We aren’t what we wear

logoI recently had an interesting conversation with two young women that I tutor. Members of the Old Colony Mennonites who have been relocating to Canada from Mexico in recent years, they wear traditional dresses and kerchiefs. I’ve been teaching them to read, a skill they didn’t have the opportunity to learn as children. One of their many reasons for wanting to learn to read  is so that they can read the Bible, so we’ve been using a children’s Bible story book as one of our texts.

“Do we have different Bibles or do we just understand it differently?” M asked me after one of our recent sessions. “Our Bible says that we should wear dresses and cover our heads,” she continued. She was clearly referring to the fact that I don’t dress that way.

So what does the Bible actually say?

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” Deuteronomy 22:5

We talked about what that might mean and M was quick to point out that though we might both wear blue jeans, her husband would never wear a top like I was wearing. No one would confuse me with a man because of the way I was dressed!

There was a time, not too long ago, when regardless of what they wore during the week, everyone dressed up to go to church on Sunday morning. Heaven forbid that a woman should wear pants or a man show up without shirt and tie! Thankfully, for many of us, that has changed.

Several years ago, before it became commonplace, I made the very intentional decision to begin wearing blue jeans to church. I don’t wear them every Sunday, but I do make a habit of wearing them quite often.

Why?

There were several young families in our church at the time who were struggling to get their teens to come to church on Sunday mornings. One of the issues of contention was what they wore. The kids rebelled at the idea of having to dress up. It always boggled my mind that anyone would consider one fabric (blue denim) less holy than another and rebel that I am, I felt that if I, sometimes considered a leader in the church, wore jeans, the younger parents might feel more comfortable allowing their kids to do the same.

Who knows? Maybe someday my young Mennonite friends might feel comfortable dressing more casually too. In the meantime, they wear their dresses and I wear my jeans and we have a wonderful time together! After all,

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Fast fashion is not frugal!

logoI almost never buy “fast fashion”, or disposable clothing as I like to call it. Fast fashion refers to a phenomenon in the fashion industry that sees retailers introducing new products as often as multiple times a week. Garments are manufactured quickly and inexpensively allowing consumers to fill their wardrobes with trendy styles without spending a great deal to do so. These clothes are usually characterized by shoddy workmanship and low quality fabrics.

I seldom enter retailers like Forever 21, H&M and Zara that specialize in fast fashion, but I made a rare exception about three months ago. Walking through the mall, I spotted the cardigan that you’ve seen before here on a rack at the entrance to one of these stores.

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On a dreary February day, it was the blush pink colour that caught my eye and made me think of spring. At $15, it was definitely an impulse buy and one that I knew wouldn’t last long, but after just a handful of wearings, look at the way the fabric is pilling!

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Fast fashion has also come under criticism for contributing to poor working conditions in developing countries where these garments are churned out, not to mention the garment factory disasters that have claimed the lives of many workers. It also has a very negative impact on the environment. Producing the staggering number of fast fashion garments that are sold worldwide requires tremendous amounts of energy and releases enormous quantities of harmful bi-products into the environment. In addition there’s the problem of disposing of the used garments which, like my cardigan, don’t last long and aren’t worth passing on to the second hand market. Instead, they end up in the landfill where the mostly synthetic fibres take hundreds of years to break down.

I’m proud to refer to myself as a frugal fashionista, but frugal is not buying cheap, poorly made garments; frugal is buying quality items at bargain prices. Buying fast fashion is definitely not frugal!

Butterflies on your boots

logoSince I mentioned my new rubber boots in a recent post, an ad for patterned combat boots from Goby has been showing up on my Facebook newsfeed quite frequently. Available from Amazon, they come in several different designs, but these ones are my favourites.

 

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Ivory & Blue Watercolor Butterflies

I have a very narrow foot, so I don’t order shoes or boots online, but if I saw these in a store I would definitely try them on. I have no need for combat boots, but they appeal to my sense of whimsy! I can’t attest to their quality, but the online reviews are favourable.

Perhaps combat boots aren’t your style either, but what about rocking a monochromatic outfit or a little black dress by adding a patterned pair of heels? These ones are also from Goby, but there are many other options available.

What about you? Do you wear patterned shoes? Would you wear butterflies on your boots?

Play clothes

logoI grew up in an era when girls wore dresses to school and changed into play clothes when we got home, but what do I wear when I take my grandchildren to the playground?

We picked up grandsons, Sam and Nate, from school yesterday afternoon and headed off to Start with Art, an annual exhibit at Deep Cove’s Seymour Art Gallery that encourages young people to appreciate, collect, and curate their own art collections.

