Category Archives: clothing

Canadian winter tips

Coming back to cold weather was not particularly fun, but I’m learning to deal with it. I’ve got the thermals, the sweaters, the jackets, the scarves… There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to figure out how to cope with winter. =) Anyway, here are some tips for people who are new to Canada or other cold places:

2014-01-06 Canadian winter tips

Canadian winter tips

If you like this, you might like my 2009 blog post with some more notes on what makes winter better.

Other winter notes: My insulated winter boots have sprung a leak. I still have a pair of leather boots and a pair of rubber boots (in bright red!), so I think I’ll make it through this winter. I shopped around for a replacement pair this weekend and didn’t find anything I liked, despite the sales. I was thinking about whether I should get a pair for when these boots wear out, but I’ll probably move away from wearing insulated boots and move towards thick socks and hiking shoes or regular boots instead. It’s also a good time to see if I can repair the boots I have. Oh well!

Tracking and organizing my clothes: substituting mathematics for fashion sense

Thumbnails of clothes

Inspired by my sister’s photo-assisted organization of her shoes, I decided to tackle my wardrobe. Taking an inventory would make it easier to simplify, replace, or supplement my clothes. Analyzing colour would help me substitute mathematics for a sense of style. Combining the images with the clothes log I’ve been keeping would make it easier to see patterns and maybe do some interesting visualizations. Geek time!

I took pictures of all my clothes against a convenient white wall. I corrected the images using Bibble 5 Pro and renamed the files to match my clothes-tracking database, creating new records as needed. AutoHotkey and Colorette made the task of choosing representative colours much less tedious than it would’ve been otherwise. After I created a spreadsheet of IDs, representative colours, and tags, I imported the data into my Rails-based personal dashboard, programming in new functionality along the way. (Emacs keyboard macros + Rails console = quick and easy data munging.) I used Acts as Taggable On for additional structure.

It turns out that the math for complementary and triadic colour schemes is easy when you convert RGB to HSL (hue, saturation, lightness). I used the Color gem for my RGB-HSL conversions, then calculated the complementary and triadic colours by adding or subtracting degrees as needed (180 for complementary, +/- 120 for triadic).

Here’s what the detailed view looks like now:

image

And the clothing log:

image

Clothing summary, sorted by frequency (30 days of data as of writing)

image

Thoughts:

  • White balance and exposure are a little off in some shots. I tweaked some representative colours to account for that. It would be neat to get that all sorted out, and maybe drop out the background too. It’s fine the way it is. =)
  • Matches are suggested based on tags, and are not yet sorted by colour. Sorting by colour or some kind of relevance factor would be extra cool.
  • Sorting by hue can be tricky. Maybe there’s a better way to do this…
  • My colour combinations don’t quite agree with other color scheme calculators I’ve tried. They’re in the right neighbourhood, at least. Rounding errors?
  • I’ll keep an eye out for accessories that match triadic colours for the clothes I most frequently wear.
  • Quick stats: 28 casual tops, 15 skirts, 12 office-type tops, 8 pairs of pants, 5 pairs of slacks – yes, there’s definitely room to trim. It would be interesting to visualize this further. Graph theory can help me figure out if there are clothing combinations that will help me simplify my wardrobe, and it might be fun to plot colours and perhaps usage. Hmm…

Other resources:

Filipiniana

The dress arrived last week. It’s a simple ivory sheath of piña (pineapple fiber), with a lightly-beaded and embroidered panuelo (wrap). Although I’d never met the seamstress who made it, the dress fit like a charm, thanks to the measurements I’d sent.

I had been planning to wear a dress a family friend had given me before, but my mom wouldn’t hear of it. She wanted to be involved in planning the wedding, so she volunteered to take care of the dress. It would be her gift, she said. I accepted, asking her to make sure it was simple, classic, and something I could wear again. This dress fits the bill perfectly. It would do just fine at a wedding and at a formal get-together or cultural celebration.

In addition to this knee-length dress, she has also commissioned a Maria Clara, in case a long dress proves a better fit. My concession to the pageantry of weddings is to reach back in time and connect with my roots. I asked her to make sure the designer didn’t get carried away with modernizing the outfit. Traditional. Classic. A dress I can be buried in, I said.

I was half-tempted to suggest an Ifugao outfit – our family has many memories of Banaue – but it seemed easier to find a seamstress to work on a beautiful Tagalog outfit than to (a) pick the right tribe, and (b) find an outfit that doesn’t scream “tourist souvenir”. Maria Claras and nice panuelos are non-mainstream enough to require a seamstress, but there’s plenty of wedding inspiration. The rich weaves and beading of the mountain tribes are more niche. And there’d be no question of W- matching my outfit – a g-string? in Canada? in October? At least W- has a barong, which he may or may not choose to wear.

Actually, the wraparound skirts and colourful belts of some of the tribes can work really well here, too. I’ll need to find a way to pick up some of those when I next visit, as SM Kultura doesn’t stock a lot of those. =) We don’t have nearly enough variety in those department stores. I was looking all over for a payneta, and I think I only found it in Baguio…

I love wearing Filipiniana, from the malongs I wear in summers to the colourful Ifugao belt I once repurposed as earwarmers in winter. I’d like to wear more of it, like the way I see men and women in ethnic outfits even at work. That might mean learning how to sew my own everyday versions, because the only baro’t saya I’ve seen in Philippine department stores are embellished with metallic threads or beads. The baro’t saya is close enough to regular wear for me to avoid having tons of conversations with strangers about whether I’m heading off to perform somewhere.

