Sharing My Ethical Struggles with Anyone Who’ll Listen | Top: Ethically Made Jeans: Second-hand Sandals: Greenish
You’ve seen the ethical/sustainable fashion documentaries, you’ve read the facts and finally decided you’re done with fast fashion, but there’s still a few questions on your mind. I know, because I’ve been there, so here’s my quick guide to delving into the world of slow, ethical and sustainable fashion.
Sustainable? Ethical? Fair trade? I don’t know where to start…
You have to prioritise what you stand for. Do you want the clothes to be made under fair working conditions, from sustainable materials or all vegan? All three is possible too, no judging here. You set your borders dependable on where you are in life and what you can accomplish.
It’s a time-consuming, not convenient or shops don’t offer next day delivery.
Every change takes time, you’ll try, fail and learn but it’s really not as hard as you think. Even ASOS has green brands on their site – you just need to know which ones they are. To start with there’s Faithfull for boho style dresses and skirts, Matt & Nat for bags and even Monki jeans use 100% organic cotton so if that’s one of your priorities there you go. Zalando is one step ahead and has actually tagged their sustainable clothes. But you’ll need to do some research as they’ve tagged 100% ethical brands like ArmedAngels, Underprotection and Patagonia and slightly less green brands like Mango and GAP who are on there because they’ve done some kind of greenwashing (little ethical steps mainly used for marketing purposes).
I want to, but it’s too expensive.
Maybe it was a few years ago, but these days there are enough affordable brands out there. It’s not supposed to be super cheap, fast fashion has warped our values. With ethical and fast fashion you have to keep in mind that you’re paying for workers’ wages and for resources to be sustainable.
The Fine Art Of Slow Fashion | Jacket: Really Old Dress: Pre-loved & Altered Shoes: No excuse
Do I need to throw out my wardrobe?
Of course not, it’s about making things last. I’m wearing out my basics and replacing them with ethical versions as I go. And yes, some of the new items may cost a bit more but I’m hoping they’ll last longer. I also prioritise choosing for UK brands as I think it’s important that items don’t come from far away. I love what Everlane in the US is doing and have ordered from them, but now I stick to UK and Europe-based brands first.
What brands are the best?
Here’s my experience with some of the UK’s affordable sustainable and ethical brands:
People Tree – sustainable fashion brand you’ll see top every list as they are pioneers and offer everything from shirts to dresses and basic tops.
Lara Intimates – comparable to cheap ASOS lingerie, £20 for panties and £48 for a bra can be a bit more pricey, but if you keep in mind that it’s all produced in London using deadstock (leftover) fabric in an all female factory you can justify it. Go Lara!
Sisterhood – the UK answer to Reformation with dreamy dresses, boho shirts and flowery skirts … all made under fair conditions – but no sustainable materials are used – which may be a dealbreaker for some.
Thought– my go-to place for the softest basics. From socks to tights and tops all made from cotton, bamboo, and hemp.
Green on Green Action | Top: Ethically made Skirt: Vintage Shoes: Really old.
What about on trend items?
While you can purchase the latest trends with sustainable and ethical brands, this might hurt your bank balance as each season adds up. Why not opt for second hand, vintage or preloved? You could argue this is the best option in terms of waste, as the items are already in circulation. High street charity shops are your best bet for this option and thanks to Marie Kondo they should be full to bursting at the moment. Or if you prefer online, try DePop, eBay and Etsy. At the time of writing there are over 8000 results on eBay for slip dresses, all between £0.99 and £12. Also, most of them look like they’re original 90s garments, making them more unique and less likely for you to turn up at party with the same dress as your bestie. I do have some issues with second hand shops – but I’ll save that for another post.
It’s not making a difference
Don’t you dare! According to a recent study by Thredup, 56 million women bought second-hand products in 2018 compared to 44 million in 2017. That’s an increase of 12 million new second-hand shoppers! Now this is US data but we’re all copy the US, so I’m sure it’s the same (Western) world round.
