When you see a title that says you should wear clothes that matter, what does that mean for you?
Let me share in a few short sentences, what that means to me.
Wear pre-loved clothing: This matters to me because I feel that even though I’m being ‘fashionable’, I’m helping to keep clothes from landfill for longer. This is important to me.
Repeat outfits: You can only repeat an outfit if you love it. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of what you buy. Only bring clothing into your closet that you really love, will rewear and that bring you joy.
Know your style: When you know what your style is, you won’t be lured by the trends. If you’re sure of your style, you’ll purchase clothing that matters to you, and that will be part of your wardrobe for the long haul.
Purchase quality of quantity: When you decide what truly matters to the environment, and purchase with awareness, you will choose clothing made from more sustainable fabrics. This may influence your budget, but instead of buying many ‘cheap’ items, you can decide to bring in one or two quality items into your closet.
Take special care of your garments: In order to get extended wear from your items, it’s important to care for them well. If clothing matters to you, you will take the time to read the Care Labels before just throwing everything into the same wash cycle.
I am aware that as I persist along this Slow Fashion journey, I will become ever more mindful, and act, using wiser practices regarding my clothing spend. I am aware that this is only the beginning. There is so much more that we as a society can learn about being more ethical in our purchases, being more sustainable with our wardrobes, and being more deliberate in general. Maya Angelou said that we should, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
What do you write about when the world is grinding to a halt? Do you write about other things to bring distraction or do you focus on what is happening now? There is an outpour of tips on how to handle life in lockdown. How to keep the kids busy, how to stay healthy and fit, how to cope with the mental strain. And we are feeling the strain.
Yesterday I had my last almost normal outing before we go into lockdown tomorrow at midnight. My daughter and I went to the mall to get moisturiser and conditioner. It was more quiet than usual and at the checkout, markers taped to the floor, showed us where we should stand. Not too close.
We were buying normal items at our usual store, but it felt so surreal. Everything was almost the same. The hand sanitiser before you enter the store and one or two people wearing masks were the only obvious signs that normal was about to change. All around us people were talking more hushed than I’ve ever heard in our vibrant South African culture. When you walked by someone, you made sure that you gave them a wide berth and didn’t touch by accident. It felt toned down.
We need time to adjust and that is what we don’t have. This change was thrust upon us, not by government or war or recession, but by something invisible. We cannot come together and protest our dissatisfaction. Waving banners and demanding change has no power. We have to be apart to try and get a handle on this situation.
Isolation is going to be difficult. Three weeks isn’t a long time, but when you don’t have choice and freedom, it will feel longer. As social beings we will miss interaction with some and miss not interacting with others. We are very fortunate that we can encourage each other via Whatsapp, Instagram and all the other online forums.
Social media seems to be the salvation, but I find that nothing captures my attention. Self-isolation isn’t always physical. To get myself out of my own mind, I am going to practice to be present. No hiding from reality, wishing that this was over already. Living through it as bravely as I can.
A simple white tee, and a pair of white skinny jeans as a base for a cooler, autumn day, are perfect. I know that at this time, we are not moving beyond our front doors, but just imagine you had a quick meeting with a client. The easiest thing to do would be to add a blazer. Obviously, finishing off the outfit with the right accessories and correct pair of shoes, makes all the difference.
So let’s take a closer look at these two outfits.
This gives the simple outfit an instant lift. The jeans are slightly cropped so the heels give the otherwise casual look, a more polished edge. The shorter length blazer works with the cropped jeans and I’ve given the tee a full tuck so it doesn’t peak out the bottom of the blazer. This helps to keep the outfit polished and business-like. Add to that a pair of silver hoops and a couple of rings, and you’re good to go. I didn’t bother with bracelets as you won’t see them and I left off the necklace because I buttoned up the blazer for a more serious look.
In this second look, I did a French tuck with the tee, so although it is a little messier than the first, it lends itself more to the overall casual vibe of this outfit. I added a pair of sneakers. They can always work as long as they are not scuffed or dirty. I’m wearing the same hoops and rings, but added a necklace as this blazer doesn’t have a collar, so feels a bit less fussy.
Depending on the meeting you’re having, and which client you’re going to see, both these looks will work. They both look more elevated because of the addition of the blazer. It’s quite remarkable what a difference a blazer makes to an outfit – and it’s so quick and easy to change things up by adding one. Honestly, you could have endless options here depending on the style you were going for. A simple, classic white tee and jeans, works perfectly as a base for any blazer look.
Consumers, now more than ever, are curious about where their clothes come from and how they are made. We feel let down by the fast fashion industry. Inexpensive, mass produced and marketed fashion trends are contributing massively to the decline of our climate. The slow fashion movement attempts to be the cure. A sustainable fashion item is made in an environmentally friendly, ethical manner. From the initial low/no waste design, using sustainable sourced raw materials, ethical manufacturing processes, to green distribution. More and more fashion brands are aligning themselves with this sustainable supply chain.
Me & B is such a brand. This is a South African brand founded by a mother and daughter team. As a brand they support sustainable practices and fair trade. They aim to create timeless pieces that will appeal to all shapes and sizes. Their website states: fashion has no size (everything available from size 32 to 44). The feel of the brand is urban African.
