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What’s Up?

In Announcements on January 26, 2011 by Naoko Takano

I’m sure you guys have been wondering what’s up and why I haven’t posted anything.  I truly want to!

However, I’m still trying to migrate to WordPress.  Every time I post something new, or somebody comments, I have to re-import everything again.  So far I’ve done this 7 times!  And all of my information is still not transferring completely.  I’ve contacted their support and am waiting to have them import the remaining comments for me.  Once they do, then I can be up and running again!

So if I can ask for your patience a little longer…

It should be in the next couple days now…

(This is a short little post that I don’t care about if I lose it or it doesn’t get migrated…I just wanted to update everybody.:-)

xoxox
Carly

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1.22.11 Outfit: Upside-Down Sweatshirt

In Outfits on January 23, 2011 by Naoko Takano

 Upside-Down Sweatshirt: Kai-Aakmann, a recent Gilt purchase
Bird-chain silver necklace: Claire’s
Dark-rinse jeggings: Forever 21
Zipper-Buckle Wedge Booties: (bought at Sharman in 109 in Shibuya, Japan)
Pewter Rabbit Ring Set: ? (bought at mocha, in Shibuya, Japan)
Wedding Rings: Cartier platinum band + Tiffany’s solitaire diamond band

I was so excited to finally wear this sweatshirt – it arrived a little while ago, and it’s been so cold here I haven’t felt able to put it into full rotation.  It looks like I put it on upside-down, which is the whole point of the design.  I’m not really sure how you’re supposed to wear it exactly.  I wore it pulled down (like a tunic, to cover my tummy) – but found that this pushed the batwing sleeves so far down that they connected almost at my waist, and this severely limited arm movement (and meant I couldn’t get my jacket on).  (I’m not sure I really understand the design of this top…)

 Well, it was uncharacteristically warm today, so I guess that’s okay!

Perhaps you’re supposed to wear it gathered up and wear a layer underneath to cover up the belly.  And theoretically one could turn it upside-down and wear it that way too.  You could DIY something like this – just by buying a sweatshirt that has batwing arms (or super-low armscyes), and making a slit on either side of the neck-ribbing to accommodate your hips.  Perhaps a XXXL sweatshirt would suffice?  I shall have to investigate further…

I’ve been taking some multimedia classes at a local community college so I can redo my portfolio and enter the industry here.  Today was the last day of the design seminar – and I realized I should have been photographing my outfits on the other days leading up to this – but it’s been pouring with rain for most of the month, so the photographic conditions outside have just been horrible. 

It’s been great to get out from behind the computer and really interact with other people into design and art – and it reminds me how much I’ve missed this world.  I’ve always wanted to tell stories – I began illustrating my first stories at the age of 3, and dictated them to my mother, who wrote the words below my drawings and stapled the pages together so I could make my “books.”  I loved my own books the most out of all the books I owned!  I wanted first to be an artist, then to be a director (movies), then an actress, then an animator.  But what I was really trying to be was a storyteller – and I never knew that was what it was or what it was called.  And Fashion is just another story – just a different way of expressing ideas and creativity in a physical sense.  I feel it’s all incredibly related…

So in Portland, there’s no work for those who want to design clothing for the misses’ contemporary market unless you create your own line (and I’ve already gone down that road once and I’m not sure if I want to go down it again)…so therefore the logical career path for me to pursue is storytelling – i.e., illustration, animation, film/video, multimedia (since I majored in Film/Video in my undergrad and have 2 certificates in Animation).  But I have to brush up on the software, since in the years since I left school so much has changed…hence, back to school, and networking, and getting feedback for polishing my portfolio.

Telling stories creatively + fashion blogging?  Can I do it both?  It remains to be seen…
 
xoxox
Carly

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What is the Fashionista’s Dilemma and What is Your F.A.P.?

In Fashion Morality on January 22, 2011 by Naoko Takano

 woman photo source; items source; composite by me

Since I’ve been reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma* (it’s a fabulous book – I can’t recommend it enough, btw!) I’ve been thinking a lot about the source for the many components of our modern lifestyles.  Food, of course.  But Fashion, too.

