Some things on my radar + thoughts about “shopping”.

hopp

I keep a running list of things that peak my interest in a folder on my google chrome browser. Thought I’d share them with you here.

You might recall how much I talked about my ugly but comfortable SAS shoes? Well I just read about SAS making a line of minimalist comfort shoes, called HOPP, from the former Opening Ceremony designer, that are actually not ugly. The mules and boots look amaze and are supposed to be very comfortable.  I’m not in the market for new shoes right now but when I am, these will be top on my list.

My boot collection is beginning to adapt to climate change.  It used to snow hard in NYC. I’ve been here for 9 years and during the first 5, I remember getting stuck in blizzard conditions, had to stomp through huge piles of dirty slush and jump over 2-3 foot tall snow piles for most of the winter. Now with global warming, it’s still gross but not nearly as bad.  And that’s why my hardcore winter boots from Ariat have collected dust for the past couple of years. I’m going to put them up for sale because they no longer suit my needs. And definitely won’t be needed when I’m back in California.

I’m putting my APC gigi boots and Everlane heel boots up for sale too because they have the opposite problem– they’re not really practical for the rain and snow. I realized this when I was slipping around while walking on the sidewalk in my Everlane heel boots when it snowed recently. I do not want to fall.  In those boots, I worried about leather damage as they were in constant contact with snow and salt due to the relatively thin soles.  I wasn’t entirely at ease in my clothes and that’s a problem.  Good clothes should sort of disappear from your mind when you wear them.  I hope these shoes which are still in great condition, find a good new home.  Sometimes wardrobe planning means you have to create a large hole by removing let’s say 3 shoes, and filling it with 1 more versatile shoe.

I invested in a boot that I think strikes a nice balance for the new NYC winter: the APC Armelle ankle boot– an elegant but rugged boot with thick crepe soles that offer lots of cushion and stability, and a generous toe box.  I tried them on at the APC store but ordered them online because the store didn’t carry the color I was looking for.  I’m appreciating wider toe boxes nowadays and resent Everlane for making so many damn stiff pointy toed shoes.  I was skimming through that book, The Lost Art of Dress; it talked about honoring the body’s natural lines; and choosing shoes that don’t work against those lines.  Drinking the Kool-Aid, I decided to rid myself of pointy shoes once again. I sometimes go back forth on this issue, so don’t be surprised if next season I have a pair of pointy shoes on again.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing lots of job interviews by phone with employers in LA.  In January, I’ll probably go in for in-person interviews.  And right now, I have absolutely nothing to wear for that!  I don’t own a single blazer.  I don’t own a single pair of pants that can be worn with a nice blazer.  I also don’t own a pair of standard professional looking pumps.  It pains me to invest in these pieces, since I’m probably not going to wear them very often, but I forced myself.  I bought the slim wool pants and classic blazer in navy from Everlane and bought a pair of pre-owned (like new) pumps from SAS (made in Italy).  SAS shoes are expensive but you can find them really cheap secondhand.  These 3 pieces are ultra classic, so I hope they can be worn again for future job interviews, beyond the upcoming ones.  Or re-sold online.

I’ve been reading a lot of “conscious fashion” type blog posts purporting the benefits of maintaining a small wardrobe as no longer needing to waste time on shopping. Usually followed by “so I can have more time to enjoy what really matters in life” or “so I can spend more time with my family” etc.  My reaction is always a bit of eye rolling when I read this.  Implicit in those statements is the feeling that shopping is a chore and the belief that fashion and design is frivolous and unimportant.  But I think many women, maybe half of all women, have a genuine interest in these areas.  No one is calling spending time on listening to music or watching films as a waste of time.  Instead they are elevated to “experiences”.  Isn’t getting dressed and spending every waking second of your life in clothes an experience too?

