Fair OOTD: First Day in Prague (And Some Life Updates)

Style, Travel
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Outfit details: Monki top (not fair fashion, sorry!), Kings of Indigo Anna Cropped Jeans, Flying Tiger Totebag, Ethletic Fair Trainers

August has been quite an interesting month for me. Earlier this month, my boyfriend and I went on a 10-day trip to Prague, the famous capital of the Czech Republic. The trip was, for lack of a better word, wonderful – we spent the majority of our time sightseeing, hiking, thrifting and trying local dishes. It was a much-needed vacation, and we’re glad that we made time to do it.

We took these pictures on the very first day of the trip, almost right after we got off the plane. We were a bit lost in the city center, but it was sunny, my outfit looked nice and we were both excited to be in this beautiful, new place, so we decided to take a few OOTD pictures.

But speaking of being lost (literally), I have to admit that I’ve also been feeling that way, in a metaphorical sense, which brings us to the life updates part of this post.

On the last day of our vacation, I received the news that I’d passed both my Master’s thesis and internship, meaning that I’ve officially completed my Master’s program in Language and Society! The graduation ceremony is not until October, but practically speaking, I’m now a Master’s graduate.

It’s obviously great, but it also means a lot of uncertainty. I mean, for literally the past 16 years, I’d had this step-by-step plan in my head. Finish school. Get a Bachelor’s degree. Apply for a scholarship for a Master’s program. Complete the Master’s program.

But life after that isn’t so neatly planned out. I know that I want to find a job and I’ve definitely been applying to interesting opportunities that fit my qualifications. But I’m also going through this period of intense but necessary mental discussions with myself. What do I want to do in the next few years? What do I want to accomplish? Will I be okay? It’s almost like I’m trying to devise a new plan while keeping in mind that life after college won’t ever be as clearly and neatly mapped out as it was before that.

I’m not gonna lie: it’s a bit scary. Anyone who knows me knows that I prefer things to be absolutely certain. But if the past few years have told me anything, it’s that uncertainty helps us to figure things out. It forces us to have discussions with ourselves to find out where we are supposed to be.

So instead of panicking, I try to consider different options and possibilities. I also remind myself that it’s okay to have fun from time to time. No matter how scary it is, this period of my life will one day end. I have the choice to either get caught up in my own fears or enjoy the ride while I still can.

Most importantly, I find it necessary to put my “problem” into perspective. Being able to worry about what to do after graduating, and even to have access to higher education itself, are privileges.  So even though my “what to do” worries are valid, I have to admit that it would be ridiculous, not to mention unproductive, to dwell on them too much.

I’m still slightly worried, but also excited to find out what’s next. After all, if getting lost in a foreign country can lead to some cool OOTD pictures, getting lost in a metaphorical sense might just lead to something good, right?

Have you been in the same boat? Got any tips and tricks for this fresh grad? Feel free to leave a comment!

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How I Get Out of Style Ruts and Find Inspiration

Style

As a blogger who is enthusiastic about fashion yet has a very specific taste, it can be easy for me to get stuck in a style rut. With internet access at my fingertips and the amount of inspiration on social media, you’d think it would be simple to remedy this issue.

But while it’s true that the online world can be helpful in helping to spice up my fashion game at times, it can also feel monotonous and dull to search for inspiration there. I personally prefer a different method: exploring my city.

I start by walking to the farmer’s market, only meters away from the city’s former grain-trade building that’s now a grocery store. Let my eyes take in the vibrant colors of the fruits and vegetables displayed in the original paper boxes in which they come. Observe the sellers talking to their regulars about the weather while bagging deep burgundy cherries, pale florets of cauliflowers, and green, fragrant bunches of mint. Take in the sight of the orange juice machine turning pyramids of oranges into fresh juice the color of the sun.

I watch the florists prepare flower bouquets in my favorite pastel shades – purple, pink, yellow. Infer the different textures of the plants and flowers – prickly, bulging, grainy, silky, solely through vision. Notice the fluorescent blue of the slushie that the ice cream seller hands out to waiting hands. Observe other people’s styles, no matter young or old.