I feel that in the past couple years there has been a perceptible shift in consumer attitudes, marked by a more of us questioning the where and how a garment came to be.  According to a November 2010 survey conducted by American Express, 54% of Americans say they try to support their local economy when making purchasing decisions, and over a third (38%) of respondents equate being good and ethical to quality of life – and making “good” and “ethical” buying decisions plays into that.  People also desire more customization ability in their products, and 36% expect brands to be ethical.  Hence the success of Etsy (gross sales went from $166,000 in 2005 to over $200 million in 2010), the rise of organic and eco-friendly fashion, the proliferation of “Made in the USA” labels, the formation of groups such as United Students Against Sweatshops and proposal of legislation such as the “Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act,” [defeated in committee], the “Buy Local” movement, and the growing interest in doing-it-yourself, or DIY.

img source

And yet what seems to be hardwired into our brains is the quest for new, shiny, and current.  As a species we tend to gravitate towards the newest inventions, the leap forward in technology, anything that we haven’t seen before will hold our interest singularly and collectively.  That is, until the next new, shiny thing appears.  And so it is with fashion and it’s ever-changing trends.

From wiktionary.org:

Fashionista: A person who creates or promotes high fashion, i.e. a fashion designer or fashion editor; A person who dresses according to the trends of fashion, or one who closely follows those trends.

(Nothing to do with that 2003 Australian porno, BTW)  My take on this is that it’s almost innate for us to always desire the next, best thing.  Excess consumerism and abuse of resources, we’ve all agreed, is not the way to go.  However, I feel that it’s okay to want to follow these trends and appear to have the next, best thing.  You just don’t always need to buy it.  (And you can buck this tendency and dress “classic” or march to the beat of our own drummer, or however you choose to dress.  But tell me: haven’t you felt that siren call of those new platform shoes, that gemstone-encrusted watch, that It-bag at least once in your life?  And if you’ve decided that yes, you want it enough to have it…well, that brings us to The Fashionista’s Dilemma.

shirt available for purchase here

So what is The Fashionista’s Dilemma?  Akin to that of the omnivore’s, you have to determine how much you are willing to be ignorant of the moral, economic, ecological, and societal impact of your choices when you choose to be In Fashion.

img source

When it comes to the things that we choose to wear on our bodies and adorn ourselves with, we really only have 3 choices:

1) Buy or get it new (off-the-rack, from a sample sale, from the craftsperson who made it, have it tailor-made for you)

2) Buy or get it used (from a vintage clothing store, charity shop, thrift store, clothing swap, your friend’s closet)

3) Make it (from what you already have in your closet, with raw materials you have on hand or purchase, DIY or customize something bought off-the-rack)

With each choice comes different (and great!) responsibility.  It feels that only in the last 10 years or so many consumers are truly beginning to understand that responsibility each time they want something new.

So what do you choose to clothe yourself with, and where does it come from?  Do you spend a prodigious amount in creating (or procuring) the textiles yourself, sewing the item from scratch?

Or do you DIY – i.e., take something that already exists, invest minimal time and minimal materials in order to satisfy your need for the latest and greatest, without buying new?  Do you bend the rules and work around it so that you can still be on-trend, just not broke while doing it?

Do you buy used and give a home to something that has been pre-loved?  Do you help eliminate waste and extend the life cycle of the garment?  Perhaps find a one-of-a-kind treasure in the bargain?

image source

Or do you buy new – and support an emerging designer or local craftsperson?  Or buy from a known brand, buy luxury, buy from a low-end push manufacturer? (i.e., one that manufactures a large number of multiples of the same garment, stuffs the stores with products, and then tries to market the styles after-the-fact – like H&M or Forever 21, for example)  Do you support the need to harvest more cotton, use more pesticides, weave more textiles, tan more leather, hire more workers, expand factory size, ship more quantities of goods across the ocean, stuff the stores with more product, spend more money in advertising to convince more people they want the product?  Or do you choose to shop ethically for clothing manufactured with little waste or utilizing eco-friendly textiles?

img source

With every purchase (or non-purchase), you are using your money to send a message.  I believe that as of late, many people are sending the message that they do not buy into the system anymore.  They want to know that the pieces they clothe themselves with are made locally, fairly, ethically, with minimal environmental impact, by well-paid, well-treated people.

