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 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 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.

http://fashionista.com/2016/04/eileen-fisher-fashionista-meetup

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.

http://qz.com/661315/for-eileen-fisher-a-leader-in-sustainable-fashion-perfection-isnt-the-point/

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 purposes.how-to-use-pila

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.

http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/cotton-tshirts

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 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 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_gastown
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 151

May 30th, 2016

Do you know what your carbon footprint is?


Outfit: Dress worn backwards, thrifted retro tie, chandelier earrings, brown heels.


I guess the first question should be do you even know what a carbon footprint is? Don’t worry, I barely did. My son tells me they do this in grade 7, I know for a fact we didn’t even talk about this stuff in my grade 7 class. Although I do remember (when I was young and living in Mexico City) thinking that drawing blue skies was like drawing unicorns, because they weren’t for ‘real’.

The carbon foot print of anyone is the impact of anything that we do on the environment.  Official definition is as follows: “The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide”.

So I just calculated my personal carbon footprint. According to the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) I’m at 167%, according to another calculator, the land capacity I need for all the stuff I do would equal 6.4 football fields. This does not give me any concrete measures or perspective, but on the WWF site, my ‘icon’ foot looked a lot bigger than the ‘average’ icon foot! The culprit in my case is transportation. I am a glorified chauffer that has to cart around children back and fro to school and activities. If I took the bus or rode our bikes, my footprint would decrease considerably. It is certainly something to think about. At least it got the conversation going at the dinner table. It went something like this:

Son: “Maybe you can buy me a Tesla (something or other car that is uber eco friendly)”

Me:” Maybe you can ride the bus!”

Son: “The bus still produces green gas emissions”

Me: “Then I guess you’ll be riding your bike!”

Son thinks to himself: “This did not go as I planned!”

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…still laughing!

Day 145

May 24th, 2016

Let’s not go around throwing stones…


Outfit: Now I’m borrowing from my husband: white shirt (that I made for him), worn under black dress with skinny jeans and tan flats. Clear glass necklace.


Before we go ahead and pretend that the type of injustices we hear about in the developing world would never happen here, let’s look at our not so distant past. You want to talk about worker’s violations? Look no further than the garment district in New York at the turn of the 20th Century. It all came to a head with the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911. 145 workers died when a fire broke out and they were unable to exit the building because the fire exits were too small and the doors had been locked by the owners to prevent theft! Many of the sewers were young immigrant girls who, faced with the possibility of burning beyond recognition, leapt to their death from the 7th floor. Spectator reports say that they thought the falling bodies were bales of clothing being thrown from the top floor, only to realize afterwards, it was women jumping.

During the industrial revolution, children worked in mills and factories, and lost limbs, fingers or their lives all before the Factory Act of 1833 in Britain which regulated (among other things) the amount of hours children worked.

Mills in North America were laden with environmental violations through the beginning of the industrialization of textiles. I suppose they were the growing pains of not realizing that industry equals waste and that chemicals were not good for the earth. Elizabeth Cline mentions in her book, the Avtex Fibers Inc., a rayon factory in Virginia which was shut down in 1989 for poisoning land and water in its surroundings. And you can find hundreds of other examples if you start to dig a bit.

But the point is that now we know better. We’ve seen the results and the damage that unjust conditions have on our society and those that unsafe processes have on our environment. We’ve seen it, but in other parts of the world they are still going through it! The fact is that with a culture that is now united through globalization, we are all in it together. Besides, we may be able to disregard the human rights thing saying it is not our country’s problem, but there’s no escaping the environmental damage because what happens there has repercussions everywhere.

How do we fix this? Once again, I believe the more we know, the more we can stop preconditioned routine actions that affect others. We need to start questioning those in charge and making different choices, not based on convenience, but maybe based on a higher purpose.

Day 136

May 15th, 2016

A little bit of vintage in my life…


Outfit: Black dress worn frontwards, white polka-dot pink scarf, black elastic belt.

Georgie Girl items: Fuschia crinoline skirt, black and white saddle oxford 50’s shoes, black cat-eye style sunglasses! Can you say 50’s? 


What do you think of when you say ‘vintage’? For me it evokes memories of my grandma’s closet, all together with her beautiful Chanel suits and 40’s shoes, her fur coats (yes, it’s ok people…vintage fur is admissible), bright red lipstick and cake mascara that had to be mixed up with a brush. 01ba67ff17eb2d9631b8a5d0de0b5145I know it also means shinny round cars with beautiful interiors and for some people it is mint-in-the-box toys and memorabilia. Most people who have a love for vintage associate some memory to it. I think at the core that’s where it starts, but it does not need to have a memory for someone to appreciate it.

