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.

22 comments :

  1. Glad your new buys are working out for you!

    I wanted a pair of Chimala jeans very badly last year, but could not justify another pair of jeans and especially at those prices! Perhaps I'll let the idea marinate another few years - the denim is beautiful and they pre-distressed work is done so well.

    I agree about the quality of men's clothing, but often wonder if men's fashion will go down the way of women's some day, with more and more men shopping at Topshop and so on. And especially when "heritage" is also a trendy thing among some men, the way preppy was/is.

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  2. Love the way the shirt looks on you! And the tote is pretty cute too, great alternative to the canvas ones doing the rounds.

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  3. @lin I've been putting in more thought into how I would wear my items over the long-term rather than it being a must-buy i.e. a list sort of thing that I've been wont to do in the past so I think I'm happier overall with my purchases lately. And you are right, beautiful is the right word to describe Chimala's denim. I wonder if more men shop at Topshop because they are in to fashion or if it's just more accessible. And I think men only have a few "trends" that rotate around and they all involve *not* dressing like a slob.

    @Ammu My natural-colored canvas totes were getting kinda grimy and I needed something that could hold up to the rainy/cold weather.

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  4. I love your Chimala shirt, I've had my eye on so many of their pieces for so long. Something so beautiful that makes you feel so good wearing it hardly needs any justification at all, but lord knows I've written endless posts justifying my own splurges! I think everything here is lovely, and while I'm unable to stop myself from the occasional fast fashion binge, I really do try and invest more in pieces that will last and that I can develop an emotional bond with. Also, thanks for the birthday wishes!

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

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    1. Oh I don't know, I sometimes think this blog is an ENTIRE justification on my profligacy.

      I hope you have a wonderful birthday week! Beguile us with your travels when you return.

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  5. Hmm, what about Land's End or LL Bean for quality, traditional clothes? More affordable prices, too!

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    1. Hi Danielle! I've can't wear any of LL Bean clothing because they run on the large side. I do have lots of Lands' End basics though. Thanks for commenting, it's actually made me think about a new post addressing affordable clothing. I know I tend to only write about really over the top items, but I'm lounging in t-shirts and jammy pants from Target 6 days a week and that doesn't seem like an interesting post.

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    2. Yes, I would like to read a post on affordable clothing!

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  6. I have a pair of the Hope Charlie Boots that I got last winter. I wore through the heel and sole in 6 months, and had to have both replaced. That said, I live in New York, and walk a couple miles on pavement everyday, but for an expensive pair of shoes, I was pretty annoyed. Hopefully you'll have better luck.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know! I usually put sole grips on (leather soles get very slippery), so I haven't had any experience with soles wearing through. If the shoes have been sitting in storage for a while though, they tend to dry out and get worn out rather quickly. I ordered the Charlie's once from Flying A and they don't keep them stored very well. They are very beautiful shoes but it's nice to hear opinions that alert me to the potential cons of a brand.

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  7. I have often thought about the quality difference in men's vs women's garments - even in stores like H&M the men's clothes seem better made, somehow. I love your brogues, it is a style of shoe that I am really starting to warm up to. The magic of bloggy brainwashing, eh? ;)

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  8. That's an interesting point about menswear. Even on the style side, men seem to be lucky to have a choice between simple, flattering looks that usually stand time, whereas women's clothes seem to gravitate more towards fleeting trends that look outdated very quickly.
    Maybe to make us buy new clothes every year? I noticed that lately when I watched License to Kill, a James Bond from 25 years ago or so. Men look alright in their suit, wheras women's outfits are really outdated...

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  9. @Maja H Sometimes I don't know if it's a good thing to only post about new purchases, other times, I feel like that's what gets people going. I feel a little hypocritical.

    @Kali You're right, men's clothing are much more timeless and a traditional suit from 20 years ago can still be relevant today whereas women's clothing evolve so fast. That's part of the explanation of why fast fashion is thriving - women like being able to update their style constantly. It probably doesn't apply to everyone - but it probably is true for most. Thanks fo commenting! I'm enjoying your blog a lot.

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  10. Yay Amanda, you're back to posting! Hurray!

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  11. this is precisely why i love menswear so goddarn much! im so used to menswear only stores that i don't pretend i'm shopping for anyone but myself. i hope this heritage americana 'trend' will never die, but rather as a sign that slow fashion is here to stay :D

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  12. I know what you mean - I post about my new purchases as a way to keep my shopping habits in check, but at the same time it is pretty obvious that it fuels the desire to shop in a lot of readers. As much as I love the "minimalist" fashion/style blogs they can make me pine for stuff I don't need just as easily as the more traditional trend-based blogs. But of course, the minimalists' message is a much healthier one, all things considered :)

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  13. hear, hear!

    i saw the Chimala shirt at Madewell too but wasn't ready to plunk down that much $$. maybe it'll go on sale later in the holiday season...

    i'm glad that we've been able to establish a nice blogger community of people who are invested in heritage / conscientious consumption. let's all do our part to keep the conversations going!

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  14. Thank you for the lovely comment you'd left on my blog. I'm so glad you did because these days, it's one of few avenues that allow me to discover new blogs.
    "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."

    I couldn't help but chuckle when I read this. My hubby has been wearing Ralph Lauren for years. Pigs will fly before he wears a different brand. On the other hand, I'm no different either because I'm a lazy shopper. I hate shopping. Period. Once I've found a brand that suits me, I just stick to it.

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  15. mill mercantile is great! i would love to see more model shots of each menswear brand piece, though (Howling by Morrison, i'm talking to you!).

    every time i walk into zara (or even jcrew), i try to make it work but typically leave empty-handed. definitely women's clothing design moves incredibly quickly, but men's clothing isn't exactly timeless, either. we have to keep consuming, or else. men, in general, are better at not adding to their wardrobe at such a feverish pace. general dislike of shopping and making decisions? i'm starting to feel that way these days.

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  16. Nice post, thanks for the thoughts - as usually smart and well-put. I'm wondering, having read this and your post about shoes, about the no.6 boots. Are they waterproof? I live in Portland, OR and really don't dig wearing rain boots all the time. I mean, occasionally it's necessary, but have been in the market for a pair of boots I can wear that are both functional (as in water-resistant in light rain), comfortable (absolutely critical), and stylish. I looked at the no.6 website and the boots look good. The description says they are good in "foul" weather, but there's nothing that explains exactly what that means. Anyway, would love more info on those boots and your experience with them in a similar climate. Thanks!

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    1. Hi! The boots are GREAT for the Northwest weather but I've had a really hard time with sizing, so I just wanted to put it out there. I;m usually a US5.5/US6 and I have not been able to find the right size in the No. 6 clog boots. The 37 were too large, and the 36 too small (short). They run wide and tend to stretch out. I'm not sure where you are ordering them from, but Frances May have not been stocking them for a while. So if you do order online, order a couple of sizes and try them on with/without socks. If you get the sizing right, the shoes are excellent in wet weather.

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