To Universe, with Love

Summer Uniform : Ode to the Little Blue Dress

Posted on August 26, 2016

bluedressThe little blue dress. I could easily get poetic about them. I feel my sartorial best when I wear one. My little black dress has always been blue. They can be worn everyday without screaming ‘lbd’. And I currently have seven of them, that I rotate through the year.  It has been a back-to-school ritual of mine, during my PhD days, to buy one at the start of every semester. I have vintage, ones that date back to 2010 ( second hand ) and my oldest was purchased in 2013. Oversized shirt dresses and shift dresses have been immune to my weight fluctuations. Chambray / lining makes them durable. Avoiding the dryer is anti-aging for the dresses. I never tire of the silhouette and they work well with my lifestyle. As I go, I am getting pickier about the shade of blue. Navy is my prefered blue. Presenting my collection :manyBlueDresses

Some notes :

  • A dress is like a t-shirt, but simpler. You put one on. And don’t worry about pairing / matching. Its my basic + staple + classic + must-have.
  • When I read articles on signature style, I think of my blue dresses.
  • To me, a uniform is about simplifying choice. Not wearing the exact same thing. All these dresses are very similar. I could technically only own one. But then, I can’t wear it every day of the week. I have seven.
  • I read someplace that The Parisian women doesn’t own 5 black dresses but that one perfect black dress. I obviously don’t subscribe to that school of thought.
  • Fit : “Your dress should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady”, said Edith Head. I agree. But I size up so that they may be immune to my weight fluctuations.
  • Shift dresses are very bike friendly. You can eat a big meal or drink liters of water without spilling out of your clothing. Not having a waist band is the most liberating way to dress, in my opinion. I don’t have a different size top and bottom (anatomically). So it’s easy to find ones that fit me well.
  • I used to be adamant on making them less girly by wearing oxfords/loafers with my dresses. Lately, I don’t care. I wear them with ballet flats during summer. I am currently comfortable with how ever feminine, I look in them.
  • Every shoe/accessory I own pairs well with my blue dresses. I wear black, khaki, brown or pink with them. My acid test before every purchase : does it pair with navy blue.
  • Someone once told me : black and navy don’t pair well. It made me angry. I started wearing them together everyday in a rebellion of sorts. How dare they insult my favourite combination ?
  • Dusty pale pink pairs well with navy blue. I sometimes need to break the navy and black rut that is easy to fall into.
  • Red shoes may look a little too colorful but I wear them anyways. A splash of bad taste from time to time is necessary.
  • Blue dresses and brown satchels are the perfect match.
  • Linen dresses are usually not opaque enough. I like mine lined. I try to avoid poplin cotton. I don’t like jersey. Oxford cotton is my favourite kind for dresses.
  • The silks I see in the market ( Equipment/Everlane/Theory) are too thin for a dress. They are prone to being too clingy, catch static and need a slip. An exception is 25-32mm silk, which is rather expensive. 32mm silk feels like cotton canvas while having the drape and sheen of silk. They are hard to find and usually not affordable. Cuyana, APC and Celine do them.
  • Dresses are disappearing from the modern society. We have embraced masculine clothing ( which I love, ) as the new norm. Women often need to dress a certain way, to be taken more seriously at work.The biases and prejudices run deep. And dresses are loosing.
  •  I, on the other hand, think the men don’t know what they are missing out on. There is nothing more ventilating or easy to wear than a shift dress. There is no waistband ! which makes all the difference.
  • My notion of an ideal garment : Well made, created by someone who understands technique, a design that will not look like costume 5 years from now, pairs well with what already exists in my wardrobe, perhaps will work with something I may buy in accordance to my personal style in the future,  …
  • “Simplicity survives the changes of fashion. Fit the century, forget the year”, Valentina. I think of my shift and shirt dresses this way. They have been around for the last century and have been evolving with time.
  • I like how navy dyed clothing linen and cotton ages. The older my dresses get, the more I am attached to them. I have a (Madewell) dress that used to be navy but is currently deep royal blue after two years of wear. It was a welcome surprise. The vintage denim dress is gathering the washed effect at certain areas, which looks interesting.
  • I stop and stare if I see someone on the street wear one. Its less rude to stare at women online. My pinterest board : Link.
  • “All women should have a good fairy. That is the couturier’s role”, said Monsieur Dior. I look up to Phoebe Philo. I purchased the blue dress by Celine when I found it (for 220$) on Vestiaire Collective. “You have values in a couture outfit that you cannot find anywhere else: it’s the maximum of perfection”, said Gianfranco Ferre. The dress is rather … perfect. I actually think the same of my dress from Madewell.
  • “Dresses stand quite simply for femininity, as well as a kind of simplicity that is both old-fashioned and totally contemporary”, said Christian Lacroix. I agree.

