Uff, that was a tough one… somehow the last days I was very reluctant to tackle this ‘assignment’ (I know it’s not an assignment, but I didn’t want to skip it, so it started to feel like a challenge). Karen’s suggestions for this week were to think about living with less, capsule wardrobe, indie designers, or small batch makers. That was tough for me because I’m generally not very interested in fashion and I don’t think about my wardrobe in terms of fashion. However, over the last months I read dozens of blog posts about minimal wardrobes, uniforms, downsizing and I found them all very interesting to say the least. (Although I could very much relate to Michelle’s post that I recently found, where she writes about teenage-her sitting around rolling her eyes and “tapping a Dr. Marten-ish boot in boredom” about her supposedly superficial concerns with fashion – teenage-my is doing exactly that!) But I do think the topic is an important one for us as a society. So I decided to give it a go and think about my wardrobe and how it relates to small.
As I said, I am not very interested in fashion, and I never was. I hate shopping for clothes and only do it (and only ever did) if I really need something. I wore a uniform for the last year of school (my mother’s old flares, some t-shirt I grabbed in the morning, and a black pullover) and for my first years at university (dr. martens, a pair of skinny black jeans that I would only replace when it was worn to pieces, again some random t-shirt and the same black pullover that also got replaced with another, similar black pullover once the holes at the elbows became too huge even to go as ‘grunge’). Of course back then this wasn’t considered wearing a uniform but just being lazy (by me) or even weird (by probably most other people, and certainly by my mum 😉 ). Then I thought I’d grown up and have to wear different things every day and started to do that. But when I think about it, I still wear the same pair of jeans 4 out of 5 work days, only nowadays I replace them once they get their first hole.
This of course doesn’t mean that things don’t still accumulate mysteriously in my closet, but I do try to go through them from time to time, donate what I don’t wear and throw away what can’t be worn any more. Having moved recently, I gave away lots of old garments so that I feel pretty confident about what’s in my closet at the moment. Earlier this year I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (anyone out there who hasn’t?) and thought about downsizing even more, but I soon realised that for me it doesn’t make much sense to have less tops than I need to fill my washing machine. So, given that I think getting rid of cloths isn’t my main objective at the moment, let’s ignore the eye-rolling teenager in my head and have a look at what actually is in my closet:
– two pair of jeans, one of which I wear most of the days;
– one old pair that has a hole – needs mending, perhaps I’ll try sashiko, I really like the look of it;
– some wool trousers, but I miss a pair of simple black trousers, so if I come across one, that would be a sensible purchase;
– a few rather cheap summer skirts that are perfectly fine for hot weather; could be of better quality and are probably produced under troubling circumstances – but since I already own them, I’ll try to take care of them as good as I can and replace them by more responsibly produced ones once they become unwearable;
– three or four dresses/skirts by indie designers that I found at various occasions; I really love those and one of them actually constitutes the main ingredient of my summer “uniform”; sadly I don’t need any more of those;
– a handful, I love them all, but most of them are of questionable origin; in future, try to find decent ones and/or learn to sew them myself;
t-shirts and other tops:
– this is probably the most problematic category of all my clothes; most of them are of questionable origin, though there two or three from better brands and even two or three by indie designers – but still, this seems to be the field that requires action;
– most of them are knitted by me; one of them didn’t turn out the way I wanted so is worn more or less exclusively at home at the moment – I hope this one reminds me of questioning my choices before I cast on for the next sweater: would I actually wear this at work or in the evenings? if not: try to find another pattern, since no more stay-at-home-clothes are needed!
– one or two store-bought black sweaters, since I am mostly knitting in the evenings and until now didn’t dare to knit with black yarn; perhaps I should give it a try though – if id doesn’t have a complicated stitch pattern there’s only so much that could go wrong;
– slowly replenish my stock of hand knitted socks; until now I only have enough to wear at home, but since I last kept on a pair of them when I went to the supermarket I decided that I very much need hand knitted socks to wear for everyday;
This was not so bad after all, and certainly led to some insights!
– make more socks and take care that they are durable enough to survive being worn in shoes;
– take care to knit sweaters that will be worn outside the house;
– knit a black sweater, possibly in fingering weight;
– sewing one ore two skirts to practice my sewing skills is allowed (especially since I already have the fabric), but in the future concentrate on tops, since they are the things that I really need;
– for tops I recently found a sustainable and socially responsible store in my town; in future I’ll buy my every-day t-shirts there – they don’t cost as much as I thought they would and I hope they last a little bit longer; in fact they would only have to last two times as long as my old cheap ones, and that would be only a full season (I am wearing the cheap ones for longer anyway, but nearly all of them need the seams renewed at one place or another after a few washes);
– for button-downs look for a sustainable/ethical options;
– one black trouser is needed – look for sustainable/ethical option (I liked the post of …, who suggests spending an amount “that makes you sweat a little” on every piece of clothing you buy – I’m not sure if I would want to apply this for my t-shirts, but for a decent pair of black trousers this would definitively make sense for me);
– I also found some things that need to be repaired or mended, I’ll write more about these in week 4 – worn.