In Which We Discuss the Consumerist Habit of Moralizing the Amoral Consuming We Partake In.

I remember the first time I ever purchased a fleece <enter well known brand> jacket.

“Oh I love your jacket! But <well known brand> is just so overpriced.”

I wasn’t about to argue–most definitely it was overpriced. Nonetheless, as one person after another effused their admiration for my jacket, yet, in the same breath negated the value of the purchase, I began to grow a tad irritated.

It was almost like in conceding that I had a nice jacket, they also had to claim the moral high ground for not succumbing to that frivolity. And we are indeed living in a heyday of people seeking to socially position themselves as victims, or if victimization is impossible, the attainment of moral superiority.

See, no one likes to be singled out or accused, and if you have a nifty little buffer for any nasty social interactions, you can sail through life with little pain of mind.

Victimization=you are attacking me in a way consistent with the way X-group of people are being attacked, and I identify with them.

Moral Superiority=I may be an annoying twit, but the way that I conduct myself within the bounds of whatever contrived morality I ascribe to, frees me of any responsibility.

There are true victims. There are also wonderfully beautiful, moral people. There are also people who exploit those things in order to possess the social upper hand.

Wow. That was harsh, Me. I know. I digressed hard just now. Yes, yes you did.

Onward.

The irony in all of my fleecy fiasco, was that most of the people carrying the word “overpriced” around like a chihuahua in a purse, ALSO had probably sent a text message, purchased a pair of flip flops, or eaten (my favorite example) a “value” fry.

Let’s talk the numbers on that salty paper bag of goodness, shall we?

Potato

This is a potato. It weighs approx. 7 oz.

You can buy a 5 lb. bag of these (80 oz.) for $2.47.

There was a time in history, not too long ago, when you could purchase a small *value* fry for $1.00. One, measly little dollar for 2.6 ounces of finger-licking bliss.

So basic math (which took me entirely too long) says: 80 oz.=297 cents, 16 oz.=50 cents, and generously, 2.6 oz. rounded up=10 cents.

Throw in oil and you have a raw material’s cost of about 15 cents. Now, granted, <generic fast food brand> is paying somebody $2.00 per 15 minutes to scoop those fries into a paper sleeve for you… and they have to make a profit.

Just like every other business that affords you the luxury of having things with no other inconvenience to you but cold hard cash.

The majority of items on today’s market are rarely of any kind of true value. By the time you factor in materials, labor, marketing, and retail, you wind up with something that is double or triple the base cost. In short, everything is overpriced. It’s the price we pay for convenience.

NOW. I’m not saying this is an inherently bad thing. What I am saying is that our perception of value/expense is a little warped. 

I encounter mass production on a bit of a bipolar basis. On one hand, I love things. I am walking, talking proof that the psychology behind branding/packaging absolutely works. “OOOOHHHHHH. Is that a tiny silicone flower pot??? Of course I need it! It’s so small… and cute! I’ll grow tiny flowers in it, ok!?”

-True story

Yet, sometimes, I aimlessly wander around mass merchandise temples and feel almost sick at the sheer amount of stuff.

So. Much. Stuff.

And we get it and get rid of it. And get it and get rid of it. And get it and get rid of it. And somehow we feel justified because of- value. Especially if it was cheap.

You won’t find us spending money on overpriced elitism! Unless of course, it’s something we really want/need like new cars, frapamochamacchiatotinos, or fruit-branded electronics.

Once again, no judgement. I am guilty of all of the above. It just seems like there are some obvious alternatives to the consuming cycle that aren’t gaining a lot of popularity. I mean, despite the varied and complex nuances of the economy, I don’t think any of us relish the idea of small Asian children sweating over our convenience items. Nonetheless, a common attitude towards the world of artisan/heritage skill/locally made product is:

“But it’s so overpriced.”

It’s true. We do live in an age where every DIY’er or budding Picaso feels that their Etsy shop entitles them to the same compensation as people who dedicate a lifetime to their craft.

Was that harsh again? Darn it… yes, it was.

Though, honestly, I would rather overpay for somebody’s craft room exploits than the maddeningly decreasing quality of <famous brand of sports shoes> 20 dollars worth of material (and craftsmanship) that they want me to dish out $100+ for.

If we managed to cut out even just 30% of our cyclical junk and replaced it with higher quality, “overpriced” hand made or locally made product, we would already be reducing waste.

I think this is why I am intrigued by companies that are moving towards a model that seeks to, instead of mass producing a product, supply precise amounts of merchandise to the demand. It’s true that this can be costly. But does costly mean overpriced?

I’m not so naive as to think that child laborers will be magically liberated and employed gainfully by making a few alternative purchases. In fact, at first the opposite will probably be true. However, embracing less waste in my life, without completely swearing off frivolity (because let’s be honest, I love frivolity), helps me focus on what is important, and maybe eventually will lead to a dialogue that can help precious Asian babies have more to look forward to than making cheap American merchandise.

I guess that’s the deal. Cheap does not equal value or fairly priced, and frivolity does not equal waste.

A new-ish shoe company my brother introduced to me does a good job illustrating this. Aliveshoes offers a platform for independent individuals to design and sell shoes in an exact demand/supply format. The shoes are luxury items and cost $100+… so, in simple terms, they are frivolous. But they are made out of quality materials by real Italian craftsmen–an item you can frivolously wear for a lifetime.

I am a bit of an extreme thinker. I can tend to find myself moseying into thoughts like, “Really, I could easily survive with two outfits, two pairs of shoes, and a tiny hovel for a house. I’ll eat feed corn the tractors missed and bathe in the river.” And if Jesus asked me to to that, I would say yes.

