On fear (an exercise in copy/paste)

I have been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I wish I could say that I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do. I have. Once you let fear get possession of your soul, it does not readily yield its place to another sentiment. Then you just realize you have to fight yourself and let everything happen to you, Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final. I go back to a gin infused advice over “I am sailing” announcing the final round at Peter’s, years ago. Don’t think. And I realize I do appreciate the unknown, the feeling of jumping before looking. I learnt that through facing the fear of traveling alone. I prefer it like that now. No longer fearing freedom. For a few days. I do not fear mistakes. I do fear perfection and the fearlessness will come when I stop waiting for the right day to go up or down in my own way. I fear wasted time. 

References 

Georgia O’Keeffe 

Leo Tolstoi

Rainer Maria Rilke

Jim Morrison 

Pink Floyd

Photo via Pinterest 

Episodes 

The process of deciphering and expressing a sense of who we are happens in tandem with deciphering and expressing when and where we are .

   

 
In the summer of 1988 we went to Cheltenham for an intensive English language course. I stayed with Cathy and Howard and my brother stayed with another family so we wouldn’t disturb the immersive quality of the course.  I remember Cheltenham as the England in the movies. I remember that Cathy and Howard’s house was “colour coded”, each room had its own colour. My room was pink and their wonderful living room was red. Red carpets, red sofa, red furniture and red wallpaper. 

This was my second time in England. I had been to London with my parents when I was 14 or 15 and could not control my excitement at having a place to go with the language I felt in love with in school and getting the Smiths “The queen is dead” before it went on sale in Portugal.   

There is a phrase: ‘the sweet smell of success’. And I can only tell you, I’ve had two experiences of that and it just smells like Brighton and oyster bars and things like that.
In August 1992 I visited Brighton with my parents to get things ready to start studying at Sussex University in the Fall. This is still the city that lives in my heart. My city.   

Life was completely different now. A full time student with a library schedule and tutorial classes. Now, I was in charge and it wasn’t as easy as I had imagined. Still, this is the city where, in a way, I grew up and everything was a promise of change.    

And then I moved to London. I doubt it if I will ever feel the kind of freedom and happiness and warm loneliness and sense of belonging I felt in this place. London was my moveable feast and  wherever I go for the rest of my life, it will stay with me. 

 

In 2002 I came back. So did others. Some of us just couldn’t handle it and decided to head back to London. I have tried to justify my choice of coming back many times, knowing that in reality that choice wasn’t actually mine. I arrived at the same conclusion every time. Choosing  to be who you really are takes a lot of courage.

References 

Susan B. Kaiser 

Laurence Olivier 

Ernest Hemingway 

Snapshots 

A day at the market 

Little adventures and missteps in the real world

Last week I had my first experience as a seller at a “Vintage Market” in Porto. Although it felt as something completely out of my comfort zone, I thought it would be interesting and even kind of fun to meet potential local customers since most of my modest business is done online and to other continents.

Vintage and craft markets are plentiful in the new retro-cool life of Porto even if “vintage” (at least for clothing) seems to be a somewhat loosely used catch phrase for any item that has been used before and that, in the mind of most market visitors, should have a price range anywhere between €0.50 and €5.00.  Maybe vintage just has a nicer, more appealing ring to the vast majority who is actually interested in secondhand bargain hunting.

Originally used  to denote a year’s wine harvest, the term vintage has been adopted by the fashion world to define “a rare and authentic piece that represents the style of a particular couturier or era” (Gerval, 2008). The most common definition today is perhaps that advanced by J.E. Cornett, “most clothing considered vintage dates from the 1920s-early 1980s. Pre-1920s clothing is considered antique, while clothing newer than the mid-1980s has not reached vintage status – yet.” Even so, both Etsy and eBay classify as vintage items that are at least 20 years old thus making way to “90s vintage”. Of course, nowadays we are almost forced to agree with Pauline Weston Thomas of Fashion-Era , “there’s no doubt that whether or not an item is Vintage is in the eye of the beholder.”

The growing popularity of secondhand shopping mainly connected with consumers eco-consciousness and  sustainability concerns as well as with the rise of “slow” and/or ethical fashion movements, has led to the erosion of  the negative social stigma for buying secondhand while vintage has developed into a “mega trend in clothing since the last decade all over the world, leading to major fashion brands launching collections inspired by vintage pieces or luxury haute couture houses digging into their archives to revive past designs. A number of second hand stores surfing on the trends also rename their stores as vintage” ( Cervellon, 2012).

Although the labels secondhand and vintage are close to become synonymous in consumers’ minds (Cervellon, Carey, and Harms 2012), I still think it’s important to make a clear distinction between them specially if you intend to keep some kind of integrity as a seller. 

The term second-hand refers to a piece of clothing which has been used before, despite the age of the clothes. Whether a second-hand cloth is vintage is determined by its age, and not the fact that it has been used (Mortara & Ironico, 2011).A  second-hand good is  also defined by the physical deterioration of the product, meaning that with every usage the product’s quality is reduced (Ohlwein 1990) even if it keeps it’s wearability. By comparison, vintage goods are not necessarily deteriorated or used (Cervellon, Carey, and Harms 2012).

With all this in mind I read all kinds of guides and blog posts on “making the most(and surviving) of your first market experience” and prepared all my stock identifying second-hand clothes and accessories and organized all vintage pieces by decade. I sold a grand total of four items. All of them second-hand.

