Fashion rules I don’t follow

Logo by SamWhen I asked awhile ago what you’d like to read about on the blog, one reader suggested a post about fashion rules I don’t follow. That’s a great idea because, as British fashion designer and couturier, Alexander McQueen, is quoted as saying, “It’s a new era in fashion, there are no rules. It’s all about individual and personal style.” 

Don’t wear white after Labour Day

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No one seems to know for sure how or why this became a rule, but regardless of its origin, it’s outdated and very few people actually follow it anymore. Personally, in spite of the fact that many fashion influencers insist that every woman’s closet should contain at least one white button-up shirt, mine does not. If your skin has warm undertones, as mine does, wearing white close to your face at any time of year will make you look tired or washed out. I love my white jeans, however, and as you’ve seen in recent posts, I certainly didn’t stop wearing them after Labour Day. I wouldn’t want to wear them during wet, sloppy weather when rain might cause spots on them or worse yet, they might get splashed with mud, but once the temperature is consistently below freezing, I might try them with ankle boots or my tall brown boots.

Don’t wear black with brown 

When I was growing up, there were lots of rules about colour combinations. For example, we were taught that “blue and green should never be seen” and yet navy and emerald look striking together. Don’t pair brown with black was another popular rule, but there are many shades of brown that go beautifully with black. After all, leopards have worn this colour scheme for eons! They look great doing it and leopard print is consistently a popular fashion print. Brown is very much on-trend for fall 2022 and I’m guessing that we’ll see plenty of it worn with black. Like white, however, wearing black close to my face drains me, so when I do wear this colour combination, black will usually be on the bottom and brown on top.

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Don’t mix patterns

While some fashionistas like to mix bold and colourful patterns, I’m more conservative, so while I definitely will mix patterns, there are a few guidelines that I like to follow. Keeping the fabrics within one colour family is a simple way to keep from looking like I got dressed in the dark! I also like to vary the size of the prints. Some patterns mix much more easily than others. In the world of mixing and matching, stripes are considered a neutral because they will go with almost anything. Grid patterns and polka dots also mix well with other patterns.

Don’t wear horizontal stripes

When I was young, we were told that wearing horizontal stripes would make us look fat, while vertical stripes would make us look taller and thinner. It turns out that this fashion advice was actually wrong. According the the Helmholtz illusion, horizontal stripes won’t make you look fatter. In fact, they may even make you look thinner! Since I was always skinny and tall for my age anyway, I disregarded this fashion rule long before I knew whether or not it was based on fact. If you’ve following my blog for very long, you know how much I love a Breton striped t-shirt!

Don’t wear double denim

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We call this a Canadian tuxedo! When I wear head to toe denim, I like to mix darker and lighter washes.

Don’t mix gold and silver jewelry

When I was young I wore only gold jewelry. I instinctively knew that it looked better with my complexion than silver did. With the passage of time, however, I began to notice a change. When silver streaks began to appear in my hair, I also began to add silver jewelry to my collection. I particularly like pieces that combine both metals.

Make sure your purse matches your shoes

For a very formal occasion, I might consider matching dressy black shoes with a black evening purse, but who am I fooling? I don’t remember the last time I attended an occasion like that! In real life, I’m pretty much a one bag goes everywhere girl. In the summer and when I travel, I like a handbag that’s big enough to  carry my camera, sunglasses, and sunscreen in addition to all the usual items found in my purse. At this time of year, I usually switch to something a little smaller and more structured. My latest choice is taupe and it doesn’t match a single pair of shoes in my wardrobe!

Always wear stockings with dresses and skirts

Not long ago, no respectable woman would be seen wearing a skirt without hose, but thankfully, that’s another fashion rule that’s gone out of style! I’m old enough to remember wearing a garter belt to hold up my stockings and no, my dear younger readers, it wasn’t sexy! It was annoying and uncomfortable! The introduction of pantyhose in the mid 1960s was revolutionary, but the freedom to go bare legged is even better!