Ever looked up during a trip, possibly with a camera in hand and wondered why buildings look the way they do? What might surprise you is that a hell of a lot of how buildings look is due to the building process and materials available at the time, plus whatever was in the fashion of course!
To explain all this, here’s a chronological cheat sheet on the main types of European architecture, why they’re like that and, most importantly, where you can see them!
In Ancient Greece and Rome, the heavy weight of stones meant big thick pillars and walls were necessary, with rounded, circular arches to distribute the weight; plus, buildings adhered to classical proportions (golden ratio), meaning they never got too tall compared to their width, and let’s not forget an obsession with straight lines, including the pediment – the triangular front of the roof. While they did stick to tradition In Ancient Greece and Rome, the heavy weight of stones meant big thick pillars and walls were necessary, with rounded, circular arches to distribute the weight; plus, buildings adhered to classical proportions (golden ratio), meaning they never got too tall compared to their width, and let’s not forget an obsession with straight lines, including the pediment – the triangular front of the roof. While they did stick to tradition, However, the Romans also had incredible innovations – such as concrete, which allowed for the Dome at the Pantheon; but sadly, the recipe for it was lost, and concrete wouldn’t resurface again as a major building material until the 14th century. You’ll recognise the rounded, circular arches in places like the Colosseum in Rome, the Aqueduct of Segovia in Spain and the Arch of Hadrian in Jordan, while the huge columns adorn temples like the Parthenon in Athens, Pantheon in Rome and the Temple of Augustus in Pula, which also have triangular pediments on the front.
After the fall of Rome, most major pieces of Western European architecture were based on designs dating to the Classical period, often called ‘Romanesque’. They kept the circular arches, big columns and thick walls as there weren’t any better ways to build and Classical styles were held in high esteem. Some great examples include the Church of St George in Sofia, Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi, Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin and pretty much any old church in Eastern Europe!
Further East, however, Roman Byzantine architecture saw influences from the Middle East plus a new building method (pendentive) which allowed big domes to be placed atop rooms, put to great effect in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (537AD). Speaking of the Middle East, Islamic architecture probably deserves its own post, but it includes pointed arches, large domes and courtyards, with an emphasis on flat decorations as religious sculptures are prohibited. Some fine examples include The Alhambra in Granada, the Taj Mahal and the Uzbek city of Bukhara. As we head towards the turn of the century, aided by better materials and designs, European designers began to throw off classical proportions and ratios to reach for the skies, which would eventually result in…
Now as we move past the turn of the century, the next big step in Europe was a name you may familiar with…Gothic! We’re not talking eyeliner, died black hair and Evanescence on repeat but Gothic architecture. Named for the Goths who ruled parts of Western Europe after Rome fell, this style was all about new building methods, allowing for even taller towers, thin walls and big windows, allowing for more stained glass than you can shake a stick at. These amazing new building methods were:
ribbed vaults – now they aren’t ribbed for pleasure, but rather enabled buildings to reach greater height and even held up part of the weight to the ceiling, allowing for thinner walls (before ceilings were held up nearly entirely by the walls and interior pillars).
pointed arches – possibly influenced by Islamic architecture, the pointed arch, as opposed to the Classical circular ones, reduced stress on the walls, allowing them to be reduced in side.
buttresses (often flying) – sadly they don’t allow the building to fly, but these are outdoor wall supports help hold up support the walls of the building and the flying ones are special arched versions.
tracery – these are stone-works which support the glass in windows, the most famous being the intricate circular ‘rose’ window – one of the most famous being at Strasbourg Cathedral.
