwise they wouldn’t spend millions on advertising trying to convince us that we need something we don’t.

It is our time to change this. To expect different. To get retailers to act different. But it all comes down to small changes.

So for the last few days, I will try to give you some ideas of what can be done, and you choose what works best for you.




Day 168

June 16th, 2016

Good enough is good.

Outfit: Pink and orange dress worn under black dress worn forward. Skinny tan belt, tan wedges, chandelier earrings, re-purposed glass bracelet from an England artisan market (SIL gift!)

Ok, so now that I have only 12 days left, may be a good time to start giving some more practical solutions to this whole becoming fashion sustainable dilemma. I try to remember (like the article yesterday on Eileen Fisher), that we cannot be perfect 100% of the time. Especially when some of the choices are out of our control, like country of origin or availability where you live. However, I tend to approach this like I’ve approached healthy eating, organic food, and even parenting.

The Good Enough Principle as some call it, is exactly what it says. We cannot achieve perfection, so we need to be OK with an outcome that is sometimes short of that. I’m not advocating that we don’t try hard, or that we simply give up, but there are times that we just can’t do anything more than our best, and that’s enough. Good enough. strive-for-progress

When it comes to becoming a good steward of our resources by aspiring to make things sustainable, it can seem like an uphill battle. Small conscious steps are better than none, and eventually they become the norm which help us to make more permanent larger changes.

Start for instance, with hanging your laundry once a week. Or try going shopping at a thrift store instead of the mall. How about buying the better made shirt instead of the cheapy one? Look at labels, choose better fabrics. Try buying online if what you need is not available in your city. And finally, start asking questions, especially from the stores you shop at. The more we ask, suggest, expect, the more chances they will listen. After all, you are the customer and they want to keep you.


Day 167

June 15th, 2016

Eileen Fisher: a great example of fashion you can feel good about.

Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, boyfriend jeans, brown hipster belt, long beaded necklace, leaf handmade necklace, green glass bead earrings and my new (thrifted) Miz Mooz wedge flats.

I want to share a couple of links to another company that is making a difference by adhering to higher standards and certifications.

Eileen Fisher has evolved her company into a becoming a fully sustainable organization. Using standards such as SA8000 and transparency in labeling, she’s almost there! The two following links elaborate on the processes the company has taken towards this goal and the challenges it faces in such a competitive environment.

This first link, talks about the beginning of Eileen Fisher as a company and her design concept. How she continued to grow the business ‘organically’ (like you could in those days), and her vision for the company in the coming years.

The second link expands on the challenges of becoming environmentally sustainable and reminds us that we can’t achieve a perfect score, at least not at first. The company uses ‘mostly’ organic fabrics, but sets their goal towards ‘all’. However they believe that 80% is better than nothing and they continue to grow on this concept. Considering that the company is holistically committed to becoming sustainable in all aspects of business, I think they are a wonderful example of an organization putting People, Planet and Profit in the right place.

Day 166

June 14th, 2016

What is Cradle to Cradle?

Outfit: Black dress worn over white shirt, with black pinstriped blazer. Watermelon wedges, silver medallion. 

Have you heard of the term ‘Cradle to cradle’? Well I have recently been learning about it and let me tell you, it’s my newest favourite thing!

According to Wikipedia, Cradle to Cradle, also known as C2C, is “a biomimetic approach to the design of products and systems. It models human industry on nature’s processes viewing materials as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms.”  It intends products and industry to have a holistic approach to design from the beginning of the cycle (materials and sourcing) through its use and eventually end of life (disposal). Wouldn’t everything be better if we started with the end in mind?

