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...NEXT UP: Let's Talk Lids (that are Made in the USA)

5X in Frye Anna Shorties

My rule when I add something "new" to the closet (these were actually very gently used via ebay...just new to me--I'm trying to buy ethically, 2nd hand or Made in the USA this year!) is to wear the item 5 DAYS IN A ROW (unless it needs a wash, of course, in which case, I go for 5X as soon as possible). I like to get used to the item, to welcome it into the fray, break it in a little, to try it out with different clothes, and figure out how to style it (come early work mornings when I'm grabbing for clothes and have no energy for creating style on the fly). It's like my own private LAUNCH party! Plus, my rule (kind of rule) is that if I wear an item at least five times a season, it's generally a keeper, aka SAFE (AKA...not likely to be weeded out when I assess and review my wardrobe at the end of each season.)

This week, my new-used Frye Anna Shorties arrived--I wanted a flat (as in, no tall heel), relaxed brown leather ankle boot of good quality for work--so I've given them the 5 day break in.

I am typically a size 9 in most shoes, but in Frye boots, I can often be a size 9.5. Since these were an ebay purchase and I couldn't try before I buy (bought), I sized up to the 9.5 (although these run big for Frye and true to size for most other boots). I HATE boots (or socks) that are too tight, and the Frye 9s I bought last year (the Jamie flat chelsea boot) were TOO SMALL......so although these slip in the heel, I added some heel slips and I think the 9.5 sizing will be just fine (better than too small--but I probably would recommend your usual size if you were purchasing yourself a pair).

My review of the Frye Anna Shortie: They cover the ankle and are kind of slouchy and wide at the top...so, not like a traditional chelsea boot with a fitted ankle. I found them easy to get on and off (despite reviews to the contrary). The footbed has a bit less padding than my other Frye boots and the leather is super shiny/glossy (so leather care products probably won't absorb), but overall, I'm pretty happy with them. I'd like to get an ultra thin leather liner for them for a BIT more padding, but have yet to locate the right footbed (the gel and sports ones are just TOO much--too thick-- and make shoes too small and then slip too much--ANY SUGGESTIONS ANYONE?)


Made in America Winter Outfits and THE STRUGGLE to Keep my New Year's Resolution (confession I--5 days in): This week, it has turned BITTER cold in Virginia--so the horses are bundled up, the pups snuggled into their beds in the kitchen, and us people are busy feeding the fire in the woodstove to give the HVAC system (and our heating bill) a break. Around the house, it's rarely warmer than 60-63 degrees (and most of the time hovers in the upper 50s), so you can find me in sweats (from American Giant and made in the USA--pictured in a pile on the floor above--cringe--I'm just an awful photographer), wool socks (Made in the USA), flannel shirt jackets, and patagonia (and ethical and environmentally-eyed company) fleece. Hey, it's a 1930s farmhouse, but what it lacks in insulation, it makes up for in charm. But the NEXT house is going to be a one-level, insulated, point and click gas-fireplace, well-heated little newbie (someday)...

At work, the temperature has been up and down. Tuesday, the heat was kickin' (and I melting--literally swooning) and by Wednesday, the heat was broken (and I wore my coat and hat all day). My answer to the swings in temps: dress in layers and BOOTS. When it's warm out, I don't sport boots much--my feet get too HOT--but in winter, it's all I wear. They're fancy enough for work-wear but tough enough when I have to go feed horses and muck sheds in the evening (and I don't feel like riding and changing into riding duds).

This leads me to my latest vice--Ok, remember how I promised that I'd ONLY buy ONE item (Made in the USA or ethical or second-hand) PER MONTH for the next 12 months? (It was one of my New Year's Resolutions). Eeek. Yikes. Ok, so I BOUGHT my ONE item on Jan 3rd (a second hand pair of Frye Annie Shortie boots I've been stalking on ebay). I wanted a FLAT pair of short boots and they were second-hand, great condition and quality (which was one of my goals)...so, click and pay, right? Yeah, until YESTERDAY (Jan 4th) when my ebay reminder feed told me a BRAND NEW PAIR OF RED WING CAROL boots (Made in the USA) were on SALE in my SIZE for $160 less. I've been watching for Carols for 6 months...not a single pair has come up. So, there's February's purchase too. I know, I know...as Bridget Jones would say "VERY BAD START TO THE YEAR. WILL PERSEVERE..."