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The key thing to keep in mind in this era of no rules is that you should wear whatever makes you feel happy and confident. If you feel uncomfortable mixing patterns, don’t do it. If you prefer to wear stockings with a dress, by all means do. That’s the beauty of no hard and fast rules! On the other hand, if you’ve always followed a rule simply because you thought you were supposed to, maybe it’s time to say “no” to that rule and “yes” to your finding own individual style.

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70!

Today is the day that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time… my 70th birthday! When I was diagnosed with my first cancer nine years ago, I didn’t expect to live to see this day, but here I am and it feels like a victory!

Months ago, I began to think about what I wanted to do to celebrate this milestone. Being an avid traveler, the first thing that came to mind was a trip. I visualized us packing a suitcase and climbing aboard a plane for the first time in over three years. Where would we go? The possibilities were endless, but Newfoundland was high on my list. We’d explore its rugged landscape, visit isolated coastal villages, and eat our fill of fresh seafood! Yes, Newfoundland was a definite possibility.

Then came hubby’s cancer diagnosis and the all-important consultation with a specialist to determine whether or not he’d be able to have surgery was booked for October 4. So, we’d be in Edmonton, not Newfoundland or some other more exotic location. The iconic “going to Winnipeg” ad that used to air on Canadian TV came to mind.

Oh well, there are lots of things to do in Edmonton. I looked into booking a hot air balloon ride as that’s been on my unwritten bucket list for a long time. We’d enjoy the fall colours in the river valley as we drifted silently over the city and then we’d sip champagne when we came back to earth. Unfortunately, however, the hot air balloon season closed last week! I’d have to think of something else. 

Then came Covid and even the long awaited doctor’s appointment had to be postponed. So here we are at home, doing nothing but watching rain fall outside the window! Earlier in the week, I felt pretty depressed about the lack of a plan for celebrating this special day, but we’re both feeling better and we’ve put in our five plus days of isolation. Regardless of where we are (or aren’t) and what we’re doing (or not doing) I’m 70 and I’m excited to be here! 

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Now, what will I do with the rest of this day?

An entire month of wearing second-hand!

Logo by SamI did it! Second Hand September wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I spent the entire month wearing only second-hand clothes and to top it off, I didn’t buy any clothes, footwear, or accessories this month, new or second-hand! To clarify, for those who didn’t read my initial Second Hand September post, I did wear underwear, socks, and pyjamas that were purchased new. They always are. I wore a mix of new and second-hand accessories, and as it turned out, all my outerwear was second-hand.

I think I’ve said enough this month about shopping second-hand and reducing our fashion footprint, so today I’m just going to share two more outfits that I wore this week.

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You’ve seen the jeans before, but Sunday was the first time I wore the oatmeal coloured sweater. I bought it at Goodwill in Edmonton in the middle of August when the weather was much too hot for sweaters and didn’t notice until I got it home that the label actually said “maternity”! Apparently the person sorting clothes behind the scenes at Goodwill didn’t notice either as it wasn’t in the maternity section. I can’t help wondering what the young mom who donated it would think if she knew that it was now being worn by a grandmother! Personally, I like the slightly loose fit as it hides my muffin top!

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I bought the necklace at the same time because I thought it went so well with the sweater. My granddaughter who was shopping with me agreed.

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I tested positive for Covid on Monday, so here’s a comfy, casual, stay-at-home outfit… patterned leggings and a solid coloured waffle weave top with three quarter length sleeves. Perfect for a long afternoon nap, it looks and feels a lot like pjs! 

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Again, I bought the necklace on the same second-hand shopping trip as the top because they went so well together. In this case, I actually spent more for the necklace than I did for the top as I bought it at a consignment store. Second-hand shopping is a great way to pick up inexpensive accessories. 

Thanks to being fully vaccinated, mine has been a very mild case of Covid. Aside from being more tired than usual, I’ve had nothing more than a runny nose and a cough. I look forward to being out and about again soon and I especially look forward to delving back into the rest of my wardrobe beginning tomorrow! 

 

Sippin’ Pretty

When a former student of mine retired from teaching school (how old do you think that makes me feel?), she decided that she needed a hobby. She loved wine, loved teaching, and happened to have an empty  1927 house sitting on her farm property. She and her daughter, also a teacher, studied wine and food pairing courses, researched the history of the house and the people who lived there, then took it back to its original look and turned it into a 1920s speakeasy called Sippin’ Pretty!