All these considerations might not explain my experience at selling in the real world but have helped me to try to understand people’s motivations for visiting and shopping at vintage markets. As an avid shopper at vintage and flea markets of all sorts, I understand the thrill of the treasure hunt and the hope of finding that unique piece for a bargain. What I have failed to understand is that the majority of people visiting these markets are essentially bargain hunting and are neither interested in vintage nor can they distinguish between second-hand and vintage pieces.

Stepping out into the real world has not, overall, been a negative experience, I just misjudged my “target market” and will give it another go since, with the proper preparation, this kind of vintage market can, probably,  be the perfect outlet for the second-hand pieces that I haven’t been able to sell online.

 

References

Gerval, O. (2008). Fashion: Concept to Catwalk. London, UK: Bloomsbury

Cervellon, Marie-Cécile (2012). Back from the Past: specific antecedents to consumers’ purchase of vintage fashion vs. second-hand or recycled fashion.

Cervellon, M-C, Carey, L & Harms, T 2012, ‘Something old, something used: determinants of women’s purchase of vintage fashion vs second-hand fashionInternational Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, vol 40, no. 12, pp. 956-974., http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09590551211274946

Brake, Daria (2014) Online Second-Hand Shopping. Threat or Opportunity for Branded Products?

I used to be a Tomboy – a micro collection

Growing up, I never managed to be the pretty girl. My hair always looked messy and my bangs covered my eyes, my knees were always bruised from running and falling or bumping into things. Although I suppose I longed to be prim and polished, I’ve never managed to. This is my little tribute to all the girls that have never managed to be “true ladies” and are happy about it.

[cincopa AkMA5WNaZE6r]

 

Check the collection here

The roads not taken

I am a terrible decision maker. I do not like planning or strategizing or even making pro/con lists.

I find decision making excruciatingly tedious and, on top of that, I can’t read maps and even manage to get lost using gps devices. That’s how I often take the roads less traveled. I am also not good at following instructions.

Not many, if any, of these new roads are left to be metaphorically or literally explored. I suppose we all would like to be pioneers and trailblaze our own road but that is lonely and difficult path we’re seldom ready to take.

In some ways, this blog is, for me, the road less traveled, the road of self-examination as a public exercise. And, as Dr. Peck would put it “life is difficult”, being honest with yourself is not an easy task. Being honest with yourself in public can oftentimes be soul crushing as is the realization that you can’t really always get what you want.

At least two people in my life have tried to make me understand (in very obvious ways) that life is seldom what you want it to be and often what it has to be. I haven’t learnt this lesson yet. I go on insisting that there has to be more. As a traveler, I always want to take both or all the roads in front of me and start walking even if sometimes never arriving and other times taking the easy, comfortable road and not getting where I wanted to be.

The roads left are the roads not taken and these might be the ones that would make all the difference.

References:

Robert Frost (1920)

Morgan Scott Speck (1978)

Mick Jagger / Keith Richards (1969)

The Road Less Traveled

Anaïs’ Closet

“I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”

Anaïs Nin, “The Four-Chambered Heart.”

Oddly enough, a “great fear of shallow living” has also been somewhat responsible for the unmanageable size of my closet. Although an obsessive interest on clothes would probably point towards a very shallow living indeed, I have always seen clothes as a way to connect to my true (deep) self even when this self is busy living in imaginary spaces.

I could not have been a famous fashion designer (I’ve played briefly with this idea when I was 17 or 18) as claimed by Ms. Nin but, like her, my problem also seems to be that “my imagination created [and still creates] costumes that did not fit my simple life”. I do love clothes far more than I like fashion. I love their power to “evoke the fairy tale” and I’m still not ready to start “dressing more simply”, I took the first step in putting my Closet of Errors out there not as an exercise on downsizing but as a way of dealing with my own stories and letting the ones that were already lived go and find new lives.

Writing about Anaïs Nin’s  “Fractured Identity as Read through Fashion“,Tove Hermanson notes that [she] “grappled with complex self-identity issues that were revealed in her sartorial selections as much as her overtly philosophical prose. It’s unclear if Nin herself realized the extent to which she used fashion to act out her desires: to glamorize herself and seduce, and alternately to conceal and protect herself.” That’s how, I suppose, it all starts. More than a sign of individuality, clothes help to overcome your own insecurities by living the life of the character that more resembles what you have dreamt for yourself.

Someone once told me that I had lots of clothes and a ton of shoes because I didn’t think I was beautiful enough on my own. I remember taking that as an insult. Not anymore.  I am now able to have fun with all that I’ve collected everything remains, as Ms. Nin would put it ” very symbolical” and my clothes still have “first of all, a poetic significance: colours for certain occasions, evocations of other styles, countries (Spanish flavour, Moroccan touches, etc.)” and are, of course “a sign of individuality”. More than I would probably like to admit,   I  still “[want] striking clothes which [distinguish] me from other women. “

When I was growing up Anaïs was just the name of a Cacharel perfume that I was lucky enough to have my mum buy for me. I still recall the ethereal commercial on TV  that made you dream of becoming this wonderfully romantic creature. Today, after actually having read some of the diaries, I still see Anaïs as this unattainable ideal of being both the author and the character.

References:

The Diary of Anaïs Nin Volume One 1931-1934