The Purge

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After started writing my last post I sat down and thought a little more about the kind of clothes I like wearing as opposed to the kind of clothes I want to be wearing. You know from other previous posts that I’m also looking towards leading a scaled back and simpler life. Last year I started on an epic clear out, what started off with clearing out a store cupboard of abandoned and broken electrical goods soon escalated to a flat wide project!

My biggest bone of contention is my work, I work from home, ergo my stuff is stored at home and it can make everything feel a little cluttered at time. It also doesn’t help that we’re renting and are limited to what we can do with storage solutions etc. I long for the day I can afford a studio but you know things change and so do business goals and I’m working towards a more streamlined and sustainable work ethic and obviously to start making and saving more money. The first new rule is not to buy any supplies unless I need them for a specific project, no more I’ve had an idea let me get prepared and then let it sit on a shelf for the next two years because I got distracted by something else and we all know how easily I get distracted. The second rule is not to take on any second-hand supplies from family, friends etc no matter how offended they get when I say no. people need to start owning their craft failures and I need to get better at saying no to things. I’m all for recycle and reusing but I also want to go into my craft room without fear of being trapped in a craftalanche!! I have enough supplies to keep me going for now and hopefully as they dwindle down maybe it well help me focus more.

This clear our isn’t a challenge to be minimalist, it’s a challenge to be more mindful about purchases and probably more truthfully to make space for more books and vinyl records! It’s about buying things that will be used instead of intended to use. I’ve bought so many nice clothes, that I like and intended to wear but for a myriad of reasons didn’t and they’re just taking up space, this is probably the last phase of my clear out. Last year I sent loads of DVDs, CDs and books to places like Ziffit and Music Magpie  and earned a few pennies in the process. There is a certain level of guilt that comes with dumping everything in the charity shop and making it someone’s problem especially when you see of the crap donated especially at this time of year, I am definitely guilty of this. You think just because you like something it’s worth something but sometimes it’s just crap!

Anyway back to the case in point, I have decent wardrobe clear out every so often but this time I’m going to try to sell a few bits first to try to earn some funds for new fabric, maybe some new clothes and definitely some new books and records. My wardrobe seems to be heading back to a basic collection of black items with a few pops of colours, outlandish prints seem to be on the wane, though I do still love a fabulous outlandish print now and then. I need to let go of handmade clothes that I’m hanging onto for sentimental reasons, let go of things because I’m convinced I will find a use for them at some point and stop trying to convince myself that at some point I will lose that Christmas weight from five years and fit back into that item again!! So I’m purging my closet and vanity drawers. I sent 18 bras (yes 18) that have been sitting in a suitcase, decent pretty bras that I was convinced would fit again once I lost some weight to Oxfam for their bra programme. I’ve cleared out old socks, underwear and overstretched pyjamas for recycling, I’ve sorted out clothes and accessories to be sold, it’s probably the wrong time of year to try to sell things because everyone is having a new year, new me clear out. Also everyone is broke! But I’m going to try instead of defaulting to me defeatist mode of why would anyone want my stuff. I won’t be listing of eBay just yet as I’ve had to many problems on there, I will on the other hand try insta first, then Depop.

Passion for Fashion?

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I don’t consider myself a fashionista, I don’t really follow trends, I hate being in front of the camera and so rarely get round to blogging about clothes that I’ve made or vintage outfits I’ve put together, I should probably just get over my awkwardness and do so, I have some very nice clothes.

During the week I rarely dress up because I work from home, I do get dressed for work but I’m a creative so wear comfy clothes that I won’t mind if they get spoilt a little with glue or paint. I’m constantly complaining to The Goth that I have nice clothes and make up but never go anywhere and so I end up wearing the same things all the time. He suggested Fancy Friday, which I misheard as Fantasy Friday and ended up with me yelling I’m not dressing up as Princess Leia for you whilst he fell to pieces laughing at my outrage, lord knows what my neighbours think of me with the crap I yell out. FYI I don’t think there is anything with a bit of fantasy role play!