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What is a speakeasy, you ask? During Prohibition (a nationwide ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcohol in the United States that lasted from 1920 to 1933) hidden bars and nightclubs sprung up in cities across the country. The term speakeasy is thought to have come from the fact that patrons had to whisper, or speak “easy”, when attempting to enter these illicit establishments.

Sippin’ Pretty, located just a few minutes from Killam, Alberta, offers classes teaching the basics of wine tasting and food pairing to small groups in an intimate setting. It was there that I spent Thursday evening with a very special group of friends.

Craft night ladies sippin wine

On a September evening, thirty-three years ago, four young women gathered around a kitchen table and Craft Night was born. I was invited to join the group a few months later and not long afterward, a sixth member completed the group. We were all busy young moms and in the early days our monthly Craft Night was as much about having an evening out as it was about the crafts that we did. Whether we were knitting, crocheting, cross stitching or tole painting, we shared our lives and our stories. Several years ago, two of the original members moved away and since then another joined us. Then came Covid and like everything else, Craft Night came to a sudden end, or so it seemed.

That was not to be, however. After not meeting together for more than two years, a couple of us heard about Sippin’ Pretty and decided that it would be the perfect setting for our group to reconvene. It seemed appropriate since sipping wine was always an essential part of Craft Night! One of the former members who moved away was even able to join us for the evening. We sampled six different wines, three white and three red, discussing their colour and aroma and learning how to taste for things like sweetness and acidity and in the case of the reds, tannin. We learned about the kinds of food that each of the wines pairs best with by sampling a variety of meats, cheeses and delicious pasta dishes.

And we talked! In fact, I think we could have talked all night! We’ll have more time to catch up with one another soon though as I’ll be hosting Craft Night again next month and the tradition will continue! Although we actually abandoned doing crafts years ago, the name stuck. Thursday night we talked about the possibility of changing it, but we decided not to. Thirty-three years is a long time and it just wouldn’t seem right to call it anything else! 

Where does donated clothing go?

Logo by SamWhether I like to admit it or not, fall has arrived in my part of the world. Days are cooler, nights are frosty, and leaves are changing colour. The time has come for many of us to go through our closets and decide what to keep for next summer and what we won’t wear again. Bagging up those unwanted items and dropping them off at a second-hand store might be the end of them as far as we’re concerned. It might even seem like the generous thing to do, but what actually happens to all that donated clothing?

As I mentioned in a previous post, most thrift stores are only able to sell a small fraction of what is donated. The reality is that over the years I have taken many items to our local second-hand shop. I’ve seen some of them hanging on the racks, but not once have I ever seen someone in our small town wearing one of them. Where did they go?

If your gently used garment isn’t sold within as little as three or four weeks in some shops, it might end up as carpet padding, insulation, or a rag in an auto body shop. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Recycling textiles keeps material out of landfills and incinerators and reduces the need for virgin fibres by extending the life of existing ones.

Second-hand clothes that don’t sell in Canada, Europe and the US and that don’t end up in textile recycling facilities are often exported. The US alone sends roughly 700 000 tons of used clothing overseas annually. Again, this might sound like a benevolent thing to do, but it’s the middlemen who profit most from this practice and in many developing countries, it has had a devastating impact on local clothing industries. In Kenya, for example, where second-hand imports can be sold for a fraction of the cost of new locally produced items, the textile industry has been virtually wiped out by our “generosity”. The garment industry in that country, which employed half a million workers a few decades ago, now engages only tens of thousands. In 2016, the East African Community (EAC) agreed to a complete ban on imported clothing that was supposed to go into effect in 2019, but leaders backed down and rescinded the ban under pressure from the Trump administration.

Regardless of how much extra life our cast off clothing gets in those countries, the textiles themselves usually end their life there. Most developing countries don’t yet have even basic collection and recycling programs. Often, there isn’t even municipal waste management in place. Ultimately, what is left of our donated clothing often ends up being burned or dumped in environmentally sensitive areas that are considered wasteland.