 

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If anyone is reading these posts for inspiration to build a minimal wardrobe, I have to confess : I am not the one to give such advice. I can only talk about my love of clothes and my wardrobe building experiences. Going by that thought, this should have been my first blog post. I do try to not shop the planet away by taming my shopping impulses and by buying for longevity. I would like to catalog my entire wardrobe through these posts. This is my summer capsule.  Everything I own should appear on the blog in the next year. Do I need 7 of the almost same thing ? I did, because we had a 7 months of ( 100 degree ) summer in Arizona. This is all that I wore. Collecting these dresses felt justified. I have since moved out of the desert. We have a 5 month mild summer in California. If I stop buying more, I should be okay for a while. 

 


 

Question : I am trying to write a blog that doesn’t instigate a desire to shop, while talking about beautiful clothes and personal style. Don’t know if it’s possible but I would like to test the theory. Did this post make you want to go shopping ? 

Zara and Me

Posted on August 20, 2016

 

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I have a very complicated relationship with Zara. I think of it as an ex-boyfriend that I have mixed feelings towards, since the breakup. Its been two years since I shopped there. While I am quite proud of weaning off fast fashion, I have to admit that I don’t hate it. I look at the beautiful things and the corresponding prices – it makes me smile. What stops me is the thought of sweatshops and quality that often disappoints. I have replaced Zara with second hand shopping. And yes, I am almost over it.

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Firstly, stocks.

I have a confession. Every quarter, when I see the headlines ‘ Fast Fashion isn’t going anywhere. The owner of Zara got richer’, my head reads “so did I”. I own some stock. I invest in fashion and technology, the two industries I think I understand. I told myself it’s blood money but I haven’t gotten around to selling my stock / letting go of the investment. Before anyone attacks me, if you draw interest from your savings in any bank, I am pretty sure you did too. They diversify the portfolio and Zara has been a safe haven for investors for years. But do I feel good about it ? No. Not really.

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Second, affordability.

I sometimes sneak a peak on the website. And I see things I liked on the runway at affordable prices. My relative owns the knock off of the Chloe Drew Bag in black. Every time I see it on her, I chant ‘thief’ in my head without realizing. The knock off of Celine’s Belt Bag is currently on sale for cheap. Its quite tempting. But the intellectual property theft is appalling. And it always reminds me of why I should never visit the website, ever !

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Thirdly, the past.

I have three pieces from Zara that I currently own and adore. A leather jacket of my dreams. A blue rain coat that looks like the piece Sofia Coppola is wearing in this picture. And a wind breaker jacket in safari green. I am pretty sure there is nothing fast about the way I treat them. I have had them for years and worn them lots. I condition my leather jacket as necessary because I can’t bear to think of it getting ruined as it ages. I wash and wax my rain coat every season. The polyester safari jacket goes hiking/camping with me whenever I go. I have absolutely no intention of disposing them. If every shopper at Zara steered clear of stuff not made in Europe, learnt to identify reasonably decent quality pieces, stayed away from the exact knock offs ( do they make any original designs? ), purchased items that become outdated in a month’s time, … wouldn’t that be good ?

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Fourth, mostly shitty quality.