I realize not everyone loves vintage, some people think of it as ‘old’ and by some people I mean my kids…(I suppose others too) and I respect that, it is not everyone’s cup of tea (not China anyway). But the thing I like about vintage stuff is that it always makes me think about the story. I guess I am a story teller at heart and I love to imagine where the piece has been and who touched it or used it at any given time. Maybe that’s the reason I can spend hours in a museum, while my husband is in and out within ten minutes. I love to hear how things were done and what it took for someone to perform some of the tasks we now take for granted.

Vintage clothing is usually well made, trust me, if it wasn’t it wouldn’t have lasted 50 years. It has great structure and generally it’s made from beautiful fabrics. In order to be considered vintage, something has to be over 30 years old. Antique is anything from before the 1920s and retro refers to something that imitates a feeling from a previous period. The fact that the 70s are now considered vintage is bizarre to me, since I guess you could call me vintage too! But here is where things get a bit tricky; in the 60s and 70’s polyester was at the height of popularity because it had just been perfected and it was thrown into the market as the latest and greatest. So now we have a bunch of polyester-made suits that are not as luxurious as some of the stuff from the 40s and 50s, however, the cut and the sewing techniques are still superior to some of the merchandise coming out of fast fashion outlets.

Whichever your preference, 40s, 50s, 70s or not vintage at all, it cannot be denied that unique vintage pieces can be a conversation starter, become a favourite accent piece or hold an invaluable memory that comes to mind every time it’s worn.

Day 130

May 9th, 2016

How our choices affect others.


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, skinny wrap around belt, brown and green heels.

Carmen’s items: Red linen a-line super long skirt. 


I get two more days with Carmen’s clothes, but she had to take the turquoise dress for a special occasion so today may be my last day. I’m glad I get to show this skirt though, it is so absolutely beautiful. You have to feel it to truly see it. Fine linen and perfectly cut.

I wanted to share about the work that Carmen does with World Vision. She has at least two sponsored children with them, but has also done major volunteering, actually going to some of the places where the organization works. Putting aside all preconceptions about these organizations and whether or not they actually help the people they say they do. When it comes to donating money, I just make sure to do due diligence and then I leave it in God’s hands. Honestly. I feel that if I have put my best intentions forward to help someone, then that intention will be carried through and eventually get to those in need. I am happy to report that I have a lot of respect for World Vision. From what I have researched, they do spend their money wisely and I have heard personal accounts (from Carmen) of the amazing things they get involved in. I already have a sponsored child from a different organization but if I didn’t, I’d probably go with World Vision. World Vision is a great example of how when we make a choice to help we can affect someone else’s life in a great way. In the same way, however sometimes some of our choices affect the same people in terrible ways without us even realizing it.

Just a few days ago, Carmen sent me a notice from World Vision that talked about water pollution and consumption and fashion.  It was so pertinent because I had just been researching all of this for the presentation I did for SFU and everything they mentioned was on point. It often escapes us that the choices we make in this part of the world, affect those in most desperate need. Our insatiable need to have the most selection of all colours and styles, increases the production of textiles to levels that are incredibly hard to monitor and control, resulting in monumental amounts of water waste and illegal dye and chemical dumping. We can’t stop the manufacturers and corporations from ordering the amounts they do, but maybe some day, we can change the supply and demand chain by eventually buying less.

I will leave you with the actual article for you to read. Let me know what you think. World Vison, Water and fashion

 

 

Day 124

May 3rd, 2016

Can you really make gold from straw?


Outfit: Dress worn backwards, black wedge boots.

Carmen’s pieces: Grey linen blousson-style blouse with lace cutout sleeves, large silver swirl pendant.


Linen has been compared to the gold spun from straw in the story of Rumpelstiltskin. Some authors say the first born child represents the future of our generations as we gave in to industrialization of weaving in the 18th Century. Regardless, linen is an amazing fabric that has been used for over 5000 years! It was the number one textile in Egypt (BC) and super popular among the Greeks and throughout the ancient world. It was still used throughout the middle ages and up to the 19th century to make everything from under shirts to morning gowns. Only with the advent of cotton and its mechanized production did linen lose its significance, simply because it is more expensive to make. Some of the best linen is still produced by separating the flax and fibre by hand. This is extremely time consuming and not very efficient in the eyes of manufacturing.

This piece I’m wearing today is made in Italy, 100 % Linen. Even the lining is made of a fine weight linen. A lot of people are asking me right now if I’m not hot, and the truth is that wearing breathable fabrics makes all the difference in this heat. Granted, the second dress I made is polyester and that has been the only disappointment of this whole experiment thus far. Like I mentioned in a previous post, it all came down to options available. But the wool dress and everything else I’m trying to wear are natural fibres and, whenever possible, natural fibres are the better choice when it comes to breathability and eco-friendliness.

