Category Archives: Dressing up

Ethical Choices and Your Wardrobe

What do you wear and how do you shop? Do you ever consider the impact that your fashion choices make in terms of sustainability, pollution, ecology and exploitation? The global fashion industry impacts on both agriculture and manufacturing, using, producing, abusing chemicals and pesticides, oil and petrochemicals and water, to create products that all too often are worn for a season and then discarded. “Fast Fashion”is often synonymous with worker exploitation, dangerous working conditions, child labour and with workers being paid a pittance.
It is certainly possible to make ethical choices about what you wear and about how you shop, and still have a fabulous wardrobe!
It is probably a good idea to take a good look at what clothes you have, and sort them out! I recently had a good old wardrobe declutter and went for a “capsule” wardrobe approach. I reduced my clothes by about half and found the exercise therapeutic and useful! It has allowed me to see what items I overbuy and what items I truly need! If you do have clothes that no longer fit, you could sell them on-line, or you could donate them to a charity shop. Clothing that charity shops cannot use is usually sold on to a “Rag man”, a trader who will sort the items for recycling in the textile industry, for re-sale abroad, e.g. in Ghana, The Ukraine, Pakistan, or for land fill. You could also get a bit more creative and organise a “clothes swap” event with friends or family, or you could take a pitch at a Car Boot sale and try your luck direct selling!

What about those items that need a little TLC ?
Repairs and alterations are really not difficult, even for a sewing novice! You can sew on a button very simply with a needle and thread. If you can sew on a button, you can replace all of the buttons on a dress or jacket and give it an entirely new look. Look at a few YouTube tutorials or buy a book and learn a few basic stitches… running stitch, back stitch and blind hemming will serve you well, and enable you to repair a split seam, stitch on a patch or repair a snagged hem.
Invest in a sewing machine and a whole world of creativity opens up to you……
Back to that pile of discarded clothes…..reuse the fabrics and make something new. It is pretty easy to turn a pair of jeans into a skirt, or a tote bag, or a pair of shorts! You can turn a dress into a skirt or a skirt into a dress. You just need a bit of imagination!

Shopping.
Consider buying Vintage or buying from charity shops. Buying used clothes is the ultimate in clothing recycling and offers so much choice. Buying from an On-line or a Brick & Mortar Vintage Shop gives you the opportunity to explore fashion history, create a unique and personal style often with one-off pieces. Look for iconic pieces from a certain era, or for certain designers. Some Vintage buyers like a total look, perhaps even with hairstyle and footwear from a particular era, whereas many like to mix Vintage with modern, for a more eclectic and individual personal style. In Charity shops, be prepared to look through racks and racks of mainly modern clothes. You will often find bargains, particularly in “special occasion” wear, and could save yourself lots of money!

New clothes.
Think of new clothes as investment pieces. It is worth looking at how your clothes are produced, from the source of the fibre and fabric to completion. Organic fibres, hemp, linen, cotton, wool etc., or recycled fabrics would be used more if we created a demand for them. You may wish to support up and coming designers or small collectives that consider the impact of their methods on the environment and produce clothes that will last.

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Capsule Wardrobe, a versatile clothes collection.

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I am no minimalist. My aim is to create a “capsule wardrobe” of assorted pieces that I can combine in a variety of ways and enjoy wearing.  I think it is a given that I should have more than one pair of jeans and more than one T, but key pieces have to versatile.

In the little collection above, I have combined some favourite Vintage pieces with new items.

Firstly, I have included my favourite coat, a black wool, single breasted collarless straight cut garment by Corner Shop that I bought in 1990 from a Paul Sartori charity shop in Haverfordwest. I think that it had been made to measure for someone, but fitted me perfectly, and still does! It cost me £7. When I put this coat on, I feel instantly smart, and it works with dresses, skirts, trousers and jeans. As it is collarless, I often add a scarf. The scarf in the photos is one that I made myself. It is black wool with woven border deep pockets and a light grey suiting lining. ( One of the photos also shows this scarf worn with a black dress.)