But I do love fashion, I do love seeing what is on trend, scrolling through Instagram to see how people express themselves through their outfits, how to style pieces, colour combos, pattern clashes, the works. It seems kind of an odd passion for someone who is admittedly too lazy these days to dress up. I used to spend hours pin curling and brushing my hair into a 40s style, meticulously matching my accessories to my outfits, finding the most cutest and outlandish prints I could but it appears my tastes have drastically change over the years and I’m leaning towards a more simplified look. I still love seeing other people get dressed up though.

I don’t like snobbery, people who say classic styles are the best, or people really knew how to dress in the old days! If it didn’t cause so much damage I would eye roll for days over these statements. There is no right or wrong way to express your style. No one is better than you because they’re wearing the latest trend or wearing true vintage, there is a lot of snobbery when it comes to clothes but fashion and trends turn over so fast these days it’s hard to keep up.

I’m now old enough where a trend I wore the first time round has made a resurgence, all hail the 90s! Apparently you’re not supposed to wear a trend the second time it comes round but I think that bollocks and doesn’t really count if you never stopped wearing it in the first place.

I like sewing, I like making my own clothes so that I could have a wardrobe that was well fitted and reflected my personality but recently I haven’t really been sewing, mostly due to fluctuating weight problems as I get my food intolerance flare ups under control, bloated stomachs are not helping. But it’s given me time to think about the clothes I make and why I make them. At first it was all about creating the dream wardrobe with clothes for every occasion, a wardrobe that was to keep and be sustainable and whatnot and it is still partly that but as I said before we change, tastes change, style changes, things we like and no longer things we want or aspire to, they belong in the past, we move forward onto to and experiment with new things, a constant exploration of finding out who we are.

Recently I’ve been to a few fashion exhibitions, things I paid most attention to were the construction details, the drape, the tailoring, the finishing, the embellishments, the time taken over each garment. Despite wanting a cleaner and simpler wardrobe I’m oddly obsessed with complicated garment construction! Actually I’m more obsessed with well made and well constructed garments. We’re all guilty of cheap frivolous purchases, as whether it be a wardrobe malfunction, ill-fitting, sitting in the wardrobe the planet is now paying the price of fast fashion.

It has been said that fashion is what you buy, style is what you do with it. We need to start focusing on buying items to reflect our personal style rather than copying the latest trends. Whilst there is nothing wrong with using trends as inspiration, I always find it a little disappointing when I see twenty fashion blogs all wearing and writing about the same must have jumper! I get that is what brings in the numbers and views etc but I want to see more people incorporating that piece into their personal style rather than a standard template and why you like that piece other than it’s really comfy or that it was the latest must have item.

So I guess whilst I have a passion for fashion, I want to also pay more attention as to why I’m adding that item to my wardrobe. Will I wear it? Or did I just buy it because it looked pretty? Where did it come from? Who made it? Is it value for money? Is it well made? And so on and so.

Slow Fashion

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I’ve been thinking about reviving a few projects that got cast by the wayside this year in favour of other things for one reason or another. One of my ongoing yearly projects is making my own clothes, last year this fell by the wayside and I finished a few items, none of the dresses fit and I still to work on my knitting gauge apparently!

Probably one for the main reasons for this lack of enthusiasm is an ongoing weight issues due mostly to a bout of low-level poor health issues this year a long side ongoing battle with food intolerances that leave me pretty much bloated quite a lot of the time, so a lot of projects I started ended up too small half way through. This is something I’ve had to come to terms with, that and a slowing metabolism thanks to age! This is not a whinge it’s more of a I’ve learned to accept that this is the way things are. Body acceptance in this day an age is just as much an act of radicalism as is body positivity or loving your body but I think that is a subject for another day or I’ll go too off topic. So in short I have learned to accept that I have a fluctuating body shape, some days clothes fit, others they don’t, so for me it’s now about building a wardrobe around that!

