Fair OOTD: A Trip to Utrecht

9ttt
Outfit details: Thrifted vintage crop top, thrifted shawl, Monki skirt, a ribbon worn as a choker.

If I had to choose what my favorite Dutch city is, it would probably be Utrecht. It’s hard not to love Utrecht, really. Although it has attracted a lot of commercial retailers in recent years, many of its little streets are still lined with local boutiques, shops and restaurants. It’s so easy to stumble upon the coziest cafes and coolest stores while walking around the city centre. It’s also one of those old cities with youthful spirits. It’s filled with many historical buildings, yet its openness to innovation keeps it modern and vibrant.

On Saturday, my boyfriend and I went thrifting at a flea market in a small town near Utrecht, so we decided to drop by. We ended up visiting the Catharijneconvent Museum, a historical museum that showcases the history of Christianity in the country, and having dinner at a cool vegetarian-only Chinese restaurant called Soy.

I decided to wear my new vintage floral crop top, a gem I found while browsing through this amazing Etsy shop called iretro. I also paired it with my favorite denim A-line skirt that I haven’t stopped wearing since the beginning of this summer, a green thrifted shawl and my trusty Ethletic trainers. A silky pink ribbon worn as a choker finished off the whole outfit. I personally think it’s a nice, fuss-free, casual outfit that’s great for the scorching hot summer days we’ve been having here.

What have you guys been up to during the weekends? Do you have any particular go-to summer outfit for day trips to your favorite cities? Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think!

9sss

9s_16

An Indecisive Girl’s Musings on Personal Style

9www
Outfit details: Wiezewasjes handmade half-moon choker, thrifted top, Monki organic cotton skirt.

One of my biggest flaws is that I’m so indecisive. Not the cute, “I really can’t choose between chocolate and vanilla because they’re both so good” kind. I’m talking about real indecisiveness that has annoyed my friends, family and boyfriend on occasions.

Sometimes indecisiveness is good, of course. Or at least I try to justify that by saying that I’m indecisive because I’m a perfectionist who wants every single one of my choice to be the best that I can make at the given point (which is true). But it can be slightly frustrating too, especially when it comes to my wardrobe.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I’ve been grappling with finding my personal style for the past few years. For the longest time, my personal style was this ever-changing thing, another example of my indecisiveness.

It’s normal, of course, for people to change up their personal style from time to time. After all, isn’t that an appeal of personal style itself – that it’s something that you can reinvent time and time again depending on where you are in life? But in my case, it’s a bit different. My fashion “phases” were fleeting, never lasting for more than few weeks or months, which is short in comparison to most people’s. But more importantly, they never really reflected the way that I felt and what I wanted to express to the outside world. It’s not until recently that this began to change.

I’m saying this very carefully, but I think I might’ve finally discovered, or started to discover, my personal style.

I’d always thought that the day I start to discover my personal style, it would be for a single, clear reason. But honestly, this discovery process has been kick-started by a few different ones.

First of all, there is the age factor. At 22, I’m by no means old nor more mature than most, but there’s no denying that feeling more comfortable in your own skin and style is much easier after your teenage years. You start to meet new people with different styles and perspectives, meaning that you judge and are judged less for the most part. As an adult, I’ve also been especially fortunate to be surrounded by mostly open-minded people who value artistic expressions, including different fashion senses and personal styles. Not to mention that moving abroad has also given me the chance to meet more people of different types and get inspired by their styles.

There’s also the realization that personal style shouldn’t only be about feeling beautiful, but also feeling yourself. It might seem obvious, but it’s a challenging thought to internalize when you grew up and live in a society that values beauty over originality for the most part. I’m still learning to remind myself that on a regular basis. It’s definitely a process.

Finally, as time goes by, you learn that some things will stress you out, make you feel anger and frustration the way that you’ve never felt. But you also learn that confidence shouldn’t be one of them. The past months have been particularly tough on me, but it was the kind of tough that reminds me to spend just a bit more time doing what makes you happy instead of caring about what people think. The kind that reminds me that there are already so many issues in life, so caring about people’s judgment on my style really shouldn’t be one.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, there’s no easy solution to finding your personal style. It’s different for everyone and most importantly, it’s a process that involves many factors. If there was one thing that I could say to my teenage self regarding personal style is that to just enjoy the ride and try more new things.

