Brooklynites: Housing Works Buy-the-Bag Warehouse on 28th Street

Greenwood Heights is getting a Housing Works Buy-the-Bag Warehouse!  As some of you know, this is my former 'hood so I'm happy for it.  You go, Glen Coco Greenwood Heights! 

I still haven't made it to a Buy-the-Bag thrift sale.  Unless you count the church thrift sale in New Jersey I wandered into once twenty years ago.  I got a lot of Rosmind du Jardin '50s teen novels that day.  It was a good day.  But I don't count that because it's not my most beloved - clothes.

A big ol' thank you to Racked for bringing us the good news and also for "letting" me lift this picture of the new space below.

Re-use is so important in terms of ethical wardrobes.  What is the likelihood that everything we buy will fit exactly right and be loved forever?  Or that every item from every store will be sold by the time its stint on the clearance rack is over?  It's nearly impossible.  

I try to only buy what I think I'll use.  But if I buy something I don't get a lot of use out of...and I brainstorm new ways to wear it and come up empty, I do pass things off to swaps/thrifts/resale.  This ensures it doesn't end up unused or, worse, in our piles at the dump - to rot away slowly in a landfill, a useless waste. 

The horror of horrors is that some people just throw clothes in the trash.  (Seriously, even if you have old sweatpants - they can go to textile recycling*.  Please do not throw this stuff in the trash.  Do. Not!)  Places like Housing Works (and Beacon's Closet, and swaps, etc) give these misfits a chance to shine in someone else's life.  

{*Providing your locale has textile recycling.  Does it?  NYC does but I know we're special.  Not as special as San Francisco but kind of close.}


Happy Turkeys Are Awesome Day (featuring vegan turkey cheeseball)

Happy holidays, folks!  I hope all of you are having a thankful day aligned with your values!  I will be holing up in Brooklyn for a chillaxing vegan Thanksgiving - it will be my second Thanksgiving dinner of the month since Sunjo (who never updates her blog any more, damnit!) hosted a vegan potluck this past week, where I had about 700 servings of mac n' cheese and corn pudding.

I'm stealing a picture Sunjo took to use here but it's the only photo I have of this - I made a vegan turkey cheese ball!

Cheese ball

What the %#$@ is that, you ask?  Good question.

Herbed vegan cream cheese with an almond sliver shell topped off with pretzel/cracker/carrot tail feathers and a construction paper face! 

Last year we did olive and cream cheese penguins.  And for Halloween this year we did mummy not-dogs.  I pretty much channel a '50s housewife/kindergarten teacher when considering appetizer options.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving and I'll leave you with a picture of a turkey checking out his dinner at Farm Sanctuary's Celebration FOR the Turkeys!  How cool is that dude?  (The turkey...but I guess the kid is okay, too.)


Outfit: A Uniform Friday

Dudes.  A hearty thanks to you folks who replied to my "Am I crazy for buying all this shit?" (aka Your Thoughts:  What the Right Clothes Mean to You) post.  This blog has the best readers, who don't apologize for writing more than two sentences of thought and that rules.  You also all gave me a lot to think about from different perspectives and for that I'm grateful.

Carrying the topic of "staples" from that thread, I only took one outfit picture this week and it consists of what I'd consider wardrobe staples.  A uniform.

pin/vintage, thrift store
cardigan/American Apparel
studded shirt/sweatshop, worn 50 times at least
denim/sweatshop but repaired when the zipper broke
pleather oxfords/sweatshop

In terms of ethical fashion, this outfit has:
  • US-labor
  • repeat wears (cardigan, jeans, shirt)
  • repair (zipper on the denim - I almost forgot you could do this and thought about getting rid of them)
  • re-use in the vintage pin
  • and of course it's vegan, no animal hides nor hairs (I can't 100% vouch for the shoe glue)
Not too shabby.


Thrift Wonders - Attack of the (Ceramic) Kitsch

I can never resist the housewares section of any thrift or vintage store.  Less so for acquiring housewares but for rubbernecking at all of the random weirdo stuff that was once mass-produced (or not).

I thought I'd lay a few of my favorite delightful ceramics on you from my last thrift store visit I can't imagine the household these beauties had a prominent or earnest spot in prior, although the last one looks like something I could have found in my grandparents' basement.

