sunnuntai 28. toukokuuta 2017

Creating My First Capsule Wardrobe

I heard the first time about capsule wardrobes in 2010 when Courtney Carver created the Project 333, a minimalist fashion challenge to dress with only 33 items for three months. The Finnish blogosphere was raving about capsule wardrobes and minimalism. I think it was around the same time everybody was experimenting with banana pancakes and cauliflower pizza. Back then I witnessed the phenomenon with interest, but it wasn't really something that spoke to me on a deeper level. I had just moved into my first rental flat and my life was minimalistic enough as it was. Furnishing and buying clothes one paycheck at a time. Excited to own things that I had worked hard to earn.

Six years later it was Spring 2016 and I was packing my little suitcase to leave for France. I knew the Summer of the Provence would be ruthless so I thought, "I will pack only Summer clothes. I will buy things then there." The hot months passed and I had been happy with my collection of sundresses from Finland. As I didn't gain much from my Summer job, I ended up "maximizing" the power of my money by buying cheap, low quality pieces. I never thought if the clothes would match what I already had in my closet. Then there were those impulse purchases that just ended up in some dark corner, out of sight, never to remind of the money wasted. When holding in my hands a 3 euro t-shirt at Kiabi I would say that it was probably made by some Chinese child...and bought it anyway. As if acknowledging the dark truth aloud would make my purchase any more justified. Or the attitude: "Hey, I'm poor too. What choice do I have?"

Then what finally made me want to create a minimalistic, sustainable, wardrobe? It was the Zara jeans I bought that were incredibly (too) cheap and reeked of chemicals, it was this video on the Fashion revolution, it was my several experiences working for abusive employers and it was the mountain of clothes in my dressing room with nothing to wear. So many pieces that didn't even fit me or my life anymore. Clothes that I hoped to fit in one no, not anymore!

I want to create a closet full of clothes that I love, will last a long time and don't have the blood, sweat and tears of the poor on them.

In the Project 333 your 33 items for the season (normally 3 months) include clothing, accessories, jewelry and shoes. It does not include wedding rings or other sentimental pieces you wear daily. Lounge, sport and sleep wear are also not counted. You can also have aside a few pieces for gardening and other stuff you don't want to wear your Sunday shirt for. But personally I see no reason to feel limited by "the rules". As long as the goal is to keep only things that you love and serve their purpose well, you are already doing great. There are many versions of the capsule wardrobe out there in the Internet to get inspired by.

To get started with the big clean out, I followed the very useful tips on Carver's blog post: How to Finally Clean out Your Closet for Good

Step 1: Take everything out. All of it.

It all started with a little suitcase of sundresses.

  • Pile it all on the bed so you can't go to sleep until you are done.
Putting it all in one pile and realising that I am finally getting rid of all the things I don't ever want to see again made me feel so energized and excited. I was finally going to let go of THE dress that I had been hoping to fit in again for the past 6 months, the pieces that were gifts from an ex-boyfriend and the stuff that made me feel bad for never wearing them despite of the money I had spent. It's crazy, but I had really reached a point, where a piece of cloth could make me feel anxious, trapped or just bad about myself. 

Step 2: Make your choices.

  • Sort the clothes into four piles:
    • Love. I know these fit me and reflect the style I want to go for.
    • Maybe. Things that you kind of like, but are not sure of or which have sentimental value.
    • Donate. Pieces that don't fit or you no longer like the style of.
    • Trash. Items that are in too poor condition to donate. (recycle if possible)

  • Once all is sorted:
    • Box up the maybe-pile and store it out of sight.
    • Throw the trash.
    • Go through your love-pile and store away the clothes that you will not be needing for this season.
    To donate.

There were clearly items that I had carried with me thousands of kilometres just for the memories they represented for me. The dress I had worn the night I met my husband, a skirt I wore in Japan, a piece I wore on my 15th birthday...and the list goes on. As an expat I have given up so many things that form my identity that I guess clinging on stuff was my last desperate attempt to resist the change. How good it feels to let it all go. I will no longer be defined by the past, but I will be able to reinvent myself.