Usually I’m trying to always push myself to do more, sew more, knit more, produce more, etc but this is not always productive as this year has shown. I literally came to a standstill and was like what is the point of producing all these clothes just to show that I can! The whole point of me learning to sew all these years ago was to make clothes that suited my personality, fit better than the high street and more sustainable than the current fast fashion, throw away culture we have inherently adopted but somehow I appear to have stumbled off the path slightly, so not making has given me a chance to reassess things. As with anything as time goes on things change, your body changes, your taste changes, trends come and go, so it’s always good to acknowledge those changes or risk getting stuck in a rut. Obviously there is nothing wrong if you’re happy with the way things are, as long as you are happy.

So what’s my next move? Well I think it’s time to start focusing more on quality than quantity and I’ll be applying this to all aspects of my life works and personal. I’ve had a lot of time to do research this year looking for inspiration, ideas and styles and how to express and execute my own style on my blog and though social media to show off my work. Also to focus on taking my skills to the next level as well as learning new ones. To develop on presenting my work better to express myself, I guess that would be presenting my aesthetic/style better. The one thing I would say I’ve taken from my research is to up my game, be more confident in expressing myself and I don’t just mean on twitter screaming into the abyss about how fucked up the world is! I mean artistically.

It’s no longer about doing more, reading more, writing more etc it’s about enjoying what you and getting the most out of that experience. Every year I do the Goodreads challenge which is where you set yourself a number of books to read throughout the year, every year I fail to reach my target, not because I set a high number of books but because as my OH said to me it kind of takes the fun out of reading because you’re always thinking about the next book, so next year I’m not doing it! I’m not setting any challenges, yes I have goals but no challenges. I will make clothes, I will learn the techniques I need to make them I have a vague list of items that I want to learn to make, trousers, a coat, lingerie etc but that’s about as far as I have got. There will be no I’m going to write three blog posts a week, I will still be blog as and when probably aiming for at least once a week as long as I feel it’s worth publishing. I’m letting of go of stats and numbers and followers, I’m not failing because I’m not keeping up to set standards, I’m just following my own path. I get I might be repeating myself a bit over these posts but constantly reminding yourself of the objective is okay to keep you on track.

That saying I’m not knocking those who enjoy a good challenge, if that is what you need to do thrive and excel then go for it and I wholeheartedly encourage it but if you’re not enjoying it then maybe take a step back and ask yourself why? I want to enjoy making my clothes and much as I do wearing them, we seem to have lost the art of enjoying things as we constantly focus on how much work we are producing instead of focusing on why we are producing that work.

Not a new idea I know but I will be concentrating on the finer details when it comes to creating, so I guess a less is more theme to next year’s creativity. In other news I will be returning to my blogging roots and writing more about creativity and clothes, mostly making clothes, influences and trends etc but mostly  will be focusing on the quality of my work because I think that is what really counts.

 

 

Moving Forward!

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Winter is not my favourite season, yes it has the best natural light out of the seasons with its soft ethereal glow but light is also limited at this time of year and SAD has hit me hard this year and we’ve had quite a bit of grey, overcast skies meaning I’m struggling a little! But on the plus side not too long until winter solstice where I can start celebrating that the days will start getting longer again. I’m like Wall-E, I’m solar-powered and need the sun to function properly and so at this time of year you can find me permanently stationed under my day light lamp!

That aside, I’m also glad this  dumpster fire of a year is nearly over, whilst there have been no major traumas, it’s been one of those years where a slow trickle of this and that with a side of low-level health issues that just eats away at you little by little, and although time is arbitrary and you can start afresh on anything at any giving point, winter kind of puts me into hibernation mode, which is a pretty normal feeling I think. So whilst usually this is a pretty busy time of year for me, this year it isn’t because sometimes that’s just how the economy rolls! It’s been one of those up in the air kind of years in relation to everything, an uneasy feeling of uncertainty and where do go from here? But next year I want to put down roots especially when it comes to work and create a bit more stability for myself.

