Fall Fall Fall

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Fall in Alabama is a very nebulous thing, which is very frustrating to someone like me who loves cool weather. The temperature highs are in the 90s until about November, and all I want to do is put a sweater on my body and not sweat. Regardless of the disappointing weather we’ve been having, I’ve been doing lots of fall activities, such as baking pumpkin pie, making squash soup, and taking lots of photos with pumpkins. And I don’t even care that I’m being cliche. Fall makes me happy.

I’ve been wanting an overall dress like this one for a while but couldn’t find an ethically-made one anywhere. But as always, my favorite local thrift store came through for me. I stumbled upon this one while looking for some flannels before the weather cools off and the thrift store sells out. And the best part is that it was only $3.

Although I love thrift shopping all year, fall is my favorite season for it. From flannels to old man sweaters, you really can’t go wrong. I’ve also been really into the vintage shops on Etsy lately. They’re a really great way to get some cool fall clothes without supporting fast fashion or spending tons of money. Some of my favorites are Cosmic Nature Vintage and Project Object Vintage.                                                                                    bryce3bryce1-5bryce2barn1light_lawschool2bryce4

What’s your favorite fall thing?

– Lauren

*Photos by @teah.shaw. Check her out on Instagram!

A New Name

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It seems like lately, every time I’ve written a new blog post, I start off by saying I’ve been so busy that writing has fallen by the wayside and been buried beneath a pile of school work and my job, and that would not be untrue. But there are some other things at play here, too.

Three and half years ago, after I graduated high school, I started this blog as a way to document the upcoming changes in my life. I had the idea around midnight one night, Googled “free blogs,” made a blog, and wrote my first post all within about an hour. The whole thing was really exciting, but I had no idea about the direction I wanted to take with it. Since then, I’ve written about all sorts of things from clothes to food to books.

Now, three and half years down the line and with a better conception of what I want to say on this blog, I want to create better content. I considered switching blog platforms and quickly realized that I can’t currently afford to do that. Then, I tried to redesign this blog, but couldn’t find the time to really commit to it, and so I still haven’t found an aesthetic I’m thrilled with. And for all of these reasons, I haven’t posted in about a month.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’re a regular reader of my blog, my blog has undergone a little bit of re-branding in the form of a name change. Until I have the financial means to buy my domain name, that will have to do.

Bluestocking: an intellectual and literary woman. But of course, with a name like Bluestocking, there is the connotation of clothes. Denotation and connotation combine to encompass the brand I want to promote: a stylish and intelligent and compassionate woman.

So what exactly does that mean for this blog? Stick around and find out.

– Lauren

Oldies

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I am a lover of old, discarded things. There’s something magical about the way used vinyl crackles on the record player, and finding an inscription in a secondhand book. Stumbling upon the perfect beside table or film camera at a yard sale is a great and satisfying way to spend a Saturday. And some of my favorite art is assembled from banal, discarded items plucked from the side of the road. To me, there is something profoundly beautiful in choosing something that everyone else has overlooked and giving it new life. It really is true that one girl’s trash is another girl’s treasure.

My love of secondhand things extends to clothes, of course, especially now that I’m trying to be a more conscious consumer. I know a lot of people who think that thrift stores or vintage shops are good only for dingy, un-stylish pieces, but in my experience, that hasn’t been the case.  Some of my favorite clothing pieces are from secondhand clothing shops. For instance, I found this men’s Ralph Lauren shirt that’s been tailored into a stylish shirtdress at a vintage shop in Manchester, England called COW Vintage. It’s the coolest vintage shop I’ve ever set foot in, so it was really easy to find some great things.

Usually, thrifting requires some patience and willingness to dig a little, but you can come away with some unique, retro, and cheap items that you can’t find in any old store if you put a little work in. And because it takes a little more effort to find something you love, the find is always more satisfying.

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What are your favorite thrift store finds?