I am a great fan of traditional Welsh Wool, and collect blankets and “carthen”, mostly brightly coloured ones from the 1960s.  The 1960s was a great era for the Woollen mills of West Wales, as fashion designers such as Mary Quant, used Welsh woollen cloth to create funky clothes and accessories.  The two skirts included in this collection are both Welsh wool cloth from the 1960s.  Both the red cloth and the green cloth are traditional woven patterns.  In one outfit, I have combined the sixties skirt with an early 90s black zip top by Workers for Freedom, and a white T.  I would wear this zip top with either skirt, and love the white “surprise” detail on the back.

The grey merino wool cardigan with red and maroon yoke is a recent purchase from TK Maxx. It is the perfect length to wear with the red skirt, but will also combine well with jeans.

The classic denim jeans jacket is also a recent High Steeet purchase, and already a favourite of mine. I have shown it here with one of the 60s skirts ( I could wear it with either), with my black straight cut Per Una jeans (bought second hand), with a Vintage Orvis button-through below the knee black cotton dress, and with  a stretchy knee length tie-dye patterned T shirt dress by Apricot, bought a few years ago on the High St. ( cheap and cheerful!)

One of my favourite items is a glorious reversible Vintage embroidered silk jacket from the Orient. Depending upon my mood and upon the occasion, I can wear it black with a red lining or red with a black lining. I can dress it up or dress it down. I wear it with the black jeans or over the black dress.

The last item in this little collection is a Vintage Hyphen silk lined knee length frock coat, that has been in my wardrobe for about twenty years. It has a single button in the front and is fitted. It looks great over black jeans, but also looks great over the stretchy Apricot dress.  It’s the type of garment that looks pretty sharp!

So, I think that is about a dozen items of clothing that form the basis of my wardrobe, and about 50% of its volume. The remainder is mainly seasonal or party clothes that I can happily put into storage, but also include a couple of shirts that I love and wear, an oversized sweater, ditto, and a classic trench coat.

That’s it!

Add ons include: underwear, footwear, accessories, bags, scarves, belts etc.

Capsule Wardrobe, what stays and what goes.

Sorting out my wardrobe is proving to be an interesting process, as I take a long hard look at the clothes I wear, assess how I really want to present myself and re-imagine how the clothes that I own suit the life that I lead. Through the sorting process I have already reduced the volume of clothes by around a third, and am likely to lose more along the way as I get around to trying on items that I have rarely worn. If they don’t fit or suit me in any way they will go!
So, what clothes earn a place in a wardrobe fit for my lifestyle? As a general guide, I have to enjoy wearing an item, and it must be something that I can wear regularly. Separates, pants, skirts and tops are great because of their versatility and interchangeability. You can create several looks with just a few key separates, just by mixing up the pieces! Add in a couple of jackets, a full length coat and a raincoat and you have even more possibilities for creating different looks. If you substitute dresses for separates you are creating a totally different narrative and presentation.
When you go through the process of sorting through your clothes, you need to be realistic rather than simply ruthless. For my own purposes, I don’t really have a “seasonal” wardrobe. What I wear through Spring Summer Autumn and Winter changes little. This does not mean that I wear the same outfits, but it does mean that a lot of my clothes take me through more than one season! For example, I wear jeans, pants and shirts at every time of the year, and layering can also extend the use of separates beyond one season. Inevitably, there will be a few pieces that are worn just occasionally, maybe for special occasions, but, as they are lovely Vintage pieces, I look forward to those occasions and am happy to keep them in my wardrobe. The same principle applies to investment pieces, such as a classic Winter coat or a stylish Trench coat that can be worn year on year.
When you pare down your wardrobe, the aim is to end up with a collection of clothes that you can wear with confidence. Clothes reflect your personality and are an expression of your creativity. Create your own style, whether it be with Vintage, modern, or a mix of the two.
The process of sorting out your wardrobe can be revelatory as it reveals so much about your character, your aspirations and your buying habits! For example, do you have clothes that you have bought but never worn? Have you bought items that are the wrong size in the hope that one day they will fit you? Have you bought clothes that are unflattering? Are your clothes drab and I’ll fitting? Are most of your clothes vintage or upcycled, sourced from ethical suppliers or handmade by you….or do you buy designer wear, shop on the High Street or buy on-line? Are you more interested in Fashion or in Function? Do your clothes suit the life that you lead Now?
Once you see what you have got, and question what you need, it is easier to put together a collection that you can enjoy now and carry on enjoying in the future.
Sorting out your wardrobe is an opportunity to update your style and sharpen up your personal presentation. When you next shop for clothes, you will know what is missing from your wardrobe and you can shop for pieces that will enhance your collection.
Wear your clothes with confidence and own the look that you have created.