Ok, so I CONFESSED to it. And wrote it down. I'm AWARE of it. And I still INTEND to stick to my shopping limit--1 ethical/Made in the US or second-hand item PER MONTH and THAT's IT. But, I admit, I'm off to a bad start. But I'll do a BOOT WEEK next week to showcase my new boots! Hope you're doing better on your resolutions than me! How are YOUR Resolutions going?


Anyways, pictured above and below: red and green flannel blanket plaid scarves (etsy--Made in USA). Geometric black/white boxy cropped top (medium weight) by W2 (Made in USA via TJ Maxx). Red Wing Heritage Harriet Boots (Red Wing--Made in USA), LL Bean Boot Leather Tote (Made in Maine). Patagonia Snap T Fleece Jacket (ethically-made) and Locally Made Fleece Beanie (the MouseWorks-Made in the USA)

New Year's Resolution Time--The Opposite of More is Enough

For the past year, I've religiously written down every clothing purchase I've made, whether or not it was ethical/second hand/Made in the USA, and how much it cost. It was an ENLIGHTENING experience. I BUY too many clothes. More than my ethos wants. Heck, I OWN too many clothes...even though I keep a small, capsule wardrobe in front of me each season (29-33 pieces per season)...but some of my clothes, looking back, were only worn 5X this year. Cringe.

Keeping TRACK of how many times I wore each garment is helping me to honestly assess my closet overall.

Anyway, I neglected one major principle that I'd like to focus MORE on in 2018: simplicity and minimalism. I bought WAAY too many clothes in 2017. I want to STOP closet turnover or at least, slow it to a crawl.

So, it's resolution time! As my dad might say, you can only wear one outfit at time! So, my mantra for the new year: I have what I need. I have MORE than I need.

Resolution 1: 1 PER MONTH, Made in the USA, second hand or ethically-made

I'm going to allow myself to purchase one Made in America or secondhand or ethically made clothing item per month for 2018. I'm under no obligation to buy each month, so I'm seeing this as a LIMIT/month (rather than an obligation/month).

Now, looking at my list of acquisitions from 2017...yikes. That's a BIG cut. But, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step (Lao Tzu and Cheryl Strayed and me). Right? Right.

Resolution 2: Continue to Keep a Fashion Journal--I keep a notebook on my dresser where I :

  • list each item in your capsule wardrobe (I group them by type--tops, bottoms, shoes, outerwear)
  • mark ethical/Made in USA (I just put a * next to it)
  • put a tick mark on the way out the door each morning (to keep track of WHAT I'm wearing, how often, and can later figure out cost/wear)
  • at the back of the notebook, I write down ALL clothing purchases and their cost (this list should be really SHORT in 2018 if I stick to Resolution 1...gulp)

Like I said, my 2017 journal has been super eye opening for me--I've been keeping track of each capsule (which I wear for 3 months-ish) and I'm able to really get a sense of COST/WEAR. My overall goal is to get my items down to below $1/wear...to really get WEAR out of my closet. I get a TON of wear out of my athletic and leisure clothes (because those groupings are SUPER LEAN) but I think I can do better on my work/special occasion wardrobes...and setting a SHOPPING LIMIT (insert throat constricting sound here) will help me reach that goal (over time).

What about YOU? Any fashion-based resolutions this year?

Why is it SO HARD to define personal style?

I LOVE to read fashion bloggers and style icons speak of personal style...it seems to be such a wrestling match for one and all. It's effortless but took effort; it's unique but available and simple. How does SHE do it?

I have no real idea how the style icons do it but everyone seems to wrestle with personal style. Why is it so hard to define my personal style? I wrestled with it for months as I made the transition to a capsule....how should I DEFINE this...my "style"?

The answer finally occurred for me a few months ago and it comes in two parts:

1. It's hard to define because clothes create a picture...an image...in our minds. And, as cliche as it sounds, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Sure, we can try to make a few adjectives "define" our style, but in the end, it's better said with an impression. No words needed.

And those with incredible personal style...well, those ladies seem to exude it. What makes their "style" seems to come from...to emanate...from within, no? Has anyone ever MET someone with amazing style who had a flat personality? I haven't! So, it's the person that WEARS the clothes that elevates one's wears to STYLE.

2. And second, it's hard to define because it is EVER changing as we age, change shapes, are inspired by others and grow in our personalities and in ourselves. Our clothes change; and our style changes.

