Monday, February 29, 2016

Over-Dressed-The Shockingly High Cost Of Cheap Fashion

This is a republication of a book review I did three years ago. I still think this is a very important book for anyone who wants to dress well with a conscience. As I mention in my original article, I remember when fashion was an investment and you made careful choices. Many of us learned to sew to dress for less and I still use this skill today. It is no longer a money saver but a great way for expression and self satisfaction. So here goes the original article..........

As someone long interested in design and fashion, I put Elizabeth L. Cline’s Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost Of Cheap Fashion on my “have to read” list just after its publication in June of 2012. Once in my hands, I could not put it down. Cline gave words to impressions that my heart suspected. When I was happily getting good deals for clothes at TJ Maxx or Target, my head ignored my heart’s vague discomfort. I didn’t care to think or know about what was behind those dramatically low prices.

Cline clarifies how those good deals were not only bad for me but for a lot of other people—and our earth.

Beginning about 1990, retailers began playing a sort of “Race To The Bottom” game. Retailers began moving their garment manufacturing mostly to China where workers were plentiful and wages were low. Manufacturing costs were so low that those retailers then had a marked competitive edge over domestic made goods.

Within about ten years, garment manufacturing in the United States essentially shut down. All the equipment was sold to companies mostly in China. Retailers were able to dramatically change how consumers shopped. Consumers began expecting low prices while accepting low quality. 

Wall-Mart, Target, H and M, Forever 21, Ross, TJ Maxx and the like cleverly trained us to look for “what a great deal” rather than “what a beautiful and well made garment that I will want to wear for years.”

The change in mindset included no longer fitting or altering garments. It is just easier to throw away than to repair or alter.  And throw away we do. There has been such a fluctuation in the used market of clothing that The Salvation Army and other thrifts can only used 20% of what is given to them. Much of what is donated is in too bad of shape for even the third world and is sold to second parties to turn them into rags. Five percent is not even fit for rags; about 41 million tons--is destined for landfills.

There has be a small glimmer of light. In recent years, manufacturing in China became more expensive. Smaller countries just don’t have the people or the set up to handle the massive undertaking involved in garment manufacturing. Thus a small number of companies have resorted to making some of their designs back in the old U.S.A. Carol Kane is one example. I am sure other nations have similar designers participating in similar movements. 

I have noticed a surge of local designers being very visible in Kansas City. There have been various venues created for these talented people to show their work. Facebook and Instagram have been a great way to get the message out too. 

What I Did

To sum up the next few paragraphs. My diet lasted for fourteen months. I fell of the wagon twice and made myself add a month for each time. It was a long haul. It's interesting that I mentioned having more money to spend on nail polish. That turned into an obsession that I am just coming out of. I do much more thrift and consignment shopping than I use to. The quality in these two areas have improved dramatically in the US if you know where to look. I still shop at TJ Maxx and Marshalls but I have scaled it down. Two stores that I have not purchased a clothing item from since reading the book has been Walmart and Target. The quality just isn't there for me.

I am lucky with one aspect. I was born in 1950 and remember a good product and not getting too much of that product. In lieu of that, my Mother taught me to sew.  Those skills have not been forgotten or neglected. I have made a few things the last couple of years. I think I will be making a few more.

Two years ago the movement “The Great American Apparel Diet” was born.  The rules are very simple. Do not buy any new clothes for a year. I have taken this pledge, which started April 12th. So I have only been on this for a week. There are a few exceptions that I have made.

I can buy material (after I have used the stashed stuff) and any notions needed to finish these pieces. You don’t have to, but I am not buying shoes or bags for a year—with the exception of black flats (one weakness that I’m not going to give up).

I will keep updates on this blog. Refashioning is a new trend and I have plenty of stuff to refashion.I will also feature Michelle's refashioning. She went to the thrift and bought quite a few promising outfits. I can't wait to see what she turns them into.

Taking The Pledge With Me

When I vacationed in Florida, I loaned my book to my oldest daughter. When I returned, she decided to take the pledge with me. I have shown her a few things about sewing over the years and she has already completed a dress. Thank goodness for texting with photos. We re-cut a pattern using our IPhones and the dress fits her beautifully. Michelle has a closet full of thrifted articles that she is going to refashion and that will be an interesting thing to watch.