So, what can we do to be more responsible consumers?

  1. Buy less. We buy too much stuff and then want our excess to somehow be good for the world. It simply doesn’t work that way!
  2. Shop second-hand.
  3. When buying new, look for garments that contain recycled content to ensure that we create demand for recycled textiles.
  4. Avoid fast fashion. Buy better, more durable clothing.
  5. Learn to extend the life of a garment by mending or upcycling.

With just one week left in my Second Hand September challenge, I will admit that I’m getting tired of limiting myself to only wearing second-hand clothes, but I’m determined to make it to the end of the month! Here are a couple of the outfits that I wore this week.

When I left for church on Sunday morning, it was too chilly to wear the sleeveless dress without something over it, so I pulled out the very versatile olive shirt that first appeared on the blog here. More than three years after finding it in our local thrift store, I still enjoy wearing it and have found it very useful this month. Even the shoes in this outfit are second-hand.

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There’s that olive shirt again! The lightweight jeans that I found in one of our local second-hand stores recently look light blue or grey in the photo, but if you zoom in you can probably see that they’re actually a blue and white pinstripe. I discovered that this month’s limited wardrobe didn’t include many tops with sleeves that went well with them. When I headed off to a morning appointment, I needed a third piece over the sleeveless shell to add some warmth and finish the outfit. Thankfully, olive is a neutral colour and goes with just about everything!

The last camping trip

Every year, as summer winds down and the camping season comes to an end, I yearn for one more outing with the trailer. This year, that last camping trip took us just a little over an hour from home to Black Nugget Lake, so named because the park and the adjacent Coal Creek Golf Resort were built on the site of a former coal mine.

Our youngest son and his family joined us for the weekend and together we enjoyed games of ladder ball, bocce, and tether ball. Nate also got both of his older kids out on the lake in our kayak. If you look closely, you can see him and our grandson, Yari, in this photo.

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Lots of time was also spent relaxing as demonstrated so well by our granddaughter, Harlow!

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After the family left to return to the city for work and school, hubby and I stayed on for an extra day to do some hiking and kayaking. Unfortunately, the trails that were promised on the campground map were unmarked and badly overgrown. We followed one of them as best we could for about twenty minutes before it petered out entirely and we returned to camp.

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Kayaking was much more successful. The long winding lake, a haven for waterfowl, was fun to explore.

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In addition to Canada geese and a variety of ducks, we saw numerous Greater Yellowlegs, a fairly large shorebird, as well as a stately Great Blue Heron. “Hank the Heron”, as Harlow dubbed him when she and Nate spotted him from the kayak, was standing guard on a tiny gravelly island when we first saw him. When we got too close for comfort, he flew off, but landed on the lakeshore where I was able to get close enough for a few more photos.

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Greater Yellowlegs

Great Blue Heron (with a Greater Yellowlegs in the foreground of the first photo) 

We managed to spend a total of thirty-five nights in the trailer since the first week of June this year. Although we don’t expect to take it out again this season, we do hope to do some day trips that will include more hiking and kayaking. Fall is definitely in the air and nights are getting chilly, but I’m hanging onto summer as long as I can!

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Fall camping second-hand style

Logo by SamOver the past week, we spent four days camping and then company arrived shortly after we got home. That left very little time for writing a post for today, but since this is Second Hand September and I’m wearing only second-hand clothes this month, I thought I’d share a couple of the outfits that I wore while we were camping.

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At $12, the striped boatneck sweater, purchased at Goodwill in Calgary last spring, is the most expensive thrifted item in my closet, but its light weight makes it a great layering piece on a chilly morning. It was about 10ºC (50ºF) when this photo was taken! I’ve had the fleece vest for many years and the jeans were hand-me-downs from my very generous sister-in-law. Almost new when she gave them to me because she found a pair that she liked better, they quickly became a staple in my fall/winter wardrobe.

When the temperature soared to about 25ºC (77ºF) in the afternoon, out came the summer clothes again!

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The patterned Denver Hayes tank top is a recent thrift store find, but I’ve had the pants for several years. Too long to be called shorts, they’re shorter than most of my capris. They’re actually a flattering length though because they cover my less than attractive knees and end at a narrow part of my leg. Fashion isn’t a high priority when I’m camping, but a girl always likes to look nice, doesn’t she?