A small wardrobe does not automatically equate to less shopping. My shopping rate is probably about the same, and that’s OK, but I shop smarter.  My wardrobe is always evolving.   As soon as something feels stale, it’s out, and I replace it with something better.  Some people hate shopping for clothes, but I enjoy it– I think we can admit that aspect of ourselves and still be “conscious” about fashion.  The word “shopping” has so many negative connotations now, but if we have an appreciation for clothing design and aesthetics (vs. “fashion”), maybe that’s what we should emphasize.

Someone  (let’s just say a man) with an interest in music and vinyl records for example, spends a lot of time sampling music, reading Pitchfork, watching music videos, browsing through records, spending money on physical objects and concert tickets, but this is not looked down upon as “shopping”.  Instead, “he’s just following his passion”.  And that’s seen as interesting and respectable.  But how is that so different than shopping for clothes? Oh, the misogyny of minimalism! I say that while whole-heartedly adopting the lifestyle-philosophy.  Anyway, this is a long way of saying we don’t have to be ashamed of “shopping” and we can still be “conscious” about the environment and of our budgets while doing so.

20 thoughts on “Some things on my radar + thoughts about “shopping”.

  1. I never comment on anything but YES YES YES re shopping as a legitimate free time pursuit. I love fashion and take great joy in figuring out what I want to wear, following styles, fabric, color etc. And I love reading the Business of Fashion, Racked etc. I used to feel sheepish about it but now I have just accepted that this is something I love and budget accordingly.

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  2. Thank you! The misogyny of minimalism, indeed. I probably spend more time mulling over things now than I used to, partially because I’m being much more careful about what I need and what I buy, but also because I do actually enjoy it.

    I also have an academic background, of sorts, in fashion history, and I’ve heard every variation of snide comment regarding my apparently frivolous PhD. I don’t do much work in that area anymore, but every once and a while I still here comments that make my blood boil.

    But, I maybe wouldn’t completely dismiss the term “fashion” (one of the other F words) over clothes, aesthetics, or other terms. The reluctance to embrace “fashion” is, I think, part of the same forces that seek to dismiss it as wasteful, decorative, or something only women are interested in.

    PS, I’m also in New York, and need to clean out my boot and coat collection, because I also don’t feel like I need heavy-duty winter gear anymore.

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    1. totally feel you. “fashion” has become the dismissive word by people who judge it harshly.. i guess that’s what i wanted to reference but writing has fewer ways to emote that sentiment. But honestly, the word “fashion” for some reason does feel like a word I want to avoid using because it’s used so often and takes on a lot of meaning that feels out of my control. But maybe it’s worth shaking that stigma.

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  3. THIS. THIS POST SAYS IT ALL! THANK YOU. I roll my eyes too whenever I read that self-help-book sounding line about spending more time with family or enjoying life when you cut out x, y, or z things. Part of me wonders if people say that because they can’t justify any other PC or decent sounding reason for not shopping. What if part of enjoying life in general means having the option to pick and choose your clothes in the way you want to? If collecting stamps or vinyl or train cars is considered “following a passion” then who is to say that collecting well-made clothes we enjoy and constantly searching for items that speak to us through different phases in our lives isn’t the exact same thing? It’s just as much an aesthetic hobby as guys who collect cars.

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    1. Feel you there. If you simply don’t like fashion/shopping/clothes, that’s fine and dandy, but to dismiss it in others crosses some line, and since it’s usually coming from men to women, it’s sexist. And I think women internalize that mentality and impose it on themselves. That’s why we feel so embarassed to admit how much we love clothes.

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  4. ” The word “shopping” has so many negative connotations now, but if we have an appreciation for clothing design and aesthetics (vs. “fashion”), maybe that’s what we should emphasize.”
    This really speaks to me. I 100% think my dressing choices reflect my appreciation for aesthetics — and the cultivation of that appreciation. For me, investing time in deciding what I put on my body is very much about cultivating a solid (and stubborn) sense of self and place in the world.

    Really enjoyed this post, thanks.