I recently heard William McDonough speak on this on a TED talk, and all I can say is WOW. He talks about how we are a society with a “Strategy of Tragedy”, where we end up saying “well, I didn’t mean to cause global warning…” whereas we didn’t not intend to do it. He says that strategy lacks intention, a plan for an endgame, and therefore by default we end up having to excuse ourselves claiming ignorance. But how can we claim ignorance nowadays? How can we pretend that we don’t know that plastic is taking over the landfills, the sea? Did you know there is an area that can be seen through satellite pictures in the Pacific Ocean, where the ratio of plankton to plastic has recently been reversed? How can we pretend that there is nothing wrong with us shopping for ‘fun’ or entertainment and that whatever we don’t want anymore we can simply dispose of to make room in our closets or better yet, get a bigger closet or containers to house all of our stuff? We may be able to continue to kid ourselves, but our children won’t have that luxury.

In contrast, McDonough talks about a “Strategy of Hope”, where we have a plan and the end game is infinite, therefore we plan accordingly to keep it going. It is a tall order for sure. But there are many industries already adapting to this concept, including construction and food.

In 2012, Cradle to Cradle certification went to an independent non-profit called the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. Independence, openness, and transparency are the Institute’s first objectives for the certification protocols. In the fashion industry this concept is fairly new, but some brands are already trying to achieve this certification. One such brand is Stella McCartney, read about their plan here.

Day 165

June 13th, 2016

Washing and drying like grandma used to, is good for the earth!

Outfit: Black dress worn frontwards, boyfriend jeans, watermelon wedges, iridescent scarf

So, who knew that all those years of hanging the t’s on the line were actually better than the modern conveniences of the stackable laundry set. This is a hard one, because I love me my dryer. If you had told me two years ago that I had to do this I probably would have cried. But more recently I’ve re-discovered a love for the line. I even got my husband and father in law to re-attach the original line that was installed in our 1950’s home. I got the clothes pins and the hooks to keep the line together and all summer long I hang most of my laundry. My biggest problem is remembering to get it before it rains!

Yesterday as I was hanging towels, I was chatting with my mother in law and reminiscing about how I used to do this in Mexico since I was 14! Back then we didn’t own a dryer; I don’t even know if many people do now. And sometimes we didn’t have a washing machine! So those laundry Saturdays, were spent, washing by hand on the concrete sink and then hanging things on the line. knowyourpilaThinking about that concrete sink, made me realize how energy efficient it was. It had a large space where the water was collected and the other side had a grooved (like a wooden washboard) angled surface with a plug at the end.
The water was mostly cold and you simply used a cup to add however much you needed to rinse. I spent many times there taking advantage of the splashing to keep cool in the summer heat -so it served two

I used to complain about the labour intensive chore; and truth be told I don’t know that I could do it now just time-wise, but there was certainly something therapeutic about the menial jobs that we did back then. It reminds me of the whole conversation we had about knitting. Those were the things people did instinctively and by necessity that were probably very good de-stressers. Nowadays we have the convenience of machines that do the jobs for us, yet we are more stressed and have to do more loads than ever. Mhm…I wonder if there is a connection here?

Here’s another short video explaining the impact of clothing on the environment. They use a cotton t-shirt as an example, but it can be said of other things too.

Day 164

June 12th, 2016

The environmental impact of a T-Shirt might be surprising to some.

Outfit: Black dress worn backwards tucked in as shirt into denim skirt. Brown sandals, long bead necklace, antique glass bead earrings. 

The posts from the last few days are not meant to send you into a panic and or to make you feel guilty about donating your once-used garments to charity. They are however, meant to make us think twice about what exactly we are sending there and about its end of life cycle.

When we take into consideration all aspects of the clothing cycle from the material to the disposal, then maybe our choices will be more thought out. When we realize where something came from and what it took to make it, and then what it will take for it to become dirt again, then everything becomes a bit clearer.

Realistically we cannot be 100% on the ball all the time. It may be a matter of time constraint, need, availability or even money. But all of these reasons will eventually add up to the same thing: if we don’t start thinking about this soon, it will take a turn that we may not be able to reverse.

Have a look at this video and decide how you can affect your carbon footprint when it comes to clothing. Surprisingly one of the best things you can do, is wash your clothes less often! Or skip the dryer and use the clothes line. I found the percentage of CO2 emissions from doing laundry truly surprising. I never thought that it would be 3 times higher than transportation. The environmental impact of a cotton t-shirt.

