An interesting article…

http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2014/1014-millennials-uneducated-on-important-clothing-care-skills-mu-study-finds/

My sister-in-law sent me this link a few days ago, knowing that I am passionate about the topic. I wanted to share it in its entirety,  because essentially this is why this blog is here.
People used to take care of their clothes, but somehow we have been talked out of this over time. The societal message is that clothing has a very limited life because of fashion, and so if it gets worn out or damaged it should just be replaced with something new. This is wasteful and unnecessary, but more than that it is a way that we as consumers are giving away our power. We don’t replace things because we WANT  to, but because we have been told we must.
Take your power back!
Learn to sew on buttons and tack up hems!
Learn the best care methods for different materials!
Buy it because you love it and want to wear it for a long time, not because it’s trendy, or because some celebrity has it!
DEMAND BETTER QUALITY!!!
*steps off soapbox and goes back to work*

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Not Convinced Buying Better Quality is Important? Watch this!

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Counterfeiting : Documentary on the Business of C…: http://youtu.be/sV_bDXgeg7Q

Even if you aren’t buying counterfeit goods, if we keep demanding things that are cheap and plentiful we are responsible for feeding this industry.

I am trying very hard not to buy things that were made in China because of the counterfeit trade there, although sometimes it just isn’t possible. There are other countries with similar problems I try to avoid as well. I would rather pay ten times the cost for something made by a craftsperson in small batches than buy something made in a factory that doesn’t concern itself with worker safety.  Even big name luxury brands are a problem for this. 

Do your research!  Know what you’re buying!  I’m beginning to believe it might save a life!!!

The Care and Feeding of Boots and Shoes: Part One

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One of the challenges of owning better quality goods is that they require more attention than the disposable goods you are probably accustomed to. Cheap shoes can be worn in whatever weather and then taken off and dumped in a corner,  because you’ll just be replacing them anyway. Really nice shoes and boots are different.  They won’t tolerate that kind of treatment. Wet leather must never be dried near a heat source, because it will shrink and possibly crack. Additionally, leaving mud and salt caked on can stain and damage the leather. You don’t need to dig out a whole shoe kit every time you go outside, but it’s a good idea to keep a rag near the door to wipe of salt and dirt before it can become a problem.  A little care on a regular basis is much easier than a massive overhaul once in a while!
You’ll need a few things if you want to keep your shoes and boots happy.

Shoe polish/cream: these restore color and shine to the leather, as well as protecting the finish.  You can’t use them on nubuck, patent, or suede, but most smooth leather like to be polished from time to time. Polish comes in many colors, so make sure to look for some that matches your shoes. If there isn’t any that matches, or if the leather is printed/painted, colorless/neutral polish will serve you well. Apply regularly.  I like to polish my boots every week or two if I’m wearing them daily. At least polish whenever you get a scuff or want to refresh the color and shine.

Polish brush: not essential since a soft cloth also works well, but a brush will save you some effort when you want a nice shine. If you plan to polish shoes in dramatically different colors (for example black and white) it might be best to have a different brush for each color to prevent transferring the color. Use whenever you apply polish, and also when shoes are dusty.

Suede brush/eraser: absolutely essential for suede and nubuck. This tool removes scuffs and restores the texture of the leather. Use only when necessary.  Overuse can wear the leather prematurely.

Water/stain spray: for all weather boots silicone can be used, but it will make the boot less breathable.  Non-silicone is a better choice for spring and summer boots since it won’t seal the sweat inside. Check the label to see how often to reapply, because it varies from product to product.

Mink oil: smells kinda funky, but works wonders on smooth leather. Adds water resistance and moisturizes the leather. Do not use on suede, nubuck, or patent! Apply monthly if you’re wearing the shoes daily, less often if you wear them more rarely.

Leather lotion: adds moisture to dry leather. Also nice for maintaining patent. I like Cadillac, but other brands are probably equally good.  Use whenever leather is dry, after drying thoroughly soaked leather, and regularly on frequently worn patent.

Shoe horn: I used to think these were just for old people. Not so at all! Using a shoe horn saves wear on the back of the shoe, and prevents the heel area from getting all mashed and bent. I have a lovely metal one hanging on a hook near the door, and it was worth every penny I spent on it. Use it every time you put on shoes.

Boot trees: keeps the upper part of your boot from falling over. Not only does this prevent creases, it makes your boots fit better in your closet! Real boot trees can be spendy, but I’ve heard a fat pool noodle cut into sections works well too. Stick them in your boots when you take them off, every time if possible.

Magic eraser: a small piece of this removes scuff marks from light leathers. Use whenever there is  a dark mark on a light colored smooth leather. (Not on patent, suede, or nubuck though!) Polish when you’re done for shoes that look like new!

Optional: soft cloth, daubers, sponges, and other fancy application tools. These make the job easier, but can be costly. An old t-shirt will serve the same purpose for a lot less money. (Recycling!  Yay!)

I like to keep all my supplies together in box or a big Ziploc so I can just grab the whole kit when I need something.

I’ll be interviewing the manager of one of a very few remaining local shoe stores offering expert fittings and repairs, so I’ll have even more shoe care info soon! Happy polishing!!!

