Archives For June 2013

Classic tee and long shorts // We So Thrifty

Summer hat // We So Thrifty

Classic tee and long shorts // We So Thrifty

This post was supposed to be very short. It was supposed to be about my new summer uniform from Talize: A coca-cola shirt from the Boys’ section, cut-offs from this trip, and brand-new Birkenstocks. The perfect blend of summer time ease and nostalgia.

I was going say that my long shorts make me feel like the fifth crew member from Now and Then, and then I was going to share one carefully selected tidbit from my summers growing up. But as I started to jot down a few of these memories, 27 years of sweet summer moments came forward, making it down right impossible to choose just one thing to highlight. Summer is the best, and if you don’t agree, then you’re doing it wrong. What’s about to follow is some good ol’ fashion self-indulgent blogging that won’t mean much of anything to anyone outside my personal circle. I’m going to be real with you for a second, and admit I got just a little teary compiling this messy list. It’s a good exercise, and makes you realize that even if your childhood was simple and unremarkable, as mine was, summers are magical, and that’s worth remarking on. Here are just a few things about summers passed, in rough chronological order, that I’ll treasure long after the sun sets on summer once again:

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Days on days of playing in the park. Season’s passes to the Dick Lacata outdoor pool. Hanging out by the willow tree and thinking we discovered a new species after seeing a cicada lose its shell. Riding our bikes down Dayfoot. Walking to Choi’s Convenience for candy and freezies. Watching the train go under the bridge on the way back. Selling popsicles to the construction workers down the street. Playing soccer on the front lawn until it got dark. Hide and go seek in the yard.

Going to the cottage. Opa bringing us the most perfect scones and doughnuts at the Goderich beach. Opa’s tilly hat. Opa. Making drippy castles. Getting ice cream from the snack shack. Riding and rescuing our inflatable toys from the lake’s angry waves. Walking up the pier and jumping off it. Skinny dipping. Campfires. Feeding raccoons around the campfire. Creating a pathway of marsh mellows to our tent so the raccoons would come by again later. Realizing that was a totally insane idea. Drawing beauty queens in the big sunny front room. Checking for earwigs in the bathroom every night. Celebrating my birthday there every year. Playing badminton. Waiting for our parents to come back from Bayfield with new friendship bracelets. Going to the zoo. Concluding my sister was about to marry a pretty special guy because he had the patience to teach us all euchre.

Camping with the friends I grew up with at the Pinery. Realizing every one of us was wearing double-strapped Birkenstocks. Setting up my sleeping bag inside the tent. Breakfast at Best’s. Floating around the lake on a log. Having a shower after the beach, then waiting for dinner. Eating peanuts. Walking to the beach at night. Looking up at the stars. Naming constellations. Flip cup on a very uneven table. Flip cup victory cheer-offs. 90s sing-a-longs. Waking up to someone making breakfast. More euchre.

Going to Michigan. Getting a giant slap of apple cinnamon bread in Grand Haven. Coffee in the screened in porch.

The birth of my first niece on my birthday. Listening to Sam Cooke as I shuttled her parents back and forth from the hospital.

Camping for the first time with my husband. Camping with new friends and new family.

Realizing that no matter how old you are, vacationing with people you love is one of the best things for your soul.

I think I better stop this list now, because as I’m typing this, I’m thinking of the many other things that I could add. And so, in the interest of keeping this post under 1000 words, I’ll end it here. This summer, may your cokes be cold, your lakes warm (from natural causes, not pee), and your living be easy.

Shorts, tees, summer hat // We So Thrifty

Shorts: Talize / $7.99
Tee: Talize / $7.99
Belt: Talize / $2.99
Stetson Hat: VV / $4.99
Birkenstock: Miller Shoes / $129.95

Polka dot blazer + plain white tee // We So Thrifty

Polka dot blazer + plain white tee // We So Thrifty

Polka dot blazer + plain white tee // We So Thrifty

This blazer is from the Salvation Army, and so is that necklace. Those jeans are from Plato’s Closet, and the shoes are pre-loved, too. But my shirt? My shirt is brand new, and I think it’s the start of something good.