Yay culture. =)

Bought a sari

Toronto has all these wonderful little neighborhoods. I’ve been
meaning to go to Little India to buy a sari for the longest time, so I
finally decided to go and buy one today. It was so hard to choose –
they were all so beautiful! I finally decided on a black sari with
gold thread trim. If I like wearing it, I just might go back and get
more.

Hmm. BarCampEarthToronto is this Saturday, so I’ll probably go in a malong. Tomorrow I’ve got a fair bit of running around to do, and I’ll be up at IBM for the rest of this week… Maybe next week, then! The 28th would be a good time to try it out.

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Whoa, maybe I’m onto something here

Lots of people commented on my entry about wanting to get into the clothing business. I’ve updated the entry with their comments. Maybe I’m onto something here. Is it something small that I can build and let loose?

In other news, yet another random stranger walked up to me yesterday
and complimented me on the malong that I wore. And to think that I was
just wearing it as a skirt…

Also, I’m planning to go to Little India and get myself one of their
traditional outfits to see what that feels like.

I’m interested in traditional outfits from all cultures, not just the
Philippines, although I must admit that I take a certain joy in
telling people that my terno’s from home… =)

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Looking for a malong supplier

I get complimented almost every time I walk out the door wearing one
of the beautifully patterned malongs from the Philippines. The malong
is also worn in several other Asian countries. I love the intricacy of
the pattern, particularly when it’s embroidered and not just printed.
It’s a terrific what’s-it at parties, sparking plenty of interesting
conversations. And yeah, it’s hip enough to go casual and ethnic
enough to go more formal: all I need are a few safety pins and a nice
brooch.

When some friends and I were at the Taste of the Danforth (a Greek
food festival), a shop owner asked me if she could buy the malong off
me. She wasn’t the first to ask me where to get these malongs. I
wonder if I can start a little side business that’ll also make it
easier for me to get the malongs I like… <laugh>

Sourcing the cloth would probably be the hardest thing. Quality is so
variable. One of my favorite malongs had a brilliantly coloured red,
purple and gold pattern in the beginning. The dye runs each time I
wash it, which is a pain. I have to wash it separately and make sure
there’s enough space between it and the other items on my
clothes-drying rack.

I wonder where to find malong cloth: embroidered, printed, etc. I want
quality malongs and accessories with the same patterns. Imagine
wearing a matching scarf, or a cute bag, or even shoes…

Hmm. It would be a good excuse to learn how to build an e-commerce
site, too. Also, I’ve been doing lots of strange things with wearing a
malong that I haven’t seen other people do yet, so that might be fun
to pick up.

Something to look into. First thing I’d need to do is to find a source
for ready-made high-quality malong cloth and make a few samples.

Hmm. I’d love to pass this idea to someone else. It’s not part of my
core competency (sewing bags? making shoes? I’d have to learn so much
first!), but it’s something I wouldn’t mind taking a risk on to help
make it happen…

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Comments:

From Simon Ditner:

<rant> It kind of throws me for a loop that your blog doesn’t
have a display of user submitted feedback. It’s very unsatisfying
putting comments in this little box, and not seeing them go anywhere,
like I’m pitching bits to the wind. It seems like the complete
antithesis of your research.</rant>

On Queen St., between Spadina and Bathurst, you’ll find yourself in
the fashion design district with some of the best deals on fabric in
town. I sent an email off to my friend Lyn, a local vietnamese fashion
designer, to see if she knows of a local source of malongs.

From Charo Nuguid:

I have a friend who lives in Iligan City. He’s a photojournalist, and being that your dad was formerly one, you’d know how small the pay is for this job. What he does to raise money for lenses and bodies is to buy and sell beautifully crafted native swords. He’d auction them off on eBay and have people send money to his brother’s account in the States.

Selling Philippine-made malongs would be a great idea. It’s just a matter of sourcing them out here in the Philippines. :)

From Kelly Drahzal:

I love the ideas of an e-commerce site making(?) and selling ethnic
clothes of good quality. I’d be their best customer as well, I think.

I’m also into sewing and quilting. Have an old Bernina sewing machine
that is my pride and joy, and have been dropping hints for months that
I’d like a mannequin/dress form for birthday/christmas.

If you decide to seriously pursue something like this, let me know.
I’d be interested in a joint venture. :-)

From Jay Goldman:

Some thoughts on your malong project:

  • Go for it! It may not be part of your core competency, but you might just surprise yourself. I just read Leila’s post about Bob Parson’s rules right before yours (http://www.hyperbio.net/fric_frac/2006/08/bob_parsons_rul.html) and was struck by the overlap. His rule #1? Get and stay out of your comfort zone. He’s right you know.
  • There are some excellent fabric shops along Queen St. W., in the few blocks west of Spadina. I’m not sure if malongs require special fabric, but there’s a good chance you’ll find what you need in there (and, if not, some good leads on where to track it down). Take a malong with you when you go and you’ll have much better luck explaining what you want.
  • Craislist is a great resource for finding things. A quick search for mannequin turns up a few that might work for you (like http://toronto.craigslist.org/clo/193412155.html, though lacking legs). There’s also a “wanted” section, so you could post a request for a proper one in there. You would likely also find people who could make malongs for you (i.e.: a “Production Team”) if you wanted to focus on the design and order taking aspects.
  • The Shopify folks out in Ottawa (who are awesome and part of the barcamp crew out there), have a great solution for setting up a simple ecommerce store, which we’re about to use it to sell torcamp t-shirts. Although it may offend your open source sensibilities, check it out as a possibility.
  • Last thought: this is a low risk opportunity with a potentially high reward. All you really have to do is set up a website, print some business cards, and see what happens. Your worst case is that no one is interested and you spent some time building a site, and your best case is that it takes off wildly and you end up enthroned on a global fashion empire :)

Good luck!