Books, Art, and Slow Fashion

Have I ever told you about the tendency I have when I read good books? I get lost in them and can’t shut up about them because they take up so much space in my brain.

I get this trait, among many, from my dad. 

Dad and I share a lot of the same things. I look most like him and we have very similar personalities.

Six years ago or so I dedicated my reading to classic literature. At the time, Hubby and I lived near Phoenix, Arizona and he had lost half his hair listening to me go on about the books I was reading. Yet I couldn’t stop. I thought I might pop if I didn’t have a place to talk about it. So to save his sanity (if not his hairline), I started a classic lit book club and named it Dickens Chicks after this guy: 

Charles Dickens continues to be one of my favorite writers. His books are hard and soft and funny and heartbreaking. Many of the characters and ideas are complex and rich. They live within me long after I finish them. Photo from Wikipedia, attributed to Jeremiah Gurney – Heritage Auction Gallery.

I was organizer and facilitator of Dickens Chicks up until last year when Hubby and I made the official full-time move to Seattle. In that time our group read countless novels by all the greats, but it was the women who joined me in those discussions that moved me even more than the books themselves.

From left to right, just a sampling of our group: Mary composes music for the Native American flute. Michele is an eye doctor and professional photographer. Carol was a therapist in her former career and now lives for singing in choirs and musicals. And Nancy works to bring safety to children in abusive families.

Smart and thoughtful, always seeking to know more, these women joined me month after month to explore the worlds created by Steinbeck, Wharton, Tolstoy, García Márquez, and of course, Dickens among others. Their insights pointed out things I hadn’t seen in my own reading, making the whole experience richer and more fun. Not only did I learn from them but they seemed to value my contributions as well. This built my confidence and made me feel safe and at home.

There is something immeasurably priceless about being a part of a safe, accepting community that values and understands you.

A Modern Book I Can’t Stop Talking About

So now that you know I would start an entire book club just to talk about the books I love, it should come as no surprise that when one of the members of that book club writes an excellent book, I have to share it with the rest of the world.

Yvette Johnson was (and still is) a member of Dickens Chicks. In May, her book The Song and the Silence came out and I got my copy as soon as I learned about it.

Yvette’s book is part memoir, part Civil Rights history, and part biography of her courageous grandfather, Booker Wright. She seamlessly weaves the stories together, unveiling her feelings around race and family, while revealing a family secret that helped changed the course of history.

Before I started reading I admit to being slightly nervous. I mean–this is a friend. What would I say if I didn’t like it? I had no reason to worry about that with The Song and the Silence, though. From the very first chapter I was hooked. Her story is compelling and relevant. Her writing is truly exquisite–enviable even.

The Song and the Silence by Yvette Johnson
I couldn’t read The Song and the Silence without highlighting portions that touched me deeply. There were many.

The Song and the Silence is a way into the conversation about race that we so desperately need right now. This isn’t to sound preachy. Yvette certainly is never preachy in her book. She is real and authentic about her experiences, both in her life and what she discovered in her search for more about her grandfather.

Through The Song and the Silence, Yvette graciously opens the door and invites us in and, I for one, am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of her community.

Big Art, Slow Fashion

If this was a different blog, the title of this post might be “What to Wear When Reading a Book.” Ha ha ha! You know that’s not me. So instead, I share an outfit I wore when out at the Seattle Art Museum enjoying another form of art — Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors.

Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror Room–Phalli’s Field
Hubby and I only had 20 seconds in this room so we each quickly snapped a photo without heeding the other.

The star of this outfit is the skirt. Not only is it reversible, it coordinates with Kusama’s exhibit!

Infinity Mirrors by Yayoi Kusama
You can’t see the outfit in these photos but this does give a neat summary of Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit.

Both the skirt and the top are favorite finds in slow fashion from a local Seattle eco-boutique, Drizzle & Shine. As an eco-boutique, D&S features items “that are kind to the earth and animals and that are made by people who are treated fairly.” They also donate a percentage of their profits to nonprofits such as the NAACP and animal welfare groups.

Each piece a work of art

To wear the pieces I bought from Drizzle & Shine is like walking around town wearing a work of art. The thoughtfulness and creativity required for each item is masterful. Each piece suits my signature style and makes me immensely happy.

