How to Style Sneakers (aka Trainers)

How to Style Sneakers (aka Trainers)

I love sneaker outfits… on other people. I see photos, on Instagram and Pinterest, but when I try them on me, well, it never seems to work. Or I don’t even attempt it. Most days, lacing and unlacing shoes seems too ambitious. Then, I got inspired by a vlog by Brittany Bathgate which prompted me to put together these outfits with the four pairs of sneakers I own. I tried to do two outfits per pair but it was late afternoon and then I lost the light so the last pair only has one outfit.

Why do I try on outfits and take mirror selfies? Because I can’t tell what clothes look like on me by looking at them on their hangers. And because it curbs my appetite for new clothes. My goal is to only buy a small number of items each year. “Shopping my closet” is one way to figure out what I want to add or even IF I need to add anything. It also helps me define what my style is. I can go back through my photos whenever I need an outfit idea.

I recently added these Veja sneakers which are made with natural rubber. I saw them everywhere (online) and waited a really long time before purchasing them. They are more than I normally spend on sneakers but now that I have them and worn them, they are definitely worth it. I am willing to spend a little more on a sustainable brand. I also like that they can be styled a lot of ways.

The black Vans are also relatively new. Again, a style I saw everyone wearing. I probably didn’t need them since I have the Pumas which have a very similar look. Once they’re as broken in and comfy, I’ll probably donate the Pumas. Lastly, I have the New Balance pair which are cream and gold. They are so comfortable. I bought them used on Poshmark and love their retro look.

Four pairs of casual sneakers is not all that exciting but I’m very happy with them. And I promise I’ll wear them more often.

(You can see what I’ve purchased this year on this Pinterest board. Some of the items are sustainable. I don’t get any commission from any sales.)

#sneakers #trainers #tennisshoes #gymshoes

I See You Patagonia

I See You Patagonia

I was born second.

So I got the hand-me-downs. Even though my older sibling was a boy. Let’s be honest, my parents were frugal. God, how I hate that word. My dad was a penny-pincher and my mom learned to be really good at shopping at yard sales. I didn’t know my clothes were weird until maybe middle school. From an early age I looked for ways to make money so I could buy the clothes the cool girls had. I stretched my budget by shopping at thrift stores and tailoring clothes I found.

Now, I can buy pretty much anything I want – the newest, the trendiest, clothes, only ever worn by me. Only now I know there’s more involved. A worldwide crisis of over consumption, pollution and human exploitation. No fair. Now I have the money. But now I have a conscience.

I still fall for the “newer, better” trap. But every piece of clothing, or anything really, that I bring into my home, I fret over. How am I contributing to the problem? When I decide I no longer need or want an item, then what? Who will use it and care for it now? I have constant nightmares about the landfill.

Recently I was online shopping on the Patagonia‘s web site. And let me mention quickly, I have always felt like Patagonia is priced out of my reach. Also, I don’t feel like I’m that outdoorsy. I wish. But I dream. So, I was browsing. I’ve become a little obsessed about a particular jacket, the Retro Pile Jacket in the ‘Pelican’ color. It’s $139. So, I’m on the fence, also I don’t need it since I got something similar for my birthday last year. But that doesn’t keep me from looking at it and checking stock. Then I stumbled upon Patagonia’s WORN WEAR. This “Used Gear” link on their web site takes you away from their new product, directly to used stock. I got excited. It pretty groundbreaking for a brand to encourage you to not buy their new stuff, but their used stuff. But not surprising since Patagonia basically invented sustainability and have probably been rolling their eyes every time someone mentions the idea, like they just thought of it.

I LOVE that they are positioning used clothing almost at the same (perceived) value as new. With a stylish web interface within the main site. I mean, it’s a two part benefit: save money, because I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like they can’t afford $139 for a jacket, AND save the planet. Also, how smart are they to brand their clothing as pretty much indestructible? They don’t have to brand it as such, I think it is very durable. So, it’s not too expensive. It’s priced right. If you’ve seen the documentary The True Cost, you know, if it’s cheap, someone is “paying” for it. I also saw that Patagonia (in the before times) hosted pop-up repair… um parties? Events? Festivals? I mean, they are doing it all.