90% of what I purchased from Zara fell apart after few washes. When I thought the cloth was good, the buttons came loose. After I re-sewed the buttons back, the seams came apart. Some pieces became asymmetric after a wash. I had a favorite red blouse became see through after ~15 washes. The shoes that they label as ‘leather’, only have leather uppers. Synthetic soles – big mistake. Finding natural fabrics is a treasure hunt. They had a line of handmade coats last winter. They turned out to be exact knock offs from the runway and the ‘thief’ chant in my head made me veto them all. It stopped being a feel good experience. Its not even a guilty pleasure. Its pure guilt.

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Lastly, sweatshops.

Their website no longer has the ‘Made in’ information. I see some tags with ‘imported’, which is usually a way to cover up the use of sweatshops in Asia. Very few pieces get made outside Asia. What do I know of the conditions? Did they treat the textile waste before they dumped it ? I will sleep better if I know for sure. I can’t look cute at the expense of someone. Use the saved money to buy good food, grow my savings and live happily ever after, should I ?

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I have choices in America, which I realize is a luxury. When I lived in India, I used to go to a tailor who ran his own tiny sweatshop. The cotton came from fields which employed children. There are a few places that weave the cloth and dye it in a sustainable manner. But its hard to control every step of the pipeline. I didn’t care back then, as long as I got a good deal. All this makes me rather thankful for having access to places like Everlane and eBay. It is not impossible to find something in my style how ever tight my budget. Its been two years since I purchased something at Zara. I don’t intend to go back. It wasn’t easy. And it’s still complicated. 

 


 

Please share your fast fashion detox stories if you have any. Was it easy ? Is it still a struggle ? Do you go hunting in fast fashion stores for good quality pieces ? Is think this problem is all black and white ? Or do you think sweatshops are fine ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading list : Summer Edition

Posted on August 19, 2016

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Photo Source : The Sartorialist

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1. The rather exciting evolution of Pho

Food, politics and poverty are more intertwined than you think ! The more i quizz into evolution of food, more I learn about the history of the country. Pizza became popular because of the great famine. The French got their penchant for food from an Italian princess who married the French king. Chivalry was introduced as a concept (in the form of plays) in the royal court to prevent noble men from groping their women in an embaressing manner in public. Ballet was first introduced to teach the royalty posture and movement, which later evolved into a dance form. History lessons can be interesting !

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2. Can you define ‘healthy’ ?

The word healthy gets thrown around too much and by everybody. There is no standardization or consensus on what’s healthy. We see fads that get proven wrong from time to time. I trust the ancient wisdom that has been reinforced by science and the feedback from my body to determine whats healthy for me.

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3. Art and Engineering of shoe-making

“A good shoe must be anchored by a sturdy, invisible shank, supported by a steely heel and coddled by a cushy footbed. There are myriad things that can go wrong. Most good heels use tempered steel in the shank — a piece of metal in the inner sole — and in the heel. A shoe should be very rigid so that the wearer can rest weight on her heel, without having to balance on the ball of her foot. But some shoe makers insert a weak metal shank or use cheaper materials such as plastic.”

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4. Do you have to be gorgeous to be popular for your style on Instagram ?

How true. I looked up all the stylish people I follow on instagram and they are all good looking. All of the popular bloggers look insanely gorgeous. We keep hearing that style has nothing to do with beauty. But we as a society don’t validate it really. I don’t seem to follow any of the plus size bloggers. I applaud every time I see a black model on the cover of Vogue but follow (just) two bloggers who are of African American origin. I am sadly plugged into the system ( The Matrix anyone? )

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5. Vintage Garance Dore

I miss the days when she used to write her own blog. The voice and the humour – I miss. She was cute, funny and relatable. I sat down last weekend and read a few posts from 8 years ago. Still very relevant and adorable.

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6. Trends that need to die 2016. ( video )

I don’t agree with everything on his list but he helped me realized the microspheres of trends. Pinterest has its own trends ( Wendy’s Lookbook sort of perfect outfits go viral). Tumbler has its own trends (APC-esque looks on skinny white women go viral). The fashion bloggers have their own trends (Gucci everything apparently ? ). And we the humans have to resist them all to stay original. Do we stand a chance ?

