For the past month, shoe shopping has been the bain of my existence. Having graduated from college, I am forced to face the fact that living in my dearly loved Sanuk flip-flops is no longer acceptable. I am trying get the world to take me seriously as a freelance artist and business women while the only thing my flops take seriously is the beach. So, the trials begin.
My demands in the shoe department leave even the most seasoned retail veterans cowering in the back corner of the storeroom. The shoe I want is eco-friendly and comfy (as my flops rather loudly suggest, I am a bit of a bum). Sounds easily enough, but that is just the beginning. I also need elegant and affordable. This is where the headache starts. Eco-friendly shoes that are elegant are rather expensive and those that I can afford are only available online, which means that I have no idea about the comfy factor.
Sometimes, knowledge is a burden. No matter how hard I try, I simply can’t justify buying a new pair of standard of shoes. I use to tell myself it was ok since I honestly wear my shoes to death, but even a worn out pair of conventional shoes leaves a negative ecological imprint. The standard pair of shoes is created with a brand-new rubber sole that takes at least 1,000 years to decompose. Considering how many pairs of shoes the average person goes through in a life time, that fact is astounding. Since I absolutely need shoes, I decided to do a bit of research to aid in making a wise decision in my next shoe purchase.
leather: 24-40 years
cork: 8-9 years
canvas: 1 year
wood: 8 weeks-2 months
I know that the eco-friendly/sustainability issue goes much further than decomposition, but for now that is about as far as my budget will allow me to go. I have been combing my favorite recycling facility (thrift store) for a like-new pair of suitable shoes in my size, but unless I hit pay dirt soon I will have to break down and make an informed purchase of conventionally made shoes. Knowing that cork is a sustainable resource does make it more desirable than wood (dispite woods quick decomposition rate), so I will be looking for pair of cork wedges with a neutral colored canvas upper. In the mean time, I am seriously doing some research on making my own shoes.
Vintage shopping is my favorite method of recycling and vintage hats are on the top of heart-throb list! Look at some of the spring time deliciousness on Etsy right now…
Peach Straw Birdcage w/ Feathers
Cream Straw Birdcage w/ Yellow Flowers
Red and Pink Velvet Birdcage
Any way you look at it, bamboo is an amazing plant. Although it can grow to the size of a tree, bamboo is a grass. Giant bamboo is the largest member of the grass family and can grow up to 50ft in height. There are varieties of this grass that grow well in nearly every climate and growing “well” can be an understatement for bamboo. This plant is known to grow up to 60 cm (nearly 2 feet) a day in an ideal environment!
In addition to it’s amazing feats of growth, bamboo also some other fascinating attributes. Bamboo is a hardy plant that thrives with out the use of pesticides and fertilizers. It also has the ability to reach its full size in one growing season and is ready for harvest in as little as 3 years. In the hands of a responsable farmer, bamboo has the potential to be a 100% sustainable crop.
Some of you are starting to wonder. Bamboo on a fashion blog…what’s up with that? There is a method to my madness. Readers who follow fiber content labels on clothing will affirm that bamboo is becoming more and more popular in the clothing we wear everyday. From infant to adult, work to leisure, bamboo fabrics are showing up everywhere. And why shouldn’t they? Bamboo fabric feels amazing against the skin, has natural moisture wicking and antibacterial properties, and is temperature regulating.
The most commonly used bamboo fabric is rayon. Bamboo rayon is produced by chemically breaking down bamboo fibers to create a lightweight, breathable fabric with an incredibly soft hand. While the chemicals generally used aren’t the most eco-friendly, the over all production of bamboo rayon is less caustic than the production of conventional cotton.
As with anything relatively new, there are skeptics and nay-sayers. I won’t say that bamboo is going to save the earth or that it is the new wonder fiber. What I will say is that it is a smart and viable option in a world full of uncertainty.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about a TV show than I am about this one! Featuring Shareen Mitchell, this series premiers April 19th at 10:30 on Planet Green. Mitchell is a self-taught designer whose whole design premise is making the old new again. she is also animate about her role of helping women see themselves as the beauties they really are. The frosting on the cake is Mitchell’s blog. I will be watching and reading.
