Transitional wear


Clockwise from top: Primoeza sweater & Madewell shirt, Makr Farm Rucksack, Earnest Sewn jeans & Frye oxfords

I've been embracing my feminine side lately (see this post). I think it has do with the fact that I'm growing out my hair for the wedding in June - after which you can be rest assured that I'll promptly head over to the salon and get a good 3 inches lopped off. I don't like tying my hair or fussing with it, so I'm going to be sticking with an approximately chin length bob. In any case, now that global warming is in full swing and the end of winter already feels like mid-spring, I've been wearing more lightweight shirts and using canvas bags (e.g. the Makr Farm rucksack) instead of hipster-ish waterproof ones.

There are some things that I've been wearing/using so much that if you did a proper cost-benefit analysis, I would be coming out way on top. Case in point, I've had those Frye oxfords pictured above since 2007 which I bought for $160. I've worn them about 957 times (I think), got them resoled twice and they are still as comfy and trusty as ever. Frye do make their shoes in Mexico though, so I'm not really sure how ethical or sustainable their production standards are, but I'm assuming that if most people get as much out of their shoes as I do, then there's something Frye is doing right.

Which brings me to another point that I've been musing about for the past few months about quality goods, heritage goods and ethical goods. I've been trying to buy more locally made products in hopes that they would offer me some sort of minor consolation about my consumption habits. I'm actually pretty happy to report that most of the locally made/small batch brands that I've experienced  (Makr, Earnest Sewn, Primoeza etc.) have lived up to my expectations. I recently bought another J.W. Hulme bag which has turned me into a such a convert that I'm not even sure I want the highly coveted Sofia Coppola bag anymore. I'm a brand loyalist, so once I find something I like that is in line with my beliefs and fits me well, I tend to stick with them even if it costs an arm and a leg (and in most cases, a month's rent). By the way, I also want to add that J.W. Hulme has the most incredible customer service, I can't speak highly enough of them.

Every once in a while though, I find myself falling for things I shouldn't (like the floral Madewell shirt above). I still can't bring myself forward sometimes to fork out three times the amount for something similar that is more in line with what I've been trying to achieve. I know that in the long run, I would probably be more contented with paying a higher cost upfront, but honestly, who doesn't like some instant gratification?

P.S.: A lot of people found this blog through this post. Jill Wenger recently took some time to respond and I wanted to give everyone a head's up and leave it at that. I'm not one for offensive confrontation unless I'm drunk and the person I'm offending is either a policeman or a night-call ER surgeon. Have a good week everyone!

30 comments :

  1. i missed that interview with jill. i shopped at impulse/totokaelo from 2004-2008, before it shifted to a much more upscale market. you would be amazed by some of the things i bought there. needless to say, tastes have changed (for the better). the sad thing is, my changing tastes have been priced out--and quality has declined as prices have increased with many of my favorite brands.

    i still save and save for 2-3 $$$$ a year, but i do NOT spend my money at places like LG or Totokaelo anymore. i'd rather buy handmade or locally-produced (e.g. primoeza or rennes). steven alan is my go to for basic button-downs (on sale), and then jcrew or wherever else for a t-shirt that i know will only last a season or two.

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    1. As I previously mentioned on your blog, the problem I have with handmade goods is that they mostly have very limited range of size (to cut cost) and sometimes, even after having paid twice more than I should, the fit is still off. I'm a little hesistant to try any handmade dress or tops unless I know they are suppose to fit closer to the body (like Anna Allen).

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    2. Yeah, I'm pretty reluctant to try new handmade clothing unless I can work with the designer to ensure the fit I want. I would never buy handmade just because it looks good on screen, that's for certain! The main thing is that I'm a much more careful shopper than I was in 2007. I've been burned quite a few times with handmade, but that's nothing compared to my countless disappointments with large-scale brands.