Capsule Wardrobe, first sort through your clothes……

Satin jacket
First sort through your clothes….

Now that I have made a start on the task of creating a capsule wardrobe, I realize how random some of my clothes purchases have been over a number of years.  I love clothes, particularly vintage classics, and have a penchant for lovely fabrics and beautiful stitching.  As I am in the business of selling vintage clothes and accessories, I am often tempted to hang on to pieces….knowing full well that I am never going to loose those extra inches!

Received wisdom dictates to make three piles of clothes,  those lovely unwearable vintage things that someone else can enjoy can go to my shop….where they were always destined to be,  non vintage  unwanted items in good condition can be donated to a charity shop and  the worn out or hideous mistakes can be binned.  Anything that’s left should be considered as a keeper.

In the last week I have put several pieces in to stock, donated three bags to charity shops and binned two bags.

What I want to do next is create some outfits with key pieces, and see what looks I can create with a mixture of vintage and modern clothes.  I want to enjoy wearing my clothes, but I want them to suit my lifestyle. There is no point in me creating looks to wear at the office, for example, as I work from home, and live in a wooded rural hamlet in West Wales. On the other hand, there is no reason to look like a hay seed all of the time, and it will be great to have a selection of outfits that will work for me, and make me feel great!

So, more to come soon…….

 

 

Capsule wardrobe ? Update

 

The Capsule wardrobe project is temporarily on hold!  No apologies, I have been working on other things whilst enjoying the unprecedented heat wave! Apart from my garden and vegetable plot, I have been busy taking photographs of new stock for Coolclobber and Floslingerie. We have now had weeks and weeks of hot sunshine, and I have had to eat my words about shorts! It has been too hot to wear much else!

So, here are some of my latest stock items for Coolclobber ⬆ Tap on any photo to enlarge it.

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Visiting The Capsule Wardrobe

The Capsule Wardrobe – one woman’s project (mine)

I think that it may have been back in the 1970s that I first heard of “The Capsule Wardrobe”as a fashion concept. “The Capsule Wardrobe”, “Wardrobe Basics” or “Wardrobe Essentials” have been the subject of articles and books on and off for at least fifty years….and probably before that too!
It is true that fashionable looks in clothes are often re-cycled or re-worked from previous eras, and it is often said that if you keep your old and no longer fashionable clothes, they will eventually come back into vogue. It is also true that some clothes are regarded as “Classics” that never really go out of fashion, and can be worn stylishly year on year.
As a collector of Vintage clothes, my view is that Vintage pieces work well as key items in the “capsule”approach to dressing well, adding a large helping of creativity and originality to a “look”.
Personally, I like to mix eras rather than adhering to a head to toe style from a specific decade. Mixing it up a bit also allows you to choose styles, cuts and colours that work best with your particular body shape, skin tone and life style, allowing you to create a unique personal look using pieces that are versatile and to some point, interchangeable.

So, most articles that you come across will suggest some Wardrobe “essentials” that can be worn in a number of combinations to create different outfits.

