2016. What a year it’s been for the world. So much has happened that it almost feels trivial to think about things here in Vancouver, and what’s happened in my safe, stable life. Nonetheless, this year was one of newness, growth, and learning for me. I planned a wedding and got married, started living with a guy (who knew it’d be that hard?!), began working full time, and with all of that came a whole slew of other challenges. On the sartorial front, I also continued to further explore what it means to express myself through style while questioning the ethics of it all.
I’m so grateful to have this space where I can document that journey and share with likeminded people. Thank you so much for reading along as this blog has evolved over the years! With that being said, here are some reflections on what I’ve learned in 2016 when it comes to clothing, as well as some resolutions I’m hoping to pursue in 2017…
2016 Style Lessons: What I’ve Learned This Year
1. When it comes to building an ethical closet, every small step counts. It’s no question that ethical fashion has many different facets, is in many ways subjective, and is not something that can be simplified and put into a box. What does “ethical” even mean when it comes to fashion, right? Because of this complexity, I used to often feel overwhelmed and had no idea where to begin. This year, I learned that moving toward this goal is more of a lifelong journey than one single mindset change, and this has made taking small, manageable steps easier. For me, it’s meant only buying pieces that I really love, trying my best to shop seasonally, and defaulting to second hand first. I especially love this post by Into-Mind (one of my favourite blogs!), which lists 5 ways to build a more ethical closet regardless of your budget. It’s a great place to start.
2. Never underestimate the power of a piece you really love in your closet. It’s become much easier to say no to things that aren’t perfect because I’ve come to know how much use I can get out of what really works (and sharing a one bedroom apartment with limited closet space has certainly made it necessary, too!). A more particular and picky mindset with adding new pieces this year has allowed me to build a wardrobe of garments that I actually wear a lot. Though I’m not doing it perfectly, the vast majority of what I add into my closet now is worn in heavy rotation. I’ve also become more mindful of choosing pieces that are well made and will be able to withstand the frequent wear. It’s a good feeling to know that my clothes are serving a purpose, and that the “cost-per-wear” for each piece is good.
3. You won’t really ever “miss out” on anything when it comes to clothes. Thanks in large part to the nature of fast fashion, I think we’ve long been conditioned to think that if we don’t snatch up the deal or the piece we impulsively like, we’ll miss out on something big that would fulfill or satisfy us. Patience in building up my wardrobe is something that I’ve continued to learn this year. There is always something else available out there, and no garment will satisfy the way we are encouraged to think it will. Perhaps I’ve just made enough mistakes in this department over the course of my life and have finally started to really grasp this truth.
My 2017 Style ‘Resolutions’
1. Buy fewer things, still. A couple of months ago I talked about shopping seasonally and how I’ve been trying to limit my clothing purchases to 5 per season. Truthfully, it’s been hard to stick to this and I’ve probably doubled my quota this past winter. I’ve realized that my impulse buys happen most when I realize I have a gap in my closet that needs to be filled for a particular event or circumstance, and I end up purchasing something that’s not ideal. For the coming year, I’m hoping to mitigate this by planning ahead more… and to also be more satisfied with what I do have!
2. Ask more questions. While I’ve still been relatively successful in buying only what I love and purchasing second hand more often than not, I’d like to increasingly find out more about the origin of my clothes, the people who made them, and the materials that went into them. There are so many options for sustainable clothing out there (I just updated my resource list here, check it out!), and I’d like to explore them as options more thoroughly when I decide to purchase something new. I’m hoping to try out more of these brands and introduce them to you, too.
3. Take more risks. I recently admitted to my husband that I’ve been feeling bored with my clothes, like I’m no longer using personal style as an avenue to express creativity. This is something I’ve always valued, and I don’t think creatively dressing should be an antithesis to ethical fashion. In the quest to build a minimal wardrobe of things I will wear again and again, I do feel that I have lost some of my personal style “edge”. I’m not sure how I’ll do it yet, but for the next year I am looking forward to adding an element of personality into what I wear and to have fun with my wardrobe once more, but to look for ways to do so while growing in awareness of the people who make my clothes and for the environment. I’ll keep you posted with this one.
Thank you so much for reading along in 2016. See you in the new year!
Coat | From Hong Kong (similar)
Leather Jacket | ALLSAINTS, 2 years old (similar)
Denim | Citizens of Humanity
Bag | APC
Boots | BCBGMAXAZRIA, 4 years old
Scarf | Oak+Fort, 2 years old (this one is identical!)
Photos by Brian Chan