Upcycled clothing: read sustainable fashion, second hand rose, re-used, or ‘thrifted’ clothes – are you a fan? I am, and one of the main reasons for that is my health. (Another reason is this.) Usually upcycled clothes have ‘broken’ the dyes, pesticides and other chemicals used in the manufacturing process. But when the garment has odours from the previous owner, the gain isn’t huge.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m talking about ‘clean’ smells. Sometimes there is perfume on the garment, but often that scent is coming from laundry detergent and fabric softener. They can be difficult to remove even after multiple washing in fragrance-free laundry products.
Ways of getting rid of fragrance residue in upcycled clothing
Depending on the fiber content and how scent-saturated your upcycled clothing is, you may have to try a few of the following suggestions on your upcycled treasures. Keep in mind that if you are dealing with a delicate fabric, none of these options may be suitable and I’d take it to a specialist cleaner. I would also ‘escalate’ as needed, i.e. if sun and fresh air didn’t work, I’d try the soaks.
The scent of clothing hung outside to dry is wonderful, and it can remove odours! The first thing I always try is hanging the garment outside. About as low tech as you can get, UV rays break down the chemicals that coat the fibers. This also works on new clothes that have a strong dye scent. There is a possibility that there may be some sun fading so it is a judgment call.
Soak the garment in vinegar overnight, (or use a mixture of vinegar and borax). Rinse and dry, repeat if needed.
*In a sealed container add charcoal briquettes (plain – not ‘easy-start’ which contain lighter fluid!) and the contents of a box of baking soda. Add the clothing and let it sit for at least a week.
Wash with an additive
*Use a peroxide based laundry detergent to oxidize fragrance residues in the fabric. Or, some people recommend adding about a cup of vinegar in the washing machine along with your regular detergent. However, it appears that vinegar causes rubber hoses in the washing machine to wear out more quickly so I just thought I’d mention this warning.
* I have not tried these so I can’t say how well it works but I really like the dry baking soda and charcoal idea.
* Some people recommend a baking soda soak (I have used about a 1/2 cup baking soda in my washing water) but it could ruin the fabric. Baking soda doesn’t fully dissolve, which you know if you’ve ever cleaned your sink with baking soda paste – and it is abrasive.
The way I see it, perfume-stinky upcycled clothing is unwearable for me. If I ruin it getting the scent out, so be it: it is usually a low investment I am talking about.
But if your upcycle find is something precious or delicate, it might be a good idea to contact a company that removes odours professionally. There is a time for DIY and a time for calling in the experts!
Wearing restrictive clothing is related to a host of health problems. A couple of weeks ago I posted on my Facebook page that I changed into another outfit before noon. There wasn’t anything wrong with what I had on, except I was in discomfort. There is a very good reason for it: wearing restrictive clothing around your waist (waistbands, belts, shape-wear) and rib cage can cause damage. Read more here.
I’ve become that person I said I would never be: the one who lives in pants with elastic waist bands. Here’s what is happening when you feel those ‘I can’t wait to get home and take off my bra’ moments.
Tight waists displace your internal organs.
- Restrictive clothing (and sucking in your belly) displaces your internal organs either upward or downward. This increases the pressure in your abdomen, and as a continual habit, the pressure can cause the tissue (fascia) that joins one group of muscles to another, to thin and tear. Upwards pressure displaces the stomach and intestines against the diaphragm. Downwards pressures pushes the intestines against the pelvic floor muscles, and in women against the uterus. Some of the complications of upward pressure are hiatal hernia, and downward pressure uterine, bladder and rectal prolapse and diastasis rectii.
- You can also get bladder and vaginal yeast infections (‘foundation’ compression under garments) and constipation.
These are the prop jeans from ‘The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants’. If only there were such a thing!
As a teen I lived in jeans: the real, non-stretchy ones. These days I rarely find a brand of jeans that fits the way they used to. What happened? Has the fit actually changed, were they always uncomfortable and has my tolerance level changed? Sadly, magic traveling pants do not, in fact, exist.
Most of today’s jeans have lycra in them, so they should fit better, right? But have you put on a pair of jeans with lycra in them and been shocked said pants now show every ripple, and cellulite you didn’t know you had? Now we are told we need to wear lycra undergarments to cover that up. Wearing something like Spanx now means instead of pressure around your waist, you have it all over your belly. Don’t trade in your stylish jeans that fit for underwear that is slowly strangling you from the inside out!
The pain is real.
- Tight waists restricts blood flow to your internal organs which means they get less oxygen, which means your tissues are starved and cells start dying off. This is what is causing the pain.
- The less blood supply you have, the less oxygen your organs get, and as a result you get poor lymphatic drainage. If your lymph is not draining it creates a back up of waste products, which creates more pain.
Tight bras affects your ability to breathe, and more.
You know those days when you come home and the first thing you do is take off your bra and get into PJs? That is your
- Restrictive clothing affects how you breathe (shallow), cause nerve damage, give you heartburn due to stomach being displaced.
I have acquired a very low tolerance for restrictive clothing and uncomfortable clothing. Now I am sympathetic to those people I said I’d never become.