All of these building methods meant the walls could be thinner and have a lot more glass windows as they no longer had to support the whole weight of the ceiling, meaning a lot more light, plus big giant interior pillars weren’t needed anymore so there was a lot more space, especially as buildings got taller and taller. On top of these features, ornate details were also added, like pinnacles/spires, finials and stone sculptures, including those famous Gargoyles we were all scared of as kids. While the most famous early Gothic church was the Basilica of Saint-Denis in Paris, other ones you may have snapped or spotted include Westminster Abbey in London, Notre-Dame in Paris and St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague
As we hit the 1400s, the Renaissance style began to flourish – it looked back to Classical/Roman styles with columns, domes and enclosed courtyards, plus an emphasis on symmetry and flat exteriors returning – out went the pointed windows and rounded circular shapes for arches and windows returned. You may recognise famous examples like the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Tempietto di Sann Pietro in Montorio and Antwerp City Hall. Fun fact – the Dome of Florence Basilica actually combines both Gothic and Renaissance – which makes sense as it was built from 1296-1436, yes it took 140 years!
Baroque and Rococo
Baroque and Rococo were next on the scene in the late 1500s, becoming more grand, provocative and over the top and coinciding with the Counter-Reformation and celebration of Catholicism, so we’re talking the return of lots of ornaments, curved exteriors, double columns, and broken pediments (pediments broken with a gap and/or ornament). Great examples include Palace of Versailles (1682), Karlskirche Vienna and Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Rococo was similar to Baroque, but with less heavy-handedness, resulting in less imposing buildings. Fun fact – St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City – mixes both Renaissance and Baroque, having been built from 1506-1626 – 120 years! Talk about a lot of builder tea/coffee breaks…]
As we near the last steps on our architectural journey through time, we reach the modern era, which featured the return of two old favourites – Classical and Gothic. Helped by the popularity and public interest on the excavations of ancient ruins in Rome and Greece, classical architecture returned in full force – referred to as Neoclassical. So again, we were faced with blank stone walls, free-standing columns, domes and temple like structures, as well as square windows and lots of symmetry. Places in this style you might know include the White House in Washington DC, the Pantheon in Paris and the British Museum in London.
Alongside this resurgence was another comeback kid – Gothic, or Gothic Revival as it was known. Seen as a return to an idealised religious past, in the face of fears of modernity, industrialisation and the age of enlightenment, this saw ribbed vaults, pointed arches, buttresses and tracery all back in force, with as many ornaments as you could stick a place. You might recognise this style at the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, St Pancras Station, and Brussels City Hall, Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Perth Town Hall and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station in Mumbai. Fun fact –Cologne’s Cathedral began as Gothic when its constructed started in 1248, but was finished in Gothic Revival when it was finally fully completed in 1880, some 612 years later! Milan’s Cathedral was very similar too, having taken some 600 years to build. Both took so long to be completed, they saw their initial architectural design come back into fashion.
Modernist architecture is a bit all over the place, so there’s quite a bit to explain. Industrial architecture, with its plain, functional style, was dominant from the 1750s onwards, with factories and warehouses still visible today (though likely converted into expensive apartments). Iron-frames, often with glass, became the in thing, used on bridges, train stations, shopping arcades and greenhouses, though the Eiffel Tower is probably the most famous. Iron was then chucked out in favour of steel, which allowed for early skyscrapers, like NYC’s Flatiron and the Tribune Tower in Chicago, both of which took on influences from Gothic/Renaissance.
In contrast to the sleek towers, Art Nouveau grew in popularity (1890-1910), with over the top decorative designs, with curved walls, balconies and ornaments inspired by nature. While Barcelona has the best examples (Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló and Casa Mila), you can also spot this style at the Majolikahaus in Vienna, the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest and The Old England House in Brussels.
Shunning the natural forms of Art Nouveau, Art Deco rose for a brief spell in the spotlight, returning to classically-influenced straight lines and plain, clean geometric shapes, taking influenced from everything from Cubism, Baroque and Asia. New York is the place to be for Art Deco, with the Empire State, Rockefeller Center and Chrysler Building all giving you an eye-full of architecture. Elsewhere, the Parkinson Building in Leeds, Senate House, Florin Court and Tate Modern in London are worth catching.