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After perusing the the work of numerous different artists, narrowing their choices and finally making their selections which will remain on display until the show ends next month, we were off to the nearby playground.

It was a crisp spring day; too warm for a jacket, but perfect for my light denim waterfall shirt from cabi’s fall 2016 collection worn open over a striped tee and a white cami. Though Nate was comfortable in shorts, I was glad to be wearing my dark wash jeans from Old Navy.

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“I’m almost as tall as you Gram!”

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“Am I taller?”

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The waterfall shirt (unfortunately no longer available) is a great layering piece but can also be worn alone as a button-up shirt. Its stand up collar and ties set it apart from similar shirts and give it greater versatility.

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One year!

logoTomorrow it will be exactly one year since I introduced Fashion Friday to my blog! One year of writing a weekly fashion post, something I would not have imagined myself doing just a few years earlier. I thought today would be a good day to reflect on that first year and do a bit of self-evaluation.

I stated a number of goals in that first post:

“I want this to be much more than just a “look what I’m wearing today” feature. I hope that together we can explore the topic of personal appearance and how what we wear affects our daily lives.”

One of my early posts, F is for Fashion, is one of my favourite examples of this. Though it does include one photo of me, it focuses on six F words to consider when shopping for clothes.

“You can expect posts on everything from fabulous footwear to dressing on a budget, and packing a suitcase to purging your closet.” 

Before I wrote my first Fashion Friday post I brainstormed a fairly long list of ideas, enough to keep me going for quite awhile. The topics mentioned in that first post were on that list and I’ve written about all four of them. Dressing on a budget has definitely been a popular theme. I’m a frugal fashionista who loves thrift store shopping and over the past year I’ve written several posts featuring some of my favourite finds. You can find the first of a three week series here.

“I also intend to do a bit of investigating and share what I learn about some of my favourite clothing retailers.”

I haven’t been as successful with this part of my original plan. Early on, I emailed several retailers expressing my interest in featuring them on my blog and asking a few pertinent questions. Disappointingly, none of them responded! I have, however, written unsolicited posts about Cabi and Uniqlo and both of them responded favourably. I was also approached by American eyeglass brand, Warby Parker, and asked to write my very first collaborative post featuring their newest collection. Perhaps with these successes under my belt I should consider contacting a few of those retailers again.

“I want this to be an interactive feature, so I will be encouraging you, my readers, to participate by sharing your insights, ideas and questions in the comment section.”

This is where you come in! While several of you have liked or commented on posts, I would love to encourage more of this. Some readers leave comments on my Facebook page, which is fine, but I would rather you left them here on the blog where they remain permanently and can be seen by other readers. I’m not looking only for accolades. If you don’t like something I’m wearing or disagree with my point of view, please feel free to say so and tell me why. All I ask is that you do it politely. Over the past year, I’ve received some great fashion tips from readers and I especially love it when you ask questions and I’m able to help you with your own fashion concerns. I’ve made it my habit to respond to every comment left on the blog and I will continue to do so.

As part of today’s evaluation and to help me choose future topics,  I also took a look at my stats to see which Fashion Friday posts were most popular. My most read fashion post so far was Ideas and inspiration with Favourite fashion blogs for women of a certain age taking second place.

So, what has writing a regular fashion feature done for me? In addition to exploring a topic of growing interest, it has ensured that I keep writing and posting on a regular basis even during those times when we aren’t traveling or doing anything else that’s interesting enough to write about. It’s also caused me to take an even greater interest in fashion, reading the work of and sharing ideas with other fashion bloggers. It has inspired me to take more care with my own appearance and has led me to experiment with new and different looks that I might not have tried in the past. Here’s just one example of that. Most of all, it’s been fun, so unless the well of ideas runs dry Fashion Friday will continue to be a regular weekly feature here on Following Augustine.

It would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity to thank my husband, Richard, for the time he’s spent being my fashion photographer. For a man who had rarely used a camera in the past, I think he’s done a pretty good job! Here are a few of my favourites from the past year.

Happy Birthday, Fashion Friday!

 

How to host a successful clothing swap

logoThey say that you should write what you know, but this time I’m going out on a limb and writing about something I’ve never tried. Everything I suggest here is based on what others have written.

A clothing swap is a party where you and each of your guests bring an agreed upon number of garments and/or accessories to the event to trade with one another and thus breathe new life into your closets without spending a cent!

So, how does this work?

1.  Choose your guests

The first step to hosting a successful clothing swap is to decide who you’ll invite. Include friends of all sizes and shapes making sure that no one feels left out because there isn’t anyone in a similar size for her to swap with.

