Outfitting for Fall

Barbour Beadnell Jacket; APC Grey de Chine Wool Sweater; J.Crew Elan Trousers; Steve Mono Bob Postman Bag; Bvlgari Solotempo; Sophia Costas Llama Scarf; Fratelli Rosseti Loafers 

I finally got around to reading Lucy Siegle's "To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World?". It's well...  depressing, as you can already tell from the title. However, since I've been a real  buzzkill over the last couple of posts, I've decided to spare the self-righteous pessimism about the state of affairs and take a completely obtuse angle instead; I'm going to focus on telling/showing/explaining to you what I've been wearing lately now that fall is finally here (it never really left Seattle, it just lingered on the periphery of the sun).

I bought the Barbour Beadnell about a month ago when my Bridge and Burn jacket fell apart. While I want to support local companies (B& B is based in Portland) and understand that not everything 'Made in China' disintegrates instantaneously, the jacket developed a hole in the pocket and the sleeve button fell off 18 months after I bought it. 18 months and I've worn it only maybe half of the time! I did patch up the hole and resew the button because it's obviously an easy thing, but it made me wonder sometimes if the whole idealized notion of "dealing locally" is just a sham to prey on people with an ethical conscience. The Barbour jacket on the other hand, has surpassed my expectations. I wasn't really expecting much, considering that it is a somewhat recently trendy item, and the production capacity is probably on overload. But surprisingly, the stitches and material are extremely sturdy and the jacket is still proudly made in England. The husband thinks that I look a little country butch (???!) in it, but it keeps me dry and warm and snugly, with the soft tartan lining being my favorite aspect of the jacket.

The other thing that I've been living in are pants from J.Crew. It's interesting that you can still find some quality goods at J.Crew, particularly in the suiting section. I'm in love with their Super 120s material - it's cool enough for spring and comfortable in fall and winter with some thick socks. The material drapes beautifully and the cut is flattering. I've been trying to emulate the slouchy Scandinavian look alá Hope but their pants always made my arse look like a flattened doughnut. While I may never be blonde and/or tall, I can at least wear some well tailored slouchy pants now and not feel like a fraud.

With the exception of rotating sweaters and shirts, the moodboard above is basically what's been getting I've been wearing to school and work on most days (on the other days I embrace being a Pacific Northwest girl and put on a fleece jacket and sweatpants... kidding!). I feel like I'm in a rut sometimes because I'm always reaching for the same things, the Brooks Brothers shirt or the same sweater, but I do really like my routine because it's easy and most of all, it's really comfortable.

On the last note, if you haven't already read Lucy Siegle's book, I strongly encourage you to pick it up and give it a go. I'll admit that the book is rambling and repetitive at times, but it makes for an interesting read if you're looking to become an ethical consumer. She does talk a lot about fast fashion stores like Primark, Topshop and H&M which I'll very snobbishly say I've not shopped at for over 15 years, but then again, maybe my equivalent of fast fashion are those cotton knickers from Victoria's Secret and the insane amount of gym clothes I have from Target. Either way, the book was an eye opener and I'll be posting more about it in the next few weeks.

19 comments :

  1. i love reading books like this, thanks for the rec :)

    vestigialwings.blogspot.com

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  2. That sounds like an interesting read, thanks. I like the outfit too!

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  3. Ah, I have been pondering purchasing this book for a while now, dipping into it whenever i go into Waterstones here in the UK.
    I'm also of the mind that consumerism in general is wearing out the world (including both high and 'low' fashion), but how to stop the world and jump off the merry-go-round is another question! I am fortune enough to be able to occasionally indulge in higher quality, homegrown purchases, but it does make me wonder how people might negotiate this issue on a very low income. Are higher end items necessarily ethical, even if well made? I don't pretend to know the answer to this. I wish there was a broader range of options, for all budgets.

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  4. I gotta read this book soon, especially since I'm dropping out of uni and will have loads of time to catch up on reading before going back to school, lol. I have a trenchcoat from Barbour, and the quality is fantastic – but it kind of worries me that most of the clothes from Barbour are made of synthetic fabrics such as polyester. I try to avoid synthetic fabrics as they are harmful and not at all eco-friendly.

    Anyway, I tried on the grey sweater from APC in London several times.. I kind of regret not buying it, because the fit was perfect and it would be so good wearing it in this cold Scandinavian weather.. but seeing that I'd already spent 800 GPB on clothes, I couldn't justify spending 140 GBP on a sweater that might make it to the winter sales. Haha! So.. I have to wait!

