Fast fashion, ethical shopping, and Covid-19

LogoJustine Leconte is a French fashion and jewelry designer who lives and works in Berlin. On her YouTube channel, Justine Leconte officiel, she shares her creative process as well as fashion tips about how to create and enjoy your own wardrobe. Her weekly videos often include information on how to shop for good quality, dress for your body shape, create a capsule wardrobe, or choose colours that work for you.

Sometimes, however, Justine Leconte deals with more serious fashion related topics. She is strongly opposed to fast fashion. When she designs a piece of clothing or jewelry, it is produced in Europe using materials that are sourced within Europe. She oversees the process and checks production samples herself. She refuses to work with factories that don’t pay their workers a fair wage. Clearly, she practices what she preaches!

Unfortunately, fast fashion brands have been taking advantage of the present Covid-19 pandemic in ways that are seriously disturbing. In one of her most recent videos, Justine addresses this topic and tells us how we, as consumers, can make a difference. If you are even the least bit concerned with being an ethical fashion shopper, I urge you to take thirteen minutes to watch this video!

Function over fashion?

LogoMy friend, Kari, left an excellent comment on last Friday’s post that immediately triggered an idea for this week. She wrote, “When I choose clothes to go out these days I more often choose for comfort and function over fashion, but what makes my clothing functional has changed. I now think about things like if I can take a layer off to remove a layer of contamination after opening doors with my hip, elbow or touching a public surface. Will the sleeves be in the way for frequent hand washing? Will my hairstyle or headband keep my hair from getting in my face so I don’t have to touch my face to sweep it away?” All very valid considerations during the unusual days that we find ourselves in.

Apart from the Covid-19 pandemic, however, there are other times when it makes sense to consider function over fashion. Function was certainly a primary consideration in January when I bought new running shoes for walking on the treadmill.

Every now and then, a trend comes along that really doesn’t make sense functionally. Take the bell sleeves that were so popular a couple of years ago. The look was definitely fashionable, but not very functional. Unless the sleeves were short or three-quarter length, those bells were terribly impractical. I avoided the look for quite awhile because I didn’t want my sleeves dragging in my dinner and I certainly didn’t want to set them on fire when I was cooking! I eventually broke down and bought this top which is still hanging in my closet.


I love the colour and the print and when I bought it I thought that once the trend had passed, I could remove the bells and be left with much more practical 3/4 length sleeves. Come to think of it, that might be a simple project to tackle while I continue sheltering at home.

Then there was the very popular cold shoulder look.

I never did buy one of those. For me, they’re a perfect example of fashion taking precedence over function. In my opinion, the purpose of a long sleeved top or sweater is to keep the wearer warm. I tend to feel chilly even when other people don’t, so why in the world would I want to leave my bare shoulders out in the cold? I’d be so uncomfortable!

With Covid-19, a new fashion item has entered the scene. Face masks started out as purely functional and very plain in appearance, but as people started making their own, they quickly became the latest in urban chic. This one was made by the mother of a friend of mine. Definitely not my best look, but very functional!

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Who would have thought that this is what we’d be wearing in spring 2020!

The time before

It’s been over ten weeks since the World Health Organization officially declared the worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 a pandemic and countries began to shut things down. More and more I hear people expressing nostalgia for “the time before” and wondering when, if ever, life will return to normal. As I’ve mentioned before, I feel fortunate that my life has not had to change as drastically as many others have. As a retiree, I don’t have a business to close, a job to lose, or children at home. Nevertheless, life is different now and I’ve been pondering the things that I miss.

In the big picture, most of the things I miss are small, but small things are often what bring interest or significance to our lives.

I miss browsing our local thrift stores and perhaps finding a treasure or two. After cleaning out our storage room and kitchen cupboards as well as doing my seasonal wardrobe switch from winter to warm weather clothes, I also miss being able to donate the items I no longer want to keep.

I miss impromptu lunch dates with my husband at The Wooden Spoon, our favourite local eatery. We usually go at least once or twice a month.

Although I enjoy being at home with hubby, I miss spending time with other women. Whether it be dropping in for a cup of tea and a chat with a friend, a morning coffee time with women from my church, or sipping wine and visiting with my “craft night” friends at our monthly get togethers, I need my girlfriends. Thankfully Zoom has helped, but it’s not the same as being together in person.

Though we’ve been enjoying online services from the comfort of home, I miss gathering together with our church family on Sunday mornings.