Day 163

June 11th, 2016

What about how textiles are produced?

Outfit: Black dress worn forward, black and white striped scarf worn as belt, large white bag, black Mary-Jane shoes, hoop earrings.

Fabric production is one of the most eye opening facts in the environmental footprint, as well it’s one of the most debated topics in sustainability arguing the synthetic vs. natural theme. Most people don’t even think about the chemicals, dyes and finishes that make our clothes feel and look the way they do. We are just used to our t-shirts being bright pink or blue and forget that even 60 years ago, those bright colours were not possible. The variety in colour, texture and supply all come at a cost. Here are some facts.

All fibres have their pros and cons. For instance, the raising of sheep for wool can be exploited and it erodes the soil, polyester and other synthetics are an oil derived product which is basically plastic -if you burn it, it balls up, that’s why it is unsafe to sleep in it-  its production emits green house gasses and cause water pollution.  And cotton crops which demand billions of pounds of pesticides per year also are a huge consumer of water needing 2700 L to produce enough cotton fibre equivalent to 1 t-shirt.

Then there’s the finishing of textiles which include dyeing of fabrics, coating with special substances to make them wrinkle resistant, waterproof, colour fast, etc., all of these processes involve highly toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and heavy metals. It is a common fun fact in the industry to say that the rivers in China are painted with the colours of next season.

Most of the textile production has moved to the orient (china accounts for 50% of world wide textile production), where the environmental laws common to North America and Europe are hard to enforce. As of February 20th, 2012, the China Pollution Map Database had 6,000 records of textile factories violating environmental regulations, including: discharging wastewater from hidden pipes; discharging untreated pollutants; improper use of wastewater treatment facilities; exceeding total pollutant discharge allowed; and using production facilities that were shut down by the authorities for various reasons. And China is not alone, following closely are other countries like Indonesia, India, Vietnam, etc.

If you want a comprehensive picture of the actual environmental impact of your clothes, the following article It’s the second dirtiest thing in the world and you’re wearing it, expresses it well. Lengthy but jampacked with information.



Day 162

June 10th, 2016

What about the garments that are donated to charities?

Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, red/coral scarf, watermelon wedges, hoops.

Like many North Americans, I used to believe that my donated items went to a needy person, but seeing the piles and piles of clothes at thrift stores, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out there’s absolutely no way they can sell it all.

Well, they don’t, at least not to your neighbours. Unsold garments from charitable stores, get sold to private recyclers and to traders who then sell it to the Second Hand Garment Trade (SHGT) in countries from sub-Saharan Africa among others. This is a $1.9 billion business annually and some critics say that it damages local economy by eliminating industry among it textile and by continuing the dependence of Africa on the west. In Kenya, Mitumba meaning ‘bundles’ is the name given to the clothes from developed countries, in Nigeria they call it Kafa ulaya (the clothes of the dead whites). Local merchants there purchase bales by weight in what they call a ‘lottery’ because you don’t know what’s in it. Sometimes it is good brands sometimes it is not.

Whether or not you agree with the benefits of this trade, the fact also remains, that the amount of clothing being sent there is monumental.

“Only about one-fifth of the clothing donated to charities is directly used or sold in their thrift shops. Says Rivoli, ‘There are nowhere near enough people in America to absorb the mountains of castoffs, even if they were given away.’” From: Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry (Under ‘Handling the Overflow’)

And with more and more cheap versions making the piles, these garments are not only unusable they are unsellable.

This is a short video that explains the Second Hand Garment trade in Ghana, it kind of brings it home.

Day 161

June 9th, 2016

Welcome dear Cotton, welcome!

Outfit: New old black dress worn backwards, turquoise stone necklace, black mary jane shoes, hoop earrings.

It’s 35 degrees in the middle of June! Compared to where I used to live in Mexico, this is winter, but for someone who’s been in Canada more than 25 years, summer in June is pretty extreme.