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7. The Myth of the catty woman

I dislike this notion of women being catty and unsupportive to each other. I am critical of the typical shopoholic fashion blogger. But I hope I am not catty. I will tone it down from now on. I have done a some shout outs to bloggers I admire in the past. But the truth remains that I don’t do enough. I will try to be nicer and more supportive.

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8. I wish I didn’t have the wedding I had.  ( video )

Its our 6th annvy last week and I can not bear to look at my wedding photos because of the facade. We performed rituals we didn’t believe in. Ceremonially prayed to multiple random gods to bless us in front of all our guests, while being atheists. And paid good money for the charade. I saw this video and wished I had some say in my wedding. I tried but couldn’t convince my family. They were afraid of being shunned by the hindu society to let me have what I wanted.

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9. This manifesto by TooGood

How badass !

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Any fantastic articles you read that you want to add to the list ? Or fantastic blog posts that you wrote or read that you want to share ? I had a rather long reading list this season but shortened it. Articles that I love, I pin to these two Pinterest boards : fashion related & non-fashion related. Some very very good reading material lives out there.

Muir Woods

Posted on August 14, 2016

 

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The hike

Walking through an ancient forest is a humbling experience. A forest that has existed for a million years ! Trees that are 700 years old, 300 feet tall and roots that are 100 feet in width inhabit Muir woods. This national park named after the legendary John Muir, houses the last of the redwoods that the logging industry have not destroyed. Redwoods and the Sequoia trees once claimed 2 million acres of land and we managed to make furniture/build homes out of most of it. Last weekend, we went to meet the ones that survive. And it’s still glorious. These pictures do not do justice to the beauty of the place. ‘Allure’ is the best word for it – it stays with you. The smell, the air, the sounds, the animals, the sunlight, the shadows, the exhilaration are missing from the pictures. It can only be experienced by being outdoors.

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The rich deep dark woods

Notice the lack of airy sunlight through the trees ? That is what makes this place so beautiful. The dark greens fill the air. You can hardy see the tree tops – too tall. The younger trees are skinny and tall letting some light through. But depending on the part of the woods, you may be walk through an enchanting forest.

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Why so tall ?

The conditions have mostly been in favour for these trees. It rains plenty during September and November. The fog from the sea provides moisture that the trees can absorb during the summer months. Not many natural predators and calamities happened upon them so far.

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The dancing shadows

When not awestruck with the tree tops, do take a look at the ground. Its as interesting ! Delicate light and shadows dance through. I am working on making a banner for my blog out of the pattern from the picture on the left. They all look beautiful to my eyes.

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The roots

Most of the walking trail is uneven from the roots that inhabit under the soil. They are supposed to have spread out for 100 feet and intertwine making a solid foundation.

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The Trail

We did the Lost trail and the walkway near the visitor center. I do wish we had more water bodies or the beach by the trail. Perhaps some camping next time. We earned another map for our personal collection.

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Hiking outfit

N.D.C made by hands make the sturdiest boots, in my opinion. They have a rugged sole and a solid upper. I took these boots to my cobbler to get them stretched a little and he couldn’t stop admiring them. Chambray shirts are durable and comfortable. This one is by Steven Alan. I used to wear these Citizens of Humanity jeggings as pants. They are now retired to hiking pants. They are very stretchy and you can do splits in them ! We went for a post hike beer and I don’t think I looked sloppy.

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They came home

I was lagging behind the boys on the trail. There was so much interesting stuff everywhere on the floor. I got home, this collection of dead leaves for my vase. I find them rather beautiful and the rustic color palette blends well with our home. Store bought flowers are great but I rather use foraged vegetation.

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Do you remember the tallest tree you have met ?

Zero-Waste Stories from My Great-grand-ma

Posted on August 12, 2016

My great-grand-ma passed away this week. I am thousands of miles away from her and don’t know how to help. She was very ‘great’ to me. She was born in 1915. She lost her mother when young and was abandoned by her father. She was married at age 13. She lived through India’s struggle for Independance. She lived through some famines. She outlived a few of her children. She outlived her husband. The passion and strength with which she she lived is admirable. I wanted to share a few stories that are a window into the past. My great-grandmother is so much more to me than what is written here. I grew up with her and she was my childhood roommate. We are a ridiculously large family because she valued the bond and kept us intact. That is her inheritance to us.  I am incredibly grateful for it all. I constantly mention my family in every post because she taught me to value their advice.  Cheers to her life and all the amazing stories. 