We don’t live close enough to see our grandchildren on a regular basis, so two months without seeing any of them hasn’t been too hard to handle, but there are babies close by who are changing so quickly that I’ll hardly recognize them when I finally see them again. And then there’s the one that was born late last week. How I’d love to visit and hold her!

Though I’ve learned to live one day at a time, I miss being able to plan ahead. Not knowing if or when we’ll be able to travel internationally again is especially difficult for a wanderer like me. Half the fun of traveling is the planning that goes into it.

Perhaps more than anything else, I miss having things to look forward to. Never before has the calendar page been so blank! In fact, the only thing I’ve written in for the entire month of May is the morning that the nurse comes to give me my monthly injection! I don’t mind life slowing down a bit, but at the moment it seems almost to have stopped and there’s a sameness in our days that’s getting rather tedious.

Perhaps when life finally returns to normal, or the “new normal” that everyone is talking about, we’ll have a greater appreciation for the things that we’re missing right now. Or will we quickly get back into routine and begin to take them for granted again?

What do you think? What do you miss the most from the time before?


Who do we dress for?

LogoIn a comment thread on another fashion blog that I read recently, several women objected to the idea of dressing to work from home during the pandemic. They felt that they were just as productive in their sweats or pjs. One reader brought up an interesting question, however. “Who are we dressing for – ourselves or others?” she asked. “If we wear nice things outside the house, but not inside, do we do that to be complimented, to impress, to influence, or perhaps to display wealth?”

I think women, especially younger women, often dress to impress or attract men. I wish I could tell them not to bother! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look attractive, but if a man is only interested in you for your looks, he’s not worth it!

More often, though they may not realize it or want to admit it, women dress to impress other women. Looking good in the eyes of other women often makes us feel better about ourselves.

To me, one of the best things about growing older has been reaching the point of not caring so much about what other people think. I choose to dress the same at home as I do to leave the house because I’m dressing for me. Wherever I am, I want to look like I matter, like I care about myself, and I want to have fun with how I dress. Of course, I also want to be comfortable and appropriately dressed for whatever I’m doing, so I’ll probably change if I’m going out to dig in the garden or wash the car!

I don’t suppose I’ll ever dress like Iris Apfel, but I definitely agree with her philosophy!


Who do you dress for?

100 pounds!

I started lifting weights in the early 1990s. It was never my intention to become a body builder, but I had recently entered my 40s and I thought that it might be a good idea to do something to try to keep in shape. We already had the equipment in the basement and hubby, who was a phys ed teacher at the time, had been lifting for several years, so I had him set up a routine for me and my lifting days began. I would never have foreseen that I’d still be lifting all these years later!

Unlike many serious lifters who work out year round, we only lift from mid October until the end of April each year; the months that the golf course is closed. We have a short summer season here in Alberta and we want to spend as much of it as possible engaging in outdoor pursuits, not working out in the basement! Over the almost three decades that I’ve been lifting, I’ve had good seasons, bad seasons, and  even one when I didn’t lift at all. We spent that year teaching English in Japan and rather than seeking out a gym to join, we spent as much time as we could seeing the country and soaking up the culture. There were also a couple of partial seasons including the winter that we headed off to China to spend a semester teaching there.

My best year to date was the winter of 2005-2006. I was 53 years old and many years pre cancer. At the end of that season, I was bench pressing 97.5 pounds. Why I never pushed myself to add just 2.5 more pounds and press 100, I’ll never know! I suspect that the golf course opened and I probably thought that I’d be able to push that little bit further the following year. In ensuing years, however, I never made it past 90 pounds again. That is until this year!

Each of the past few years, I had a midwinter PRRT treatment that set me back strength-wise, but I kept on pushing myself and refused to quit completely. Am I ever glad I did! I guess I didn’t realize how much those treatments were actually taking out of me, but I haven’t had one since last June and I cannot believe how strong I’ve felt this year. Today I did something that I gave up hope of ever doing a long time ago. I bench pressed 100 pounds! That might not seem like a lot to many more serious lifters, but to me, at 67 years old with two cancers, it was huge!


It was back in February that I first caught a glimpse of potentially reaching a new personal best. It was definitely on a distant horizon, but barring injury or sickness, it might just be possible. It was very shortly after that thought crossed my mind, however, that we got the call telling us that my father was dying. We had to drop everything and head for Vancouver. With that interruption, I thought the possibility was gone, but when we got home, I picked up where I’d left off and soon realized that it might still happen. I’ve continued lifting later into the spring than I normally do partially because, with the Covid-19 shutdown, there wasn’t a lot else to do, but mostly because I was so close to reaching my goal and I simply couldn’t let it slip through my fingers this time.