So I had to go to the fabric store and got this fabulous 95%Cotton/5%Spandex poplin, to make a third copy of the dress. I do realize that organic cotton would have been ideal, but once again, you work with what you have available. I left the box pleat open to give it more room for ventilation, and I love the result. I also included patch pockets instead of side seam pockets…not sure which I prefer. Anyway, I think I’m doing pretty good considering I just found out that Sheena (original Uniform Project) had 7 copies of the little black dress.

19 days to go!

Day 160

June 8th, 2016

ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT: Can mother earth handle this?

Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, houndstooth vest, wedge black heels.

Throughout this blog I’ve covered many topics including the social aspect of worker’s treatment, the economy of local vs. imported, and recycling and more sustainable options. But I haven’t covered the impact that the fashion industry, especially fast fashion has on the environment. I will try and do that for the next couple of days.

The environmental footprint of the fashion industry was something I had not entirely understood until I started researching more. It still seems like the biggest obstacle to sustainability, yet it is one of the most pressing ones because it affects us all no matter where we live.  Let’s start with waste management.

                Where do all the discarded clothes go?

textile-wasteEven though used garments can be broken down and recycled into things like insulation or industrial rags, only 15% of textiles actually get recycled, most end up in the landfills. It is estimated that on average each consumer throws away 81lbs of textiles a year. This is up from 69lbs estimated three years ago. Value Village just joined forces VCAD this past Eco Fashion week in Vancouver to demonstrate how much is actually being tossed. If you calculate that each person is wearing approximately 2lb, then it is the amount of clothing that 40 of your closest friends are wearing right now.

To make matters worse, many of the garments that make it to the landfill are made of synthetic materials (polyester, nylon, acetate, etc) which means they are basically plastic. We all know how fast plastic biodegrades, right? Oh wait, that’s NOT fast at all. It takes hundreds of years! Which means that the hoodie you just threw out, will be there waiting for your children’s grandchildren to play with. Only it will be covered in soot and other gross things…

The problem is not only that more and more things are being made of polyester and such, it is the volume that is consumed. Some polyester is able to be recycled, and there are some great strides being made in research and development to bring this into mainstream, but in the meantime, we are simply consuming much more than can be re-used. So once again, it comes down to consumption. Less is more.


Day 159

June 7th, 2016

More options for Canadian made product: Plum Clothing

Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, tan cardigan by Kersh (bought at Plum) worn tied over the hips, long copper leaf necklace, hoop earrings, tan flats.

I’m going to recycle one of those posts I wrote a while back for my other blog. This one is about Plum Clothing. I was so sad when Plum closed up in Kelowna, but thankfully they still have stores in Vancouver and online. Great company, great product, great philosophy.

“One of the companies that has caught my attention on the search for sustainable options is Plum Clothing. The first time I saw a Plum Clothing store was their location in North Vancouver which was on Lonsdale and I passed it every day on my commute to work.  I liked it instantly. It was my kind of clothes. I liked too, that back then (in 199-y-something) it was entirely made in Vancouver.  But back then, I didn’t have such a heart for things made locally or fairly or anything like that. I just wanted to work in the industry, and I thought their price point was too expensive for me.

Fast forward a decade or so…and they are still here. They have locations throughout BC and I believe in Calgary, Alberta as well. Now, in growing with the times, it has become increasingly difficult for them to manufacture everything in Vancouver, but they still do for a great number of items. But more important than their manufacturing is the philosophy they are following. And this is what’s caught my attention. Their motto is: ‘Dressing with purpose”! Don’t you love it? Don’t you want to find out more about what that means? I did! So I read a couple of their blogs which I get with my email subscription to their sales.

The first one talks about how every woman is an individual and as such we must not conform to what fashion dictates to us! That follows the theme of what I was trying to explain in my last post. The author explains that their vision is for each woman to follow a ‘functional’ wardrobe that works with their lifestyle. Sooooo great! A functional wardrobe immediately says to me less clutter and more intentional items. Stuff you love to wear, stuff that looks good on you, less throw-away fashion.  Check out the article yourself and tell me what you think…Dress with purpose -Fun, Function and both?