How do you feel about your personal style? Are you still trying to discover it, fully confident in it or somewhere in between? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts!

9yyy

 

Fair OOTD: My Relationship with Fashion

9sss
Outfit details: Reformation Flax Relaxed Crew tee in Buff, old jacket, thrifted skirt, Ethletic Fair Trainers in Just White

Fashion and I used to have a complicated, problematic relationship.

Growing up, I definitely didn’t have the highest self-esteem. My idea of my own beauty at that point at that point could be summed up in one sentence, “I’m not pretty anyway so why bother?” I felt that my features didn’t fit into the traditional standards of beauty mold, so I refused to try. I thought I would never be pretty, so I refused to care.

But of course I did anyway, because growing up as a girl means that the importance of beauty is constantly being thrown at you. Society wants you to believe that beauty matters. It wants and needs you to care.

And so began the problematic portion of my relationship with fashion. Every fitting room visit reminded me to lose weight, get taller, be prettier. I scrolled through pictures of other girls on the internet wearing pretty clothes and bought them, only to realize that they didn’t make me feel pretty as I expected them to do. Fashion, at that time, was a battlefield. And a bloody one at that.

Now, years after that point in my life, my relationship with fashion has thankfully changed.

Of course, many things happened between those points. I lost weight, in the process rediscovering my relationship with exercise, health and my body. I learned what kinds of garments give me confidence. There are also many things that I know now that I didn’t back then, such as that no matter how cheesy it sounds, physical beauty is subjective. Or that conventional standards of beauty are, to some degree, a product of many different problematic factors such as racism, sexism and capitalism.

Most importantly, I’ve realized that fashion shouldn’t be about feeling pretty, but about feeling that I’m being the best, most genuine version of myself.

Instead of buying clothes that seem nice on other people or on the rack, I now buy clothes that fit the aesthetics I prefer. I allow other people’s aesthetics to inspire me, but don’t force them upon myself. I only buy garments that reflect my personal style and values, so that I’m sure that when I put them on in the morning they’ll remind me of my identity and what I stand for.

It doesn’t mean that it’s always easy, of course. This relationship requires constant effort and a conscious desire to not let vanity take over me. Honestly, there are days when trying on new clothes and looking in the mirror are tough, or when it’s hard to love myself, let alone my style. Most of the time, however, it can be remedied by putting on old favorites that really define me.

How has your relationship with fashion changed? Does it help you to express your identity? I’m really interested in hearing what you think!

9www

9y

 

 

Fair OOTD: 90s Vibes

9sss

I, just like many other 20-somethings, am a bit of obsessed with the 90s, including all the cool fashion trends associated with the decade. Unlike some fashion trends (restricting corsets, open-booty jeans), the whole 90s obsession makes sense to me. I mean, how can you not love the decade that basically popularized ribbed shirts, adult overalls and velvet chokers?

It doesn’t hurt either that finding 90s style items is not too hard if you’re trying to shop in more ethical ways. Thrifting’s the obvious option, of course. Although I do have to admit that it can be challenging to find some things while thrifting. But that’s a post for another day.

When I got dressed for the day, I didn’t even intend to go for a 90s look, but it sort of happened. Here’s what I wore:

  • An animal print t-shirt that I found while thrifting at a fleamarket on Saturday. Honestly, I usually see animal prints the way that I see drunk soccer fans: unnecessarily loud and should not get remotely near my person. But there’s just something about this particular one that attracted me somehow. Maybe it’s the color. Maybe it’s the edgy-budding-artist-who-only-shops-vintage feel that I get from it. It feels 90s in the best way possible. The fact that it was only 2 Euro sealed the deal for me.
  • A choker from a local online store called Wiezewasjes. It’s definitely possible to find chokers at thrift stores or flea markets, I know. But I saw this before I got into thrift-shopping and fell in love with the velvet fabric and the moon-shaped pendant. Also, it goes with so many things that I own.
  • This denim apron dress. It’s from Monki but made of organic cotton. I couldn’t find an ethical alternative that fit my budget, so I bought it. I love denim overalls, but I love apron dresses even more. They’re like overall’s more playful and fuss-free sister which allows you to pee without having to undress yourself. Fun fact: there’s this grainy picture at my parents’ of 6-year-old me wearing a kiddie version of this dress, also with white sneakers. No matter how much you’ve changed, some things always stay the same.
  • My Ethletic Fair Trainers, which I wear practically every single day. I thought it was true love when I discovered Converse shoes, but apparently it wasn’t. These are much better, slightly cheaper and just as comfortable, not to mention that they’re fairly-produced.