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The mothers 

My great grandma and my mother are great friends. She raised my mother in the 70s and my mother took care of her for the last few years. They are both smart women who constantly try to outwit each other with their sarcasm. Wisdom and great stories are a privilege of age. My mother and grandma have lots to share about her. I am trying to reduce my carbon footprint and I try to look to the past for some inspiration. She lived an all natural life for the most part. Some notes :

1. On economy when in turmoil: My great-grand-ma wanted to buy an extra clay pot for her kitchen. And my great-grand-pa reprimanded her for wanted pots and pans when the nation is struggling for its independence. She lived on a tight budget all of her life and invested every penny she could save.

2. Her wedding : Weddings were a happy and merry occasion where people dressed in their finest. Lot of folks who would attend her wedding got along their own steel utensils – a plate and a tumbler from their home. After the meal, they would rinse the plate with water, fill the tumbler with the dessert and take it home. The rest would use a banana leave as a plate that can be disposed off.

3. Shampoo. Soapnuts. She could have modeled for a hair commercial with her locks at this age. It looks better than my current hair situation. She would sulk when our family replaced soapnuts with shampoo.

4. Dry clean-only silks ? She laughs at the concept. She would boil soap nuts and use this solution to rinse her silk sarees. The sarees were then spread flat on the floor to dry in the backyard. She had three that she used from age 15 to 30. One was her wedding saree.

5. Mops. We used to make brooms from coconut tree leaves. We also had a “mop tree” in our backyard that had leaves that are very ergonomic to be used as a mop. The backyard was carefully used to provide for the needs of the family. She was displeased when my mother had a lawn in the front yard of my childhood home. She thought we were misusing the space for vanity.

6. Nail polish ? Try henna instead. She had red finger tips. They looked quite attractive in a vintage bombshell way. It served as hair color too.

7. Door mats ? Jute was woven into bags that were used to hold dry goods like pulses and grains. When these bags wore out beyond repair, they became floor mats. I never heard of anyone slip on one and they did dry out in a reasonable amount of time. Fully decomposable.

8. Soap ? She remembers going to the river side and using “special” clay found by the river to scrub the body. But for the most part, she used gram flours for body scrub. Isn’t it expensive ? Apparently not. Because we grew pulses in our fields.

9. Charity. I donate unwanted goods and feel good about it. She talked about how Mahatma Gandhi had come to our village to motivate the citizens to fight for freedom. She donated a gold bangle ( which is treasure to her ) for the cause. Women didn’t have money of their own and didn’t inherit during that time. She said lot of women in the village did the same because it was gold passed down to them by their mothers. She thinks in terms of “common good for the people”.

10. If she went to a store/vendor/visited a farm, she would carry her cloth bag. In the absence, they would use paper from old newspapers to wrap the goods. Else, she would use the end of her saree to hold the goods. She wore pair of rubber flip flops for most of her life. She prefers walking bare foot.

11. All of her children, grandchildren and greatgrand children (me) used cloth diapers that came from her old sarees. When a child is born, the family pools in resources to help in whatever way. She had a strong personal style. We know her colors ! A certain shade of blue, pink, orange, green sarees that she wore for decades. When her sarees gather holes, they would become diapers.

12. She values education over money. Her favourite grandchildren are the ones who study hard. When i visit her, she asks me if I am making good grades. She complains about how she never got the chance to go to school. They told her ‘since she was a women, she doesn’t need it’. 92 years after those words are uttered, she can’t make peace with the injustice. She complains to anyone who listens.

13. Handbags. She would sew in a small pouch into her clothing when she was younger. She later had this cloth pouch that she tucked into her saree folds like a fanny pack. I remember her having this metal trunk that she would carry when she travelled. It was reinforced many times with additional metal to make it last. When she couldn’t lift it anymore at old age, she allowed us to replace it.