I’m sure none of us can truly create everything we wear from scratch (unless you have a huge amount of time and certain resources at your disposal).  And I think, just as with The Omnivore’s Dilemma, we all have to find our own mix of those 3 procurement processes when it comes to having the next, best thing.

img source

I’m not saying everyone should have everything.  Obviously a modicum of self-restraint and wisdom is necessary when evaluating whether you should get something.  But what I am saying is you do not truly have to deny yourself something because you can’t afford it, or max out your card to get the look.  If you want and feel that want is justified enough for you to have it, then you don’t have to spend the money on the expensive, new, designer version.  You can 1) Shop smart (with sales, coupons, rebates, buying from craftspeople or tailors); 2) Shop used (thrift stores, clothing swaps, Ebay); or 3) Make it (find something similar and affordable and customize it, or make it from scratch to simply enjoy the process).

image source (I thought I kind of look like her – which is why I chose the piccy:-)

My F.A.P. (or Fashion Acquisition Philosophy – just something I made up;-) for myself is probably split as percentages as 10/25/65 (Buy New/Buy Used/DIY); with 10% being items that I buy and wear as is, 25% being items that I buy or swap used and wear as is; and 65% of new acquisitions that I D.I.Y. or make from scratch.  And that’s how I allocate my clothing budget – since yes, I do love to shop, but I also like to exercise my creativity with how little can I spend and how well can I customize something so that it looks like it cost a fortune and yet is totally wearable and enjoyable.

So what is your personal F.A.P?  Have you felt yourself get more involved with such questions of origin and how something was manufactured in recent years?  Have you seen your spending change as a result of being more aware of the impact of your choices?  Has your consumption level gone up once you began customizing your fashion – but do you value and enjoy your clothing creations much more?

I’d love to know!

xoxox
Carly

*Interestingly, I noticed that in the latest issue of Marie Claire (Feb, 2011), another writer has drawn on the ideas present in The Ominivore’s Dilemma as being applicable to our consumption habits of fashion in the article “The Fashionista’s Dilemma.” (check out her personal blog ClosetTour here if you are interested)  It’s a pretty apt comparison, one that’s been rolling around in my head for awhile, so I wasn’t surprised to see that other people were struck with the similarities our modern industrial food chain has to our modern industrial clothing.  However, I only received my magazine two days ago, and this post was pretty much done by that time…I felt my title was pretty apt, and so didn’t chose to change it even though I’m aware that the Marie Claire article uses the same title.  Just to explain if anyone’s confused!)

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Where’s My Red Hair From?

In About Me, formspring.me answers, Hair on January 9, 2011 by Naoko Takano

from Formspring.me:
Hi Carly! I just found your blog yesterday and I loved it so much I have been going through all your old posts! (Is that creepy? haha) This may seem a bit strange, but I was wondering if you are Irish. I LOVE your red hair!
The Internet is probably the best place for creepiness! Thanks for your kind words about my blog:-)
I am ethnically Scottish/Danish/Norwegian/Czechoslovakian. (“Cais” is a Czech name.) But both my parents are Australians and I was born in the U.S., so I was originally American/Australian… Well, technically American now since I dropped the Australian nationality off my passport (I have only visited there a couple times and though all my relatives are there, I really just identify as American).
The red hair probably comes from the Scottish and the Czech sides of my family; apparently I have a second cousin in the Czech Republic who has hair the exact same color as mine. It’s tough to keep vibrant during the winter – and as the years go by!! :..(

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DIY Dyeing Feature in Lucky Magazine

In DIY, Dyeing, Lucky Magazine on January 9, 2011 by Naoko Takano

Unlike the New York Times, who doesn’t seem to understand what DIY actually is, Lucky Magazine gets it.  They really get it!  I was simply floored by their feature on dyeing pieces in your wardrobe to give them new life, featured in their February 2011 issue.