It's been TOUGH the last few years...to put a finger on my closet discontent. But it was there...I could tell from the closet turnover and the sheer AMOUNT of shopping I did (and the consequential AMOUNT of clothes I owned in styles that weren't really working). And I know others face this--I've read their blogs and have seen photos of their style and clothes completely change over the course of year. So, I know I'm not alone. But perhaps, for a little while, we should stop trying to DEFINE it in words, and let our minds revel in PICTURES.


When to CUT a Sweater From Your Wardrobe

I thrifted two lovely acrylic waffle and cable knit sweaters from my fav second hand store this fall...they FELT soft, they LOOKED lush...they WORE itchy! Hubby and I were out on date nite when the itching began...And yes, of COURSE I wore a thermal shirt as a liner! STILL itchy. How does that HAPPEN? Probably because they were turtleneck/cowlnecks style and my liner wasn't high enough.

Ultimately, I guess it doesn't matter...I don't know about you, but I've got a ZERO tolerance policy with itchy or ill-fitting clothes and shoes. Luckily, these were only $5 sweaters, thrifted locally--but I'll re-thrift them and try to remember to avoid all BUT cotton sweaters or perhaps look for a turtleneck cotton liner. Evidently, I've had this problem BEFORE, because there aren't really any sweaters IN my wardrobe (which is why I bought these sweaters this fall). Jeez--I hate when I forget things.

For a while, I kept "forgetting" that I NEVER wear skirts or dresses. I mean, I own a few, but I used to own a LOT. I'm DRAWN to them in stores. But I find them tiring to wear...I'm not especially comfortable. So I don't wear them. It took me YEARS to figure this out.

Anyway, it's sometimes REALLY hard for me to let go of clothes that aren't quite serving their purpose...so much so that I used to have piles of them, I admit. I'm not sure I even realized it. They didn't work for lots of reasons--color or cut, style or fit.

But in the end, I figured out that the BEST question to ask yourself when you're considering CUTTING a piece from your wardrobe:

WOULD YOU BUY IT AGAIN?

If the answer is "no"...well, then you have your answer. I let it go.

When you've got a capsule wardrobe though (once you've simplified down to a manageable number--for me, 35 this season), cutting items (with the express HOPE of NOT replacing them) can leave a gap. I'll go from having 4 heavyish sweaters to 2. So, these days, before I "cut", I really try put the item to the test over the course of a week, wearing it a couple of more times in different outfits to see if I fall in love with it again or am truly ready to part ways. This strategy seems to help solidify my opinions.

My question: can I restyle it in a new way that'll work better for me?

**UPDATE: Um no, I didn't even make it OUT OF THE HOUSE in the grey sweater...too itchy! But I do LOVE the color, style and pattern of the sweater...but ITCHY just won't do. So I guess I'll look for a similar cut sweater in a material I KNOW I will love next time I'm thrifting!

Anyone else have ITCHY sweater ISSUES?

What's in my Winter Capsule Wardrobe?

So, I woke at 5ish this morning...and I was COLD. Time to SWITCH to my Winter Wardrobe!!! It took me about 15 minutes to drag my small rubbermaid container with my 34 piece winter duds out of my storage closet and swap out my fall wardrobe. I'll wear MOST of my winter wardrobe from mid-December through March. Interested to know what's in there??...here ya go!


Color-wise--I stuck with cranberry, red and dark green...with my neutrals as black, winter white and grey. I've got a bit of cognac and tan in there too (shoes).

* means it was thrifted (second-hand)

an ethically-made item**

Made in the USA=* + labelled

15 of the core pieces (about half) and MOST (90%) of my accessories fall into these categories...thrifted, made ethically, or Made in the USA. Not as many as I'd like...sigh...but I'm a work in progress.

Most of these items came from last season or out of storage from last winter. I'm hoping to keep it that way! I really want to work on minimalism this year, limiting myself a max of 1 ethical/Made in the USA item addition per month (hopefully LESS--fingers crossed?!) I did get some stuff for Christmas though (noted as a gift)and I also noted items that were new since September of 2017--those are still "new" in my book!

And confession: I did some DAMAGE shopping RIGHT after Christmas (December) in the fleece lined-flannel shirt and fleece lined pants department--my house is SUPER cold in the winter (50s currently). I was on a shopping trip with the girls AND knew I wanted to go all-ethical in 2018, so I purged on the tail end of 2017. Eek. The good news is that I haven't taken these items OFF at home since their purchase.