    Step 3: Analyse what is left.

  • Now you should be left with the remainder of your love-pile. All the pieces you adore and are season appropriate.
    • These pieces should become the core of your capsule wardrobe. 
    • Analyse the style of the clothes.  It will help to see more clearly, what kind of pieces you are naturally attracted to. That is your true style.
    • You can sort the clothes into bottoms and tops to define what is missing. I personally need more basics and neutral colors in my wardrobe. Most of my core items are statement pieces!
    • Make a shopping list for the season. Buy only what you need and aim for quality. From now I will not be afraid to take my time to search the perfect gray t-shirt or summer sandals and save up for them if needed. That is what people did in the past when things were made to last.

Step 4. Begin the experiment. 

  • Make the needed purchases and see how it all works out together in your wardrobe. If something doesn't feel right, just remove it. A good guideline is that if you look at something in your closet and it arises the reaction: "Ugh, not that!" Then it means that item doesn't belong there even if you thought it did.
  • Two weeks before the beginning of the next season, go through the maybe-box and re-evaluate if there is something you want to add to your capsule or pieces you are ready to give up.
  • Keep exprerimenting with your new wardrobe. I will myself try to keep on mind that I am trying to create something in the long term. I don't need to acquire all the pieces I miss right away. I'm loving the idea of being able to use items for many years to come and yet they would not look outdated.

I finished my big closet clean out last monday and have been experimenting with my first ever capsule wardrobe ever since. So far I am loving it and can't wait to perfect it. I will talk more about my choices and first impressions in my next post!

Some links for capsule inspiration!

perjantai 12. toukokuuta 2017

The Eurovision Song Contest - The French Way

The month of May represents three things to me: my birthday, The Ice Hockey World Championships and...The Eurovision Song Contest. The event that people love, hate and ridicule. We watch it making fun of everything we see, but if our country does well, we cannot help but to be just a little proud (yes, France, I'm talking to you.)

This Saturday it is again time to watch the spectacle the French way. Or apparently the way most European countries watch the contest. It seems Finland is one of the few countries that still takes the whole thing somewhat seriously. Finland has even established a tv-program called "The Contest of New Music" and the winner of the show gets to represent the country in the Eurovision Song Contest. The commentators do not speak over the on-stage hosts or the show. There is no straight forward insulting of the contestants either. The commentary is more informational than sarcastic and listen to this: Finland subtitles all of the songs! I find it so touching that my sweet little home country is still doing such a thing. You know what I mean: How many lyrics in the ESC make sense anyway?

To be honest, having been used to the Finnish way of being able to follow the show made it a bit hard in the beginning to tolerate the French custom. The commentators don't hesitate to talk over the show (apart from the actual songs) or make fun of just everybody and everything. But this year will be my third time watching the contest in France and my husband and I are ready with our wine bottles to be entertained.

Some examples of the French commentary

"So, she has been in the ESC already three times. I sure hope she'll win this time, because I don't feel like seeing her again. You will see what I mean..." *singer gets on stage*

On Serbia's candidate

"All right, next up a woman who will be starting this craziness. You will see her with her white transparent dress, wind machine and there will be a man who joins her...a real song of Eurovision!" *laughter*

On Ireland's ballad boy

"He seems to miss just a bit of testosterone."

On Croatia's candidate 

"Oh, he is so pure!"
"This man is two men hidden in one"
"He is quite attractive...but not physically"
She continues: "I could even be having an affair with him! Imagine...Like, have you seen us? It would be horrific and against the law."
(my note: isn't this man the Cameron Tucker of real life of Modern Family??)

Commentator: "But the ESC is supposed to be kitsch! Isn't it? It is kitsch!!"
Colleague replies: "Of course it's kitsch. Otherwise you wouldn't be here!"