These usually include:-

A plain and well cut white T shirt
A plain and well cut long sleeved crisp white shirt
A well cut knee length or over black pencil skirt
A knee length navy or plaid pleated skirt
Straight cut blue denim jeans
Straight cut black trousers
Well cut black blazer
Well cut overcoat
Little black dress
Flat black pumps
High heel court shoes
Trainers
Ankle boots
Leather handbag
Leather belt
Beret
Coloured scarves and jewellery to accessorize

With these basics you can create different looks to suit occasions and mood….

e.g T shirt, jeans, leather belt, ankle boots, black blazer
White shirt, plaid skirt, overcoat, pumps
White shirt, black blazer, black trousers, ankle boots, bag
LBD, high heels, coat

Mix and match. Add in flashes of colour and bling with accessories……

So far, so good. Some lists are more specific, and more prescriptive, some suggesting that your “Capsule Wardrobe” should consist of 12 items or 20 items or 30 items……some are more inventive and more adventurous, showing fabulous clothes with eye watering price tags!!!!! And some are so “tasteful” that they create a kind of uniform…..wearable but dull!!!!

Looking at my own wardrobe (literally) I see that what I own and what I wear are two different things. I like the idea of organising my clothes and wearing more of the items I love, rather than always seeing them on hangers and hardly wearing them at all. I think that I need to sort through my collection, discard those clothes that are never going to fit me again, or that I bought on a misguided whim, and create my own version of “The Capsule Wardrobe” to include my favourite Vintage pieces along with new items, creating outfits that Will express my style and personality, and that I will enjoy wearing!
This may take me some time……I seem to have Uber-numerous coats, jackets, dresses and separates to sort through…..plus plenty of items I shouldn’t really admit to…….a stack of cotton summer shorts….Why?????

Wardrobe clutter
Cotton shorts

Over the next few weeks I intend to have a sort through my clothes and put together my own version of a Capsule Collection.

Further Posts to follow….

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A revolution in shirt design, 1960s men’s fashion.

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Re-imagining the Shirt in the 1960s.
Men’s shirts through history have been fairly functional. They would keep a chap warm and well covered up, and particularly throughout the nineteenth century they would have been fairly voluminous with a wide straight cut, maybe with a generous shirt tail to tuck in to trousers, sometimes with detachable starched collars and cuffs. The collarless shirt, sometimes made of wool flannel, would be worn mainly by manual workers, a white or pale coloured shirt would be worn by office workers.
In the 1950s and into the 1960s, Rael-Brook was one of Britain’s largest manufacturers of men’s shirts. Their advertisements, featuring dancing shirts, were shown on the television, accompanied by the catchy musical jingo, ”Rael-Brook, Rael-Brook, the shirt for men”. Real-Brook introduced subtle stripes and soft colours, including primrose and pink to their range, to attract younger men to buy their products. In the early years of the 60s, millions of white shirts were imported from Hong Kong to Great Britain, but the younger market demanded something different. Arrow and Tootal were popular brands with the younger buyers, offering new and brighter patterns, with an emphasis on a new slimmer silhouette and innovations to the collar. Tab collars and button down collars became popular, as did pointed collars and rounded collars.
In 1963, Ben Sherman brand was born. Ben Sherman (neé Sugarman) came from the USA and started up a company making an iconic 1960s shirt. It was immediately adopted by the Mods of 1963, and later by Two-Tone and Ska followers. Like an Italian profile, the Ben Sherman shirt was a very slim fit with a square cut hem ( no bulky shirt tail!), it had a box pleat at the back, a back button and button down collar. It came in many colours and patterns. The Ben Sherman shirt was the epitome of mod fashion for British men.
In the USA, Arnold Palmer, probably the best known and best loved golfers of the 1960s, won the US Open in 1960, and created his own brand, Arnold Palmer Enterprises, a year later. From those early years, shirts were part of the Arnold Palmer range, and bore both his name and his own logo, a golfing umbrella. The Arnold Palmer shirt of the 1960s comes in a variety of colours and patterns, plains and abstract, has a sharp collar, is a slim cut, and reflects the tastes of young American Pop Culture.
Colour and pattern remained a feature of men’s shirts throughout the 1960s and into the 70s, when collars and cuffs became more exaggerated, sometimes with the addition of frills. 1960s shirt fashions remain infinitely sharp and wearable, making them highly sought after pieces of vintage clothing.