I have decided to call the three recent additions to my wardrobe (two dresses and a skirt) an anti-haul. Pieces which I did buy in “bulk”, sort of, but which fill a niche in my closet, and which I will hopefully love and wear for a long time. Even if I did buy all three at the same time, and didn’t initially intend to keep all three. But, well, you know that story already.
The concept of the shopping “haul” has long been an anathema to me. All those shopping haul videos on YouTube. Serving mostly to get young women whipped into a buying frenzy, driven by the urgency to have whatever the influencer is touting. I won’t say that I have never purchased several items at one time. Back in my working days, I shopped twice a year for all the staples I would need to add to my wardrobe. But I always did so after I’d completed a closet inventory, researched current trends, and crafted a well-thought-out list. I was lucky enough to have a friend who worked at my favourite store, and I’d spend a few hours with her every August and March. Then, after I’d seen how my new purchases worked with what I already had in my closet, I might add a few specific pieces to the original “anti-haul”
I’m calling my wardrobe acquisitions an anti-haul because buying them was anything but frenzied. And not impulse driven. I might not have known exactly which jacket or skirt I would choose before I left home, but I always knew I needed a jacket or a skirt. Or that I did not need jeans or boots or whatever. And I always knew exactly what I owned ensuring that I didn’t buy something which was already hanging in my closet. That’s because I always had my little book of lists in my purse. Dutifully updated.
I say “dutifully” in jest. I was dutiful in my wardrobe organization because I love to research and to organize, to make lists and keep track of things. Most of the time back when I was still working, I’d do this when I was marking in the evenings.
Sitting at my desk in front of the computer, I’d tell myself that I’d mark three or four more projects or essays and then I’d take a tea and fashion research break. Then I’d scroll through Vogue.com, read articles on current trends, or start my seasonal update in my book of lists. After a few minutes I’d go back to my marking. Seriously, in the last two years I worked, it was the only thing that kept me at my desk in the evenings. After almost thirty years of marking every night during the week, I was well sick of student essays. Teaching was still a joy. Marking was hell.
Sometimes I intended my seasonal purchases to take my wardrobe in a new direction. For instance, one year I discovered that everything in my closet was either black or went with black. So that year I began to add browns and golds and cream. A jacket, some cords, a wonderful chocolate brown knitted vest and a matching silk ruffled blouse. I remember a male colleague looked at me at work one morning and said, “What’s with brown?” Ha. Brown was the new black.
Now that my hair has changed, it seems that grey is the new black. Or maybe the new brown because I find myself wearing more black than I have in a while, and brown not at all.
But let’s get back to my recent anti-haul, shall we? The shot below shows how I originally styled my two new sweater dresses from Aritzia. Tall brown suede Stuart Weitzman boots with the long grey dress, and low black Cole Haan Chelsea boots with the short dress.
Yesterday I tried the long grey dress with my old Prada suede ankle boots and brown tights. See above. I like these boots even better with the dress. They have a small heel and are a bit more dressy that my flat SW boots. I wore dangling Anne-Marie Chagnon earrings that are a mix of gold, silver, and black bits. I love these earrings. You can find similar pairs here. I like all of Anne Marie Chagnon’s work, and I have several pairs of earrings and bracelets.
In the shot below, I wore the matching Anne Marie Chagnon bracelet. But yesterday I wore instead an old necklace bought years ago at the Vintage Clothing Show in Ottawa. It’s not vintage but it was made from old things: a mish mash of bolts and washers on tiny bits of chain, a small square of hammered brass, an old rusted bottle cap, and a sparkly bit of rhinestone. Sounds dreadful, but I love it.
That necklace always reminds me of a unit we did in art class in high school where we were encouraged to find random discarded things that could be art. We then brought them to class and drew them. That was my favourite assignment all year. Imagine the scope I had on the old farm. I eventually settled on a bunch of identical rusty concave discs strung together on a piece of heavy wire. They’d come from the inside of an old milk separator. But they were art to me. Ha.
You know, I tried several ways of accessorizing my midi-dress yesterday. Belts, jackets, scarves. But I like it best worn with very little of anything else. There’s so much dress, maybe that’s why. Besides a jacket covers up the lovely, slightly-puffed sleeves, and a scarf hides the neckline.
I feel much the same way about the short grey dress. During the Christmas holidays, I wore it to run errands. I put my black wool leggings on underneath, and wore my Stuart Weitzman lace-up ankle boots, my newish cream and grey scarf, and my very old charcoal alpaca coat from Max Mara. See below. You know, I think I prefer it with tights and Chelsea boots. I feel that both of these dresses look best worn simply. And I think they will be lovely to just throw on with boots and tights and head out the door. No styling required. Whenever we are able to head out the door, that is, for a reason other than walking or skiing. Or shovelling. Ha.
