Friday, February 23, 2018

Thrifted Sisters: Floral Trend for Winter

Hong Kong winter had me in a funk for a little while. I just couldn't get dressed because my basic need was to find a way to be warm inside. Luckily, that cold, cold inside weather has passed and we're experiencing the typical flip-floppy Chinese New Year weather instead. The week off started with blue skies and sun, whereas now we're onto grey skies and misty rain.

I won't complain, though. I know that hot sticky humid weather is around the corner, so I'm going to enjoy the opportunity to layer as long as I can.

Speaking of which, while the weather is still coldish, I dug out the floral jumpsuit I got from Thrifted Sisters vintage to style it up for cooler weather. Remember, our collaboration intended to show how one trend, in this case florals, can be styled through the seasons. You may recall how I styled it for the end of summer, here. Now granted if Hong Kong experienced a real winter, this jumpsuit would be seriously off limits due to it's lightweight rayon like fabric, but lucky for me Hong Kong doesn't get a real winter.

This floral jumpsuit is ideal for styling through the seasons because the floral print has winter-like color tones with its black background color and dark green, blue-purple and dark pink.

I gave my jumpsuit the winter style treatment by wearing it with my secondhand Monki jacket, ankle boots and my burgundy hat. For make up, I also made sure to wear some darker shades. Rather than wear my signature red lipstick, I chose a deeper wine color.

Finally, I finished it off with my secondhand Alexander Wang handbag, which I've been wearing cross body style pretty much since I got it.

Florals are such a perfect all year trend, I think. I'm already thinking about how I'll change this item up for spring.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Upcycling Clothing: Make Your Clothes Work For You & Links a la Mode, February 8th

Upcycling.  Repurposing.  Altering.

What is the difference?  The words are used interchangeably, admittedly by me, too. They are unique from each other, but at the core they get at the same thing.  Reducing textile waste.  Redress HK has done extensive work educating the public and driving change in the fashion industry globally. You can read more about their campaigns here.

For me, reducing textile waste and making second hand or vintage clothing choices comes in large part due that same hope of minimising my impact on the environment. I love thrift shopping because of the possibility of giving new life to a garment that has reached the end of its use by date for someone else, but still has loads of life left in it. (Read more about where this belief came from here). Sometimes breathing new life into a garment means having a vision for how to change it slightly and then seeing it through.

Back when I had a seamstress I trusted to help me carry these ideas through, I used to do this a lot and with a bit more of an adventurous spirit. She retired and closed her alterations shop and I haven't been able to find someone who can help me fix up my clothes since. I have a lead and I'm eager to test this new seamstress out, but so far I'm stuck with a growing fix/alter pile. The extent of my DIYs lately have literally been to cut off hems myself, but I'm getting bored with this. I did once try someone else, but I ended up with pant legs of different lengths (see those pants below). I fixed them myself by the way.

While I'm between seamstresses, I thought I could share some of my tips for how to make your clothes work for you. I'll list them at the end of this post, but the most important thing to consider is keeping your clothes in good condition. Sew up the little holes and be sure to launder things properly (I've made those mistakes).
Alterations and upcycling clothes doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes it's just taking the sleeves off or bringing up the hem of a skirt. It can be simple like cutting the neck off or removing a collar. These kinds of alterations can be done even without sewing.

More complicated changes can be creating something entirely different (like one time when I made a skirt from pants or a dress out of a men's shirt). This is my definition of upcycling or repurposing or altering. It may not be what sustainable fashion suggests, but it is somewhere in the middle, I think. Making little tweaks to make an item of clothing can make it perfect for you so you'll want to keep it around longer.

I don't go thrift shopping with the mindset that I'm looking for something to change. In fact, I find that lately because I don't have a seamstress, I've become very strict about what I buy. If it's not going to work for me off the hanger, then these days I opt to leave it in the shop.  On the rare occassion, if there is something I really love about a garment (say the print or the fabric, for example) and my first thought is a simple fix, I may still see what I can do. 

There are other times, however, that I find something that I like as is and later on, even months or years later, I'll decide that I want to change it. It might be because I haven't worn the garment in such a long time; or it could be that after a few wears, I find some aspect of the garment that doesn't work for me anymore and can be fixed easily.

Because this is a part of how I wear clothes, I've discovered I end up wearing things longer. Vintage clothing or thrifted clothing is perfect for wearing in this way because it doesn't necessarily cost a lot and it is probably better made than any fast fashion items manufactured recently. If an alteration goes wrong, you're not out loads of cash. The flip side of that, however, is that vintage items really are one of a kind, and changing them can change the integrity of the whole piece. Ruining a vintage piece hurts more, trust me.

So, here are my tips for making your clothes work for you:

1. Buy proper fabric scissors and get comfortable using them to cut off jeans, pants, collars, etc.

2. If you can't sew yourself, find a good seamstress and start with safe alterations like a simple hemming before doing anything more complicated. I find hemming pants, etc, completely changes them enough that I'll keep them. Alternately, don't be afraid to make them shorts.

