Life at the bottom of the Fashion Caste

Posts tagged “fashion

Re: In Defense of Slow Fashion

Workers protest on the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza Factory collapse in Bangladesh. Image via Solidarity Center.

Workers protest on the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza Factory collapse in Bangladesh. Image via Solidarity Center.

Expounding upon one Leandra Medine’s recent post, “In Defense of Slow Fashion”: fast fashion kills.

This is not a nice conversation to have, it is not a fashionable subject to speak about, it is not a feel-good realization to come to. But it must be considered every time you reach for that $20, fresh-out-of-its-plastic-wrap, fresh off the freight liner, oh-so-trendy piece of clothing: who made this thing I am about to purchase? How much were they paid to make this thing? In what kind of conditions did they make this thing? Were the coerced or forced to make this thing? Did they have breakfast the day they made this thing? How old were they? And most importantly, do I support the the implications of the answers to these questions?

If they answer to that last question is no, put it down.

If this image of the garment worker who made your clothes is too abstract, too far away to be considered relevant in your purchasing decision, think instead of the retail workers that surround you in whatever fast fashion retailer you happen to find yourself in. These people work tirelessly at thankless jobs, often under management pressured to keep full-time staff to a minimum, scheduling part-timers for 39.5 hours a week to avoid the certain doom of a health insurance violation. These workers toil at all hours of the day, unpacking boxes, snapping censors onto garments, folding and re-folding, hocking credit cards to cushion the company’s bottom line all while being paid a pittance and being told to be grateful for an $0.11 raise, the first in two years. Do I support the corporations that turn a blind eye to the very people that make their successes possible?

Clearly, I acknowledge that not everyone can afford to pay $50 for a t-shirt, much less $350 for a pair of fine shoes. Generally speaking, neither can I. I admit that those adorable Asos shoes haunted me until of course I bought them. At $30 with free shipping, who wouldn’t? The point here is that all those five, ten, and twenty dollar purchases add up over time to piles of clothes that will last for only a few wears, ultimately ending up in landfills the world over. If the focus was instead on purchasing a well-crafted item made to last, the overall amount of money spent on clothing and the total amount of clothing purchased would both be reduced.

It is difficult to battle the indoctrinated consumer attitude required by our capitalist society. And I don’t think we will ever be fully free from its implications. What we can do is become more conscious consumers, people who use our minds to think critically about the origins of our potential purchase. The key is a change in our overall mindset. When I am pining for something new when I can’t afford something I know is well made from a reputable and responsible brand, I shop for vintage or handmade items on Etsy or scour my local thrift store for a good find. In that way I know I am not contributing to the supply demands of poor-quality garments made in poor working conditions by individuals—human beings with lives and families and joys and stresses like yours and mine—who may never live to see the day when their hard work earns them enough money to actually buy the clothing they create. It’s no novel concept, just quality over quantity at its finest.

That is my defense of slow fashion. It is not just the intricacy of the design, the weight of the silk between your fingers, nor the beautiful French seaming that warrants the desire for so-called slow fashion. It is the fact that you can proudly don a garment knowing that its path to you was not fraught with forced and underpaid labor, over-consumption of resources, and mindlessly low production standards.

Until next time,

TFS

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Blasé-Faire

Is it just me or is New York really slacking in the creativity department? No, not the designers (well, not all of them; Thom Browne case-in-point (!!!!!!!!!!!)), but the fashion folks on the street. One of my favorite aspects of Fashion Month is pouring through endless Tommy Ton et. al. slideshows of those lithe (and sometimes beautifully un-lithe), unfathomable beings as they flit from show to show.

So, naturally, I took the bait when I saw the Refinery29 link to “70 Next-Level NYFW Street-Style Snaps.” I was able to get to photo 29 before drifting down to the comments section where someone brashly proclaimed “So basically, you can wear anything to fashion week, and R29 will call it chic.”

Seriously. I thought. Seriously!

Okay, I take that back. I honestly don’t think it has anything to do with R29’s vision of what is “chic” or “next-level,” whatever that happens to mean. But I DO think that, as a rule, anyone who dons a pair of overalls, looks like a lady, pretends to be ironic, or is wearing anything from net-a-porter will be photographed for some sort of photo blog FW situation. Believe:

Okay, so no one ever said I was the poster-child for wild dress. But, bro, if you’ve got the budget, the status, the influence, SURPRISE me! Push the boundaries. Dare yourself. Dare me.

