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Spring feels like it is just around the corner, and dare I say it, it’s almost time to put the hefty knitwear away for the next few months and throw away the key.

Hiding seasonal clothes is  something I have found really helps me to buy less clothing. I feel like I am getting a whole new wardrobe when I dig out my summer stuff, and I find myself falling back in-love with pieces I had forgotten I had.  I also have a very small amount of wardrobe space, so it gives me a little bit more room to find the clothes I can wear that season. I put most of out of season pieces in suitcases or under the bed to keep it out of the way.  However, there is nothing worse then digging out your knitwear to find a glutton of a moth has dined his whole family out on your cashmere all summer.

Some people swear by storing their jumpers in the freezer, some people use vacuum packs. This is my method of packing my woolen pieces away:

Throughout the whole winter I will never wash my knitwear unless I really need to. I find my wool just does not need/ like a wash. I give it an air if it gets smokey, and a wipe away anything I spill on it but I will rarely give it a proper wash.  Once it is ready to be put away for the next few months, I will give it a hand wash. My mum, who is happy to hold a snake like a baby but is terrified of moths would always drill into us to never put anything back into storage that isn’t clean for fear that they would fester.  I diligently do this every winter by hand in my sink, but most washing machines have a setting for this, I just get nervous with wool and a machine. I use a cap full of Persil Silk and Wool detergent that my mum gave me years ago and once I have rung it out I wrap it in a towel and then hang to dry. Make sure that if your wool is dripping you put it over a bath/ towel or hang on a tiled floor.

Once it is bone dry, and be very careful about this or it can really get musky/ go mouldy if it is at all damp, I put it into a giant plastic sandwich bag. The plastic packaging that online orders come in? These are perfect!  Make sure they are sealed as tightly as possible, I sometimes put a few sprigs of dried lavender in as a moth deterrent and hey presto your knitwear is clean, pack-able and protected for the next year!

 

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ACS_0038.JPGJeans have come a long way. Traditionally created in the 1870s (!) by Levi Strauss as a pair of sturdy workwear trousers, they have gone through numerous adaptions and reinventions in the past 140 years. For example, blue jeans were a sign of rebellion in the 50’s. The 60’s saw many more women wearing jeans, preferring flares and adorned with embellishments to reflect the hippy era.  Despite the changes, one thing has remained the same throughout the decades, the jean is a sartorial staple.

The down side of denim is that they are pretty water intensive, the average pair takes roughly 3400 litres of water to make. It is also pretty difficult to find a good dependable pair. For these reason, I am very particular with my jeans. I personally have not been fortunate with secondhand jeans (they are always a strange fit on me) but as a long-lasting staple piece  that I will probably wear for about 70% of the year, I feel a little more justified in buying a new pair.

At the moment, I am really loving the straight-leg jeans. I have one pair, which I found a couple of years ago at Tommy Hilfiger. They are slightly cropped (so I try to remember shave my legs one in a while) and look great with trainers, boots and smart shoes. I try not to wash them often at all (to both protect the denim and prevent microplastics) really only if I have spilled something on them which will not wipe off and even then on a very cool wash (30 degrees max). I look for a really good quality denim. I try to look for 100% organic cotton, and make sure they feel long-lasting, none of that stretchy material.  I am sure you do not need me to tell you how to get the most out of your denim but here are a few tips have found really help I will try to post them on my Instagram too:

