The following blog post is by the glorious Emmeline Bramble, a visual and verbal apothecary, who kindly wrote about Retrospecced after she got in touch with us this summer about a collaboration. We sent her a pair of upcycled frames, and we’re thrilled with her beautifully-written piece; it’s balm for your eyes. Have a read and let us know what you think!
Recently, I was reading a book by a man rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors — Paulo Coelho. In it, the title character, Brida, is on a spiritual path of self-discovery. And one day, her teacher asks her if she wore all the clothes in her closet.
After Brida responds that she does not, her teacher instructs her “from now on, wear everything in your wardrobe.”
Her reasoning is —
“Everything that contains out energy should be in constant movement. The clothes you bought are part of you and they represent those special times when you left the house wanting to splash out a little because you were happy with the world, the times you’d been hurt and wanted to make yourself feel better or times when you thought you should change your life. Clothes always transform emotion into matter. It’s one of the bridges between the visible and the invisible. Some clothes can even be harmful because they were made for someone else but have ended up in our hands. Get rid of any clothes that were not intended for you. And wear all the others.”
This book houses an abundance of inspirational quotes about love, finding your path, and embracing life. But, for some reason, this little exchange struck me the hardest.
For those of you who’ve been following my journey, you’ll know that I’ve been leading a rather nomadic lifestyle in the past few years. As a result, everything I own fits in a battered carry-on suitcase and a tattered duffle that I wear on my back. Out of necessity, my wardrobe has become limited to a very few staple pieces that I wear again and again.
This summer, I returned to my childhood home for a few weeks to visit my family and attend the wedding of one of my oldest + dearest friends (you can keep an eye on Instagram for pics). I discovered that I still had long forgotten clothing pieces hidden in my closet. Not too many, but enough to feel heavy. I had a pair of jeans that had once been my favorite pair but have since grown too small. A few sweatshirts that I no longer wore from summers long since passed. And a dress from the mother of an ex-lover.
As I held each item in my hand, I could feel the energy that clung to them. It was not at all compatible with my own. Perhaps at one time I’d felt confident in those pieces, but that was a different time and a different version of myself. I’d outgrown them in more ways than one. So, I decided it was time to get rid of them.
Then, as I unpacked my small suitcase and hung the four or so shirts in my closet, I decided it was time to find clothes that could carry my energy. The pieces I had were certainly functional, but they were not the slightest bit expressive. I did not ever have the opportunity to ‘splash out’ on a happy day, because I didn’t have the pieces to sustain that.
IN FACT, THE ONLY ITEM I HAD THAT TRULY MADE ME FEEL *MYSELF* WAS A PAIR OF GLASSES FROM RETROSPECCED.
In the midst of my travels, it was nearly impossible to accumulate new clothes. I just simply didn’t have the space to carry them! Therefore, you can imagine my delight when I discovered this inventive + sustainable business based out of Cornwall. Retrospecced’s mission is simple + brilliant:
“Retrospecced recycles and refurbishes retro and designer spectacle frames. It’s a unique social enterprise founded by Tracey and Lucy, a mother and daughter who are passionate about sustainable fashion and who believe in the power of business to be a force for good.
Choosing Retrospecced for a fabulous, individual look means that you are supporting an ethical, sustainable fashion movement. You’re also making a substantial donation to our partner charity Vision Aid Overseas which supports the great work that they do providing eye care across Africa. We donate 20% of the profits from each frame sold to Vision Aid Overseas on your behalf.”
I got in touch with this adorable (and ridiculously sweet) mother + daughter team immediately. I told them about my own business and how much I loved their vision. They responded just as fast and a collaboration was born. I told them I’d love to feature their story on my blog, and they sent me a pair of beautiful glasses (with just *the* most gorgeous vintage frames in excellent condition) to do just that!
I wore them everywhere on my travels, (I still do) and people constantly stopped me to remark on them. They were small enough to fit into my travel bags yet impactful enough to bring an entirely new element of expression + decoration to my outfit. And most importantly, they’re an ethical and sustainable item — helping to recycle frames that could’ve otherwise ended up in a landfill.
After such a positive experience, I really felt like I understood what the teacher meant when she advised her young student to find clothes that held her energy. And I decided I wanted a wardrobe compromised entirely of pieces that made me feel that good.
So, I took my glasses on an outing to a thrift store and started combing through the vintage pieces they had there. I tried everything on and let its energy wash over me. A few pieces I loved, but I could tell they were for someone else. Others felt like they’d been finding their way to me for years (like this raw silk painters jacket you see in the pictures).
I even made a style guide for myself that I charged overnight with Tree Agate and took it with me to keep my energy focused on only pieces I would *love*. So, it wasn’t at all surprising when I was at the till and the lovely clerk remarked on what a beautiful color scheme I’d found for myself in their shop.
I now have a happy handful of neutral vintage pieces that really feel like *me*. Plus, I was able to support my sustainable + environmental causes that are so close to my heart by finding them secondhand.
I have spent many years underestimating my wardrobe. I have never been a shopper (in fact shopping has always felt far too overwhelming, like a consumerism nightmare for me). So, my wardrobe has up until now, been a small functional collection of items that were largely selected by others (given as gifts because I never seem to get myself to a shop).
But, my perspective has changed. I now understand how tremendously important it is to wear things that call forth your power + magic. To be in constant movement through your wardrobe, which is full of items that give you confidence + clarity of self. To step out into each day in your own personal suit of armor, an outfit with the power to carry you through the day, head held high, no matter what said day holds.
Because, as the teacher puts it, “It’s important to keep the soil turned, the waves crashing, and all your emotions in movement. The whole Universe is moving all the time, and we must do likewise.”
So, feel your feelings, embrace every part of yourself, and find the clothes + accessories + glasses to illustrate it. And do it with items that are as kind to the earth as they are to your spirit. You are your very own canvas. What will you paint today?
Here’s to wearing every item and every facet of our splendidly unique selves,
Read the original article here, and keep an eye on Em – she’s just wonderful!