heirlooms / second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity (bucking trends, quality materials …)
I thought I would pick up on the "second-hand" aspect of the theme.
I think there are a lot of women out there who find that clothes just don't light their fire. Which is honestly awesome. More power to you all: sort out your 'uniform,' wear it with pride and confidence, and go about your important work in the world.
But, the thing is, I really like clothes. I don't mean that I consider myself a fashionable person -- I don't really care about trends and those who do probably give me the side-eye when they see me walking down the street. But I do enjoy the opportunity for creativity that getting dressed represents. I like juxtaposing patterns and colors in an outfit the same way I might in a quilt. I like exploring the way different styles can imply character and narrative in the same way that I like inventing characters in fiction.
And so, though I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of ethically sourced clothing, and the environmental imperatives of minimal (or at least...reasonably sized!) wardrobes made up of items chosen with an eye towards longevity, after a while this all threatens to become a little, well...joyless.
Shopping second-hand can be a solution to this conundrum, I think. It offers an opportunity for low-commitment, low-environmental-impact play. I am always happy when I find wardrobe staples at thrift stores (hello, knee-length denim skirt, and brand-new Breton-striped tunic from J. Crew). But I also like to occasionally relax my rules about what is and isn't "me" a little bit and try something new.
One can go overboard with this; buy anything that appeals to you in some way because "what the hey, it's cheap," and you end up with a mishmash of a closet where it's hard to find the things you truly love. But a little bit of deliberate "I'd like to give this look/item/trend a bash" can be a good strategy. Sometimes you conclude that a particular look doesn't suit you after all, but other times you might discover an enduring element to your style.
While thrifting with my mom during my parents' visit a couple of months ago, I found myself drawn to hippie-like maxi skirts. But I had an inkling that I wanted to wear them in a non-hippie way.
My style is neither "boho" nor preppy/conservative, but I think that sometimes juxtaposing both types of items in an outfit can cancel out or tone down both of those qualities in an interesting way.
So here are two outfits featuring my new maxi skirts, made up entirely of second-hand items. (Sorry for the blurry phone snaps -- this ain't a fashion blog.)
In this warm-weather take on the experiment, the skirt, t-shirt (Ann Taylor LOFT), and wedge sandals (Sofft) are all from thrift stores. The cardigan is by Leifsdottir via Ebay, and the bangle and earrings are both vintage via Etsy.
This second look is entirely from thrift stores (the sweater is by Banana Republic and the gray suede loafers are by Peter Kent, which I gather is a $$$ Italian brand; I paid $5 for them), except for the pearls which belonged to my husband's grandmother.
The implied narrative here is: "Oh this? I found it in a closet at Gran's country house. Would you believe Aunt Phoebe was a hippie in the sixties?"
In truth, I am not sure how long these skirts will remain in my closet, nor how often I will wear them. But in the meantime I'm having a bit of fun. I think I might wear the second outfit above on Thanksgiving!