Saturday, April 30, 2011

Stripes and florals and neons, oh my!

Today marks day 30 of sixing and since I was so well behaved all month, I decided to let myself off on good behavior and celebrate by putting on a coral and white striped shirt, crazy, I know…

While part of me feels like Dorothy stepping into the Technicolor Land of Oz after a black and white Kansas, I have to say that sixing was a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable than I had imagined it being. After a whole month of limiting myself to only a fraction of my wardrobe, I can honestly say that I barely even missed it. Much to my surprise too, there were only a few times when I found myself wishing for more variety and it was kind of amazing to never have to worry about what to wear.

So am I a sixer for life? Well, probably not, but this month did make me think a lot about my fashion choices and I’m definitely going to make an effort to become a more conscious shopper. I’m not about to go as far as to boycott my favorite fast fashion stores, but I’m going to make an effort to buy more classic and durable pieces and to shop second hand when I can. Overall though (and especially because my wardrobe looks so enormous after a month of deprivation), I'm going to try to focus on what I already have, and to think twice about whether I actually need something or if I just want it when I am out shopping. I have—we all have—a lot more than we realize we do.

So, signing off for sixing but I’ll be returning tomorrow with my next endeavour: Soxing. Seriously.

Oh, and in case you didn’t notice, I finally have a logo! It’s not 100% done yet and I anticipate a few more variations before I call it a day, but hey, better done than perfect, right?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"6 for 6", or "6 Outta 6 Ain't Bad", or "6 Degrees of Separation", or since it's April 28th, how about "28 Days Later"

Why haven't I thought to play off the number 6 until now?

Hindsight's 20/20 I guess, but anyway...

I suppose it's only fitting (haha) to showcase some of my favorite outfits from sixing, so voilà! I present to you my top 6 wardrobe concoctions from the month:

A special thanks to Dan Kaplan for taking these snazzy photos

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tim Gunn's 10 Essentials

Aside from the realization that I possess a stupid amount of clothing, this month's other big observation is that my wardrobe lacks pieces that could be described as timeless and versatile. The items that I picked for my 6 were literally the only nondescript things that I could find in the visual cacophony of my closet. Hmmm, maybe it's finally time to stop dressing like a 5-year-old girl...

Although I'll probably make my own list at the end of the month based on my personal experience with sixing, here's Tim Gunn's list of must-haves—you know, the things that are actually worth paying more than $15 for.

Tim Gunn's 10 Essential Items Every Woman Needs

• Basic black dress
• Trench coat
• Classic dress pants
• Classic white shirt
• Skirt
• Blazer
• Day dress
• Cashmere sweater
• Jeans
• A comfortable alternative to a sweatsuit

Looks like it's time for a sustainable shopping spree to fill in the blanks, bummer...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fast Fashion

I consider myself to be pretty eco-minded, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never really considered the negative effects that the fashion industry has on the environment. Amanda wrote a great comment on the “My Vacation 6” post that inspired me to do a little research into sustainable fashion. Here’s what I found:

Clothing—fast fashion in particular—is a huge source of the carbon emissions that are contributing to global warming. This is due not only to how these clothes are produced, but also how they’re cared for (think: washing frequently in super hot water and drying at a high heat).

“Fast Fashion” is a term that refers to cheaply made clothing that rips off designer styles. The intent behind it is to produce clothing that reflects the latest fashion trends rather than creating pieces that are timeless and durable. These clothes are so affordable that you can dispose of them after only a few wears. Examples: Target, H&M, Forever 21 (3 of my favorites, gulp).

$1 trillion a year is spent on clothing worldwide and the average consumer consigns 66 pounds of clothing a year. Clothing makes up an estimated 30% of landfill waste.

Polyester, the most common synthetic material, requires huge amounts of energy and crude oil to produce, which leads to emissions that are harmful to the environment.