This year politically has giving me a lot to think about and I can say for certain that it has taught me a lot, mostly about other people but truly what I care about and you know what I do care and if that makes me a snowflake then so be it! Black lives do matter, me too matters, poor people matter, reproductive rights matter, trans rights matter, LGBTQIA matters! And before you skip down to the comments to say everyone matters, you’re totally missing the point! Yes everyone does matter but what we’re focusing on right now are the people who over-privileged asshats think deserve to be erased. It’s the 21st century and we are apparently having to discuss whether people have the right to exist because of their skin colour or sexual orientation!!!! We as a species suck big time! But the flames of the fire are stoked and instead of hiding behinds closed doors these issues are being brought to the forefront and we are dealing with them, there is still a long way to go and I believe things are going to get a lot worse before they get better again but I’m willing to do my bit even if it just being a better human being and providing support where I can!

The thing I’ve learned over my life is that nobody is perfect, we have all done and said things we regret, the thing to focus on is did we learn from it and did we use it to grow and change into a better person? I always find it weird when someone says ‘ooh you’ve changed!’ Like change is a bad thing but nine times out of ten it’s because you’ve outgrown them. Change is good, change is growth, if we do not grow we stagnate. there are a lot of stagnant people in this world! A few posts ago I was taking about comfortable ruts, too many of us are comfortable in our ruts, trust me the world is not going to stop revolving for you, so don’t complain when it leaves you behind!

As always half way through writing a post I realise I may have gone off track slightly but to be honest this year has strayed closely to flying off the rails! But it’s time to refocus on moving forward. It’s not always about making grand sweeping gestures to make changes, sometimes it just requires a tweak here and there and the rest will fall in place. It’s about trying to do better and be better, it’s about refocusing on what is in your heart, your passion, your wants, your needs. it is not about being a people pleaser, there will always be critics telling you you’re doing it wrong, you’re not, they’re just afraid of being left behind.

Turning 40 was weird for me, mostly because getting older does not usually bother me it’s part of parcel of life, in the past I’ve revelled in turned older but this year not so much probably a mid-life crisis on some sort. What have I/have not achieved and all that jazz, the fact that even though I usually to end up pretty much good at anything I try my hand at, I’m not really focused on one thing in particular, I tend to have a jack of all trades approach to my career, to many fingers in too many pies. I guess that’s a drawback to having so many interests, in the grand scheme of things it’s a relatively minor problem and an easy one to fix.

I read an article recently about how 90% of people fail to reach their goals because they basically don’t care enough about reaching them and therefore are not committed to reaching their target. Sounds simple and a no brainer but it was also an epiphany moment. Every year I do the Goodreads challenge in an effort to ream more, every year I never reach the target because it dawned me the challenge itself takes the joy out of reading. You find yourself so eager to finish each book so you can start on the next that it takes the enjoyment out of actually reading the book. Whilst I encourage reading all the books you can, it’s also important to enjoy the book your reading. All these things when said out loud sound easy but it’s so easy to lose sight of why we do things in the first place. I don’t think the current climate of social media helps, everything is based around numbers and whilst numbers can be important they can also be meaningless and empty. We’re so busy trying to reached number goals we forget the actual goal. There are so many dos and don’ts to blogging, to being self-employed to life that we forget to focus on what we actually want, the things that we care about, the things we want to do.

If I had to pick a buzzword for next year it would be focus. I’m not really into resolutions and whatnot but I think it’s good to have something to aim for or not depending on what tickles our fancy but focus is something I’ve never really had, I’m easily distracted and forget what the task in hand is supposed to be, so I’m going to focus which I guess after this rambling blog post would be a good thing, so thank you if you made it this far. I’m working on finer details of next years projects but will mostly be working on setting up my second Etsy shop, designing and making stuff for that. I know it will take a little longer than my previous work but that’s okay, I want to focus on improving my skills especially when it comes to sewing and photography. So I guess that is my theme for 2018, refocusing and putting down roots!

Photo: Taken by me in Montreal, Quebec.