Another brand I’ve been loving lately, COS, also has a buy used feature on their site. COS Resell. How interesting is it that brands are now co-opting used sales instead of leaving it to eBay, ThredUp, Poshmark, Vestiaire Collective… Patagonia and COS both offer to buy your old product and sell it. Similar to ThredUp.

And this leads me to think, you can tell people all you want that used is better for the planet as well as your wallet, but until people feel equally fashionable, it’s going to be a tough sell. The fashion industry has dumped billions of dollars into making you fell sexy when you wear new, and like the second (or third or fourth born) when you wear used. What if we could make used clothes as chic as new? I mean, we pay hundreds of dollars for ripped jeans?? And Golden Goose sneakers… I think the youngest generation is ahead of us. They fully embrace “vintage” and shop thrift stores like it’s the coolest thing ever. Used clothes have the benefit of being rarer. You won’t be wearing the same thing as everyone else. I “knew” this back when I was in high school but still acted like new was better. As soon as I had more money, I turned my nose up at GoodWill.

That’s something to think about when you’re out shopping, or in shopping. Am I being brain washed into buying new? Can “pre-loved” be cooler? Let’s promote that idea. Let’s hunt for unique, stylish, durable, interesting garments. And support those brands that think the same way.

Where I Get My Jeans

Where I Get My Jeans

I recently went through all my jeans (and other pants) and ended up donating a few pairs that just weren’t working for me. Among the pairs that were lovingly passed on to a new home were: the GAP black cropped jeans, the AG skinny jeans, the H&M boyfriend jeans, the JCrew jeans, the GAP army green chinos, and the Topshop black trousers. All were too big except the JCrew ones. They were just completely worn out.

So that was six items, edited out of my closet. I didn’t need to replace them, but ultimately I found these three:

SHOPBOP: Levi’s Wedgie Icon Fit Jeans $98

I have been dreaming of a pair of “real Levi’s”, like the ones I had in high school. Were they really that good, or is that just how I remember them? I’d heard rave reviews of Re/Done jeans. Would I ever spend $300 (and up) for one pair of denim? I finally thought I would so I contacted them to make sure I chose the correct size. I heard they work with customers to find their perfect fit, from exact measurements. That turned out to be untrue. I was worrying about paying for shipping if I had to return them, so I did some digging and as you know, a little digging on the internet turns up dirt. I was so turned off so I pivoted to: new Levi’s. I found a pair of vintage-looking jeans on Shopbop (which has free shipping both ways with an Amazon partnership) for “only” $98. I chose my current size, a 28, and with 99% cotton and 1% spandex, they were only somewhat uncomfortable. I washed them and … still good. I actually could have gone down to a 27 (If I wanted the true Levi’s experience of not being able to sit or eat.)

STYLE ENCORE (Thrift Shop): AG PRIMA ANKLE $12

Finding a good pair of jeans at a thrift store is like finding a needle in a haystack. I had just gotten rid of a pair of Adriano Goldschmied jeans that were perfect except that they were a little too big and then I lost a little weight and so they were a lot too big. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found these. I love their wash, their length, and their overall fit. The rise is a little low but I’m willing to overlook it. I took some items in to sell at Style Encore, my local used clothing store, and so I ended up netting money on that trip. I’ve had good luck with AG jeans for my husband as well. He tried on a pair in-store in NYC, then searched for a used pair on Poshmark. Always check if you can find your favorite brands pre-loved first. (Found these on Zappos, if you’re interested.)