Next up was Bauhaus, which understandably grew out of Germany – Weimar, Dessau and Berlin to be specific. It aims for the plain so no ornaments, and often features intersecting horizontal and vertical lines, intending to fuse function and design. The best example is the Bauhaus building in Dessau, followed by Fagus Factory in Lower Saxony, and the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart.
As we’ve said many times through this, building materials and methods are the main things which dictate how buildings look, and this is no better shown in Postmodern architecture – where the technology finally allowed buildings to pretty much do anything they wanted in any style. You want an inside-out building? You got it (Centre Pompidou, Paris and Lloyd’s Building, London). In the 1970s, the rise of Brutalism, which used a lot of concrete, saw bold, stripped back geometric designs back in fashion, though even today they are controversial – people love ’em or hate ’em! Brutalist gems you may want to see include NYC’s Guggenheim Museum, the Southbank area in London, and Les Étoiles in Ivry-sur-Seine in Paris.
At the moment, new buildings tend to be focused on as much glass as possible, and as far into the clouds as you can reach (the Shard, the Burj, 1 WTC, etc) but who knows what will be next!? My bets are on giant edible buildings, just like Hansel and Gretel!
When I first went to the British Museum I was surprised because instead of learning about the history of Great Britain it was more like learning about the things the British had nicked during their travel expeditions…however, it did grow on me and now I think it’s actually one of my favourite ones in London.
And I’m not the only one who rates it highly – it’s even the number one thing to do in London on Tripadvisor. But do not fear, I went in with a critical eye and put it to the Museum Musing test. Here we go.
Location – 15/20
The museum is located in Bloomsbury and nearby underground stations are,Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square and Goodge Street. As it’s near Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Holborn you can easy combine it with other galleries, museums, food or shopping.
Exhibits – 15/20
It’s go everything from pottery to coins and mummies. And from stones to watches and more stones. Even if you hate museums you’ll find something to enjoy. Yes, the lay-out of some of the rooms is outdated and some are cluttered, but overall it has its charm.
Value For Money 20/20
Well … it’s free! And there is a lot of it.
Wow Factor – 15/20
What isn’t wow-ing about British Museum?! From the entrance with its high pillars to the grand Great Court with the glass ceiling and everything in-between.
Layout – 10/20
It’s basically a maze, a fun maze that is, unless you’re in a hurry and want to go to a specific section. Best is to just go with the flow, follow or walk away from the crowds and see where you end up, you won’t be disappointed.
Minus Credit – 2
Usually this is where a museum can get extra credits but the British Museum is getting some points deducted for its vague second entrance. I get they need to spread things out for safety reasons, but they need to put up clear signs if they direct you away from the main entrance due to it being too crowded.
Total: all in 73/100 points. The British Museum should be on top of your list if you’re into seeing the rest of the world’s history without having to leave London.
March has come and gone and I’ve been trying to make the most of my weekends and evenings. Here is what I have been up to.
BRIXTON VINTAGE KILO SALE Brixton
Every second weekend of the month in Brixton and third weekend in Brick Lane are filled with shirts, blazers and dresses. If you are looking for on trend items like slip dresses, animal print or neon this isn’t the place, but as it’s fairly priced for £15 for 1kg of clothes you don’t have too much to lose.
CHRISTIAN DIOR: DESIGNER OF DREAMS @ V&A Kensington
Despite the hassle to get hold of the tickets I loved it! It’s sold out, but here is how you can still get tickets and enjoy all the dresses you’ll never be able to own.
HALL’S PLACE Bexley
You’ve guessed that I can’t get enough of historic manors, houses and mansions. Hall’s Place proved to be another good pick where I learned about the people who lived in the house from the 16th century onwards and all the changes they made to the place, including the US soldiers who rocked up during the Second World War and stole more than a few hearts. The gardens and greenhouse were a great escape too and I loved the topiary in the shape of animals too.