That being said, all fabric manufacturing is hard on the environment on some level. This includes natural fabrics. Cotton planting uses tons of pesticides and water, farming sheep has to be monitored for humane conditions and ethane emissions. And here’s the part where I am stumped on linen. I was told that the harvesting of linen can be hard on the land it grows, because of what’s left behind. Apparently when linen grew on the banks of rivers, like the Nile for instance, the river itself renewed the land. Instead, when grown on plains, there is no natural renewal that takes place. However, everything I’ve read to check up on that info tells me that in fact, linen is very kind to mother earth. Linen uses far less pesticides and water to grow, and it may just be in the processing that it loses green points. So, I don’t have a definitive answer for you but I think that, like with all the production of fabrics, the excess of manufacturing is what causes the strain on the natural resources. So keeping in mind conscious growing, linen is a beautiful fibre that feels luxurious and performs beautifully. You can tell the difference between a long strand linen fibre and the shorter cut fibres which yield a less lustrous fabric. This is accomplished by processing the flax fibres as if they were cotton, with cotton machinery, which is faster and cost efficient, but does not result in better product. So whenever possible, buy 100% Linen, not blends, long strands, and not dyed in super bright (requires more dye) colours. As a result you will get a garment that will stand the test of time, look beautiful every time you wear it and when it does eventually fall apart will decompose in a natural way.

Yay Linen!

P.S. Happy Birthday Vicky!

Day 119

April 28th, 2016

I am not hoarding this dress, I’m giving it a second life!


Outfit: Green V neck dress with peter pan collar. Black dress worn as tunic with neckline turned to form a V. Black wedge boots.


Talk about not throwing away stuff. I made this green dress before my son was born, so more than 15 years ago! I made a few of them to sell at the local farmers market, and this is one of the samples I kept. I haven’t worn it, partly because it is too small for me –which is another benefit to the black dress…I can wear stuff under it and the dress covers most flaws; and partly because I was keeping it to be a sample. But since it has been a few years, I think I can officially retire it from sample mode and try to enjoy it for a while.

I am certainly not endorsing to hang on to stuff indefinitely, but I wonder if me keeping this dress for so long is actually not a bad thing. I mean, if I had given this away even 5 years ago, it probably would have sold at a thrift store, but what if it didn’t? What if it ended up in the landfill instead? It is made of polyester (or unknown fabric, as the store tag said) and so the reality is that it will be here past my generation and my kids’. Let alone past a fashion season.

It is a hard pill to swallow, to imagine this little green dress sitting on top of a garbage mound collecting dust and dirt, while not even getting one little hole! Not wearing out. Just like a plastic bowl, making friends with each other and planning how they will spend the next 200 years in that garbage pile. Sorry, I got carried away there. Again, I have no answer for this yet. Only that I think the more we can use something, the better. It stops us from going out to re-buy something else that may or may not be similar and just adds to the piles.

Until we can figure out a way to make polyester and other synthetics biodegradable, I once again say that the best option is to buy smart and buy less. Ultimate fashion designer icon Vivienne Westwood says it best: “Buy less, choose well, make it last”.

Day 118

April 27th, 2016

Recycling means more than donating.


Outfit: Brown t-shirt tunic with large pink flowers, worn over skinny jeans, with black dress worn as tunic, belted. Melon wedges. Shell necklace from one of my brother G’s trips. 


Another successful hand-me-down, jeans and tunic dress. I guess I am quite agreeable when it comes to taking clothes from friends. That doesn’t mean I can keep everything. Many times things just don’t fit or are the wrong colour or style for me. But for the most part I am happy to be on the receiving end of used clothes to give them a second life.

You see, donating clothing to charities is one part of the clothing recycling process, but the other part is actually re-using clothing. There’s no point in simply giving away our clothing and then going to buy new stuff to replace it. Now, don’t get me wrong…I am NOT saying you shouldn’t get new stuff, but if donating barely used clothing is your excuse/rationale for replenishing your closet on a constant basis, you are involved in a sad revolving cycle of denial.

We keep fooling ourselves into believing that by donating our used clothing we are doing our part of good deeds, giving to those in need and helping the environment by not throwing things out to the garbage. Those are good things. However, we fail to see that the amount of clothing going to charities is far larger than what they can actually sell or give away to others. Where exactly those clothes go is a topic for another day. The point of this post today is to re-think the myth that giving away clothes balances the buying-more scale. We must go back and start to re-evaluate our spending and consuming of goods at the root. So, yes by all means donate your surplus, but don’t go out and replace all of it piece by piece. Instead evaluate whether or not you needed it in the first place. We gotta start somewhere!

Day 116

April 25th, 2016

Let’s add some colour!


Outfit: Black dress worn under poet style paisley blouse. Brown belt and boots. Small drop silver earrings.


Spring has sprung in the Okanagan, so I think it is time to bring out the summer box and try some colourful stuff. I did check the weather forecast and it’s not supposed to be as hot as it has been, but for goodness sake people, it’s still spring not mid July! I’m ok with the weather being in the mid to low 20s. No need to speed up the seasons.

I have to say that’s one of my most favourite things about Canada. Having been born in Mexico, we had 2, maybe 3 seasons, and in the north it was more like 1.5: a little winter and scorching hot summer. But here we have all four seasons and especially in the Okanagan they are pretty evenly spaced. When I lived in Toronto, winter took over summer and spring, but here they are almost true quarters. The peach and apple blossoms in the spring are my ultimate favourite thing to see. Sadly many of the orchards that used to be around when I first moved here have been turned into shopping malls. But that’s a conversation for another day. For today, I’ll enjoy the weather for what it is, and be grateful for the lovely place I call home.

Day 114

April 23rd, 2016

Slow fashion makes front page.


Outfit: Black dress worn under tangerine tunic, with the neckline turned to make it a ‘v’. Black wedge boots, chandelier earrings.


 

The days are just flying and I’m so behind on pictures and posts, that I think now is a good time to share some of the articles I’ve found in the past few weeks.12990901_1297510810262683_3556816992350201971_n

Here is the complete article for your reading pleasure…Georgia Straight

Day 106

April 15th, 2016

The rest of the story…thrift stores.


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, skinny wrap around belt.        

Jen’s 14 Plus Items: Large metal pendant, A-line tan skirt with embroidered motifs, black sandal wedges.


Love this outfit too! The skirt is too big on me, so if you’re eyeing this one, come and get it because I won’t be able to.

Two days ago, I talked about the pros and cons of Consignment, here are some pros and cons of Thrift stores.

 Thrift store Pros:

  1. Price: Because thrift stores rely on donations they can set their prices really low in order to move more merchandise through the floor faster.
  2. Surprise: Often during the sorting of the garments that make it to the floor, certain ‘gems’ get mixed in with the regular clothing, which means that you may find some designer piece marked at $5. Depending on the store, these pieces are marked the same price as anything else in their category so whether it was a pair of True Religion jeans or a pair of Reitman’s jeans, they would still be the same price because they are both jeans.

Continue reading “Day 106”

Day 104

April 13th, 2016

What is the benefit of buying consignment?


Outfit: Black dress worn forward, boyfriend jeans, green glass earrings.

Jen’s Items: Black crocheted vest, multi-coloured large rock necklace, fab suede pumps, plaid fedora.


So what do you think of Jen’s items so far? Pretty nice eh? I love the hats, and the shoes. There’s even more in stock, I just couldn’t take the whole store. That probably would’ve been frowned on.

I have talked about thrift stores and now I want to talk about consignment stores. Some might not think of them as different but they are. Just in case some of you don’t know I will start with the basics. I’ll split it up into two posts, for those of you who get tired of reading.

A consignment store is a private business, run by the owner who ‘consigns’ clothing from clients. The process is simple and if you ask me, quite brilliant, there’s no investment in inventory, it almost works like an art gallery where the gallery picks the pieces and gets a commission for showing the work. So in the consignment model, the owner gets to decide what garments she’ll take from the client, and then gives the items a determined time period. In some stores, the longer the item sits on the floor, the cheaper you can get it for, as the price decreases per week. If it’s sold the store keeps a commission and the client gets the rest. It usually works on a 60/40 split with the store keeping the 60 percent –hey they have the overhead right?

A thrift store is usually run by a charity such as the Salvation Army or Good Will. They depend on donations of clothing that gets dropped off to their door and then sorted through in order to go on the floor.

Here are some of the pros and cons of Consignment:

Consignment store Pros:  
  1. Quality: Because the store owner wants to get the best bang for her buck, they are generally quite picky about the quality of the garments she takes in.  Garments that are soiled or worn out won’t be accepted and in some cases they won’t even accept garments that are cheaper made sources. So you are assured that what you buy will be well made and in good condition
  2. Designer brands: Often a consignment store will focus on providing only higher end designer brands. They won’t accept fast fashion sources . The designer brands that they provide will be available at a fraction of the cost that they would be brand new, so you are getting great quality and fit at a bargain.
  3. Merchandising: Some consignment stores pride themselves in their merchandising and style, their focus is in making the experience feel more like a regular retail boutique.
Consignment store Cons:
  1. Price: Because the point of the consignment model is for both the client and the store owner to make a profit, the price point of consignment is higher than a thrift store. Even at second hand prices you may have to pay $50 for a jacket or a dress, but if you consider that the dress originally may have sold for $200 then it’s still a deal. This is where you need to make a decision of whether or not the item is in fact worth the 50 dollars. Often I hear people say ‘Well for $50 I could go to the mall and get a new dress”. What you need to remember is that a 50 dollar brand new dress is more than likely not made with the same quality as the 200 dollar dress so in fact you’re not comparing apples to apples.