What do you think about the whole 90s fashion obsession? Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think!

9t

9ttt

3 Things We Should Not Forget as Conscious Consumers

The moment I decided to become a more conscious consumer around six months ago, one of the first things I realized was how much there is to learn about sustainability.

There’s always something new to discover about it, which makes sense considering how relevant it is right now. Every sustainability-related article you read, every video you watch, every podcast you listen to on your morning commute – they all add to your pool of knowledge, constantly influencing the decisions you make and giving you new perspectives.

There are some things about sustainability, however, that I find really important yet easily forgotten. Here are three of those things.

It’s More Than Just about Our Shopping Habits

When I read Alden Wicker’s piece on conscious consumerism, I was struck why how true it is. Although there are parts of the article that I question or disagree with, I absolutely agree with her main argument, which is that conscious consumption alone isn’t doing much good.

At the risk of merely echoing her views, I want to emphasize that focusing obsessively and exclusively over our shopping habits can’t make the world a better place. There’s so much more that needs to be done.

It’s important to do the things that are hard but necessary. Taking interest in the government’s decisions, including how they’re going to affect climate change, for instance. Or volunteering for organizations that need our help.

To me, this also means remembering that the struggle towards a more sustainable future is not about us. Browsing the internet to find an organic cotton dress is easy and fun, but it does nothing much aside from giving us the affirmation that we are doing the right thing. Difficult but important actions, however, are necessary if we care about others.

It’s More Than Just about the Planet

The phrase “conscious consumption” tends to be connoted with environmental issues and working conditions. Although those are undoubtedly really important, there are other aspects of it that we sometimes forget.

One thing in particular is the fact that conscious consumption is inextricable from the issues of race, gender, sexuality and equality as a whole. An important part of being a conscious consumer is supporting demographics that are so often marginalized by mainstream discourses.

I believe that the first step is to support companies that care about these issues. And I’m not just talking about companies who donate some of their proceeds to social causes. Consider those who actually try to remedy social issues by directly involving those affected by them. Elegantees, for example, support survivors of sex trafficking by employing them.

But beyond such companies, there are also local artists and makers that are worth supporting. Websites such as Etsy and Ethical Market are your friends. Just remember to look into not only how products are made, but also who make them.

It’s More than Just about Which Products to Buy

Imagine buying something fairly-produced, responsibly-sourced and made of a sustainable material, only to wear it once because you don’t really need it or because you don’t think it suits you. It’s wasteful and definitely not sustainable.

We tend to get caught up in researching which products to purchase, only to forget to consider if the product is necessary at the first place. But ethical considerations aren’t limited to materials and production processes. A significant part of it is our decision to buy only the things that we know we need and going to treasure for years to come.

But what if you want to experiment with new items that you wouldn’t normally wear, you might ask. Shopping secondhand is a great option, and so is renting or borrowing items whenever possible. Or, how about upcyling your old items?

What are important sustainability-related issues that you think we tend to forget? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think!

 

 

4 Of My Favorite Places to Find Accessories and Jewelry By Independent Makers

One of the most important things to me when it comes to shopping for accessories and jewelry is to buy from independent artisans or makers. I believe that most independent makers preserve quality craftsmanship that you simply can’t get from mass-produced goods. More importantly, while most retailers’s focus on quantity and following the trends is one of the causes of unsustainable consumption habits, independent makers’ focus on quality and originality typically makes for more sustainable practices.