3. Don't forget that a good seamstress can also help your clothes fit better (I think this is different from changing the garment as suggested above). If your body changes shape and you still love a garment, have it altered so it can still work. 

4. Keep your clothes in good repair. A little hole is nothing to fret over. Just fix it or find someone who can. I feel like I'm constantly darning socks or stitching little holes in knees, for example. 

*Adapted and edited from an earlier post I wrote for Style by Asia.

Links à la Mode, February 8th, 2018
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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Redress Design Award: New Cycle, New Name. Same Mission & Links a la Mode, February 1st

It's the start of a new cycle of the Redress Design Award and this year it's going to be the biggest one yet. On Redress's ten year anniversary, they've decided to rebrand what was once the Eco Chic Design Award and rename it so it can be aligned more closely to its organizers, the NGO Redress.

With the launch of this new cycle comes other exciting news as well. The competition, now in it's eighth cycle, is open globally to emerging designers with under three years professional experience to take part in creating a collection using sustainable design techniques. 

A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend the launch event at Eaton House in Central where I was able to sit in on a panel discussion about business and retail trends in sustainable fashion. I was happy to see that Redress is still promoting a circular economy and a vision for the future of sustainable fashion along with their aim to reduce textile waste. Did you know that in Hong Kong alone, we send approximately 125,195 tonnes of textiles to landfills (2016)? That figure along with the fact that between 2016 and 2018, sales across all fashion categories is set to triple? It's mind boggling.

While at the launch, I was also able to browse through their newly rebranded sustainable fashion brand now called The R Collective (formerly BYT). They launched at last year's Grand Final with a line of blazers and coats designed by Redress alumni Kevin Germanier and Victor Chu and now have some lovely knitwear courtesy of designer Kate Morris who won the most recent cycle.

With the competition now being open globally, sustainable fashion and Redress's impact on the fashion industry has a bright future. I'm thrilled to support their efforts and champion their message here on the blog, with others in my blogging world and with the students where I work who know my passion for the environment and sustainability. 

With the rebranding of Redress's upcycled fashion brand, I am excited to have been given an opportunity to style up their houndstooth blazer. You may have already seen me give it the print smashing treatment over on my Instagram, but stay tuned for more styling here. 

Links à la Mode, February 1st, 2018
SPONSOR: Amazon's Shopbop, R13 Denim, THURLEY Dresses, Solid & Striped, LGR, Flora Nikrooz, Vilshenko, Floral Jumpsuits, Workwear, Rainbow Dresses, Men's Ralph Lauren

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

I Got it From My Daddy

I lucked out in the parent department. Seriously. I grew up with them teaching at my school and even now, I teach with my mother. In the same department! We even team-teach a course. My dad, now that he's retired, does supply teaching at my school, too.

I'm not going to get all personal and tell you my life story, don't worry, but I do have a point to this whole I have great parents business. 

And it's love of secondhand and vintage clothing came from my parents. Growing up, we lived in hand-me-downs. I mean, being a teacher's kid, it's part of the territory (my kids live in hand-me-downs). At a young age, I learned that when one person is done with their clothes, other people can still get good wear out of them. Preloved clothing was normal for us. And, I'm grateful that my parents taught me this idea.

As my sisters and I got older, we began raiding our parents' closets (mostly my dad's, but also my mum's as well). In sixth grade, I styled up a champagne colored 80s dress to give it some Madonna touches (black lace gloves, a wide elastic belt and a big black head scarf) to wear to our school's semi formal dance.

My dad had some amazing vintage pieces that he'd worn through the 70s. Bell bottom slacks, wide collared shirts, blazers and leisure suits.  Oh man, I wish I could rummage through that wardrobe now.  I still remember this eggplant colored blazer he had...

My dad still maintains to this day that the reason he doesn't have any of those old pieces any longer is because we pilfered our way through his clothes when we were teens.

Well, we didn't take everything.  I found this Jack Nicholas golf shirt a few months back and after asking my dad nicely if he still wanted it, he handed it over. I'm not sure if he was ready to part with it yet, but I think he gave it to me for old time's sake. 

See? The best parents. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ruglane Love

Having made a resolution to be more intentional about what I do and to begin to pare away some of the excess in my wardrobe, I'm thrilled to be selling at Ruglane Vintage and Secondhand Markets again. This will make my third market as a seller and I'm really going through what's in my wardrobe with a cutthroat attitude. If I haven't worn something within the last six months to a year, then it's gone!

I also just got some great advice from my girl Beth at @bjonesstyle who is also doing a closet clean out with Cathleen at @assemblyla who suggests that when deciding whether or not to keep an item, consider how you feel when you wear it. If it doesn't make you feel good or you always have a nagging thought about how it fits, then it needs to go. 

I'm finding that easier said than done, but I'm coming around.  Sometimes actually taking the time to put the item on again reminds you exactly what those feelings are, so I'm trying to do that.  In fact, I did it just this morning when I was getting dressed for work. I put on a dress and realized that I hadn't really worn it since the first time I wore it because it's just a little too big for me. Beth also suggests taking ALL your clothes out so that you can see them.  This is hard to do in the small spaces of Hong Kong, but I'm getting to it by going in chunks through my wardrobe. It's slow going, but I'm feeling good about it.