Definitely feeling pretty proud of myself!


What is freedom?

As the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 drag on, I’m seeing more and more on social media from people who are convinced that this is all a nefarious plot to permanently rob us of our rights and freedoms. These are people who, like me, have lived privileged lives; people who have no idea what true lack of freedom looks or feels like.

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photo: The Guardian

In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the iron curtain ceased to exist, Eastern Europeans jubilantly celebrated the freedom that they had long been denied. Sadly, however, some of the first “freedoms” to be exercised in these formerly communist countries were indulgence in pornography, prostitution, drugs, and organized crime. So what is freedom? According to many, it seems to be the right to do whatever I want, whenever I want, to whomever I want. How incredibly self-indulgent!

Freedom means many things to many people. It may mean having the opportunity to vote for the ideas, people, or parties that best represent our views. It may mean being able to freely express our ideas and opinions without fear of reprisal. To some it may mean being free of debt and having the financial wherewithal to buy whatever they want. To others it may simply mean being able to live without constant fear of violence or persecution.

Is being told to social distance or to wear a mask to enter certain businesses really robbing anyone of these rights and freedoms? Are temporary school closures and having to worship online instead of in person really endangering society as we know it? I hardly think so!

During the current pandemic, those of us who are willing to temporarily give up some of our freedoms for the good of the community and who dare to suggest that others ought to do the same run the risk of being labelled socialist. That’s an insult that’s commonly hurled about by those who fear that their freedoms are being forever taken from them. I pay it little mind, however, as they clearly aren’t political scientists!

The Bible has a lot to say about freedom. In fact, it’s one of the central themes of the entire Word. John 8:32 tells us that “the truth will set you free” and later, in John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” True freedom is found in relationship with Him.

This freedom is both freedom from and freedom to. Freedom from the things of this world that enslave us: earthly desires for wealth, success, and status; jealousy and envy; lust and perversion; rivalry and hatred. Freedom to be everything that we were designed to be, to do what we were made to do, and to serve God by serving others. Galatians 5:13-14 sums it up this way, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.'”

So how does this apply to Covid-19? Like true Biblical freedom, our political and social freedoms are also responsibilities. They don’t exist so that we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, to whomever we want. They exist for the good of the whole. Freedom provides opportunity and reason to serve whether by delivering groceries to doorsteps, making phone calls to ensure that neighbours and friends are faring well, sewing masks, or simply practicing social distancing and keeping our school and church doors closed until the threat of spreading the virus has lessened.

I don’t hide behind rose coloured glasses nor do I blindly believe that everything that our political leaders do is for our good, but I also don’t believe that Covid-19 is an evil plot to permanently rob us of our rights and freedoms!

National Post

photo: National Post

At least these ones are social distancing!


Inspired again

LogoTwo weeks ago, I showed you an easy jean outfit that was inspired by Brenda Kinsel, one of my favourite fashion bloggers. This week, Susan Street featured an outfit on her blog,, that immediately caught my attention because I knew that  I had similar pieces in my closet that I’d never worn together.

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Since spring has finally arrived here on the Canadian prairie, I did my seasonal wardrobe switch last week putting my winter clothes into storage and bringing out warm weather wear. As a result, my DIY white frayed hem jeans are back in rotation and were ready to become part of my Susan inspired outfit. The black and white striped tee and little black jacket, both from Montreal based Reitmans, stay in my closet year round.


After deciding that I quite liked the look, I switched out the white jeans for the bright red ones that I found at our local thrift store two or three years ago and the grey flats for the brand new white sneakers that I showed you last week. And voila! Another outfit that I look forward to wearing when we finally have somewhere to go!


Obstacle or opportunity?

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Before the onset of Covid-19, we had planned on leaving on a spring vacation this week. We were going to walk the historic streets of Boston, explore some family history, see the sights of New York City, and visit friends who live in the area. Instead, we continue to shelter at home waiting for our province to gradually begin lifting some of the restrictions that have been put in place to protect us and to keep our health care system from being overwhelmed. There’s absolutely no question that for most people on the planet, the Covid-19 pandemic has been an obstacle to living life as we knew it before the middle of March, but has it also been an opportunity?

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“Even in the darkest experiences we can uncover creative options.” wrote Samuel R. Chand in Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth.

