why clothes can help you to break free

why clothes can help you to break free

The other day a good friend of mine told me: “You know, Al, I’ve been experimenting with my clothes recently… like I put on things I wouldn’t put on before, I mix them together… and I see people’s reactions sometimes like “wtf is she wearing”… and yet I just go for it and it’s been one of the most liberating experiences in my life!” 

She’s going through a lot of changes in her life right now, and this really made me think: why wearing what you like regardless of others is so liberating?

Since the time when prehistoric humans decided that they need clothes to cover up their bits, a lot has changed. We don’t just dress to keep ourselves warm, we dress for all sorts of other reasons: to fit in, to make a specific impression, to respond to societal expectations, or to show where we belong. All of this makes clothes so much more like another universal language that everyone can speak. And like with any language, not everyone can speak it to a full extent and there are certain grammar rules you should adhere to.

When you think about it, you realise how many pre-imposed restrictions we put on ourselves. We dress to impress and attract others in a conventional way while all we really want to do is to wear a colourful bandana. Or that weird dress that only you like. Or statement socks with crop pants. Or just anything that you like, but you’d say to yourself: “Nah, I might look weird in this”. 

You might even say that you don’t care about fashion, dressing rules or anything remotely related to it, but yet if you look deep down you will notice that, perhaps subconsciously, you still follow some gut feeling that tells you what will look appropriate and what not. But what if you try to break the cycle? 

This is why I truly believe that simply wearing what you like is extremely freeing. It helps you to break free and learn more about what you really like. And it allows you to finally speak up your real mind to others rather then say what they expect to hear.

So, tell me, do you truly know what you like? Do you dress to impress or do you dress against? What is really moving you when dressing? 

reasons to love the colder time of the year 

reasons to love the colder time of the year 

In my experience winter time is often the least favourite season for majority of people. No one really likes short days, cloudy sky, wind, and rain, or snow, depending where in the world you are. However, it’s not actually all doom and gloom, it is really the matter of perspective. Like with many other things in life, you can keep focusing on the negatives and go into seasonal depression mode every year, or you can look for the positives instead.

Growing up, I always excitedly waited for the first snow. It would often happen over night, so in the morning I would jump out of bed to look out of the window just to confirm that the whole neighbourhood is finally covered with a pristine white snow blanket. My childhood memories of getting 10 layers on before leaving the house, warming hands on a hot cup of tea after coming back home, or just peaceful moments of watching snowflakes dancing outside from the warmth of our home fill my heart with joy and love for that least favourite season of the year.

As I grew older and my love for fashion grew, I’ve also found that dressing for colder seasons can be just as exciting – if not more – as dressing in spring or summer. And if you’re not with me on being slightly more positive about winter, I hope I might just slightly change your mind 🙂

So, why is dressing in winter not so boring?

Layering fashion close up street styleLayering 

When, if not in cold weather, can you pull off a layered look without dying from a heat stroke? You can go as simple as a turtle neck under a dress, or as elaborate as you wish really. Key thing – it will definitely keep you warm.

Image taken from Vogue.es

 

Close up image of a midi skirt and high bootsHigh boots

This fall/ winter trend which will also keep you warm and comfortable when the temperature drops. Great to pair with skinny jeans and chunky knitwear or with midi skirts and dresses which will create an interesting overlay.

Image taken from TheFashionFuse.com

 

Blogger Aimee Song in a white total lookWhite

Yes, that’s right – wearing white and off-white palette never looks as good as in winter months. For the very brave once I totally recommend a total look in off-white – it looks super elegant and classy. Just try to avoid coffee the day you wear it!

Image taken from Vogue.es

 

A girl wearing balaclavaHats

This accessory can make or break an outfit (and make your mom happy that you finally keep your head warm). Every fall/ winter designers come up with plenty of variations on more classic and more our there hats providing you an opportunity to experiment, like this year – with bucket hats, balaclavas and caps you have plenty of choice to make your statement. Or not.

Image taken from ManRepeller.com 

 

Girl with a scarf "MADE IN ENGLAND"Scarfs

Another accessory that will protect you from the wind and finish your look with another layer. Whether you go for a matching colour or a statement piece (like the slogan scarfs), it will be definitely a trendy response to cold.