The Art Of Slow Living

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What is slow living? Another question inspired another hashtag than we never really think about except to cut and paste in the hope that someone will see our post!

I guess like many things it varies from person to person but essentially it is taking a more mindful and slower approach to everyday life. We live in a rat race as they say, we’re encouraged to be the best that we can be to strive to the top of our game but without any thought of the other consequences that come with it.

We’re made to feel that if we don’t have as million instagram followers we’re not doing it right. Stats are important apparently, so much that people resort to faking it and buying followers to look like they are keeping up. We live in a world of fast food and fast fashion, everything is available at the click of button, hell yes even I’m guilty of an online buying binge every now and again. It gets to the point where we ask ourselves who are we trying to keep up with and why?

Now I know many people have already written on this subject and Hygge and other Scandinavian lifestyles have become popular as we find ways to get more out of life but I want to talk a little more in relation to me and how it affects my life and mental health situation.

I was that ‘weird’ child who used to shut herself away in her room to read and do art, I liked being on my own, I now realise that I was (and still am) introverted. I never got called that because I wasn’t shy and people like to categorise things according to stereotypes, FYI you don’t have to be shy to be introverted. I just find people draining, I prefer one on one or small groups of people, I can deal with certain situations I guess I’m probably more of an ambivert, it just depends on the people.

These days I know when to take time off from the world, or at least mentally prepare myself when I know I have to go and stuff that I’m not particularly fond of. Over the years my circle has shrunk to fewer and fewer people but these are the people who I love spending time with, they don’t make me feel obligated to stick around and have fun, they understand that we all need time apart, that we have our own lives, that we are individuals that lead different lives. You’ll be surprised at how many people don’t get that because as far as beings go, humans are inherently selfish.

But there is nothing wrong with being selfish especially when it comes to preserving your mental health. You only have so many hours in a day and you can’t do everything, so turning down a request or two to focus on one thing doesn’t mean you’ve let people down. Two half-arsed jobs do not make a whole! You are entitled to have time to yourself to recharge and do the things that you like. it took me a long time to figure this out, I guess wisdom does come from experience. I don’t care if you think I’m boring, it’s not your life to live. I’ve learned to switch off when suddenly people start announcing that I should do this or I should do that because they think they know better. Nobody knows me better than I do, only I really know what I should do with my life and that it is to do the things that make me happy.

I get that I have already been practising some aspects of slow living already but that doesn’t mean I’ve been practicing them right. It’s all good and well making your own clothes and cooking from scratch but not if it’s rushed and causes stress. I know that my main fault is that I’m always trying to do too much at once, that I never really get to appreciate it. I’ve been getting better over the years but recently not so much, I’ve been slipping back into my old habits and it’s counterproductive.

It’s hard to break bad habits but I’m making a concerted effort to slow it down and appreciate the things that I do. I didn’t become self-employed to mass produce half-thought through items that are on trend. That is not me. I didn’t learn to make my own clothes for them to be ill-fitting and half-finished because I got stressed out over them being perfect. I didn’t spend all that time making a meal to forget about it and let it burn because I was too busy doing something else.

Slow living isn’t just about taking a five-minute break to relax and catch your breath, it’s about enjoying and appreciating the things you do. We recently went on a trip and between destinations we decided to take the train instead of a plane. Usually I hate train journeys but I live in the UK and our rail system is basically expensive and crap! Even though we booked last-minute because we basically forgot and was a little more expensive we actually didn’t mind because it was worth it, we arrived at our next destination relaxed and not stressed, sometimes the longer option is the better option.

Slow living is not about living the perfect life, as at times it is going to throw you a curve ball and you need to be ready for that but for me slowing down is necessary and needed so that I can appreciate myself and my time more. Living in the moment doesn’t always mean being spontaneous and adventurous, sometimes it just means taking time to stop, listen and appreciate what is around you and most of all appreciating yourself.

Photo: taken in Allan Gardens Conservatory in Toronto, ON, Canada by me.