    And lol, your comment on my last blog post made me chuckle.

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  5. @Alice (VESTIGIAL WINGS) and @Kate: The book is a real eye-opener. While I think half of the things she writes about (sweatshops, poor quality disposables etc.) are fairly obvious, I'm also shocked to read about some of the luxury brands that are equally as bad as the high-street ones.

    @Lapin de Lune: I think you will read in the book that higher end items are as bad as the value retailers. Given the massive influence of globalisation on the fashion industry, it's hard to suss out what's ethical and environmentally friendly and unfortunately, the book doesn't really give a feasible solution either.


    @Fleurette
    I rally hope you don't drop out of uni (I was going to write you an email!). Thanks for bringing the polyester bit to my attention, I didn't know the sleeve lining of my jacket was actually polyester and not 100% cotton. Drat. I bought the APC sweater because I suspect that the grey will sell out almost immediately when it goes on sale and I'll probably be too slow at buying it anyway.

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  6. thanks for the book rec - i'll definitely add it to my kindle!

    love your fall moodboard. as trendy as the barbour jacket is right now for the posh/festival set, it's a great heritage company and i can't wait to wear my bedale when it gets cold here. isn't it nice to get what you pay for, and then some? :)

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  7. I've just reserved that book at my library, hopefully it'll be my turn to loan it out soon!

    I did some research for work last month about ethical clothing manufacturers and you;re right in that high-end labels are often just as bad as low-priced ones and that H&M, while not at all a poster child for ethical manufacturing has clearer corporate polices on such things than say, Dolce and Gabbana or Armani - and these two brands have cheap mass lines (A/X, underwear lines) that are definitely made in countries with dodgy records. It kind of all makes you want to throw in the towel when it comes to consuming responsibly. One of my A.P.C shirts is made in China but the quality is pretty awesome, and even my sis who borrowed it and ironed it before returning said she could feel the difference in quality.

    It's too bad about that Bridge and Burn jacket, but I think we can all take heart that companies like Barbour live up to their rep.

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  8. @miss sophie
    I think the moodboard may be a bit too manly seeing as several of my male friends have been like "Uh... is that Brian's jacket?". But anyway! I'm sure you'll be one of the very select few with a green waxed cotton jacket in Shanghai. =)

    @lin
    I'm lucky in the sense that I know of many places that I can actually buy ethically made/sourced goods here in the US. Whether I can afford or am willing to spend that kind of money is another question altogether. In retrospect, I don't think many people have the luxury of making that choice even if they wanted to - I know I certainly didn't when I was back in Malaysia. My point is that is that ethical consumption is hard if you don't have the resources or the place to get it from.

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  9. Thanks for the book recommendation--I've ordered it from amazon.co.uk (it's cheaper in England and I'll read it when I'm home over the break). I'm interested to see what she has to say--I'm sure it will depress me, partly because, as you say, most people don't have the finances to make ethical decisions. It's something I wrestle with all the time--should we condemn those who spend at F21 or Primark or recognize that the problem is bigger than them in a culture where we are encouraged to accumulate blindly and on a massive scale. Obviously it's the latter but I think we all need to reign in our desires but that also necessitates a society that promises something better than the lure of cheap tat or luxury goods as a reward for endless work and/or frustration.

    It's funny to hear Barbours being referred to as trendy--I think of them as sloane wear primarily, although farmers and other country folk also wear them. I know that the festival crowd has recently taken them over but I will always associate them with the aristocracy and the upper-class students when I was at University.

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  10. @ Amanda & Fleurette: re the polyester thing, i hate hate hate synthetics too, and i just looked inside the tag of my bedale and the outer is 100% waxed cotton, the inner lining is 82% cotton/18% polyester. oftentimes the lining of jackets from midrange/upper range labels are synthetic blends. i hope the at least the majority of barbour items that are their classics collection (ie: bedale etc) maintain their high quality materials standards...

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  11. I kind of want to read that book, but I think like some of the comments have pointed out, it's hard to participate in 'ethical' consumption when it may either be too expensive for the majority of people, or there just might not be any 'ethical' brands available where you live. I think the issue is much bigger than just avoiding clothes made in factories by underpaid workers, it has to do with the global supply chain, corporations, companies not willing to pay workers a fair price etc. But I'm sure you know all of that. I try to pay attention to where my clothes come from, but I kind of feel a bit helpless as I really don't see anything changing.