Image taken from @wethepeoplestyle

…and this list can be continued, so as I said – look for positives and keep experimenting!

New year, new blog: why did I disappear & plans for 2019

New year, new blog: why did I disappear & plans for 2019

DISCLAIMER: this will not be a fashion post

Hey guys,

I know it’s been a while and I haven’t appeared here since Black Friday, which makes it good two months. I do have a good excuse though – as they say, life happens and sometimes your priorities have to shift. And for me, those priorities were moving houses and also sorting out my mental health.

It might sound like a contradiction, because moving houses is a stressful and at times painful process by definition… and how on earth can you try to deal with anxiety and stress in your life in parallel, right?! However, both needed to happen and it happened so that their timing coincided. 

And, most importantly, both are now over – or almost over – at least, we‘ve moved and (almost) settled in and I’ve made a significant step towards an anxiety-free existence (winning!). 

These last couple of months made me realise that even though I started my blog primarily focusing on fashion, I want to be sharing ideas beyond that. However, I feel like I need to vocalise it to truly commit, so there we go: in 2019 I’m hoping to make this blog something beyond fashion trends and style tips. I would still be writing about fashion and personal styling, but with a bit of a twist.

Because really – I am quite nerdy and I enjoy nerdy topics too! So, I was thinking to bring some nerdiness into my fashion posts – like how tech changes fashion, or whether fashion is another way of communicating with each other… hope you get the idea 🙂

In addition to that, I would like to inject some completely different topics that I find important, some of which would be my experience as an expat and some more personal things – because I want to keep it real.

And last, but not least… I do want to start working with more steady blogging schedule, so starting from today, you can expect a new blog post on Mondays & Fridays.

Stay tuned & let’s make 2019 another great year!

Black Friday ready: how to take the most of the biggest sale of the year

Black Friday ready: how to take the most of the biggest sale of the year

In the world where you get bombarded with sales and promotions urging you to buy-buy-buy, it can be quite difficult to stay sane and not to overspend. I mean… I’m not trying to be “the wise one” and pretend that I’ve never fallen into the marketing trap. Especially when the world of online shopping available to you 24/7 from anywhere makes buying so easy. Come on guys – we’ve all been there and done that!

When I just moved to the Netherlands, I was actually amazed with accessibility of online shopping which was still not always the case back in Moscow (at least, not to the same extent). I was so overwhelmed.. and -boy-oh-buy did I make my dozen of mistakes buying stuff on sale that seemed like a bargain but was clearly not something I needed. When you are a student on a budget, it hits you really hard, but you also learn fast.

I think everyone by now is acquainted with a phenomena of Black Friday – at least, to an extent that it’s the day when you can get discounts for pretty much anything. Initially it originated in the United States as the fourth Friday of November that followed after Thanksgiving that also kicks off the Christmas sales season in the US. In the Digital era, we then got a Cyber Monday that added on some online bargains. Seeing the commercial success of Black Friday, companies across the world quickly picked up the trend and now you have Black Friday pretty much everywhere. This year it started to become not just a day, but more like a week or the whole month of discounts – et voila! – you’re already running around, or intensely scrolling through the websites spending your cash. However, do you want to be smart while doing that?

For that, I prepared for you 5 Tips to make Black Friday/ Cyber Monday a success.

  1. Make a list of items you actually need

Sounds a bit obvious, but… you should actually try doing it and see how many unnecessary purchases you can prevent this way. Start noting items that you need and would buy anyway, regardless of any discounts – it will keep you focused and less overwhelmed when you dive into the whole buying exercise.

2. Based on the list of necessities, create a concrete wishlist using favourite function on the websites, Pinterest, or already put the desired items in the shopping basket

Ideally you want to already know what exactly you want to buy and where rather than search for the desirable items when the discounts kick off. This will save you time, money, and stress. Plus you will be more likely to buy what you want because as it often happens in the heat of sale – things get sold out at a lightning speed.