Getting started part 2: How to get started

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So, you’ve decided all this makes sense, and you want to jump on the better is better bandwagon, right? Awesome!
Now you’re thinking about replacing everything you own, right?
STOP!!!
Don’t be even more wasteful while trying to be less wasteful! Don’t replace things until you naturally would. When you do replace something, then you can get something better.
Aside from the fact that replacing everything you own all at once would be wasteful and expensive, there’s another reason it’s very important to only replace things that needed to be replaced anyway: nice things require care. Getting accustomed to caring for things properly can be challenging until you develop good habits, and the more things you need to care for, the more challenging (and time consuming) it’s going to seem initially. Over time the new habits will normalize, and you’ll barely notice the difference. (Except that you’ll have nicer stuff in better condition. You’ll notice that for sure!)
Another advantage to not trying to replace too many things at once, is that you can wait for sales to make better goods more affordable. It’s early fall where I live, so that means it’s an ideal time to buy sandals or shorts inexpensively since they’re being closed out. On the other hand, if you’re looking for the best selection, or for special items, buying in season will give you the most options, and if you really love it it might not be worth the risk of hoping it goes on sale later. For basics though, out of season sale shopping is the way to go!
That said, never buy something just because it’s on sale! Only buy things that you really love, and that suit you. A bargain isn’t a bargain if it lives in your closet forever because you don’t actually like it, or it doesn’t look good on you.
If you really want to start somewhere, and you don’t want to wait for what you have to wear out, I’d suggest starting with boots and a coat. Many people treat coats like disposable goods, but there are a number of styles that never go out of fashion, so there’s no reason to be buying new coats every year or two. Boots are good for much the same reason, and really if they feel amazing and you love the style you won’t WANT to replace them all the time!
Next week I’ll explain how to choose and care for coats and boots, so ask me any questions you might have so I can be sure to answer them!

Getting Started: When To Buy The best

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It sounds wonderful to say that you should buy the beat quality version of everything you use, eat, etc. In reality, however, certain things are less practical to apply this ideology to for various reasons. Some things are always going to be disposable, and even the best quality version cannot avoid this. Some obvious examples of this would be toilet paper and trash bags. There are better quality and lesser quality examples of both, but neither one is going to be used beyond its expected lifespan. On the other hand, there are many items which are commonly treated as though they are disposable when their lifespan is really only limited by lack of quality or the attention span of the owner. These are the items to which this philosophy should be applied.  Much of fashion falls into this category, as does most technology. Most people don’t buy new shoes because their current pair is beyond repair (unless they were very cheap to begin with) but rather because they no longer want to wear that pair for whatever reason. Same goes for clothes and technology. Rarely are items replaced because they are “dead”. Obsolescence is more likely the cause for replacement. There is enormous financial gain to be made through the creation of planned obsolescence, but not for the consumer.
Corporations taught you to discard things in favor of the “next big thing”. By choosing not to accept unnecessary obsolescence, you, the consumer, can begin teaching THEM that we are not so easily manipulated. As the demand for serviceable, durable, long-lived goods increases, those goods will become more common and the disposable junk we lament (all the while filling our homes with it anyway) will be forced out.
So where do you start?
Firstly, DO NOT decide to gather all the disposable items from your house with the intent of replacing them immediately. It is much better and less wasteful to simply replace or discard these items when you naturally would, and replace necessary goods with high quality versions. The idea here is to REDUCE waste, so to discard items unnecessarily is counter to the whole ideology.
Think carefully before you buy anything new as well. Is it durable? Is it repairable? Is it well made? These are all important questions, but the most important question of all is do you love it? When you purchase good quality belongings, you are making a long term commitment to that item. You will not only own it, but need to care for it. If you aren’t completely happy with something, it will become burdensome very rapidly. Don’t buy it if you aren’t prepared to commit!
Next week I’ll detail a few of the items I recommend prioritizing for replacement, and how to select them.

Hello and Welcome!!!

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Buy Less, Buy The Best is a philosophy of shopping that puts quality over quantity.  It recognizes that although purchasing the best quality can be spendy in the short term, in the long term (with proper care) these items are less expensive than cheap things. There are other benefits to this philosophy beyond one’s pocket book. Buying less is unquestionably better for the environment.  Less stuff means less waste, both from packing and shipping products and as post-consumer waste when the product or its package gets discarded.  Furthermore, buying better quality supports the economy.  Better items are generally produced with more human involvement, which means better jobs for skilled employees. Underpaid, unskilled factory slaves do not produce the kinds of goods that last well and are a pleasure to own.

Of course, some things will always be “disposable”, and there are certain products where increases in price or production quality do not mean increased durability or useful life. Additionally, cost does not always equate with quality. It is my intention to provide you, the consumer, with the necessary information to choose goods of excellent quality when appropriate (and to care for those items properly) as well as to recognize which items this philosophy benefits most.
Next week I will address some of the traits which mark an item as disposable, and which items should be considered long term “investment pieces”.
If you have any questions, please comment and I will address them in future posts!