Fun fact: In the past the ESC was even less highly viewed in France and the commentators got once drunk on Champagne during the show...and they would not hesitate to tell it to the viewers somewhat like this: "Oh my god, it's so hot here and we are just drinking Champagne and getting drunk!!"

As we are anyway planning a tipsy Saturday I thought to make it a bit more fun with a little drinking game!

The Eurovision Song Contest drinking game

Drink if.......

Host country's show + on-stage hosts
  • Someone appears on stage in a traditional costume
  • This year's theme is something cheesy or vague. (For example: just love, come together, world peace etc)
  • Hosts flirting with each other
  • Host/s change clothes
  • Lame and/or awkward jokes
  • Hosts scream: "We looooove yooou!"
  • Your country's commentators are laughing at the hosts

  • Contestant shouts in a cringe worthy way: "Europe I love yoouuuuuu!" or "Thank you, Europe!"
  • Background dancers smile like maniacs
  • there's the line "...give up" in the song
  • there's the line "I can't go on" in the song
  • Singer wears a long dress with thigh high slit (drink again if the dress suddenly becomes a mini dress/body)
  • Singer is dressed in full white or black
  • Singer reaches dramatically to camera with her/his hand/s
  • Male background dancer is shirtless
  • You spot an instrument that is not being played
  • A piece of clothing is removed
  • Singer plays guitar on stage
  • Singer has disturbingly weird hairdo
  • Title of song makes no sense
  • Language is other than English
  • Lyrics make absolutely no sense 

Counting the votes
  • There's technical difficulties and the person who is supposed to give the points keeps staring at the camera. "Hello! Hello? Can you hear us??"
  • Person announcing the votes won't go to the point and keeps on talking...
  • Person announcing the votes is an ex ESC contestant (drink more if he/she makes a reference to his/her past show that nobody remembers...)
  • Drink everytime your favorite gets points!

And finally...empty all bottles if your country/favorite won!

My favorites this year are: France, Bulgaria and Belgium ;)

keskiviikko 10. toukokuuta 2017

Tää on hulluuden highway

Wednesday evening on the couch with a purring cat needy for love. Good music on the earphones. Scented candle burning in the freshly cleaned kitchen. I can feel the zen levels already increasing in our little, messy flat. The whole afternoon we have been attacking every dirty corner and pile of random stuff with white vinegar and trash bags as our weapons. Sounds like this place is a junkyard, but the truth is that we are two adults and two cats (currently also losing their winter fur..) in an apartment of 35 squaremetres with no space for storage. My husband laughs at how many "nice boxes" I keep on buying to hide all the clutter. We have big boxes with a collection of smaller boxes hidden inside and so on. Even at this very moment I am planning to go to IKEA to check if they have cute biiig containers...

I finished organizing and cleaning our kitchen area and there is something so calming and satifying in lighting a candle in a freshly cleaned space. Ahhh. Tomorrow I shall continue "putting our life in order" by cleaning our living room and eventually my wardrobe. I have been making so much research during the past week on how to create a wardrobe that makes sense. Now I just have a bit of this and that in my closet and nothing really goes well together. I dream of being able to mix and match pieces with ease...and the answer seems to be a capsule wardrobe!! I am so excited of this concept of having a limited amount of clothes for each season, but you can create so many different outfits since nearly everything is combinable! Can't wait to talk more about capsule wardrobes, but I'll have to wait until I finish the rest of my big cleaning. Then it's time to raid my garde-robe! Yasss.

While writing this I am listening to my favorite band "Haloo Helsinki!" Their lyrics always manage to touch me so deeply. This song that I have linked for you below reminds me of the days last winter that I spent at the school, learning about being a receptionist in France. When our teacher had not prepared anything to teach for the whole afternoon, I was in my own world, listening to Hulluuden Highway in the language of my emotions.