MADEWELL: MILITARY STRAIGHT PANTS $88

Ok, yeah, I know: not “jeans.” I really love a pair of army pants, especially with classic front patch pockets. They’re a closet staple for me. These are so similar to the GAP pair I had to let go, but better since they are exceedingly high-waisted and fit like a dream. I went down one size to a 27 and they feel tailor-made. I have always had good luck with Madewell and they continue to impress. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been talked into a pair of jeans which I later returned. But, you know, my choices usually work out. I put these pants on the second I got home and was so happy. What’s the opposite of buyer’s remorse? Satisfaction? Yes, I was very satisfaction. They are a little funky, I mean, somewhat “Manrepeller” but feel SO ME.

Historically I’ve shopped for jeans at the usual places: GAP, JCrew, H&M, Lucky Brand. I’ve done well at Nordstrom since they have a bunch of good denim brands. It’s hard to take a risk and try something new. Maison Scotch was a rare diversion. I happened to be in NYC and had heard of the brand. I was very happy with the pair of black chinos I got there. I haven’t bought another pair (or any other clothing) from them because they don’t offer free shipping. Making a mistake isn’t something I want to pay for by shipping things back. JCrew is another one. Ordering online from them is a drag since you have to pay for return shipping and their sizing is very unpredictable. I’ve never ordered H&M online and even when I’ve tried things on in-store and made purchases, the items didn’t always end up being a favorite.

My goal going forward is to shop more sustainable brands. I’ve shopped and loved: Everlane, COS, Amour Vert, and Girlfriend Collective.  This year I’m planning on purchasing from: Patagonia, Sézane, Alex Mill, and Jenni Kayne. And definitely hitting up the thrift store again!

I Love Track Pants

Thanks to this post by Lindsay Kubly I have now joined the Adidas track pants fan club (not an official organization).

These pants. I have been wishing for them forever. I hesitated to get them because… uh, I thought I’d look ridiculous in them. Like my son’s soccer coach “Todd.” Like, ‘I’m hip, I’m cool, I’m sporty.’ It turns out, I love the way they look on me. And how comfortable they are. I put them on my Amazon wish list and got them for my birthday. I did have to switch out the medium for a small and they are still a little loose. I’ve looked for these pants locally and could only find weird variations on the theme. I would definitely recommend the traditional track pant fabric over the more cottony legging kind. And I really like that these have zippers at the ankles so I can put them on and take them off over sneakers. (Let’s be honest, I’m probably never going to do that, but I could) Finally, they have zippered pockets and an elastic waistband with a drawstring. Perfection.

Buy here: Adidas Women’s Superstar Original Track Pant

I found some photos on Pinterest to show how versatile these are and now I think I need a few more colors. Don’t worry, I’m not going to wear them with crop tops or stilettos.

All About Sweaters

I keep seeing sweaters. I keep thinking I need sweaters. But what about all the sweaters I already have?

It’s very hard to change the way we think about clothing, about buying new things. All the new stuff is, well, new. And they’re all just slightly different from what I have.

I already have a ton of sweaters — not to mention sweatshirts and other fall/winter tops. Why? Because I have been buying new ones! (Actually, some of my sweaters were gifts.) So, I am not short on knitwear!

In an effort to convince myself, again, that I don’t need to add to my wardrobe, I’ve tried on all my sweaters. How many are there? Let me count…23!?

I find that trying on what I already have, and taking photos, reconnects me to those items in a way that is different from just looking at them in my closet. I keep most of my sweaters folded and stacked on a shelf in my closet but a few are on hangers.

Most of my sweaters are warm and cosy but included in here are some that are light and cottony, more for warm weather. After going through everything I have, I decided that: I really love a crewneck sweater, open cardigans are my least favorite and I don’t need any more sweaters.

Take a look at the slideshow, and if you want, scroll all the way through to see each sweater with its details. 

One cool thing I recently learned: wool sweaters are antimicrobial/antibacterial. Did you know that? The waxy substance that coats the wool fibers makes it water repellent and inhibits mold and mildew growth. It also means that wool sweaters rarely need washing and only need airing out to smell fresh and clean. Learn more here. And, If your sweater has lost its lanolin coating, you can buy it in a spray like this one.