While cotton, a natural fiber, has less of an environmental impact than polyester, it’s also responsible for a quarter of all pesticide use in the US, and it requires more laundering than synthetic fabric. This constant washing has a massive environmental cost, and a Cambridge University study found that “buying a 250 g cotton t-shirt was equivalent to buying 1,700 g of fossil fuel, depositing 450 g of waste to landfill and emitting 4 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere.”

Then there’s the cheap labor, the shipping across the world—ahhhh, like we need something else to feel bad about! What are we supposed to do here, wear the same clothes until we’re 90? We don’t need to go that far, but what we can do is limit our consumption of fast fashion, wear clothes until the end of their natural cycle, buy sustainable and eco-friendly when we can (H&M actually just launched a new line of 100% sustainable clothing, horray!), and just not consume as much as we have been. I’ll tell you firsthand too that limiting my wardrobe to only 6 pieces has really made me think about how unnecessary it is to have all those clothes in the first place.

The Cambridge University study that I mentioned before also made a few interesting suggestions to the clothing industry for improving their sustainability. Who knows if they'll ever catch on, but I really liked these 2 in particular:

1. Stores could lease out clothing much like a library book, for a short period of time or for an entire season.

2. Retailers could offer to buy back clothing from customers at a discount for recycling.

What I’m hoping is that sustainable clothing will catch on like reusable shopping bags did a few years ago and that eco-friendly clothing will soon become the norm. Until then, we need to make the personal effort to buy less and to be more conscious of what we do buy.

A Few Related References and Links
Can Polyester Save the World, New York Times, 2007
What to Wear, The Rise of Sustainable Fashion, Climate Action, 2011
H&M's Conscious Collection

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Back to Life, Back to Reality (and my New England 6)

What are the telltale signs that my vacation is officially over? My once glorious tan continues to fade a little more each day (thanks for all the rain, Boston), the 25,347 mosquito bites that I acquired are merely a memory (a really itchy and annoying one), and my neck is already stiff enough to require its traditional midday massage. Sigh…is that all there is to vacation?

But wow was it great, and much needed too. Not only did we swim in a bioluminescent bay, drink our weight in Piña Coladas (did you know that Puerto Rico claims to have invented them back in the 60’s?) and gaze at the stars from the hot tub every night, but I managed to do all of the above while only wearing 6 articles of clothing. Danne bam!

You might think that denying yourself the joy of packing a suitcase full of Forever 21’s entire summer collection would be a bummer, but it was more of a relief. Let’s face it too, does anyone really wear all of the outfit alternatives that they pack? Maybe it’s just me, but I always end up wearing the same dress over and over again. After this trip, I think I’m officially a vacation sixer for life.

Sixing has been really great back in my regular life too. No more "I have nothing to wear" moments, no more looking through my closet for stupid amounts of time every morning. Now, I simply choose pants or dress, black or gray, and then add some shoes and accessories. Done and done. I actually really love it. I mean, I do miss some of my old brightly-colored favs, but I'm kind of enjoying looking a little more like a grown-up in my black and "Graphic Design Gray" (as a professor of mine in college once put it) ensembles.

Here are a few things that I've learned from 2 weeks of sixing:

1. My Spring jacket can definitely be worn as a shirt too, win!

2. Leggings are the best thing ever, especially on vacation. Not only did they protect me from at least a hundred more mosquito bites, but they can act as yoga pants, regular pants if you have a long shirt, and keep you a little warmer if worn under a dress. A whole new world...

3. Scarves are also a contender for the best thing ever. If anyone needs an idea for a birthday gift for me next year, I'm all about building up my scarf collection. They make anything look a little fancier and can even make a black wife beater look snazzy. Amazing.

4. I need to invest in some serious staple pieces. You know, a nice black sweater, a white shirt—basically, the opposite of my current pattern infested wardrobe. While the stripes and florals are fun, I can definitely save the pizazz for the scarves and jewelry so I don't need to hit up H&M every season. Oh the things I'm learning...

5. Nobody notices, or cares, if you wear the same thing 2 days in a row. Well, unless it comes from the afore mentioned floral pattern section of my closet...

