Oh, hey, internets.
Not been doing a good job of keeping up lately. It’s life, work, kid, you know the stuff. And I’m not going to recap too much. Instead, I’m just going to jump into something that’s been on my mind.
This blog started as a place for me to explore being a maker in every capacity. Much of that has centered on our old house in East Tennessee, but over the past two years I’ve also been learning other kinds of making. This year, I’ve spent a lot of time teaching myself basic sewing, and a few months ago, I instituted a clothing-buying ban for myself (dang near impossible to do for The Boy, as he grows so dang fast). The ban isn’t total; I can’t make unmentionables, and my skills have not evolved to the point where I’m comfortable making pants, either. However, I make all my own tops; I haven’t bought one in months. I’m making do with much of what I already owned, but I’m also only adding things I make myself to the stash. Additionally, I’ve been slowly weeding through my closet, taking out everything I never wore because it made me uncomfortable.
The ban exists for a couple of reasons. One is financial; clothes are expensive, and we’re working on our savings. One is environmental; the fast fashion industry (discussed below) produces cheap clothing at enormous costs to the environment and the people who live and work near the factories. Making doesn’t address all those issues (toxic dyes are a real problem), but it does lessen my complicity in the situation. And one is personal; I’m forcing myself out of my comfort zone, making myself think about what I wear and why, and learning a lot along the way about my preferences and my body.
On that note…
I’m following a tag (and movement) on Instagram right now called #slowfashionoctober (Slow Fashion October, for those who don’t like to parse the words out of hashtags). Here’s the main idea (from Karen Templer, of the blog and knitting website Fringe Association, which far as I can tell, runs the party):
“Fast Fashion is destroying lives and the planet at our collective behest. There are loads of people who aren’t part of the problem, thankfully. There are people who are part of the problem and don’t realize it, and I hope we’ll reach some of those. And there are people who are part of the problem, come to that realization, and want to make changes. That’s what Slow Fashion October is about: A discussion in which all points of view are welcome in a global discussion about how to avoid (or minimize) contributing to the problem and how to be part of the solution — starting at home, with our own closets…
Here’s what I would love to see happen this Slow Fashion October. I would love for each of us to get (at least) one step closer to having a closet full of clothes that we absolutely love and wear and feel great in and feel great about. Clothes we want to take care of and mend and make last because we will be so sad when we’ve finally worn them out.”
Participants on Insta are engaging in a month-long discussion about a whole range of things from the environmental and social costs of fast fashion to how the clothes we wear (or make) empower us, give us confidence, tell stories, and frame our lives. It’s a month of self-reflection and participation in a community I’m just now discovering. So, I’m giving it a go, as much as possible given the speed of life during the fall semester, by participating in each week’s discussions and reflections.
Each week starts with an Action Item, and this is Week 1’s:
“Make a mood board or pinboard that reflects your ideal style — colors, shapes, attitude. Think about how that has evolved over time, and the difference between what you like or admire and what actually feels like YOU — these are not the same thing.”
SO. Here I am. I’m gonna ride the #slowfashionoctober train (follow me on Instagram at @anythingworthdoing). I put together my mood board on Pinterest, so here’s a screen grab.
As the prompt promised me, I see some things I know about myself and some things I didn’t know about myself in my mood board. I love neutrals, particularly those that skew cool: blues, greys, grey browns, black, eggplant-ish shades of purple, and greens. I don’t do synthetic materials. And I like semi-put together looks that don’t feel like I’m trying too hard, or like I’m putting on airs.
I love texture and subtle, repeated patterns. This isn’t surprising, as I’ve long been a devotee of herringbone in any form, but I also love slubby linen, houndstooth, chilled-out plaids, small (tiny! miniscule!) stripes, and knitwear that has a small pattern.
That’s the other thing I’m seeing, and again, I kind of knew it: I like small details. I really enjoy a buttonhole that’s a slightly different color than the rest, a brass zipper hiding inside a jacket, funky embroidery, and elbow patches. I’m weirdly uncomfortable in clothing that talks for me, so I like to keep the details tiny and maybe a little secret. There’s something special in being the only person who knows your pockets are made of floral fabric.
And finally, in terms of silhouettes, I like things that graze my shape but don’t give too much of that shape away. Tailored, not tight. Slightly slouchy, but never sloppy. Put together, but a little by accident.
What I liked about this exercise is this…
If and when I do start buying clothes again (and let’s face it, I can’t make it all myself YET), I’ll have my color palette, silhouette preferences, detail and design notes, and a whole bunch of other things keeping me from buying stuff I just don’t really love. I think we all buy things because they’re the best we see around us at the moment. I think over the last year, and hopefully throughout this month, I’ll be moving further from that, and closer to the idea that my closet can bring me joy, confidence, and peace.
“The key to having a loved, lasting, low-turnover closet is to put the right clothes into it. The right clothes for you. And the key to that is knowing who you are and how you like to dress; making good choices for your body and soul and style and lifestyle.”
Additionally, I love the idea that loving what I have, and using what I love, repairing it along the way so I get to use it so much longer, has bigger implications.
“Every closet that fills more slowly and thoughtfully, that lasts longer and suits its owner, is a chink in the fast-fashion industry, and chinks add up.”
Anybody else inspired by this community and these ideas? Wanna go along on the ride? What would you see in your moodboard?