The second post is about how we view value and whether we know it or not, what we place a priority on.  It explains three ways we can place value on something, by simply following economics, by its emotional/physical benefit or by its versatility. I especially like the part where she destroys the notion that fast fashion is cheap because you actually end up spending more in the long run!  Dress with purpose – Value Isn’t Always Economical

Although I would love anything from their store, Plum is not giving me anything to talk about them. I may not know everything about Plum, but I know this: at least on the forefront they are attempting to be different by expressing a vision and value that does not conform to the norm. And for that, in my books, Plum gets an ‘A+’”

Day 158

June 6th, 2016

Rabbit and Empee and Nicole Bridger, what do they have in common? Vancouver Eco Fashion.

Outfit: Black tunic style jacket worn under black dress worn frontwards, black sash, red wooden large bead necklace, red heels.

Are you wondering if there are labels out there trying to do the right thing? Well there are. If you search on google for eco-fashion brands, you get quite a few. But it is kind of overwhelming to just go through and make sense of it all. So I’m going to just show you a couple that I have seen in person and consider beautiful examples of sustainable fashion:

Nicole Bridger, Gastown store

The first one is Nicole Bridger. Located in the middle of Gastown in Vancouver’s downtown, Nicole’s boutique is small but to the point. It has all of the collection in it and she carries other brands that complement hers. Bridger used to own the factory she was producing her garments in, but after a few years of ups and downs she was forced to close (I told you manufacturing in Canada was hard). However she still has most of her line manufactured there and some of it is made in Peru, by a factory that she has sourced personally. In addition, her line is made with natural and/or sustainable fabrics and they are made with the intention for them to last a few seasons (if not years), so her styling is very classic. For more information on her story, check their website, Nicole Bridger.

r_n_e_westend overcoat
Rabbit and Empee West end Overcoat

Another company that is concerned with all things green is Rabbit and Empee. This brand is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Nicole Bridger’s line. They are very unique shall we say? I personally love the designs, and although most are a bit too out there for my own style, I can certainly see myself adding a couple of their pieces to my wardrobe. Rabbit and Empee focuses mainly on festival wear, which has become super popular in the past few years. This type of clothing takes inspiration from the make-believe world and adapts it to wearable pieces for happy festival goers. If worn together, the collection has a very gypsy/fairy/medieval look, but if you take each piece and mix it with a conventional piece you would get a unique yet mainstream look that would suit a wider audience. The best part of Rabbit and Empee is that they use organic cotton and it is ethically made, as indicated in their website. They’ve traveled far and formed the relationship with a small local factory that makes all of their pieces. The result is great workmanship at a competitive price. To see more examples and learn more, check out their website here, Rabbit and Empee.

Day 157

June 5th, 2016

Look …it’s shiny!

Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, skinny black belt, black chunky boots. Metal studded peter pan collar.

One last trend…I really wanted to show you this one! I don’t usually like metallics. I had a fully striped metallic strapless evening gown that I wore one time to a fancy gala when I was about 17. The dress didn’t fit me very well, it was tight. So I could feel the seams actually ripping and unraveling. It was itchy and uncomfortable and so I think that experience has scarred me for life against metallic fabrics! But shinny stuff is fun, so when I found this metal stud collar, I knew I could make it work. I have made it so it is detachable and it can be worn with other stuff! Love it.1-lanvin-spring-2016-rtw_metallictrend

Day 156

June 4th, 2016

Comfort wins today.

Outfit: Mickey and Minnie Mouse t-shirt worn under dress worn as a jacket. Jeans and green heels. Red purse.

Today I need to be comfortable because it is about errands and transporting children to sports fields. One of those things that I wish we could get there by biking but it is just logistically impossible. So we’ll do our best to conserve energy in other ways today.

And yes…heels can be comfortable if you have the right ones on!