As ya’ll know, I spilled a whole bunch of words on the Bangladesh factory a few weeks ago. I discussed some of my thoughts on the fast-fashion, and came clean about my own role in keeping the industry poisoned. Mainly, thrifting doesn’t hurt the industry, but it doesn’t fix it, either. I concluded I should try to use the money I save when thrift shopping on “items that are made by businesses that pay attention to human rights…and retailers that won’t wait for a building to collapse before they realize something is terribly wrong.”

Well, that all sounds very well and good. But in practice, I didn’t know where to begin. Would I have to start dressing like a yogi, and spending hundreds of dollars on hemp rompers?

On the very day I published that article, I came across this instagram from one of my favourite fashion-grammers, Karla Reed (that’s a thing, right? Grammers?). I always need basic tees in my wardrobe, to ground all the crazy crap I thrift, and so a few basic tees seemed a good place to start.

I did some research on Everlane, and I really liked what I found on their website. They want to be open and honest about how and where they make their clothing. However, I did find some of the phrasing on their “About” page a little ambiguous. So, I had a revolutionary idea – I emailed them. It went something like this:

…while I appreciate much of what I can find on your “About” page, I wonder if you’d be willing to provide any more specifics. First, you tout your tees as made in America, and list the majority of your offices in America, but also “seek out the best factories around the world”. What role do these global factories play? Where does the manufacturing process start and stop? I’m also pleased that you try for a “hands-on approach…to ensure a factory’s integrity. As an added assurance we also require stringent workplace compliancy paperwork.” Does this paper work ensure better working conditions, or any sort of conditions, for the employees? Safety measures, etc? More broadly, what does it mean to you for a factory to have “integrity?”

I’m very grateful to have been pointed in your direction, but this extra bit of information and detail will mean I can whole-heartedly endorse your products. Thank you, and I hope to hear from you soon!

I sent off the email, and expected some kind of automated form letter in reply. Instead, I was really impressed to get a good response from an actual person (named Sam!) within a week of my initial inquiry:

Hi Julie,

Thanks for reaching out and for the compliments. Most of your questions can be answered on the article that was released in the New York Times.

The biggest concerns around production for our team are (a) great conditions for workers and (b) high quality. As a first filter, we target facilities that are already working with other luxury brands. Our factories produce for The Row, James Perse, Prada, etc. Even so, we visit every facility to ensure that they are top-notch. While many of our products are produced in the U.S., we have decided to produce some things abroad. In sourcing, we found that the U.S. couldn’t match the quality we needed for some items. For example, silk made in the U.S. is usually quite messy in the stitching, so we decided to produce in China—a place known for silk.

We are a young company finding it important to develop a relationship with our factories and their owners. Regarding compliancy standards, we first seek out certification from SGS and follow accordingly with Labor Laws. We have been to our factories and are able to see first hand the conditions of the work place, combining that with the laws abided we do feel secure with these conditions.

Enjoy the tees and have a great week.

All the best,
Sam

The NYT article Sam linked to also offered up a few more encouraging words on how Everlane selects its factories:

Mr. Preysman says Everlane has long received questions from customers “around where the products are sourced from and how we can tell that the labor is good.” It is an inexact science, he said. But he added that he looks for factories certified by independent outside organizations and has executives spend time with a factory’s owner to see if he or she “is a decent human being.”

Additionally, just a few weeks ago, Everlane placed a call for photographers on Instagram. They’re offering five all-expenses paid trips to China, and allowing these five photographers to document their newest factory in China. I like that they have nothing to hide. Satisfied with these answers, I placed an order in good conscience for two large tees – one in black, and one in white. Their v-necks start at $15, and with shipping costs to Canada, my total order came to about $45. For items that I will wear every other day until their threadbare, that’s a bargain.

While my plain white tee might be the least exciting piece in this ensemble, it certainly has the most to say.