3. For fashion purchases: focus on are high quality basics and/ or on-trend items

Black Friday is a good opportunity to get one or a few high quality basics made of natural materials – the kind of investment you are unlikely to regret. Alternatively, if you would like to expand your wardrobe with some trends – go for it! This would be a safe way to try something new with a minimum damage to your wallet, given you follow the previous points too 🙂

4. When assessing the items in your basket, ask yourself: “Would I buy it for the full price?”

This is a good way to distinguish a necessity from junk that you pick up just because it’s cheap, which not only saves money, but also space in your house. Win-win, right?!

5. Get ready with the discount codes

Do your discount code hunt well: check the accounts of your favourite bloggers, your mailbox for some promo-emails from your favourite brands, or simply use the power of Google. Having this list ready for check out instead of trying to find the promo codes last minute will once again save you some nerves and decrease the chance the your desired items will be sold out before you know it. 

Girl in an oversized blazer looking at her watch

Sounds like quite a bit of work, but trust me it will pay off with less stress and some money savings. And now… are you ready for Black Friday?!

top 5 dupes that made it (too?) close to the original

top 5 dupes that made it (too?) close to the original

In the world of fashion you cannot always afford everything you want to have. Simply because the majority of us makes X amount of money each months, we have bills to pay apart from fashion bills, and we all need to eat (this is probably my other passion outside of fashion). On top of that – there are many luxury items out there that are very far from being affordable anyway. 

Naturally, these are known facts that lead us to the simple truth of modern world: demand creates its own supply. If there are many people out there wishing to get designer items (or even medium segment) they cannot afford, there will be brands and producers that will make something similar to those items at a fraction of the designer price. This is where dupes, and copies, and fakes come into play. 

In the past couple of months I came across a few really interesting ones which I would love to share with you. Just as a side note – all the items I list here are highly on trend, so, even though I only mention pairs, you will easily find something very similar in pretty much all high street brands.

  1. Checkered blazer

Sandro

Price tag: 385

Material: 64% viscose / 20% wool / 12% polyester / 4% polyamide

Sandro checkered suit

H&M 

Price tag: 79,99

Material: 64% viscose / 20% wool / 12% polyester / 4% polyamide

H&M checkered suit

Here we go with my favourite dupe couple: blazers from Sandro and H&M. What do we see here? Two checkered blazers that come with matching skirts. The amazing thing is that checks are identical and so is composition! The only difference is in fit – Sandro’s blazer comes double-breasted, while H&M is single-breasted with two buttons. The question is – is double-breasted fit worth 300 euro difference?..

2. Snakeskin ankle boots

Acne

Price tag: 700 dollars (300 on sale)

Material: real leather

Acne snakeskin ankle boots

Zara

Price tag: 99,95 euros

Material: real leather

Zara snakeskin ankle boots

If you missed out on Acne snakeskin ankle boots when they just came out, or you just didn’t want to spend 700 dollars on them – Zara will happily provide you a decent alternative. In this case you can clearly see the difference in the heel design and the front of the boots, but you can also easily see how much inspiration Zara got from Acne, including the colour of snakeskin. With a slightly higher heel (8 cm in Zara boots and 7 cm in Acne) and a significantly lower price tag, you can get a great and oh so on trend alternative!

3. Leopard print midi skirt

Realisation par

Price tag: 180 dollars

Material: 100% Silk Satin

Realisation par leopard skirt

Loavies

Price tag: 29,99 euros

Material: 100% Polyester

Loavies midi animal print skirt

Let’s be honest this Realisation Par skirt became a real it-skirt of the season, so, of course, many other more affordable brands came up with something of their own (e.g. I’ve got mine from River Island). So why have I picked a skirt by Loavies as a not-so-subtle dupe? Mainly because of the product name, which is “Realize me” – I really liked this pretty obvious reference, even though the colour and the pattern differ from the original. In addition to that, here we are also talking about different materials, where 100% silk will always win over polyester which will be obviously reflected in the price. However, if you’re looking for a trendy piece that you would not want to invest in… you know what you should do 🙂

4. Crossbody saddle bag

Loewe 

Gate bag

Price tag: 1700 euros

Material: real leather

Loewe brown leather bag

Looks like summer

Nina bag

Price tag: 175 euros (87,99 on sale)