Day 155

June 3rd, 2016

Ruffles…but not the potato chips.

Outfit: V neck shift grey dress with ruffle hem, worn under black dress worn forward. Black chunky boots, steam punk earrings.

Ok, so, thus far I’ve illustrated the following points:

 #1: Look for something in your own wardrobe that works as a trend. Day 152, Stripes.
#2:  Incorporate an aspect of the trend, like texture. Day 153, Lace.
#4:  Do not copy the trend ‘as is’ adapt it to fit your style, Day 154, Slip dress

The only point left is #3: Buy only one item per season that is trendy.

The item I am showing you today is probably the one where I would go out and purchase something to exemplify this trend. Only because I feel that the styling of the ruffles showed is a little more frilly and soft than what I have available and what I’m showing you. I might have gotten a georgette shirt with small floral print. Or maybe a scarf that has ruffles in it. Regardless, I would only go out and get one trend per season, so I would make sure that it is the one I like the most.6-j-w-anderson-spring-2016-rtw_rufflestrend

I don’t mind the outfit that I put together today. In fact I like the ruffle on
this dress. When I first cut it, I had intended to make it a simple shift dress with a straight hem, but as I was about to sew it, I decided it needed something else, hence the ruffle.

It has taken me from various special celebrations, to work to dinner out, so it has a bit of classic with a bit of flare. Wearing it with boots today, simply takes it to a different place, just for kicks!



Day 154

June 2nd, 2016

The slip dress…how exactly do you wear this?

Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, over a black slip cut on the bias. Black sash, steampunk earrings, black heels.

Jennifer Garner in “13 going on 30”

This turned out to be one of my favourite looks to translate a very specific trend into something that even I can wear. The slip dress is not new by any means; simply a rehashing of the 90’s look brilliantly exemplified by Jennifer Garner in the movie “13 going on 30”. I’ve said this before, but if Jennifer can ‘barely’ pull this look off (and I say barely because the woman could wear a sack of potatoes and still look amazing), then what chance do I have to pull a slinky, shinny-show every imperfection-clingy-staticky dress?

In my grandma’s time, everyone owned a slip. They probably owned more than one. A long one and a short one, a fancy one perhaps? The slip was intended to work as a barrier or a protection between your clothes and your skin. It prevented lines from showing on the outside, it covered any imperfection, it made itchy wool less noticeable, and it made see through things look not see through. It was a mark of modesty but also a very handy garment to aid in the look of the outer garment.

The slip dress, 2016 Spring trend

Nowadays we expect our bodies to do the job that corsets, petticoats and undergarments (including the slip) did for our great-grand ancestors. I do not suggest we go back to wearing corsets at all! No need to loose a rib or die from a punctured lung. But all of those garments and even the fabrication and cut of the outer garments worn in the past, made it so that if you had cellulitis, nobody would know, it was covered. Or if you had a muffin top, the garment would fit in a way that it did not protrude over the waistline (unlike some jeans now!). We used to shape our bodies with stays and wires, and now we expect to shape them with insane diets and exercise. It seems to me that we’ve gone from one extreme to another. I don’t subscribe to either method. I believe in moderation. Especially when it comes to having dessert…or wine.

I do believe that clothing that fits well and is cut in a flattering way will be far more efficient in providing an attractive and pleasing figure than starving oneself in order to fit into the next ideal size.

So when it comes to slips, I will wear them on the inside, thank you very much. I may show portions of them if they are pretty, but I will not be wearing mine out to supper by itself.


Day 153

June 1st, 2016

Lace is always in style!

Outfit: Lace periwinkle blouse worn over dress worn frontwards. Black chunky boots, mauve bracelet.

Ok, so I get that this is not my best expression of this trend. I probably will add something else to make it pop a little more. I am saving some better ones for the end of the week. But in practical terms, my day is just better with less heels and bling today. I have to admit that I really, really like this dress, but then again I’ve always been a sucker for lace, as far as I’m concerned, it is always is style.