Inspired by the personal style stories in fashion writer Kate Fletcher’s book ‘Craft of Use’, Ally Bee presents the first in a series of conversations with fashion writers about pieces of clothing that for them hold special meaning. We begin the conversation with sustainable fashion commentator, Holly Rose aka. Leotie Lovely.
Story photographed by Shane Woodwood @Flaco_d_oro
“My aunt made it for my mum when my mum was around 12 years old, and I love that I’m wearing not only something that accompanied my mother through the majority of her life but something my aunt made by hand with love for her.”
Your loyal social media following has grown through your lyrical but honest narratives of fashion brands treading a sustainable path. Tell me about a special piece of clothing that has been with you long before you started this blogging chapter in your life. What story of use does it tell? Through how many chapters of your life has it been worn?
It’s been a strange but wonderful journey and I’m so grateful I’ve been able to give myself this opportunity to research and write like I have been. So the piece I picked for this is something of my mother’s. I have a bad habit of ‘stealing’ her clothing, but this one, in particular, has been a favourite of mine since my late teens or early twenties. My aunt made it for my mum when my mum was around 12 years old, and I love that I’m wearing not only something that accompanied my mother through the majority of her life but something my aunt made by hand with love for her. My mum mastered the bohemian style I migrate to and I’ve enjoyed incorporating the beautiful pieces she wore into my wardrobe. I hope one day when I have kids, that they’ll wear them too, although I suppose they’ll need to come out petite like my mum and I did! (My husfriend is a giant though, so not looking good!)
Does the value in this garment lie more in its sentimental value, its beauty, or purely its usefulness?
I think it’s a combination. I believe clothing, just like anything holds certain energies of emotion, by those who made it, those who wore it and also the phases of life you personally went through while wearing it when it became yours. Something that is beautiful and useful becomes sentimental because of the memories it holds, while something sentimental becomes beautiful and useful because of the story it tells and how you feel when you wear it. I try to keep a capsule wardrobe and the three vintage items I have from my mum are not exactly tri-seasonal and don’t necessarily ‘go’ with everything, but I find great comfort, joy and confidence when I wear them.
There is constant noise in the fashion press shouting out to buy new. Yet we all have evolving stories to tell of nurtured pieces we’ve been wearing long after any seasonal statement. Telling these stories is almost a defiant act that challenges over-consumption. Should we be placing more significance and emphasis on our stories of use? How might we do this?
For practical reasons, having a bunch of stuff, whether it’s slow fashion items or fast fashion items is impractical, in my opinion. I’m a huge advocate for the capsule wardrobe movement for that reason. By being selective about what you buy and buying less, you are slowing down. And if many people do it, you’re slowing down the system. It’s a form of passive activism in itself. Even if you don’t buy slow fashion items and continue to consume from the high street and online stores which produce with only profit in mind, you’re still sending a message that you want less and don’t care what ‘they’ think you should have.
I think a reflection of true style comes from only wearing things you love because you love them, whether it is for style, sentiment, detail, convenience or confidence. This doesn’t mean you can’t pull inspiration from trends, it just means you need to learn how to better style what you already have. And in being more selective of what you buy, and buying less, wearing it longer, feeling good in what you wear and spending less time ‘getting dressed’, multiple stories are born. Even more if you buy from brands which make things with meaning.
We’re guilty on occasion of buying clothes on impulse and regretting it, but have you ever thrown away a piece of clothing on impulse and then regretted it? Do you ever wonder about its ongoing life without you?
It is funny, when I still lived in England I could imagine a far more magical tale for the garment or fabric I might find than I ever have anywhere else, but then it’s those church sales in places like Penshurst where there is an anchor to history that has already taken place. In Paris, at least the vintage shops I go to, they feel like hipster magnets more than carefully curated places, and I can see the tags are clothing which comes from Canada and the States, so it kind of looses its magic that way.
The Ally Bee Poncho Jumper features in Holly’s AW17 Lookbook of Eco-Ethical Alternatives.
Follow Leotie Lovely on Instagram @LeotieLovely