 

Day 102

April 11th, 2016

Hello Jen’s 14 Plus Consignment!


Outfit: Black dress worn forwards, skinny jeans, drop bead earrings.

Jen’s items: Green boho felt hat, green scarf, fab suede high heels, wooden bracelet.


How do you follow up great news like yesterday? With great news today! I am happy to announce that this week I will be sporting looks borrowed from Jen 14 Plus consignment store. They have great purses, accessories and shoes. As well as a great selection of plus size garments. I found quite a few items that I am excited to showcase. It’s going to be a great week!

Jen’s facebook page

Day 95

April 4th, 2016

How about a real haul!


Outfit: Black dress

Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift store items: Skinny tan wrap belt, black booties, chunky plastic necklace, b/w patent purse w/animal print insert.


I talked about hauls in the last post, and I went on and on about how cheap fashion hauls are at the root of all evils. I’m not going to flip flop on this, but I do recognize when a deal is a deal, so I propose a different type of haul, one where you actually get value from your purchases. As you know, I went to the K.W. S. Thrift store and borrowed 21 pieces of clothing and accessories and if I were to buy all of it, it would come to $112.00. If I was to buy all of these items new at retail the cost would probably go over $700.00. Now that’s a deal!

Considering that I actually got pieces that fit into my wardrobe, I would be fairly confident I’d get great cost per wear on these items. Don’t know what cost per wear is? Well read tomorrow’s post and I’ll get into it. In the mean time let’s evaluate the total amount of all of these pieces. Which is your favourite? I’m keeping the skinny tan belt and the earrings. Also, maybe the watermelon belt, but I want to calculate the CPW first!P1100989

For a more detailed look at my savings see the chart below. Please note that the SRPs that have .99 in the price came from the original tag of the item, and all other price points are my best guesstimate as to what it would cost if I were to buy new at a store. I even went low-ball to compare it to some fast fashion prices. As you can see, I can’t help myself when there’s an opportunity to make a chart. My family says I have a problem. But this is an issue for a different blog…

Day Items  Thrift store cost  Suggested Retail Price
1 88 Black wrap belt (w tags on)  $                 10.00  $                   50.00
2 Black and white necklace  $                     1.50  $                   15.00
3 Black booties  $                     8.00  $                   50.00
4 89 B/W cardigan  $                     5.00  $                   29.00
5 Light tan skinny belt (tags on)  $                     5.00  $                   79.99
6 Sage stone earrings  $                     5.00  $                   24.99
7 Tan wide bracelet  $                     2.00  $                     5.00
8 90 Pink French cuff shirt  $                     4.00  $                   25.00
9 Faux reptile skinny belt  $                     5.00  $                   10.00
10 Chunky plastic necklace  $                     8.00  $                   49.99
11 Cheetah print pumps  $                     6.00  $                   50.00
12 91 Brown animal print blouse  $                     5.00  $                   50.00
13 92 Coral belt (tags on)  $                   20.00  $                   79.95
14 Round bead amber necklace  $                     2.00  $                   20.00
15 Red wooden bracelet  $                     1.00  $                     5.00
16 93 Geometric print top  $                     5.00  $                   50.00
17 94 Turquoise belt  $                     5.00  $                   25.00
18 Turquoise shoes  $                     6.00  $                   25.00
19 Turquoise bracelets  $                     2.00  $                     5.00
20 Turquoise bracelets  $                     1.00  $                     5.00
21 95 Black patent purse w/ animal print  $                     6.00  $                   50.00
GRAND TOTAL:  $                112.50  $                703.92

Day 91

March 31st, 2016

Tips to improve your shopping experience at a Thrift Store.


Outfit: Black dress worn forward.

Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift store items: Brown animal print ruffle blouse, black wedge boots, brown faux reptile skinny belt, sage stone earrings.


Now that you’ve undertaken to recover from being a thrift store snob, the next step to becoming a successful thrifter, is to get past the merchandising. A lot of people get overwhelmed when they enter a thrift store because they are generally really packed and not organized like some of the stores in mainstream malls. Big box stores spend thousands of dollars on visual merchandising that displays garments by themes, colours and ‘stories’. You don’t get that in a thrift store. You’re lucky if you get colour coded and category. But there’s no mannequin showing you how to put together an outfit, and there are no size ranges, you get what you get in your size.