I browse through the sellers of handmade Indian garments on the main square, with their colorful offerings. Harem pants, dresses and flowy skirts in clashing colors and motifs. Fabrics with shades ranging from tea brown to the brightest orange, patterns ranging from patchwork to thin stripes. Bags made of raffia or hand-dyed fabrics, some adorned with golden beads and trimmings.

I visit the small independents shops peppering the streets. Walk inside the shop that only sells rainbow-themed food and paraphernalia and another one that specializes in dresses and handmade porcelain jewelry. Take a peek inside the windows of the comicbook shop with yellowing volumes stacked up the ceiling and the record shop decorated with retro posters. Stroll through the quieter of the streets until I find some  not-so-hidden gems – minimalist fair fashion boutiques, the coolest vintage shops.

As I said earlier, with the prevalence of social media influence nowadays, it’s easy to let myself be inspired by what I see online. But taking in the sights of my own city, something obvious but often taken for granted, inspires me in ways that are different from the digital world. Unlike social media or even fashion magazines, it rarely tells me what specific items to buy or style tribes to follow. It provides me with only the raw material – evoked feelings, fresh ideas, arrays of memories. It’s my job to turn them in into fashion decisions that make me comfortable, confident and free to express what I want. It’s flexible and allows for more creative freedom. Maybe that’s why it’s so inspiring.

But what I like about it the most is that it encourages me to get inspired by things that are outside my comfort zone. There is only a handful of things with which I’m personally obsessed when it comes to most of my fashion choices. I tend to get attracted to particular color schemes, periods and styles. It’s easy to get stuck in what I’m comfortable in. But the city often reminds me of the many wonderful things outside of them. Different colors, different ideas, different styles.

What’s your favorite way to get over a style rut? What do you do to get inspired when it comes to fashion? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Fair OOTD: Seaside

Style
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Outfit details: Reformation Flax Relaxed Top, Kings of Indigo Anna Cropped Jeans, Ethletic Fair Trainers Just White, Grunge Glasses Sunglasses.

Summer weekends are my favorite parts of the year, mostly because I get to do some of my absolute favorite things – thrifting, market-hopping and strolling by the sea – all while getting some much-needed sun.

However, I also can’t deny that a part of why I love summer so much is because summer fashion is the absolute best. It’s so effortlessly chic. Just pair a lightweight shirt with cropped jeans, or a sundress with a sheer kimono-style outerwear. Top it with a cool pair of sunglasses, comfortable sneakers and you’re good to go. Honestly, I’d wear those things all year if only I could.

On Saturday, I decided to take a quick stroll by the sea after running some errands in the city. My boyfriend had kindly gifted me a pair of Kings of Indigo jeans for a special occasion, so I decided to wear them. I only own two different pairs of jeans, including this one, and it’s undoubtedly my favorite between the two. I paired it with my trusty Reformation t-shirt, Ethletic Fair Trainers and 60s-style oval-framed sunglasses from Grunge Glasses. It’s a comfortable and casual outfit, which I loved. I didn’t incorporate any thrifted finds to the outfit this time, though, which is rather unusual for me.

What are your favorite things about summer? What do you like to wear to cope with scorching hot summer days stylishly? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts!

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How and Why I Fell in Love with Secondhand Garments

Style

Growing up, thrifting was about as familiar to me as, say, skiing. I never did it and didn’t know much about it since it wasn’t something commonly done in my circle of friends. Keep in mind, however, that I grew up in a suburban middle-class environment and we were privileged enough not to have to do it out of necessity. I’m aware that I’m speaking from a privileged perspective.

It wasn’t until my teenage years, when I came across vintage fashion bloggers on the internet, that I became acquainted with thrifting. It took me another one or two years to start doing it myself. I moved abroad to attend college and started thrifting from time to time to save money. However, I have been doing it more often recently, because of several reasons.

