Heritage Americana


I'm not usually one for following trends, and I must confess that while I run a "style" blog, I don't subscribe to or even read any style magazines. My exposure to the trends are usually based on what limited interactions I have with the downtown Seattle hipsters, and for everything else, I subscribe to recommendations from a handful of my favorite stores.

This latest heritage/Americana fad however, is something that I'm very keen on and have been working hard at trying to incorporate a little bit of it into my ever-evolving wardrobe. I have been eyeing the Chimala chambray work shirt for a long time now, after seeing it at Lark a few years back. Now, before you judge me about paying that much for a pre-destroyed, pretentiously distressed chambray shirt, let me state for the record that I have been testing out a few chambray shirts before settling on the Chimala one. I don't know what it is, but this shirt just feels really good on. Maybe I'm over thinking this, but it makes me want to chop some wood, curl up with my hunting gun and put a mallard over the spit ... kidding. Chambray shirts used to make me think of Ina Garten and the 80s, cowboys and riveters, but after seeing how the Chimala shirt is worn on Vipada Wongpatanasin in the Mill Mercantile lookbook, I felt that I really wanted needed the shirt, vapid consumerism be damned. Maybe this post is all about justifying my purchase, but I have a hunch that I'm going to get a lot of mileage out of the shirt in the coming years.

Also, in the whole heritage vein, I've recently splurged on some items that tie in with what I've been moaning about over the course of this blog. I spent an inordinate amount of time (the equivalent of slothful procrastination) seeking out smaller, independent labels only to discover that they all converge at smaller, independent men's store. It leaves one to beg the question, why is it that well-made goods always seem to be targeted at men, while women are left to pick up scraps at H&M? Maybe it's because men hate shopping so much that when they do buy something, they want it to last a lifetime. I know that my husband has been picking out the same shoes in the same style for years and getting him to shop for new ones (or god forbid, try out a new brand) is tantamount to being disemboweled. And the reason he keeps going back to the same brand over and over again? He can wear them every single day for 365 days without worrying if it's going to hurt his feet or rip apart or develop holes in the sole as I've known some overpriced women's shoes to do.

When I picked out the Waste(Twice) tote (pictured above), I based in on some recommendations and research off a men's style forum. I wasn't expecting too much out of it, except that the labor practices were really appealing - small batch totes made in Japan that had sort of an utilitarian, heritage vibe to it. When the bag arrived from Hickoree's, it was quite a pleasant surprise. It was sturdy, very thoughtfully made (i.e. no loose stitches, discoloration, pockets everywhere, etc.) and it would prove to be a really handy tote to have in rainy weather, as opposed to the floppy canvas ones I've been lugging around all summer. By the way, I sold off most of my shoes (see this post) and used the money to buy a pair of Hope brogues. I've always had good luck with Hope as a brand overall, and those brogues are undoubtedly the most comfortable oxfords I've ever worn.

I'm really glad that there is somewhat of a revival to traditional, functional dressing - I know for a fact that women are also starting to demand that sort of manufacturing and styles that were once only limited to men's garments (hence stores like Mill Mercantile springing up). The problem still, I think, is that a lot of women see heritage goods as a "trend" and don't really care about the manufacturing practices or the history behind the company. When you start to think more about how your clothes are made, where it comes from, what it used to represent and how it fits in with your lifestyle, you develop an appreciation for the garments you own. And I think for anyone looking to discover their personal style, or to be a more conscientious consumer, that's a good place to start.