Utilizing Rit Fabric Dye, Jacquard dye, and Tarrago leather dye, you too can make over a number of items in your closet and dye them to suit your needs.  (“The $2 Trick that Will Change Your Wardrobe!” reads the title.)

 Though yes, dye is cheap, the prep and process time for dyeing something can be a few hours to a few days, so it’s not cheap time-investment-wise.  But as the article points out, you can achieve dramatic results if you put in the effort to dye something correctly and carefully.

However, most of the pieces in the article appear to be new, which is why the dyeing works so darn well…when you’re dealing with items that have wear, stains, detergents, or distressing on them, your results may be very different.  Dyeing something is never a guaranteed process…it’s fairly hit and miss (which is what many people love about it!).  Don’t start off with trying to dye your favorite dress in the whole wide world…start smaller, and don’t forget the steps necessary to prep the piece to take the dye.

Dyeing leather is absolutely fantastic and utterly addicting, though again, some leathers will or won’t react with the dye, depending on finishing, tanning method, wear, surface coats, etc.  Also: I couldn’t find the leather dye kit the magazine recommends buying from WardrobeSupplies.com – they only sell Tarrago-brand leather polish, which is not the same as dye.   I’d recommend Angelus-brand leather dye, as I’ve worked with that before and it is extremely high-quality.  If you’d prefer the Tarrago-brand, you can buy it here on a different site…or even buy the kit on Ebay.

They even put together a little video as a quick how-to for the dyeing process for cotton/silk/synthetic fabrics – where Fashion News Director Jen Ford dyes a Barbara Bui dress:

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

Their other video for how to dye leather isn’t up yet.

I’m so thrilled to see a mainstream mag really try to break the process of dyeing down and inspire people to try it out! 

How about you guys?  Are you thinking of dyeing a couple pieces in your wardrobe to liven things up a little?

xoxox
Carly

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New Items Added to ShopChicSteals!

In ShopChicSteals on January 8, 2011 by Naoko Takano

So I’ve finally gotten around to posting some more items from my closet for sale! 

Dollhouse, Kenneth Cole New York, Costa Blanca, and Priorities are a few of the brands I’m selling, as well as items that are brand-new with tags.  If you’re interested in anything, please let me know at admin at carlyjcais dot com.  Thanks so much!

Check it out Here

xoxox
Carly

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Wardrobe Ave $50 Site Credit Giveaway

In Cool Sites, Giveaways, indie fashion on January 7, 2011 by Naoko Takano

Heard of Wardrobe Ave? New on the scene of e-commerce sites selling direct from designers, this growing e-tailer has something for everyone on its pages.

They sell an array of chic and covetable items, all from independent designers, small boutiques and vintage sellers. The platform allows you to shop directly from the designers or shops, and they ship worldwide.

I, for one, am drooling more than a bit over the JANICE white ruffled dress, the the Black Phoebe Wrap, the Silver Cuboctahedron Necklace, and the Tree Branches Chiffon Scarf.

To help ring in the New Year, Wardrobe Ave has graciously partnered with Chic Steals to offer a $50 credit to their site to one lucky winner!

One lucky Chic Steals reader will win a $50 in credits to WardrobeAve.com!

How to Enter
REQUIRED:

1. Visit WardrobeAve.com and leave a comment on this post telling me what you’d buy if you won. (1 entry)

ADDITIONAL ENTRIES:
2. Tweet this giveaway. Leave a SEPARATE comment on this post with the link to your tweet! (tweet as many times as you’d like for additional entries)


However, if you do not keep your additional entry comments separate from your required entry comment, they WILL NOT BE COUNTED.

Giveaway open to anyone in the world!!
Giveaway period is open from today until Sunday, Jan. 16, 11:59 PM PST.

Winner chosen by Random.org and notified by email.


Also: Wardrobe Ave is currently running a 20% OFF Coupon Code promotion:

Take 20% off their ENTIRE store using code WARDROBE through now through January 31!

Good luck in the giveaway! and even if you aren’t the lucky winner there’s still that promo to take advantage of!

xoxox
Carly

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