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    1. Yes! We don’t feel ashamed about admiring the beauty of sculpture, paintings, wildlife, and nature.. we shouldn’t feel ashamed about love for well designed clothes, obsessing about it, and spending our hard earned money on it. Certainly dressing nice is a positive experience not only for the person wearing the clothes, but also the people around them.

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  5. Yes! “Good clothes should sort of disappear from your mind when you wear them.” BUT ALSO I like to think about and spend time on deciding what to wear so that they can THEN disappear, haha. It’s a weird balance. But I too wonder what I will spend time on when I get to they mythical perfect wardrobe. After all my holes are filled, then what, I keep living? I mean, yes, but I’d be lying if I said that I could ever close the book on my closet. I think you can have goals for your wardrobe, but I appreciate clothing for it’s artful qualities as well, and that’s gonna be an ever-evolving thing. I’m curious to know what you think if you keep reading The Lost Art of Dress! There are so many passages I could write a whole thing about.

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  6. i wrote about this same thing awhile ago – during my “minimal closet” phase, because i found this to be true as well. and ALL OF THE EYE ROLLS on “freeing time to pay attention to more important things” – i’ve actually also been told that to my face. because i don’t have children. but anyway…

    i’ve been thinking about this same thing again, now, after my fall and recovery from my broken jaw. like, why should i be thinking about clothes/style/fashion after my harrowing experience? well…what else should i think about besides the things i enjoy thinking about???

    more on the blog as i form more coherent thoughts 🙂

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    1. Omg yes. We can fall victim into judging our own interests too, when in actuality its very healthy to be immersed in your interests! How else should we live??! Definitely not by someone elses metric of worthy interests. Nope!

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  7. After finishing my very large number of interviews since I bought those pumps early this year I have proceeded to… totally never wear those pumps again. The shoes are good/exactly what I wanted for my interview needs, but I’d only use them for interviews and maybe something before a jury (which happens only rarely, and I’m also unlikely to be the one actually speaking, so maybe not even then). Alas. I think/hope they’re classic enough that I’ll still be able to use them for my next round.

    I totally relate to your points about enjoying the process of thinking about clothes, fashion, etc. (with the goal of finding clothes that are easy to reach for, “disappear” from the mind when they’re on). I do like the idea of the “saving time” factor of, say, having a “work uniform” wardrobe of more or less the exact right number of interchangeable pieces to cycle through in between laundry days, because I don’t want to have to put too much thought into what I’m going to wear tomorrow every day, but the process of building that wardrobe takes a lot of effort and thought. It’s also why I don’t really “get” the marketing around clothing subscription-type services or brands that are all about spend less time shopping, spend more time on work or whatever. Most of the really capable professional women I know actually really enjoy fashion, though not necessarily the process of digging through piles of junk if they’re reliant on the mall-brand price point.

    This may not be exactly what you mean about the “misogyny of minimalism” but I generally avoid most male perspectives on minimalism like the plague. (Except to the extent that the “financial independence/extreme frugality” types are sort of minimalists too, with more of a focus on the money side, and I do sometimes read those.) I haven’t given such perspectives a full chance, but from what I’ve seen I’d find them tedious and with an undertone of sexism so, meh. I took a peek at the trailer for that Minimalism documentary on Netflix just now while writing this comment, and it confirms my feelings (Most of the scenes while they’re complaining about materialism are shots of womens’ fashion marketing, and somewhat randomly, Kim Kardashian on the red carpet, and almost all their interview subjects are men. No thanks.)

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    1. I think we just need to be aware of when we are feeling defensive about our own choices based on someones else’s purported lifestyle. We all do it. I actually really enjoyed that documentary but only with the awareness that it need not all apply to my life. Take what adds value to your life and leave the rest. We have to escape the notion that theres his right/wrong way of life. Im not a fan of the subscription services or the project 333, or other numerical limitations for this either because i think it sort of falls into that subscribed mentality that there is a “right” way to live.

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