When I went through all of my sweaters, I took note of what brands I go to again and again, what material they’re made of, how I’m supposed to wash and dry them and how well they’ve held up. My goal in the future is to buy from more sustainable brands and buy clothing with natural fibers like wool and cotton.

Enjoy!

 

 

Brand: J.Crew Factory

Material: no tag (cotton?)

Care: no tag (machine wash, tumble dry?)

I love this thin, navy blue crewneck. I’ve had it for a while and the tag fell off at some point, so I’m not sure about materials and care but it was a good pick and has held up pretty well.

Brand: J.Crew

Material: 100% merino

Care: dry clean

One of my favorite sweaters. It’s thin but warm. I don’t always feel comfortable in three quarter length sleeves but it’s very flattering. It has to be dry cleaned so that adds up.

Brand: J.Crew

Material: 100% merino

Care: dry clean

This is a very nice sweater that doesn’t get a lot of wear. Like the previous grey one, it’s merino wool which is soft, thin, and non-itchy. I like the unexpected neon pink and the zippers on the shoulders.

Brand: Old Navy

Material: 55% cotton 25% viscose 20% nylon

Care: hand wash cold, lay flat to dry

This was an inexpensive, impulse buy. I needed a summer sweater and just grabbed this. I can tell you: I do not hand wash it. I’m usually good about reading tags. I guess I got it in my head that if it’s not wool it’s machine wash and tumble dry, but that’s not always true.

Brand: Everlane

Material: 100% cashmere

Care: dry clean

This is the perfect sweater: soft, warm, breathable. It is dry clean but because it’s cashmere it doesn’t need to be washed very often.

Brand: Banana Republic Factory

Material: no tag (cotton?)

Care: no tag (machine wash, tumble dry?)

My husband got this as a gift (from him mom) and I stole it. I don’t mean “borrow,” I mean took permanently. I love its slouchy ‘boyfriend’ style. The tag fell off, but I remember it being tumble dry. And because my MIL always seems to avoid wool sweaters, it’s most likely cotton.

Brand: GAP

Material: 55% cotton 40% nylon 5% acrylic

Care: machine wash cold, tumble dry low

My MIL gave me this sweater and I like it because of its Fair Isle style and low maintenance care. It has a cotton-y feel to it but looks like it should be worn in the winter.

Brand: Lucky Brand Jeans

Material: 60% cotton 40% acrylic

Care: hand wash cold, lay flat to dry

My only graphic sweater. I like that it’s black and a crewneck.

Brand: Banana Republic

Material: no tag

Care: no tag (I cut off tags if the item is machine wash, tumble dry)

This is a slightly long tunic style sweater with zippers on the shoulders (this was the thing back in 2014). I’ve loved it and gotten a ton of wear out of it but I think it might be time to retire it.

Brand: J.Crew Factory

Material: 51% acrylic 35% polyamide 7% wool 7% spandex

Care: machine wash cold, tumble dry low

I got this sweater as a birthday gift (from my MIL). It’s very soft! and easy to care for. It has a high spandex content which makes it very stretchy.

Brand: Lands’ End

Material: 54% cotton 28% nylon 13% acrylic 5% wool

Care: hand wash cold, lay flat to dry

I love a cable knit fisherman’s sweater but I’m not sure about the tunic style. 

Brand: H&M

Material: 60% cotton 40% acrylic

Care: machine wash warm, line dry

My only cropped sweater which I bought as a summer layering piece. The neck is very boatneck-y.

Brand: Banana Republic

Material: 45% merino wool 25% rayon 20% nylon 5% cashmere

Care: hand wash cold, lay flat to dry

Very pleased with this one. Love navy and a navy v-neck is a great wardrobe staple.

Brand: Banana Republic

Material: 82% merino 16% nylon 2% spandex

Care: hand wash cold, lay flat to dry

I’ve had this cardigan for years. It is good quality and has a pretty velvet detail along the buttons. I wear it buttoned, unbuttoned, and sometimes backwards.