RED HOUSE Bexleyheath
Another thing you can visit in Bexleyheath is the former house of William Morris (you’ll know his textile prints even if the name doesn’t ring a bell) where you’ll find a selection of wall paintings, stained glass and tapestries that were created by Morris and his art friends all hidden across a lovely period house.
TWO TEMPLE PLACE
I have shared my thoughts on this Gothic revival heaven here. You can visit the place and see the John Ruskin exhibition until 22nd April for FREE.
I had a tour through the Charterhouse building complex that has been around since the 14th century and served as burial ground, monastery, school and housing charity. It’s so interesting to see that these are still around in London after so long.
MUSEUM OF ORDER OF ST JOHN Clerkenwell/Farringdon
Despite being fascinated by the gates for years I only popped into the Museum of Order of St John a few weeks ago. They did a great job showing in an interactive way how the order started and what they do now. I’m annoyed that I missed the tour, so I definitely want to go back to see the historic rooms at St John’s Gate and the Priory Church & Crypt.
SIR JOHN SOANE MUSEUM Holborn
One of those places that I’ve walked past a dozen of times when I worked in Holborn. One of those houses is the former home and office of John Soane, an architect and art collector. He designed it to display the art works and artefacts that he collected during his lifetime. It comes with the boujiest breakfast room, cellar to third floor ceiling statues and a sarcophagus carved from the inside and outside!
Wasn’t for me
I gave up on Leon a long time ago, as everything tastes the same, just a lingering Leon aftertaste after every bite. Still I wanted to try the new meat free love burger and just like with everything at Leon, it was … just ok. The patty itself wasn’t too bad, but all the extras were too much all together and the bun was a bit inspirationless and not worth going back for seconds.
2 for £12 cocktails that have names like Wonky Donky, Malibu Stacey and Ram Berry Jam. But sadly the cocktails were more like mocktails and should have been priced like that. The jalapeño poppers were actually ok, but not good enough to make me want to return.
Now spring has arrived and that means burning all your 200 denier tights, making the most of that extra daylight in the morning and getting your life back from the SAD monsters. I’m looking forward to what Q2 will bring. What are your April plans?
Stay at Locke Hotel in Edinburgh
Oh check me in already ! My visit to Edinburgh was way too short and I need to go back to check out Edinburgh Castle, visit a museum and walk up Arthur’s Seat. And I would honestly consider this place.
If I ever head towards Cornwall it would be for the Eden Project, but North Cornwall looks very cute and I wouldn’t mind visiting some of their coastal towns.
I do want to! There are castles, seaside towns and Jurassic Coast and they all look amazing, but I don’t have a car or even a licence so it looks like that’s one for maybe someday.
Another one of those ‘shires I did not know anything about. Though after Googling I do remember a few bloggers writing about their world famous pottery factory. It’s not on the top of my list, but if I ever head in that direction I’d love to check out the Lichfield Cathedral, Weston Park or Kinver Edge.
Aberdeenshire has a castle (and it’s pink!!). I think we have a theme here as it’s the third place with a castle/palace that’s trying to get me there. Also Huntly Castle is giving me urbex vibes and I would love to go there. I wouldn’t mind staying at the Fife Arms while heading out there.
Stay the Boardwalk Apartments
All great, but if I ever book another overnight stay in Brighton it would be at the Artist Residence again. If only for the fluffiest pancakes in the world for breakfast.
Wilderness Hotel Suffolk
A stay in a manor house? That has Tea written all over it. But I don’t think it can top staying in Hever Castle, so I might want to give this one a miss.
Go To Cromer
Surprisingly for me, I actually did know where Cromer was … well I had to guess it was in Norfolk as I regonised the pier on the photo from Alan Partridge: Alha Papa. And honestly? I would visit if it didn’t take 3 hours 45 minutes on the train each way.
I’d love to visit one of the UK’s islands. I always thought Isle of Wight was the go to place (there is the Garlic Farm, Antique Dolls Museum and Osborne House) but Jersey looks ok too. I mean if only to eat all the Jersey potatoes I could get my hands on.
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