If you think the discomfort from wearing binding clothes is a price you have to pay for fashion, you might want to rethink your priorities. I am less tolerant of uncomfortable clothing because I’m healthier and more tuned in to changes in my body as a result of not wearing constrictive pants. Through practicing Restorative Exercise I became aware that I was sucking in my belly almost all the time. Once you’ve felt a relaxed belly it is hard to go back to wearing constrictive clothing. It is just so freeing.
My advice? Go with the flow and let your belly be free. If it is to be a choice between fashion or killing off my own cells, so-long fashion, hello oxygen. And here is a source for some exercises that will get you back in tune with what a free body feels like. And here is a post I wrote on moving your rib cage.
Daily Movement Multivitamin DVD
“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.” ~ Georgia O’Keefe.
The memories of my recent trip to Maui will last far longer than the tan marks on my feet, gained from walking the beach for hours while breathing in the fragrant and moist air. There is no deep meaning in this post, except that sharing beauty is deep in and of itself. When I travel, I mostly take photographs of the plants, trees, water and sky, and the creatures I happen upon – pretty much the same thing I take when I am at home.
When I was a teenager I had a pair of sandy-suede Desert boots, a.k.a. Chukkas. I regretted for a long time not having those boots any longer, but now I have a new pair: *The Hawthorne Chukka by Soft Star Shoes.
I consulted Wikipedia on the difference between a Desert boot and a Chukka. Both the Desert and the Chukka are an unlined, ankle high boot, with open lacing and 2-3 eyelets. The upper is made in two parts. The main difference is that Desert boots are always suede uppers with a crepe sole. A Chukka can be a suede or leather upper, with either a leather or rubber sole. There is a vague connection with the game of polo. (If you, like me, are interested in the history of names, you may enjoy this site.
So, now we are all clear on what a Chukka boot is, yes? Let me tell you about this particular Chukka.
There is so much to love about this boot. First they are, of course, by Soft Star Shoes, which if you didn’t know, means handcrafted – by actual elves who dwell in Oregon – or so they claim. Soft Star Shoes makes minimalist footwear and you can read more about what makes a minimalist shoe, in my words, here.
The Hawthorne Chukka (like all Soft Star Shoes) are zero rise (no heel at all) and are totally flexible, like so:
The sole is made up of two layers: the first is a 4mm leather midsole, which is the tan layer you see. The outer sole is by Vibrams: an 8mm Geo sole, for a total of 12mm, which makes them the most ‘padded’ minimal shoes I own.
For fall-into-winter footwear this is a good thing: It is extra insulation from the cold and damp.
(I must confess that I have worn Soft Star Merry Janes for 3 winters with wool socks, but even then, my feet got cold – and sometimes wet. I looked for a minimal boot that would cover the top of my foot completely last winter but my local search was unsuccessful: I was really happy to hear Soft Star Shoes was making one!).
The back of the boot has some nice detailing with contrast stitching on the heel strip and a loop for pulling them on.
They are very comfortable and I didn’t need any break in time, I suspect because the leather is so deliciously soft.
They attach to the foot snugly with no pressure spots. The laces seemed overly long but they have become more supple as I have worn them a few times and I have decided they are fine.
I was told (by one of the elves) that they run small and weren’t available in my usual Women’s 6 so I decided to try the 7. They are a great fit width-wise, and only a tiny bit too long; my foot slips ever so slightly into the toe box with each step (I suspect this is not going to be an issue as the weather gets colder and I transition into thick socks).
I was slightly disappointed to see that they do not have a suede foot bed like my other Soft Star Shoes, but smooth leather. The leather is admittedly lovely, but I suspect it contributes to the foot slip. This is an easy fix by wearing a thicker sock or an innersole. Soft Star Shoes make a nice sheepskin pair and since I already had them on hand I tried them out; for putting the boots on my bare feet sans socks, I prefer it – but it may be a matter of taste.
I wore the boots all day – only an hour of steady walking – but I felt like I could walk in them all day. They also provided great traction: see the Vibram’s sole?
The charm of Chukkas is that they look good with jeans and casual pants, and if you follow fashion at all, you’ll be aware that women are wearing short boots with skirts. So naturally, I tried them out with a few choices.
I am pretty conservative about shoes: most of the ones I own are neutrals but I loved them in this red that Soft Star is calling Currant. It is such a happy colour.
They also come in Oxyx and Chicory which I also like, though in my opinion the Chicory is not that far from the red. I also love the over stitching around the upper. In a minimalist boot (on my foot at least) I find it gives the sole more structure.
- Zero rise and minimalist (full flex of feet).
- Good traction with a Vibrams sole.
- Plenty of room in the toe box.
- 12 mm between your foot and the ground – for warmth, dryness and cushioning on hard ground.
- Wear-out-of-the-box comfortable.
- Very light weight (9 oz.) and great for packing because you can fold them.
- Smart enough to take you from the trail to … anywhere … just about.
- An investment piece. Who knew Chukkas were ‘old school cool’?
- Small make – you may have to size up.
- Slippery foot bed.
- Price point: $190USD.