Brand: GAP

Material: no tag (cotton?)

Care: no tag

Gift from my MIL! Again, I think I removed the tag because this was machine wash, tumble dry. Love the color and classic style.

Brand: ESPRIT

Material: 87% acrylic 11% polyamide 2% spandex

Care: hand wash cold, lay flat to dry

This sweater is so good. I bought it in Paris, so I know I’ve had it since 2007. It looks brand new. 

Brand: Banana Republic

Material: 48% silk 31% cotton 18% nylon 3% spandex

Care: hand wash cold, lay flat to dry

Similar to the previous black turtleneck, but thinner. Feels like a thick t-shirt. I love fitted black turtleneck.

Brand: GAP

Material: 100% merino wool

Care: machine wash cold, lay flat to dry

Current favorite. It’s dark green, it’s comfy, and it’s flattering. This merino wool is a little bit itchy.

Brand: Banana Republic

Material: 45% acrylic 35% merino wool 20% alpaca

Care: hand wash cold, lay flat to dry

A very thick, warm sweater. It has this cute zipper detail that turns the turtleneck into a sort of lapel collar.

Brand: GAP

Material: 52% cotton 22% acrylic 24% polyester

Care: machine wash cold, lay flat to dry

I just got this, and it gets high points for soft, warm, work-from-home lounge-y-ness although it’s not very stylish.

Brand: Madewell

Material: 100% merino wool

Care: dry clean 

This was a gift from my husband many years ago and is a favorite. Definitely overdue for a cleaning. 

Brand: Madewell

Material: 100% cotton

Care: machine wash cold, tumble dry low

I bought this by accident back in April in a Nordstrom haul that turned out to be final sale. It was supposed to be the perfect summer cardi but the lack of buttons makes me crazy.

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Brand: GAP

Material: 55% cotton 45% ramie

Care: machine wash cold, lay flat to dry

A short sleeve, open cardigan, I often wonder “what was I thinking” with this one. I guess I was thinking casual summer kimono to throw over a sundress or a tank top and shorts. 

Low Buy Challenge: End of the Year Wrap-Up

The year is drawing to a close. Well, not exactly, but I’d like to think 2020 is almost over! When I started the Low Buy Challenge in January I didn’t know what we were all in for. Buying as little as possible, and trying to buy second hand has been really good for me. Good for my soul, good for my budget, and I think good for the planet.

Following the rules set forth by Signe of UseLess, I tried hard to only buy things that I really needed. Basics like t-shirts, socks and underwear were okay, as were worn-out items. I bought things that I had planned ahead of time, often letting them sit on my wish list for month before purchasing. I asked myself if they were something I didn’t currently have and were truly my style (as in, I would wear a lot.) One area I could use improvement: buying from sustainable brands. I relied on stores I know work for me such as the Gap and Nike. Not so eco-friendly.

Here are the last few purchases I made this year:

Dr. Scholl’s Snakeskin boots  |  Leather version

This boot purchase was a result of my entire shoe inventory. I had so many black boots (and few brown) and wanted something fun. I wasn’t sold on the snakeskin trend but these really convinced me.

GAP true skinny jeans

These jeans were a result of my denim inventory. I ended up getting rid of one very worn out pair of jeans and realized I only had one pair of skinny jeans which were actually too big.

GAP Turtleneck T-shirt  A much needed basic.

GAP Belted Cardigan  An addition to my “loungewear capsule” that is so soft and cozy it made me feel slightly better about winter weather.

Asics running shoes  That time again: new sneaks.

Athleta top  Been looking for this kind of workout top for a while.

Fossil Wallet (poshmark)  My previous wallet was also from Fossil and was really falling apart. I found this replacement used on Poshmark.

 

Total clothing additions for the year: 3 pairs of shoes, 4 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of shorts, 3 sweaters, 1 dress, 6 tees, 3 pj pants, 5 workout items, 5 underwear items, and 1 accessory.