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  2. I love Fryes! Unfortunately (due to my feet, not their products), I tend to find that they are comfortable for short distances, but give me blisters if I really try to walk in them. I've owned moto boots, oxfords, heels, and low-heel lace-up boots, but have had the same results with all of them. But I can say that their construction is good quality, and I appreciate their use of memory foam in a lot of their footbeds. Their sizing is really consistent, too--I can order them online and be fairly certain that they'll fit. I also like that their high heel pumps are really stable and more comfortable than most other brands.

    minima/maxima, a blog about minimalist style

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    1. I have very small feet and find that their shoes usually fit weird in the sense that they're quite narrow and long. If it's causing you blisters on the toes, then they're probably too narrow. I'm not a huge fan of their distressed cowboy vibe, but they do make some pretty darn good shoes.

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  3. I cant wait until the day I wear a pair of shoes to the point of needing resoling! I am too tempted by instant gratification though, I am really trying to change it. I definitely do end up with a closet full of pieces I dont care for anymore.

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    1. Alice, if I only I posted more about my impulse buys, I think you'll find that I'm a complete hypocrite =)

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  4. I just found your blog and I'm so so glad I did :) it's wonderful! I too have some oxfords which have lasted me a lifetime - taking shoes to a cobbler is a lost art but more people should definitely do it, it extends their life by double if not longer!

    I am so tempted by the beautiful J.W.Hulme bag that you have. It's not a brand I'd heard of before but I love that oxblood coloured leather (unfortunately they seem to have sold out of that one!) - not that I need another bag, though.

    :)

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  5. I found your blog via that Jill Wenger post of yours and I have continued to enjoy reading your ideas on consumption. I too share a love for having few, well-made items in my wardrobe. They just feel great to own, don't they? And I have found that you learn to develop your own style when you shop this way, rather than blindly following fashion.

    I also have a Primoeza sweater and her work is exquisite. Elizabeth makes with such skill and love.

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  6. I love your posts. It always makes me reevaluate my own clothes spending habits. And lately I've been good since I promised myself to save and buy quality pieces. I still like shopping sales (with additional %% off) at J.Crew for pieces like your floral blouse (I too cannot justify spending $200+ for a shirt, maybe one day.)

    It's funny because in my college years, I was so into quantity (although I didn't know it at the time) and buying pricey but POOR quality items. I wish I was smarter back than. Also I've worked in the fashion/manufacturing industry and was surprised at the quality of items that were sold to customers for $150+ for a piece of cotton crap. I always have this underlying thought if the item I am buying is crap. I guess that's why I love reading blogs like yours where you give your honest opinions on pieces..

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  7. What an excellent post (as usual!). Thanks also for noting the response from Wenger, I find the whole dialogue that you've opened up here fascinating. On a lighter note, I absolutely love Fryes (though I wish they ran a little wider for my duck-like feet), and have been coveting those makr backpacks for so long! I think too that making the occasional immediate gratification purchase is not going to have a huge detrimental impact on the world, so while if may not exactly align with your general beliefs and actions, a madewell shirt every once in a while seems just fine to me. Love your blog, by the way, I am now officially a huge fan.

    http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/

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  8. hmm... you speak often of how poor quality J.Crew is, you are aware that Madewell is the same company. I find Madewell to be far worse in quality than J.Crew and a bit juniorish. I will give J.Crew and Madewell credit, they were one of the first to come out against Uzbekistan cotton and have been very vocal about it.

    My point is that for everything these brands do wrong, there are things they excel at.

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    1. I totally agree with you that Madewell is pretty nasty in quality, which is why I wrote that I probably shouldn't have bought the shirt in the first place and I'm guilty of impulse buys. I've also written that J.Crew have a lot of really hideously made clothing, but there are things I love like their Super 120s suiting. Your last point is taken, thanks for commenting :-)

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  9. @Fen My cobbler is a grouchy old man people call the Shoe Nazi, but I've taken so many pairs of shoes to him he's told me plenty of stories about how people don't think it's worth to spend $36 on resoling shoes for a year. I guess it depends on how much you spend on your shoes in the first place to see if resoling/mending is even worth it.

    @Belinda Having a pared down wardrobe is still a learning experience for me , I'm not as confident yet in my own personal style and find myself a little schizophrenic sometimes. Thanks for reading the blog.

    @Caroline I think that you're likely to spend more when you can't afford something - just for the satisfaction of owning something. Which is why I think a lot of college students end up with things they don't even really like in the first place. I'm certainly guilty of that. I read that Costco places high ticket items (like TVs) nearer to the entrance and since most people can't afford them, they end up buying more of the cheaper items like groceries as way to gratify themselves. Talk about marketing!