– Lauren

Pink and Dreamy

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve decided to change the way I shop. So instead of buying tons of clothes I don’t need that were made in sweatshops, I’ve resolved to buy clothes from ethical and fair trade companies or thrift stores on a more as-needed basis. As a result of this lifestyle change, the content on my fashion posts will change as well. Because of my current financial situation, it just isn’t feasible for me to scrap all of the clothes I own that were not produced ethically – almost all my clothes – and create a new wardrobe from scratch, which means that over the coming months and years, I will be slowly working ethical clothing into my wardrobe and cycling out what I’ve purchased from fast fashion brands. I say all of this to say that the ethical fashion movement is one I’ve come to be passionate about, and as a result, I don’t want to promote in my fashion posts brands whose ethics I don’t agree with.

I love doing fashion posts, and I don’t want to give up on them altogether. So how I’ve decided to reconcile my obstacles with my reluctance to stop making fashion posts is to make the posts more conceptual, not about the clothing pieces themselves and where to buy them but about the combinations or patterns or materials.

Which leads me to my next point…

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TURTLENECKS AND WINTER COLORS. I remember very vividly hating turtlenecks as a child and I was unsure how I would feel about them at 21. But I took a chance and discovered that I really love them these days, especially cropped ones paired with medium length, collarless jackets. I really like how the jacket hangs down past the sweater but the sweater peaks up over the jacket. I’m also really keen on this color combination. Dark denim with a cream sweater and olive green jacket. It’s subtle but really nice, especially when paired with this dreamy pink wall I found while exploring downtown. This sweater + jacket combo has become the outfit of winter.

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What’s your go-to winter wear?

– Lauren

The True Cost

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I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. I firmly believe that you can start over or set goals for yourself whenever. But as it happens, within the first few days of the new year, I resolved to make a change in the way I live and, more specifically, in what I consume. Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking about the clothes I wear and the people who make them. A friend recommended that I watch a documentary on Netflix entitled The True Cost, and it opened my eyes to the effects of fast fashion on garment workers and the environment.

Until recently, I, like most people, had never thought about the hands that make my clothes. In fact, it never even crossed my mind that my clothes were made by actual people. They just existed on the shelves of my favorite stores, waiting for me to buy them. And it is exactly the type of system that ignores the humanity of its employees that allows for one of the most grievous social and environmental injustices of our time: fast fashion.

Essentially, fast fashion is a term that describes the way in which clothes are produced and sold cheaply  in order to move trends from the runway to the shelves of your favorite stores quickly. Conceptually, this doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. However, in order for clothing companies to produce clothes and sell them cheaply, they must outsource their production to sweatshops in developing countries where labor is cheap. Because of the nature of the supply chain, the CEOs of these clothing companies have the power to deliver all sorts of ultimatums to the factory managers of these sweatshops. They have the power to say, “Produce these garments for this amount of money, or we’ll take our business elsewhere.” And because these factories need business, they accept these demands. However, the only way to produce their goods as cheaply as the clothing companies desire, the workers in these sweatshops are denied adequate wages and many corners are cut in terms of safety regulations.

Basically, these companies base their profit on the desperation of the garment workers. And while some people argue that the workers essentially pick their poison, it is worthwhile to note that it’s easy to look at the plight of the garment worker and say, “They didn’t have to work in a sweatshop.” But the fact of the matter is that these workers lack almost all agency over their own lives. Social mobility is almost impossible, and job options are fairly limited. It is nearly impossible to look at the life of a Bangladeshi factory worker, for example, from a western worldview and truly understand their options. The CEOs of the major clothing companies justify the exploitation of these workers by saying that a job in a sweatshop is better than any other option available to the workers. But if that is true, then something is wrong. We’ve created an inadequate system, and it needs to be scrapped. Garment workers are paid less than $2 a day. When they form unions to demand better working conditions and higher wages (in Bangladesh, they demand only $160 per month), they are attacked and beaten by factory managers. Safety regulations are often overlooked in order to save money, which leads to disasters such as the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013, where over 1,100 workers died and many more were wounded.