Since I own 5 pairs of Soft Star shoes, I am obviously a fan, but seriously I tried to come up with more negatives for a balanced review. But – unless you don’t like flats – I can’t think of more to add except a discussion of the price point: Only the Soft Star boots are priced higher.
But taking into consideration the value, I think this is a fair price. For one thing, they can be re-soled. I am anticipating several years of service from these boots at least, and to back this up, my first Soft Star purchase – Merry Janes, will be seeing their 4th winter this year and are still in mint condition. I wear them through all seasons – except in heavy rain and snow – and I am anticipating the Hawthorne Chukkas will be the same. Even if you get three years from them, it works out to $65 a year. I have bought quite a few shoes at that price that barely saw me through a season.
I am also looking forward to seeing new colours in this boot. I would really enjoy having the look of my old sand Desert boots but a high quality, which to me means a minimalist design.
*This addition to my footwear collection was a generous and most welcome gift from Soft Star Shoes.
Did you know that shorter women have (traditionally) higher incidence of osteoporosis? The reason is, basically, the wearing of high heeled shoes.
Heeled shoes, even small ones, pitch the weight of the body forward over the balls of the feet, and the pelvis comes with it. The ball of the foot isn’t designed to bear your body weight and it changes the angle of the joints in your knees, hips and spine, while the muscles in the back of your body become weak and atrophied. That’s your calves, hamstrings and glutes – some of the largest and strongest muscles in your body. At the same time the muscles in the front of the body – the quadriceps – are overworked.
This mis-alignment creates friction in the joints (and pain) which leads to wear and tear and bone loss.
The smaller foot of a short woman has a lot to do with it the amount of friction even modest positive heeled shoes creates, but it is a bit of a smoke screen. Tall women, especially if they wear an equivalent lever for pitching the weight forward are also weakening and wearing out the bones in their spines and hips. It’s just that in the past tall women didn’t wear high heels as much.
As a short woman I was never a big heel wearer (maybe because I did yoga and dance when I was younger) because I found them too uncomfortable. But I did wear low heels and believed when I was told that we needed support for our feet and some sort of heel was necessary. Even though I’ve been wearing flat (barefoot shoes) exclusively for several years, my muscles are still relearning their true, natural length and strength but my body is so much healthier and happier and the aches and pains I associated with aging have disappeared.
The body is amazingly resilient and it can recover from years of mis-alignment. It does require putting health ahead of vanity and fashion. Are you up for the challenge of ditching the heels once and for all?
I recently read an article on The Broad Side about aging and Frances McDormand, called, “Frances McDormand is My New Hero After Saying ‘This is What 57 Really Looks Like.”
I love the way Frances McDormand looks (always have) and love that she refers to laugh lines and furrows as a road map of what your life has been, and how having work done erases part of your history.
As McDormand points out in the video below, not everyone ages well. It would be easy to say she looks great at 57, looks more like 47, but that is missing the point. There is something about the phrase ‘aging well’ that irks me. As if those who aren’t aging as well are deficient.
Women our age can probably remember the phrase ‘she let herself go.’ The pressure, subtle or overt, to stay in the game is always there. But then if someone in the public eye gets plastic surgery it is all over the tabloids. “Does she or doesn’t she” used to mean dying your hair, now it means face lifts and botox. You are criticized if you don’t and blamed if you do.
I agree with Frances, that the willingness to look your age; to value the experience that shows in your face and your body, is a subversive act. Not playing the you-are-as-young-as-you-look game makes you a bit of a bad-ass.
In an interview with the New York Times, she says, “Looking old should be a boast about experiences accrued and insights acquired, a triumphant signal that you are someone who, beneath that white hair, has a card catalog of valuable information.”
I agree, and yet..
Me, at 57
I am also 57 and for the past couple of years I have begun to feel a bit marginalized. From my perspective this is the age when we (women especially) begin to become invisible, but no generation is completely like the previous. Boomers may feel this more than other generations: after all we are the generation of cool when you can still be a rock star (and sexy) well into your sixties. That has to change how Boomers feel about aging, doesn’t it?
We are all a different age in our minds than our chronological age, anyway. So it is hardly surprising that, as McDormand says:
“We are on red alert when it comes to how we are perceiving ourselves as a species,” she said. “There’s no desire to be an adult. Adulthood is not a goal. It’s not seen as a gift. Something happened culturally: No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face.”
Well, not everyone, obviously, but I appreciate that the pressure is there to look a certain way to get jobs. It sometimes seems like the biggest game of the Boomers is The Pursuit of Youthfulness, but there is a sub-culture of new role-models for female aging that we can embrace: some by their words and actions such as Frances McDormand, and others who let the road map of their life experiences be seen: Jaimie Lee Curtis, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Helen Hunter, Terri Hatcher, Julianne Moore, Jodie Foster, Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer are some names who come to mind, among the famous, beautiful people.
I think we are all aware that there is a shift in how old ‘old’ is (60 is the new 40, etc.) but here is an opportunity to revolutionize how women are supposed to look as they age. Click the link below to see the interview with Frances McDormand.
Frances McDormand on Aging