    On a more positive note, I love your Barbour! Interesting that you mention you were surprised the quality hasn't decreased since they became trendy. It reminded me of an interview I read a couple of months ago of one of the directors of Barbour. They were asked about how they felt about how trendy they have become, and they basically said that they focus more on the core customer base who have supported the brand for so long, and they saw it as important not to alienate this customer base. I would imagine that most people who are buying Babours are actually this 'core' customer and wouldn't be too happy about a drop in quality.

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  12. To weigh in on the quality of Bridge and Burn: I ordered a jacket from Frances May about 2 years ago, took one look, and returned it immediately. The quality reminded me of Forever 21, to be honest.

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  13. hold on...maybe i missed mention of this this in some of your previous posts...you got married?! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!! Yay!!!!

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  14. @joyce I really wanted to support them because the jacket looked and fit really well, I didn't expect it to fall apart quite so soon. I guess this shows that you can still get F21 quality at 4x the price.

    @jennifer
    We just got married in a small civil ceremony, but will probably have the whole wedding shebang some time next year =)

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  15. A little off topic, but do you mind if I ask how you find the length of Barbour jackets? I have been debating over a navy beadnell for a while and fear that it may be a tad too short for my liking if wearing tighter pants. I already own a nice alternative from Zara, which hits just below the hips (skimming top of thigh) and wonder if the Barbours are similar?

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  16. @Lapin de Lune
    There's actually garment measurements here: http://www.barbourbymail.co.uk/Barbour-Flyweight-Tartan-Beadnell-Waxed-Jacket-Ladies.html

    But just for reference, I'm 5'1" and the US4/UK8 hits me right below the bum, and I actually really like wearing the Barbour with tight(ish) pants since it looks less frumpy. But I think you should be more concerned about the sleeve length and bust area; I'm quite flat chested and the jacket fit perfectly, so I can only imagine what it's like for someone who's amply endowed.

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  17. Thanks so much for the advice, and apologies for taking so long to return! The coats seemed rather voluminous on the asos models which I had used as size reference, but then asos generally eludes me in more ways than one!

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  18. Hi Amanda,

    I was just forwarded this post and feel obligated to respond. Your idealized notion of "dealing locally" will only work if you actually take the time to deal with us. Had you contacted us in regards to the issues you've had with your jacket, we'd have been more than happy to repair or replace the garment. We do stand by our product and are very committed to maintaining customer satisfaction. We can't guarantee that every garment we sell will be free of defects, but we'll do our best to make sure our customers are happy with their purchase.

    I wish I had the time and resources to ensure the quality of each garment we sell, but it's just not possible. Bridge & Burn is a self financed, one man operation. Also, the jacket you purchased was from our very first season. Although we do wear test our goods, we were only able to test for a few months before going into production. I've learned a lot since then and have been able to improve construction design and source higher quality fabrics. The product is getting better every season.

    Also, please note that just because something is made in China, doesn't mean it's of poor quality. I am very fortunate to be working with a great Chinese factory, that believes in my vision, and supports my business. As the brand has grown, I've started to looking for domestic manufacturers for some pieces. Every local sewer I've met with has commented on the high quality of my garments.

    Please email me at hello@bridgeandburn.com and I'll be happy to replace your jacket.

    Thanks,
    Erik

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    1. Hi Erik, thanks for commenting. I've been looking to buy newer versions of the jacket since the button fell off and the pockets developed a hole but have never been persuaded since my last experience. I think if you re-read my post, I noted that I understand not everything 'Made in China' is of poor quality and out of frustration, I mentioned that I think "dealing locally" is a sham -- please don't take it too personally. I deal locally a lot and do so willingly while understanding the various hurdles that local manufacturers go through. I have anecdotes throughout the blog on when I think local manufacturers have gone above and beyond. Also, I think the fact that I've repaired my B&B jacket attests to how much I like it and I wrote you an email when I first received the jacket to state my appreciation for your efforts. Thank you for your offer to replace the jacket, but I'll keep the one I have now since it'll be a first-release in a couple of years and I'll sell it at a vintage store for 3 times the price =) However, I will be first in line to purchase a jacket from your store when it does bring manufacturing to the USA.

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