2.   Choose the time

The best time to host a clothing swap is toward the end of a season when people are likely tired of what they’ve been wearing and ready for a few new pieces to freshen up their wardrobes. They may be planning to clean out their closets anyway and your party will be just the incentive they need.

3.   Set some rules

Decide on a minimum and maximum number of items that each person should bring and include this information in the invitation. You want to ensure that there are plenty of items to trade but not so many that it becomes overwhelming to look through everything. It’s also best to ensure that you don’t have a situation where some people bring lots and others hardly anything at all.

Encourage your friends to bring accessories as well as clothing. Shoes, handbags, scarves and jewelry add to the fun and ensure that everyone, regardless of size, is able to find something that fits.

It should go without saying, but make sure to stipulate that everything must be clean and in good condition. It’s also a good idea to remind your guests to empty all pockets so that they don’t inadvertently give someone a cash bonus or find themselves trying to track down lost ID after the party is over!

4.   Set the scene

Presentation is important. If possible, have a hanging rack available as well as a table or two so that items can be organized and displayed attractively. No one wants to feel as if they’re digging through someone else’s laundry!

Designate one or two rooms for changing and have at least one full length mirror available. It’s also a good idea to have a belt or two on hand for your guests to use when they’re trying things on. Belting a loose-fitting dress or top might be just the thing to make it work for one of your friends.

5.   When your guests arrive

Start by going over some basic ground rules and then let the fun begin. Set a time limit for the swap so that when it’s over you can all relax and enjoy some wine and cheese or whatever you decide to serve. It is a party, after all!

Depending on the size and make up of your group, you may want to consider dividing the time into five minute segments allowing each person to choose only one item per round.

If two or more friends have their eye on the same thing, have a predetermined method of determining who gets it. Having them each model the item and letting the group vote on who wears it best can be fun, but if you’re afraid of hurt feelings, flipping a coin might be a better idea.

No one should go home with more than she brought.

6.   Serve snacks

Wait until the swap is over to bring out the goodies. This helps keep things moving along during the exchange and also helps prevent spills. Keep it simple. You might even want to ask each guest to bring something to share.

7.   When the party’s over

Choose in advance a local charity or thrift store that will appreciate the overflow from your swap. Give each guest the option of taking home anything she brought that wasn’t chosen, then pack up the leftovers to be donated.

Have you ever hosted or attended a clothing swap? Do you have any tips or suggestions?

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Stripes and other trends for spring and summer

logoMy oldest son was born on February 21st. That was back in the day when they kept you in the hospital for a full week following a c-section. Though 37 years have come and gone, I clearly remember entering the hospital in the depths of an Alberta winter and coming out a week later into what felt like the beginnings of spring. Of course, we saw more of winter before it finally relinquished it’s icy grip, but ever since that year, as the end of February approaches, I begin to think that spring must be on its way.

What does that have to do with fashion, you ask? It will be awhile before those of us living this far north can begin switching over to our warm weather wardrobes, but it’s time to start thinking about the trends. What’s new for spring and summer 2017?

My favourite trend for the coming season is stripes! Stripes were all over the spring and summer catwalks in every form you could imagine. Horizontal, vertical and diagonal stripes; stripes of all colours and sizes; broad bands of colour and skinny hypnotic stripes. There were striped t-shirts, striped pants, striped dresses, striped swimsuits, even handbags and shoes with stripes. Stripes everywhere!

There’s nothing really new about stripes which is one of the reasons that I’m happy about the trend. I already have a couple of classic striped tees in my closet as well as my Ernest Tee from cabi and the striped swimsuit that I bought last summer. I don’t even have to go shopping to be on trend!

If stripes aren’t your thing, what are some of the other trends for spring and summer that you might find more to your liking? Apparently pink is the colour this season, especially shocking pink and shades of fuchsia, but bubblegum pink is also trending. Sadly, there’s only one pink item hanging in my closet right now, a t-shirt that’s past its best and only good for wearing around the house or to exercise in. Come to think of it, there’s also a bright pink sleeveless golf shirt and cap waiting for the snow on the golf course to melt, but perhaps another basic t-shirt like this one would be a good addition to my wardrobe. After all, it would kill two fashion birds with one stone.

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Apparently shoulder grazing statement earrings are also going to be big this spring and summer. Though I don’t have any that are quite that dramatic, I might have to go through my earring collection and pull out a few dangly pairs that I haven’t worn in quite awhile.

Speaking of shoulders, apparently shoulder pads are also coming back this season. Romantic ruffles will also be popular and so will t-shirts bearing slogans, particularly of the feminist variety.

Do any of these trends appeal to you? Which ones will you be adding to your shopping list?

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