    @Nomadic D The only problem with me buying a prolyse shirt is that I feel like a hypocrite after proselytizing about the evils of fast fashion on this blog.

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  10. The sweater warms my soul and I am not even the one wearing it! I love how these clothes and accessories really seem to have become a part of you, not merely an outer layer. This is something which common ideas about style cannot touch, it is intangible, so personal, so .... right.

    Interesting link too - I have read the comments already, but need to get back to the post. Off I go.

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  11. @ Kaÿte Thank you!

    @ lapindelune That is such a sweet comment, thank you! Elizabeth's handmade sweaters (http://primoeza.blogspot.com) have been on my daily rotation all through the cold season.

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  12. you look so warm and cozy in the floral print and knitty cardigan and trusty oxfords. i have never been disappointed in a pair of Fryes, and i'm glad they're still making shoes at an affordable price that go the distance.

    thanks for posting jill's comments. i think it is increasingly difficult to make a purchase that satisfies all the items on the list of conscientious consumption...it's good to know that some of your latest purchases have not disappointed you on these fronts!

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  13. The sweater is beautiful!

    I am familiar with the struggle between instant/affordable gratification and ...integrity (stylistically and ethically speaking). Every single time, without exception, I am happier (long term) when I wait or forgo, than I am when I submit.

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  14. i wish i had the same experience with my frye oxfords! my favorite pair of oxfords are a cream pair by the italian brand moma. i've had them for about 5 years and they are perfect. my biggest regret was not buying them in black as well (not that i could afford it...) i bought these frye oxfords in black, thinking they would be great- i love how they look and frye's quality and pricepoint.
    unfortunately i found that i just could not break them in... terrible blisters every time i wear them (it's been about 3 years now). still keeping them around because each time i put them on i hope it'll be different.... :(

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  15. I always get inspired by your posts. I rarely comment because it feels like a short silly comment would not be enough and only something of value is worth placing after such well written and insightful posts. I have been trying to become more thoughtful about my clothes choices. I looked around my wardrobe and realized a few months ago that 70% was crap: Zara, H&M even Massimo Dutti, fast fashion that lasts a season or two in a good case scenario and a few washes in a bad. I remember the quality of ZARA when I was a kid and it was a relatively small Spanish brand, was brilliant. I still have their jumper from 10 years ago. Sadly our insatiable demands for endless trends that have been exacerbated by blogs and other media made fashion a game of cost, margin and quantity over quality. It is an absolute pleasure to read a blog like yours and see how many people comment and engage. It gives me a faint hope that maybe consumers are getting tired of crap quality and fast trends. Wishful thinking? I hope not. As for the rucksack and the jumper they are simply perfect. Check Ally Capellino their bags and backpacks are awesome, think you would like them.

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  16. I have an old pair of Hope boots that I've also had to resole twice, and the fact that I've used them so much makes me love them even more. I'm so ready to put away my wool knits, but yours look lovely.

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  17. Such a great post! Love your sweater shirt combo!

    http://vanillachic.wordpress.com/
    http://vanillachic.wordpress.com/

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  18. great post, such a cute cardigan! i love your blog, I've just stumbled on it through Fen (foxtrot-echo-november.com)


    raspberrykitsch.blogspot.com

    xx

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  19. as I'm nearing the end of college, making my own money and planning my own finances, I'm hoping to stop buying cheap things and spend on quality items that I'll love forever. it is hard to justify the 'down payment' of a few hundred dollars on good quality pieces when that's basically all I have in my bank account...slowly but surely!

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  20. Miss Sophie can you send me your email please, cannot find it on your website!

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    1. Hi Tania, you can try her contact form on her website.

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  21. :) sorry Amanda, was trying to write to yourselves, Miss Sophie and Lin, but posted the wrong comment. I cannot find your email address on your blog and Sam (from SamisHome) and I wanted to approach you with a capsule wardrobe project. Please drop me a line on tania.reinert@gmail.com. Thank you very much

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  22. A great read! Glad I stumbled into your blog! Definately coming back :)

    http://mrsjackofalltradesdaily.blogspot.com/

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