Polka dot blazer + plain white tee // We So Thrifty

Jeans: Plato’s Closet | $15.00
Blazer: Salvation Army | $7.99
Necklace: Salvation Army | $2.99
Shoes: Salvation Army | $5.99
Tee: Everlane | $15.00

Behind the Seams: Talize

This is one of those posts I can’t believe I haven’t written before. Talize is one of my main stompin’ grounds, and I certainly thought I would have blogged a thrift trip inside their orange walls already. But alas! Not yet! So, without further ado, here we go!

Wait, a little more ado: thrifting for summer clothing is just the best. I spend all winter passing over cute summer dresses and crocheted crop tops because of their impracticality, but for a brief window, I can load up on all the things that have no place in the world besides a musical festival or summer camp (and I’ve gone to neither, oddly enough).

Now here we go. Let’s talk dresses!

Behind the Seams: Talize

Behind the Seams: Talize

First to be granted a chance on Julie’s Next Top Mini were these two dresses in varying shades of purple. The burgundy one was a lovely colour, and very flattering, but it fell in the “too short for work” and “not fun enough for everything else” zone. I loved the lace cutouts on the 80s voilet number! But it was too short for, well, everything. So, it was a pass as well.

Behind the Seams: Talize

Behind the Seams: Talize

Both of the above looks, it they had fit, would have fit nicely in the “imaginary music festival” section of my closet. The coral sun dress was a bit paper-baggy at the top, though, and the black maxi was just eh. Honestly, I’ve just been desperate to create this look from 2011 with a maxi and a belt, but I think that might have to do less with finding the right dress, and more with eating fewer potato chips.

Four misses off the bat isn’t unusual for me. It’s just part of the process. As the old saying goes: if at first you don’t succeed, wait until your sister finds something that’s too big for her!

Behind the Seams: Talize

Actually, to be honest, Laura pulled this one specifically for me, because it almost could have worked as a bridesmaid dress for the upcoming nuptials of my other sister. We’re all wearing mismatched navy/lace dresses, and I’m the only one who hasn’t purchased a dress yet. While this dress is lace, it’s a bit too teal, a bit too tight, and not quite formal enough for a girl on bridesmaid duty. That said, I’m confident I can find another occasion to wear a stretchy lace dress in any colour, so I brought it home.

Having declared a victor in the race of JNTM (Julie’s Next Top Mini, keep up, guys), let’s turn our attention towards some basics:

Behind the Seams: Talize

Remember last year when I expressed my desire for a thrifted denim shirt? And my delight when I finally found one I loved? That find signified that the denim shirt trend has reached a point of critical mass. That’s a term I don’t really understand, but I’m using it to say that the denim/chambray shirt trend is now so wide spread you can find them in thrift stores easily. I did like the snaps and details on the chambray shirt above, but it also just felt a little too Claire Dunphy. Don’t get me wrong, Claire is a babe, and she can rock the “mom on the go” thing with ease, but I’m not a mom yet, and when I’m “on the go”, it’s usually “I’m going to get ice cream.”

Behind the Seams: Talize

Behind the Seams: Talize

The two “yeps” above aren’t extraordinary, but they are fun and functional. That first top in particular is just a comfy, colourful stop that I might wear on a Saturday while I do errands (ie: go thrifting). And those jean shorts will be worn every second I’m not at work. I’ve been wishing for some denim shorts that weren’t Daisy Dukes, and these fit the bill. They are a little snug at the moment, but I plan on stretchin’ them right out.

Next up: Leather!

Behind the Seams: Talize

Behind the Seams: Talize

Ok, not neither of the above items feature real leather, but they’re close enough. I loved, loved, loved, the cut and shoulders on that first jacket, and the lines of leather on that Nygard coat made it look more modern than it actually was. But, in stark contrast to my trouble with dresses, both these items were a little too big. But not to worry, I did end up with a piece made of actual leather:

Behind the Seams: Talize

This Danier leather vest is a quality piece! The way it fits almost gives off a bustier feel, and sort of gave me vibes similar to this favourite look from Yen. While I’m not sure how I’ll wear it yet, the It’s a piece that will stand the test of time. While the leather goods are among the higher prices items at the thrift store (this one was $15), they earn that price tag. And sometimes I need to take the item out of it’s thrift store context: If I saw this piece at Danier for $15, I’d snatch it up faster than you can stay “see my vest.” Since this one was in great condition, my reaction was the very same.