I like the simple lines and statement patterns. I like the contemporary feel and the idea that I won’t be sharing the same style with thousands of other women. I like the feminine quality of the designs. But most of all I like that Me & B is a local, slow fashion brand.
When we become mothers for the first time, our priority is to be the caregiver and the nurturer. We are primarily focused on keeping our children from harm, creating safe environments for them to flourish in and being their safe place – literally. Our time is spent on feeding, changing nappies, burping and shushing them to sleep in those first few months. Thereafter, we move on to keeping them out of harm’s way as they become more mobile.
As they grow, we become more concerned with their emotional health and being a support to them during trying times, abating sibling rivalry and mending broken hearts, which is inevitable. During all these seasons, there’s no way of knowing if we will one day become friends. Very often, that’s not even the focus at the time. They consume our lives, that we don’t give so much thought to what the future might hold.
It is with much joy that I can now say, that with each one of my five children of which three, I gave birth to, I have a great relationship. It is completely different with each one. Each of my children, who are all now young adults, are so uniquely diverse. They each bring a particular flavour to my life. No two relationships are even remotely similar.
If you had asked me eleven years ago if I thought I’d ever have a good relationship, one that remotely resembled friendship with either of my stepdaughters, I would have answered with a swift “No”, but we have come such a long way. The two of them, have added such depth to my life. Being a stepmom is nothing like being a mother. There’s a completely different set of rules. If you have an argument with one of your own children, you might over-think the situation, but you never doubt they love you. With step-children, the dynamic is quite disparate. The nights I laid awake, going over and over the words I’d used, how I could have expressed myself differently, how I could have rather perhaps kept quiet or spoken up… The list goes on and on. We have the added complication in our household of having different first languages. My step-children are Afrikaans speaking, so at times, there have been misunderstandings around meanings of words, that just would not have been there if we all spoke the same first language. But we have learned to make allowances for each other. Often, I’ll say I need to express myself in English, and then I give them the opportunity to check with me that they understand what it is I’ve said. This helped us tremendously, after many setbacks, to navigate our complicated communications, with understanding and grace.
Where my own birth children are concerned, I have made many mistakes. I grew up being seen and not heard. In the beginning of my parenting years, I duplicated some of those negative patterns, but my children did not react as I did as a child. They have always been more open about discussing how they feel, and they have, for the most part, been far more communicative than I was at their varying ages. Because I wasn’t allowed an opinion, especially as a teen, I would rebel. My eldest did this more than the others, but then, she was my first, and unfortunately, I made more mistakes with her. Thank goodness, she’s a gracious forgiver and we have come to a deeper understanding and have managed to build a beautiful, strong and genuinely meaningful relationship. I feel my son had it the easiest. He got me as his Mom, after I had sorted out so many of my own inner demons, and being eleven years younger than my daughter, he benefited from me having learned so much from parenting all the other four first!
I am so grateful for the blessing now of having a friendship with each of my children. They have become incredible young adults who contribute positively toward the environment in which they live. They are well-adjusted despite going through their parents’ respective divorces and remarriages. The five of them, have great friendships even with each other. Some bonds are stronger than others, but that is the nature of siblings. This mother’s heart is happy with her brood and ever grateful for second chances.
I’m planning ahead. Thinking about what I could wear when (if) my husband takes me out for our wedding anniversary. We usually just hug, kiss and tell each other how grateful we are that the other person was able to stick it out. This year we both changed the way we think about celebrating each other. Well, I hope he feels the same.
I shopped my closet for the three date night/wedding anniversary outfits. I don’t have loads of clothes and re-wear regularly. I do have a list of clothes and shoes that I need, but didn’t buy anything for these looks. I did find out that I need a pair of nude heels (see look 3). This will go on the list. I went for romantic, classic and more formal looks. To cover all the bases.
The first outfit is all about romance. Flowy dress and floral print. The wrap top is a favourite of mine and is just enough for a cooler day or evening. The hoop earrings add a whimsical feel to this look. I just love my necklace and the layers emphasise the romantic idea. This outfit is appropriate for almost any setting. From a coffee shop to a decent restaurant. My husband likes to be informal, so this is a good option to keep in mind.
This is a more classic, monochromatic look. I like the white trim around the neckline and sleeves. I feel it makes the outfit less serious. Because of the trim, I didn’t add a necklace. I do love the rectangular shapes in the bracelet and also my square earrings. They go beautifully with this classic look. My husband gave me the earrings a few Christmases ago. Maybe that is a good sign.
Lastly – the formal look. My mom made me this dress more than twenty years ago for a friend’s wedding. I very rarely wear this dress, but it could be time to take it out of the closet. I just had to pair this outfit with pearls and gold. My only regret is that I don’t have shoes that go with this outfit. This will go on my shop list. I do love this dress and will really like to wear it. I’m hoping for a fancy night out.
Now we just have to wait and see which outfit I will be wearing for our anniversary date. And I’ve decided to ask him out – maybe he wants to be asked for a change. This means I have to think of something to do. Something special and thoughtful. Any ideas?