6 myths about second-hand shopping busted!

Over a week into my Second Hand September challenge it’s going well. Today I thought I’d look at some of the most common myths or misconceptions about second-hand shopping.

1.  Thrift stores are only for poor people. 

In reality, most thrift stores exist to raise money for local charities and organizations, not to cater to a certain economic class. Many of us who buy second-hand can afford to buy new, but choose to reuse for a variety of reasons. Shopping second-hand is a sustainable practice that helps preserve resources and cuts waste by keeping usable clothing out of the landfill. It’s also fun; a bit like going on a treasure hunt!

Some argue that when those of us who can afford to buy new shop second-hand, we are taking from those in need. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to look behind the scenes at a thrift store, you know that that’s not true. There is definitely more than enough for everyone! Most thrift stores are only able to sell a small percentage of what is donated. The excess is often sent to women’s shelters, shipped abroad to be re-sold in third world countries (which is not necessarily a good thing… perhaps a topic for a future blog post), cut up and sold as industrial rags, or sent to textile recycling facilities where they are reprocessed into other useful products.

2.  Thrift stores are dirty. 

They may not be able to afford the nicest spaces with the best lighting and may not have fancy window displays, but well-run second-hand stores, like other businesses, try to keep their premises clean and their inventory presentable. Some people think that because the clothes are used, they must be dirty, but that’s generally a false assumption. Most clothing is washed before it’s donated and some second-hand stores have laundry facilities on-site to deal with those items haven’t been. Personally, however, I always wash second-hand items before I wear them because I don’t know where they’ve been and how they’ve been handled. Since I prefer unscented laundry detergent, I also like to remove any odours that might linger.

3.  Second-hand stores are disorganized. 

While some may be more difficult to navigate than others, most second-hand stores are organized in a similar manner to other shops with separate areas for men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing. Within each category, clothes are usually separated by type (tops, pants, dresses, etc) and further arranged according to size.

4.  Second-hand stores only sell cheap, low-end brands. 

If you take the time to hunt carefully, you can sometimes find name-brand, designer, or even luxury goods in thrift stores. One of my most recent finds was this animal print top from Calvin Klein.

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If high-end fashion is what you’re looking for though, you might want to check out consignment stores. Prices are generally higher and selection smaller, but they tend to be very selective in what they accept for sale.

5.  Clothes sold in second-hand stores are in bad shape. 

Clothes are sorted and inspected for quality before going onto the shelves. Those that are badly worn are disposed of, cut up and sold as rags, or recycled. Most of the clothing that reaches the sales floor has already stood the test of time. Any shrinkage or fading that might occur has already happened. Occasionally, however, brand new items are donated.

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The top I’m wearing in this picture still had the original tags on it when I bought it! It’s from Laura, one of my favourite Canadian women’s fashion brands. If memory serves me correctly, the original price was $69 and I bought it for less than $5!

6.  Clothes in second-hand stores are out of style. 

Thrift stores carry a mix of old and new and a wide variety of styles all in one place. You can easily go modern, retro, or vintage! They’re a great place to find pieces that fit your personal style rather than what the fashion industry dictates as on-trend for a particular season. They’re also a great source of timeless pieces that form the backbone of a good wardrobe.

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So, if you’ve been averse to shopping for second-hand clothing for any of these reasons, perhaps it’s time to rethink that position and give it a try. Shopping second-hand helps support charitable causes, is good for the environment, and can save you a ton of money!

Here are two second-hand outfits that I wore this week that included the tops shown above. As you can see, the white jeans are getting lots of use this month, but it’s also been warm enough for shorts and capris. I’m hanging onto the last days of summer for as long as I can!

Second Hand September

Logo by SamThe fashion industry’s carbon footprint is enormous and has grown even more apparent with the rapid rise of fast fashion over the past few years. It now accounts for more carbon emissions globally than those emitted by all international flights and maritime shipping combined. In addition, approximately 10 million tons of clothes are sent to landfills every year. Second Hand September, a campaign introduced by Oxfam in 2019, has inspired thousands of people in the UK to begin thinking more sustainably by buying only second-hand clothes during the month of September. 

