Neon Confidential

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Category: Style

Sell my clothes or keep my thoughts?

“Women usually love what they buy, yet hate two-thirds of what is in their closets” – Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

What’s old is new and what’s new becomes old – fast. In the past few months I have been trying to overhaul and unload my wardrobe and as a result my closets have poured themselves inside out and into collected mole hills on the bedroom floor. I am a self-confessed hoarder, and have never been known to refuse a red tag deal. That’s right, I’m the one at Nordstrom Rack with the giant shopping cart, loading it up and grabbing anything and everything in sight because it’s on sale, not because I necessarily like it, much less need it. I am also a label whore. Just because it says “See by Chloe” I will buy it, even if it’s a lame piss yellow cotton shirt with two inexplicable holes in the middle. I am guilty on all counts as charged.

Over the past 7 years, I’ve lived in 3 countries, and 3 cities and have amassed a heaping collection of clothes, shoes and accessories along the way.  The closet didn’t seem to implode quite as much when I lived abroad, but after numerous trips of loading and unloading to finally unload it all in one spot, the realization sinks in that my apparel is wearing me out, and I’m not wearing half of it.

I am burdened by the weight of this, yet find it difficult to break the patterns of acquisition. Through it all, I recently decided to pursue a career in the very fashion industry of which I am currently drowning in its detritus. With two new jobs, I have suddenly landed myself in a fashion hotbed, one belonging to a handbag designer, the other a clothing boutique. Doubly irresistible you might think. Initially it is. It’s also a classic case of gluttony. While being saturated amongst these beautiful things that I would normally lust over, being in their midst, actually satiates all desire to covet them. It’s a strange irony.

In the process of purging and re-evaluating my wardrobe, I have given away old favourites, and consigned the impulse buys I never quite justified when they were unwrapped and untagged. What’s left is still significant, but I can at least see what is in my drawers and closet.

What I am finding is a new appreciation for what is old, and respect for the value of craftsmanship. Working behind the scenes for a handbag designer, I am surrounded in a rare enclave, in which all the leather handbags and accessories are not only locally produced in studio, the materials are either sourced from recycled leather (i.e. vintage leather pants, jackets, and skirts) or an ethical supplier. Once you are privy to the hours of painstaking toil it requires to make one single handbag, you think twice the next time you buy a branded label that slaps its good name on something churned out of a factory from a third world country. The label doesn’t bear half the weight it used to.

I am by no means declaring I am an arbiter of ethical fashion, but it has certainly made me more aware of what I buy and when I buy. Taking a peek into my edited closet, I find that my most beloved items are vintage. They are memories sourced from my travels, and treasured because they are one-of-a-kind. Each holds with it an unforetold story and now a continued legacy as I don it years from its hey day and wonder how many continents it has journeyed before it arrived to hang in my closet.

On that note, I’ll take a cue from Henry David Thoreau, “Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends…. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.” He just might be onto something.


Les Chaussures d’été

“My shoes are special shoes for discerning feet” – Manolo Blahnik

I look forward to parading around town with these 3 pairs of shoes this summer.

Erin Templeton leather sandals with rope

I think I might be trading in my Havianas for my new favourite pair of sandals from Erin Templeton. Feels like a flip flop, but wears like a sophisticated Roman sandal with what was dubbed a candy cane or Dr. Seuss inspired rope by one sandal admirer.

Sky high vintage Vivienne Westwood brown leather pumps from London

My dear friend Jane from London recently sent me these beautiful brown vintage Vivienne Westwood pumps. I proudly inherited them at my own peril, since they arrived with a caveat from Jane that the heels were indeed vertigo inducing high. Walking any further than a block in these stilts, is like Bambi wobbling on ice.

Vintage Joan & David metallic silver pumps

Who could resist these vintage Joan & David metallic silver pumps? Straight out of the 80s, they are a pinch too narrow (which seems to be a common trend for Joan & David shoes), but I still plan to squeeze my tootsies in them, at least for a few toe numbing hours.

Some two wheels are better than others

“Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.” ~ Mark Twain

Mark Twain was right. However, there was a time when I envisioned zipping around town in a Vespa, a sea foam green one at that. And, perhaps, I had inaccurately romanticized the sight of myself wrapped in a headscarf, scooting on an unmarked road along the Amalfi Coast.  Too many afternoons sipping Italian cappuccinos at the Scooter Caffe didn’t discourage the cause.

My first opportunity to ride a Vespa was at work. While the scooter wasn’t the perk that sealed the deal, it sure sweetened the offer. I waited two weeks into my new job before venturing to ask for a scooter tutorial. I could no longer resist the wanton winks of the chili red two wheeler.

A co-worker offered to get me going, revving up the little motor as it let out a throaty roar. I hopped on with trepidation. Sheepishly it seemed too late to back out. Readying myself to go, I instantaneously forgot which hand was the brake, and revved the throttle, lurching backwards to my co-worker’s horror, as he leaped forward to grab hold of the scooter, to prevent an imminent crash into the cement wall. Visibly pale, he reluctantly eased his grip from the Vespa as the gates of the garage door pulled up. I barreled out onto the uneven alley way. With cars inches behind and in front of me, I longed for the security of doors and a rear view mirror I could see behind.

The reality of my brief Vespa ride was anything but glamorous. But, I was already at an intersection, with no choice but to go forward in order to go back. At the first sign of the green light, I rolled the throttle with force and teetered into traffic. Barely across the intersection, I panicked at the sudden momentum and pulled the brakes. The scooter jolted to a sudden stop. In slow motion, I tipped over to the right, while my body rolled to the left, as my flip flop dove into oncoming traffic. A string of cars halted behind me. Shaken, I managed to regain both the rogue sandal and the Vespa’s balance to putter over to the nearest side street for refuge, before rounding my way back.

That was both the beginning and end to my only Vespa escapade. I recently inherited a bicycle, and have no regrets to the alternative two wheel choice.

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