More than once I’ve heard friends say they don’t know where to start when they go into a thrift store. It is not like things are already grouped for you. No clear trends here. You are on your own. And that’s the problem, we’ve been conditioned for so long to simply buy what’s on trend that we may not even be able to recognize when that trend does not suit our own personality or body type.

In a thrift store, however, once you start really looking it’s amazing what you can find if you have a good eye. And I think that’s the trick. You need to figure out what is worth it and what’s not. You need to look for quality, style and fit. So here are a few tips to happy thrifting:

  1. Spend the time: First of all, when you are just starting make sure to give yourself plenty of time. Once you become a ‘seasoned’ thrifter you can go in and pick a garment without a second thought, but at the beginning you’ll need lots of time to look through, inspect and very importantly: try on! There’s no point in buying something that does not fit or even worse: does not fit right!
  2.  Look for quality: This is where learning the difference between a good or bad sewing finish or what a high quality fabric content is, comes in handy. Sometimes looking at the brand name will help because there’s no denying that something made by a designer brand is usually better made than a garment from a fast fashion source.
  3. Style: Insert personality here. This is where you get to decide what you shine in. What are you most comfortable wearing? And I do not mean comfortable sweat pants! We are talking fashion pieces here. Things like line and shape or colour and texture. It does not have to be limited to only pants or skirts or dresses, but if you do prefer one of this categories, that says something about your personal style too. So do you like long and lean or do you like flouncy and delicate? Or is it loud prints and bright colours? Dainty florals or basic pieces. You decide. And once you know what happy looks like for you, then make sure it is flattering.
  4. Fit: and a flattering look go hand in hand. Proportion plays a huge part in the fit of something being right for you. Look for things that fit your shoulders, torso and waist. Remember that hems and sleeves could be altered and some side seams could be taken in, but unless you have a basic understanding of alterations, make sure that the garment fits before you buy it. Otherwise you’ll never wear it again and you’ll curse your experience.
  5. Bring a buddy: This only works if you like a second opinion. But if you are a ‘solo’ shopper this might backfire especially if your buddy is on a time limit.  So on this note don’t bring someone who’s not interested in being there: i.e. your children or husband.

Most of all, have fun with it. In the famous words of Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get!”

Day 89

March 29th, 2016

How to cure yourself from being a thrift store snob.


Outfit: Dress worn backwards, over skinny jeans and brown boots.

Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift Store Items: Black and white Navajo (aka Aztec) stripe cardigan, light tan skinny wrap around belt, sage stone earrings, tan wide bracelet.


What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Let’s go to thrift shopping!”? If the answer is “ew”, then you may be a ‘Thrift store snob’. Do you cringe at the thought of crowded racks with endless jumbled items? Do you actually scrunch up your nose remembering the certain smell associated with a used clothes store? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Lots of people have thought that. Including me! I was once a thrift store snob. Second hand clothing was unheard of when I was growing up in Mexico, so for me it was a very foreign concept to go shopping for used items.

The problem with being a thrift store snob though, is that you have no idea what you may be missing! Thrift stores are full of hidden treasures ready for those with a keen eye to discover. I believe we’ve been stripped of our ability to be creative and individual by being dictated what’s on trend each week; shopping in places like thrift or second hand stores, gives us the chance to find things that are unique and different from the norm. The more you exercise that creative brain, the easier it will get to find great pieces to complement your style.

In order to cure ourselves from snubbing a thrift store, the answer is to change perspectives. Lets try the following prescription:

Number one, instead of seeing the clothes as discarded pieces that nobody could want, lets look at them for what they really are: somebody’s items that either no longer or never fit, are the wrong colour, or simply do not look good on the first owner. Granted, some items may be really worn, and the reality is that fast fashion makes it hard for some pieces to be handed down, because they look like rags after the first wash anyway. A lot of consignment stores will not take fast fashion pieces for this reason. But for the most part, second hand items that are well made, can be invaluable to those who find them. Like they say, someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure.

Second, wearing second hand items is one of the oldest ways of recycling clothing. We talk about the new generation being so green and mindful of our environment, yet the older generations never threw anything away! Clothing pieces were handed down sometimes through several generations.  They were included in people’s wills and given away as precious commodities. Once the items were too worn to be mended or handed down, they were converted to rags for cleaning or used as patches for other pieces. So the best way to recycle clothing is to use it again!

Last, thrifting it is the best way to get a great item for a super deal! Nowadays it has become almost a badge of honour to brag about how little we paid for an item of clothing. As if that was our doing and not the retailer’s way of duping us into believing we actually got something of great value. The fact remains that a great deal in most stores is actually a garment made with shoddy workmanship and questionable materials. Alternatively, an item bought at a thrift store may have been a high end piece of superb quality and fit, simply given away because it did not suit the first owner. Now, that is a great deal!