What about you? Is minimalism on your list this year? It seems to make my list annually! What colors do you sport in winter?


Tops- (I don't count layering shirts and tees, but those are a MUST wear to save sweaters from washing and skin from getting itchy! I have 6 in varying neck styles, black, olive, maroon, and grey (thermals and long sleeve tees). Check out American Giant's selection )

  • Freedom Artists Green Buffalo Flannel Shirt* Made in the USA
  • Madewell Penfield Flannel Shirt*
  • Madewell White Windowpane Boyfriend Flannel Shirt (new-Gift)
  • Green and Black Checked Flannel Shirt-oversize from And Away (new this Fall-Target)
  • Black and White W5 Boxy Cropped Top* Made in USA
  • Flannel Shirt Jackets from LL Bean and Eddie Bauer--in Grey/Red Plaid (new, gift), Navy Plaid, and Red Buffalo Plaid (new)

Sweaters

  • Cranberry boat neck tunic fuzzy shirt
  • dark grey boat neck tunic fuzzy shirt
  • Light grey, puffed sleeve fuzzy shirt by And Away (new this fall-Target)
  • Off-White ribbed boat neck sweater* Talbots
  • American Indian print sweater *Made in the USA, Faded Glory, Walmart
  • Patagonia T Snap and ReTooled Pullover Fleeces *(ethical)--in Grey, Pink (both new, gifted), and Teal (old-gifted), quilted pullover in Green

Vests

  • Grey oversize long boucle vest Loft*
  • White puffer vest (gift)
  • Herringbone vest Eddie Bauer (new)
  • Black puffer vest by Columbia (more than 5 years old)

Pants

  • black denim skinny jeans (down to less than $1/wear)
  • cranberry skinny cords Loft*
  • Madwell Danny Wash skinny denim
  • slate blue skinny cropped cords*
  • dark grey skinny leggings
  • dark green skinny leggings
  • black fleece lined leggings (down to less than $1/wear)

Shoes/Boots

  • Red Wing Heritage Black Harriet Heeled Chelsea Boot* (Made in the USA)
  • Red Wing Cognac Heeled Chelsea Boot* (Made in the USA)
  • Cut Out Suede Tan Ankle Boots
  • Frye Anna Shortie in Brown* (Second-Hand, NEW to me)
  • Red Wing Heritage Carol Chelsea Boot* (Made in USA, NEW)
  • Frye Tan Maxine Trapunto Boots*
  • Handmade in Mexico Cognac all-Leather Boot (identical to Frye's Melissa Button)* (*had over 5 years)
  • LL Bean Boot* (Made in USA) (gift)

Coats

  • Ralph Lauren Sweater Herringbone Coat*
  • Patagonia Winter Coat**
  • Down Long Puffer Coat (gift)


Accessories:

Belts

  • Skinny cognac leather belt Made in the USA (artisan)*
  • Tooled Leather Belt Made in the USA (artisan)*

Scarves

  • 3-Made in the USA flannel scarves in red plaid and green plaid*
  • 2 Bandanas (from Madewell)

Hats

  • 2-MouseWorks Fleece Beanies* (Made in the USA artisan)
  • Tweed Stormy Kromer* (Made in USA)

Purse/Bag

  • Vintage Coach Red Leather Crossbody Bag (Made in the USA)*
  • LL Bean Boot Leather Medium Tote (Made in Maine, USA)*

In March, I'll swap out a few of the red and green flannel shirts with some 3 teal or mauve pink tops (currently in storage) (just for a change--I'm super restless every March, craving warmer temps and a day off--so a few "new" items in the wardrobe seems to help mitigate some of this....a little of this....I hope).

Steve Earle and the Dukes....and Instagram reflections...

Question: What do you wear to a Steve Earle and the Dukes concert?

Answer: Whatever the hell you want--no one there is going to judge you. So breathe a sigh of RELIEF...

There's something just so.damn.cool about Steve Earle. Of all the fabulous musicians I've seen locally...Robert Earl Keen and Ryan Adams and Lyle Lovett and his Big Band...I would most love to hang with Steve Earle for a few hours. He comes across as so real and genuine.

I didn't take any photos at the concert...I'm not into Instagram at all...I just like to soak it all in... I'm kind of GLAD I never got into Pinterest or Instagram....every ethical fashion blogger I love to read is STRESSING about wanting to spend less time on Instagram. It seems, from a total outsider point of view, that it's HIGHLY addictive. I guess people get a rush out of the number of "likes" they draw...but just as often, they seem to second guess themselves and doubt themselves....FEEL BAD ABOUT THEMSELVES...when they don't get a lot of 'likes' on a photo.

