Lockdown Life Lessons

If you're anything like me (god help you if you are) and you find a pathetic amount of pleasure in round numbers or even numbers or even better both, then 2020 sounds like it should be a pretty wonderful year doesn't it? Well it may not have been all wonderful, but it's certainly going to be a year that we all remember and one that will go down in literally every country's history. 

So far I've pretty much avoided talking about lockdown/coronavirus/blah on my blog because it was all rather depressing enough without me writing about it too, but what I do want to do is write positively about the life lessons I've learnt during lockdown, which I'll be carrying forward into the future with me.

Everyone is fighting their own battle // Some people struggled with staying at home during lockdown and would have loved to have some work to occupy their time, others found it difficult to carry on going to work and would have loved nothing better than to stay at home. People are different and nobody should feel like their own personal struggles are less than anyone else's, not just during lockdown but in life. People struggle with different things and it's worth remembering that just because you think someone is in a good position doesn't mean they agree.

Don't judge before you know the full story // There's nothing like a pandemic to spur people into getting on their high horse about anything they can is there? Of course everyone should be wearing a face mask, but if somebody isn't give them the benefit of the doubt that it's because they can't rather than because they won't. This is true in every walk of life; don't assume someone is a knobhead without solid proof (a good motto for life?) Saying that, if your neighbours were having a party mid lockdown you're definitely allowed to judge. 

People are what matters // Sure I've missed going out for meals, I've missed the pub, I've missed going shopping. But what I've missed most is people (although I'm all for maintaining social distancing with complete strangers for the rest of my life tbh). More time spent with my favourite people in the future is the priority for me (apologies in advance that I'm about to become a very huggy person once I'm allowed).

Always be kind // Kindness is an extremely underrated quality (in fact I wrote a whole post about that topic all the way back here), but it's one that certainly goes a very long way. It relies on giving people the benefit of the doubt and believing the best in everyone and it essentially sums up all the above points in one. 

Stick to your guns // Lockdown has definitely made me a bit bolder in sticking to what I believe is right and I have no guilt in saying no to things I'm not comfortable with doing as we emerge out of the other side. Do what makes you happy and take things at your own pace; something I'll be aiming to carry on doing post-lockdown too.

Amy x

Slow Fashion Season // Shopping Vintage

I made a promise to myself that during slow fashion season I'd do some actual research along with not buying anything new in an attempt to change my habits and mindset in the long term and the first point I've chosen to focus on is shopping vintage. 

I've always had mixed feelings about shopping vintage; on the one hand I adore vintage style and have found some absolute gems for my wardrobe over the years. On the other hand, there's always been a niggle in my mind that it's sort of just overpriced second hand.

However as I've gotten older and my mindset has shifted, I've realised that unless you're willing to scour every single charity shop in the land to find a decent vintage-style item in your size then spend some time professionally cleaning/mending and sprucing it up, shopping vintage is expensive for a reason; someone has already done all that for you.

On top of that I've read some posts surrounding the gentrification of charity shopping; essentially where second hand shopping has become more popular due to movements such as slow fashion season, it's having an impact on the people for whom charity shops are their only option, making clothing less available and more expensive for them.

I'm not really in a position to spend a lot of money on vintage clothing, but I have found some decent in-betweenly-priced (yep that's an expression) vintage stores to shop from, plus when I thought about the vintage clothing I already own (which was surprisingly more than I thought) I've always managed to find pretty good bargains (the dress in the above photo was £5 so that's just excellent really isn't it).

 I love a good rummage through a vintage shop as much as the next person (unless said person doesn't like rummaging through vintage shops then my point is invalid but I'm sure you get my drift okay then), but I still don't feel particularly comfortable with shopping for leisure in the current situation so I've done most of my hunting online, however as I want my better shopping habits to have a lasting effect I'm going to make suggestions based on life when it returns to normal too. 

So after a rather long winded introduction and ramble there, here are some options and tips for shopping vintage from an amateur vintage shopper:

LOOK LOCAL // Search out local vintage shops or local independent shops with vintage options. In Hull Chinese Laundry and Beasley's are have their own vintage sections so if you think there aren't any vintage shops local to you then check your independents to see if they do something similar. As well as being sustainable you're also supporting a local independent business, plus the vintage clothing tends to be affordable. 

VINTAGE FAIRS // Obviously these aren't really happening at the moment, but I know that in normal circumstances Hull has a huge vintage fair every few months. I've only been once, and that was back in the days when I was still a little sceptical of vintage so I'm itching to go back once they're allowed again. The good thing about fairs is that you can shop to your own budget and style as there is such a variety of stalls. There's usually an entry fee, but I've found it to be worth it!

ONLINE // The great thing about online is that there's such a huge variety of online vintage shops with a lot more choice than a physical shop is able to have. I recently trawled through The Vintage Scene for hours because there's so much choice. The one negative I've found to shopping vintage online is the sizing; vintage sizes differ so much that it really does help if you're able to try things on and despite ordering a dress that claimed to be a size 10 it would appear I actually ordered an oversized pair of curtains so definitely look out for places that offer returns!

How do you feel about shopping vintage? Throw any tips my way as I'm clearly still very much an amateur...

Amy x 

The Ongoing Battle With Body Image

I listen, completely dumbfounded, to some of my gorgeous, kind, amazing friends completely put themselves down and devalue themselves because of their insecurities. Insecurities that nobody else but them even see, but insecurities that they have been taught they should have by the media as they've grown up. 