14. We slept on cots. Every year, you take the yarn out, wash it and reweave the cot. I remember helping my mother do this as a child. These cots can be lifted up and stacked against a wall. This discouraged lounging and encouraged folks to be active.

15. Coconut oil and sesame oil was used for cooking in her home. Then they moved on to using ghee after the family had stable income. They ate meat once a month, when they had guests. We would kill a bird from our backyard farm. The hens were primarily used for eggs which they had in plenty. We had peacock, turkey, hens, etc roaming in her backyard. Cats were an arch enemy since they killed our birds.

16. As the family grew, they employed a laundry man. He would pick up the clothes, wash them and return them. In those days, the laundry men were allowed to wear the clothes. It was not uncommon for my grandpa to bump into the laundry man wearing the clothes from our home. I find this rather strange but my mother remembers it well.

17. Books were a luxury. She treasured paper. She associated it with education and worshipped books. She had a few that she would put covers on, not allow anyone to mark, dog ear, write on, etc. She dusted her books everyday ! She was horrified when she had to use toilet paper during her visit to America.

18. Doing dishes: We used to get coconuts, extract the fibre on top of the nut and use it as a scrub. They used ash which is a byproduct of brick making as dish soap.

19. Eye liner. She made her own from castor oil. This oil was home made and used for various ailments.

20. Menstrual cloth pads were used. During those days, it was a custom for women to be barred from everyday life when they menstruate. They would eat in separate utensils away from the rest of the family, sleep away from the family, not participate in everyday activities, not enter place of worship,… People still defend this custom like they defend all customs, in the name of hygiene. We never followed this custom at home. I was shocked when I first learnt about it. A lot of my girlfriends who were put through this shame. She didn’t enforce such crap on the women in our family. I am very grateful.

 

She suffered from Alzheimer’s during her final years and I see it as a welcome distraction. She has outlived a few of her children and it was becoming very painful for her to endure it all. She was happier after she lost her memory. I wish I learnt more from her when I lived with her. I shouldn’t take anything for granted. Least of all, time ….

Porselli Ballet Flats: Review

Posted on August 6, 2016

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‘Are these shoes poorly made?’ is an easy question to answer. ‘Are these shoes good?’ is a much much harder question to answer. We can not ignore the lifestyle of a person when it comes to shoes. Do you have a heavy step ? Do you have wide feet ? How much do you weigh ? Do you have flat feet ? How much do you walk ? On what sort of terrain do you walk on ? Do you drag your feet ? How many other pairs do you own to rotate ? …. All these factors play a role. If you are fairly active, have narrow feet, dont like replacing your shoes by the year, this review might be relatable.

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SPOILER REVIEW:

” No ! Leave them to the folk who own lots of shoes or the ones who can afford to replace their shoes very frequently. We the people need our shoes to be sturdier. Yes, they are handmade. I absolutely LOVE the shape of them on my feet. But the quality is lacking. “

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THE PAINFULLY LONG REVIEW.

 

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At what point during the time line of owning a shoe is one qualified to review it ? Definitely not first impressions unless you are a cobbler/craftsman/leather expert. Also, what has time got to do with it ? I have 16 pairs. Some of them get worn less than a dozen times a year. So I did a little mental count of the usage. They hit 100+ wears. And hence this review.

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First thoughts : High vamps ! I love that little bow in the front. Its like an actual ballerina. I have long fingers and toes. And don’t like toe cleavage. These ones have good coverage.They fit like a glove and mould to my shape. No rubbing. I caught myself posing as I stood, because I liked the shape they made on my feet. But where is the quality ? they look thin and flimsy. Whats all the hype about ? I was eager to use them and find out. But I like them so much that I ran to my cobbler and got a vibram sole put on the bottom. I tried to quiz him about his professional opinion on the quality. He didn’t think they were worth the money.

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Wear and Tear : The images above show the stress points of these shoes. The heel is wrinkling. The front of the shoe is peeling off. The leather is wearing thin and even my narrow feet are beginning to show their silhouettes through the leather. The rubber soles are detaching just like my good cobbler predicted – not enough leather sole to hold it.