Looks like summer brown leather bag

I think bags are the most frequent candidate for copying – not many people can afford designer bags while many want to own one which opens a niche for producers of similar (or very similar) designs. When the Nina bag from Looks like summer popped up on my Instagram, I was very surprised, to say the least. Let’s put it this way – it is difficult to say that it was just inspired by Loewe. However, there are differences in colours that these bags come in and the finishing – Loewe Gate bag come with more of a matt finish, while Nina bag is made of more glossy leather. You can also spot a difference in shape despite a very close resemblance. But, all in all, both are real leather bags with a very similar unusual design and a significant difference in price (just think of 90 euros versus 1700!), and for the rest – you can decide whether you feel like it is fair or not.

5. Letter pendant

Celine* 

Price tag: around 300 euros (as seen on Vestiaire Collective)

Material: Gold plated (?)

Celine alphabet pendant

*Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the letter pendants on sale anymore which probably makes sense now that a new creative director Hedi Slimane is out and about. However, you will be find them on resale sites, like Vestiaire… if you’re quick enough 🙂

DesignB London

Price tag: 13,99 euros

Material: Metal

DesignB London letter pendant

The original Celine pendant is one of the last pieces made while Phoebe Philo was still a creative director of the brand and it quickly became a must-have with many influencers featuring it in their accounts. As per usual this has become a trigger for others brands to come up with more budget alternatives. For this pairing I picked a letter pendant by DesignB London which is not a straight copy, but most certainly makes a reference to the original. Both pendants are gold, with the one of Celine actually being gold plated and DesignB London – just simple metal which you can expect for the price. 

 

And this concludes my list of dupes that I picked from some of this season’s favourites! I would love to hear from you: is this topic interesting for you? How often do you buy dupes and do you ever specifically look for them if you like a certain design? 

reselling your old clothes online: pluses, minuses, tips

reselling your old clothes online: pluses, minuses, tips

Over the last few years my lifestyle and personal style have changed several times, and every time I faced the problem of what to do with the clothes & accessories that were not me anymore. In my previous blog post, I’ve shared with you some insights & ideas on how to identify those items and what you could potentially do about them. In this post, I’m digging deeper and sharing my experience of reselling clothes – because it’s still sustainable, but also bring you some extra cash – and who would mind that, right?!

Like with many things in life these days, here you have two options: go online or offline. Both have their pros and cons, and I tried both, so in this post will be happily sharing all about my online reselling experience here in the Netherlands.

General tips:

  • Take clear photos (front, back, close-up, and how an item looks on). If you upload an item with only one photo of it, 99% of the time you will be asked to upload more.
  • Don’t overprice your items & be ready to reduce the price if it’s reasonable (especially if it’s been online for a while and haven’t been sold yet)
  • Think from the buyer’s prospective: if you were to buy a second hand item online, what information would you want to know and what would make you buy something?
  • Be responsive. In online world, it’s very easy to lose the attention, so if someone shows interest in whatever you’re selling – be nice & helpful 🙂

United Wardrobe

This is an app that plays a role of a broker in reselling your clothing & accessories. I personally really like it because you can not only sell your stuff, but also find some really cool items that got sold out in store/ not available in your size with a reduced price (Winning!). 

How it works:

You can use both a mobile app & a website – I personally find the app more convenient. When you create your account you’ll need to provide your address and your bank account details, so you can get paid if you sell something. After that you can start adding items yo your “Closet”, which is essentially your personal page with all things you’re selling. You can change your profile pic & background to make it look more appealing. The whole interface is pretty straightforward and if you have any questions, there is a whole FAQ section waiting for you. 

When someone buys an item from you, the payment goes to the UW account. Once the item is sent, your as a seller update the status indicating that you sent the item (and include a tracking code if you have it). When the buyer receives their purchase, they can update the status that the item has been received and, if they decide to keep it, UW will transfer your payment within 24 hours. 

What if a buyer doesn’t want to keep an item? Returns are possible only if the seller didn’t inform the buyer about correct sizing or some defects. If the information was shared correctly, but the item doesn’t fit properly, the buyer can decide to resell this item via UW straight away. If, however, an item was, for example, damaged, the buyer can submit a return request with some photos and explanation. In this situation, the seller can either accept or reject the request. All the rejected requests are also checked by UW Support team and they make the final decision whether the return is reasonable or not. 

