Monday, May 30, 2011

Packing for Japan

We're in Japan for late May, but we expected some of the rain and humidity more typical of June's rainy season, based on the tweets we read from expats in Tokyo. All the advice we read suggested that we aim for smart casual, with no jeans, shorts, or low-cut tops - now that we're here, I'd say that's outdated advice for a tourist, as there are plenty of local ladies wearing short shorts (usually over tights or with thigh-high stockings), jeans, and jeggings.

I needed to pack light, and have a dress for a fancy date night, and considered the ability to wash things by hand an asset. Most importantly, I wanted to be using the Project 333 rules for myself. So here is what I packed:

This is my list for the trip, a smaller version of what will likely be my summer Project 333 list (I would have melted wearing only items from my spring Project 333 list):
- cardigan - navy blue cotton with shawl collar from The Gap (turned out to be too warm for most days)
- waterfall kimono-sleeve cardigan - beige
- stylish tops, no cleavage - navy stripe from Anthropologie, navy ikat-dot from Anthropologie, navy stripe tee from Gap, teal square-neck from Gap, polkadot tank from Anthropologie
- slacks or capris - black denim trousers, blue dark-denim leggings, black linen Bermudas, blue jeans (not shown)
- dresses: navy and cream ikat-print 2-layer dress from Anthropologie by Plenty by Tracy Reese; navy ikat-print dress from Jones New York, thrifted
- walking shoes (black Clarks Wave)
- dress shoes (navy Clarks Artisan Timeless)
- raincoat - just a pocket-size plastic emergency poncho, since locals don't use them
- black purse (not shown)
- brown elastic belt
= 18 items

Not included in my list but worth mentioning: 1pair comfortable PJs for summer humidity (although it turns out hotels here provide PJs or yukata or both), bras made with foam cups, socks in perfect repair and appropriate for lots of walking, 2 pair of navy tights, black yoga pants (loungewear) for on plane

Wanted to buy while in Japan: scarf, obi sash belt (navy blue), summer kimono (short so it can be worn as a jacket), umbrella, folding fan and hand towel for in purse. Possibly a second-hand Burberry Blue Label handbag.

Actually bought or was given: an iris-print long summer kimono (dress not jacket) and purple obi sash to wear with it, which I haven't worn; fabric which I will hem to make a scarf; a thin navy blue polkadot scarf, and a clear plastic umbrella. Second-hand Burberry in a colour that goes with my wardrobe wasn't to be found anywhere, even at a designer consignment wonderland like RagTag in Shibuya, and the short traditional jackets proved to be beyond my budget.

So my total item number for the trip was 20, including the scarf and umbrella. I did find this meant I did a lot of handwashing in our hotel room, and sometimes the humidity meant things did not want to dry overnight.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Monthly Slow News Summary: May 2011

On Slow Fashion:
The wonderful Slow Fashioned Pledge. Yeah, I took it. You should too.

EWG's indispensable Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database has gotten a much-needed makeover and relaunch. Also, Canada's Environmental Defense have brought out a report on heavy metals in makeup.

Slow Fashioned posted a genius primer on how to spot fake vintage.

Author Lucy Siegle wrote an article for the Guardian, Why fast fashion is slow death for the planet, outlining the arguments of her new book To Die For. I know that book's on my must-read list.

On Slow Food:

Currency suggested some budget-wise tips for getting the most out of the farmer's market - and Duncan Kinney made a brilliant case for shopping there being one of the most effective ways of making change in his article Dangerous Housewives.

On the Slow Food USA blog, an article suggesting ways to move from concern to community action on food issues.

On Slow Travel:

Inhabitat called attention to a gorgeous green-roofed round resort in Japan that is absolute architecture pron. But where is it actually located? I can't actually find out where "on the coast of Japan" it was built, and the word resort does imply tourism, no? If anyone knows please comment.

Jorg & Olif profiled Six Senses Resorts & Spas' new property in Mumbai, and On Slow Life interviewed the company's marketing director. The same group has previously created the Soneva Kiri spa in Thailand, which looks like a permaculturists' wet dream to me with its stone-adobe-and-cob green-roofed Eco Villa and cob-built cold cellar for wine, and they're about to open their first European spa in the Catalonian region of Spain. For a luxury hotel chain, they seem to be pretty serious about sustainable building using natural materials, with several of their properties aiming for or having LEED certifications, and they pride themselves on offering local cuisines in their restaurants. It's not slow travel in the immersing-yourself-in-local-culture way - how can anyplace that offers package vacations be? - but each of their hotels do offer a variety of off-property experiences to guests. So they're making an effort to make luxury about localness.

Remember this photo from my post about Japan's Sloth Club
It's from a Six Senses spa in Jordan
Turns out this is the organization's marketing slogan.

On Slow Living:

Create The Good Life! did their monthly essay on resourcefulness, which they define, "in terms of borrowing, fixing, sharing, and experiencing". A must-read. 

In related news, Jorg & Olif profiled the UK's Street Bank sharing site. The guys who run it say on their Twitter feed that they're working on an International version - brilliant!

American decorator Gloria Battista-Collins wrote a lovely meditation on what the slow home movement means to her.

Wendy Abrams' brilliant On Slow Life blog had a great post back in February on the joys of knowing your neighbors. Can't believe I forgot to mention it before. More recently she interviewed architect Sarah Susanka about her book The Not So Big Life.

On Sustainability:

Lloyd Alter brought our attention to stunning calculations by cycle infrastructure blogger James Schwartz that show the average American (and probably Canadian too) are working close to three hours a day just to feed their cars. Wow. 

Shabby at La Poubelle Verte has written a thought-provoking essay on overpopulation.

...and I'm off to Japan for the next two weeks!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Little Black Dress Party a big success

We are so happy with how the first Little Black Dress Party went! It was small but mighty, with about 25 attendees raising $1132 for our charities, the Akanksha Foundation ($283) and Literacy Without Borders ($849) while mingling over delicious appetizers and martinis at Devlin's Cocktail Lounge.

photo courtesy of Marilyn Kontz
Everybody loved the accessory swap table and the silent auction. Thanks to everyone who donated their gently-used-but-rarely-worn treasures on the accessory table to find new homes, and huge thanks to our silent auction donors, Aminah Syed {Photographer}, Black & Bold, Caprice Consignment (on 99th Street), Devlin's, Jilly's Home and Lifestyle, Rebel Hips Belly Dance StudioEdmonton-area Etsy vendors Everyday Diamonds and Stray Wires, and our twitter friends @recyclenazi and @GenoaK.

The incredibly talented Aminah Syed set up a photo booth which proved extremely popular - check her blog post at the link for more great photos.

Strike a pose. Photo courtesy of Marilyn Kontz
Gorgeous girls. Photo courtesy of Aminah Syed
Nicki wore a hair garden worthy of a tribal fusion bellydancer with her satin LBD.

Marilyn wore a Uniform Project LBD from Bright Young Things (which I had shrunk in the wash, much to my dismay) with a great straw cloche from Le Chateau. This is the dress from the slow fashion website that inspired this party, and you can really see it well in this shot where Marilyn is dancing with Premee:

Photo courtesy of Aminah Syed.
Christy, the mastermind behind the Garbaganza! recycled-materials costume project, found a studded purse on the swap table that matched her bolero jacket - which is embellished entirely with items that were originally headed for landfill. Her earrings were made from soda-can tabs.

#yegLBD organizers Deborah and Asia with garbaganza!'s Christy Boulter. Photo courtesy of Aminah Syed.
My own outfit is all from my Project 333 list: thrifted vintage mod-style shift dress, an amethyst-and-moonstone necklace that I made, and an organza-and-zipper floral headband handmade in Canada by Loralie and bought from local fashion mavens Black & Bold. You can't see them in the snap but I paired them with purple tights and my button booties. (I ran out of time to finish my sewing, but will wear my UP LBD sewn from the Classic pattern in bamboo viscose to the next one.)

(Yes, you read that right.)

We had so much fun that we're going to hold a second Little Black Dress Party! We're even going to let the boys join the fun this time.

#yegLBD2 will be held on Thursday, October 13th, 2011. Mark your calendars...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Project 333 update, month 1

So I'm well into my second month of my first Project 333 stint. My first month went okay... not great, just okay. My single biggest challenge wasn't boredom, it was keeping up with the laundry so I'd have something clean to wear that was occasion-appropriate. I particularly found I didn't have enough shirts or jeans - the things I really wear almost every day.

I have also realized that this much black typically does not photograph well.

(I'll update this post with photos as soon as my camera is working again.)

Items I still have not worn - all but #17 will be swapped in an effort to improve the laundry challenge and incorporate items I needed to add to the list for the sake of honesty:
8. black polyester dress slacks
12. green velvet blazer (thrifted)
14. cream handknit cardigan (handmade)
17. UP LBD - not yet sewn - but I swear I will soon
18. green dress, worn only once (eco fabric)
30. shisha-mirrored belt (handmade)

Items I am subbing in
8. black linen capris (eco fabric)
12. navy blue blouse from Anthro
14. purple floral headband worn for #yegLBD (handmade in Canada)
18. navy blue ikat-print dress (from consignment store)
30. brown leather-and-woven-elastic belt from Anthro

Items I am putting away because the weather has gotten too warm (but may need again if we get a freak May snowstorm):
1a. winter boots
2a. wool peacoat
32. gloves