The Ned and TED Talks

The respectfully renovated Portland Stone building on Poultry Street, The Ned was the perfect setting to speak about how my reclaimed renovation resulted in me wearing the same six items of clothes for six weeks.

There’s been a bit of friendly competition in our household because the last few days have seen my husband speak at TEDxWarwick about Net Nuetrality and me speak about sustainable fashion at The Ned.

I haven’t posted in the last few days so this (us backstage at TED) is proof that I only packed clothes from my six items challenge wardrobe for snowy Warwick.

I’ve been wearing this M-24 backpack a lot lately.  It’s made of repurposed truck tarpaulin and it’s as durable as my jumpsuit, which is close to reaching 30 wears.

22 days in, I am feeling quite liberated by my fashion fast.  Let’s see how the last half of the challenge treats me.

Support and share my page here 📣

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Six Items Challenge : Made it to March

There may be snow on the ground, but spring starts in March and I’m thinking about a sari.

I have that bought something new feeling – when you want to wear it straight away and never be parted – but my Six Items Challenge, which continues for most of the month means I am banned from wearing my new sari dress.

If you’re thinking “what dress?” then you’ve walked into a wordsmith’s web. Now I’ll lead you to the secret sari dress sitting before my secret doors.
(the mirrors hide our washing machine)

I know it looks like a pillow, which is how I’m currently using it.  Looking again, maybe I can work it into my Six Items wardrobe if I call it a clutch🤔. The dress actually folds even more neatly into a pocket like this, so I’m sure I could sneak in a phone and a lipstick.

Secret Projects, the people behind the Secret Sari Dress actually also do pillows and empower women in India by training them to sew the Secret Projects (the pillows also turn into snuggly blankets).

I met the founder, Fritha Vincent through Instagram and even though I hate the new algorithm I have to give it credit for the special connections you make.   Fritha recently returned from Nilgiris, a UNESCO world heritage site in Tamil Nadu, where she met 50 women from rural villages near the Mudumalai National Reserve.

These women can earn around 220 rupees per day (approx £1.60) working on construction sites, filling pot holes on the roads following the monsoon, working in coffee plantations or as agricultural labourers. The women have to leave their homes early morning and do not return until the evening and are always paid less than men for doing the same work.

Secret Projects wants to help these women.  For every three Secret Pillows they sell they can invite one woman on to the Training for Empowerment Programme. They need to sell 150 pillows to bring all 50 women on board ahead of the training session this month.  Not only do the women learn basic tailoring skills, they are supported to help find employment local to them, to become financially independent, and to work together sharing equipment on joint sewing projects. They are empowered to help themselves and each other.

March also marks International Women’s Day on Thursday 8th, so why not #PressforProgress with a pillow – give it to a woman in your life and spread the positivity to a woman in India.

As I can’t wear it, my secret door is modelling my clever wrap-around dress, made from a vintage sari.

Here’s my pick. See more Secret Sari Dresses and Secret Pillows here.

      

 

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman and courtesy of Secret Projects

 

 

Six Items Challenge : Day 15

I definitely didn’t expect snow when I picked mainly dresses for the six items to see me through six weeks.

©Photograph courtesy of PHIPPS – a newly launched menswear brand founded on the principles of respect and curiosity for the natural world.  They’re exploring sustainability and environmental responsibility in the realm of style and I wanna wear it too…

 

Six Items Challenge : Two weeks in

Two weeks into six weeks wearing the same six items of clothes, I am tongue twisting and definitely compensating with shoes.

On a side note, these 1940s pigeon holes make perfect shoe storage   (complete with drawn-on letters, this piece was reclaimed from the post room at Kings Cross Station).

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

Six Items Challenge : Day 11 and 12

On arrival in Brighton yesterday I was confronted by my ten year old self.  Two girls dressed almost identically were leaving the train station – one had a mini pink backpack (like the one I had from Tammy Girl) and both were wearing skater sneakers.  They linked arms as they disappeared into the crowd descending on the seaside city for the day and I smiled, excited to shortly be reunited with my Brightonian bestie.

I am on a journey to make my wardrobe ethical and more sustainable. However, ‘x’ marks the skate-shoe-wearing proof above that you can’t just decide you’re going to be a whole new you overnight.  Like when I was ten, I am still susceptible to sartorial peer pressure a.k.a fashion trends.

Despite having no desire to do a kickflip, I bought these Vans (preloved) from my local Mary’s Living & Giving Shop – which is arguably one step in the right direction.  The fashion fast I’m on is also progressing my journey through relentless practice of dressing with less.   And speaking of less, it’s laundry day…

©Ethical Consumer

Mountains of fast-fashion in landfill is just one side of the carbon footprint coin – the other side is how we wash our clothes.

The biggest environmental impact of a garment is most likely to come from how we care for it – wash it, dry it, dye it, iron it or dry clean it.

There is a fine balance between smelly clothes and a more sustainable washing cycle and (full disclosure) I have been getting away with washing less by airing clothes in the bathroom during a steamy shower. Before you write me off as a sandals and socks wearing eco-warrior, rest assured – socks and sandals are as fashion as skater shoes, so trust me and try the less is more rule on your laundry.

Dry cleaning is not always essential even if the label recommends it, but sometimes it is necessary.  One dress I chose for the Six Items Challenge recommends dry cleaning and I didn’t want to risk it, so I went to Blanc an eco-friendly dry cleaners.  They also stock a collection of natural detergents and organic soaps, so I picked-up this denim wash by TangentGC whilst I was there.

Like a cleanser for your jeans, it cleans without eating into the cotton fibres and doesn’t contain any corrosive alkalis.  This denim wash is even said to maintain the original cut and it smells like orange peel, which I like.