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Review : They are delicate, dainty and make my feet look pretty. I would not expect a lot of run from them if you wear them outdoors. I am a fairly active person who walks/bikes. They provide zero shock absorption on the footpaths and parks when I walk the dog. The uppers are giving away. The leather is scuffing up in a very unflattering manner.  I got my answer to the question “where is the hyped quality?”. They are not hyped for their quality but for their heritage and shape. Its thin flimsy leather has caught up with time. The sole is so flat that there is no substance. Perhaps they would work for someone who walks very little ?

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Price: I purchased them from this European store when the euro was weak, for 140$. They are priced at 200$ on A.P.C and more on other US based e-commerce websites. They are definitely not worth the price.

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Care : I believe durability is subjective. You need to do your part and let the shoes do their part. I condition my flats once a month. I gave them rest between wears. I never got them wet. I wear no show socks. I believe I am doing my part. My Frye ballet flats have aged way better after a LOT more wear.

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Heritage:  Yes, they have been around for a long time. They are hand made in France in a 100 year old factory which explains the price. But it does feel like stale technique. Imagine Apple making iPhone 1 in a factory in California and selling them for 299$ in the year 2016 ! As of today, we know a lot about foot anatomy. Shoe making has advanced. But these guys still seem to find some flat thin pieces of leather and stitch them together. What is all the hype about ?

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Pros: They are good summer shoes. Thin and airy. If you have a temperament that likes new shoes every season or year, they may fit the bill too. Beautiful shape. And very very comfortable. They are my naked glove shoes.

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Final thoughts: Have you heard of the term ‘ballet slippers’ / ‘house flats’. These shoes fall in that category. I wouldn’t go as far as to call them ballet flats. The right word : slippers. While I am disappointed, I still like them. I wear them around the house, to walk the dog, evening walks, quick bike rides, etc. They don’t have holes as yet. If they survive another 100 wears, I would have even gotten my moneys worth. Still counting.

 

The search for a good ballet flat continues. Repetto’s have a small vamp and give me toe cleavage. Ferragamos have that shiny bow in the front. Chanel has to put its ugly logo on top of everything in a conspicuous way. Chloe scalloped flats looked really flimsy. Lanvin have that elastic back which I don’t want. The search continues. 

On Magazines

Posted on August 5, 2016

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Magazines or blogs ? Or both ? I want to read the Vogue and adore it, but never seem to be able to. I wish the images were less for the show and more chic. I wish the range of designers was more expansive and not limited to the luxury makers. I wish they had more vintage and it’s all not centered around what to buy. I wish it had good sartorial stories that makes you think, not shop. I wish they were more voices from the brilliant designers whose clothes are featured in the glossy pages. I wish there was less fashion and more style. A girl woman can hope. I think the quality of a magazine can be quantified by the following steps.

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step1

Step One

The flip through

You set aside some time after a subscription drops in your mail. You settle down on a couch and flip. You look at the pictures. You skim through the article titles. Perhaps read a few highlighted lines. But you are scanning, not reading. Most magazines die at this stage and hit the recycle bin in my home. American Vogue always gets the ax at this stage.

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step2

 

Step Two

The reading and the gazing

The Porter magazine has a picture of a fanny pack re-designed by Miuccia Prada. A belt with a carabiner and a tiny box that can hold a few possessions. No, I dont want it but it’s new to me. I was studying how they designed it. They had a vintage photograph of Audrey Hepburn walking her dogs. The accompanying story talked about how women in Paris dressed during the wartime. I dog-ear the interesting stories and slowly read through them before the month ends. A few magazines make it to this stage.