I want to put this in perspective. These people are not different from us because they live in developing countries and are driven by desperation into working jobs where they are treated inhumanely and are subject to dangerous conditions. And when I read about the conditions in which these people exist, I can’t help but place myself in their shoes. What if I lived on only $2 a day? What if it were my mother who died when her workplace collapsed because  her bosses decided not to prioritize her safety for the sake of making money? What if I had to leave my child with family or friends and only see him or her once or twice a year just so he or she could be educated? What if, on a daily basis, I were denied my basic human rights and a reasonable wage on which to live? If it were me, would I sit around and do nothing about this drastic injustice? The way I see it, if I wouldn’t be stricken by apathy if it were me, then I shouldn’t be stricken by apathy if it’s someone else.

And from a religious perspective, I believe in a God who is for justice, who cares for widows and orphans and the downtrodden, and who teaches love for the nations.  I read a Bible that tells me to not grow weary in doing good. This is what I say I believe. These are the principles that I say guide my day-to-day life, and I do not see a way where I can claim to follow a compassionate and loving God but contribute to the heartless oppression of so many people.

The reason this system is allowed to persist is because big brands perpetuate the idea through their marketing promotions that the more you have, the happier you’ll be. Today, American women own more than double the number of clothes they did even thirty years ago. The paradox of the system is that these fast fashion companies tell you that by buying their products, you’ll be happier, richer even, but the only people who are actually getting richer are the CEOs and high-up people of the big brands.

Not only does fast fashion exploit the workers of the garment factories, but it exploits the environment as well. The use of GMO cotton and widespread use of pesticides damages the environment faster than it can repair itself, causes disease and deformity to the people in the farming villages, and serves as yet another tool for large corporations to exercise unchecked power over farmers.

The benefit of our free market economic system is that, theoretically, the consumers have control. If we’re not satisfied with a product, we can stop buying it. If a company has questionable ethics, we can boycott it. We don’t have to allow fast fashion to exist. To say that we can end fast fashion by simply refusing to buy from big brands may be an idealized notion. But we have to try; we have to care; and we have to educate. And rest assured that if the fast fashion industry dies, these garment workers will not be left without jobs.

For all of these reasons, I’ve decided to make a major change in where I buy my clothes, and instead of supporting unethical clothing companies, support those that are fair trade. Honestly, I don’t know whether it’s even possible, given the current system, to completely swear off buying products from the big brand companies, but I’m going to try. I’m going to buy less and buy smarter, and I encourage you all to do the same. And yes, it will be a little tougher on my wallet and it will mean sacrificing some of my favorite stores, but a $10 shirt is not worth another person’s life.

Leave a comment and let me know some of your favorite fair trade companies.

– Lauren

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Other bloggers dedicated to ethical, fair trade fashion:

Fall Fancies // 01

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Well, hey there!

I disappeared for a hot second. Life has been kicking my butt lately. I’m taking my last few classes for my major and doing two internships, all of which have left me little time for blogging (or eating). But I’m home for the weekend and plan on stocking up on some blog posts, so I can post more regularly in the upcoming weeks.

The rain has brought with it some cooler weather for the time being, and I plan on taking advantage of it and breaking out the sweaters and jeans before it warms up again next week. I’m so ready for fall weather, but it seems to be taking its time settling in. Regardless, I thought  now would be as good a time as any to kick off a fall series on my blog.

So without further ado, here’s what I wore for a day at the museum.

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Denim on Denim

As I’m sure you can tell by previous outfit posts, I pretty much live in my denim shirt.  I love that thing.  Typically, I throw it on with some leggings before heading out to class.  Leggings are great, but whenever I wear them, I’m constantly fidgeting with my shirt to make sure it’s covering my booty and stuff.  There’s nothing greater than that awkward leggings-crotch situation that happens when your shirt is too short.  Recently, however, I found some great high-waisted jeans that are the perfect solution to all of my leggings woes.  Tucking a light-wash denim shirt into some black high-waisted jeans is such an easy go-to look that I don’t have to worry or think about.  I just throw it on, accessorize a little, and go.