05 March 2010

Neutral Ground

Yesterday was one hell of a day - the sort of day where getting out of bed seemed like a bad idea before I even did it.

However, I had things to do, so up and dressed I got.
daily outfit, WIWT, skirt, cardigan, tank, silk tank, leopard print, dress, belt, scarf, tights, boots, jewelry, neutral outfit, neutral colors, stone lantern, garden 
photo taken by my fabulous mom
Black lace cardigan, Heart Moon Star, depths of the drawer
Leopard-print silk tank, Undersilks
Brown layering tee, LnA
Brown tweed skirt, H&M
Grey tights, Calvin Klein, Century 21
Boots, John Fluevog "Inge"

  neutral colors, jewelry, earrings, scarf, pin, chain bracelet, pattern, texture, tweed, lace, alpaca, knit 
Alpaca lace scarf, handknit 
Black woven belt, Ann Taylor Loft
Silver chain bracelet, gift from my parents
High-copper bronze Byzantine choker (worn as bracelet), Wolfgaard Armory
Silver and copper Stegosaurus fossil earrings, American Museum of Natural History
Gold, onyx, and pearl stickpin, depths of the jewelry box 

One of the things on the to-do list was visit my parents, who live an hour south of us. Not only did this mean a delicious dinner of sushi and nigorizake, but I got to take pictures in their beautifully landscaped (and nearly snow-free!) backyard.

With my overall feelings of droopiness and ennui, I didn't feel up to a bright, colorful outfit. Plus, in yesterday's post, I made few bold declarations about mixing metals and the wearability of neutrals in combination. Here's the backup for that bold statement: I'm wearing black, grey, several shades of brown, and cream, as well as a mix of gold, silver, and copper. You'll notice that the colors of the outfit are a mirror of the colors of the late-winter garden.

I love the combination of textures and patterns in this outfit. Nothing pleases the little Victorian in my heart quite so much as tweed and lace, and I think they're even better in combination. The tank is another perfect mixed-register piece: it's got the wild connotations of animal prints on a wonderfully soft, whisper-thin silk jersey knit.

Another thing I realize is that these are the first items from fast-fashion retailers I've worn on this blog. I've got to tell you, both the skirt and the cardigan are items that have been in my posession for quite some time. I think the cardi is one I bought when I was working on my undergrad degree, or just after. 

Even before the recent media uproars about clothing disposal practices, treatment of workers, or intellectual property theft, I was starting to phase stores like H&M and Forever 21 out of my shopping rotation for a wide variety of reasons. Yes, ethics were and are an issue: the argument can be (justifiably) made that any participant in the modern fashion industry is taking place in environmental destruction, exploitation, and a host of other societal nastiness, but retailers who specialize in cheaply-produced, low-quality goods that seem to be designed to do little more than fuel a ceaseless cycle of consumerism and waste (although, as I said above, sometimes items from these retailers can be surprisingly long-lived) strike me as particularly culpable.

However, that was only one contributing factor that prompted me to stop considering fast-fashion retailers as a regular shopping destination. Mostly, I got disappointed with the quality of construction and fit of their clothing. Crooked seams, poor-quality materials, and not-quite-right proportions are not merely endemic to inexpensive fast-fashion chains, they're a hallmark of their products.

I also discovered that inexpensive doesn't have to mean cheap. I can spend less on clothing by shopping at off-price stores like TJMaxx, Marshall's, and (the Mecca, the Shangri-La, the ne plus ultra of the lot) Century 21, or at thrift and consignment stores. My clothing budget goes much further ($4 for a Theory tank instead of $65; $8 for a Diane von Furstenberg halter wrap dress instead of  $225: $7 each for two LnA layering tees instead of $66) and the difference in quality is remarkable.

I consider thrifting to be a hobby, a passion, and something of a lifestyle. Look for more posts in the future about how to attack the confusing welter of a sorted-by-color Goodwill, dressing for thrifting, and brands to look for.

Would you wear an all-neutral look? Do the different shades all work together? What about mixing jewelry metals? What's your take on different tiers of shopping: do you love fast fashion, go mid-market, rock out in designer only, or live to thrift?

1 comment:

  1. This is a lovely all-neutral look. I think particularly because they're all midtone neutrals. I think.

    I so wish we had a Century 21. I have been hearing good things about the local Plato's closet. And I should really check out the local TJ Maxx, but the sifting is truly a pain. I look forward to your future posts about how to confront the crazy.


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