That was kind of my take too...when I stopped by for a quick (few minutes--I mean, I surfed it for about a minute to see what all the fuss was about) visit...all those gorgeous photos...I mean, I appreciate all that time, work, and effort that went into those perfect poses....all the way down to the Starbucks cup or coffee mug they are ALL clutching...but DAMN, they MADE ME FEEL BAD ABOUT MYSELF. "I'm not fashionable, not pretty, and don't lead an adventurous life of travel and exotic places"....that kind of stuff. And gosh, I'm lucky if I remember to snap one or two photos A YEAR for a Christmas card when hubby and I do cool stuff...we just aren't PHONE people. I knew INSTANTLY I was WAAY out of my league and I didn't like how it made me feel about myself. SO, Buh Bye Instagram.

So, I just Xed out and never went back.

Ladies, if you EVER feel BAD about yourself because of Instagram or Pinterest, GET OFF IT. Cuz, gosh, when I read all these blog posts this week about people needing a "break" from Instagram...I feel like you all need a hug! So here it is...a flannel clad, sittin' by the fire, warm and fuzzy HUG. (supported by no Instagram photo) And a piece of advice from a warm, friendly and concerned place: Delete Your Account.

But I digress...I was sportin' some serious Made in the USA duds at the Steve Earle concert...my Red Wing boots, my thrifted Made in the USA Freedom Artists buffalo plaid flannel shirt, a locally-made leather belt, a vintage (thrifted) Made in the USA Coach leather crossbody bag, and a locally made fleece beanie by theMouseWorks.

Steve Earle's a man who STANDS for (and ROCKS) his values...so it felt like the right place to have my duds reflect my values too. Is that weird?

Anyway...here are the duds...(Jason Isbel says to never "call what you're wearin' an outfit", so I won't)...

And, of course, I snapped them the day AFTER the concert (because I forgot to snap any at the actual concert...I was too excited)...


Fast Fashion--Five Things I Ask Myself Before Spending

Over the past year, I've really tried to make a dent in how much fast fashion I buy.

But the hardest thing about ethical fashion is that it’s not usually in the stores we all shop in. And pants and shoes ESPECIALLY, have to be just the right fit to work. I’m AWFUL at sending stuff back by mail and the American-made fashion I try to support is HARD (not impossible, but difficult) to find locally.

I did it last week…I admit it…I saw VELVET stretch pants and fuzzy puffed sleeve grey sweater PERFECT for the holidays in Target for $30 (combined). I knew I’d wear the HECK out of them and they match everything. I was aware when I was doing it that this goes against my values, so when that happens (and it’s slowed to a trickle), I ask myself a few questions:

1. Could I find this same item easily on ebay or thrift it?

2. Do I know it’s the perfect fit and comfortable (I tried it on, wandered around in it)?

3. Is it incredibly versatile and estimate that I’ll wear it multiple times (5 or more) each season and in multiple seasons?

4. What are the chances that it fits and is worn NEXT year?

5. Is there an ethical version of this that I’ve seen? A Made in the USA version?



Reducing the Impact of Fast Fashion on the Environment: I was fascinated by this article on Refinery 29 about the amount of pollution caused by the fashion industry.

The world produces a garbage truck full of textile waste every SECOND.

Garments are releasing half a million TONS of fiber waste into the oceans each YEAR through waste and washing.

The fashion industry will consume 25% of the world's carbon budget by 2050.

Solutions: A big one for the industry is figuring out how to recycle unwanted clothes when their "life" is up...did you know some Patagonia fleeces are made from recycled textiles? (cool) Only 1% of textiles are RECYCLED. Other solutions for the fashion industry include phasing out plastic microfibers and cleaning up production methods.

In the meantime, WE can help! I'm planning to:

1. Continue to wean myself off the DISPOSABLE, fast-fashion mindset.

2. Wash clothes less and just SPOT wash and freshen in the dryer.

3. Continue to take unwanted clothes to the Goodwill or local thrift store--I try to clean them up first (sew that button on or try to remove that stain first) so they can have a second life.

4. Stop the spend. I can only wear one item of clothing at a time, right?! I have enough, I have enough, I have enough...repeat....