Saturday, January 14, 2012

Links à la mode

This was a sure way of brightening up my Thursday!

Fresh New Start


Edited by: Collette Osuna of Statements in Fashion


Even though January is one brutal cold month in Michigan, it happens to be one of my favorites. It’s a brand New’s the opportunity for each and every one of us to start with a fresh clean slate. What will you be taking on this year? A new hobby? Losing weight? Starting your own business? Bettering your blog? The ideas are only limited by your imagination, and I for one, cannot wait to begin this new adventure. This weeks links are chock full of awesome DIY ideas, product reviews, and ways to make yourself smile!

Have a fabulous month everyone!





If you would like to submit your link for next week’s Links à la Mode, please register first, then post your links HERE. The HTML code for this week will be found in the Links a la Mode group will be published later today. ~Jennine


Thursday, January 12, 2012

About the most sympathetic shop in Brussels

Do you have a friend who is so good-hearted, kind and mirthful you could not imagine anyone disliking them? One of those charming people who never cease to be joyful, except when they're angry, which they never seem to be without good sense and reason? For my part, I can think of maybe 2 or 3 people close to me who would fit that description. Flawless as they are, they're one of the grand mysteries of life. They're a bit like modern Jesuses. (Jesi?) You'd rather swallow a Nuremberg Chronicle in its entirety than intentionally upset them.

If by now you're thinking I'm trying to proselytize with all this religious chatter, don't worry. I'm not a very pious type of person. If Dante was even remotely on to something, the 6th circle of Hell is where I'll be spending my afterlife:
(Steam baths, alright! I can't wait.)

No, I'm merely expressing - in a clumsy metaphorical manner - my enchantment with LOwi, a shop in Brussels that is roughly the retail equivalent of the type of person mentioned above. LOwi is a relatively new store. The first time I visited was a few months ago at the occasion of the Modo Parcours. I mostly remember being enthralled by one of their beautifully crafted satchels.

The clothes left an impression as well. The selection (both for men and women) is small, but very nice. The brands (mostly Scandinavian) aren't your run of the mill standard names - you'll have a hard time finding them anywhere else in Brussels. The styles range from down to earth to classic to whimsical to sophisticated- whatever is to the owners' liking, basically. This might sound like utter style anarchy, but it all works great together.

I went to check out the sales at LOwi on my lunch break last week. Accessories and new selection excluded, everything was 30% off. (A small rack went up to 50%.) I found two beautiful woollen sweaters, one of them made by Mads Norgaard and knitted in Denmark, one of them from Maria Westerlind, a Swedish line that will soon be discontinued. It didn't carry a label of origin, so I asked the owner, Wietse, whether he knew where it was made. He deduced it was probably made in Portugal, which made it a-okay to me. I've barely taken it off since, it's so warm and soft and comfortable.

I explained Wietse my goal for 2012 and we had a great chat. I was glad to hear they get more and more customers with similar demands, and even more glad to learn that LOwi barely sells any brands that produce outside of Europe. While we were talking, I was once again mesmerized by the handbag that had caught my eye all those months ago. I asked where it was from, and he told me it was by Hester Van Eeghen, a Dutch designer. All of her work is designed in Holland and handcrafted in Milan. (I'll probably do a separate post on her somewhere in the future.)

I yielded. I've been on the lookout for a new bag, because I only have one right now. I love it, but it's not large enough to carry work documents. On top of that, I'm afraid it will wear out too quickly because I carry too much weight - my bags usually have a lifespan of 6 months. A vintage book satchel aside, my Sessùn bag was first real leather bag ever, and I'd like it to last. The Hester van Eeghen-satchel was designed to hold a laptop, so as far as size goes, it's perfect. It's sturdy, but dainty at the same time, thanks to its girly colours.

The bag wasn't on sale, but I still got a small discount, which I thought was a beautiful gesture. I sincerely think no one could wish for a better service than the one you get at LOwi. They're kind, humorous and most important of all: genuine. You're not just another number here. For example: I told Wietse my friend Eva (hi Eva!) bought a French Connection dress from them a little while ago. Not only did he remember her, he also recalled the friend accompanying her (hi Goele!), and when she was planning to wear the dress. Maybe it's just the workings of a good memory, but I'd rather think it's a sign of an authentic congenial approach to retail. One thing's certain: LOwi is sure of my affections.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Project Sustainable Wardrobe: Step 1

Disclaimer: this post claims no useful content whatsoever.

Is it okay to feel super productive just because I cleaned out my closet? I'm usually so messy I felt like patting my own shoulder last week. A pretty good indicator of my general laziness. It wasn't even one of those life-changing clean slate things, but still pretty essential to my whole 'buy less spend more'-philosophy.

The need for a good oversight
To shop smart, it really is necessary to know what you already own. Two reasons:
  1. Avoid buying doubles: A few months ago, I had the feeling I didn't have a good basic black skirt, so I bought one at United Colors of Benetton. After rearranging, I noticed I already had about 4. Insert mental facepalm.
  2. Figuring out whether something will suit your wardrobe: It may be just me, but when I'm in a fitting room trying something on, I always have a hard time imagining whether it will fit my wardrobe as well. I thought a clear visual of the clothes I own would provide some much needed support.

Processing, piling and parting
What I did: I sorted everything in four piles.
  1. Clothes that no longer fit me and I wouldn't wear even if they did.
  2. Pieces I no longer wear but still cherish.
  3. Clothes I still wear, but rarely.
  4. A selection of garments I wear most often.
The first pile was tiny, because I already threw away most of this category a few months ago. When I say tiny, I really do mean negligible, insignificant, infinitesimal: a skirt and a shirt. I gave them to my mother, who was glad to provide them with a new home.

The second pile found a home in an empty closet in a different room. (Empty as in: I crammed all the stuff inside into a different closet, which now looks like it could burst any minute. Oh well.)

The third pile was sorted and put in my own closet.

The fourth pile is now neatly displayed on an Ikea clothing rack in my room. (Did I mention my Ikea ban as well? They've fooled me one time too many with this rack: all the components were present - a feat in itself, considering we're talking about Ikea - but when I put the thing together, it was crooked. One of the wheels doesn't touch the ground. And no, not because of me, I'm a total boss in assembling Ikea furniture. One of the parts is simply bent in a wrong way. I didn't even bother trying to exchange - my initial flash of anger blossomed into a dull apathy, which suits me just fine. I simply decided not to buy anything Ikea again.)

Identifying gaps and excesses
While I was sorting everything, I got a good grasp of what the contents from my closet look like -what I do or do not need. My conclusions (this is of nu use whatsoever to you, but I find it helpful writing it all down):

  1. Dresses
  2. Perfumes (yes, I consider this a wardrobe staple)
  1. Trousers: I now have two pairs of pants, one of which is starting to fall apart.
  2. A few basic t-shirts and blouses
  3. Shoes: I only have one pair of shoes appropriate for wintertime. I could really do with some boots and a good pair of flats. Also, no sandals.
  4. A few (warm) sweaters
  5. Some scarfs
  6. A parka
  7. Belts! I don't have any!
  8. Accessories: I'd really like some hats, and a few statement necklaces to brighten up basic outfits.
So basically I have a great need of all things a little more practical. Yawn. I guess my frivolous side will just have to suck it up for a while.