Pros: 

  • Easy to use
  • Payment protection
  • Diversity (you can sell pretty much anything fashion related there, both cheap and more expensive items)
  • No scam accounts (to my knowledge)
  • Seamless bidding/ buying 
  • You can easily promote what you’re selling on Instagram & Facebook
  • You do not need to pay any fees to extend “expired” items

Cons: 

  • Available only in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France
  • Seller & buyer fees (10% of the purchase for sellers & approx. 2 euros per purchase for buyers)
  • You need to include the shipping costs into the price & you need to arrange the shipping
  • It’s quite difficult to sell out everything

 

Marktplaats

If United Wardrobe is a fashion oriented marketplace, Marktplaats (“marketplace” from Dutch) name says for itself – it’s an online platform where you can sell essentially anything – from clothes to cars & puppies. Apart from that, one of the biggest differences from United Wardrobe is that you can see other online retailers advertise there, so you can get both brand new and second hand stuff.

How it works:

Again, here you can use a website or a mobile app – matter of preference really. You do not need to provide that much personal info when creating your account, which can be more attractive for some people (privacy & all). After that, you can start adding products you’d like to sell – an here it can be anything, not only fashion items, just don’t forget to put everything in the right category 🙂 When you’re filling in the product info, Marktplaats will also give you a hint on average pricing for this specific category. You can also decide to have open bidding, but then it’s always a good idea to put a starting price.

Buyers can contact you via messages to show their interest, or make an offer, but that’s about how much facilitation you get here. It’s up to you to discuss whether the buyer want to have their purchase delivered or if they’re going to pick it up. It’s also up to you to arrange the payment – you can decide whether you want to do it via Marktplaats “Betalverzoek” or just exchange your details with the buyer. 

Keep in mind that free postings can stay on Marktplaats for something like 5 weeks (this is a recent change) and after that it is possible extend them for a small fee.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Payment facilitation available with a small fee
  • You can buy literally anything there
  • Diversity – you can buy & sell anything
  • Essentially no fees are involved unless you use payment functionality, or extend your ad

Cons:

  • It’s only relevant for NL based individuals
  • Even though you can sell clothes here, it’s less targeted, so it can take longer
  • You need to understand Dutch (no English version available)
  • You can get scammed, though Marktplaats closely watches all suspicious activity
  • Bidding/ buying are not really seamless, so it involves some manual work
  • A bit less secure – you deal with buyers directly, so it’s a matter of trust with payments & delivery

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook is constantly changing and extending its application, going far beyond being just a social network. Noticing that some people were using Facebook to resell things (e.g. student marketplace groups), Facebook went ahead and created a separate Marketplace section which made resale much easier. 

How it works:

If you have a Facebook account, which I assume, you do, all you need to do is to click Marketplace icon & off you go. Hit sell, upload product photos, description & price – et voila! – your item is on this social market. Potential buyers can contact you via PMs, and that’s where you can discuss the price and answer questions about whatever you’re selling. This is where you also discuss the delivery/ pick-up and payment method.

Pros:

  • You don’t need to create a separate account
  • Very easy to use
  • Can be used anywhere in the world
  • You can easily reach a lot of people
  • You can sell anything there 
  • It’s free

Cons:

  • Not very secure – there’s no payment protection and no delivery guarantees
  • You can get scammed & get some dodgy messages (personal experience :/)
  • Bidding/ buying are not really seamless, so it involves some manual work
  • It’s not very targeted

Other platforms & final thoughts

I’m well aware of other reselling platforms like The Next Closet, Vestiaire Collective, Vinted, Depop… but I haven’t really tried them (yet). Some of them are too specialised, and some seems to be used more in other countries. For the moment, United Wardrobe is really my favourite online reselling platform for fashion items which I use the most, but when I feel like trying something new I will definitely give it a shot. 