This year, I’ve decided to try taking Second Hand September one step further. I’m challenging myself to wear only second-hand clothing for the entire month! 

I’m going to follow the same rules as I did for last November’s “six Items or less challenge”. Underwear, socks, and pyjamas will not be included. I always purchase those items new. Outerwear, footwear, and accessories will also be exempt. Though I do have second-hand items in each of those categories and will try to make good use of them throughout the month, I won’t restrict myself only to those. 

Though my closet contains many more than six second-hand items, I suspect that this challenge might actually be the more difficult of the two. In selecting six items to wear for 30 days, I was able to be very intentional about choosing a colour palette that could easily be mixed and matched to create many different looks, pieces that could be dressed up or down, and pieces that worked well for layering. This time, I find myself working with a much more random mix of items. Most of those are quite casual and I have at least two events this month, including a concert tomorrow evening, that might require a bit of polish. I’ll also have church every Sunday. September is a shoulder season here in Canada and the weather throughout the month will likely range from hot and dry to chilly and wet. To make this work, I’ll likely be pulling second-hand pieces from both my summer and winter wardrobes.   

Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Only time will tell. Throughout the month, I’ll be sharing my experience and showing you some of the outfits that I create with my Second Hand September wardrobe, so stay tuned! 

To start things off, here’s what I wore yesterday for the first day of the challenge. I think it has a coastal grandmother feel to it. 

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I’ve had the white frayed hem jeans for three years. They first appeared on the blog here. Thankfully, the archaic “don’t wear white after Labour Day” rule has long been abandoned and while I don’t wear these jeans in the depth of our Canadian winter, I’ll certainly continue wearing them throughout September. The Clarks sandals were a lucky find earlier this summer and the loose and comfortable light grey animal print tee is a new-to-me acquisition. Thanks to regular sales at our local thrift stores, the entire outfit, cost me less than $10!

In closing, I would be remiss not to acknowledge those of you who responded to last week’s post asking for your input about what you’d like to see on the blog. I will be working at incorporating some of your ideas into future posts. 

 

What do you want to read?

Logo by SamA lot of the fashion blogs that I follow are writing about fall already and, of course, fall fashions have been in the stores for awhile, but I’m not quite ready for a change of seasons yet. Our summers are much too short and our winters too long. I always like to hang onto the last days of summer for as long as I can before I think about making that inevitable seasonal switch.

I am, of course, thinking ahead to topics for future blog posts though and today I thought I’d ask for your input. When I introduced Fashion Friday back in the spring of 2016, I wanted it to be more than just a “look at what I’m wearing today” feature. That seems terribly superficial and my closet wouldn’t sustain something like that for very long anyway. I wanted to present content with a little more substance than that. Many fashion blogs have become what might better be referred to as “shopping blogs”, but I have never been interested in encouraging that level of consumerism nor am I into blogging as a source of income. My intention was to be inspiring and to explore various aspects of personal appearance and how what we wear affects our daily lives. As time went by, I also became interested in topics related to ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry and have written a number of posts along those lines.

Those are some of my guiding ideas, but I’m also interested in knowing what you, my readers, would like to read. Do you want to know what’s on trend? Do you prefer instructional “how to” posts… how to put together outfits in new and interesting ways, how to dress different body types, how to dress on a budget? Are you interested in what’s going on in the fashion industry? Are there specific fashion related questions that you’d like me to try to answer. I have no formal fashion training, but I’ll do my best to search out answers. Where else do you look for fashion inspiration? Do you read other fashion blogs? If so, which ones are your favourites? Why? What do you like about them?

Of course, Following Augustine is more than just a fashion blog, so in addition to your thoughts and ideas about what I might write about on Fridays, I’m open to suggestions for the rest of the week as well. Whether you respond directly on the blog or prefer to comment on Facebook, whether you’ve ever left a comment before or not, please let me know your thoughts. A blog is nothing without its readers!

template, mockup, fall, blank, screen happy thanksgiving