He may be asking YOU to do that. But He would be asking you to do that so you could lend value to another person’s life–and that’s what it’s all about.

Whether you have money or not. Whether you spend it on frivolous things or not. It’s all about where you’re putting your value (which isn’t always tied to money BT-DUBS).

It’s okay to splurge on a sweet pair of kicks. Especially if the value is there. Don’t get caught up in the pseudo morality of over/under priced merch.

I am seriously impressed with the vision my brother has for the shoe he designed. He’s a go-getter and needs to sell seven of them in order for production to start. If you think they are as rad as I do, you should probably nab a pair.

Yeah, wear a pair of sweet Venue sneakers, and then go support a precious cherubic Eastern, largest continent dwelling, small human.

But seriously, buy some shoes.

And help babies.

I’m done guys.

Keep those heads in the clouds.

-H

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Snow White and Rose Red

Chloe and I2

Sometimes you have people hop directly into the middle of your life.

Of course, usually there are individuals who run the typical timeline of introduction to acquaintance, then potentially friendship.

Then there are Kindred Spirits.

People who feel like they’ve always been a part of your life, and probably always will.

I met Chloe for the first time when I was around thirteen. We hit it off (she, my dearest, bestest cousin Emily, and I) over an afternoon of Lord of the Rings debates. It is a story well told and re-told, so I will not belabor the point here.

Suffice it to say, that due to rather fortuitous (read providential) wedding shenanigans, Chloe (and Darling Ruby) were once again introduced into my life.

The relationship between hair stylist and bride MUST be one of mutual respect and trust.

Chloes and I1

As Cousin Joth learned the hard way.

Chloe made it down to visit for a girls’ weekend, and her companionship was just what a bosom friend’s ought to be.

And as we are women in possession of cameras, well…

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IMG_0077-2

She’s a babe.

And obviously Snow White.

I guess that leaves me with Rose Red.

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(The top two photos must be credited to the ever talented, Rachel Clarke)

Food and the Forties

I have been extremely absent lately, dear friends. It was a “write-full” semester (with a grand total of twenty-three papers), and I was struggling to find the motivation and time to write. Ryan Hood will be continued, no worries–I am just at a crossroads with the story. I am not sure whether I should try to make it historically and geographically correct, or if I should just not care. I suppose for now I could just go with it, but I hate inconsistencies in stories (though mine have plenty).
I have been very interested in my historical fashion hobby as of late, and have been perusing in some other eras. I have successfully completed an 1860’s corset and chemise–my first two sewing projects. I have dinked around with a sewing machine. But yes, my first true project was a corset. I will have pictures soon. I have it in my head that I MUST make a regency gown and a 14th century kirtle. The regency dress is a little cheaper, and will probably be made first. I’ve been drooling over some clover lawn for a while now. Either way, I have stumbled upon an era that takes less money and sewing to accomplish: the forties.


It’s not faultless, but I thought it was very forties-esque. I’m actually tempted to start dressing like this all the time. It suits me. I have a wool skirt that I wear with the blouse, but I’m searching for a good pair of shoes.

There are courageous people in every era, but the women of WWII were definitely women who understood frugality, creativity, and resourcefulness. We could stand to learn a few lessons from these people. We live in a world of wastefulness and excess. Historical costuming is frivolous, yes, but learning about the people who wore this clothing is enlightening.

Speaking of resourcefulness, I have to say that holiday food leftovers are some of my favorite leftovers EVER. The food tastes good in the first place, but it can also be combined into all sorts of tasty concoctions.

THUS, I present the holiday leftover sandwich, two ways:

HEAVY:
Two slices of fresh dense bread
Stuffing
Cranberry Sauce
Turkey

Warm up turkey and stuffing, scoop a generous amount of stuffing onto your bottom slice of bread, top with turkey. Spread cranberry sauce on other slice. Put together. Eat.

LIGHT:
Two slices a ciabatta
Cold turkey
Cucumbers
Dried cranberries
Spiced mayo

You should be able to put together a sandwich… C’mon!


Keep those heads in the clouds!

-HH

I’m Bringin’ Austen Back!

I am a Jane Austen/Regency Era FANATIC! I love the loveliness of the time period; the lace, the endless rows of buttons, the soothing colors, the airiness and general womanliness. There is also a fashionista tucked away somewhere in me. I love absurd fashion and the avant-garde. I find myself envying the waif-like amateur photographers and design school students who moodily clod about in careless ensembles that are oh so vogue. Well, they appear careless… I know they are more than likely poured over for hours the week before trying to find the “IT” piece to bring it all “together”.

Do these worlds mix? Austen meets Vogue. You see the subtle details, the lace, the pearl, the airy silhouette; still… I have often lamented the fact that I can’t simply parade around in a living history project. That turned into a dream of a place where I somehow introduce the look back into the fashion world… riggggghhhhhtt.

Today however, as I flipped through a book of street fashion/photography, I was struck with the vintage throwbacks… they begin somewhere in the 19-teens and progress to the ’90s… HAH! The ’90s! That’s a decade I remember the first time around.

Sooooo, if say, a respectable young art student can parade around in knickers and a news cap… please tell me why I cannot get my Eliza Bennett on?! There is only a good century of separation there ;). I have decided to answer my own question. There is no reason in this world I can’t channel my inner Catherine Moorland (my favorite Austen heroine next to Lizzy). I propose a revolution dear friends, a fashion revolution… all in favor of loveliness say “I” hummm… or is it “Aye”??? REGARDLESS~

I am at this moment searching for a good regency era walking dress pattern, I plan to shorten it to right below my knees, curl my hair, find some pretty pearls, some adorable flats, and hit the town. So who’s with me?!

Love the absurd fashion dear friends and keep those heads in the clouds!~

HH