 My girl Sabrina of @msyinmsyang and First Wife Studios also gave me a good bit of advice about maintaining a wardrobe. One in, two out or one new item in means you have to take two out. I'm not anywhere near incorporating that advice just yet, but it's a good thing to remember so that I can be mindful in my consumption habits. I'll definitely be taking this on as part of my resolution to be intentional.

Speaking of which, this outfit has two gems that I acquired at the last Ruglane Markets: the jacket and the platform sandals. It was a successful selling day for me and I had many more than two pieces taken out of my wardrobe, so I thought these two purchases were justified.

 The sandals are Isabel Marant, and were never worn. They were exactly my style and I snatched them up for a bargain. I swear I've worn these so many times since then. The jacket is actually from H&M, also never worn, and it was originally Billie-Grace's who is the founder of the Ruglane Markets. She recently moved back to Australia, so I thought it would be a sweet reminder of her.

Anyhow, Vol. 5 of the Ruglane Vintage and Secondhand Markets takes place on March 4th at Sunny Hills in Chancery Lane from 11- 5pm. You can find more information and purchase your buyer tickets here.

I hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Year, New Ideas & Links a la Mode, January 18th

Well, it's 2018. How about that? I took a break from this blog at the end of last year and now I'm finding it difficult to get back into the swing of writing again. That's okay, though. I was glad to take a break and spend time with the fam. Apart from some minor illnesses, the holiday to Bali was indeed refreshing. Trying to get back into the swing of work and routines at home after a three week break and is proving to be a challenge, too! I'm starting out slow, but so be it.

That said, I do want to get back to blogging. I'm not going to do much reflection, though. I've already done some in a post I wrote around Thanksgiving time, here. Those sentiments still stand. I'm incredibly grateful to be part of a strong community of creatives via this blog. And I'm so lucky to have the support of those who love me to continue on this creative journey.

I had a chance at the end of the year to be featured in a new online community called Offbeat Collective, and they asked me to share my thoughts about feminism, blogging and using this site as a voice for change. You can read the interview here. Their questions were really thought provoking and made me want to look again at what I'm doing here on my blog.

Don't worry, I'm not making drastic changes, but I am going to set some goals or resolutions, if you will. I don't think that the resolutions for my blog need to be any different than the personal ones I have decided for myself, either. They're really one and the same. 


And, my resolutions this year are really simple:

Buy less.
Waste less.
Do more.
Be intentional.

Let me explain...

Many of you regular readers know what my thoughts are about sustainable fashion and the environment. I think I've made those views clear. I'm really careful about wearing only vintage and secondhand and independent fashion brands as much as I can. Some of you may remember the buyer's remorse I felt after buying that Zara mesh dress and what I did to make it a sustainable clothing choice.

Well, I have a confession. I realize that I've fallen into a trap with my clothes. I've justified many clothing purchases with the fact that wearing secondhand or thrifting is good for the environment (which it is), but in doing so, I've ended up with more than I need. I want to simplify and pare down what I've got so I can really feel good about my consumption habits. 

So my resolution to buy less and waste less really comes down to me not buying so much just because I can (for reasons like it's inexpensive and unique, etc). My family will all tell you how I've taken over their spaces (they've been incredibly patient). It's not pretty. So, I propose to be better about wearing what I have and shopping in my own closet. I also want to continue to get rid of what I don't wear so I'm not wasting things that are just sitting in my closet. (I'll be a seller again at the next Ruglane Vintage and Secondhand Market, so there's a start).

I'm going to continue to share these lessons with my kiddos, too. Thrift shopping, buying only what's necessary and resisting the push to buy more stuff is what I hope they'll embrace as a way of life. We don't need more landfillers. 

The second part of my resolution is to do more and be intentional also has to do with my consumption habits. I recently watched A Plastic Ocean which really left an impression on me. I'm already aware of the impact of plastic on our environment (and the need to reduce, reuse, recycle, etc). Being stewards of our environment is a big part of how we raise our family at home. But, the film and our recent trip to Bali has left both the hubby and I feeling like we need to do more. 

I also just had an opportunity to attend a Zero Waste Roundtable discussion with a couple of women who have adopted the zero waste lifestyle (one being Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home) and Craig Leeson, the journalist who created the film A Plastic Ocean. I felt inspired by their examples to be more active in my environmentalism. The hubby and I have both resolved to do more and I think it starts by being intentional. In all aspects of how we live. And that's what I hope you'll see more of on the blog. In how I dress, in how I parent and teach and in how we live.

See? I can use my blog as a voice for change.

Be sure to click over to some of these other blogs this week:

Links à la Mode, January 18th, 2018
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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas to You and Yours!

We're headed off on a beach holiday tomorrow.  See you all in the new year! I'll share some end of year reflection when I get back. In the mean time, stay tuned to my Instagram to see what we're up to on our Bali holiday.

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