Behind the Seams: Talize

The last item in my haul were these adorably tacky gold flats. They have GIANT ZIPPERS on top. Like, huh? Plus, that little gold heel injects just enough class into an otherwise too flashy shoe.

Perhaps what I like best about this thrift trip is that no two items are alike. I came home with a dress, a shirt, a vest, shorts, and a pair of shoes, in varying textures of lace, cotton, leather, denim, and gold. Thrift stores are always a mixed bag, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Until next time!

Forward

June 8, 2013 — 4 Comments

hope

Wow, everybody.

Since I hit “publish” on last Friday’s article, it has easily become the most-viewed post I’ve written this year. That is amazing, because it shows people, you people, want to talk about this. You want to share it with your friends, you want to think about it, and you want fix it. You, like me, don’t really know how to do that yet, but you want to try.

This was, quite frankly, the first time I wrote about something that really matters on this blog, and I’m grateful for the reception to it. That said, don’t expect a huge tonal shift at We So Thrifty: For the most part, it will still be thrifting, pop-culture, and 90s nostalgia. But do expect to see some small attempts, every once and a while, to contribute to a fashion economy that saves instead of kills. I won’t drop this, and I hope you won’t either.

I left that article in an open-ended, hoping all of you would take some time to share your reactions with me. You did just that.  A few tweets, a few comments, and a few shares have already left me with more to think about, and I’m grateful for that too. I’ve compiled just a few of the great comments to that post, to give you a little to chew on as we all move forward with this. Thank you for your words, friends. Forward we go!

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…I have been reading about life in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh for quite a few years now and know it very well. I was excited to read about the backlash from the Bangladeshis in the country because no one can change a country from without, it must happen from within and without simultaneously, but primarily from within. What people endure in those countries is almost inconceivable to us, and so to act here in ways that drastically affect the clothing industry out of self-righteousness without understanding those countries in depth is irresponsible. If we can find out which companies act responsibly and choose their goods over others, we certainly can apply proper pressure. Supply and demand. That’s how it works.

– Stephanie

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…You’re right– like many people I also thought, Good thing I didn’t shop at [insert store here] this year. But not visiting a certain retailer doesn’t make me or anyone less guilty. Accidents can happen at factories any where in the world at any time regardless of the brand’s size or popularity. Real change can start with us– the consumers– because we often buy what we like, want, don’t really want, need, or really need without thinking too much about who made our product and his/her living and working conditions.

Linda

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…I have been trying to socially conscious about my shopping habits but it is hard to do. Just quickly: avoiding all overseas produced products and shopping “Made in Canada /USA” is not always the answer. Some overseas factories do produce goods in keeping with International Labor Organization (ILO) standards while there have been sweatshops busted in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary in recent years. Some companies subcontract to workers paid by the piece for basic sewing and assembly and they get much less than minimum wage.

I am trying to learn which companies to support and continuing to shop the second-hand market as well. It is worth noting however, that not all sellers on ebay or etsy, are ethical retailers, though the number of problematic ones is likely reduced compared to the norm.

– Rosee

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…This has really shaken me up, and I’m concerned that the lack of caring overall just continues to reflect our consumer culture mentality. As my pastor says, “I don’t want to be a consumer; I want to be a producer.” I’m going to take some time in the next couple of weeks and start a list of links connected with ethical shopping because I feel like people need alternatives. Yes, I shop secondhand, but there are some things (undies! socks! workout clothes!) that I would ALWAYS like to buy new, and it’s going to be more difficult to find these products from places I feel good about it instead of just popping into Target and aimlessly shopping.

– Amber