If you have your own personal style, it is not important what is in or out of fashion. If it’s part of your particular look, then you will want to wear it for as long as it gives you pleasure. Tamsin Blanchard
A closet full of clothes that are never worn is a waste. Yet no matter how frugal or responsible we profess to be, most of us wear a very small percentage of the garments we own. Perfectly beautiful garments hang forgotten at the back of our closets simply because they are no longer trendy or simply do not suit us. Sadly, most of us will add more victims to this forgotten stash with our next shopping spree simply because we do not know how to choose clothing that we can and will wear. We buy what the magazines say is the “must have” item of the season. We buy hoping to look like glamorous women we have nothing in common with. We buy because our best friend says it accents our eyes (chest, waist, etc…). By studying ourselves as we are, we can learn to choose clothing that will complement our figures as well as our personalities.
The simplest way to do this is to go to the closet and pull out the garments and/or outfits you feel amazing in. Chances are they flatter your figure and say something about who you are. Play a game of dress up and study yourself in the mirror, jotting down every like and dislike. Once you’ve had every garment on at least once, study the list of notes you’ve just taken. There is likely to be a few themes that point to your best silhouette and personal style. On your next trip to the mall or thrift, try to choose items that fall into the themes you’ve just established.
Since you’ve already got all your faves out, take a bit of time to do some mixing and matching to make new outfits (in essence, shopping in your own closet). Consider taking digital pictures of each new look to have on hand for that blah morning when you have “nothing to wear.” When it’s time to put your clothes away, put these pieces in the front of your closet so that they are easily accessible (we are going to get to the back of the closet in a future post).
If you are still feeling clueless, don’t panic. There is plenty of help available. Watch a few episodes of TLC’s What Not to Wear or visit The Chic Fashionista for a whole site full of wardrobing advice. Remember to that although these are great resources, their word is not gospel. If you feel the need to break the rules, by all means break them. That is what fashion is all about.
There is something amazingly fun and alluring about a women in men’s wear. Not all of us can pull it off head to toe like the lovely Diane Keaton, but any girl with sass can wear a few pieces here or there. Conveniently enough, thrift stores seem to have a plethora of high quality, like new garments for men. No matter how I try, I just can’t seem to resist buying some of these garments for myself.
To quickly and simply incorporate men’s wear into your wardrobe, consider putting a small twist on the garments original purpose.
- ties look great worn scarf style…try two or three at a time
- men’s dress shirts in big/tall sizes make great dresses…style with a wide belt and ankle boots
- cut off a pair of suit pants and fold up into geeky, cute shorts…my favorite shorts are Goeffrey Beene cutoffs
For a one-of-a-kind addition to any wardrobe, men’s wear makes a great jumping off point. Upcycling is all the rage now and it is way more fun than waiting in line to get into a fitting room. I’ve made some fun outfits for myself and my children using cast off men’s wear, but I haven’t even imagined anything as cute as the designs offered by Caroline Hobbs at her etsy boutique The Painted Oyster. Despite the fact that I love upcycling my own creations, I just cannot convince myself that I don’t need one of these little numbers.
Shirt Dresses by Caroline at The Painted Oyster
This book is a must read for every eco fashionista. Tamisn Blanchard has spent many years working in the world of high fashion and knows it intimately, yet manages to have both feet on the ground. She understands a woman’s natural desire for beautiful clothes and the conflicts that can arise when trying to balance this desire with an eco-friendly lifestyle. She openly admits that she is not a low impact angel and doesn’t expect you to be either. Her quick reading, information packed chapters are overflowing with easy and ethical suggestions to create and maintain a stylish wardrobe and lifestyle. The appendix is a treasure trove of links and useful information.
Personaly, this book is one of my all time favorites. My copy is on its fourth read and is proudly dog eared and coffee stained. Every time I read it, I find new pearls of wisdom and conviction. On many levels, Ms. Blanchard is my inspiration to start this blog and to pursue my goals in sustainable design.