  1. Wear with trainers and embrace the sock; we are no longer living in the days of trainer socks (eughh) so take pride in your socks! I love a novelty sock (avocado, cats, nipples- throw em my way!) or a good old school sports sock.
  2.  The French tuck. This is a look I cannot get enough off at the moment (and Anna told me was called the French tuck because she’s sophisticated and up-to-date). For those who don’t know, tuck in the front of your t-shirt and leave the back untucked, and voila ( I know groundbreaking but give it a go).
  3. The bottom-hider. I have rather a large rump, something I am very proud of but something that does not always look fab in my big old “mom jeans”. To combat this, i wear a shirt or t-shirt tucked in with a cardigan creating quite a nice layered effect. This helps me avoid the long-bottom look I sometimes get in high-waited jeans.
  4. Balance the outfit. If your jeans are stonewashed and generally look a bit more casual and you want to wear them to something a bit more formal, balance them out with a nice top or jumper or a fancy pair of mules. I love wearing my jeans with a cropped high neck jumper to work.
  5. Buckle up. Wearing a belt can break up your outfit and give your jeans a much more styled look, give it a go!

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Every time we wash our clothes micro-plastics are released.

Micro-plastics are tiny pieces of plastic (usually the size of a human hair), and because of their size they do not get filtered through any of our wastewater treatment. Instead they enter into the sea and ocean, and are engulfed inexorably by fish and sea creatures.

Micro-plastics are a huge problem because of their almost invisible appearance. It is very hard to see them with the naked eye, and yet thousands of pieces have been found inside fish and animals, causing huge internal problems. Apparently, even when the waters look clear, there are most probably still thousands of pieces of tiny plastic floating around. These micro-plastics then enter into our food chain, through fish and through water. According to Orb Media  83 percent of drinking water contains micro-plastic fibres. This figure reaches 93 percent for bottled water. Micro-plastics can cause all kinds of diseases including cancer and fertility problems, and I am sure many more will become apparent in the future.

The worst culprits are synthetic fibers, and in particular fleece material. According to Rachel Lincon Sarnoff washing one fleece release 250,000 micro-fibres, Older materials release more synthetics than new ones. Using a powder laundry detergent is worse than liquid (due to the friction it creates). There are currently lots of studies being conducted on different methods to create a preventative tool. The research at the moment is being funded and created by independent parties and not the washing machine or clothing companies themselves (other than Patagonia), both parties shifting the blame and allowing the consumer to pick up the bill.

So what we can we do to try to prevent this?

  1. Invest in a GuppyFriend bag. This is a huge wash bag that you put your laundry inside and then put into your washing machine. It collects the microfibers into the bag, and you can empty them into the bin. It also apparently causes less micro-plastics to be released. There is a HUGE amount of information on their website.
  2. Check the label before you buy- avoid the synthetic materials these are usually made from natural gas and oil and you don’t want that anywhere near your skin. These also release more micro-plastics
  3. Wash on a cooler wash (around 30-40 degrees if you can)
  4. Make a bigger load and wash as much as you can at once
  5. Wash your clothes less. Using stain remover if you can or air your clothes to avoid just chucking it into the laundry basket
  6. Use liquid instead of powder laundry detergent, this creates less friction and therefore less shredding

 

photo by @Amandajanejones

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ACS_0020.jpgMy name is Flora and I am a hoarder. I will admit it. I am seduced by beautiful packaging, carefully styled items and I feel a pang of excitement as I put something new away in my wardrobe for the first time. When I am in one of my favourite clothing stores I turn into a sartorial adulteress, frivolously trying on new things whilst the wardrobe that has loyally served me well over the years, waits faithfully at home for another day out instead of having to share what little space there is the wardrobe with “the next new thing”.

I have decided to be a more conscientious wife  clothes owner and spend more time in the pieces I do have. Over the past year, I have really tried to curb this thirst and buy less and less brand spanking new things. Seven moves in three years has helped me to downsize a LOT, but seeing as it is January and the new year is upon us I thought I would set myself a challenge.

I am going to try to limit myself to buying one new thing a month. A few friends at work have given themselves a target of not buying anything new for 100 days, however, I thought I would set myself a more realistic and long-term target of minimizing my wardrobe and buying a maximum of one new piece of clothing per month. 12 new pieces a year. I take my hat off to those who have not bought anything new for a year or more but I want to make the goal a bit more achievable for myself.  Vintage clothes are exempt and I will also try to make my purchases worthwhile and investment pieces. It is going to take a lot of will power. I will share everything with you and keep you posted on my progress so keep a look out and wish me luck!