Thank goodness that to make a rule there must be exceptions, am I right? After much sifting, I picked these as my fave looks from NYC.

I can’t say how excited I am for the London collections. I may be slightly biased but London is second to none in both designer and street style excellency. I can always count on the Brits to not only excite and inspire me, but remind me why I fell in love with the whole crazy world of fashion in the first place.

Until then!

– The Fashion Serf

All photos via Style.com, The Sartorialist, Vogue.com, Vogue.co.uk, and Refinery29.com


Models in Orbit

A collection of images by Alessandro Garofalo from the Marc Jacobs AW13 show yesterday in New York.

Besides being visually stunning, I love that a ready-to-wear designer has enough gumption to truly rephrase the traditional blasé-faire of a standard runway show. Sure, the clothing is (usually) vastly different from show to show, but the formula (Xmodels + 1 runway + 1 billion bright white lights = fashion show) is typically the same. Besides the raving couture shows and whatever Karl may have up his sleeve this season, that’s usually how a show is run.

But Jacobs sent his models out twice, once lit solely by the all-seeing giant orange orb (pictured), and for the second time with the house lights flooding the stage. This fact not only emphasized the bizarrely beautiful runway design, but also proved that there was more than met the eye during the first (literal) go-around.

The best part? Whatever he may have been conveying by this setup (and the pared-down clothing it so effectively displayed) is up for interpretation. One Miss Nicole Phelps insists that Marc needed a break from the over-zealous design of the past few years. Personally, I think the idea was more concept-driven than ever. But, in all truthfulness, it’s up to you, the beholder. And seriously, what an incredible sight to behold. Ready? Discuss.

-The Fashion Serf


School Daze

 

It has been horrifyingly cold lately, meaning a severe lack of opportunities to be even slightly stylish. En route to a holiday party with friends last month it dawned on me; Wisconsin isn’t known for its fashionistas not because there’s no one in the whole state with a keen sense of personal style, but largely because 6-8 months of the year completely prohibit any opportunity to wear an appealing ensemble. Trust me, any height of heel in three inches of snow just doesn’t work.

Good thing I’ve been keeping busy indoors while ruthlessly pursuing my transfer applications. Breaking news, I will not be attending Central Saint Martins in the fall. Instead, I have my sights set on a slightly warmer locale, but I’ll stay mum until my plans are set (!). Either way, these apps have been draining any semblance of sanity I have retained over the last year so I haven’t had a ton of time to blog. Does this mean I’ve already broken one of my resolutions? Gosh, I hope not.

To keep my spirits up in the midst of this wintry slog, I’m proud to say that I’m working on streamlining my wardrobe. I never thought I would be the kind of gal to desire limits in this area of my life but things are getting out of hand. After an influx of crap clothes from my old dorm in London, I’ve not only run out of hangers but also drawer space. And let me emphasize, I have plenty of hangers and drawers. More than average.

So I’m taking Anuschka of Into Mind‘s advice and planning my Spring 2013 capsule wardrobe. The planning portion has been surprisingly enjoyable. Lot’s of self-reflection, dog ear-ing magazine pages, collaging, and–gasp–pinning. That’s right. I’ve learned to use Pinterest for something other than entering unattainable contests. It’s still in the works, but feel free to check out my board of looks/textures/patterns that are inspiring my SS13 looks.

If you couldn’t decipher the huge range of themes in the board, I hope to aim for two different styles of looks. I love Sarah Rutson’s ladylike-chic style (vibrant tailored trousers, nautical stripes, a-line skirts, sheath dresses, no-nonsense colour combos) but i also have a huge weakness for a bohemian, gypsy woman, carefree, Dylana Suarez kind of style, too (flowy maxi skirts, an excess of paisley, windswept hair, and layers layers layers). Also, add a dash of schoolgirlisms including jumpers, letterman sweaters, and charm bracelets. I know it’s kind of passe at this point but I just can’t get over it.

To be honest, I’m no minimalist. I love trinkets, packed book shelves, and cozy clutter. So I do plan on keeping some stand-out pieces from my current wardrobe for sentimental reasons, even if they don’t fit into either of the broad categories I’m aiming for with my capsule planning.