Thrift wonders

Thrift wonders

Thrift wonders


Your thoughts: what the right clothes mean to you

Yes, it's long and texty but I'm hoping to hear about your emotional or rational feelings during shopping.  

What follows is probably an outline of some not-right thinking on my part.  

Recently, after an impulse bulk buy at American Apparel, I got to thinking about why we buy. I consider myself a relatively sane consumer. I resent the words "nabbed" and "snapped up" as self-congratulatory shopping verbs in most cases and I try not to use them because I think it fosters a shopping-as-sport mentality. I try to limit my consumption and weigh out it's effect on the world - animals, people, the environment. I consider that serious business. But when I walked into American Apparel to check out their backpacks (I wanted a sturdy backpack larger than my Baggu) I began by checking out some of the staples on my "wardrobe wants" list. Leggings to replace worn out leggings. Trousers because I'm still without a decent pair.

And on the way to the fitting room I found some shorts I'd wanted last season at 50% off. They were much like the shorts I wore all the time last summer, but better and more versatile. Basically, exactly what I'd wished I'd had all last summer.

So there I was. In the fitting room with trousers, leggings and shorts when I had only planned to look at backpacks. It is all stuff I'll use and all stuff on my list. But as I tried things on and decided what to purchase, something came over me. The shorts fit so I wanted both of them - they're on my list and I was inconvenienced all last summer by not having them and having to make do with crappier shorts in one color. ($25 each.) I could use the pants for work, especially in the fall/winter and I've been leaning on non-denim jeans which are on their way out. ($78) Leggings are "essential" and I wear them all the time until they're falling apart. They were buy 2 get-one-50% off so I should get three black pairs to wear under skirts and dresses during fall/winter. Not only did I want all of it (and more - I looked for additional trousers) - but I couldn't mentally knock anything that fit and that I wanted out of the running.

Why shouldn't I have it? I "needed" it to be comfortable and appropriate for work and the weather (all seasons). Some of these would be integral to me having an aesthetic I like. Some of these would make getting dressed easier and give me some dressing flexibility, which will help me feel more "me", right?

I couldn't make myself put a damn thing back - not even the $12 duck brooch I clearly did not need. I was in such a state of mental justification that I was beyond reason. The very idea that I was asking myself to prioritize and limit what I had in my hand actually enraged me. Do I have the money? Sure, somewhere. Was this different when I did not have the money anywhere? No. I just bought the stuff on my credit card and ripped off all the tags as soon as I got home so I couldn't return them because they were mine, damn it. I am not proud of that.

Somewhere along the path of me becoming more responsible with money (and getting out of a lot of consumer debt), I got better at moderating these spending binges. And when I really started focusing on buying clothes that don't negatively impact others (re-use, non-sweatshop, "green" materials and of course animal-parts-free) it certainly limited what I could buy. At that point what I wanted to buy went from a free-for-all (oh, the pleather Payless shoes by the dozens!) to a pretty limited pool. My $80 monthly budget was enough to support it and I tracked it. And, for a while, I was pretty good at it.

Still, every once in a while the Ghost of Consumerism Past rears its ugly head in my life and I end up on a shopping binge. And often that opens the floodgates to buy more, even though these are all still squarely in the "want" vs "need" category. Do I have enough clothing to be appropriately clothed in all areas of my life (socially, weather-wise)? YES. But sometimes the very act of buying makes it easier to buy again. And again. If we're keeping track, I bought not one but two Vaute Couture pre-order coats. (And I own a 1st season Vaute coat already!)  Then there was this shopping incident. If I'm being honest, that's a little under $1k in two coats, the American Apparel stuff and a random denim motorcycle jacket I picked up -- all between September and November.

While I'm totally excited to support Vaute Couture's business and I feel okay about buying from American Apparel (here's why)...and just that one jacket was sweatshop, I am not okay with this much shopping and my inability to curb it. It's a ton of new materials, which always have some kind of impact and I'm afraid it'll put me back on the wrong track.

What I can't quite put my finger on is WHY I slip into such mental justification and exactly what I'm afraid of (or what I feel like I'm missing) if I put some or all of it back? What is the big deal about looking a certain way? What is the big deal about feeling comfortable (body-wise and personality-wise) in my clothing? 

While this isn't specifically about ethical fashion, it speaks to how some of us consume and that has a direct relationship to how we shop and therefore what gets sold and/or manufactured so it definitely falls into  the ethical fashion blogging arena.

And no, I never got a backpack there.  (The hardware looked pretty weak.) 


I experience: airbrushed foundation

Did I mention that I'm going to be in a magazine in a few months?  How it came about had nothing to do with this blog, but my job did have a teeny part in it (aka "entirely responsible").  I won't mention anything else about it because I don't think I'm supposed to but here are some generic studio pictures of the day.  (Clearly pre-Sandy.)

In just a few moments I'd be on that side of the room, with 3 lighting assistants and a photographer who was frustrated I didn't have anything "crazy" do to when she asked me "to do something crazy."

so much lighting


hair, make-up & manicure


elevator:  Baby Jane make-up selfie


seriously best cat-eye that's been on my face ever

That's all!  

It was awkward and weird to get fitted into wardrobe items with binder clips and pins.  (I did ask that they only provide vegan clothing items for me and they did, although they asked that I bring some backup attire just in case but we didn't need it.)

And it was weird to have my foundation airbrushed on (I imagined the Memorex commercial but it was merely a slightly chilly breeze on your face). 

And to have my nails done as I was getting my hair volumized. 

Actually, having my nails done while my hair was being volumized was the only one I'd want as a daily occurrence. 


Outfit: Cats, Dogs, Rats

Things are still pretty bad in areas of NJ/NYC and I'm finding it challenging to not want to volunteer every hour.  Still waiting for word on several hundred feral cats we helped fix this past year (on an island hit badly) in terms of what help they'll need. 

Given what I know my agency (and others) are doing on the animal front, I'm feeling okay to hold back for the next few days.  (I've already donated supplies and volunteered.)  I normally have at least 3 animal projects going on at one time (and they haven't gone away) and I'm a chronic over-committer so it's a struggle to not feel like I have to volunteer every waking hour and forget I'm a person in regular life, let alone times like this.     

Bleeding-heart Type-A justifications now made, we made it to MoMA's The Century of the Child before it closed for a few hours this Sunday.

I wore this to make my way over there and run into this at the Lever House courtyard.  I used to work in this area and I miss the Lever House courtyard and the usable outdoor space in midtown east. 

rat fink
jacket, jeans, flannel - sweatshop
bag - vintage via Etsy
shoes - Everyday Apparel
*as always, all vegan

I know the clothes look remarkably similar to the last post -- really, the bronze union rat was my main motivation for posting this picture.  I'll break out of this fall uniform soon enough but hopefully not for all black-in-mourning ensembles post-election.


Sandy's Aftermath

Well, I certainly didn't intend for that much of a blog break.  But sometimes little things get in the way of babbling about ethical fashion on the internet.  I hope you're all doing well despite Sandy's best intentions. 

I was lucky enough to have shopped at the food co-op in advance of the need-bread-need-water rampage.  I was also lucky enough to have served a 12-hour shift at a command center when the storm hit NYC, keeping tabs on animals in emergency shelters.  If I didn't get to do things like that, I'd just be watching the destruction unfold, feeling helpless and depressed.  (Thank you, job!)  Hoping for quick rescues for those left behind.  Speaking of...

If anyone in NYC had to leave their pets behind, they should call 347-573-1561 to let animal rescue teams know so their pets can be rescued!

All of my friends and their indoor pets are safe and it sounds like most of the feral cat colonies my contacts manage are doing fairly well, considering.  Even the Atlantic City boardwalk ferals!

How are you and your loved ones?

Here I am on a pre-Sandy stroll hours before the storm started:

before sandy 2 - EDITED
jacket, scarf, jeans, cardi & shoes:  sweatshop
American Apparel purple heathered tee
acrylic fingerless gloves/clothing swap

And here is where we realized sh!t was getting serious.  We wandered into the Brooklyn Museum parking lot.  This is just 1/4th of the parking lot, stuffed to the gills with various police and emergency vehicles...and TANKS.


I know every person with a heart is already doing this, but just another nudge to help out those in need at this time.  Local emergency shelters need volunteers, wish list supplies and money to help keep the food and supplies coming.  Don't forget your sheltered animals, too!