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step3

Step Three

I need to bookmark it

Porters Women Achievers issue was incredible. I am inspired every time I read a story from it. It makes me work harder. I kept the entire issue. But not every magazine is created equal. I usually pull out some pages and am save them for my future reference. 2-9 pages survive from a good magazine on an average. I will get them scanned at the end of the year. Very few magazines make it to this stage. I save a page or two from most magazines. The entire book – seldom happens.ratingOfcourse I am not sitting with a calculator punching away numbers and counting pages. But these factors go into my rating. The more bookmarks I make, the better the rating. Lesser ads I see, the more I applaud the magazine. More style over fashion –  more I trust the editor. Good influencers should know this and stop trying to convince us that we need the newest thing. Vintage magazines were more on our side. During the ww2, when money and resources were tight, French Vogue and Elle talked about repurposing curtains to make clothes. Published ideas on editing older clothes to make them fresher. Romanticized shopping fasts. Talked about eating beans for nutrition. Wrote about reproductive rights and equal pay. During the past few recessions, Vogue continued to feature 3000$ dresses but did tone down the flashy-ness of the luxury goods. They interviewed the current Syrian dictator’s wife and featured her ‘chic’ wardrobe. We don’t see many controversial topics discussed ( abortion rights? Bangladeshi sweatshop workers? Water pollution from polyester ? ethics among fashion bloggers ? sustainability ? fur and leather industry ? ). We don’t see diversity and race in the pages. Its the year 2016 and its still white models or the glamourous movie stars on most pages. Where are the women of science ? Journalists, writers, musicians, movie makers, photographers, sportswoman, politicians, travellers,  … ? I want them to be on our side. Not to ignore what’s happening in the outside world. Be good influencers. Here are my top rated ones :

1. Nat Geo

NatGeo

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Has nothing to do with fashion. But no other magazine or book makes me as happy. I love the work they do. Do you know that the photographers go to great lengths to venture into unexplored territories, that there are cases of them discovering new caves and excavating relics ? That is how passionate they are about photography, travel and the planet. I find every single Nat Geo photographer incredibly stylish. Every issue talks about climate change which earns them hate mail, moronic facebook comments and backlash. They do not back off. In science and facts, we trust. #requiredReading

2. Porter magazine

porter

I can’t throw them out once I am done reading them. I usually save a page or two from a magazine. But these, live as a whole, in our home with our other stacks of books. They set the bar really high. If I didn’t know better, I would call it a style magazine. Not a fashion magazine. They do enough content to sell their products but it is really well executed. They give more than they ask in return, which should be the formula. Every blogger can learn something about how to tastefully feature products from this magazine.

3. GentleWoman

gentlewoman

Sartorial stories. Fantastic interviews. In depth essays about the insides of the design process. I no longer have a subscription but read from online clippings that are widely available. But some of my favorite essays can be found online. Thank you for making these available to the public.

4. British Vogue

britVogue

 

A surprising winner. Lot of discourse on style and enough content on fashion. I quite like LOVE the 100 annvy edition and congratulations British Vogue ! Every edition has something that I have read twice. If the content on my blog improves, I would think it’s your influence.

5. French Vogue

parisVogue

I thought this would be higher up the list. I got a B in my French 101 class and haven’t improved since.  Perhaps the fact that I struggle to read makes it harder to appreciate it more.  I am glad to have a digital subscription that can hold a lifetime’s worth of collection. I would love to go back and read some of my bookmarked pages. Hopefully, a decade of reading will improve my language too ?

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Dear Zino, I want you to stay in business and thrive. Physical copies are such waste of glossy paper. Not worth killing the trees over 10 page spreads of Gucci ads and ’10 jackets you have to have to buy’ that become irrelevant in no time. I want all of my magazines on the cloud. You enable that. I looked into getting a French Vogue subscription and it was ~200$ for the US delivery. I now pay 20$ and have them available online. You saved me from writing decluttering posts about magazines in the future. #notSponseredByZino

 


Do you find magazines relevant ? Do you shop them by the cover page or trust a certain editor ? Any publications that I have to check out ? Chinese Vogue/ Japanese Vogue / Indian Vogue / … ? Anyone reading this from a country not listed in this post, do you have a favourite publication that you are impressed by ? I have the German Vogue on my wishlist. I quite like the newer magazines like Kinfolk and Wilderness magazine. But don’t have the time to read them all. And don’t want to spend the money. Hence the short list. 

 

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