By the way, what platform do you think I should try next?

how to be a fashion declutter guru & sell, donate & recycle like a boss

how to be a fashion declutter guru & sell, donate & recycle like a boss

Hi everyone,

The holiday season is over, and I am now fully back – it is not easy to blog frequently when you have a full time job, but I will do my best to improve this 😉

A while ago I mentioned on my Instagram that I often buy second hand clothes and also sell, donate, & recycle my own. It is kind of inevitable if you are into fashion and want to follow (some) trends – and with those trends changing all the time, fast fashion brands having 6-12 collections per year, it all becomes way too easy to just keep on buying. It is also inevitable that some clothes get worn out, don’t fit you like they should, or you just fall out of love with them.

Whatever the reason is – you don’t want to hoard all the clothing you accumulate over years, because – why would you clutter your personal space (unless you live in a huge house and you don’t care about it 😉)? But what do you do with all those unloved treasures (or call it junk if you like)? And how do you make sure you keep a “healthy” balance of old and new in your closet?

One might say: “Just stop buying so much!” And it is true in a way, but this is a topic for another post. Here I want to focus on what you do when you have already accumulated lots of clothes.

I usually do a closet clear out twice a year – when I switch from Fall/ Winter to Spring/ Summer, and vice versa. This way it helps you to rethink your old clothes, think of what you would like to add to the wardrobe for a new season, and it is frequent enough to keep your closet in order. I do get rid of some more things occasionally throughout a season, e.g. when I try something on and realise that this is not quite me anymore, something is wrong with the fit (I shouldn’t have washed that handwash only viscose dress in a washing machine, I know), or it is just worn out. These are general rules I follow when going through my wardrobe in one of the big clear outs as well. Probably one more rule to add to it though – if you haven’t worn something in the last 6 months to a year, even if it’s a new item with tags – have another critical look at it and get rid of it – it must have been not your thing, even though it might have looked good on a hanger.

So, once you have a pile of things that you don’t need in your wardrobe in your life… what do you actually do with them? Putting them in a rubbish been doesn’t count – it’s not very sustainable and can be mentally difficult, especially if you’re getting rid of a brand new item… As an (almost) a pro in this, I’m happy to share some ideas & pointers  to make your life easier. Disclaimer: as I live in Amsterdam, some apps & places are location specific, but you can definitely get the general idea and add your local spin on it.

In short, you can do three things: sell, donate, recycle. But how do you decide what to do with what?

 

Selling

What: This is a category of things that is actually worth reselling, i.e. new/ good-as-new clothing, shoes & accessories that didn’t get enough love in your closet. These are also usually the most pricey items.

Where:

Online: United Wardrobe app, Marktplaats, Facebook marketplace, Facebook groups (Buy & Sell Amsterdam, ISN Amsterdam Online Market, Amsterdam Expats Online Market)

Offline: King’s Day in Amsterdam, NDSM flea market, Secondhand stores (De Ruilhoek,  Mooizo), garage sales

What do you need: good quality photos, energy to take those photos, some time/ money reserved for posting items or meeting up with buyers, patience to wait till someone buys whatever you’re selling

 

Donating & Recycling 

What: These are items that you were not able to sell, you don’t think they are worth the effort to try to sell, or you just want to do the right thing and instead of reselling donate them to those who need clothes more than you do.

Where: your friends & family who you think might like your stuff, Zara, H&M*, &other stories* (these stores pick re-usable items and donate to different charities, or recycle), various charities directly (some examples here), containers around the city that say “Kleding/ Schoenen”, or just check here.

What do you need: time to go to drop off the bags** with your old clothing at one of the stores or charities

 

*By donating your clothes there, you get a 10-15% discount voucher for your next purchase.

**Actually, if you order something at Zara & indicate that you want to donate some clothes as well, you can have a courier who delivers your purchase also pick up your bag with donations.

 

As you can see, there are plenty of options out there to keep your fashion adventures under control, and you can choose whatever suits your preferences and moral standards (except for throwing clothing away – please opt for recycling instead). My personal scheme here would be: declutter -> let my niece choose whatever she likes -> sort into sell, donate & recycle piles -> post things from the sell pile online & give away the donate & recycle pile -> if cannot sell everything online, try to sell the remaining stuff offline -> if that doesn’t work either, donate!

 

P.S. if you want to know more pros, cons, and tips on selling your clothing & accessories on different platforms, be on the look out for my next post!