Kun valot sammuu niin sä kaiken näät
Kun valot sammuu niin sä valvomaan jäät
Suljet silmäsi ja hengität
Kyllä kaikesta sä vielä selviät
Joku voimas vei, vaik sä huusit ei
Tää on hulluuden highway

Haloo Helsinki!, Hulluuden Highway

tiistai 9. toukokuuta 2017

Little Pieces Of Home

May 5th last Friday was my birthday and I have been expecting a gift package from my parents to arrive just about any moment. When I got the notification of a package for me at the post office I was sure that it was from my parents. Well, quite close, since it was from my brother!! Nothing could make me happier right now than knowing that someone from my far away homeland has thought of me and sent a bunch of the things that I miss so much!! I'm so happy that I will receive not only one, but two boxes from home during the same month. What a rare treat. Last time I got a delivery of candies and other Finnish goods was last summer when everybody was here for our wedding. 

Not only was the surprise perfect, but they had chosen the perfect content for their package! All my favorite candies, xylitol gum, magazines (food and handicrafts), sour cream rye crisps, Sisu salmiakki pastilles and a Moomin dishcloth (Moomin is to Finns what Pippi Longstocking is to the Swedes). Even Manu and Noki got some yummy treats from their Finnish cat-cousin ^^ 

I can't wait to check out that Novita-magazine. I appreciate so much the modern patterns the Finnish handicraft blogs and magazines are full of. Keeping the traditions alive, but not getting stuck in the past. Isn't that crocheted pullover gorgeous on the cover?? I think I need that in my life..

These candies arrive at a bad time as I have again decided to focus more on clean eating. Can I stick with just two treats per day with a cup of coffee? You have no idea how I have missed Finnish candies in this country where you can choose between Haribo and...Haribo. The French are not as much into candies as us Finns so there is not that many new tastes to choose from either. In Finland even adults love sweet treats :D

We are plotting to start a huge "home detox" this evening. That means that everything in this house will be washed inside out and all of the clutter driving us crazy will find its place. You know, when you start cleaning your surroundings just to feel like you got your life together? Well, it's kind of that sort of project. More about that soon!

torstai 4. toukokuuta 2017

When Murphy's Law Gets Real

Are there powers in the universe that are capable of playing games with us? Does positive thinking attract good things? How about negative energy? How about all those times after that exam/interview/presentation you were feeling so confident, but ended up getting a horrible feedback anyway. Or when you are so afraid and nervous before something important you got to do, but everything ends up perfect. Or getting it just right when you are not even trying. Beginner's luck. Fool's luck. In our case... Murphy's law. Were there mystic powers in the universe or not, my husband and I have got our asses kicked so hard during the last three years that when good things seem to be knocking on our door, we come with a rifle to ask: "Who is it? What do you want?" We have even went so far that, when something great seems to be about to happen and according to all logic it just cannot fail, we make jokingly scenarios about how it will go wrong. We knew we are no longer those lucky bastards we used to be, but when our scenarios became reality...I must say we were like Salieri in the film Amadeus (1984) asking: "What is God up to?" :D

As I have gotten used to the worst imaginable scenario being true, when I didn't get shifts at work for a whole busy weekend I knew that I will probably never work there again. All while my boss was still pretending that nothing was wrong. After two weeks of no work we found out that the restaurant is looking for new chef and waiters. That meant that the old staff had all been either fired or they had decided to leave. The boss had not bothered to inform me of not renewing my contract until tomorrow, my birthday. The only reason why he doesn't get to drop the bomb on me when I go to get my last pay check is that I was forced to ask directly what I already knew to be true.

I have so much things I want to say related to how fucked up the treating of employees has become in Europe. So much frustration. Anger. But I feel powerless, seeing how money dominates and corrupts people. The amount of poor who accept their treatment and even help to raise to power those who will rob them of the few things they have left... Look at the French presidential elections.

Tomorrow I'll walk into that restaurant, get my last paycheck, get the hell out of there, go eat some cake and drink some goddamn Champagne.