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In case you hadn’t read before, I have moved to Amsterdam one year ago. After living in two beautiful short-term lets (and two not so beautiful ones), we finally have a long-term rental agreement. The problem? You get a lot more bang for your buck with short-term sweet deals. Generally, landlords/ladies who are off to travel the world for a few months are more concerned with someone properly looking after their everyday home, than they are about making a profit. So, ultimately my budget got me a place that could do with a LOT of TLC but still has a bit of charm and character. And a stray cat that comes and visits us every now and then for a cuddle and a tin of tuna.

Consequently, I do not know when I will be moving out of this apartment, and I feel reluctant to put too much time and money into soft furnishings when the place isn’t fully ours to keep forever. The apartment is furnished with a lot of dark wood and red (eugh) something that is quite jarring with my preference for light, Scandi-style accents. However, after some serious consideration I think I have a few tricks up my sleeve for making your apartment feel a little less is tiny cosy and I would like to impart this knowledge to you:

Don’t compare your place to other people’s :

In the modern world, Instagram and social media are now part of our daily routine. We have never had such insight into how others live, most importantly how people with a lot more dosh than us live. It can be pretty discouraging trawling through pages of beautifully decorated spacious and light houses and seeing the rose-tinted view of an “influencer’s” home. Unless you are looking for inspiration, switch the phone off and start concentrating on how you can make your place look a bit better.

Pick a theme that will work for your home: 

For instance, trying to make the dark wood in my apartment work with a modern white-wash theme is not realistic. I cannot afford to change the green coloured curtains or put in a nice new pink velvet sofa. Instead, work with what you do have. I have covered the sofa in a lighter throw, giving it a more comfortable, less-worn look and have used lots of mirrors on the walls to maximise space. I have bought a few very nice velvet cushion covers (I found them for a reasonable price in H&M home). Look around locally, I picked up a great cabinet for 20 euros from around the corner on Marktplaz (Dutch version of ebay)

 

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Maximise your storage

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris.

We have hardly any storage, and although I only came over to the Netherlands with a big suitcase and hang-luggage, working for a fashion brand means I do seem to have accumulated a lot of stuff, particularly as I cannot see anything go to waste. I need to use every ounce of storage I have to make my clothes fit. Put shoes in sensible places (we have a rule of only having 2 pairs out each) and use space wisely (fold re-ogranise and don’t forget to have a good clear out of the things you do not need). However, do not make things look overfilled, overstuffed ( I like to have all my surfaces clear with a few plants/ frames on them) to give the illusion of space. Look on Pintrest for some good ideas about how to save space and try to be creative.

Invest in prints and frames and pot plants:

Even better, create plant pots out of old teapots, fancy chopped tomato tins or anything else that would fit into your apartment. For me, green plants really set a room off, if you have a corner that needs filling putting a big banana tree in it can give a great sense of space and colour, and you can pick them up for a reasonable price, just make sure you take care of them. I have also bought a set of frames from a flea market in the summer and I am slowly filling them with some great prints, one of my favourite newly discovered artists is Margo in Margate who is from an area very close to my hometown. Decide carefully about the types of art/ print you choose. Pick something with meaning to you, not just an impulse buy from something you saw on Instagram and you will probably love it for a lot longer.

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Treat yourself to some nice bedding

Okay, I think I am officially a grown-up. I splashed out on some beautiful bed linen and a bed-throw and some big pillows (what have I become?) and it has made me feel SO much better about the whole place. My justification was that we spend one third of our life asleep, and dammit let’s treat ourselves once in a while. Bedding will last and is something you will use forever and it makes my whole room look SO much more cosy.

I would love to hear about your tips and tricks for making your place feel a bit more like home.

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