Urban Adaptation

Sustainable urban living, rural dreams, and daily change for a homemade life.

Utility

leave a comment »

I’ve never been what you might call a fancy dresser.  I like to look nice in general, and I put some thought into my clothing, certainly, but I’ve never focused too much on it.  I’ve always had comfort as at least one priority.  As much as I like to look nice, I’m also not willing to sacrifice comfort in the name of high heels, or binding outfits.

But more and more as I think about and work towards sustainability, I’ve been thinking about clothing in terms of utility.  Now, it’s not like I’m out in the fields daily (or at all, really, much as I would like to be), but I have been thinking about the purposes that clothing serve, as well as some other things like fibre, durability, and functionality.

While I still have a wardrobe of fairly nice clothing that I wear to work, I find myself looking for very different clothing when I’m not teaching.  My teaching clothing is somewhat dressier than normal – certainly as well made as I can find, relative stylish and classic, I think, but very focused on a particular purpose.  When I’m not teaching, though, I find myself wanting clothes that are as practical and functional as possible.

I will admit, I do find myself coveting almost everything produced at Old Town Clothing, and much of what shows up at Archival Clothing makes me perhaps a bit desirous.  But I’ve managed to find much of my utilitarian wardrobe closer to home, and in some cases, for less cash.

This is why I now have a closet with the most durable and practical clothing I could thrift.  Wool sweaters and vests.  Heavy leather shoes.  Densely wove linen shirts and skirts.  Rugged denim and canvas pants and coats.  Heavy cotton tote bags.  Down jackets and vests.  Thick wool socks.  Slip-on traction thingies for my winter boots and shoes. Thick leather sandals.  I stay warm and dry in the winter, and cool in the summer.  I can walk without slipping, or further wounding my already damaged ankle.

I’ve never really been one for labels or brands.  I’ve never really seen the point of paying more for something just because of what it says on the tag (and I’ve also never been one to walk around with a label across my chest, since I don’t see the point in paying to be a billboard for a company.)  That said, I do find myself paying more attention to labels now, since I have a better sense of what’s durable and likely to last, and while labels aren’t a guarantee of quality, it does help narrow the field in some cases.

I appreciate quality these days more than I have before – things that will last, serve their purpose well, be functional, and not fall apart after a season.  In part, being aware of labels helps me quickly sort through the wide variety of clothing available in the thrift store.  It also helps me identify what’s worth spending a bit of money on (of course, thrift stores are generally not the expensive, but I do still appreciate a good value.)  And this is why I now have a closet with Blundstone, Wrangler, Eddie Bauer, Tilley, Stetson, Doc Marten, Levis, Birkenstocks, Kodiak, Woolrich, Pendleton, Land’s End, L.L. Bean, and many other solidly built items of clothing, none of which cost more than $8 apiece.  (I also take a similar tact with my apartment, but that’s a whole other post.)

While I wouldn’t say that I’m concerned about fashion, I am concerned with what I wear, how well it works for me, what it’s made of, and where it comes from.  I haven’t yet perfected the art of utility, I don’t think, but I’m working on it.

Advertisements

Written by Jenn

October 23, 2010 at 12:54 am

Posted in Sustainable living

Tagged with , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: