Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sustainable Fashion

Picture via my wonderful talents in Microsoft Paint
Ah April...the flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing, the APs are racking up and I have no time to enjoy the great outdoors. Bummer. 
I can’t really boast to be the biggest environmentalist or the most outdoorsy person at all. Probably the most I do to actually aid the environment is use a reusable water bottle. And I drive everywhere (#suburbanlife). But April is Earth Month (and the 22nd was Earth Day), so I feel like I should at least encourage myself and others to do something that’s good for the environment.
Like other girls my age, I love shopping. I think my mom deeply regrets giving me a credit card because now I can go online shopping from my own bed. The problem with shopping is that it’s incredibly wasteful. Fast fashion companies, i.e. stores like Forever 21 and H&M that make low quality, cheap pieces, are high school closet staples, yet these businesses wreak havok on the environment. Cotton alone is responsible for 2.6% of global water use, and 20% of water pollution comes from textile dyeing. Furthermore, fast fashion is fast, and as pieces go out of style, and estimated 85% of them end up in landfills. All in all, that neon green crop top you bought for that summer music festival and never wore again slapped Mother Nature in the face.
So how can you be a sustainable fashionista, one might ask? Well, I have a few tips.
Reuse, reuse, reuse! There are many ways to reuse clothing, whether that means repurposing a sweater into a handbag or simply choosing to wear old garments again. The easiest change you can make is to buy a trendy tote/shopping bag, a trendy water bottle, and a cute lunchbox along with reusable food containers and use those to carry your water, food, clothes, or whatever you need, to eliminate waste. Going further, try shopping at thrift stores like Goodwill, Buffalo Exchange, and Salvation Army. Especially at stores like Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading Co that cater to a college-age audience, you’re bound to find quality, cute clothing at a fraction of the price while saving these garments from ending up in a landfill. Finally, if you know how to sew/are a DIY guru, repurpose your old garments. Websites like Craftgawker and A Beautiful Mess have wonderful DIYs that you can make out of old clothes or fabrics.
reusable food/shopping
Swell Water Bottle ($25-$45) modcloth lunchbox ($25), sloth bag ($40), book tote ($20),Connox Lifefactory Waterbottle, plastic lunch set ($14)
Stop buying fast fashion! This is key to making the fashion industry more sustainable. Stop buying things in bulk from stores like H&M, Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, etc. Most likely, whatever you buy there won’t be in fashion in two years anyways and you’ll need to go buy a whole new wardrobe. Focus on purchasing pieces that make you feel good, are closet staples, and that are quality garments. Instead of buying a basic white t-shirt from F21 for $10, buy one from J. Crew Outlet or Madewell for $30, and I guarantee you that it’ll fit better and last you way longer. In the long run, you’ll end up saving money by buying the select pieces you love, and you’ll also help put an end to unsustainable fashion practices.
Buy from sustainable fashion companies! Not gonna lie, lots of sustainable fashion companies can be expensive, but for key garments like shoes and purses, the quality is worth the splurge. Sustainable fashion companies oftentimes use fabrics made out of hemp, flaxseed, and bamboo, which require less water to grow than cotton and are less wasteful in general. Some of my favorite eco-friendly brands include Simple Shoes (which is gearing up for its 2015 relaunch), H&M Conscious Collection (even fast fashion brands are trying to reform), Elroy, and Loomstate.
Donate your old clothes! Instead of assuming that your clothes is out of style and no one will wear it, donate it! Trust me, someone will wear it, and it won’t end up in a landfill. Donate to a thrift store or to a donation box. Or, just swap clothes with friends! I’ve given clothes to my friends or to their younger siblings, and they’ve given me their old clothes! (P.S. this works especially well with prom/homecoming dresses). 

Sustainable shopping is healthy for both you and the environment. For me, trying to shop sustainably has meant focusing on developing an idea of my long-term identity, and then buying quality pieces that I can wear for years to come. It’s also meant poring over racks at Goodwill for a rare vintage find. For the Earth, sustainable shopping means the ending the exploitation of the Earth’s natural resources such as water. It’s a win win, so why not go for it?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Day Trip: Wicker Park

Image via
Not going to lie, I’ve been a tad (closer to absurdly) busy lately, and I haven’t had time to write or brainstorm much. I haven’t slept in my own bed in almost a week nor have I eaten more than one home-cooked meal. However, despite the fact that I have mountains of things to do, I decided to be a mature adult and shirked my responsibilities for a day excursion to Wicker Park with my friends.
So I thought you guys might be interested in my Wicker Park excursions because hey, why not.
Wicker Park is a really trendy neighborhood on the north side of Chicago. It’s Chicago’s chiller, less fussy hipster-infused response to Williamsburg in Brooklyn. The neighborhood is dotted with vintage shops, quirky bookstores and coffee shops, hip restaurants, and anything else you can imagine. Wicker Park also has a great music scene, with many cafes hosting open mics or acting as concert venues, and the neighborhood stages a yearly music festival in the summer. It’s pretty easy to get to Wicker Park using public transport. Usually, using CTA I take the Blue line to Damen or the the #9, #50, or #56 Bus. I don’t recommend driving to Wicker Park because it’s really hard to find parking, nor do I recommend taking the Metra because the station is really hard to find.
The day started off with us meeting up at the Wilmette Metra. We took the Metra down to the Clybourn station, and somehow managed to avoid paying for a train ticket because the conductor never passed through our car. From Clybourn we walked down North Avenue, where we stopped in a few stores.
And cue main stop number 1, Quimby’s bookstore. Quimby’s is an alternative bookstore that sells less mainstream media, such as alternative magazines, books, and hand-made zines. My friends, Mia and Ellie, and I particularly enjoyed geeking out over a book exploring David Bowie’s sex life. Apart from spending almost an hour reading to each other from various zines and poetry tomes, we discovered a vintage but still operating black and white photo booth. The following malarkey ensued:

From Left: Mia, Ellie, Me. Enjoy our funny faces forever enshrined on in the pages of my Moleskin.

Following Quimby’s, we grabbed lunch at Umami Burger, located on Milwaukee Avenue. Umami is a Japanese word that means savory, and Umami Burger definitely fits that description. I had the namesake Umami burger, which felt like a flavorful explosion in my mouth, and I honestly have no other way of describing the wonderful thing I tasted that day. If you have $10-$20 to spend on a meal, Umami burger is worth it.
Next, we decided to hit up a series of vintage/thrift shops, such as Buffalo Exchange and Vintage Underground. I think the best part about thrifting is that you can give life to new pieces that you think are beautiful in an eco-friendly way and while saving a buck. Plus, vintage stores in Wicker Park are actually amazing. It’s like a trip back to the 1920s, 30s, 50s, you name it, and we all know how much I love that.
Our final stop for the day was Myopic Books. This place is any book lover’s paradise. It’s three floors of used books, all cradled in homey, light brown shelves housed under low ceilings. On a rainy day, I like to come down to Myopic and just sit between the stacks of books and read, even if I don’t buy anything. Also, reading used books is kind of like thrifting; you’re enjoying something that has already been loved before you, which I find very comforting. You’re giving a book a new life in your mind, which is pretty epic.

There was a sign that said no photos, but I'm a rebel and I do what I want, so there.
So that’s my day in Wicker Park. I hope you enjoyed it! I think it’s such a cool place in Chicago and I love sharing it with people. If you ever come to Wicker Park, tag your pictures with the #theyouthemisms on social media so that I can see them!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bossy Punk Takeover

Image courtesy of
I recently discovered Spotify, and damn it’s like discovering a whole new world! As such, I’ve taken to making playlists of all of my favorite songs. My playlist “Bossy Punk Takeover” was inspired by a mix of 90s punk influenced alt-rock and the femme hip hop takeover. Drawing songs from the six albums listed below, I created a playlist that makes me feel mischeviously happy to be alive. The playlist is my ultimate pump-up music, making me feel confident and sexy. It’s the music I’d blast in my car on a Saturday evening when my friends and I are looking to cause a ruckus down in the city. The music is equal parts rebellious and innocent, for me perfectly capturing how I feel on more reckless days.

The Pinkprint by Nicki Minaj
Call me what you want, but I love Nicki Minaj. She’s a wicked rapper with wisdom beyond her years. According to many, she’s one of the best rappers around. Her new album The Pinkprint is no exception to that. The catchy, hyper-sexualized single “Anaconda” excluded from the album, the songs on The Pinkprint are an introspective look into racial, gender, and class issues through the eyes of Onika Maraj, the woman behind Nicki Minaj. (And in my humble opinion, “Anaconda” is one of the most feminist songs of the year).

Days of Abandon by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Folk meets easy-to-listen to rock in this third debut from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. The album is driven by a passion to stay young forever mixed with the complexities of life, beautifully evident in songs like “Until the Sun Explodes.” Listening to this album, I feel like I’m a child again, braiding flower crowns in an open field, with Mr. Tumnus the faun playing his flute in the background. Basically, this entire album transports me to a timeless fairytale, making it the perfect distraction from my busy city life.

Velvet Rut by Gal Pals
Introduced to me by Rookie Mag, Gal Pals are my new g-crush. To me, Velvet Rut sounds like combining the catchy smooth vocals of Au Revoir Simone with the catchy guitar riffs of The Strokes. There’s a certain innocence to Gal Pals, which is still a pretty undiscovered band. There’s no pressure for them to produce a cerain type of marketable music, so instead they just write what they feel, which feels pretty honest to me. The album isn’t musically perfect, but it’s a modern day flashback to the garage punk era and my flannel shirts and I couldn’t enjoy it more. Since their music is hard to find, here’s their vinyl LP purchase site.

Beyonce by Beyonce
Anyone who quotes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is prime in my book. Beyonce’s self-titled fourth album is a hip hop work of art, and to quote the great and powerful Yeezus, “Beyonce deserved the best album of the year!” (Sorry Beck, I still love you). Catchy tunes like “Partition” pump you up for your day and put you into a I-can-rule-the-world state of mind. I honestly feel like a boss ass bitch putting on my lipstick while singing along to “Flawless” at the top of my lungs, a feeling you can’t deny every teenage girl wants to feel.

The Wombats Present: This Modern Glitch by the Wombats
I never knew I was a techo fan until I listened to this album, or at least that’s what I got out of the song “Techno Fan.” The Wombats packed a punch with their latest, 1980s punk rave-driven indie rock album. With kooky lyrics on songs such as “Walking Disasters” and “Schumacher the Champagne” encapsulate the awkwardness and FOMO driven years of early adulthood. It’s a carefree album that reminds us that it’s okay to be awkotacos but just try to participate in life and try new things, and eventually you’ll find your niche.

Mosquito by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Soft grunge never felt so good as on Mosquito. First of all, may I just point out that the album art here is impeccable? For many, the album art was the source for outcry, but I really like the controversial, neon cover and its reference to albums past such as Nirvana’s Nevermind. But I digress. Karen Oh’s vocals are always captivating, but this album takes it further by giving them a distant, dreamlike spin, almost like Alice in Wonderland gone wrong. I love this album and it makes for perfect rebellious afternoon listening.