“Last year, during quarantine, I borrowed a sewing machine,” says Jo, a school counselor in Vancouver and member of the slow fashion Instagram community. “Sewing soon became an outlet as a mom. I just had my second baby, but I can sew for 15 minutes during nap time; and after a while, you suddenly have this beautiful dress.” Here, Jo shares five looks and talks about money, teenagers, and wearing the color yellow…
Dress: Hand-sewn by Jo, using a Birgitta Helmersson zero waste pattern. Boots: Nisolo. Crossbody bag: Tree Fairfax, purchased secondhand. Jean jacket: husband’s.
“My husband said, ‘Oh, my gosh, babe, I’m so proud of you, even though I don’t really understand this dress.’ I laughed so much. I was like, I don’t care what you think! Slow fashion is very bag shaped. When I’m in this dress, it’s a TENT, and I feel great. The bag is by Tree Fairfax, an amazing Black artist. If I’m going to buy something, I want to support someone in the BIPOC community, particularly Black women.”
Sweater: Kordal, purchased secondhand. Utility pants: Beaton Linen. Shoes: Nisolo. Backpack: Glasnost.
“Many of my clothes are secondhand. On Instagram, Noihsaf Bazaar does resales all the time, and SellTradeSlowFashion is amazing.”
“We don’t feel comfortable talking about money in our culture. But I’ll talk about it: When I save up for pieces, I’m strategic. I have a journal where I’ll write, This year, I’m going to purchase such and such. A good example is this backpack. For two years, I asked my in-laws and husband for gift cards for my birthday and Christmas, and finally I could afford it. Now I wear it every day. Also, I’ll create personal funds within my bank account, and each month I’ll throw in a few extra dollars. Sometimes when I’m talking to my bank teller, they’ll say, ‘Wow, you have 20 different accounts labeled different things!’ It might be a raincoat I’m saving up for, or my son’s education fund, or a family vacation bucket.”
Dress: Hand-sewn by Jo, using a Wiksten pattern (“her patterns are so clear and thorough”). Cardigan: Babaà, purchased secondhand. Necklace: Fu Ceramics. Shoes: Sandgrens.
“This is my school counselor outfit. I always hope teenagers know that everything that they’re feeling is exactly right. I am getting teary! People say, how do you work with teenagers? And I’m like, oh my god, they’re the best. Just respect them and understand that maybe a gruff exterior comes from a legitimate place. Developmentally, the things they’re experiencing are so much more intense than any other time. Remember what it was like to be 14 or 15? Those were the biggest romantic and friendship heartbreaks, the biggest emotions of your life, and it’s not because teenagers are silly, it’s because that’s what’s going on in their brains.”
“My dear friend Salina Fu made this beautiful necklace. Her mom named it Lo Lo Tong, which, in Chinese, means to be without barriers on any path you take. More often than not, my new friends are people I meet online. Motherhood can be really lonely. But on Instagram, when you find the right people, you can all admit that parenting is 90% tedious (the Groundhog Day of putting this baby down for a nap!) but 10% transcendent.”
Sweater: 7115 Szeki. Pants: Beaton Linen. Toque: Pollen Sweaters. Socks: Hansel from Basel. Shoes: Vans. Bag: Baggu.
“For a while, in the slow fashion Instagram community, there was a certain type of person posting — blonde, thin, white — and I didn’t look like that. I felt like an imposter. But then an Asian-American woman sent a DM to about 15 Asian-American or Asian-Canadian women and titled it ‘Internet Sisters.’ We are taught in our culture not to take up space, but now we were saying, ‘I love that you share what you wear, can you keep doing that so I can keep doing that?’ The group has been responsible for so much of my confidence. If you grow up and want to be the Wakefield twins… it’s funny to think that this group of people I’ve never met has really changed me. We DM questions like, We have such flat noses, does anyone have a recommendation of glasses that don’t slip off? or Here’s what’s happening with anti-Asian-American violence or How can we support Black communities? We flip flop through both fun and important things. Let’s dismantle oppression AND talk about sweaters.”
“My Baggu bag does so much heavy lifting in my outfits — they’re cheap and cheerful and have such great prints.”
Dress: Two Days Off. Earrings: Candid Art. Boots: Rachel Comey, purchased secondhand.
“Growing up, I was always told, ‘Yellow people shouldn’t wear yellow.’ But over the past couple years, I’ve wanted to reclaim that. It’s the most fun color! I remember Constance Wu of Crazy Rich Asians wore yellow to a premiere because she wanted to push back. This dress was generously gifted to me by Two Days Off — she’s a climate scientist five days a week, but she has a side hustle of making beautiful clothes with deadstock, which is material that would otherwise not be used. As you can see, I wear it proudly.”
Thank you so much, Jo! You can follow her on Instagram, if you’d like.
P.S. More women share their weeks of outfits, including a nutritionist, a food writer and an architecture professor.
(Photos by Jo.)
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