On March 18, the day after Alberta declared a state of emergency and started shutting down non essential services, I wrote that I didn’t want to look back on this as time wasted. That was seven weeks ago. Rather than lamenting over a vacation lost and other obstacles to normal living, I’d rather look at opportunities seized. I truly believe that a positive attitude is vital to maintaining good health and overall well-being. That’s proven to be true throughout my journey with cancer and I think it’s just as true in present circumstances.

So how have I been using the unexpected extra time that I’ve been given by the pandemic shutdown? Here are a few of the ways…

  • Cleaned and reorganized the kitchen cabinets and set aside a number of items to take to our local thrift store when it reopens.
  • When I could no longer find the mixes that I’ve been buying for years on the grocery store shelves, I reverted to making my own pancake mix and baking biscuits from scratch. I doubt that I’ll ever go back.
  • Experimented with adapting a bread recipe until it turned out just the way I wanted.
  • Read several books.
  • Wrote more than usual including 11 blog posts in April as opposed to the 6 or 7 that I usually post.
  • Used Duolingo to study Spanish every day learning more than 1000 words so far.
  • Enjoyed several Zoom chats with family and friends.
  • Walked over 80 km (50 miles) partially on the treadmill, but mostly outdoors.
  • Found 7 geocaches.
  • Played a lot of 7 Wonders Duel.
  • Completed some yard work that wouldn’t have gotten done if I’d been busy planning and packing for a trip.

Does all this mean that I’m happy to have been essentially shut in for the past seven weeks? Does feeling positive about how I’ve been using my time mean that I’m oblivious to the effects that this period of time has had on the economy, on businesses, on the lives of others? Of course not, but neither have I been anxiously straining at the bit for it to come to an end. I’m happy that the health authorities in our province feel that we’ve reached a point where we can cautiously and carefully begin reopening, but I also realize that it will be some time before things are back to “normal”. I sincerely hope that we’ll be able to reschedule our trip someday, but I know that it won’t be for quite awhile.

So, how have you been coping during these most unusual days? Have you been focusing on obstacles or looking for opportunities?

They wanted to be mine!

LogoNever would I have imagined that a virus like Covid-19 would help me meet my fashion goals for 2020, but one of those goals stated that “I will strive to buy less and experiment with new ways to wear what I already have” and that is most certainly what has been happening! Unlike many women, I don’t like shopping for clothes online. I like to touch and feel the fabric, look at the workmanship, and try things on before I buy. Consequently, until this week, it had been over two months since I last bought a fashion item of any kind.

The last time we were out and about before we started sheltering in place, my husband wanted to check out a sale on men’s jeans at a Mark’s. Originally called Mark’s Work Wearhouse, Mark’s is a popular Canadian workwear and casual clothing retailer. Knowing that it would take hubby awhile to try on jeans and decide what to buy, I headed for the women’s section to browse. There, I spotted a pair of shoes that were part of a display and I immediately heard them called my name!

It was the quilted side panels and the little bit of bling that caught my eye and it was definitely love at first sight!

Changing direction, I made my way to the shoe department to try them on. They had my size. They fit perfectly. I walked around the store and they were comfortable, but then I reminded myself that I really didn’t need another pair of sneakers. Feeling quite virtuous, I bid them a fond farewell and left the store without them.

A few days later, a Mark’s flyer arrived in the mail and there were the shoes in a photograph on the very front page! I eagerly poured through the pages only to discover that they weren’t actually included in the sale. I even looked them up online to be sure. That was, perhaps, my fatal error! We all know what happens once you look something up on the internet. Every time I went online, there were those shoes calling out to me from side panels and advertising banners. They simply wouldn’t leave me alone! Scrolling on Facebook? There were the shoes. Reading the news? Those shoes again! Checking blogs? You guessed it. The shoes were there too! I couldn’t escape them. They really wanted to be mine, but I continued to resist. I didn’t need more sneakers.

Screen Shot 2020-04-29 at 2.32.40 PMThen one day it happened. They were there again, but this time, this is what I saw! Believe it or not, I continued to resist. I mentioned the shoes that wouldn’t leave me alone to hubby and he told me that I ought to order them. Finally, after days of arguing with myself and reminding myself that I really didn’t need another pair of sneakers, the shoes won out and I placed the order!

I was very impressed with the service I received. Not only has Mark’s done away with shipping fees for the duration of the pandemic store closures, but I ordered on Friday evening and the shoes were delivered to my door in a small rural community on Tuesday morning! On the other hand, I was less than impressed to discover that the price of the shoes has dropped even more in the few days since I bought them! Oh well, they really wanted to be mine and now they are! I’m sure we’ll enjoy a long and happy relationship!