The skirt is by ZAND Amsterdam USA. As I mentioned, it’s reversible. The waistband also unzips and flips around allowing for four different looks. My skirt came with a little attachable pouch as well. You can see I wore it to the art exhibit in the photo above.

ZAND Amsterdam’s skirts come in different lengths but they are otherwise “one size fits all.” If you’re like me, you approach this sizing with caution. I tried on several different skirts when I was at Drizzle & Shine and, sure enough, they all fit! The snaps that go around the skirt allow flexibility in the sizing.

The top is by tonlé. Their motto is “every thread matters.” That motto is put to work in this top made of scraps of rayon. The scraps are left-over pieces from other designs, but you’d never know it was “scrappy” by the quality. Each seam is tight and straight. The drape and structure feel very high-end. And on their website you can see the group of people who make those perfect seams and high-end feel. If that weren’t enough, because tonlé keeps track of every scrap and every thread, they are a zero-waste company.

I can’t say the leggings or the shoes are slow, sustainable fashion but they would be if I had gotten them at Drizzle & Shine. The leggings are old from American Apparel, which is no longer with us. For a more eco-friendly label, try the one D&S carries — Nomad Hemp Wear.

The yellow Geox sneakers you’ve seen in previous posts but if you’re in search of something a little kinder to the earth, try Nae. I purchased the “woolish” orange and blue sneakers shown below from Drizzle & Shine and will be featuring them once the weather cools enough to wear them.

Nae Vegan sneaker

As for the necklace, it’s getting its very own blog post in the next few days! Osamu Kobayashi, a talented metalwork artist in Vancouver, made it by hand. And, although his talent stands on its own merits, he also happens to be married to one of my favorite bloggers, Mel from Bag and a Beret.

If you’re raring to learn more about this necklace before my blog post comes out, head on over to Osamu’s Etsy shop and take a look. I’ll be back soon with an interview with the man himself.


Affiliate link disclaimer: Please note, some of the items linked may be affiliated with companies I am associated with. By clicking the affiliated links and purchasing from those stores, I might receive a small commission. By purchasing from these stores, you support the work I do here and I greatly appreciate your support!

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  • Your comment about the magic of being a part of a community where you feel valued and understood was a mouthful. I’ve never been in a book club but I think they could be uniquely conducive to creating an environment where that can happen more readily.

    Oh my goodness the “artisan of mirrors” experience was really intriguing! I have a feeling we only saw a mere snippet of all this display had to offer.
    I have a skirt like yours ! I purchased mine from a little boutique where Minnesota crafters, seamstresses and jewelry makers are featured. The design is so fun!! There is something very satisfying about supporting local businesses and knowing that what you’ve purchased was made responsibly on lots of levels.

    Your posts are really special Sherry. You wrap us warmly in your story with engaging personal history, unique photographs, and social commentary. You beautifully weave your love of writing and storytelling into each post sharing so much more than fashion.
    SO worth waiting for!!! Thank you!!

    • Thank you, Jude! You are always so kind and encouraging. Your words are part of what motivates me to keep going with this blogging gig, even if it takes me forever to roll out new posts. 🙂 Thank you for your patience, your kindness, and you continued support. Blogging has become like a book club to me in a way and you are a part of that community.

      Also, I want to see that skirt! I bet you look so amazing in it!

      Hugs,
      Sherry

  • That skirt is so cute! I truly love supporting devoted independent artisans (having been one myself ).

    That exhibit is coming here. I can’t wait to see it.

    bisous
    Suzanne

  • I love the photo of you and your fellow book club members! I can see the camaraderie around that table and can only imagine the engaging conversation, fueled by treats and coffee/tea. I like how you said they illuminated parts of the book that you had not thought about, and likewise I’m sure.

    Your outift is spot-on (bwa-haha) for the Kusama exhibit. Applause to the gallery for being part of the tour. She is a true inventor/imaginator and I adore her work. The flexibility of the skirt is wonderful! You could probably wear it upside-down as well. I also like that it is size-friendly.

    Finally, my heart melts every time I see someone wearing O’s pieces. Thank you for the shoutout and your support of his work. I see how much care and time he puts into them.