A snapshot of my Viequation, ahhh Vieques sunset, I miss you already...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Vacation 6

Well, I have a confession to make. I'm not really going the whole month only wearing 6 things—it's actually 12. No, I'm not cheating—I'm just going on VACATION (!!!!!), and since the weather forecast in Puerto Rico is sunny and in the 80's all next week, my New England 6 really aren't going to cut it.

I wasn't sure if I should take a vacation from lent too, but I decided that sixing would be really helpful for packing, and that it was! I honestly could have got away with only packing 5 things, but I gave myself the 6 and then threw in a 7th bonus item—just because it's vacation.

So, 12MOL is signing off and checking out for a week or so, but I'll be back soon and posting will resume as usual.


My Vacation 6

Monday, April 4, 2011


This month I’m embarking on a wardrobe diet, not because I think I have a shopping problem, but because I think it’ll be a fun challenge in minimizing (which is obviously a hot topic for me. See: January’s lent). I was chatting with my coworker Elise last week about what to do for my April lent when she referred me to this article that she had read in the New York Times a few months ago. After reading only a few paragraphs, I was sold and decided to make April’s lent “Sixing”.

Here’s the gist:
I choose 6 articles of clothing from my wardrobe and wear only those selected pieces, mixed and matched, for an entire month. Last night I carefully selected my 6 and decided on the following:

1. Jeans
2. Black dress
3. Black tank-top
4. Gray short-sleeved shirt
5. Long black sweater
6. White blazer or white sweater (I’m still on the fence. The rule is that it doesn’t officially count until you wear it).

It may sound a little intense but there are a few exceptions that make it manageable:

Items that Don’t Count for Your 6

1. Undergarments
2. Pajamas
3. Swim wear
4. Work-out clothes
5. Outerwear (jackets)
6. Shoes
7. Accessories

I may or may not allow myself a bonus item depending on how difficult it is (hey, I make the rules here) because while limiting my wardrobe to 6 items is pretty tough, upping that number to 7 doesn’t really make it that less of a challenge. We’ll see though, I’m sure there will be photos of funny outfits and complaints about missing my favorite brightly colored clothing to come…

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Is that all there is to Mmmarch?

And just like that it’s over and I’m back to eating Celeste pizzas and TJ’s frozen dinners. Just kidding—well kind of, I actually did hit up Mama Celeste the other night, but my good eating habits from last month haven’t totally gone out the window just yet…

I’m sure it was evident in my posts, but if the joy of cooking didn’t come across, let it be known that I really enjoyed Mmmarch. It was great to cook up so many new recipes and just to eat better in general, but the part that I enjoyed the most was spending time with so many people that I love and care about. A few recipes in, I realized that this month’s lent was just as much about the people with whom I shared the food with and the stories and history contained in each recipe, as it was about the actual meal itself.

When I studied abroad in Italy, one of my first observations was how seriously the Italians took their meals. Restaurants didn’t even open until 7 in the evening because once you sat down at the table, it was presumed that you’d be there all night. Meals were dragged out (in the best way possible) for hours and hours, and long after the last course was served, there was no antsy waiter hovering over you, waving the check in your face. On the contrary, you were invited to stay as long as you liked, and when you felt like you’re dining experience was through, you would ask for the check yourself. While microwave dinners are certainly convenient for our over-worked lives, it completely removes the experiential element from the meal, and to me, that’s just as important as the food.

Dan and I spent the first half of our weekend at the funeral of someone who died far too young and it made me even more grateful that I was able to share so many happy memories this month with the people that I hold near and dear to me. Not to sound like a public service announcement, but it’s so important to make time to get together with your loved ones, and even more important to tell them how much they mean to you.

That being said, I love you all, thank you for joining me for dinner, and hey, if you didn’t make it over last month, the invitation still stands. Viva la dinner party anytime you want!

Next Up: The Wardrobe Diet. Full-post coming tomorrow, it should be interesting haha.