I find it incredibly frustrating when someone can't see how amazing they are and genuinely heartbreaking that people don't place enough value on themselves. 

However, in this instance I'm being incredibly hypocritical. I've posted uplifting captions on Instagram, messaged friends words of reassurance when they've felt low in confidence; I've even written entire blog posts almost lecturing anyone happening to be reading that they should love themselves more.

But what do I tell myself?

Certainly nothing uplifting or reassuring. 

I tell myself I could be fitter, healthier, kinder, harder working, more toned, more understanding, prettier, a better friend/girlfriend/daughter; the list goes on. 

I am exactly the same as the friends who I wish would value themselves more highly and that's frustrating in itself because how can I preach something I don't practice myself?

From a young age we're taught the things we 'should' be; slim, toned, tanned, flawless, elegant. Our perception of beauty is completely warped by what we've seen and read in magazines, on TV and on the internet. The majority of people and bodies are completely under-represented; growing up it was rare I was exposed to plus-size, mid-size, black, disabled, people with cellulite, people with acne, the list obviously goes on.

We've been so used to seeing bodies put on a pedestal that are nothing like our own that there's no wonder we're all riddled with insecurity. Learning to love your body is difficult when you've spent so long essentially being told that you shouldn't.

Realistically I think that breaking away from that is probably impossible in this generation, BUT I'd like to hope that if we attempt to change our mindsets it can only get better for future generations. I hope with all my heart that any son or daughter I have is able to grow up in a world where all bodies are normalised and that they love themselves as much as they should.

The most ridiculous paradox is that I'm able to see past these stereotypical and unrealistic beauty standards when it comes to other people, yet not when it comes to myself and I think that's the case with a lot of people. I have plenty of friends who lift me up when I'm low in confidence, yet subsequently are extra hard on themselves. It's like there's something deep rooted within us that can't see past our own insecurity. 

So just remember when you're attempting to boost someone else's confidence and looking at them wondering why they don't love themselves when you think they're beautiful, they probably feel the exact same way about you. Look at yourself the way you look at your friends and most importantly, be kind to yourself. Please.

Amy x

Recent Reads I'd Recommend #4

It's been almost two whole years since I wrote Recent Reads I'd Recommend #3 and I don't really have an excuse as to why because it's not like I stopped reading. With the aid of lockdown I've certainly been reading a lot more recently though and fancied doing a lil' book post again. The following are the best of the best of what I've read recently:

My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
// I powered through this in two days (I do love a book with short chapters) and despite the rather macabre subject the way it was written wasn't too heavy. It's about a woman (Korede) whose sister (Ayoola) keeps killing the men she's dating, in self defense according to her, although Korede has her suspicions. The plot thickens (have always wanted to use that expression to describe a book) when Ayoola starts dating a man Korede is in love with.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo // This was a very cleverly written book, telling the stories of twelve different women whose stories weave in and out of each other's as they're connected in some way or other. It explores topics such as race, sexuality, feminism, gender, wealth along with the intersectionality of those issues. The book ends on a twist, but I would have been hooked regardless. This may just be my favourite read of 2020 so far.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid // This was another book that I absolutely powered through. It's an account of a seventies rock band's rise to fame by the band members themselves, written interview style, which I really enjoyed. I did have to look up whether they were a real band or not more than once because it's written so convincingly (spoiler: they're not although I have read that they're loosely based on Fleetwood Mac). 

The Binding by Bridget Collins // This was a slow burner for me; it's written in three parts and I didn't start properly enjoying it until part two, but once I started enjoying it I really enjoyed it and whizzed through the rest so it's 100% worth sticking with. It's a magical story of forbidden love, betrayal and books that can bind memories people wish to forget, which sounds good on paper (nice unintentional pun there Amy), but there's obviously a lot more to it than that.

If you have any book recommendations please drop them below as I'm always on the lookout! 

Amy x

Slow Fashion Season // No More New Clothes

Let me paint you a picture of two Amys (there's a scary thought).

Amy number one has a whole folder full of clothes shopping apps on her phone, which are scoured daily for sales, new trends and offers, resulting in a fair few full shopping baskets sat waiting for the purchase button to be clicked. It isn't always, (Amy number one wasn't a) completely stupid or b) ridiculously rich), but at least one hefty clothes order a month is made usually without all that much thought aside from 'I want that.'

Amy number two has no shopping apps on her phone (unless you count Just Eat), she researches a brand's ethos before making a (rare) purchase and when she does part with her money it's for something she'll get a lot of wear out of and that will last a long time.

Amy number one only started evolving into Amy number two in the second half of last year. 

And there you have a rather long and pretentious way of me saying I'm getting better at shopping sustainably.

So as someone who has already drastically reduced and rethought her shopping habits, lasting the three months of slow fashion season (June 21st aka today until September 21st), should be easy enough. However the reason I've signed up to take part isn't just to not buy new clothes; I want to work on changing my mindset in order to carry on making more sustainable choices going forward. 

During the three months of slow fashion season you can only:

- Buy second hand, including vintage
- Upcycle clothes
- Take part in clothes swaps
- Buy from small, local and sustainable businesses

Although I've made steps towards reducing my fast fashion consumption I've not really implemented many of the above so over the next three months (hopefully documented on here if I get my bottom into gear) I'm hoping to focus on each one, discovering new vintage shops, local sustainable businesses and ways in which I can upcycle what I already have. 

Please all cross your fingers for me on that last point.

Amy x