Also, P took me on a much-needed tour of some of the best vintage shops in the cities recently (more on this to come!). The topmost photos are a preview of our outing! Some of those shops were last seen here.

Anyways, now you’ve been updated! Hopefully I can get out of this school daze long enough to blog again soon!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Designer Drool: Proenza Schouler

I’ve learned a thing or two from everyone’s favorite online beauty maven, Eva Chen. I trust Ms. Chen’s word. She may breathe beauty but the woman also lives fashion (what, former beauty editor for Teen Vogue isn’t fashion enough?). Eva never fails to provide some seasoned advice for us youngsters out there: always use a primer, never touch a blemish, get your beauty sleep, and, perhaps most importantly, always always always pick Proenza.

The brand’s prefall collection sees no departure from their infamously bold prints (who could forget the tumblr inspired patterns from their SS13 runway show?) with monocrhome trousers and shimmery abstracts. During the transitional season, however, we’re seeing more wearable fashions than ever; with sweet belted a-line dresses, colour blocked separates, and statement pointed-toe pumps, Proenza delivered everyday wear with a patterned punch. Here’s a collection of my favorite looks, all images via Style.com

And don’t forget, they’ve recently launched a (very small) jewelry line.

–>FS

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The New Year’s Way

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New Year’s is my favorite holiday of all the holidays! It’s not just a time for reflecting on your previous year but also an incredible opportunity to plan out an entire year of what’s to come.

I’ve been thinking about what I want from this year, and it is packed. I’m starting with a handful of resolutions which I’m sharing here now. Hopefully if they’re written in a place where I’m not the only person who can see them (aka not my journal), I’ll be more likely to actually stick to them. So, here goes.

1. No more ‘fast fashion.’

This includes, but is not limited to, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Forever 21, Zara, etc. I’ve only realized this fact in the last few months (yes, slow on the uptake, I know) but stores like the aforementioned megashops manufacture their clothing to be on trend (okay, great) but to last for 10 washes max. That is despicable. Think of how many $30 sweaters (or 40, or 50!) I’ve bought from UO or elsewhere. One year of fast sweaters could’ve bought me at least two beautiful, made-to-last, staple sweaters that I could cherish for years to come.

This resolution will be all about control and perspective. I’ll have to remember that just because the price is good, doesn’t mean the product is. And I’ll have to remember that the $20 I take out of my paycheck every two weeks is going toward something that I will really value one day, not just a venti latte. This will also give me an excuse to focus on thrift and vintage stores.

2. Keep blogging.

It’s as simple as that. I know there has been a bit of a holiday-induced hiatus in my writing lately but between work and friends and family I just couldn’t squeeze it in! I’m really excited to stick to this resolution because it’s become so important for me to document my thoughts in a permanent-ish way. One day I’ll be able to look back at these posts and realize how much I’ve changed since way back in 2012. That alone is worth it to me.

Aside from all that, I’ve got big plans for this little blog in the new year, including a fresh theme and DIY video series! Keep an eye out for my first edition.

3. Keep that New Year’s feeling.

I always feel so optimistic at the start of a new year. Eventually that high wears off, and I land back in the doldrums of my everyday outlook. But this year I will try to keep the excitement and foresight of a new year, or at least try to keep that attitude in mind as often as I can. Sounds cheesy, but my life has taken such a dramatic reversal in the last year, I need to remind myself sometimes to anticipate the future, no matter the unexpected things that may come up.

Also, I made a playlist that I was intending to post yesterday. But I didn’t. So here it is! It’s designed for a night of all-night New-Year’s dancing. But you can dance around your room to it. Find it on 8tracks AND on Spotify!

And with that, here’s to 2013. I hope it’s the best year yet. Yes, the best year of all the years. Ever.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole

p.s. Do you have any resolutions? Let me know, I’m always inspired by other people’s goals!


Blue Christmas

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What I wore as the blizzard began ripping through my town. Okay, so it wasn’t the sixteen inches we were promised, but the winds were absolutely wicked. The weather has been preventing any decent posts lately so today  I decided to bear it for the sake of my precious readers. Just kidding. But really.

I had to post almost all the photos P took because they were all so fun! Sorry for the overload.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Wool coat: Macy’s
  • Kitten Sweater: vintage (taken from my childhood wardrobe, circa 1997)
  • Skirt: Asos UK
  • Tights: Calvin Klein
  • Lasercut Wedge Booties: Modcloth (old)
  • Neckalce (worn as bracelet): thrifted
  • Earrings: Vintage, last seen here
  • Pear Pin: Vintage
  • Hair bow: Primark UK

I hope everyone has a great holiday and safe travels.

Until next time,

–>The Fashion Serf


You Don’t Look Chic: A Word on Sweatpants

image via: http://www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/fashion-articles/sweatpants-paris-fashion-week-street-style-fall-2012#slide-24

“You know the message you’re sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You’re telling the world: ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.'”

– Jerry Seinfeld

I hate them.** As much as I can get behind the ‘athletics-inspired’ trendiness of the post-Olympics season, I will never be seen in public sporting a pair of fleecy grey (or any other colour, for that matter) sweatpants.

Why is this? you may ask yourselves. Why is it that a perfectly respectable young college girl could not fathom the benefits of sweatpants on a brisk overslept morning of exams? I will tell you, young grasshoppers. There are a number of reasons I detest these ‘sweats:’

Namely, it is because I care about aesthetics. I don’t just admire them from afar, I want every aspect of my life to be visually pleasing. If I’m having one of those not-so-rare off days, my aversion to gymwear in public is even more severe. If I’m feeling crummy or inadequate, I attempt to make up for it by looking polished or at least interestingly risky. Just as anyone would feel awkward while sporting their laundry day unmentionables in the midst of a two hour lecture, throwing on a pair of oversized, ‘comfortable’ pants on a day where I’m already not feeling myself will only make me feel more uncomfortable.

Secondly, while wearing sweatpants out and about (walking to school, on the bus, god forbid, at a restaurant), there is a horrifying swishiness of fabric about my legs. The rough, overwashedness of the once-fleecy lining of a pair of sweatpants scratches at my thighs and provides a constant reminder that I could fit several legs inside the width of these pants. I’m obviously a big proponent of a fitted trouser and will gladly slip into the odd wide-leg denim, but no matter what famed fashion house comes out with a line of designer sweatpants, there shall be no excess of fleece shrouding my legs anywhere besides within the comfort of my own home.

Furthermore, in this day and age, there is absolutely no excuse to don sweatpants in public. The equally comfortable and infinitely more chic cousin of the sweatpant, the legging, is always at your black letter day service. So the next time you feel the urge to reach for those sweatpants, streamline your look with a pair of black leggings. Heck, even throw on a pair of bright red ones! They have an instantly slimming effect and balance out that oversize sweater you want to crawl into during the height of your winter cold. I’m not alone in my thoughts. Trust me, the world will thank you.

Until next time,

–> The Fashion Serf

** Yes, hate is a strong word. I will admit that I love a good sweatpant-clad Sunday while drinking a strong red wine and crying gently to yourself over the end of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Again. But my hatred of the aforementioned sad excuse for legwear largely stems from the hoards of bubble letter writting, non note-taking, collegiate coeds who think it’s appropriate to show up to a formative presentation proudly wearing their high school softball team’s warm-up bottoms or any variation of the sort. Let me tell you, it’s not appropriate. It’s foolish.


WIW: Snø

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Check out my outfit post on The Fashion Serf, it’s all about winter layering!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


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Fun fact of the day: snø is the Norwegian way to say snow. This is what I wore on the morning of my town’s first sprinkling of snow:

  • parka – stolen from sister
  • chambray shirt (underneath) – thrifted
  • wool sweater – vintage
  • mini bodycon skirt – Urban Outfitters
  • over the knee stockings – Asos UK
  • tights – Primark UK
  • knee high boots – Patagonia (last years’ Christmas present from P)
  • telephone pin – vintage
  • bauble earrings – thrifted

I. Love. Winter. So many chunky sweaters and layering possibilities! Options are endless, especially when coziness is the goal. This season is the time to toss the idea of always being flattered by your clothing choices and call in your fisherman’s sweaters and flannel-lined trousers. Although, if you’re gong seriously oversized, I suggest a balancing scheme: bulky up top, fitted on the bottom, and so on.

As I’m typing this, my cozy little house is getting doused with a fresh blanket of snow and my kettle is whistling away. Time to break out the snow boots!

Happy layering,

->The Fashion Serf