Some Good Links

Over-Dressed-The Shockingly High Cost Of Cheap Fashion on
At this point you can get a used copy for about $8 which includes shipping.

The Great American Apparel Diet's website-This project began in'09. I feel that it is a pledge that anyone can take at any time. Mine started April 12th, so I am only three weeks into it.

The ReFashionista Blog-Jillian Owens thrifts outfits and remakes them into chic and wearable fashion. It is full of inspiration.

The Good Guide-find products based on science and ethics. Clothing companies are also listed here based on their human relations. 

An Interview with Elizabeth L. Cline by NPR's On Point  when her book was released. 

That is it for this time. I have just finished a sweater using stashed yarn that I can't wait to get on here. Oh yes, I am not buying any new yarn for year also. So everything I feature, will be out of my (massive) stash of yarn. It just gives me more money to spend on nail polish!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Self Made

My title today is sightly tongue in cheek. I don't consider myself a self made woman. I am who I am because of the people who have loved me and the people I have loved, my upbringing and the DNA handed down to me. But I will admit, I have gone my way on a few things, so I have a part in it too.

But, I did make my top and really like the way it turned out.  The pattern is McCalls 6841 and was pretty easy to make.  I realize this is from coming from an old seamstress. 

When I was 10, my mother decided it would be a great idea for me to make a full housecoat (and I did it, but didn't have a very good time). Four years after, I decided to sew a corduroy skirt on my own and and never stopped. It was like a fish taking to water. So, if you do your math, that makes 55 years. I've taken a few years off, but am finally getting back in the sewing of things. 

My fabric was found online at Vogue Fabrics out of Chicago. It and Mood Fabrics are now my two main fabric sources. This is a rayon knit jersey in Bordeaux which is no longer available.  I consider rayon a natural fabric (from plant cellulose) and its drape is fantastic.

A finally, the one thing that first attracted me to this pattern were the dolmen sleeves. I've haven't gotten to wear those since the 80's. YES, I love getting to wear them again. 

I first paired the top with my Madewell jeans, and black suede boots (Adrian Vittadini) and a beautiful necklace made by my gorgeous daughter Rachelle.

Next, I wore it a little dressier (week day concert) and used black pants (another nifty thrifty) and black toned accessories. The pants are stretch and originally had quite flared legs. Out came the seam ripper and the sewing machine and I got the pants I wanted.

But it's the Nine West flats that I finally got to wear! I loved them, bought them but they have always been a problem child as to matching them. It took me a while to get them to work. I always knew they were right for me and I just had to find the right look for them.

Still life with Burgundy, Deep Violet and Shalimar

I am afraid you are going to have to indulge me on this next one. I love the necklace my daughter made for me. She borrowed some silk noil (I use silk noil to make tweed yarns) that I had dyed and turned it into this piece. The birds and caged silk are so me.

Bells and Whistles 

The Bell this time is OPI's Black Cherry Chutney from the 2008 India Collection. I didn't ever wear polish in '08, so I have collected some India colors after the fact. This one does have shimmer, but the color is so dark it will be hard to see unless you are in bright sun. I love this super deep purple and it went perfectly  with the color of my top, just a tad darker but of the same tone.

The Whistle is that great classic Shalimar. Shalimar was one of the first "great" fragrances that I owned and was in my forties when I had the urge to take it on.  I had always heard the quote that not every woman could wear Shalimar. I decided I was old enough to be one of those women.

Jacques Guerlain created Shalimar in 1925. It has a base of sandalwood, ambergris, musk and civet. It was a tribute to the love story between Emperor SHAHJANAN and his wife Mumtaz Mahai. So began the oriental perfume.  After she died at the age of 39 giving birth to their 14th child, he was bereft and built the Taj Mahal.

When I first put it on it seems as it’s a fierce animal, “I am woman, hear me roar!”. The middle notes calm down some to this lush richness that I really love. I am going to continue this article elsewhere because most of you already know about Shalimar, and I can’t tell you anything new. But there are some wonderful quotes I found and so if you are interested, please click HERE. It will take you to my perfume page.

Rachelle, my youngest, was my photographer this time around and I though it was about time to feature her. This is Rachelle last Fall at Kansas City Fashion Week wearing LOD by Elodie Auvray, a Kansas City designer. 