Of course, there’s the aspect of sustainability. Buying secondhand items means that you help to minimize waste by not letting perfectly wearable pieces of clothing make their way to the dumpster. It’s also a particularly great way to shop sustainably if you can’t afford to buy items from sustainable fashion brands.

But honestly, what truly made me fall in love with secondhand garments is the fact that, in many cases, they are garments with stories attached to them. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for stories. Call me sentimental, but shopping secondhand, to me, is a way to share stories, both intergenerationally and between contemporaries.

When I buy a vintage secondhand garment, I get the chance to appreciate its stories. I get to hold a piece of history, a product of the culture in which it was created, along with its sociocultural elements surrounding it. A genuine vintage miniskirt from the 60s, for instance, reflects the emerging teen culture and the practice of feminism at that time, among other different factors. But even a non-vintage, relatively young secondhand garment tells stories. It’s a reflection of many things – its first owner’s style, the everchanging trends of recent years, and so on.

Buying secondhand clothes also helps me to tell my own stories. It might be time-consuming and at times quite challenging to thrift, but it allows me to put together unique outfits that reflect who I am with items not easily found on the market. In the particular case of vintage items, it’s guaranteed that they won’t make me look like anyone else when I walk down the street.

Last but not least, not to get all philosophical in here, but I believe that the act of shopping secondhand itself can teach us about the easily-forgotten idea that things shouldn’t be easily disposable. We all live in a consumerism-based world in which things are made to be easily and quickly consumed. Use something a few times or even once, then off to the bin it goes, to be replaced by something better. It’s all a matter of convenience. What we forget is that things, particularly clothes, are made by people. Thoughts and effort were put into them.

Treating them as disposable does a disservice not just to the environment and makers, but also to ourselves. It makes us take things for granted. It makes us forget that the ability to appreciate is a virtue and that it;s part of what makes us considerate towards each other. Personally, thrifting reminds me that this ability to appreciate is important.

How and why did you fall in love with secondhand garments? What makes you think that thrifting is important? Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Fair OOTD: A Trip to Utrecht

Style

9s.jpgIf 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!

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An Indecisive Girl’s Musings on Personal Style

Style

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.

So 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 slightly 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!

 

3 Things We Should Not Forget as Conscious Consumers

Style

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

Style

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

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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

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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.

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Local Markets

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!

Building a Sustainable Wardrobe

Style

In August, I decided to stop shopping at fast fashion retailers.

Of course, like most of my decisions (we can’t be sensible at all times now, can we?), this one was motivated by really valid reasons. First of all, I can no longer ignore the fact that my consumption was hurting the environment and the people who make my clothes. From toxic waste to the amount of garments going to landfills, there are so many issues that show that the environmental impacts of our textile consumption are at a very worrying level. With trends that change with every season and the steep prices, it’s so easy for consumers to discard old items after a few wears without considering such impacts. Moreover, the artisans who make our clothes have to face issues like low wages and extremely questionable working conditions, making them victims of modern day slavery.

Second of all, I was simply tired of following the trend dictated by fast fashion. Not only the makers of the products, fast fashion also affects how we behave as buyers. Fast fashion gives us the luxury of buying new clothes with questionable quality very frequently, but they’re quickly replaced by newer trends.

I asked myself, what’s the point? Why do we tend to prioritize quantity over quality? Why keep up with the ever-changing trends if we could invest in long-lasting, timeless pieces? The more research I did, the more convinced I was that I should stop consuming fast fashion and start buying less and buying only environmentally-friendly, long-lasting and fairly-produced products. In other words, by supporting sustainable fashion, which is also popularly known as slow fashion.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I’m going to discard fast fashion pieces that I have, because that would just defeat one of the purposes of sustainable fashion. I do, however, believe that my wardrobe could benefit from some decluttering. I’m currently sorting out which pieces I actually wear and should keep, and which ones have lied untouched in my closet after one or two wears.

I still have so much to learn about sustainability, but I’m excited about it. Do you shop sustainably? Care to share tips? Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think!