This is my third purchase from my anti-haul. A black, faux-leather pleated midi-skirt from H&M. I already had the fast fashion discussion in my last post. I’m hoping that this skirt can be morphed into slow fashion and will be with me for a long time. Certainly, as my friend Frances commented, pleated midi-skirts are not exactly a flash-in-the-pan trend.
Yesterday I went unrelentingly black all over. I wore my skirt with an old black cotton turtleneck, my quilted Lafayette 148 zippered sweater, tights, my Stuart Weitzman boots, and a black Mackage cross-body bag. You can find a similar zippered Lafayette 148 sweater here, same style but without the quilted front. And the same sweater in plus size but greatly reduced in price here. I really like Lafayette 148 clothing. But mostly I get mine on sale at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale in July. My Mackage bag is no longer offered, but here’s a similar one in the same pebbled leather. And here’s the black version of my AllSaints bag, which obviously I like just as much.
In this shot you can see the necklace and earrings that Hubby bought for me for Christmas. I chose them from the collection at a local village shop called Lasting Impressions. You can find the necklace here. It’s handmade in Ontario by White Lotus designs. Now I just need a half decent, not stretched out by years of wear, black turtleneck to wear it with. Ha.
I’m pleased with this casual look for the skirt. It felt so easy and comfortable, and just edgy enough for me. I know it’s all black, but I like the mix of textures. The slight sheen of the faux-leather skirt and the quilted portion of my sweater. The matt black of the rest of the sweater and the turtleneck. And the combination of black leather and suede in my boots. I tried a scarf for a pop of colour under the jacket, but it just looked too fussy. What with the vertical lines in the skirt and the horizontal ones in the jacket, I felt that there was enough going on to give the all-black-ness some interest. Anyhoo. That’s my rationalization and I’m sticking to it.
You know, I’m just getting used to seeing my skinny legs in a longer shirt with ankle boots. I’ve been inspired by Frances over at Materfamilias Writes. She really rocks the long skirt and ankle boot look, or the long skirt with brogues. You can check out her lovely new sweater dress acquisition here.
I started thinking about the concept of hauls and anti-hauls when I wrote my last fashion post and used the word “haul” to joke about my three new purchases. But since then I’ve come across the term on some of the YouTube channels I watch. I thought the idea of hauls was dead and buried. With so much talk about slow fashion and ethical shopping in the last couple of years, I’d assumed that everyone was trying to buy less. But when I think about it, buying “less” is relative, isn’t it?
In a comment on that last post about fast fashion, Marion recommended this article from Refinery 29. “Is Fast Fashion a Class Issue?” by Tabi Jackson Gee makes interesting reading. The article deals with the idea that sustainable fashion does not have to be expensive. But it also looks at just how much of what we buy is not necessary. Or even used. It seems once that must-have-something-new itch is scratched, we frequently forget about what we’ve bought. A study conducted by M&S and Oxfam found that, on average in the UK, 57 items of unworn clothing per person are hanging in closets. “One in 20 people have over 50 items in their wardrobe with the tags still on.”
I’ll admit, I was gobsmacked by those statistics. And I began to wonder… exactly who IS buying less?
I agree with Dilys Williams, Head of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion, who says that the problem is we “undervalue fashion” and overvalue “novelty.” We think of fashion as “disposable – as a cheap commodity not worthy of our love or care.”
It may sound simplistic, and probably insufferably Pollyanna-ish, but whether we can afford to shop more sustainable and ethical brands, or if we can only afford to shop fast fashion, we need to start buying only what we need, what we love, and what we will wear. We need to embrace the anti-haul, instead of the haul. And take care of what we own.
I know people are busy. Everyone leads busy lives, work, family, after school activities, whatever. Being organized with respect to our wardrobe and our kids’ wardrobes takes time. And the initial organization can be daunting. Caring properly for clothing takes time.
But I’m just wondering if maybe we took some of the time that we must be spending shopping for clothes, especially clothes we never wear, to do this other stuff…. well… you know where I’m going here. Don’t you?
But, I’m probably preaching to the converted.
I do know that my mum worked full time when I was a kid. As a single parent, she raised my three older siblings and me. On a very limited budget. She had few clothes, some of which were hand-me-downs from a close friend. And she was always neatly and stylishly turned out when she went to work. And so were we. We all loved clothes in my house. Even my brother. We were raised to shop wisely and to care for our clothes. And now I’m wondering… how in the world did she do that?
I guess one of these days I’ll have to sit down and cipher it out.
How about you, friends? Were you raised to shop wisely and care for your clothes?
P.S. About affiliate links. Some of the clothing links in this post are affiliate links. If you click my link and make a purchase I will earn a commission. Other links are not. Uniqlo and the jewellry links to Anne Marie Chagnon and to Lotus Designs are not affiliate links. I just thought you might like to check them out.