That a wrap for this time around. Take care, Terri

Today, I am linking up with The Style Crones Hat Attack HERE, Patti's Visible Monday Here, Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike Here and Cherie's Shoe and Tell Here. - See more at:
Today, I am linking up with The Style Crones Hat Attack HERE, Patti's Visible Monday Here, Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike Here and Cherie's Shoe and Tell Here. - See more at:
 I'm linking up with Patti's Visible Monday HERE,  Catherine's
#iwillwearwhatilike HERE, Cherie's Shoe and Tell HERE, 

Color and Grace's Fashion Link-Up HERE,
 and Sidney's Fashion Forum's Fresh Fashion Forum HERE and Dawn's Fun Fashion Friday HERE.

Photography Credits:

Fashion Photos: Rachelle Gardner-Roe of Studio RM Gardner
Nails and Still Life: Terri Gardner

Today, I am linking up with The Style Crones Hat Attack HERE, Patti's Visible Monday Here, Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike Here and Cherie's Shoe and Tell Here. - See more at:

Monday, February 1, 2016

Cheetah, Cheetah, Cheetah

 I feel this post is so rushed. When I retired, I told my students,"old teachers never really retire, they just come back to haunt you as substitutes". And last week was a lot of haunting, five full days of it. I wasn't going to do a post but then I realized that Monday is Judith's of The Style Crone, Hat Attack. A month has gone by, really? Where did the time go? I take it as a good sign that life finds me busy enough to not fully realize time is racing.

The photos, of course, I had. Photography is one of my passions.  But there's the writing and that's the challenge (for me, at least). O.K, here goes..............

A day before Michael's birthday he asked me if we could go to my hat store Exclusively For You  located in the south part of Kansas City.

My husband was asking me to take him hat shopping? You can bet I didn't turn him down! By the time it was over, we had made their day. Michael took three home and for me, it was two. 

I was going to be good and just get a navy Pillbox that I had eyed on an earlier trip. But then I saw the Cheetah and it was love. Already having other cheetah prints, this was a no brainer and I love deeply rolled brimmed hats. I can look out at the world and feel sightly incognito and invisible.

I had Michael snap some pics just as we were going out for home improvement and grocery shopping. Originally I had a cheetah print scarf on too, but saw myself in the mirror and it was Cheetah overkill. So that got switched to the brown with the copper metallic threads. 

Black leather jackets are my my main "go to" for everyday. I have two; one if it's cold and one if it's not too cold. This one is from Jones New York. My flats are Steve Madden and the purse is B Makowsky. My gloves are some of my favorites, black velvet with Cheetah print cuffs (Marshalls, last year). That brown and metallic scarf is one of my "thrifty" finds. 

 Up, close and personal now. I wanted this picture because of this necklace that I purchased from Elmidae, a designer out of Chicago.  It has chained fringe and I have been enjoying it about two years.

Plus, this photo shows a great silk/cotton beaded top that was a "thrift" find. This top is a yellow leaning camel silk/cotton mix with beaded accents. I love it and love going to great thrift shops.

Sometimes I find nothing, but sometimes I find amazing things.  I am willing to take more chances with styling and if I get tired of something, I just give it back so someone else can enjoy it. I probably won't be taking this particular top back for someone else to love! I think it only needs me.

Another reason I like this picture, is that I can clearly see how my "going natural" is progressing. Eight months ago, I decided to try, AGAIN, to go the way of my natural hair color. I felt my hair was thinning (or falling out way to much). I've tried to go "au natural" twice previously, but just wasn't ready and always went back to my stylist. I think this time I am ready. 

Bells and Whistles  

Only a Bell today and it is  Rainbow Honey's Oni , which is a dark brown with gold and bronze shimmer and part of their Yokai Collection. Rainbow Honey is a smaller Boutique Cosmetic firm that hails out of Brooklyn, NY. 

Still Life With Cheetah

This week I am styling with The Style Crone's Hat Attack HERE, Patti's Visible Monday Here, Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike Here, Cherie's Shoe and Tell Here, Shopping My Closet's Style Me Wednesday  HERE Dawn's Fashion Should Be Fun Friday Here, and Link Party With Osy HERE.

Until later......take care  Terri 

And, a picture of Michael in one of his Exclusively Yours hat. It's not a great picture but a picture it is. 

Photo Credits
Portraits: Michael
Nails and Still Life: Terri