Sunday, 31 January 2010

Keeping warm by M.O.

This week is Green Week at UCLU, and MODO is hosting a free workshop on recycling scrap fabric and old clothes - major excitement! I wish I could come. That's tomorrow, Monday 1st February, Bloomsbury Conference Room, 7-9pm, and anyone interested in sustainable fashion should definitely attend! Check out other events taking place during Green Week on the facebook event, and read more about the Union's sustainable credentials on UCLU and the Environment. Aside from detailed info on forums, audits, and policies, you'll find the freshly added UCLU Green Guide, 'which is full of tips on how to live more sustainably, get involved in campaigning at UCL, and get in touch with great ethical & environmental organisations in London.'

So much for sustainability, but what of fashion? The Union's guide doesn't quite give you tips on how to keep warm but dress in style. The only piece of guidance we receive that refers to clothes is to consume less, shop in charity shops, give away unwanted clothing, and use Freecycle. You know that much from the first sustainable fashion post!

Perhaps more interestingly, one of the top ten tips to reduce carbon emissions is to turn your thermostat down by a few degrees (which, we are told, will also save us money) : so not only we have to freeze in the street, but even at home! Keeping warm seems to be the trend of the season, and the previous post, Fashion in the Freeze by V.B., gives you some excellent advice on how to do it in style. I'll try to add a bit more on this topic from my own Eastern European experience on dealing with the cold, and tell you about the greatest weapon you have against global warming (and it's a piece of clothing!)

1) Protect your head

Allegedly 80% of body warm escapes through the head. I already blogged about the knitted headbands that keep your hairstyle happy by Pretty Green (but you can check out Clare's new layout), and I believe earwarmers were mentioned in some posts as well. But no note of the big furry hat! It may mean that it's already so-last-season, but I'd say it's still very nicely warm. Obviously it needs to be faux fur to really be sustainable.. but if it can be fluorescent, who'd mind?

at Michael Kors

at Dolce & Gabbana

at Dynasty

by Emilie Zanon, young French artist/designer

Or you could, of course, get an Endless Warm solar-powered hat designed by Yiran Qian from Germany: but that still sounds very futuristic.

2) Wrap something around your neck

A scarf never hurts, for warmth or for style. For something totally new (at least I think so), consider a faux Foks: a knitted alternative to the rather unpleasant real fox scarves Eastern European grandmothers still wear. The woolen ones are beautifully hand made, come in a range of colours, and Celapiu also make pretty gloves to match.


3) Keep your legs and feet warm


Those are super important body parts for heat management! Wear wool tights, or layer a few pairs - thinner over thicker for interesting texture and colour effect (see how Susie Bubble does it). Wear tights or long johns under trousers. The extra layer of air in between will serve as even more insulation. That applies to all layers, so wear tight clothes under looser ones to add that layer of air. It's also a nice idea to wear spats over your boots - they certainly add something interesting to a plain black or brown straight shoe.

All of this works outdoors as much as indoors (OK, maybe not the boots). Wearing warmer clothes at home will make it easier for you to turn down the temperature. The idea is not to be as warm as humanly possible, but to be comfortable - so try and feel the right temperature balance. For ways of coping with turning down the heating, the sustainable experts Do The Green Thing advise to 'leave the radiators off and wrap up in a jumper - or better still, with another person.'

'Your body is equivalent to a 100 Watt heater', say Do The Green Thing

Wearing a hat indoors is surely an innovation in style, and the use of blankets as dresses and coats has entered the catwalks alright:

Comme des Garçons, Kenzo, and Chloé

Comme des Garçons

Junya Watanabe

  Romance Was Born

Lastly, the awesome book Teach Your Granny to Text & Other Ways to Change the World (a great read, even for grown-ups) states clearly: 'What is our greatest weapon against global warming? Science? Biofuel? Solar power? Nope. It's the sweater. The next time it gets chilly, put a sweater on. Not the heating.' So yay to sweaters, natural sustainable fabrics, and human heat. And keep it MODO, people ;)

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Fashion in the freeze by V. B.

Over the last few weeks us Brits have been treated to sub thermal temperatures with no sign of a warm up anytime soon. Whilst fashion can often overtake the practical (high heels anyone?) when you are being subjected to temperatures well below freezing even the most stylish among us will reach for the chunky knit and slippers. I myself have been digging out most items in my wardrobe and wearing them simultaneously, taking the layered look to extremes that only a bag lady could appreciate. However as the following examples of winter chic will prove the big freeze can be met with style, keeping you warm, attractive and most importantly well-dressed.

Good tailoring is a must for winter as it prevents you looking shapeless and shabby when wearing several layers. The quality jacket, trousers and shoes help to keep this look sharp whilst the chunky scarf and cardigan create texture as well as warmth. The oversized hat helps add statement to the look, which is particularly important in winter when our fashion identity can be lost under a sea of black and grey coats.
Although it has been around for a few seasons there is still a calling for the jumper/dress look. The knitted detail of this jumper prevents it from appearing as a block of colour, whilst the red shoes give the look more distinction and a quirky twist. Thick jumper dresses are great in these freezing temperatures, however to make sure you maintain a flattering silhouette they should be worn with thick tights or skinny jeans and not anything which could add extra bulk.

The faux fur coat was a strong look in 2009 and whilst we are moving to pastures new in 2010 if you still want to get some use from your fur coat in the cold weather team it with a belt to pull in the waist and add structure to the coat. Faux fur can be brilliantly glamorous but can also add volume so this belted look keeps the coat nipped in and under control.

Layering is a very effective way to keep warm, however it can easily veer towards the hefty with clothing piled on rather than coordinated. For this look texture is key as too many chunky layers will lose shape and add bulk, whilst too many thin layers mean more and more items are required before any warming benefit. This is a good example of layering as a thin under-top is layered with a thicker medium layer, which adds interest with button detail, and then finished with a stripy woollen cardigan. A complementary pallet is adhered to so that no one layer is vying for attention whilst the all important belt is used to pull all the different layers together. The oversized scarf helps keep the look on trend and ties the colours of the three layers together.

Winter accessories can add interest and personality to dark and dull winter coats whilst simultaneously providing much needed warmth. For scarves this winter the longer the better providing the opportunity to twist and layer them in varied and individual ways. An exaggerated knit like this pink scarf is warm and distinctive, brightening up an otherwise dull black cardigan.                                                                             

This winter keep warm and keep it modo people ;)