Reclaimed woman skater chic complete with hand knitted beanie.

Support and share my page here 📣

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Six Items Challenge : Day 10

Wearing a choker made of surplus sofa fabric on my sofa upholstered in surplus bus seat fabric, contemplating second life in my deadstock Persol specs from the 1980s.

Choker from beautiful inside and out PETA-approved Vegan brand Noumenon

Persol spectacles from Spex in the City

Reloved raincoat dress from Gap – one of my six items

1960s surplus bus fabric from LASSCO

Support and share my page here 📣

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

Six Items Challenge : Day 9

Charity shops are name-checked by anyone advocating for sustainable and ethical fashion, so I can’t ignore the scandal that recently broke about Oxfam – a charity that I donate to and shop from regularly (where I bought this Longchamp bag).

Of course Oxfam is not the only organisation facing allegations and I am not calling for a boycott, but the fact that female deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence was the only one to exit Oxfam over the handling of the sex scandal isn’t enough.   As a charity that campaigns on transparency and women and girls’ rights it feels like they missed the memo.  Come on, times up.

 

©Photograph Reclaimed Woman

 

Six Items Challenge : Day 7 and 8

I saw the Queen yesterday (the day I wore jeans).  More on that later as I didn’t have the energy to write last night.

This morning my friend made me chuckle with a link to an Inc. article – Why Successful People Wear the Same Thing Every Day

You see by wearing the same thing, or roughly the same thing, they increase productivity by reducing their daily decisions.  Take the likes of Dr. Dre (only wears Nike Air Force 1) Obama (only wears grey or blue suits) and Steve Jobs, who became known for his black turtleneck, jeans, and New Balance combo.  The entrepreneur/author of the article, Craig Bloem rarely strays from Levi’s 513 and Lululemon jackets himself.  I am, by total coincidence doing my American techie look in Patagonia and pre-loved Levis.

Here’s how Craig Bloem’s advice stacks-up for successful women and what I’ve learnt from the Six Items Challenge so far.  Intertwined with looks from the Richard Quinn show that the Queen (and I) attended. 

“You’ll waste less time.

I hate wasting time. Having a regular uniform makes it quick and easy to get dressed. Rather than deliberating for five or even ten minutes, I can grab my outfit, throw it on, and get started on the more important things on my to-do list.

A go-to outfit also saves loads of time shopping. You know what you’re looking for and can get right to your favorite store. Or better yet, if you know your size, style, and color, you can order everything online — without the annoyance of sending back returns.”

…Or the environmental impact of all those online shopping shipments.  Okay, I’m with him there and I’ve definitely saved time which is great on early mornings during a crazy-busy work schedule.  I don’t miss it yet, but the deliberating can also bring delight when you’re enjoying a try-on session for five, ten, or even 30 minutes.

“2. You’ll save brainpower.

As Obama said in an interview with Vanity Fair, “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”

When you wear the same thing, you’re one step closer to avoiding the distraction of trivia. It takes no thought to get dressed in the morning. You can channel all that decision-making power directly into growing your business.”

It definitely depends what your business is.  I am sure Queen Elizabeth examined her skirt suit before the surprise stop at London Fashion Week.  However, it is true that many fashion icons have go-to shapes, styles and colours that they return to again and again – just like American Vogue Editor, Anna Wintour who was wearing her signature colourful prints, neutral boots – most likely Manolo and big sunglasses whilst sat next to the Queen at Richard Quinn’s show.

“3. You’ll always feel good in what you’re wearing.

If you choose your clothes for comfort, they’ll always feel good. If you choose them for style, you’ll always think they look good on you (even if others disagree). Either way, you’ll feel good about what you’re wearing. It’s an automatic confidence boost.

I constantly get made fun of by my friends and family for wearing the same thing, but it works. See if it could work for you.”

I don’t normally document my outfits, but I have to say it’s quite useful to see if an outfit is working the way you thought it was in the mirror.  If it’s true that on average we make 35,000 decisions a day then saving brain power with less sartorial decisions might be worth a try.

I don’t think you have to wear the same thing every day, but knowing your wardrobe, knowing go-to combinations and actually wearing everything in your wardrobe could arguably be the uniform for success.

Lady in lavender – the back of Fashion icon Erin O’Connor MBE

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Six Items Challenge : Day 6

Wore my M-24 backpack made of used truck tarpaulin to the Designer Showrooms today.  Fashion week has a growing number of sustainable brands and stands – one being The Sustainable Angle, a not for profit organisation dedicated to projects that promote sustainable practices throughout the fashion supply chain.  In collaboration with model Arizona Muse, they showcased how fashion sustainable materials can be.

The gold dress and skirt were designed by Arizona herself with Georgie Macintyre and produced in Piñatex – a pineapple leather made from the leaf fibre.

All designs in their exhibition were realised in responsibly produced sustainable materials like this organic cotton smiley sweatshirt by Edeline Lee and the Tencel pieces below by Felder + Felder.

Other innovations included silk that doesn’t require killing silk worms in the process and bio-degradable sequins – a sparkling case for the fact that sustainability is not a passing trend, but an urgent call for action in fashion.

Support and share my page here 📣

©Photograph Reclaimed Woman

 

Six Items Challenge : Day 5

I met a fashion journalist from Spain the other day and we joked that even if it means crossing the road, stopping to soak up every moment of sunshine is essential to make it through the grey months in London.

Fashion week might be all about autumn winter collections, but at this moment my mind was on summer hols to Seville.

I probably wouldn’t have worn a scarf in my hair if I hadn’t been doing the Six Items Challenge, which is definitely demanding I think outside of the box with accessories, and this morning sent me deeper into my shoe box of silk scarves.

Support and share my page here 📣

©Photograph Reclaimed Woman