 

Day 87

March 27th, 2016

Outfit: Dress worn under Mama Ella apron.

Mama Ella Aprons save the day!

Have you wondered how on earth I keep the dress clean? Well wonder no more…here’s my secret. I wear an apron. Morning, day and night, whether I’m cooking, cleaning, tidying, making patterns, sewing or even doing my make up, I wear my apron.P1100978

I started doing this when I first began work as a pattern maker and I would rub my waist against the table all the time! My dressy clothes were getting super dirty and worn. So I decided I needed to wear something to protect them. Then later when I had kids, I realized that at all hours of the day these little creatures would reach their little hands up full of dirt/snot/food/anything and grab my skirt/pant side. Add to that the fact that ¾ of the time I miss my mouth when I drink coffee first thing in the morning and that for sure I will get splattered while making spaghetti sauce and the result would be that none of my clothes would be presentable.

Like my great-grandma Ela and her daughter (my grandma) Olly, I wear an apron as my indoor uniform. These ladies used to wear a smock-style apron that is very popular in Mexico (where I grew up).aprons

I set out to make something like those, something that would cover most of the body, but I wanted something that would be pretty and flattering as well. I needed big pockets so I could pick up barbies and lego as I went along and it needed to be comfortable so I could wear it all day. The result is an over the head criss-cross smock type apron that looks like a dress and offers full coverage. You should see some of my old ones! They are filthy. Stained. I often think of the hundreds of pieces of clothing I’ve saved by wearing one of my aprons.

I’ve come to the realization that in this world you’re one of two types of people: an apron wearer and non-apron wearer. But I invite you to try wearing one just even while cooking. You’ll be surprised how great it feels, it is almost like putting on armor. Ready to tackle whatever the day sends your way.

And the best part of my type of apron is that you can run out to the store and if you forgot to take it off, it still looks OK!

To have a look at samples of Mama Ella Aprons ,visit this link 

 

Day 82

March 22nd, 2016

Outfit: Black dress worn under wrap skirt. Black chunky boots, pink scarf-like necklace.

Why on earth am I doing this?

I want to take the opportunity today to remind you of the reasons I’m doing this crazy thing!

First of all, because I love craftsmanship in fashion and beautifully made things that make you feel good.  After all, it is a basic human characteristic, we love to adorn ourselves. Some more than others, but we all have that innate need to stand out. And it saddens me that the stuff available to us is not beautifully made. Secondly, I have a soft spot for righteousness, social justice and feeling good about things being fair. And last but not least, I have a nagging growing guilt about the kind of world I’m leaving for my kid’s kids to deal with.

But in addition, this project is also a fundraiser. So far, I am so very grateful for the donations I’ve gotten in support of my cause. I truly believe that every little bit counts and no matter what I’m ahead of the game. That being said, I would love to take this effort to the end goal and raise the full amount I’m hoping for. $5000 is a lot of cash and it would go a long way in helping those that I’m hoping to help.

I am donating to the Masterpiece Campaign for my children’s school St. Joseph Elementary, because the sad reality is that we desperately need a new building. For years we’ve managed with the buildings the way they are (some of them around eighty years old), and have thrived in the knowledge that it is what’s inside that counts. Our teachers are great, our families are great and our community is great. I remind my children that we have so much to be grateful for and that an old building not the end of the world. Old is different than decrepit and unfortunately one of our buildings is close to being that. So after a very long process, we finally have a plan in place and the only thing left is to raise the money. No small feat eh? Great news is that we have more than half already, from very generous donors. But we need the rest and that’s where the little people like me come in. I don’t have lots to contribute. My family is modest and we have what we need, we make sacrifices to send our kids to this school and we are happy to do it, but we cannot offer large sums to this endeavor. What we can offer is our time and talents. This is why I’m doing this. I will offer some of my treasure, but I feel that giving out of our other means is just as important.

I recognize that in North America we have more than enough to go around. And that our problems are first world problems! Sometimes when I sit and whine about how I need another oil change on my car, I have to pull myself back a few notches and remember that I am lucky to have a vehicle that takes me from point A to B without effort. I think of the countless girls who carry water on their backs and walk miles every day just to have drinkable water available. Hence, when I was looking for another cause to donate to, I thought of children in a different part of the world who may also be struggling with their education needs. I thought of my friend Louise, because she’s worked with organizations in Haiti and I knew their schools needed help. That is why I’m donating to the institute there.

So I hope that you will help me spread the word and hopefully this venture will inspire many to donate and help me reach the goal I’ve set. Because like it’s been said throughout our campaign, “It takes a village to raise a child”. Thank you.

 

Day 73

March 13th, 2016

Outfit: Skinny jeans, brown boots, black dress forwards, large (again hand-me-down) wrap, brown belt.