Moreover, while many fair brands provide great options for fairly-made accessories and jewelry, my taste in those two categories is very specific. So, sometimes, I just can’t find what I want, even from fair fashion retailers. Below are a few of the places that I turn to when that happens. Hopefully, they can help you when searching for original and responsibly-made pieces you can invest in!

Etsy

9stt.jpg

If you’re into DIYs or unique handmade products, chances are you’ve heard of Etsy, an online marketplace that specializes in handmade items, vintage goods and craft supplies. Items listed on Etsy are either handmade by independent sellers or secondhand, and you can easily search for items according to your preferences.

I usually use Etsy when searching for handmade accessories and jewelry, but the website also has a great variety of other items such as clothing, and homeware, which makes it a great place to buy gifts. Not all items are made of eco-friendly materials or according to strict standards of practices, however, so check the items’ descriptions and ask the sellers about how they’re made before purchasing.

 

Pictured above: Just Peachy enamel pin by independent designer Megan McNulty.

Ethical Market

9syy.jpg

9ssy.jpg

Quite similar to Etsy, Ethical Market is an online marketplace where you can buy independently-made goods. Unlike Etsy, however, the products on Ethical Market are more curated, despite the smaller array of variety. They also have clearer ethical standards and different symbols that indicate the ethical specifications of each item.

Ethical Market focuses on the fair production aspect of sustainability. In fact, it’s mandatory for sellers who work with them to sell only fairly-made products which production processes do not involve sweatshops and follow ethical standards of working conditions. However, wherever possible, the sellers use also materials that are locally and ethically sourced.

Pictured above: The Bloom Bud Necklace by Wolf and Moon. Dainty, versatile and made of ethically-sourced materials.

 

Wiezewasjes

If you’re Dutch, you might have heard of an online store called Wiezewasjes. A quick browse of their website will show you a wide array of products, from rings with fairly-sourced gems to scented candles made of soy. Personally, I’m quite partial to their beautiful chokers. However, their silver-based products are also quite stunning.

They don’t have any clear standards when it comes to the environmental impacts of the materials that they use for their products, however, so please be aware of that before purchasing. If you prioritize the use of eco-friendly materials above fair sourcing and production in your consumption habits, then you might want to check out other places.

Pictured here: This choker with a moon-shaped pendant.

9yy

9t

Local Markets

9s

If online shopping isn’t your thing, head to your local markets to find independently-made products. You might be surprised at the things you can find there. Most cities have different markets held during different times of the year. I recommend checking your local municipality’s website or online forums to find information and schedules.

Do you have any recommendations for finding independently-made accessories and jewelry? What are your priorities when it comes to buying them? Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Fair Brand Review: Wintervacht

If you know me, you know how much I can’t stand the cold. For the past weeks, however, it’s been freezing here in Holland, with the occasional hail and snow. It started in December, and since then I’ve been wearing the warmest jackets and socks that I have.

There was one thing, however, that was missing from my wardrobe. I did not have any beanie or headband, which was so frustrating because the tips of my ears were constantly cold. So when my boyfriend asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I requested this really pretty peach headband by the Dutch brand Wintervacht.

So, what’s so special about the headband and the brand itself? Firstly, Wintervacht make their products, mainly coats, headbands and mittens, using old blankets and curtains, upcycling them into apparels. As a result, their items have a vintage feel to them, while still being functional. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s one of the most sustainable ways to produce things.

Secondly, their products are locally made by the founders, Manon and Yoni, which means you don’t have to worry about issues like unfair labor and sweatshops when purchasing from them. It also gives you the chance to support independent designers.

When I opened the package that contained the headband for the first time, I was struck by how nice the whole packaging was. It even contained a friendly note from the brand. I was, however, slightly worried that the headband was going to be a bit itchy due to the fabric’s texture. But since the inside is lined with cotton, it’s actually quite comfy, not to mention soft and warm.

Since then, my headband’s been such a good friend to me. It was especially helpful when I was staying at my boyfriend’s parents’ house in rural Fryslan, where the winds are super strong.

9t

What have been keeping you warm this winter? What are your opinions on upcycling? Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think!