Thank you Unless Market…

Before you even say it, I am going to say it for you…this is not my best picture! I know I look like I’m about to enter the Roman Senate and talk to Julius Caesar. But again, I had no other option as the studio is not set up and the photographer is sleeping…I can hear him snoring. So you use what you have!

cropped-600px_Logo2015

I want to take the opportunity today to say a great big thank you to Unless Market and its artists for providing the looks I sported all of last week. It was great to have some fun pieces to accessorize the dress with, which were different from what I have in my closet. Doing something like this brings you out of your comfort zone and gets you to try a new look that you may have not tried otherwise.

Please take the time to go down to Unless Market and check out their vendors for yourself. Let me know what you thought. Sarah will take care of you.

 

 

Day 71

March 11th, 2016

Outfit: Dress worn front wards, skinny jeans, black short boots.

Unless items: Bracelets are made from reclaimed belts by LuE Designs. Taking discarded items and turning them into fashion pieces. She even makes them for kids. https://www.facebook.com/LuEdesigns123/?fref=ts
– Bamboo shirt hand printed with the unique artwork of FabriKated. Kate uses screenprinting to bring expression and character to every piece she makes. http://www.fabrikated.ca/

– Alpaca cowl is hand knit by Kristal Polley from Alpaca Cowls and Scarves. She loves creating pieces that add warmth and elegance to any outfit. (she doesn’t have a website or business facebook, call the store for more info)

Almost all done with Unless…sad face.

I love everything about this outfit. The t-shirt is one of many with very fun designs that include bikes and owls. The cowl is cozy and really soft, and can be worn in many different ways. And the bracelets are one of my favourite pieces in the store. So fun and unique. One more accessory tomorrow and we say so long to the beautiful pieces of Unless Market. I hope you’ve enjoyed the looks as much as I have.

P1100861

Day 65

March 5th, 2016

Outfit: Mauve skirt (Made -in house), purple tank top, black dress worn over, thin grey belt,  black chunky boots. Pink antique earrings.

 

 

Day 64

March 4th, 2016

Outfit: Black/grey striped boat neck T, black tube mini skirt, wine leggings, dress worn as jacket, black chunky boots. Steampunk drop earrings.  

“Cheap clothing is killing the planet”

Check out what my friends sent me on Facebook! Great video with lots of good information. In regards to the last bit where she talks about DT, I feel like I need to put the disclaimer that the networks put where they say that the opinions of the program do not reflect those of the network. I won’t start a political debate on this blog. But the rest of it is brilliant! So enjoy. Link 

Day 63

March 3rd, 2016

Outfit:  Black dress worn backwards, chevron stripe skirt, black skinny belt, red shoes, red necklace, red purse. Another skirt made by yours truly. This one was tricky only to match the stripes so they formed the ‘v’ at centre front.

A year without ‘Made in China’

Could you live without Chinese-made items for a whole year? That’s exactly what the family in the book I just finished reading (A year without “Made in China”, by Sara Bongiorni) did!

In truth it was the wife who came up with the idea and the husband followed suit – I think he had no choice! There was a reason she secretly called him ‘the weakest link’, fearing that at any point he might cave in and buy something outlawed by their boycott.  The kids were too little to have a say, but they certainly noticed that they couldn’t have regular buckets and pails for the summer because they were ‘made in China’. The book is quite funny as it documents their ups and downs through the struggle of buying items that were not manufactured in China. It was an experiment (what is it with people like us?) to see just how much of our stuff came from there and whether or not it has a monopoly on commodities. As funny as it is written, it certainly makes you realize how dependent we are on stuff made overseas. It wasn’t just clothing or toys, she couldn’t even buy printer ink! All made in China. And interestingly enough, when it comes to celebrating holidays, everything is Chinese. So she called it Chinese Christmas, Chinese Halloween and Chinese Fourth of July (in our case it would be Chinese Canada day). But, for real, how exactly do the factory workers feel about making Americana and Canadian merchandise for us to feel patriotic? Does that seem ironic to anyone else?

I laughed hysterically when the husband went around in mismatched flip flops because the rules they had set up did not allow for even used Chinese items. Have you tried buying flip flops made elsewhere lately?  And I could certainly relate when she started to bend the rules on ‘gifts’ from others because she felt it was too much to impose the restrictions on friends or family to adhere to their rules.

All around it was a great insight on once again, the result of our over consumption and just how used to it we’ve become.

Spoiler alert, it is almost impossible to boycott China if you ever want to own a television set, or a coffee maker, but at least it is good to know that where there’s a will, there’s a way and that we can spread our spending among other countries of origin if only we put in a little effort and use all kinds of will power and self restraint.

I loved it and highly recommend it, if you’re up to the challenge. Here’s the link. A year without ‘Made in China’